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31. How should I? Most excellent modesty of the eunuch, who doth not only permit Philip who was one of the common sort, to question with him, but doth also willingly 547547 “Ultro et ingenue,” spontaneously and ingenuously. confess his ignorance. And surely we must never hope that he will ever show himself apt to be taught who is puffed up with the confidence of his own wit. Hereby it eometh to pass that the reading of the Scriptures doth profit so few at this day, because we can scarce find one amongst a hundred who submitteth himself willingly to learn. For whilst all men almost are ashamed to be ignorant of that whereof they are ignorant, every man had rather proudly nourish his ignorance than seem to be scholar to other men. Yea, a great many take upon them haughtily to teach other men. Nevertheless, let us remember that the eunuch did so confess his ignorance, that yet, notwithstanding, he was one of God’s scholars when he read the Scripture. This is the true reverence of the Scripture, when as we acknowledge that there is that wisdom laid up there which surpasseth 548548 “Superet ac fugiat,” surpasses and escapes. all our senses; and yet notwithstanding, we do not loathe it, but, reading diligently, we depend upon the revelation of the Spirit, and desire to have an interpreter given us.
He prayed Philip that he would come up. This is another token of modesty, that he seeketh an interpreter and teacher. He might have rejected Philip according to the pride of rich men; for it was a certain secret upbraiding of ignorance when Philip said, Understandest thou what thou readest? But rich men think that they have great injury done them if any man speak homely to them. And, therefore, they break out by and by into these speeches, What is that to thee? or, What hast thou to do with me? But the eunuch submitteth himself humbly to Philip that by him he may be taught. Thus must we be minded if we desire to have God to be our teacher, whose Spirit resteth upon the humble and meek, (Isaiah 66:2.) And if any man, mistrusting himself, submit himself to be taught, the angels shall rather come down from heaven 549549 “Ad nos docendos,” to teach us, omitted. than the Lord will suffer us to labor in vain; though (as did the eunuch) we must use all helps, which the Lord offereth unto us, for the understanding of the Scriptures. Frantic men require inspirations and revelations 550550 “Ενθουσιασμοὺς,” enthusiasms or inspirations. from heaven, and, in the mean season, they contemn the minister of God, by whose hand they ought to be governed. Other some, which trust too much to their own wit, will vouchsafe to hear no man, and they will read no commentaries. But God will not have us to despise those helps which he offereth unto us, and he suffereth not those to escape scot free which despise the same. And here we must remember, that the Scripture is not only given us, but that interpreters and teachers are also added, to be helps to us. For this cause the Lord sent rather Philip than an angel to the eunuch. For to what end served this circuit, that God calleth Philip by the voice of the angel, and sendeth not the angel himself forthwith, save only because he would accustom us to hear men? This is, assuredly, no small commendation of external preaching, that the voice of God soundeth in the mouth of men to our salvation, when angels hold their peace. Concerning which thing, I will speak more upon the ninth and tenth chapters.