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8. Church Persecuted and Scattered

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8And there was great joy in that city. 9But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched 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 the great power of God. 11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14Now when the apostles which 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 Ghost: 16(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. 24Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. 25And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. 26And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? 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 man? 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine 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 went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

13. Simon also himself. He which had besotted the whole city with his witchery receiveth the truth together with others. He which had boasted himself to be the principal power of God submitteth himself to God, [Christ; ] though he were brought to the knowledge of the gospel, not so much for his own sake alone, as for the whole country’s sake, that that offense might be taken out of the way which might have hindered the unskillful. And to this end tendeth that which Luke setteth down afterward, that he wondered at the signs. For God meant to triumph over this man, whom the Samaritans counted a petit God; 504504     “Semideo,” a demigod. which cometh to pass whilst he is enforced to give glory to the true miracles, after that his vain boasting is taken away. And yet he giveth not himself over sincerely to Christ; for then his ambition, and that wicked and profane account which he made of the gifts of God, should not break out. And yet I am not of their mind who think that he made only a semblance of faith, seeing he did not believe. Luke saith plainly that he believed, and the reason is added, Because he was touched with wondering. How, then, doth he shortly after betray himself to be but a hypocrite? I answer, That there is some mean between faith and mere dissimulation. The Epicures [Epicureans] and Lucianists do profess that they believe, whereas notwithstanding they laugh inwardly, whereas the hope of eternal life is unto them a vain thing; finally, whereas they have no more godliness than dogs or swine.

But there be many who howsoever they be not regenerate with the Spirit of adoption, and do not addict themselves unto God with the true affection of the heart, being overcome with the power of the Word, do not only confess that that is true which is taught, but are also touched with some fear of God, so that they receive doctrine; for they conceive that God must be heard; that he is both the author and also the judge of the world. Therefore, they make no semblance of faith before men, which is none, but they think that they believe. And this faith continueth only for a time, whereof Christ speaketh in Mark, (Mark 4; Luke 8:13;) to wit, when the seed of the Word conceived in the mind is, notwithstanding, choked forthwith with divers cares of the world, or with wicked affections, so that it never cometh to any ripeness; yea, rather, it groweth out of kind unto unprofitable corn nothing worth. Such, therefore, was Simon’s faith; he perceiveth that the doctrine of the gospel is true, and he is enforced to receive the same with the feeling of his conscience; but the groundwork is wanting; that is, the denial of himself. Whereupon it followed that his mind was enwrapped in dissimulation, which he uttereth forthwith. But let us know that his hypocrisy was such as he deceived himself in; and not that gross hypocrisy whereof Epicures and such like make boast; 505505     “Venditant,” make a display of. because they dare not confess the contempt of God.

He was baptized. It appeareth plainly, by this example of Simon that all men have not that grace given them in baptism, which grace is there figured. The opinion of the Papists is this, That unless mortal sin be the cause of let, 506506     “Ponat obicem,” interpose an obstacle. all men receive the truth and effect with the signs. So that they attribute unto the sacraments magical force, as if they did profit without faith, But let us know that the Lord offereth to us by the sacraments, whatsoever the annexed promises do sound; 507507     “Sonant,” mean. and that they are not offered in vain, so that 508508     “Modo,” provided that. being directed unto Christ by faith, we set [seek] from him whatsoever the sacraments do promise. And although the receiving of baptism did profit him nothing then, yet if conversion followed afterward, as some men suppose, the profit was not extinguished nor abolished. For it cometh to pass oftentimes that the Spirit of God worketh afterward after a long time, that the sacraments may begin to show forth their force. 509509     “Efficaciam,” efficacy.

Did cleave to Philip. Whereas Philip admitted him into his company, it appeareth thereby how hard a matter it is to know hypocrites. And this is a trial of our patience. So Demas was a companion of Paul for a time; afterward he became an unfaithful revolt 510510     “Desertor,” deserter. (2 Timothy 4:10,) Finally, we cannot escape this evil, but that wicked men and deceitful will sometimes join themselves unto us; and if at any time the wicked creep craftily into our company, proud censors burden us unjustly, as if we were to answer for their misdeeds. Though we must take heed of facility, which causeth the gospel to be slandered oftentimes, and we must be so much the more vigilant, that we admit none without great choice, forasmuch as we hear that great men have been deceived. He saith that he was made astonied with the greatness of the signs; that we may know that that great power, whereof he boasted, was nothing else but juggling and smokes. And Luke speaketh not in this place of any plain wondering, but of a damp or trance which causeth a man to forget what he doth. 511511     “Neque enim simplex admlratio hie notatur, sed ecstasis, quae hominem extra se rapit,” for the thing here denoted is not simple wonder, but ecstacy, by which a man is rapt (carried out of himself.)


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