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9. Saul's Conversion

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

10And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. 17And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 21But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

23And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 31Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

32And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. 33And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. 34And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. 35And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord. 36Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. 37And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 38And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. 39Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. 40But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 42And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. 43And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.

6. The fruit of that reprehension followeth, wherewith we have said it was requisite that Paul should have been sore shaken, that his hardness might be broken. For now he offereth himself as ready to do whatsoever he should command him, whom of late he despised. For when he asketh what Christ would have him do, he granteth him authority and power. Even the very reprobate are also terrified with the threatening of God, so that they are compelled to reverence him, and to submit themselves unto his will and pleasure; yet, nevertheless, they cease not to fret and to foster stubbornness within. But as God humbled Paul, so he wrought effectually in his heart. For it came not to pass by any goodness of nature, that Paul did more willingly submit himself to God than Pharaoh, (Exodus 7:13;) but because, being like to an anvil, [Pharaoh] did, with his hardness, beat back the whips of God wherewith he was to be brought under, (even as it had been the strokes of a hammer;) but the heart of Paul was suddenly made a fleshy heart of a stony heart, after that it received softness from the Spirit of God; which softness it had not naturally. The same thing do we also try [experience] daily in ourselves. He reproveth us by his word; he threateneth and terrifieth us; he addeth also light correction, and prepareth us divers ways unto subjection. But all these helps shall never cause any man to bring forth good fruit, unless the Spirit of God do mollify his heart within.

And the Lord said unto him. After that Paul had put his stiff neck under the yoke of Christ, he is now governed by his hand. For doubtless the Lord doth not so bring us into the way, that he leaveth us either before we begin our course, or in the midst thereof; but he bringeth us unto the very mark by little and little. Luke depainteth out unto us in this place this continual course of God’s governance. For He taketh him afterward unto himself to be taught whom He hath made apt to be taught. Neither doth that any whit hinder that he useth man’s ministry ill this point. Because the authority and power remaineth nevertheless in him, howsoever he accomplish his work by man; though it may seem an absurd thing that Christ, who is the Eternal Wisdom of God, doth send a scholar (who was ready to hear, and did gape after instruction) unto another 576576     “Suspensum allo,” in suspense, elsewhere. man, that he might learn. But I answer, that that was done not without cause. For the Lord meant by this means to prove Paul’s modesty, when he sendeth him to one of his scholars to be taught; as if he himself would not vouchsafe as yet to speak unto him familiarly, but sendeth him to his servants whom he did of late both so proudly contemn and so cruelly persecute.

And we are also taught humility under his person. For if Christ made Paul subject to the teaching of a common disciple, which of us can grudge to hear any teacher, so that he be appointed by Christ, that is, he declare himself to be his minister in deed? Therefore, whereas Paul is sent to Ananias, let us know that that is done to adorn the ministry of the Church. This is assuredly no small honor whereunto it pleaseth God to exalt mankind, when as he chooseth our brethren from amongst us to be interpreters of his will; when as he causeth his holy oracles to sound in the mouth of man, which is naturally given to lying and vanity. But the unthankfulness of the world betrayeth itself again herein, that no man can abide to hear when God speaketh by the mouth of man. All men could desire to have angels come flying unto them, or that heaven should be now and then cut asunder, and that the visible glory of God should come thence. Forasmuch as this preposterous curiosity springeth from pride and wicked contempt of the Word, it setteth open a gate to many dotings, and breaketh the bond of mutual consent among the faithful. Therefore the Lord doth testify, that it pleaseth him that we should be taught by men, and confirmeth the order set down by himself. And to this purpose serve these titles, “He which heareth you heareth me,” (Luke 10:16;) that he may cause his word to be reverenced as it ought.

It shall be told thee. Christ putteth Ananias in his place by these words, as touching the office of teaching; not because he resigneth his authority to him, but because he shall be a faithful minister, and a sincere preacher of the gospel. Therefore we must always use this moderation, that we hear God alone in Christ, and Christ himself alone, yet as he speaketh by his ministers. And these two vices must be avoided, that the ministers be not proud, under color of such a precious function, or that their base condition impair no whit of the dignity of heavenly wisdom.


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