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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.

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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