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8. Church Persecuted and Scattered

1And Saul was consenting unto his death. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2And devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. 3But Saul laid waste the church, entering into every house, and dragging men and women committed them to prison. 4They therefore that were scattered abroad, went about preaching the word. 5And Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed unto them the Christ. 6And the multitudes gave heed with one accord unto the things that were spoken by Philip, when they heard, and saw the signs which he did. 7For from many of those that had unclean spirits, they came out, crying with a loud voice: and many that were palsied, and that were lame, were healed. 8And there was much joy in that city. 9But there was a certain man, Simon by name, who beforetime in the city used sorcery, and amazed the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is that power of God which is called Great. 11And they gave heed to him, because that of long time he had amazed them with his sorceries. 12But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13And Simon also himself believed: and being baptized, he continued with Philip; and beholding signs and great miracles wrought, he was amazed. 14Now when the apostles that were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: 16for as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit. 20But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money. 21Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God. 22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee. 23For I see that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. 24And Simon answered and said, Pray ye for me to the Lord, that none of the things which ye have spoken come upon me. 25They therefore, when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. 26But an angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza: the same is desert. 27And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship; 28and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31And he said, How can I, except some one shall guide me? And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this,

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;

And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb,

So he openeth not his mouth:

33In his humiliation his judgment was taken away:

His generation who shall declare?

For his life is taken from the earth.

34And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other? 35And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus. 36And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached the gospel to all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

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32. The sentence of Scripture. It is properly a text or period. Let us know that he lighted not upon this place by chance but that it came to pass by the wonderful providence of God, that Philip should have a proposition or principle from which the whole sum of Christianity might be set. 551551     “Apte deduci,” aptly deduced. Therefore, first, he hath matter of full instruction brought to his hand by the secret direction of the Spirit; secondly, the form is plainly applied to the ministry of man. This is an excellent prophecy of Christ, and above all others to be remembered; because Isaiah saith plainly there 552552     “Sine involucris,” without circumlocution, unequivocally. that such should be the manner of redeeming the Church, that the Son of God do by his death purchase life for men, that he offereth himself in sacrifice to purge 553553     “Expiandis,” to expiate. men’s sins, that he be punished with the hand of God, and that he go down even unto the very hell, that he may exalt us unto heaven, having delivered us from destruction. In sum, this place teacheth plainly how men are reconciled to God, how they obtain righteousness, how they come to the kingdom of God, being delivered from the tyranny of Satan, and loosed from the yoke of sin; to be brief, whence they must fetch all parts of their salvation.

Notwithstanding, I will only expound those things which Luke here citeth, and there be, indeed, two members. In the former, he teacheth that Christ, to the end he may redeem the Church, 554554     “Et restituat in vitam,” and restore her to life, omitted. must needs be so broken, that he appear like to a man which is cast down and past hope. Secondly, he affirmeth that his death shall give life, and that there shall a singular triumph issue out of great despair. Whereas he compareth Christ to a lamb, which suffereth itself to be led and slain, and to a sheep, which offereth herself meekly to be shorn; his meaning is, that the sacrifice of Christ shall be voluntary. And surely this was the way to appease God’s wrath, in that he showed himself obedient. He spake, indeed, before Pilate, (John 18:34, 36,) but not to save his life, but rather that he might willingly offer himself to die, 555555     “In victimam,” as a victim. as he was appointed by the Father, and so might bring that punishment upon himself which was prepared for us. Therefore the prophet teacheth both things, that Christ must needs have suffered that he might purchase life for us, and that he was to suffer death willingly, that he might blot out the stubbornness of men by his obedience. And hence must we gather an exhortation unto godliness, 556556     “Ad patientiam,” to patience. as Peter doth; but that doctrine of faith which I have already touched is former 557557     “Praecedit,” precedes. in order.




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