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17If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” 18When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

 


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17. Who was I? Now do we see to what end Peter made that narration; to wit, that he might declare that God was the author and governor of all the whole matter; therefore, the state of the question consisteth in [turneth upon] the authority of God, whether meat be not of more weight than men’s counsels. 732732     “Annon praeponderet cibus humanis consiliis,” whether meat do not preponderate in man's counsels. Peter affirmeth that he did nothing but that which was rightly and orderly done, because he obeyed God; he showeth that he preached the doctrine of the gospel, neither amiss, neither rashly, where Christ bestowed the graces of his Spirit. The approbation of our doctrine, and also our deeds, must be brought to this rule so often as men call us to an account; for whosoever stayeth himself upon the commandment of God, he hath defense enough. If men be not content, there is no cause why he should pass for their judgments any more. 733733     “Non est quod perversa eorum judicia amplius moretur,” there is no reason why he should any longer regard their perverse judgments. And hereby we gather that the faithful ministers of God’s word may in such sort give an account of their doctrine, that they may no whit impair the credit and certainty thereof; to wit, if they show that it was given them by God: but if they shall deal with unjust men, who will not be enforced with the reverence of God to yield, let us let them alone with their obstinacy, appealing unto the day of the Lord.

And we must also note, that we do not only resist God by striving against him, but also by lingering, if we do not that which our calling requireth, and which is proper to it. For Peter saith that he cannot deny baptism and brotherly fellowship to the Gentiles, but that he should be [without being] an enemy to God. But he should have essayed nothing which was manifestly contrary to the grace of God. That is true indeed; but he which doth not receive those whom God offereth, and shutteth the gate which God openeth, he hindereth the work of God so much as in him lieth; as we say at this day, that those men make war against God who are set against the baptizing of infants; because they most cruelly exclude those out of the Church whom God hath adopted into the Church, and they deprive those of the outward sign whom God vouchsafeth to call his children. Like unto this is that kind of resisting, in that many dissemblers, who, whilst they be magistrates, ought to assist, according to their office, the martyrs of Christ, go about to stop their mouths, and to take from them their liberty. For because they hate the truth, they would have it suppressed.

18. When they heard these things they were quieted. The end doth show that those were not moved with malice which did contend with Peter; for this is an evident sign of godliness, in that being thoroughly instructed touching the will of God, they cease forthwith to contend. By which example we are taught, that those are not to be despised who, being offended through unadvised zeal, reprove any thing wrongfully; but that their consciences must be appeased by the Word of God, which are troubled by error, and that their docility is tried at least thus far forth. As touching us, we do hereby, in like sort, learn whereupon our judgment must depend, namely, upon the sole and simple beck of God. For this honor is due to him, that his will be to us the certain and principal rule of truth and justice. So often as it is requisite for us to know the cause of any thing, the Lord doth not conceal the same from us; but to the end he may accustom our faith unto just obedience, he telleth us sometimes simply and plainly that this or that thing pleaseth him. He which granteth liberty to himself to inquire farther, and taketh a delight in his curiosity, doth nothing else but throw himself headlong with devilish boldness. And Luke doth not only declare that these men held their peace, but that they gave glory also to God. Some are enforced by shame to hold their peace, who, notwithstanding, keep in that in their minds which they dare not utter. That is rather a dissemblance of modesty than docility. But these men do so thoroughly submit themselves to God, that they are not afraid nor ashamed to recant by and by, [forthwith.]

Then hath God. Luke doth briefly declare in these words what the gospel containeth, and to what end it tendeth, to wit, that God may reconcile men to himself, being renewed by his Spirit. The word repentance alone is expressed in this place, but when he addeth unto life, it appeareth plainly that it is not separated from faith. Therefore, whosoever will rightly profit in the gospel, let him put off the old man, and think upon newness of life, (Ephesians 4:22;) that done, let him know for a certainty that he is not called in vain unto repentance, but that there is salvation prepared for him in Christ. So shall it come to pass, that the hope and assurance of salvation shall rest upon the free mercy of God alone, and that the forgiveness of sins shall, notwithstanding, be no cause of sluggish security. This member, to give repentance, may be expounded two manner of ways; either that God granted to the Gentiles place for repentance, when as he would have his gospel preached to them; or that he circumcised their hearts by his Spirit, as Moses saith, (Deuteronomy 30:6,) and made them fleshy hearts of stony hearts, as saith Ezekiel, (Ezekiel 11:19.) For it is a work proper to God alone to fashion and to beget men again, that they may begin to be new creatures; and it agreeth better with this second sense; it is not so much racked, and it agreeth better with the phrase [phraseology] of Scripture.




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