COMMENTARY
UPON
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

BY JOHN CALVIN


EDITED FROM THE ORIGINAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF
CHRISTOPHER FETHERSTONE, STUDENT IN DIVINITY,
BY HENRY BEVERIDGE, ESQ


VOLUME FIRST


CHRISTIAN CLASSICS ETHEREAL LIBRARY
GRAND RAPIDS, MI
http://www.ccel.org
EDITORS PREFACE
THE present COMMENTARY, necessarily partaking of the character of the Book which it is designed to illustrate, is more historical than doctrinal; and hence does not contain so much profound theological discussion as some of Calvin’s other Commentaries. The leading topic is the progress of the Gospel under the inspired teachers to whom its first propagation was entrusted, and, in immediate connection with this, the Constitution of the Apostolic Church, and the privileges enjoyed by its members. To this latter point the attention of the religious world is now more especially directed; and whatever be the views entertained with regard to it by any reader into whose hands this Commentary may fall, if he feels aright, he will not think that his study of the controversy is complete until he has made himself acquainted with what has been said upon it by such a man as Calvin.
A work of talent need not be either the less interesting or the less instructive that it advocates views at variance with our own. If our opinions have been deliberately and candidly formed, it is a satisfactory test of their soundness when they continue unshaken by all that the ablest opponent can urge against them.
The Translation appears to be well executed. It is, perhaps, not so strictly literal as that of the Commentary on the Romans, which the CALVIN SOCIETY has already published; but any difference, in this respect, is more than compensated by the general superiority of its style. There are occasional obscurities or mistranslations which the Editor has endeavored, as in the Commentary on the Romans, to remove by foot-notes; but, on the whole, it is believed that the present Translation will not suffer by comparison with that of any Theological Translation of the same period.
H. B.



THE COMMENTARIES
OF M. JOHN CALVIN
UPON THE ACTES OF THE APOSTLES
FAITHFULLY TRANSLATED OUT OF LATIN INTO ENGLISH FOR THE GREAT PROFIT OF OUR COUNTRYMEN, BY CHRISTOPHER FETHERSTONE
STUDENT IN DIVINITY.
LONDON,
Impensis G. Bishop.
1585.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE THE LORD HENRY,
EARL OF HUNTINGTON,
LORD HASTINGS, ETC.,
Knight Of The Most Honorable Order Of The Garter, And Lord President Of The Queen’s Majesty’s Counsel Established In The North Parts,
CHRISTOPHER FETHERSTONE WISHETH INCREASE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, LONG LIFE, AND HAPPY DAYS.
If that (Right Honorable) I should prefix any long and tedious preface before this work in commendation of your honor, — I should of some be suspected of flattery; if in praise of these learned Commentaries, — it should seem a thing superfluous, seeing they sufficiently commend themselves; if in excuse of those faults which are by me in translating hereof committed, — some censuring Cato would condemn me, because I would take in hand a work so weighty, being not able to be without fault, and by craving pardon for faults laying open my folly. Omitting, therefore, those things which might carry with them such inconveniences, I hasten unto that whereof I am chiefly to speak; namely, to lay open the causes moving me to dedicate this my simple translation unto your honor.
Your deserts of God’s church, your singular zeal, your unfeigned faith, your sincere profession, your especial care to advance God’s glory, and to root out Papistry, your faithfulness towards your prince, have been such, that this realm generally, but my countrymen in the north parts, my native soil, specially, have, and shall have, great cause to praise God for you in the day of their visitation, even when it shall please God of his great mercy to behold them with favor-able countenance, and to take from them in greater measure that blindness and superstition, wherein they had been long time nousled, and being fast bred by the bone, is not yet (through want of means) gotten out of the flesh. Seeing all these virtues are in you to be found; seeing both this church and country have found you so beneficial, whom ought not these things to provoke to show all thankfulness towards your honor?
Again, when this history of the Acts of the Apostles was first penned in Greek by Luke, it was dedicated to noble Theophilus. When M. Calvin did the second time publish his Commentaries thereupon in Latin, he presented them unto one who was in mind a noble Theophilus. Lest, therefore, this work, now published in English, should by dedication be any whit debased, I have made choice of your honor, being no less a noble Theophilus than those before mentioned.
Another thing, which is not so much a cause as an encouragement, is that courtesy which your honor showeth to those which present unto you any exercises of learning, how simple soever they be, whereof I have had full good experience even in my tender years; namely, at such time as I was trained up in the city of Carlisle, under that man, in his calling painful, and to the commonwealth profitable, M. Hayes, whom for that duty which to him I owe I name. At which time, though those exercises which unto your honor we then presented were simple, yet were they so courteously of you received, that the remembrance thereof doth even now encourage me to presume to offer unto you some weightier matter.
The last, but not the least, is, the consideration of that great and undeserved kindness, which all my friends in general, but especially my brother, your honor’s servant, have found at your hands, which, to rip up at large, would be too tedious. In their behalf, therefore, Right Honorable, as also in mine own, as a small testimony of a thankful heart, I present unto your honor this work; simple, if you respect the translation, but most excellent, if you consider the matter. And thus, humbly craving pardon for my boldness, and much more humbly beseeching the Lord to bless you in the reading hereof, I conclude, fearing prolixity. The Lord of heaven bless you, and grant that: as you have been heretofore a good Theophilus, so you may continue to the glory of God, the increasing of his Church, and the profit of this commonwealth.
From Maighfield in Sussex, this 12th of October, 1585.
Your Honor’s most humble and obedient,
and in Christ at commandment,
CHRISTOPHER FETHERSTONE.
THE EPISTLE TO THE READER.
THOU hast at length, (Christian reader,) through the blessing of God, wherewith he hath blessed my labors, those learned Commentaries of M. Calvin upon the Acts of the Apostles, though simply, yet faithfully, turned into English; and though of many I was the unmeetest to attempt this travail, yet such was the earnest request of my godly friends, that unless I should have taken it in hand, I should have seemed void of courtesy, and also of care to profit God’s Church. I will not stand to rip up those commodities which thou by reading these Commentaries mayest reap, but I leave them to thine own experience. What my travail hath been in this work, those who have endured like toll can best judge. And forasmuch as I know well, that after great painstaking some things have escaped me, I beseech thee, (gentle reader,) condemn me not rashly, but rather amend them friendly. If thou shalt grow forward in knowledge by reading this work, then praise God, who hath by this means made thee profit. God give thee good success in reading, that thereby thou mayest both be better learned, and also better lived.
Thine in the Lord,
CHRISTOPHER FETHERSTONE.
TO THE MOST RENOWNED PRINCE, THE LORD NICOLAS RADZIWILL, DUKE IN OLIKA,
COUNTY PALATINE OF VILNA, CHIEF MARSHAL, AND HEAD CHANCELLOR OF THE GREAT DUKEDOM OF LITHUANIA, ETC.,
HIS LORD HIGHLY TO BE REVERENCED,
JOHN CALVIN.
WHEREAS I have made mention of the names of those kings unto whom I had dedicated these my Commentaries, lest the change incur the crime of lightness among certain unskillful men, I must briefly render some reason thereof. For although both the remembrance of the father, who is dead, doth retain that reverence with me which it deserveth, and I do also, as becometh me, reverence the son; yet the importunities of certain did enforce me to put out F1 their names in this second edition, who, being incensed against me with a furious hatred and fear, lest the majesty of kings do purchase some favor to my writings, do boast abroad that they did conceive sore displeasure, that their name was mixed with the doctrine of the sacraments which they themselves disallow. I leave it indifferent whether that be true or no, neither do I pass; F2 forasmuch as I did neither hunt after any private gain, nor yet seek to win favor. But because it seemed to me an indecent and filthy thing to enforce those books upon men which are unwilling to entertain them, which do find willing readers enough, it was worth the declaring now, that I never did think any thing less; but that I did hope for more courtesy than I found. In that truly there can be no offense, if withdrawing myself from the contempt of those who loathe my dutifullness, I suffer them to enjoy those delights of theirs which they desire, and wherein they delight.
Of you, most famous prince, have I made choice, not without good cause, whom I might put in the place of two; both because I think you most worthy to have your name appear in the spiritual building of Christ’s temple; neither do I fear but that my book shall find the same friendship at your hands, which you did vouchsafe to declare towards me in your most gentle letters. But, omitting at this time the respect of private good-will, I will stay in another thing. Moreover, I may full well apply unto you that speech which I had before with another. Neither am I determined in this place to commend those most excellent virtues wherewith you have purchased great authority and singular favor with the King F3 of Polonia; I am rather bent unto an exhortation, the sum whereof shall be this, that with the like readiness and joyfulness wherewith you have at the beginning received the pure doctrine of the Gospel, that with the like stoutness of courage wherewith you have hitherto endeavored to maintain the true worship of God, you do with the same constancy prosecute this course unto the end.
It was surely a point of rare virtue, that whereas you did know that many did hate nothing more than the frank profession and free study of godliness, yet, so soon as the truth of the Gospel of Christ did once shine and appear unto you, you did not fear by giving your name to provoke their hatred against you. Neither do those offices and good turns deserve small praise, which you did not cease to bestow upon the cherishing and increasing of the first beginnings of the Church; although this your diligence did purchase unto you great envy amongst many noblemen, which did not allow the same. But, because you have no less hard straits to pass through, you must oftentimes stir up and encourage yourself to overcome them all, until you have finished the last act; and, so much the more carefully, because many princes, although they see the estate of the Church filthily corrupt, yet dare they attempt no remedy; because that danger which they fear will proceed from innovation, when evils must be driven out of their old and quiet possession, doth hinder and keep them back from doing their duty. Other some think it to be an absurd and foolish thing to touch (or set hand to) diseases which are incurable. Other some (I cannot tell through what forwardness) do flee from and abhor all manner of reformation. But to intreat of those lets wherewith you are environed on every side, it were superfluous, especially seeing you know them well enough. Yet, howsoever Satan doth assault you, and with what combats soever he doth exercise you, you cannot, without great wickedness, be weary of this holy warfare, which you have professed under Christ his banner. Furthermore, although you be forward enough of yourself, yet I hope it will neither be troublesome, nor yet unprofitable for you, to have your prosperous course of your earnest study, holpen and furthered with this help which God doth offer unto your hands by me. F4
So often as we see things tossed to and fro, and, as it were, turned topsy-turvy in the world, there can no more fit and sure prop be found to establish and stay our weak consciences, than when as setting before our eyes the kingdom of Christ, as it doth now appear, we consider what hath been F5 the estate and condition of the same from the beginning. When we speak of the kingdom of Christ, we must respect two things; the doctrine of the gospel, whereby Christ doth gather unto himself a church, and whereby he governeth the same, being gathered together; secondly, ,he society of the godly, who being coupled together by the sincere faith of the gospel, are truly accounted the people of God. Both which things, how lively they are expressed by Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, it is better to know by the reading of the whole book, than to believe either my commendation, or the commendation of any man else. For although the Son of God hath always reigned, even from the first beginning of the world, yet after that, being revealed in the flesh, he published his gospel, he began then to erect a more famous tribunal-seat than before, whence he doth now appear most plainly, and to be also most glorious. If we turn our eyes hither, they shall be fed, not with a vain picture, (as Virgil saith of his AEneas) but with the sound knowledge of those things from which we must fetch life. And to the end I may return unto that whereof I determined to speak, this is the best refuge for the conscience of men, where they may quietly rest amidst these troublesome tempests wherewith the world is shaken. Finally, this meditation alone shall bring to pass, that that shall never befall us, which too too many experiments do prove to have been truly spoken by Ennius in times past of the more part of men, that wisdom is driven away so often as the matter is handled by violence. For if, in the greatest and most vehement heat of combats, the sweet harmony of instruments was of such force amongst the Lacedemonians, that it did assuage that furiousness and fierceness which was engendered in that warlike people, and did temper that violence which doth then out of measure rage in those natures which are otherwise impatient, how much more shall the kingdom of Christ do this by the heavenly pleasant tune of the Holy Ghost, which doth not only tame most cruel beasts, but maketh also lambs of wolves, lions, and bears; which turneth spears into hooks, and swords into ploughshares?
Therefore, seeing that, most noble prince, I offer unto you such kind of temperature as the necessity of times requireth, I hope that this duty of mine shall not be unwelcome to your highness; so that, indeed, you shall perceive this kind of confirmation to be very profitable and fit to look into the beginning of the Church, as it is described of Luke, wherein appeareth both wonderful power of God under the reproach of the cross, and also most valiant patience of the servants of God, under the huge burden of troubles, and the success itself incredible to the judgment of the world, bringeth forth most plentiful fruit of both. But that I may omit other things which you had better set [seek] out by reading of Luke himself, I will touch one thing which is proper to earthly princes, and the chief governors of kingdoms and countries; to wit, that seeing that (the power of the whole world gainsaying, and all men which were then in authority being armed to oppress the gospel) a few men, obscure, unarmed, and contemptible, trusting only to the aid of the truth and the Spirit, did labor so stoutly in spreading abroad the faith of Christ, did refuse no pains nor danger, did stand stoutly against all assaults, until at length they got the victory; there remaineth no excuse for Christian nobles, who are of any dignity, seeing God hath furnished them with the sword to defend the kingdom of his Son, unless they be at least as constant and bold to take upon them such an honorable office.
Furthermore, it is not my part to declare how faithfully and uprightly I have behaved myself in interpreting this history. I hope, surely, my labor shall be fruitful to all men. And as for you, most worthy prince, I must again request and beseech you, that you do both privately addict yourself wholly unto Christ his government, as you have of late happily begun; and that you would also become not only a faithful helper, but also a most stout and valiant standard-bearer in furthering the kingdom of Christ unto so many noble men, whom not only the renown of their stock and lineage, but also the excellency of their virtues, doth commend. God hath vouchsafed to bestow upon the realm of Polonia a singular privilege of honor, that the better part of the nobility, bidding adieu to wicked superstitions, which are as many corruptions and pollutions of the worship of God, should desire with one consent a true form of godliness, and a well framed and reformed order of the Church. It is well known that these men were not a little aided by your authority. But there remain more combats both for you and also for them, than that, like overworn F6 soldiers, you should give yourselves to idleness and rest.
First, although no foreign enemy trouble you, you shall have business enough to withstand those evils which are at home with you. You have sufficiently tried with how many sleights Satan is furnished, that he may work some policy to overthrow that holy concord amongst brethren, wherein consisteth the safety of the Church; that befalleth you which is common everywhere, for troublesome men to thrust in themselves when things are out of order; who, whilst they see a few, and those weaklings troubled by a great multitude, and that they do with much ado defend the truth, which is covered with the thick clouds of false accusations, they do more easily come upon them unawares F7 And by this subtlety doth that chief worker of all deceit and guile seek the ruin of the Church, not only by cutting, mangling, and pulling in pieces the unity of the faith, but by burdening the name of Christ with false envy; because the companies of the godly, amongst whom these wicked knaves mix themselves, seem to be certain receptacles and sinks of all filthiness.
So, whilst that Stancarus, a man of a troublesome nature, doth, through that ambition wherewith he is wholly set on fire, spread abroad amongst you his dotings, hereupon brake out that contention which threateneth some scattering abroad; and you were laid open unto the slanders of many, because it was thought that his sect did spread itself farther. Behold, on the other side, a certain physician, called George Blandrata, worse than Stancarus, because his error is more detestable, and because he hath in his mind more secret poison. For which cause these also are the more worthy to be reproved, at whose hands the ungodliness of Servetus hath found such favor of such a sudden. For although I am persuaded that they are far from those perverse and sacrilegious opinions, yet they should have taken better heed, and not have suffered this fox craftily to creep into their company. Because such plagues will never be wanting, neither will Satan ever cease to bring abroad into the forefront such champions as have given over themselves to serve him, that he may trouble the beginnings of the gospel, it is for you to be continually in a readiness; and to the end you may prevent greater evils, you must set down right and godly manner of government, which is the faithful keeping of holy peace. For as it is manifest that purity of doctrine is the soul of the Church, so we may full well compare discipline unto the sinews, wherewith the body being bound and knit together, doth maintain his [its] strength.
Now, on the other side, the ungodliness of other enemies ought to sharpen your study (and earnestness,) I mean the preachers of Antichrist of Rome, who, to the end they may deceive the ignorant, do continually, with shrill voice, sound out the name of the Church. There is no controversy amongst us about the Church, but all grant that the authority thereof ought to be reverenced of all the children of God; save only that they, under false color of honor, do make the shadowish name of the Church subject to their lusts; we do so reverence the Church from our heart, that we account it great wickedness to profane the sacred name thereof. That I may omit other godly ministers of pure and sound doctrine, I myself have again and again heretofore in many places handled this question. When mention is made of the Church, whose head is the Son of God, and which he, who is the fountain of life eternal, doth always quicken by his Spirit, how ridiculous a thing it is to bring forth a body without a head, and, secondly, a dead carcass.
The hireling flatterers of the Pope do cry out that they have the Church; but we can know by no means better, whether this be true or no, than when we look unto the head. As for that, it is manifest that it is cut off by their sacrilegious violence. For how shall Christ retain the place of the head, being despoiled of all his power, thrown down from his government, deprived of his dignity? Upon this condition hath the heavenly Father made him the head of the Church, that he may govern all men from the greatest to the least, by the doctrine of his gospel; that he may be the only priest to reconcile the Father continually, as he hath once appeased his wrath by the sacrifice of his death; that his death may continually purge our sins; that his blood may be the only washing; that his obedience may be a perfect satisfaction; that he may be a (continual and) sole intercessor, through whose means our prayers may be heard; that he may be a faithful defender and tutor, that he may, by his aid, defend us; that (the vices of our flesh being tamed) he may reform us unto righteousness and holiness; that he alone may begin and finish in us a blessed life. If the Papists have left him any of these things, let them have the Church on their side. But if the Pope, oppressing men’s consciences with his fierce and more cruel tyranny, have disannulled and taken away Christ his government; if he have brought in a form of government altogether contrary to the gospel; if he have invented a new and strange priesthood, that he may thrust-in himself, being but a mortal man, to be the mediator between God and the world; if he have forged daily sacrifices, that he may trot them in Christ’s place; if he have invented a thousand satisfactions for sins; if he have brought reigned washings from the lake of hell, to make dry the blood of the Son of God; if he have put in his place infinite patrons; if he have torn in a thousand pieces that righteousness which must be set [sought] wholly from him; if, instead of the Holy Ghost, he have erected man’s free-will; it is, without all question, that the true Christ is banished far from Papistry. For this cause have I said that the Papists make boast of a dead carcass instead of the lively body of Christ, because, though they have extinguished the doctrine of the gospel, (which is the true soul of the Church, and which duly doth quicken the same,) yet they do greatly boast of a shadowish and trifling kind of Church.
We make it full well known how corrupt the purity of doctrine is amongst them, yea, with what monstrous errors it is polluted. They do not only cover all their corruptions under the shadow of the Church, but also complain that we do great injury to the Church, because we say that the same doth err. But they should first have examined the doctrine, that the Church might thereby be known. These just and honest judges will have the reigned title of doctrine to have sufficient force of prejudice to cover and suppress the difference, and that not to deceive men. For with what sleights and legerdemain would they assay to blear even dazzling eyes in so great light? But because they account this liberty of lying a part of their tyranny, they think they reign not as they would, unless they reproachfully mock miserable souls.
That we may set an example no farther, we have seen in our times, sometimes the Tridentine Fathers, sometimes the Fathers of Bononia, who, although they were even at daggers drawing among themselves, yet did they foam out their vain canons on both sides. And surely if men assent to their principles, the triumph shall be prepared on both sides. There sit there I cannot tell how many bishops and abbots, peradventure an hundred horned beasts. If the most fine flower of all the nation should shine there, yet should it be nothing else but a wicked conspiracy against God. And now after that the Pope hath gathered together the bran and chips of his unclean and filthy rotten flock, shall the representative Church suddenly appear there? And are they not yet ashamed to call that an holy, general, and lawful Council, which doth not deserve so much as to be called a vain and comical visor of a Council? But as for us, to whom the promise is made, that Antichrist, who sitteth in the temple of God, shall be destroyed with the breath of the Lord’s mouth; let not us (I say) cease to refute this filthy and whorish impudency, with that most sacred word which they so boldly mock, that all men may see what difference there is between the chaste spouse of Christ and the stinking whore of Belial; between the sanctuary of God and the brothel-house of Satan; between the spiritual house of the godly and the stye of hogs; and, finally, between the true Church and the court of Rome. There can no more certain or plain demonstration be brought concerning this matter either by Euclid, either yet by Archimedes, than if the Church, as Luke describeth it, be compared with the Popish synagogue. Neither am I so strait that I would have that confused lump, being altogether repugnant unto the order of nature and manner of humanity, to be agreeable in all points to the rule of the Apostles, which is angelical and heavenly. If they can show any thing wherein they are like unto them, F8 they may triumph for me; but forasmuch as all things are contrary, and although the more part of men become blind willingly, at least wise, [still] seeing the whole heavens do allow F9 us, we may not only contemn their brain-sick pride without any fear, but also freely speak evil of the same.
In the mean season, we have no small consolation to support us, that howsoever the Papists do set against us with stern countenance F10 the name and title of the Church, yet we know that we fight only against the professed enemies of Christ. We ought above all things to desire, that the most renowned king, who, according to his wisdom, hath long ago spied out the subtle sleights of the Romish court, commanding those vain bulls to avoid, F11 wherein the council boasteth afar off, may at length more freely apply his mind unto the earnest and perfect restoring of the Church; yet ought no lingering to keep you back, but every one of you must, with might and main, endeavor to enlarge and spread abroad those beginnings which are begun to arise so happily.
Farewell, most excellent lord and right renowned prince. The Lord always govern you with his Spirit, amplify by all means your dignity, and bless your godly enterprises even unto the end.
At Geneva, the 1st of August, 1560.
THE ARGUMENT
UPON
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
To the intent that all godly men may, with more diligence, read this history, and also be more desirous thereof, it shall not be without profit briefly to note what commodity they shall reap thereby.
This is the chiefest praise that a profane history hath, namely, that it is the mistress of life. If that narration of famous deeds, which only teacheth men what they ought to follow, or what they ought to eschew, in their common actions, deserve such a title, of how great praise are the divine histories worthy, which do not only frame the outward life of man that he may win praise by virtue, but also (which is more) which declare unto us that God, from the beginning, hath had a special regard always of his Church, (and faithful congregation,) that he hath been always a most just revenger of all wrongs done unto those that have betaken themselves unto his tuition, and have committed themselves unto his custody; that he hath showed himself favorable and merciful unto most miserable and wretched sinners; and, lastly, by teaching us faith, raised us high above the heavens. I say nothing of this, that they do everywhere set forth the providence of God, that they distinguish the true worship of God from the false, and never err in the difference of vice and virtue; although I omit now also those worthy praises which used most commonly to be attributed unto the sacred histories, intending only shortly to touch those which are proper to this book which we have taken in hand.
Those things which Luke setteth before us in this place to be learned are not only great, but also of rare profit; for, first, in that he showeth that the Spirit of God was sent unto the apostles, he doth not only prove that Christ was faithful (and true) in keeping his promise made unto his apostles; but also he certifieth us, that he is always mindful of his, and a perpetual governor of his Church, because the Holy Spirit did descend from heaven to this end; whereby we learn that the distance of place doth no whit hinder Christ from being present with those that be his at all times. Now, here is most lively painted out the beginning of Christ’s kingdom, and as it were the renewing of the world; for although the Son of God had gathered together, by his preaching, a certain Church, before such time as he departed out of the world, yet, nevertheless, that was the best form of the Church which began then, when as the apostles, having new power given them from above, began to preach that that only Shepherd did both die and also rise again, that through his conduct all those which were dispersed, far and wide, (upon the face of the whole earth,) might be gathered unto one sheepfold. Here is, therefore, set down both the beginning and also the increasing of the Church of Christ after his ascension, whereby he was declared to be King both of heaven and earth.
Furthermore, therein appeareth, as well the marvelous power of Christ, as the great force and efficacy of the gospel itself; for in that Christ, by a sort of simple souls, (and of no reputation amongst men,) being indued also with no eloquence at all, hath subdued the whole world so easily, by the only voice of the gospel, whereas, notwithstanding Satan did resist him with so many lets, he hath showed a most manifest token of his divine power and might therein. And also, we see in the same the incredible force of the gospel, that it did not only come forth and show itself, although the whole world did say nay, but also with great glory and majesty, make all that which did seem stubborn to be obedient unto Christ. Therefore, these few and simple creatures did more prevail against the troublesome tumults of the world, with the base and simple sound of their mouth, than if God should openly have thrown down lightnings F12 from heaven. And, on the other side, the Spirit of God teacheth us, that the kingdom of Christ beginneth never sooner to flourish, but by and by Satan opposeth himself most furiously against the same, and useth all his engines either utterly to overthrow or sore to shake the same. Neither are we only taught, that Satan doth resist Christ as an enemy, but also that the whole world doth furiously rage together against him, that he may not reign over them. Yea, furthermore, that is to be set down as a thing most certain, that wicked men, whilst they do so rage against the gospel, do both fight under Satan’s banner, and are pricked forward by him into so blind fury. Hereupon do arise so many uproars, so many plaguy conspiracies, so many devilish endeavors of the reprobate to overthrow the gospel, (and to hinder the free passage of the same,) which Luke setteth down almost in every place.
Lastly, like as the apostles have indeed tried, F13 that the doctrine of the gospel is a fire and a sword, so may we learn by their experience that it will always come to pass, not only by the obstinate malice of Satan, but also by the fatal stubbornness of men, that the gospel shall suffer many conflicts, and that thereby many tumults shall be raised. But, on the other side, he declareth that the apostles, (with a stout stomach,) with a lively courage and invincible violentness [force] of mind, did, notwithstanding, execute the office which they knew was enjoined them by God; and also, what innumerable troubles they suffered with great perseverance, what wearisomeness they passed over, how patiently they sustained most cruel persecution; and, lastly, how meekly they suffered reproach, sorrow, and calamity of all sorts. And we must learn patience by such examples, seeing the Son of God hath pronounced that the cross and tribulation shall always accompany his gospel; we must not pamper and cherish ourselves with a vain hope, as though the state and condition of the Church should be quiet (prosperous) and flourishing here upon earth. Let us, therefore, address ourselves to suffer the like things. And that is added as no small comfort for us, that as God hath marvelously delivered his Church in times past, being afflicted and oppressed so many ways, so he will at this day be present with us also. For, surely, seeing that in this book is declared how that God, by his mighty hand and outstretched arm alone, doth continually defend his Church, being amidst continual deaths: God himself, by this means, setteth before our eyes his continual providence in procuring the safety thereof.
Furthermore, here are set down certain sermons of the apostles which intreat in such sort of the great mercies of God, of the grace of Christ, of the hope of blessed immortality, of the calling upon God, of repentance and the fear of God, and also of other principal points of Christian doctrine, that we need not seek the whole sum of godliness anywhere else.: But that I may now omit the declaration of sound and pure doctrine, — if that be a thing most needful to be known, namely, to understand how the Church of Christ first began; how the apostles began to preach the gospel; what success they had in the same; what cruel combats they suffered; how manfully they passed through so many lets and impediments; how courageously they triumphed over all the pride of the world under the reproach of the cross; how wonderfully God was present with them: then must we highly esteem of this book, which, unless it were extant, the knowledge of so great things should either be quite buried, or greatly obscured, or wrapped in divers doubts. For we see that Satan used all his engines, that he might so bring to pass, that never any of the acts of the apostles might come to light, but such only as were mixed with lies; to the end he might bring into suspicion what thing soever was spoken of them, and so by that means might pluck out of the minds of the godly all the remembrance of that age. For he always raised up, either doting fools or crafty flouters, F14 that they might spread abroad a sort of filthy fables under the names of other men; the blockishness whereof did much discredit even the true histories.
So in those books of Peter and Paul, which are reigned to be of Linus his doing, are contained such a sort of stinking trifles, that they cause the wicked to laugh at them, and the godly to loathe them. So that reigned disputation of Peter with Simon Magus is so ridiculous, that it doth discredit the name of a Christian. The same opinion must we have of all that mingle-mangle, F15 which is set before the Recognitions and Councils of Clement, and recited of Gratianus in his Fragments. They beguile the unskillful under color of ancient names; the wicked boast of those as of oracles, no less boldly than impudently, when as, indeed, they are filthy toys. Satan did use such liberty to lie, that we might have no certain thing left us after Christ’s ascension. So that unless this work F16 of Luke were extant, it might seem that Christ being taken up into heaven, left no fruit of his death or resurrection upon earth. For all should have vanished away with his body. We should not know that Christ was so received into his celestial glory, that, nevertheless, he beareth rule in all the world; we should not know that the gospel was published by the apostles, and so came from them unto us, though by the means of others; F17 we should not know that they were inspired by the Holy Ghost, lest they should teach anything but that which was divine, to the end our faith might be grounded only upon the infallible verity of God. Last of all, we should not know that that prophecy of Esaias was fulfilled, wherein he foretold that the law should come out of Sion, and the Word of the Lord out of Jerusalem.
Seeing this book proceeding, no doubt, from the Spirit of God, taketh from us all doubting of these things, we must count the same as a great treasure, as I have said before not without cause, and now again confirm the same.
COMMENTARY
UPON
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
CHAPTER 1

ACTS 1:1-2
1. The former speech truly have we had, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and teach, 2. Even until that day, wherein, after he had given commandment by the Holy Ghost to the apostles, which he had chosen, he was taken up.

THAT he may pass over unto those things which followed the ascension of Christ, he briefly gathereth the sum of all those which before he had handled in the former book, that he may annex this thereunto. And he briefly setteth down this description of the history of the gospel, that it is a narration of those things which Christ did and said so long as he was conversant upon earth. Furthermore, whereas they interpret this commonly, that there was first in Christ purity of life, before such time as he began to preach, it maketh nothing unto Luke’s mind. Truth it is, that the manners of a good and godly teacher ought so to be framed, that he speak first with his life, then with his tongue, otherwise he should differ nothing from a stage-player. But Luke hath respect rather unto that which he had said about the end of his gospel, (<422419>Luke 24:19,) namely, that Christ was a prophet mighty in deed and word, that is, such a one as did excel no less in deeds than in words; although there be but small difference betwixt these two places. For the mightiness of works which is commended there doth belong unto his miracles, but this, to do, doth reach further in my opinion, namely, that under the same are comprehended all the famous acts which were proper unto his ministry, wherein his death and resurrection are the chiefest. For the office of the Messias did not only consist in doctrine, but it was also behoveful that he should make peace between God and man, that he should be a Redeemer of the people, a restorer of the kingdom, and an author of everlasting felicity. All these things, I say, as they were promised of the Messias, so were they looked for at his hands.
Now we see that the sum of the gospel consisteth of these two parts, namely, of the doctrine of Christ, and of his acts; forasmuch as he did not only bring unto men that embassage which was given him in charge of his Father, but also performed all things that could be required of the Messias. He began his kingdom, he pacified God with his sacrifice, he purged man’s sins with his own precious blood, he subdued death and the devil, he restored us unto true liberty, he purchased righteousness and life for us. And to the end that whatsoever he either did or said might be certain, he proved himself by miracles to be the Son of God. So that this word, to do, is extended unto his miracles also; but it must not be restrained only unto the same. Here must we note, that those which have only the bare knowledge of the history have not the gospel; unless the knowledge of the doctrine which maketh manifest the fruits of the acts of Christ be adjoined thereunto. For this is a holy knot which no man may dissolve. Therefore, whensoever mention is made of the doctrine of Christ, let us learn to adjoin thereunto his works, as seals whereby the truth thereof is established and confirmed, and the effect declared. Furthermore, that we may reap commodity by his death and resurrection, and also that miracles may have their use, we must always have respect unto him that speaketh. For this is the true rule of Christianity.
1. Of all things which he began. I do not greatly mislike the interpretation which some give of this place that Luke said rather of all than all; because it is possible in some measure to intreat of the works and doctrine of Christ, but to set down the whole course, that the narration may be perfect, were a matter of great F18 weight. Like as John doth declare that the world could not contain the books, (<432125>John 21:25.) That is also to be noted that Luke saith, that he began his history at the beginning of the works of Christ. But so soon as he hath declared the nativity of Christ, he passeth over unto the twelfth year of his age (<420242>Luke 2:42;) and after he had briefly spoken of his disputation had in the temple with the doctors, passing over eighteen years without speaking any thing of them, he entereth [on] the just narration of the works of Christ. It is, therefore, manifest that those works and sayings only which make any thing unto the sum of our salvation are noted in this place. For, after that Christ came abroad into the world clothed with our flesh, he lived privately at home until he was thirty years of age, at which time his Father put upon him another manner of person. God would have him to lead the former part of his life obscurely, to this end, that the knowledge of these things might be more excellent which do edify our faith.
The former speech. It seemed good to me to translate this on this wise, because logon poieisqa<i, is the same with the Grecians, which verba facere, or to speak, is with the Latins, as Budaeus doth note. And we must understand the contrariety of the second part, which he taketh in hand, that we may know that the evangelist determined with himself afresh to write, having new matter whereupon to write.
2. Even until that day. Therefore, the ascension of Christ is the end of the history of the gospel. For he hath ascended, saith Paul, that he might fulfill all things, (<490410>Ephesians 4:10.) Our faith gathereth other fruit thereby; but it shall be sufficient to note in this place, that our redemption was fully complete and finished then when Christ did ascend unto his Father; and, therefore, that Luke did fully perform his duty in this narration, as touching the doctrine and works of Christ. And he is said to be taken up, that we may know that he is truly departed out of this world, lest we should consent unto their dotings who think that in his ascension there was no alteration of place made.
Commandment by the Holy Ghost. Luke showeth in these words, that Christ did not so depart out of the world that he did no longer care for us; for in that he hath ordained a perpetual government in his Church, he thereby declareth that he had a care to provide for our salvation; yea, he hath promised that he will be present with his to the end, (<402820>Matthew 28:20,) like as, indeed, he is always present by his ministers. Luke, therefore, doth show unto us, that Christ did no sooner depart hence, but straightway he provided for the government of his Church; whence we may gather that he is careful for our salvation. And this his providence hath Paul plainly noted in the place lately cited, when he saith, That he hath fulfilled all things, making some apostles, some evangelists, some pastors, etc. But these commandments, which the evangelist saith Christ gave unto his disciples, do I interpret of the preaching of the gospel; like as ambassadors use to be instructed with certain precepts before they go of their embassage, lest they should rashly attempt any thing contrary to his will and mind that sendeth them. And all this is spoken in commendation of that doctrine which the apostles taught. The which that it may appear more manifestly, every thing is to be marked in order as it lieth. First of all, he saith they were elect and chosen of Christ, that we may be certain of their calling unto that function. Neither doth he in this place set God’s election against man’s merits, but only affirmeth that they were raised up by God, and that they did not rashly take upon them this function. That is true, indeed, that they were freely chosen; but now have we to inquire what is Luke’s drift in this place. I say that he hath respect unto nothing else, but that we may be certain of the calling of the apostles, that we may learn not to have respect unto men, but unto the Son of God, the author thereof, because this must always be a maxim in the Church, that no man usurp any honor. Secondly, he saith, that they were instructed of Christ what they should do. As if he should say, that they uttered not their own inventions, but they delivered that sincerely and faithfully which was enjoined them by their heavenly Master. And to the end that that which Christ taught them might be the more reverenced, he addeth this, that this was done by the direction of the Holy Ghost. Not because the Son of God had any need to be guided by any other, who is eternal wisdom, but because he was also man, lest any man should think that he did deliver those things unto his disciples which he delivered by man’s wit and reason, he calleth us back expressly unto the divine authority. Like as the Lord himself doth so often affirm, that he taught nothing but that which he had received of his Father; and therefore he saith, that his doctrine was not his own. Therefore, he signifieth that in the preaching of the gospel there is nothing which issueth from man’s brain, but that it is the divine ordinance of the Spirit, whereunto the whole world must be subject.

ACTS 1:3-5
3. To whom also he showed himself alive, after that he had suffered, in many proofs, while that he is seen of them by the space o f forty days, and he intreateth of the kingdom of God. 4. And when he had gathered them together, he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but that they should wait for the promise of the Father; whereof, saith he, ye have heard of me: 5. Because John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, after a few days.

3. Unto whom, etc. He addeth this, that he might make the resurrection to be believed, as a thing most necessary to be known, and without the which the whole gospel falleth fiat to the ground, neither remaineth there any more faith. And that I may omit to speak of other discommodities that come by being ignorant of the resurrection of Christ, the gospel loseth his whole authority, unless we know and be also fully persuaded that Christ being alive, speaketh unto us from the heavens. Whereunto Luke hath chiefest respect in this place. Therefore, that the truth hereof might not be called in question, he saith that it was proved by many signs and tokens. Those which Erasmus, following an old interpreter, doth call arguments, I have translated proofs. For Aristotle doth call that tekmhrion, in the first book of his Rhetorics, which is necessary in signs. This is, therefore, that which I said before, that Christ did make manifest his resurrection unto his apostles by evident tokens, which did serve instead of necessary proofs, lest they should doubt of the same. Furthermore, he doth not reckon up those tokens and signs, saving only that he saith, that Christ did appear unto them about the space of a month and one-half oftentimes. If he had but once appeared unto them, it might have been somewhat suspicious, but in showing himself so often unto them, he dissolveth all doubts which might arise in their minds, and by this means, also, he putteth away the reproach of the ignorance which he said was in the apostles, lest it discredit their preaching.
He intreateth of the kingdom of God. He telleth us again that the apostles themselves were well taught F19 before such time as they took upon them to teach others; therefore, whatsoever things they uttered and brought to light, either by word or by writing, touching the kingdom of God, they are those speeches which Christ himself uttered. And hereby doth he briefly set down the end of the doctrine of the gospel; namely, that God may reign in us. Regeneration is the beginning of this kingdom, and the end thereof is blessed immortality; the middle proceedings are in a more ample going forward and increase of regeneration. But that this thing may appear more evidently, we must first note, that we are born, and that we live aliens and strangers from the kingdom of God, until such time as God doth fashion us again unto a new life. Therefore, we may properly set the world, the flesh, and whatsoever is in man’s nature against the kingdom of God, as contrary to it. For the natural man is wholly occupied about the things of this world, and he seeketh felicity here; F20 in the mean season, we are as it were banished from God, and he likewise from us; but Christ, by the preaching of the gospel, doth lift us up unto the meditation of the life to come. And to the end he may the better bring this to pass, he reformeth all our earthly affections, and so having striped us out of the vices of our flesh, he separateth us from the world. And, like as eternal death is prepared for all those which live after the flesh, so in as much as the inward man is renewed in us, that we may go forward in the spiritual life, we draw nearer unto the perfection of the kingdom of God; which is the society of the glory of God. Therefore, God will reign in and amongst us now, that he may at length make us partakers of his kingdom. Hereby we gather that Christ did principally intreat of the corruption of mankind; of the tyranny of sin, whose bond-slaves we are; of the curse and guiltiness of eternal death, whereunto we all are subject, and also of the means to obtain salvation; of the remission of sins; of the denying of the flesh; of spiritual righteousness; of hope of eternal life, and of like such things. And if we will be rightly instructed in Christianity, we must apply our studies to these things.
4. Gathering them together, he commanded, etc. They had before done the duty of Apostles; but that lasted but a while; and, secondly, so far forth that they might with their preaching awake the Jews to hear their Master. And so that commandment to teach, which Christ had given them, (<401007>Matthew 10:7,) whilst he lived with them upon earth, was, as it were, a certain entrance into their apostleship which was to come, for which they were not yet ripe. Therefore, their ordinary function was not laid upon them, until such time as Christ was risen again; but they stirred up their nation (as I have said) like criers, that they might give ear to Christ. And then at length, after the resurrection, they were made Apostles, to publish abroad throughout the whole world that doctrine which was committed to them. And whereas after they were made Apostles, Christ commandeth them as yet to abstain from their office, that is done not without just cause; yea, many causes may be alleged why it should be so. That filthy forsaking of their Master was yet fresh; many notes and tokens of unbelief were yet fresh. Whereas, they had been so thoroughly taught, and had so suddenly forgotten all, they showed a manifest token of their great dullness of wit. Neither were they free from sluggishness, which could not otherwise fitly be purged, than by deferring the promised grace, that he might the more sharpen their desire. But this cause is chiefly to be noted, that the Lord did appoint a certain time for the sending of the Spirit, that the miracle might be the more apparent. Again, he suffered them to rest a while, that he might the better set forth the greatness of that business which he was about to commit unto them. And thereby is the truth of the gospel confirmed, because the Apostles were forbidden to address themselves to preach the same, until they should be well prepared in succession of time.
And they were commanded to stay together, because they should all have one spirit given them. If they had been dispersed, the unity should not have been so well known. Though they were scattered abroad afterwards in divers places, yet because they brought that which they had from one and the same fountain, it was all one, as if they always had had all one mouth. Furthermore, it was expedient that they should begin to preach the gospel at Jerusalem, that the prophecy might be fulfilled,
“There shall a law go out of Zion,
and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem,” (<230203>Isaiah 2:3.)
Although the participle sunalizomenov, may be diversely translated, yet Erasmus his translation did please me best, because the signification of gathering together will agree better with the text, [context.]
They should wait for the promise. It was meet that these should be accustomed to obey first, who should shortly after lay Christ’s yoke upon the neck of the world. And surely they have taught us by their example, that we must work and rest at the Lord’s pleasure alone. For if, during our life, we go on warfare under his banner and conduct, surely he ought to have no less authority over us than any earthly captain hath in his army. Therefore, as warlike discipline requireth this, that no man wage unless he be commanded by the captain, so it is not lawful for us either to go out, or to attempt any thing, until the Lord give the watchword; and so soon as he bloweth the retreat, we must stay, [halt.] Moreover, we are taught that we are made partakers of the gifts of God through hope. But we must mark the nature of hope as it is described in this place. For that is not hope which every man feigneth to himself unadvisedly, but that which is grounded on the promise of God. Therefore Christ cloth not suffer his apostles to look for whatsoever they will, but he addeth expressly the promise of the Father. Furthermore, he maketh himself a witness thereof; because we ought to be so sure and certain, that although all the engines of hell gainstand us, yet this may remain surely fixed in our minds, that we have believed God. I know, saith Paul, whom I have believed, (<550112>2 Timothy 1:12.) And here he putteth them in mind of those things which are written in <431415>John 14:15, 16,
“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may continue with you; I say the Spirit of truth,” etc.
Again,
“I have spoken these things unto you while I am with you.” “And the Spirit, whom my Father shall send in my name, shall teach you all things,” (<431425>John 14:25, 26,) etc.
And again,
“When the Spirit of truth shall come, whom I will send from my Father, he shall bear witness of me,” (<431526>John 15:26.)
And again,
“If I shall go hence, I will send you the Comforter, who shall reprove the world,” (<431607>John 16:7.)
And he had said long before,
“He which believeth in me, out of his belly
shall flow rivers of living water,”
(<430738>John 7:38.)
5. Because John truly. Christ repeateth this unto his apostles out of John’s own words. For some part of them had heard that at John’s mouth, which the Evangelists report, “I truly baptize you with water, but he that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” Now Christ pronounceth that they shall well perceive that that is true indeed which he said. Furthermore, this serveth greatly to confirm the sentence next going before, for it is an argument drawn from the office of Christ. And that thus: John was sent to baptize with water, he fulfilled his function as it became the servant of God. The Son of God is sent to baptize with the Holy Ghost; it remained, therefore, that he do his duty. Neither can it be otherwise but he must do that which his Father hath commanded him to do, and for which also he came down into the earth. But it seemeth a very absurd thing to restrain that unto the visible sending of the Holy Ghost, which was spoken universally of regeneration. F21 I answer, that Christ did not then only baptize with the Holy Ghost, when as he sent him under the form of fiery tongues; for he had baptized his apostles before this; and he baptizeth all the elect thus daily. But because the sending of the Holy Ghost after so glorious a sort was a token of the hidden grace wherewith he doth daily inspire his elect, he doth fitly apply thereunto the testimony of John. And truly this was as though it had been the common baptism of the Church. For besides that the apostles did not receive the Spirit for themselves only, but for the use of all the faithful, there was also declared the universal favor of Christ towards his Church, while that he poured out thereupon the gifts of his Spirit in great abundance.
Although, therefore, he doth daily baptize the elect of his Father, yet was this no let why he might not show forth this token to be remembered above all others, that the apostles might know that they were only entered by John; and that not in vain, seeing their perfection was hard at hand. And that is frivolous which some gather out of this place most commonly, F22 namely, that the baptism of John and the baptism of Christ were diverse. For here doth not he dispute in this place of baptism, but maketh only a comparison betwixt the person of John and the person of Christ. When as John did say that he did baptize with water only, he did not reason of what sort his baptism was; but what he himself was; lest he should arrogate that unto himself which was proper to Christ. As also, the ministers in these days ought not to speak otherwise of themselves; but they must acknowledge Christ to be the author of all those things which they do prefigure in the outward baptism, and leave nothing to themselves save only the outward administration. For when as these titles are attributed unto baptism, namely, that it is the laver of regeneration, (<560305>Titus 3:5,) a washing away of sins, the fellowship of death, and burying with Christ, (<450604>Romans 6:4,) and a grafting into the body of Christ, it is not declared what man, being the minister of the outward sign, doth; but rather what Christ doth, who only giveth force and efficacy unto the signs. We must always hold fast this distinction, lest, whilst we deck man too much, we take from Christ. F23
But here may a question be moved, why he doth rather name John here than any other; first, It is manifest enough that John did profess himself to be the minister of the outward sign, namely, of water, and that Christ was the author of the spiritual baptism; secondly, Because it was meet that John should decrease and Christ increase; and, thirdly, Because the apostles did so much esteem of John, (<430330>John 3:30,) it might have been that thereby the glory of Christ might have been obscured. Therefore, Christ, to the end he might reclaim them to himself, telleth them that John did only minister unto them the external baptism; notwithstanding, he confirmeth them also, lest they should doubt of the promise; for they did attribute very much unto John, and therefore were they persuaded that the baptism which they had received by him was not in vain. Now, if that the verity and force thereof must be looked for at Christ’s hands, then ought the apostles to hope that that shall surely be fulfilled which John prefigured.
So must we, in like manner, think that we are not in vain baptized with water by men, because Christ, who commanded the same to be done, will fulfill his office, and baptize us with the Spirit. So faith draweth a consequent from the outward sign unto the inward effect; yet doth it not attribute any more than is meet, either to the sign or to the minister thereof, because in the sign it only looketh unto the promise, which is Christ’s, and doth acknowledge him to be the only author of grace. Let us, therefore, use such a mean that we do in no part diminish Christ’s honor; and yet, nevertheless, let us hope for that fruit by our baptism which is noted in this place. By assigning so short a time our Savior maketh them more joyful to hope well. Whereupon it followeth, that that death was not to be lamented which brought with it presently so precious fruit. And let us note this also, that this word baptism is used improperly in this place, that the contrariety may be full. After the same sort, Paul, in his Epistle unto the Romans, (<450326>Romans 3:26,) after he hath set down the law of works, to the end that the contrary may answer on the other side, he useth the law of faith for faith itself.

ACTS 1:6-8
6. And when they, were gathered together, they asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom unto Israel? 7. And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath placed in his own -power. 8. But you shall receive power when as the Spirit shall come up. on you: and you shall be witnesses unto me, as well at Jerusalem as in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the farthest part of the earth.

6. He showeth that the apostles were gathered together when as this question was moved, that we may know that it came not of the foolishness of one or two that it was moved, but it was moved by the common consent of them all; but marvelous is their rudeness, that when as they had been diligently instructed by the space of three whole years, they betray no less ignorance than if they had heard never a word. There are as many errors in this question as words. They ask him as concerning a kingdom; but they dream of an earthly kingdom, which should flow with riches, with dainties, with external peace, and with such like good things; and while they assign the present time to the restoring of the same. they desire to triumph before the battle; for before such time as they begin to work they will have their wages. They are also greatly deceived herein, in that they restrain Christ’s kingdom unto the carnal Israel, which was to be spread abroad, even unto the uttermost parts of the world. Furthermore, there is this fault in all their whole question, namely, that they desire to know those things which are not meet for them to know. No doubt they were not ignorant what the prophets did prophesy concerning the restoring of David’s kingdom, they had oftentimes heard their Master preach concerning this matter. Lastly, It was a saying common in every man’s mouth, that, in the most miserable captivity of the people, they should all be comforted, with the expectation of the kingdom that should be. Now, they hoped for the restoring hereof at the coming of the Messias, and hereupon was it that so soon as the apostles saw their Master Christ risen from the dead, they straightway began to think thereupon; but, in the meantime, they declared thereby how bad scholars they were under so good a Master. Therefore doth Christ briefly comprehend F24 in this short answer all the errors whereinto they fell in this their question, as I shall straightway declare. To restore, in this place, doth signify to set up again that which was fallen, and through many ruins grown out of fashion; for out of the dry stock of Isai [Jesse] should spring a Branch, and the tabernacle of David, which was laid waste, F25 should be erected and set on foot again.
7. It is not for you to know, etc. This is a general reprehension of the whole question. For it was too curious for them to desire to know that whereof their Master would have them ignorant; but this is the true means to become wise, namely, to go as far forward in learning as our Master Christ goeth in teaching, anal willingly to be ignorant of those things which he doth conceal from us. But forasmuch as there is naturally engendered in us a certain foolish and vain curiosity, and also a certain rash kind of boldness, we must diligently observe this admonition of Christ, whereby he correcteth both these vices. But to the end we may know what his meaning is hereby, we must mark the two members which he joineth together. “It is not for you” (saith he) “to know those things which the Father hath placed in his own power.” He speaketh, indeed, of the times and seasons; but seeing there is the like reason in other things, we must think this to be a universal precept, That being contented with the revelation of God, we think it an heinous crime to inquire any further. This is the true mean between the two extremes. The Papists, that they may have somewhat wherewith to cloak their gross ignorance, say for themselves, that they omit the hidden mysteries of God, as though our whole faith and religion did consist upon any thing else than upon the hidden mysteries of God; then may we take our leave of Christ and his gospel, if we must abstain utterly from the hidden mysteries of God. But we must keep, as I said before a mean herein; for we must be desirous to learn so far as our heavenly Master doth teach us; but as for such things as he will have us ignorant of, let mine be so bold as to inquire after them that we may be wise with sobriety. Therefore, so often as we are vexed with this foolish desire of knowing more than we ought, let us call to mind this saying of Christ, “It is not for you to know.” For unless we will burst in against his will and commandment, this shall have force and strength enough to restrain the outrageousness of our wits.
Now, as touching the foreknowledge of times, Christ condemneth only the searching out thereof which reacheth beyond the measure of God’s revelation; and that is to be noted out of the second member, as before I have said, “which the Father hath placed in his own power.” Truth it is, that God hath in his own power winter and summer, and the rest of the seasons of the year, cold and heat, fair weather and foul. But because he hath testified that the course of the years shall be perpetual, (<010104>Genesis 1:41,) he is said not to have placed that in his own power which he hath revealed unto men. What thing soever the philosophers or husbandmen do comprehend or understand by art, by learning, by judgment, or experience, all that doth God not retain unto himself, because he hath after a certain sort revealed it unto them, (<010822>Genesis 8:22.) The same opinion must we have of the prophets; for it was their office to know those things which God did reveal. But we must be ignorant of the secret events of things, as touching the time to come; for there is nothing which may make us more slack in doing our duties, than too careful an inquisition herein, for we will always take counsel according to the future event of things; but the Lord, by hiding the same from us, doth prescribe unto us what we ought to do. Here ariseth a conflict, because we will not willingly suffer God to have that which is his own, namely, the sole government and direction of things which are to come; but we cast ourselves into a strange and inordinate carefulness. To conclude, Christ forbiddeth us to apply those things unto ourselves, which God doth challenge as proper to himself alone. Of this sort is the foreknowledge of those things which God hath taken to himself to govern and direct, according to his own pleasure, far contrary to our opinion, and otherwise than we could invent. F26
8. You shall receive power. Our Savior Christ doth here call them back as well unto the promise of God as also unto his commandment, which was the readiest way to bridle their curiosity. Curiosity doth rise almost always either of idleness or else of distrust; distrust is cured by meditating upon the promises of God. And his commandments do tell us how we ought to occupy ourselves and employ our studies. Therefore, he commandeth his disciples to wait for the promise of God, and to be diligent in executing their office whereunto God had called them. And in the mean season he noteth F27 their great hastiness, in that they did preposterously catch at those gifts which were proper unto the Holy Spirit, when as they were not as yet endued with the same. Neither did they take the right way herein, in that being called to go on warfare, they desire (omitting their labor) to lake their ease in their inn. F28 Therefore, when he saith, you shall receive power, he admonisheth them of their imbecility, lest they follow before the time those things whereunto they cannot attain. It may be read very well either way, You shall receive the power of the Spirit; or, The Spirit coming upon you; yet the latter way seemeth to be the better, because it doth more fully declare their defect trod want, until such time as the Spirit should come upon them.
You shall be my witnesses. He correcteth two errors of theirs in this one sentence. For, first, he showeth that they must fight before they can triumph; and, secondly, that the nature of Christ’s kingdom was of another sort than they judged it to have been. Therefore, saith he, You shall be my witnesses; that is, the husbandman must first work before he can reap his fruits. Hence, nay we learn that we must first study how we may come unto the kingdom of God, before we begin to dispute F29 about the state of the life to come. Many there be which do curiously inquire what manner [of] blessedness that shall be which they shall enjoy after they shall be received into the everlasting kingdom of heaven, not having any care how they may come to enjoy the same. F30 They reason concerning the quality of the life to come, which they shall have with Christ; but they never think that they must be partakers of his death, that they may live together with him, (<550211>2 Timothy 2:11.) Let every man, therefore, apply himself in his work which he hath in hand; let us fight stoutly under Christ’s banner; let us go forward manfully and courageously F31 in our vocation, and God will give fruit in due time (and tide.) There followeth another correction, when he saith, that they must be his witnesses. For hereby he meant to drive out of his disciples’ minds that fond and false imagination which they had conceived of the terrestrial kingdom, because he showeth unto them briefly, that his kingdom consisteth in the preaching of the gospel. There was no cause, therefore, why they should dream of riches, F32 of external principality, or any other earthly thing, whilst they heard that Christ did then reign when as he subdueth unto himself (all the whole) world by the preaching of the gospel. Whereupon it followeth that he doth reign spiritually, and not after any worldly manner. And that which the apostles had conceived of the carnal kingdom proceeded from the common error of their nation; neither was it marvel if they were deceived herein. F33 For when we measure the same with our understanding, what else can we conceive but that which is gross and terrestrial? Hereupon it cometh, that, like brute beasts, we only desire that which is commodious for our flesh, and therefore we rather catch that which is present. Wherefore, we see that those which held opinion, that Christ should reign as a king in this world a thousand years F34 fell into the like folly. Hereupon, also, they applied all such prophecies as did describe the kingdom of Christ figuratively by the similitude of earthly kingdoms unto the commodity of their flesh; whereas, notwithstanding, it was God’s purpose to lift up their minds higher. As for us, let us learn to apply our minds to hear the gospel preached, lest we be entangled in like errors, which prepareth a place in our hearts for the kingdom of Christ. F35
In all Judea. Here he showeth, first, that they must not work for the space of one day only, while that he assigneth the whole world unto them, in which they must publish the doctrine of the gospel. Furthermore, he refuteth F36 the opinion which they had conceived of Israel. They supposed those to be Israelites only which were of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. Christ testifieth that they must gather thereunto all Samaria; which, although they were nigh in situation, yet were they far distant in mind and heart. He showeth that all other regions far distant, and also profane, must be united unto the holy people, that they may be all partakers of one and the same grace. It is evident (<430409>John 4:9) how greatly the Jews did detest the Samaritans. Christ commanded that (the wall of separation being broken down) they be both made one body, (<490214>Ephesians 2:14,) that his kingdom may be erected everywhere. By naming Judea and Jerusalem, which the apostles had tried F37 to be full of most deadly enemies, he foretelleth them of the great business and trouble which was prepared for them, that he may cause them to cease to think upon this triumph which they hoped to have been so nigh at hand. F38 Neither could they be a little afraid to come before so cruel enemies, more to inflame their rage and fury. And here we see how he giveth the former place unto the Jews, because they are, as it were, the first-begotten, (<020422>Exodus 4:22.) Notwithstanding, he calleth those Gentiles one with another, which were before strangers from the hope of salvation, (<490211>Ephesians 2:11.) Hereby we learn, that the gospel was preached everywhere by the manifest commandment of Christ, that it might also come unto us.

ACTS 1:9-11
9. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up on high, and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10. And while they looked up steadfastly into heaven, as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11. Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen him go into heaven.

9. The readers may learn out of our Institutions what profit we reap by the ascension of Christ. Notwithstanding, because it is one of the chiefest points of our faith, therefore doth Luke endeavor more diligently to prove the same; yea, rather, the Lord himself meant to put the same out of all doubt, when as he hath ascended so manifestly, and hath confirmed the certainty of the same by other circumstances. For, if so be it he had vanished away secretly, then might the disciples have doubted what was become of him;F39 but now, sith that they, being in so plain a place, F40 saw him taken up with whom they had been conversant, whom also they heard speak even now, whom they beheld with their eyes, whom also they see taken out of their sight by a cloud, there is no cause why they should doubt whither he was gone. Furthermore, the angels are there also to bear witness of the same. And it was needful that the history should have been set down so diligently for our cause, that we may know assuredly, that although the Son of God appear nowhere upon earth, yet doth he live in the heavens. And this seemeth to be the reason why the cloud did overshadow him, before such time as he did enter into his celestial glory; that his disciples being content with their measure F41 might cease to inquire any further. And we are taught by them that our mind is not able to ascend so high as to take a full view of the glory of Christ; therefore, let this cloud be a mean to restrain our boldness, as was the smoke which was continually before the door of the tabernacle in the time of the law.
10. Two men. He calleth them so by reason of their form. For although it might be that they had the bodies of men in deed, concerning which thing I will not greatly stand in defense of either part, yet certain it is they were not men; but because this metonymia is commonly used in the Scriptures, especially in the First Book of Moses, I will not greatly stand thereupon. Their white garments were a token of rare and excellent dignity. For God meant by this, as by an evident token to distinguish them from the common sort of people, that the disciples might give better ear unto them; F42 and that at this day we also may know that this vision was showed them of God.
11. Ye men of Galilee, etc. I am not of their opinion who think that this name was given the apostles after an opprobrious sort, as if the angels meant to reprehend the slowness and dullness of the apostles. In my opinion, it was rather to make them more attentive, in that men, whom they did never see before, did name them as though they had perfectly known them. But they seem to reprehend without cause, for looking up into heaven. For where should they rather seek for Christ than in heaven? Doth not the Scriptures also oftentimes exhort us thereunto? I answer, that they were not reprehended because they looked up towards heaven; but because they coveted to see Christ, when as the cloud which was put between them and him did keep them from seeing him with their bodily senses: Secondly, because they hoped that he would return again straightway, that they might enjoy the sight of him again, when as lie did ascend to stay in the heavens until such time as he should come F43 to judge the world. Wherefore, let us first learn out of this place that we must not seek Christ either in heaven, either upon earth, otherwise than by faith; and also, that we must not desire to have him present with us bodily in the world; for he that doth F44 either of those two shall oftentimes go farther from him. So this their admiration is reprehended, not simply, but inasmuch as they were astonied by the strangeness of this matter; like as we are oftentimes carried unadvisedly into a wonderful great wondering at God’s works; but we never apply ourselves to consider for what end and purpose they were done.
Jesus, which is taken up into heaven. There are two members in this one sentence. The first is, that Christ was taken up into heaven, that they may not henceforth foolishly desire to have him any longer conversant with them upon earth. The other is straightway added as a consolation concerning his second coming. Out of these two jointly, and also severally, is gathered a firm, stable, and strong argument, to refute the Papists, and all other which imagine that Christ is really present in the signs of bread and wine. For when it is said that Christ is taken up into heaven; here is plainly noted the distance of place. I grant that this word heaven is interpreted divers ways, sometimes for the air, sometimes for the whole connection F45 of the spheres, sometimes for the glorious kingdom of God, where the majesty of God hath his [its] proper scat, howsoever it doth fill the whole world. After which sort Paul doth place Christ above all heavens, (<490122>Ephesians 1:22,) because he is above all the world, and hath the chiefest room in that place of blessed immortality, because he is more excellent than all the angels, (<490415>Ephesians 4:15.) But this is no let why he may not be absent from us bodily, and that by this word heavens, there may not be signified a separation from the world. Let them cavil as much as they will, it is evident that the heaven whereinto Christ was received is opposite to the frame of the world; therefore it doth necessarily follow, that if he be in heaven, he is without [beyond] the world.
But, first, we must mark what the purpose of the angels was, for thereby we shall more perfectly know what the words mean. The angels’ intent was to call back the apostles from desiring the carnal presence of Christ. For this purpose was it that they said that he should not come again until he came to judge the world. And to this end serveth the assigning of the time, that they might not look for him in vain before that same time. Who seeth not that in these words is manifestly showed that he was bodily absent out of the world? Who seeth not that we are forbidden to desire to have him upon the earth? But, they think they escape safe with that crafty answer, when as they say that then he shall come visibly; but he cometh now invisibly daily. But we are not here to dispute of his form; only the apostles are taught that Christ must abide in heaven until such time as he appear at the latter day. For the desiring of his corporeal presence is here condemned as absurd and perverse. The Papists deny that he is present in the sacrament carnally, while that his glorious body is present with us after a supernatural sort, and by a miracle; but we may well enough reject their inventions concerning his glorious body, as childish and frivolous toys. They feign unto themselves a miracle not confirmed with any testimony of Scripture. The body of Christ was then glorious, when as he was conversant with his disciples after his resurrection. This was done by the extraordinary and secret power of God; yet, notwithstanding, the angels do forbid to desire him afterward after that sort, and they say that he shall not come unto men in that sort (before the latter day.) Therefore, according to their commandment, let us not go about to pull him out of the heavens with our own inventions; neither let us think that we call handle him with our hands, or perceive him with our other senses, more than we can see him with our eyes. I speak always of his body. For in that they say it is infinite, as it is all absurd dream, so is it safely to be rejected. Nevertheless, I willingly confess that Christ is ascended that he may fulfill [fill] all things; but I say that he is spread abroad everywhere by the power of his Spirit, not by the substance of his flesh. I grant, furthermore, that he is present With us both in his word and in the sacraments. Neither is it to be doubted, but that all those which do with faith receive the signs of his flesh and blood, are made truly partakers of his flesh and blood. But this partaking doth nothing agree with the dotings of the Papists; for they feign that Christ is present in such sort upon the altar as Numa Pompilius did call down his Jupiter Elicitus, or as those witches did fetch down the moon from heaven with their enchantments. But Christ, by reaching us the bread in his Supper, doth will us to lift up our hearts into heaven, that we may have life by his flesh and blood. So that we do not eat his flesh grossly, that we may live thereby, but he poureth into us, by the secret power of his Spirit, his force and strength.
He shall so come. I have said before, that by this consolation all sorrow which we might conceive, because of Christ’s absence, is mitigated, yea, utterly taken away, when as we hear that lie shall return again. And also the end for which he shall come again is to be noted; namely, that he shall come as a Redeemer, and shall gather us with him into blessed immortality. For as lie doth not now sit idle in heaven, (as Homer signifieth, that his gods be busied only about their bellies;) so shall not he appear again without profit. Therefore, the only looking for Christ’s coming must both restrain the importunate desires of our flesh, and support our patience in all our adversities; and, lastly, it must refresh our weariness. But it worketh this only in the faithful, which believe that Christ is their Redeemer; for it bringeth unto the wicked nothing but dread, horror, and great fearfulness. And howsoever they do now scoff’ and jest when as they hear of his coming, yet shall they be compelled to behold him sitting upon his tribunal-seat, whom now they will not vouchsafe to hear speak. Furthermore, it were but frivolous to move any question about his apparel wherewith he was then clothed, whether he shall come again being clothed with the same or no. Neither am I now determined to refute that which Augustine, in his Epistle unto Consentius, doth touch, (August. ad Con. Epist. 146;) notwithstanding, it is better for me to omit that thing which I cannot unfold.

ACTS 1:12-14
12. Then they returned unto Jerusalem from the mountain which is called Olivet, which is nigh unto Jerusalem, being distant about a Sabbath-day’s journey. 13. And, coming in, they went up into an upper chamber, where abode Peter and James, John and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14. These all abode together with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the wives, (or women,) and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

12. That he may pass over unto another history, he showeth that the disciples being returned unto Jerusalem, dwelt together in one parlor. For it was the upper part of the house, which used to be let out unto those which did hire houses; F46 for the most commodious places were reserved unto them that were masters of the house, (for their own use.) Wherefore, by this word Luke doth signify that they were driven into a strait room; F47 and yet, notwithstanding, though this commodity were great, yet they did not part asunder. They might have been more commodiously asunder, yet might they not part company before they had received the Spirit. In that he noteth here the distance of place, it bringeth credit unto the history. Unless, peradventure, he meant hereby to declare that they were not terrified with any fear of danger, but that they did all return and kept company together in one house, which was not so large, but that the company being greater than the place could well contain, it might breed some rumor (or noise.) A Sabbath-day’s journey was two miles, and that account doth well agree with the place of <431118>John 11:18, where he saith, “that Jerusalem was distant from Bethany almost fifteen furlongs;” which containeth about a thousand and nine hundred paces. And the mount Olivet was at the side of Bethany. There was no Sabbath-day’s journey prescribed in the law; for the Lord doth command them simply to rest upon the Sabbath-day in the law. F48 But because the Jews could not easily be ruled, but that they would run abroad about their business upon the Sabbath-day, (as the Lord himself doth complain, “that they did bear burdens out at the gates,”) (<241724>Jeremiah 17:24,) therefore, it is to be thought that it was determined by the priests, F49 (to the end they might restrain such enormities,) that no man should travel upon the Sabbath-day above two miles. Although Jerome, in his Answers unto Algasia, doth say that this tradition did come from two Rabbins, namely, from Atriba, and from Simon Heli.
13. Where they abode. Some translate it, where they did abide; as though they did use to dwell there. But I am of that opinion, that they did then first of all use that hired room to dwell together in, until such time as the Holy Spirit was come upon them. Too, too ridiculous are the Papists, which go about to prove Peter his supremacy F50 hereby, because he is reckoned up first of all the apostles. Although we do grant that he was the chiefest of the apostles, yet it doth not follow hereupon that he was the chiefest ruler of all the world. But if he be, therefore, the chief of all the apostles, because his name is first in the catalogue of the apostles’ names, I will again conclude, that the mother of Christ was inferior unto all the rest of the women, because she is [here] reckoned the last; which they will in no case admit, as indeed it were a thing too absurd. Wherefore, unless they will set their Papacy to be laughed at of all men, as hitherto they have done, they must leave off to adorn it with such foolish toys. But what is their intent? Forsooth, they will prove out of the Scriptures that there was a secondary head of the Church, inferior to Christ; whereas there is no syllable in the Scripture which is consenting unto this their foolish invention. No marvel is it, therefore, if they do snatch here and there certain places, which, although no man smite them out of their hands, they will let fall of their own accord. But omitting them, let us mark what is Luke’s purpose in this place. Because the disciples had fallen away, and filthily fled from their Master Christ, every man whither fear did drive him, (<402656>Matthew 26:56,) they did deserve, like forsakers of their masters, or run-agates, to be deprived of honor. Therefore, that we may know that by the appointment of the Lord they were gathered together again, and restored to their former degree, Luke reckoneth up all their names.
14. With their wives. Some translate it women; and they think that he speaketh of those which accompanied Christ. As I will not contend with any man concerning this matter, so have I not doubted to prefer that which I thought was more probable. I grant that the word which Luke useth may be interpreted both ways. But this is my reason, why I do think that he speaketh rather of wives, because, seeing that they used afterward to carry their wives about with them, as Paul doth testify, (<460905>1 Corinthians 9:5,) it is not likely that they were then asunder. For they might more easily rest together in one place, than by wandering to and fro oftentimes to change their abiding; and, secondly, seeing that they did look for the coming of the Holy Ghost, which was even then at hand, what reason was there why they should deprive their wives of so great goodness? Peter’s wife was about to be a helper unto him shortly after, which we must also think of the rest of the wives. These women had need of heroical fortitude and constancy, lest they should faint. Who would, therefore, think that they were excluded from their husbands whilst they look for the coming of the Spirit? But if they will stick to the general word, it standeth with reason that there were married women in the company. Howsoever it be, it is Luke’s mind to tell us by the way how greatly they had changed their minds.F51 For whereas before the men, being afraid, had fled away, the women are gathered together with them now, neither do they fear any danger. He doth reckon up the mother of Jesus with the other women, whom, notwithstanding, John is said to have kept at his own house. But, as I have said before, they met altogether now only for a short season; for it is not to be doubted but that they departed one from another afterwards. It is well known that amongst the Hebrews all kinsfolk are comprehended under this word brethren.
All these did continue. Here he showeth that they did diligently look for the coming of the Holy Spirit.; For this was the cause of their prayer, that Christ would send his Spirit, as he had promised. Whereupon we may gather that this is the true faith which stirreth us up to call upon God. For the security of faith doth much differ from sluggishness. Neither doth God, therefore, assure us of this grace, that our minds may straightway become careless, but that he may rather sharpen our desire to pray. Neither is prayer any sign of doubting, but rather a testimony of our (sure hope and) confidence, because we ask those things at the Lord’s hands which we know he hath promised. So it becometh us also (after their example) to be instant in prayer, F52 and to beg at God’s hands that he will increase in us his Holy Spirit: F53 increase, (I say,) because before we can conceive any prayer we must needs have the first-fruits of the Spirit. For as much as he is the only Master which teacheth us to pray aright, who doth not only give us utterance, (<450225>Romans 2:25,) but also governs our inward affections.
Furthermore, Luke doth express two things which are proper to true prayer, namely, that they did persist, and that they were all of one mind. This was art exercise of their patience, in that Christ did make them stay a while,F54 when as he could straightway have sent the Holy Spirit; so God doth oftentimes drive off, F55 and, as it were, suffer us to languish, that he may accustom us to persevere. The hastiness of our petitions is a corrupt, yea a hurtful plague; wherefore it is no marvel if God do sometimes correct the same. In the mean season (as I have said) he doth exercise us to be constant in prayer. Therefore, if we will not pray in vain, let us not be wearied with the delay of time. As touching the unity of their minds, it is set against that scattering abroad, which fear had caused before. Yet, notwithstanding, we may easily gather, even by this, how needful a thing it is to pray generally, in that Christ commandeth every one to pray for the whole body, and generally for all men, as it were, in the person of all men: Our Father, Give us this day, etc., (<400609>Matthew 6:9.) Whence cometh this unity of their tongues but from one Spirit? Wherefore, when Paul would prescribe unto the Jews and Gentiles a right form of prayer, he removeth far away all division and dissension. That we may, (saith he,) being all of one mind, with one mouth glorify God, (<451506>Romans 15:6.) And truly it is needful that we be brethren, and agree together like brethren, that we rightly call God Father.

ACTS 1:15-22
15. In those days, Peter standing up in the midst of the disciples, said, (and the company of names together was almost an hundred and twenty,) 16. Men and brethren, it was expedient that this Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, which was guide unto them which took Jesus: 17. Which was adopted into the number of us, and had obtained part [lot] of this ministry. 18. And he truly hath [had] possessed [or gotten] a field with the reward of iniquity, and being hanged, he burst in sunder in the middle, and all his bowels gushed out. 19. And this was known unto all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that that field is called, in their tongue, Aceldama, that is, The field of blood. 20. For it is written in the book of the Psalms, Let his habitation be void, and let there be none to dwell therein, and let another man take his bishopric. 21. Of all those, therefore, which were gathered together with us all that time wherein the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst us, 22. Beginning from the baptism of John, until that day wherein he was taken up from us, must one be made a witness together with us of his resurrection.

15. It was meet that Matthias should be chosen into the place of Judas, lest, through the treachery of one man, all that might seem to have been made of none effect which Christ had once appointed. He did not unadvisedly choose the twelve in the beginning, as principal preachers of his gospel. For when he said that they should be judges of twelve tribes of Israel, <420613>Luke 6:13, <430670>John 6:70; he showeth here that it was done of set purpose, that they might gather together the tribes of Israel unto one faith. But after that the Jews had refused the grace offered unto them, it was behoveful that the Israel of God should be gathered together out of all countries.
This, therefore, was, as it were, a holy number, which, if it should have been diminished through the wickedness of Judas, then should the preaching of the gospel both have had, and also have, less credit at this day, if the beginning thereof had been imperfect. F56 Although, therefore, Judas would (as much as in him lay) have disappointed the purpose of Christ, yet. nevertheless it stood firm and stable. He perished as he was worthy, yet did the order of the apostles remain whole and sound.
The company of names. It is uncertain whether he meaneth the men who only have the name properly, seeing the women are comprehended under the name of the men; or whether he taketh names simply for all the heads, as the Hebrews call them souls. This may also be called in question, whether they were wont daily to frequent that parlor in which the apostles did dwell, or they did continually dwell there with them. For the place was scarce able to contain so great a multitude, to serve them for all necessary uses. Surely it seemeth to me a thing more like to be true, that Luke doth in this place express the number of them, that we may know that they were all gathered together when Peter made this sermon. Whereby we may guess that they were not always present there. Although I dare not affirm any certain thing concerning this matter, yet being moved with a probable conjecture, I do rather lean unto this part, that the church was gathered together them because they had to intreat of a serious matter, and to this end also tendeth this word rising, [standing up.]
16. It was meet that the Scripture should be fulfilled. Because Peter doth speak in this their assembly, therefore the Papists will have him to be the head of the church. F57 As though no man might speak in any assembly of the godly but he should straightway be Pope. We do grant, that as in every assembly there must be some which must be chief, so in this assembly the apostles did ascribe this honor unto Peter. But what maketh this unto (the proving of) their Papacy? Wherefore, bidding them adieu, F58 let us consider what the Spirit doth speak by the month of Peter. He saith That the Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, lest any man’s mind should be troubled with that horrible fall of Judas. For it seemed a strange thing that he which was chosen by Christ unto so excellent a function, should so filthily fall in the beginning of his course. Peter removeth this stone of stumbling, when he saith that it was foretold by the Scripture. Whence we may gather an admonition very necessary for daily practice; namely, that we ought to attribute this honor unto the prophecies of the Scriptures, that they are able to appease all such fear as we conceive of the sudden event of things. For there is nothing which doth more trouble us than when we stay still in our own sense and understanding, and procure unto ourselves lets and doubts, F59 which the Lord would be ready to cure, if so be that we would hold fast this one thing, that nothing is absurd which he hath foreseen, appointed, and foretold, that he might make us more strong. Neither was Judas therefore excusable, because that which befell him was foretold, seeing that he fell away, not being compelled by the prophecy, but only by the malice of his own heart. The oration of Peter hath two parts. For, in the first place, he putteth away the offense which godly minds might have conceived by reason of the fall of Judas; whence also he gathereth an exhortation that the rest may learn to fear God. Secondly, he telleth them that it remaineth that they choose another into his place, both which he proveth by testimony of Scripture.
Which the Holy Ghost foretold. Such manner of speeches bring greater reverence to the Scriptures, whilst we are taught by them that David and all the rest of the prophets did speak only as they were directed by the Holy Ghost; so that they themselves were not the authors of their prophecies, but the Spirit which used their tongues as an instrument. Wherefore, seeing that our dullness is so great, that we ascribe less authority unto the Scriptures than we ought, we must diligently note such manner of speeches, and acquaint ourselves with them, that we may oftentimes remember the authority of God to confirm our faith withal.
17. Adopted. It is word for word reckoned. And he saith that he was one of the number, that he might signify unto them that it was needful that the empty place should be filled, to the end that the number might continue whole. And to this propose serveth that which followeth, that he had obtained a part in the ministry. For thereupon it doth follow that the body should be, as it were, lame, if that part should be wanting. Surely it was a thing which might make them greatly amazed, that he whom Christ had extolled unto so high dignity should fall headlong into such destruction. Which circumstance doth increase the cruelty of the fact, F60 and teacheth the rest to take heed unto themselves. F61 Neither is it to be doubted but that the disciples did remember Judas with great grief and sorrow. But Peter doth here express by name the excellency of his function, that he might make them more attentive and more careful to provide a remedy.
18. And he truly. It seemeth unto me a thing like to be true, that this narration of the death of Judas was put in by Luke; therefore, it seemeth good to me to include it within a parenthesis, that it may be separated from Peter’s sermon. For to what end should Peter here reckon up unto the disciples those things which they already knew well enough?
Secondly, it should have been an absurd thing to have spoken after this among them, that the field which was bought with the money that was given to betray Christ was called of the Hebrews, in their own mother tongue, Aceldama. But whereas some do answer, that Peter spoke this unto the Galileans, whose speech did disagree with the Jewish tongue, it is but vain and frivolous. In very deed they did somewhat disagree in pronunciation; yet not so much but that they did well understand one another; like as do these of Paris and the men of Rouen.
Furthermore, how could this be a fit word for Jerusalem, where Peter made his sermon? To what end should he interpret in Greek among the Hebrews their own mother tongue? Therefore doth Luke of himself put in this sentence concerning the death of Judas, lest Peter’s words might seem strange F62 through ignorance of that history.
He possessed a field. This word hath a double signification, which, in my opinion, doth rather signify in this place to possess than to get; yet because it skilleth little whether way we read it, I leave it indifferent. And he speaketh after this sort, not because Judas had the use of the field, or that he himself did buy it, seeing it was bought after his death. But Luke’s meaning was, that his burial was the perpetual note of ignominy; was the reward which he had for his falsehood and wicked act. Neither did he so much sell Christ for thirty pieces as his apostleship. He enjoyed not the money; F63 he only possessed the field. Furthermore, it came to pass through the marvelous providence of God, that the very common name of the field should be a note of infamy for the priests, which had bought (the) innocent blood of [from] the traitor. He saith that the Hebrews did call it by that name in their tongue, because he himself was a Grecian born; and he calleth that the Hebrew tongue which the Jews did use after the captivity of Babylon, namely, such as was mixed of the Assyrian tongue and of the Chaldean tongue.
It is written in the book of Psalms. He taketh away, by authority of Scriptures, all offense which might have happened by reason of the falling away of Judas. Yet might this place seem to be greatly wrested: First, in that David did not wish that these things might befall any particular person, but (in the plural number) he wisheth them unto his enemies. Secondly, it seemeth that Peter doth apply these things amiss unto Judas, which were spoken of the enemies of David. I answer, that David doth there speak after this [afterwards] of himself, that he may describe the condition and state of Christ’s kingdom.
In that Psalm (I say) is contained the common image of the whole Church, which is the body of the Son of God. Therefore, the things which are there set down must needs have been fulfilled in the head, which are indeed fulfilled, as the evangelists do testify, know, if any man object that those things which there were spoken against the enemies of David do not fitly agree unto Judas, we may easily gather that they do so much the rather agree with him, because David doth not respect himself as being separated from the body of the Church; but rather as he was one of the members of Christ, and so taking upon him his image, he steppeth forth in his name.
Whosoever shall mark that this singular person was attributed to David, that he should be a figure of Christ, will not marvel if all these things be applied unto him which were prefigured in David. Although, therefore, he doth comprehend the whole Church, yet he beginneth at the head thereof, and doth especially describe what things Christ should suffer by the hands of the wicked. For we learn out of Paul’s doctrine, that whatsoever afflictions the godly suffer, they are part of the afflictions of Christ, and serve to the fulfilling of the same, (<510114>Colossians 1:14.) This order and connection did David observe, or rather the Spirit of God, who meant by the mouth of David to instruct the whole Church. But as touching the persecutors of Christ, all that which is commonly spoken of them is by good right referred unto their standard-bearer; whose impiety and wickedness, as it is most famous, so his punishment ought to be made known unto all men. If any man do object again, that that which is recited in the Psalm is only certain cursings, and not prophecies; and that, therefore, Peter doth gather improperly that it was of necessity that it should be fulfilled, it is soon answered. For David was not moved with any perverse or corrupt affection of the flesh to crave vengeance; but he had the Holy Spirit to be his guide and director. Therefore, what things soever he prayed for there, being inspired with the Holy Ghost, they have the same strength which prophecies have, because the Spirit doth require no other thing than that which God
hath determined with himself to perform, and will also promise unto us. But whereas Peter doth cite out of the Scriptures two diverse testimonies; by the first is meant, that Judas, together with his name and family, should quite be extinguished, that his place might be empty; the other, which he fetcheth out of the 109th Psalm, tendeth to this end, that there should be another chosen to supply his place. These seem at first to be contrary; namely, a waste habitation and succession. Yet, because the Spirit saith only, in the former place, that the adversaries of the Church should be taken away, that their place might be empty, and without one to dwell therein, in respect of themselves, this is no let why another may not afterward supply their empty place. Yea, this doth also augment their punishment, in that the honor, after it was taken from him that was unworthy thereof, is given to another.
And his bishopric. The Hebrew word could not be translated more fitly. For hdwkp (pecudah) doth signify a jurisdiction or government, so called of the overseeing and beholding of things. For as for those which interpret it wife, the textF64 refuteth them; for it followeth in the next verse, of his wife, that she may be made a widow. Therefore, after that he had wished that the wicked may be deprived of his life, he addeth, moreover, that he may be spoiled of his honor; neither doth he stay here, but also he desireth that another may succeed him, whereby, as I have said before, his punishment is doubled. In the meanwhile, he noteth by the way, F65 that this false, treacherous, and wicked person, whereof he speaketh, should not be some one of the common sort, but such an one as should be indued with honor and dignity; from which, nevertheless, he shall fall. And out of this place must we learn, that the wicked shall not escape scott free, which have persecuted the Church of God; for this miserable and wretched end is prepared for them all.
21. We must therefore. This which he bringeth in might seem, at the first sight, to be far set [fetched.] For if so be it David did speak of transposing F66 Judas’s bishopric, it did not thereupon straightway follow that the disciples should choose another to be his successor; yet, because they knew that they had this charge given them to order the Church, so soon as Peter had told them that it did please the Lord that it should be so, he gathereth thereupon that they ought to do it. For whensoever God will use as means, F67 to maintain the government of his Church, so soon as we know what his will is, we must not linger, but stoutly perform whatsoever is required in our ministry (and function.) That was, without all controversy, what was the duty of the Church; like as, at this day, when we hear that those must be put from their office which behave themselves ungodly and wickedly, and that others must be chosen in their rooms, the Church must take this charge in hand. Wherefore, it was superfluous to move any question about a thing that was not to be doubted of. Therefore, let us always remember to consider what we have to do, that we may be ready to obey the Lord. Furthermore, when as he intreateth of the making of an apostle, he saith, He must be a witness of the resurrection; which signifieth that the apostleship is not without the preaching of the gospel. Whence it may appear how vain and frivolous the Popish bishops are, which having on only dumb visors, brag that they are the successors of the apostles; but wherein are they like unto them? I grant that Peter doth here require such a witness as saw the Lord after his resurrection, of which sort John professeth himself to be one, when he saith, “He which saw it beareth witness,” (<431935>John 19:35.) For this did serve for the confirmation of faith; yet, nevertheless, Peter maketh it a thing necessary in him and the rest of his fellows in office, that they should teach, whilst he maketh them and himself preachers or witnesses of the resurrection.
He nameth the resurrection, not because they must bear witness thereof alone; but because, first, under this is comprehended the preaching of the death of Christ; secondly, because we have the end of our redemption therein, and the accomplishment thereof, and also it bringeth with it the celestial government of Christ, and the power of the Spirit in defending his, in establishing justice and equity, in restoring order, in abolishing the tyranny of sin, and in putting to flight all the enemies of the Church. Let us know, therefore, that those things are not excluded by this word which are necessarily knit together. ,Nevertheless, let us note that the resurrection is here named before other things, as being the chief point of the gospel, as also Paul teacheth, (<461517>1 Corinthians 15:17.)
But were the apostles alone witnesses of the resurrection? Was not this also common to the rest of the disciples? For Peter seemeth to challenge this as proper only to the apostles. I answer, that this title is therefore attributed unto them, because they were chosen peculiarly unto that function, and because they had the chief room amongst those which did bring this embassage; therefore, though they were the chief of those which were assigned, yet were not they only appointed thereunto.
All that time. He beginneth at that time when Jesus began to show himself unto the world, which is diligently to be observed, as before I have said; for he lived privately until such time as he was almost thirty years of age. For he would not make himself known further than was needful for our salvation. Therefore, when the time was come wherein he must go about that business which his Father had appointed him, he came abroad like a new man, and one that was but lately born. Every man may easily perceive what great force this hath to bridle our curiosity. The whole life of Christ might have been a mirror most marvelous, F68 of more than absolute perfection; and yet, notwithstanding, that he might keep us occupied in the study and meditation of those things which were most needful to be known, he would lead the better part of his life obscurely and in secret. F69 Who dare now wander without Christ, seeing that he doth apply the knowledge of himself to the edifying of faith?
The Hebrews take this, to go in and out, for to be conversant and to lead the life among men. In which sense, citizens are said to go in and out by the gates of their city; so <431009>John 10:9,
“If any man enter in by me, he shall go in and out,
and shall find pasture.”
Although, in the Second Book of the Chronicles, the first chapter, and tenth verse, it seemeth to be a token of rule and government.

ACTS 1:23-26
23. Then they presented two, Joseph, whose sirname was Barsabas, which was called Justus, and Matthias. 24. And when they had prayed, they said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25. That he may take the room of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas is fallen, that he might go unto his place. 26. And they gave in their lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was by common consent counted with the eleven apostles.

23. They were to choose one only into the room of Judas; they present two. Here may a question be asked, Why they were not contented with one only? Was it because they were so like, that they could not discern whether was more fit? This truly had been no sufficient reason why they should suffer it to be decided by lots. And also it seemeth that Joseph was of greater estimation otherwise; or was it because they were diversely affectioned? But this seemeth scarce probable, neither is this to be admitted as true, because of that most excellent testimony which Luke did give a little before of their unity and agreement. Lastly, It had been very absurd for them to have polluted the election of the apostle with such strife and contention.F70 But for this cause did they use the casting of lots, that it might be known that Matthias was not only chosen by the voices of men, but also that he was made by the determination and judgment of God.
For there was this difference between the apostles and the pastors, that the pastors were chosen simply by the Church, the apostles were called of God. In which respect Paul, in the preface of his Epistle to the Galatians, (<480102>Galatians 1:2,) doth profess himself to be an apostle, “neither of men, neither made by man.” Therefore, like as the dignity of this function was excellent, so was it meet that in the choosing of Matthias, the chief judgment should be left unto God, howsoever men did their duty. Christ by his own mouth did appoint the rest; therefore, if Matthias had been chosen only by man to be one of them, he should have had less authority than they. This was very orderly done, F71 that the disciples should present unto God those whom they thought to be the best; and he should choose to himself whom he knew to be most fit, so that God, by the fall of the lot, doth pronounce that he did allow of the apostleship of Matthias. But the apostles might seem to have dealt very rashly and disorderly, which laid so great and weighty a matter upon a lot; for what certainty could they gather thereby? I answer, that they did it only as they were moved thereunto by the Holy Spirit; for although Luke doth not express this, yet, because he will not accuse the disciples of rashness, but rather doth show that this election was lawful and approved of God; I say, therefore, that they went this way to work, being moved by the Spirit, like as they were directed in all the action by the same Spirit. But why do they not pray that God would choose whom he would out of the whole multitude? Why do they restrain his judgment unto two? Is not this to rob God of his liberty, when as they tie him, and, as it were, make him subject unto their voices and consents? F72 But whosoever shall quietly ponder the matter shall plainly perceive, by the drift of Luke, that the disciples durst do nothing but that which they knew was their duty to do, and was commanded them by the Lord. As for the contentious, let them go shake their ears. F73
24. In praying, they said. Word for word it is, Having prayed, they said; but there is no obscurity in the sense, because his meaning was to speak as followeth, that they prayed; and yet he doth not reckon up all the words, being content briefly to show the sum. Therefore, although they were both of honest conversation, yea, although they did excel in holiness and other virtues, yet because the integrity of the heart, whereof God is the alone knower and judge, is the chief, the disciples pray that God would bring that to light which was hidden from men. The same ought to be required even at this day in choosing pastors; for howsoever we are not to appoint two for one, yet because we may oftentimes be deceived, and the discerning of spirits cometh of the Lord, we must always pray unto God, that he will show unto us what men he will have to be ministers, that he may direct and govern our purposes. Here we may also gather what great regard we must have of integrity and innocency in choosing pastors, without which both learning and eloquence, and what excellency soever can be invented, are as nothing. F74
25. F75 Of the ministry and apostleship. Because the word ministry was base, he addeth apostleship, wherein there is greater dignity; although the sense shall be more plain if you expound it, “the ministry of the apostleship.” For the figure hypallage is common in the Scriptures. Assuredly Luke meant to join with the burden the excellency of the office, that it might have the greater reverence and authority; and yet this was his intent also, to declare that the apostles are called unto a painful function.
26. They gave in their lots. We will not, in this place, make any long disputation about lots. Those men who think it to be wickedness to cast lots at all, offend partly through ignorance, and partly they understand not the force of this word. There is nothing which men do not corrupt with their boldness and vanity, whereby it is come to pass that they have brought lots into great abuse and superstition. For that divination or conjecture which is made by lots is altogether devilish. But when magistrates divide provinces among them, and brethren their inheritance, it is a thing lawful. Which thing Solomon doth plainly testify, when he maketh God the governor of the event.
“The lots (saith he) are cast into the bosom, and the judgment of them cometh forth from the Lord,” (<201633>Proverbs 16:33.)
This ordinance or custom is no more corrupt and depraved by corruption, than the corrupt vanity of the Chaldeans doth corrupt true and natural astrology. Whilst the Chaldeans go about, with the name of astrology, to cloak and color their wicked curiosity, they defame a science both profitable and praiseworthy. The same do those which tell men their destinies (as they call them) by casting lots; but it is our duty to discern the lawful use from the corruption. He saith the lots were given, that being put into a pot, or one of their laps, they might afterwards be drawn out. And here we must also note that this word lot is diversely taken in this place; for when he said before that Judas had obtained a lot of the ministry, his meaning was, (according to the common custom of the Scripture,) that he had a portion given him of the Lord. He speaketh afterwards properly, and without any figure of a lot, yet is it likely, forasmuch as the word larg, (goral) is commonly used by the Hebrews for both things, that Peter meant to allude unto that which they were about to do, and that Luke had respect unto the self-same thing.
The lot fell upon Matthias. It came to pass as no man would have looked for; for we may gather by that which goeth before, that there was not so great account made of Matthias as of the other; for, besides that Luke gave him the former place, the two sirnames which Barsabas had do show that he was in great estimation. He was called Barsabas, (that is, the son of an oath, or of rest,) of the thing itself, as if he were some mirror, either of faithfulness and innocency, or of a quiet and modest nature. The other sirname did import singular honesty. This man, therefore, in men’s judgment, was the former, [superior;] but God did prefer Matthias before him. Whereby we are taught that we must not glory if we be extolled unto the skies in the opinion of men, and if by their voices and consents f76 we be judged to be most excellent men; but we must rather have regard of this, to approve ourselves unto God, who alone is the most lawful and just judge, by whose sentence and judgment we stand or fall. And we may oftentimes mark this also, that God passeth over him which is the chiefest in the sight of men, that he may throw down all pride which is in man. In that he addeth, that he was reckoned amongst the rest, he wipeth away all sinister note of rashness from the casting of lots, because the Church did embrace him as chosen by God on whom the lot fell.
CHAPTER 2

ACTS 2:1-4
1. And when the day of Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all with one accord gathered together: 2. And there was made from heaven suddenly a sound, as it were when a violent wind breaketh in, and it filled all the house where they sat: 3. And they saw cloven tongues, as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them. 4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with strange tongues, even as the Spirit gave them to speak.

1. And when. To be fulfilled is taken in this place for to come. For Luke beareth record again of their perseverance, when he saith that they stood all in one place until the time which was set them. Hereunto serveth the adverb, with one accord. Furthermore, we have before declared why the Lord did defer the sending of his Spirit a whole month and a half. But the question is, why he sent him upon that day chiefly. I will not refute that high and subtle interpretation of Augustine, that like as the law was given to the old people fifty days after Easter, being written in tables of stone by the hand of God, so the Spirit, whose office it is to write the same in our hearts, did fulfill that which was figured in the giving of the law as many days after the resurrection of Christ, who is the true Passover. Notwithstanding, whereas he urgeth this his subtle interpretation as necessary, in his book of Questions upon Exodus, and in his Second Epistle unto Januarius, I would wish him to be more sober and modest therein. Notwithstanding, let him keep his own interpretation to himself. In the mean season, I will embrace that which is more sound.
Upon the feast day, wherein a great multitude was wont to resort to Jerusalem, was this miracle wrought, that it might be more famous. And truly by means hereof was it spread abroad, even unto the uttermost parts and borders of the earth. F77 For the same purpose did Christ oftentimes go up to Jerusalem upon the holy days, F78 (John 2, 5, 7, 10, 12,) to the end those miracles which he wrought might be known to many, and that in the greater assembly of people there might be the greater fruit of his doctrine. For so will Luke afterward declare, that Paul made haste that he might come to Jerusalem before the day of Pentecost, not for any religion’s sake, but because of the greater assembly, that he might profit the more, (<442016>Acts 20:16.) Therefore, in making choice of the day, the profit of the miracle was respected: First, that it might be the more extolled at Jerusalem, because the Jews were then more bent to consider the works of God; and, secondly, that it might be bruited abroad, even in far countries. They called it the fiftieth day, beginning to reckon at the first-fruits.
2. And there was made. It was requisite that the gift should be visible, that the bodily sense might the more stir up the disciples. For such is our slothfulness to consider the gifts of God, that unless he awake all our senses, his power shall pass away unknown. This was, therefore, a preparation that they might the better know that the Spirit was now come which Christ had promised. Although it was not so much for their sake as for ours, even as in that the cloven and fiery tongues appeared, there was rather respect had of us, and of all the whole Church in that, than of them. For God was able to have furnished them with necessary ability to preach the gospel, although he should use no sign. They themselves might have known that it came to pass neither by chance, neither yet through their own industry, that they were so suddenly changed; but those signs which are here set down were about to be profitable for all ages; as we perceive at this day that they profit us. And we must briefly note the proportion of the signs. The violence of the wind did serve to make them afraid; for we are never rightly prepared to receive the grace of God, unless the confidence (and boldness) of the flesh be tamed. For as we have access unto him by faith, so humility and fear setteth open the gate, that he may come in unto us. He hath nothing to do with proud and careless men. It is a common thing for the Spirit to be signified by wind, (or a blast,) (<432022>John 20:22.) For both Christ himself, when he was about to give the Spirit to his apostles, did breathe upon them; and in Ezekiel’s vision there was a whirlwind and wind, (<260104>Ezekiel 1:4.) Yea, the word Spirit itself is a translated word; for, because that hypostasis, or person of the Divine essence, which is called the Spirit, is of itself incomprehensible, the Scripture doth borrow the word of the wind or blast, because it is the power of God which God doth pour into all creatures as it were by breathing. The shape of tongues is restrained unto the present circumstance. For as the figure and shape of a dove which came down upon Christ, (<430132>John 1:32,) had a signification agreeable to the office and nature of Christ, so God did now make choice of a sign which might be agreeable to the thing signified, namely, that it might show such effect and working of the Holy Ghost in the apostles as followed afterward.
The diversity of tongues did hinder the gospel from being spread abroad any farther; so that, if the preachers of the gospel had spoken one language only, all men would have thought that Christ had been shut up in the small corner of Jewry. But God invented a way whereby it might break out, when he divided and clove the tongues of the apostles, that they might spread that abroad amongst all people which was delivered to them. Wherein appeareth the manifold goodness of God, because a plague and punishment of man’s pride was turned into matter of blessing. For whence came the diversity of tongues, save only that the wicked and ungodly counsels of men might be brought to naught? (<011107>Genesis 11:7.) But God doth furnish the apostles with the diversity of tongues now, that he may bring and call home, into a blessed unity, men which wander here and there. These cloven tongues made all men to speak the language of Canaan, as Isaiah foretold, (<231918>Isaiah 19:18.) For what language soever they speak, yet do they call upon one Father, which is in heaven, with one mouth and one spirit, (<451506>Romans 15:6.) I said that that was done for our sake, not only because the fruit came unto us, but because we know that the gospel came unto us not by chance, but by the appointment of God, who to this end gave the apostles cloven tongues, lest any nation should want that doctrine which was committed unto them; whereby is proved the calling of the Gentiles; and, secondly, hereby their doctrine doth purchase credit, which we know was not forged by man, seeing that we hear that the Spirit did dwell in their tongues.
Now, it remaineth that we declare what the fire meaneth. Without all doubt, it was a token of the (force and) efficacy which should be exercised in the voice of the apostles. Otherwise, although their sound had gone out into the uttermost parts of the world, they should only have beat the air, without doing any good at all. Therefore, the Lord doth show that their voice shall be fiery, that it may inflame the hearts of men; that the vanity of the world being burnt and consumed, it may purge and renew all things. Otherwise they durst never have taken upon them so hard a function, unless the Lord had assured them of the power of their preaching. Hereby it came to pass that the doctrine of the gospel did not only sound in the air, but pierce into the minds of men, and did fill them with an heavenly heat (and burning.) Neither was this force showed only in the mouth of the apostles, but it appeareth daily. And, therefore, we must beware lest, when the fire burneth, we be as stubble. Furthermore, the Lord did once give the Holy Ghost under a visible shape, that we may assure ourselves that his invisible and hidden grace shall never be wanting to the Church.
And it sat. Because the number is suddenly changed, it is to be doubted whether he speaketh of the fire. He said that there appeared tongues as it had been of fire. It followeth by and by, and it sat upon them. Notwithstanding, I refer it unto the Spirit. For the Hebrews use commonly to express the substantive of the verb in the second member, which they did omit in the former. Wherefore we have an example in this place: It sat upon them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. And we know that although Luke did write in Greek, yet is he full of those phrases which the Hebrews use. F79 Now, whereas he calleth the tongues the Holy Ghost, it is according to the custom of the Scripture. For John calleth the dove by the same name, (<430132>John 1:32,) because the Lord would testify and declare the presence of his Spirit by some such sign. If it were a vain sign, it should be an absurd naming (to call the sign by the name of the thing signified;) but where the thing is annexed, the name of the thing is fitly given to the sign which offereth the same unto our senses to be perceived. The fullness of the Spirit, wherewith he saith every one was replenished, doth not express the [an] equal measure of gifts in every one, but that excellence which should be meet for such a calling.F80
4. They began to speak. He showeth that the effect did appear presently, and also to what use their tongues were to be framed and applied, But because Luke setteth down shortly after, that strangers out of divers countries did marvel, because that every one of them did hear the apostles speaking in their own tongue, some think that they spoke not in divers tongues, but that they did all understand that which was spoken in one tongue, as well as if they should hear their natural tongue. F81 Therefore, they think that one and the same sound of the voice was diversely distributed amongst the hearers. Another conjecture they have, because Peter made one sermon in the audience of many gathered together out of divers countries, who could not understand his speech (and language,) unless another voice should come unto their ears than that which proceeded out of his mouth. But we must first note that the disciples spoke indeed with strange tongues; otherwise the miracle had not been wrought in them, but in the hearers. So that the similitude should have been false whereof he made mention before; neither should the Spirit have been given so much to them as to others. Again, we hear how Paul giveth thanks to God, that he speaketh with divers tongues, (<461418>1 Corinthians 14:18.) Truly he challengeth to himself both the understanding, and also the use thereof. Neither did he attain to this skill by his own study and industry, but he had it by the gift of the Spirit. In the same place he affirmeth that it is an especial gift, wherewith all men are not endued. I suppose that it doth manifestly appear hereby that the apostles had the variety and understanding of tongues given them, that they might speak unto the Greeks in Greek, unto the Italians in the Italian tongue, F82 and that they might have true communication (and conference) with their hearers. Notwithstanding, I leave it indifference whether there was any second miracle wrought or no, so that the Egyptians and Elamites did understand Peter speaking in the Chaldean tongue, as if he did utter divers voices. For there be some conjectures which persuade me thus to think, and yet not so firm but that they may be refuted. For it may be that they spoke with divers tongues, as they light upon this man or that, and as occasion was offered, and as their languages were diverse. Therefore, it was a manifest miracle, when they saw them ready to speak divers languages. As touching Peter’s sermon, it might be understood of the greater part of men wheresoever they were born; for it is to be thought that many of those which came to Jerusalem were skillful in the Chaldean tongue. Again, it shall be nothing inconvenient if we say that he spoke also in other tongues. Although I will not much stand about this matter; so that this be out of doubt, that the apostles changed their speech. F83

ACTS 2: 5-12
5. And there were at Jerusalem Jews abiding, godly men, out of every nation of those which are under heaven. 6. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and was astonished: because every one heard them speak in his own tongue. 7. And they wondered all, and marveled, saying amongst themselves, Behold, are not all these which speak men of Galilee? 8. And how do we every one hear them speaking in his own language, wherein we were born? 9. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabiters of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, of Pontus and Asia, 10. And of Phrygia and Pamphylia, of Egypt, and of the parts of Libya towards Cyrene, and strangers of Rome; 11. Jews and Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we hear them speaking in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12. Therefore they were all amazed, and marveled, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking, said, They are full of sweet wine. F84

5. And there were at Jerusalem. When he calleth them godly or religious men, he seemeth to give us to understand that they came to Jerusalem that they might worship God; like as God, in all ages, after the scattering abroad, did gather together into that city some seed which remained, having, as it were, set up his banner, because as yet the temple did serve to some use. Yet, nevertheless, he showeth, by the way, who those be which profit by those miracles, whereby God doth declare his power. For wicked and profane men do either laugh at them, or else pass [care] not for them, as we shall see by and by. Furthermore, he meant to cite those as witnesses, which may the better be believed for their religion and godliness. When he said, out of every nation, he meaneth out of divers countries, whereof one is far from another. For he doth also afterwards reckon up those lands whereof one was far distant from another, of which sort are Libya and Pontus, Rome and Parthia, and Arabia, and such like. This serveth to increase the greatness of the thing. For the Cretians and men of Asia, dwelling so near together, might have some likelihood and agreement in speech; f85 but the same could not be betwixt the Italians and the men of Cappadocia, betwixt the Arabians and those of Pontus. Yea, this was also a work of God worthy to be remembered and wondered at, that in so huge and horrible a scattering abroad of the people, he did always reserve some relics, yea, he caused certain strangers to adjoin themselves unto a people which was in such misery, and, as it were, quite destroyed. For although they lived here and there in exile in far countries, and being one far from another, did, as it were, inhabit divers worlds, yet did they hold among themselves the unity of faith. Neither doth he call them unadvisedly, and without good consideration, godly men, and men gearing God.
6. When this was noised abroad. Luke saith thus in Greek, This voice being made; but his meaning is, that the fame was spread abroad, whereby it came to pass that a great multitude came together. For if one after another in divers places, and at divers times, had heard the apostles speaking in divers tongues, the miracle had not been so famous; therefore they come altogether into one place, that the diversity of tongues may the better appear by the present comparison. There is a further circumstance also here to be noted, that the country (and native soil) of the apostles was commonly known, and this was also commonly known, that they never went out of their country to learn F86 strange tongues. Therefore, forasmuch as one speaketh Latin, another Greek, another the Arabian tongue, as occasion was offered, and that indifferently, and every one doth also change his tongue, the work of God appeareth more plainly hereby.
11. The wonderful works of God. Luke noteth two things which caused the hearers to wonder; first, because the apostles being before ignorant and private persons, F87 born in a base corner, F88 did, notwithstanding, intreat profoundly of divine matters, and of heavenly wisdom. The other is, because they have new tongues given them suddenly. Both things are worth the noting, because to huddle out [utter] words unadvisedly and foolishly, should not so much have served to move their minds; and the majesty of the things ought the more to have moved them to consider the miracle. Although they give due honor to God, in that they are astonished and amazed, yet the principal and of the miracle is expressed in this, that they inquire, and thereby declare that they are prepared to learn; for otherwise their amazedness and wondering should not have done them any great good. And certainly we must so wonder at the works of God, that there must be also a consideration, and a desire to understand.
12. Others mocking. Hereby it appeareth how monstrous as well the sluggishness, as also the ungodliness of men is, when Satan hath taken away their mind. If God should openly (and visibly) descend from heaven, his majesty could scarce more manifestly appear than in this miracle. Whosoever hath any drop of sound understanding in him must needs be stricken with the only hearing of it. How beastly, then, are those men who see it with their eyes, and yet scoff, and go about with their jests to mock the power of God? But the matter is so. There is nothing so wonderful which those men do not turn to a jest who are touched with no care of God; because they do, even upon set purposes, harden themselves in their ignorance in things most plain. And it is a just punishment of God, which he bringeth upon such pride, to deliver them to Satan, to be driven headlong into blind fury. Wherefore, there is no cause why we should marvel that there be so many at this day so blind in so great light, if they be so deaf when such manifest doctrine is delivered, yea, if they wantonly refuse salvation when it is offered unto them. For if the wonderful and strange works of God, wherein he doth wonderfully set forth his power, be subject to the mockery of men, what shall become of doctrine, which they think tasteth of nothing but of that which is common? Although Luke doth signify unto us that they were not of the worst sort, or altogether past hope, which did laugh (and mock;) but he meant rather to declare how the common sort was affected when they saw this miracle. And truly it hath been always so in the world, for very few have been touched with the true feeling of God as often as he hath revealed himself. Neither is it any marvel; for religion is a rare virtue, and a virtue which few men have; which is, indeed, the beginning of understanding. Nevertheless, howsoever the more part of men, through a certain hard stiff-neckedness, doth reject the consideration of the works of God, yet are they never without fruit, as we may see in this history.

ACTS 2:14-21
14. But Peter, standing with the eleven, lift up his voice, and spoke unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye which dwell at Jerusalem, let this be known unto you, and with your ears hear my words. 15. For these men are not drunk as ye suppose; for it is the third hour of the day. 16. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, 17. And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your elders shall dream dreams: 18. Verily, I will pour out of my Spirit in those days upon my servants, and upon mine handmaids, and they shall prophesy. 19. And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs upon the earth beneath, blood and fire, and vapor of smoke. 20. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord do come. 21. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord he shall be saved.

14. And Peter, standing. By this word standing he did signify, that there was a grave sermon made in the assembly; for they did rise when they spoke unto the people, to the end they might be the better heard. The sum of this sermon is this, he gathereth that Christ is already revealed and given by the gift of the Holy Ghost, which they saw. Yet, first, he refuteth that false opinion, in that they thought that the disciples were drunk. This refutation consisteth upon a probable argument; because men use not to be drunk betimes in the morning. For, as Paul saith,
“Those which are drunk are drunk in the night,”
(<520507>1 Thessalonians 5:7.)
For they flee the light for shame. And surely so great is the filthiness of this vice, that for good causes it hateth the light. And yet this argument were not always good; for Esaias doth inveigh in his time against those which did rise early to follow drunkenness. And at this day there be many who, like hogs, so soon as they awake, run to quaffing. But because this is F89 a common custom amongst men, Peter saith, that it is no likely thing. Those which have but even small skill in antiquity do know that the civil day, from the rising of the sun until the going down thereof, was divided into twelve hours; so that the hours were longer in summer, and shorter in winter. Therefore, that which should now be the ninth before noon in winter, and in summer the eighth, was the third hour amongst the old people. F90 Therefore, whereas Peter doth only lightly remove the opinion of drunkenness, he doth it for this cause, because it had been superfluous to have stood about any long excuse. F91 Therefore, as in a matter which was certain and out of doubt, he doth rather pacify those which mocked, than labor to teach them. And he doth not so much refute them by the circumstance of time, as by the testimony of Joel. For when he saith that that is now come to pass which was foretold, he toucheth briefly their unthankfulness, because they do not acknowledge such an excellent benefit promised unto them in times past which they now see with their eyes. And whereas he upbraideth the fault of a few unto all, F92 he doth it not to this end, that he may make them all guilty of the same fault; but because a fit occasion was offered by their mocking to teach them altogether, he doth not foreslow the same. F93
17. It shall be in the last days. By this effect he proveth that the Messiah is already revealed. Joel, indeed, doth not express the last days, (<290229>Joel 2:29;) but for as much as he intreateth of the perfect restoring of the Church, it is not to be doubted but that that prophecy belongeth unto the last age alone. Wherefore, that which Peter bringeth doth no whit dissent from Joel’s meaning; but he doth only add this word for exposition sake, that the Jews might know that the Church could by no other means be restored, which was then decayed, but by being renewed by the Spirit of God. Again, because the repairing of the Church should be like unto a new world, therefore Peter saith that it shall be in the last days. And surely this was a common and familiar thing among the Jews, that all those great promises concerning the blessed and well-ordered state of the Church should not be fulfilled until Christ, by his coming, should restore all things. Wherefore, it was out of all doubt amongst them, that that which is cited out of Joel doth appertain unto the last time. Now, by the last days, or fullness of time, is meant the stable and firm condition of the Church, in the manifestation or revealing of Christ.
I will pour out my Spirit. He intendeth to prove, (as we have already said,) that the Church can be repaired by no other means, saving only by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, forasmuch as they did all hope that the restoring drew near, he accuseth them of sluggishness, because they do not once think upon the way and means thereof. And when the prophet saith, “I will pour out,” it is, without all question, that he meant by this word to note the great abundance of the Spirit. And we must take I will pour out of my Spirit in the same sense, as if he had said simply, I will pour out my Spirit. For these latter words are the words of the prophet. But Peter followed the Grecians, who translate the Hebrew word j, (cheth,) apo. Therefore, some men do in vain more subtlely play the philosophers; because, howsoever the words be changed, yet must we still retain and keep the prophet’s meaning. Nevertheless, when God is said to pour out his Spirit, I confess it must be thus understood, that he maketh manifold variety and change of gifts to flow unto men from his Spirit, as it were out of the only fountain, the fountain which can never be drawn dry. For, as Paul doth testify, there be divers gifts, and yet but one Spirit, (<461204>1 Corinthians 12:4.) And hence do we gather a profitable doctrine, that we can have no more excellent thing given us of God than the grace of the Spirit; yea, that all other things are nothing worth if this be wanting. For, when God will briefly promise salvation to his people, he affirmeth that he will give them his Spirit. Hereupon it followeth that we can obtain no good things until we have the Spirit given us. And truly it is, as it were, the key which openeth unto us the door, that we may enter into all the treasures of spiritual good things; and that we may also have entrance into the kingdom of God.
Upon all flesh. It appeareth, by that which followeth, of what force this generality is; for, first, it is set down generally, all flesh; after that the partition is added, whereby the prophet doth signify that there shall be no difference of age or kind, but that God admitteth all, one with another, unto the partaking of his grace. It is said, therefore, all flesh, because both young and old, men and women, are thereby signified; yet here may a question be moved, why Clod doth promise that unto his people, as some new and unwonted good thing, which he was wont to do for them from the beginning throughout all ages; for there was no age void of the grace of the Spirit. The answer of this question is set down in these two sentences: “I will pour out,” and, “Upon all flesh;” for we must here note a double contrariety, F94 between the time of the Old and New Testament; for the pouring out (as I have said) doth signify great plenty, when as there was under the law a more scarce distribution; for which cause John also doth say that the Holy Ghost was not given until Christ ascended into heaven. All flesh cloth signify an infinite multitude, whereas God in times past did vouchsafe to bestow such plenty of his Spirit only upon a few.
Furthermore, in both comparisons we do not deny but that the fathers under the law were partakers of the self, same grace whereof we are partakers; but the Lord doth show that we are above them, as we are indeed. I say, that all godly men since the beginning of the world were endued with the same spirit of understanding, of righteousness, and sanctification, wherewith the Lord doth at this day illuminate and regenerate us; but there were but a few which had the light of knowledge given them then, if they be compared with the great multitude of the faithful, which Christ did suddenly gather together by his coming. Again, their knowledge was but obscure and slender, and, as it were, covered with a veil, if it be compared with that which we have at this day out of the gospel, where Christ, the Sun of righteousness, doth shine with perfect brightness, as it were at noon day. Neither doth that any whit hurt or hinder that a few had such an excellent faith, that peradventure they have no equal at this day. For their understanding did nevertheless smell or savor of the instruction and schoolmastershipF95 of the law. For that is always true, that godly kings and prophets have not seen nor heard those things which Christ hath revealed by his coming. Therefore, to the end the prophet Joel may commend the excellency of the New Testament, he affirmeth and foretelleth that the grace of the Spirit shall be more plentiful in time thereof; and, again, that it shall come unto more men, (<401317>Matthew 13:17; <421024>Luke 10:24.)
And your sons shall prophesy. By the word prophesy he meant to note the rare and singular gift of understanding. And to the same purpose tendeth that partition which followeth afterwards, “your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;” for we gather out of the twelfth chapter of Numbers, that these were the two ordinary ways whereby God did reveal himself to the prophets. For in that place, when the Lord exempteth Moses from the common sort of prophets, he saith,
“I appear unto my servants by a vision, or by a dream; but I speak unto Moses face to face,” (<041206>Numbers 12:6.)
Therefore, we see that two kinds are put after the general word for a confirmation; yet this is the sum, that they shall all be prophets so soon as the Holy Ghost shall be poured out from heaven. But here it is objected, that there was no such thing, even in the apostles themselves, neither yet in the whole multitude of the faithful. I answer, that the prophets did commonly use to shadow under tropes most fit for their time, F96 the kingdom of Christ. When they speak of the worship of God, they name the altar, the sacrifices, the offering of gold, silver, and frankincense. Notwithstanding, we know that the altars do cease, the sacrifices are abolished, whereof there was some use in time of the law; and that the Lord requireth some higher thing at our hands than earthly riches. That is true, indeed; but the prophets, whilst they apply their style unto the capacity of their time, comprehend under figures (wherewith the people were then well acquainted) those things which we see otherwise revealed and showed now, like as when he promiseth elsewhere that he will make priests of Levites, and Levites of the common sort of men, (<236621>Isaiah 66:21,) this is his meaning, that under the kingdom of Christ every base person shall be extolled unto an honorable estate; therefore, if we desire to ]lave the true and natural meaning of this place, we must not urge the words which are taken out of the old orderF97 of the law; but we must only seek the truth without figures, and this is it, that the apostles, through the sudden inspiration of the Spirit, did intreat of the heavenly mysteries prophetically, that is to say, divinely, and above the common order.
Therefore, this word prophesy doth signify nothing else save only the rare and excellent gift of understanding, as if Joel should say, Under the kingdom of Christ there shall not be a few prophets only, unto whom God may reveal his secrets; but all men shall be endued with spiritual wisdom, even to the prophetical excellency. As it is also in Jeremiah,
“Every man shall no longer teach his neighbor; because they shall all know me, from the least unto the greatest,”
(<243134>Jeremiah 31:34.)
And in these words Peter inviteth the Jews, unto whom he speaketh, to be partakers of the same grace. As if he should say, the Lord is ready to pour out that Spirit far and wide which he hath poured upon us. Therefore, unless you yourselves be the cause of let, ye shall receive with us of this fullness. And as for us, let us know that the same is spoken to us at this day which was then spoken to the Jews. For although those visible graces of the Spirit be ceased, yet God hath not withdrawn his Spirit from his Church. Wherefore he offereth him daily unto us all, by this same promise, without putting any difference. Wherefore we are poor and needy only through our own sluggishness; and also it appeareth manifestly, that those are wicked and sacrilegious enemies of the Spirit which keep back the Christian common people from the knowledge of God; and forasmuch as he himself doth not only admit, but also call by name unto himself, women and men, young and old.
18. Upon my servants. In these words the promise is restrained unto the worshippers of God. For God doth not profane his Spirit; which he should do, if he should make the stone common to the unbelieving and despisers. It is certain that we are made the servants of God by the Spirit; and that, therefore, we are not, until such time as we have received the same; but, first, whom God hath adopted to be of his family, and whom he hath framed by his Spirit to obey him, those doth he furnish with new gifts afterward. Again, the prophet did not respect that order of thee, but his meaning was to make this grace proper to the Church alone. And forasmuch as the Church was only among the Jews, he calleth them honorably the servants and handmaids of God. But after that God did gather unto himself on every side a Church, the wall of separation being pulled down, so many as are received into the society of the covenant are called by the same name. Only let us remember, that the Spirit is appointed for the Church properly.
19. And I will show wonders. We must first see what is meant by this great day of the Lord. Some do expound it of the former coming of Christ in the flesh; and others refer it unto the last day of the resurrection, I do allow neither opinion. For, in my judgment, the prophet comprehendeth the whole kingdom of Christ. And so he calleth it the great day, after that the Son of God began to be revealed in the flesh, that he may lead us into the fulfilling of his kingdom. Therefore, he appointeth no certain day, but he beginneth this day at the first preaching of the gospel, and he extendeth the same unto the last resurrection. Those which restrain it unto the time of the apostles are moved with this reason, because the prophet joineth this member and that which goeth next before together. But in that there is no absurdity at all, because the prophet doth assign the time when these things began to come to pass, howsoever they have a continual going forward even until the end of the world. Furthermore, whereas he saith that the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, they are figurative speeches, whereby he doth give us to understand thus much, that the Lord will show tokens of his wrath through the whole frame of the world, which shall bring men even to their wit’s end, as if there should be some horrible and fearful change of nature wrought. For as the sun and moon are unto us witnesses of God’s fatherly favor towards us, whilst that by course they give light to the earth; so, on the other side, the prophet saith, that they shall be messengers to foreshow God’s wrath and displeasure. And this is the second member of the prophecy. For after that he had intreated of the spiritual grace which should be abundantly poured out upon all flesh, lest any man should imagine that all things should be quiet and prosperous together, therewithal he addeth that the estate of the world shall be troublesome, and full of great fear under Christ; as Christ himself doth more fully declare, Matthew 24 and Luke 21.
But this serveth greatly to the setting forth of grace, that whereas all things do threaten destruction, yet whosoever doth call upon the name of the Lord is sure to be saved. By the darkness of the sun, by the bloody streaming of the moon, by the black vapor of smoke, the prophet meant to declare, that whithersoever men turn their eyes, there shall many things appear, both upward and downward, which may make them amazed and afraid, as he hath already said. Therefore, this is as much as if he should have said, that the world was never in a more miserable case, that there were never so many and such cruel tokens of God’s wrath. Hence may we gather how inestimable the goodness of God is, who offereth a present remedy for so great evils; and again, how unthankful they are towards God, and how froward, which do not flee unto the sanctuary of salvation, which is nigh unto them, and doth meet them. Again, it is out of all doubt, that God meaneth by this so doleful a description, to stir up all godly men, that they may with a more fervent desire seek for salvation. And Peter citeth it to the same end, that the Jews may know that they shall be more miserable unless they receive that grace of the Spirit which is offered unto them. Yet here may a question be asked, how this can hang together, that when Christ is revealed, there should such a sea of miseries overflow and break out therewithal? For it may seem to be a thing very inconvenient,F98 that he should be the only pledge of God’s love toward mankind, in whom the heavenly Father doth lay open all the treasure of his goodness, yea, he poureth out the bowels of his mercy upon us, and that yet, by the coming of the same, his Son, his wrath should be more hot than it was wont, so that it should, as it were, quite consume both heaven and earth at once.
But we must first mark, that because men are too slow to receive Christ, they must be constrained by divers afflictions, as it were with whips. Secondly, forasmuch as Christ doth call unto himself all those which are heavy laden and labor, (<401128>Matthew 11:28,)we must first be tamed by many miseries, that we may learn humility. For through great prosperity men do set up the horns of pride. And he cannot but despise Christ fiercely, whosoever he be, that seemeth to himself to be happy. Thirdly, because we are, more than we ought, set upon the seeking of the peace of the flesh, whereby it cometh to pass that many tie the grace of Christ unto the present life, it is expedient for us to be accustomed to think otherwise, that we may know that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual. Therefore, to the end God may teach us that the good things of Christ are heavenly, he doth exercise us, according to the flesh, with many miseries; whereby it cometh to pass that we do seek our felicity without the world. Moreover, men do bring miseries upon themselves through their unthankfulness; for the servant which knoweth his master’s will, and doth not obey, is worthy of greater and more stripes, (<421247>Luke 12:47.) The more familiarly that God doth communicate with us in Christ, the more doth our ungodliness grow and break out into open contumacy, so that it is no marvel if, when Christ is revealed, there appear many tokens of God’s vengeance on the other side, forasmuch as men do hereby more grievously provoke God against them, and kindle his wrath through wicked contempt. Surely, in that the day of Christ is fearful, it is an accidental thing; whether God will correct our slothfulness, to bring us under, which [who] are yet inapt to be taught, or whether he will punish our unthankfulness. For it bringeth with it of itself nothing but that which is pleasant; but the contempt of God’s grace doth provoke him to horrible anger not without cause.
21. Whosoever shall call upon. An excellent place. For as God doth prick us forward like sluggish asses, with threatenings and terrors to seek salvation, se, after that he hath brought darkness upon the face of heaven and earth, yet doth he show a means whereby salvation may shine before our eyes, to wit, if we shall call upon him. For we must diligently note this circumstance. If God should promise salvation simply, it were a great matter; but it is a far greater when as he promiseth the same amidst manifold dungeons of death. Whilst that (saith he) all things shall be out of order, and the fear of destruction shall possess all things, only call upon me, and ye shall be saved. Therefore, howsoever man be swallowed up ill the gulf of miseries, yet is there set before him a way to escape. We must also note the universal word, whosoever. For God admitteth all men unto himself without exception, and by this means doth he invite them to salvation, as Paul gathereth in the tenth chapter to the Romans, and as the prophet had set it down before,
“Thou, Lord, which hearest the prayer,
unto thee shall all flesh come,”
(<196502>Psalm 65:2.)
Therefore, forasmuch as no man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men; neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief. I speak of all unto whom God doth make himself manifest by the gospel. But like as those which call upon the name of the Lord are sure of salvation, so we must think that, without the same, we are thrice miserable and undone. And when as our salvation is placed in calling upon God, there is nothing in the mean season taken from faith, forasmuch as this invocation is grounded on faith alone. There is also another circumstance no less worthy the noting; in that the prophet doth signify, that the calling upon God doth properly appertain and agree unto the last days. For although he would be called upon in all ages, notwithstanding, since that he showed himself to be a Father in Christ, we have the more easy access unto him. Which thing ought both the more to embolden us, and to take from us all sluggishness. As he himself doth also reason, that by this privilege our forwardness to pray is doubled to us: “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in nay name; ask, and ye shall receive;” as if he should say, theretofore, although I did not yet appear to be a mediator and advocate in the faith, yet did ye pray; but now, when you shall have me to be your patron, with how much more courage ought ye to do that?

ACTS 2:22-24
22. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man showed towards you of God, by powers and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as you yourselves know: 23. Him, I say, have ye taken, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, by the hands of wicked men, and have slain him, having fastened him to the cross. 24. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the sorrows of death, forasmuch as it was impossible that he should be holden of it.

22. Jesus of Nazareth. Now doth Peter apply unto his purpose the prophecy of Joel; namely, that the Jews may thereby know that the time of restoring was present; and that Christ was given them for this purpose. For this promise was no otherwise to be fulfilled, save only by the coming of the Mediator. And this is the right use of all those gifts which we have by Christ, whilst that they bring us unto Christ, as unto a fountain. But he cometh hither by little and little. For he doth not by and by in the beginning affirm that Jesus was Christ; but he saith only that he was a man sent of God; and that doth he prove by his miracles. Afterward he addeth, that he rose from death when he was slain. Whereby it appeareth more certainly and more fully that he was not one of the prophets, but the very Son of God, who was promised to be the repairer of all things. Let this, therefore, be the first member, that Jesus of Nazareth was a man approved of God by manifest testimonies, so that he could not be despised as some base and obscure person. The old interpreter did not evil F99 translate uJpodedeigmenon approved. And Erasmus is deceived, who thinketh that he did read it otherwise; and he himself did not express Luke’s mind, when as he translated it given. F100 For, seeing that word doth signify among the Grecians to show, whereupon the mathematicians also call those arguments whereby they set a thing, as it were, before a man’s eyes, apodeixeiv, or demonstrations, Luke meant to say, that Jesus came not unknown, and without any testimony or approbation, but that those miracles which God showed by him served to this end, that he might be famous and excellent. Therefore he saith that he was showed toward the Jews; because God would have his Son to be accounted excellent and great among them; as if he should say, that miracles were not appointed for other nations, but for the Jews, that they might know that Jesus was sent unto them of God.
By great works. He calleth miracles by these three names. And because God doth show forth his power in them after a new and unwonted sort, or doth, at least, procure greater admiration, they are, for good causes, called great works. F101 For we are commonly more moved when any extraordinary thing doth happen. In which respect they are also called wonders, F102 because they make us astonished. And for this cause are they called signs, because the Lord will not have men’s minds to stay there, but to be lifted up higher; as they are referred unto another end. He put in three words, to the end he might the more extol Christ’s miracles, and enforce the people, by his heaping and laying of words together, to consider the same. Furthermore, he maketh not Christ the chief author, but only the minister; because, as we have already said, he determined to go forward by degrees. Notwithstanding, here may a question be asked, whether miracles do suffice to be a sufficient and just approbation [proof] or no? Because by this means inchanters might cause their legerdemain F103 to be believed. I answer, that the juggling casts of Satan do much differ from the power of God. Christ saith elsewhere, that the kingdom of Antichrist shall be in wonders, but he addeth by and by, in lying wonders, (<530209>2 Thessalonians 2:9.) if any man object, that we cannot easily discern, because he saith that they shall have so great color that they shall deceive (if it could be) the very elect; I answer again, that this error proceedeth only from our own want of wit, because we are so dull; for God doth show his power manifestly enough. Therefore, there is sufficient approbation of the doctrine and of the ministry in the miracles which God doth work, so that we be not blind. And whereas it is not of sufficient force among the wicked, because they may now and then be deceived with the false miracles of Satan, this must be imputed unto their own blindness; but whosoever hath a pure heart, he doth also know God with the pure eyes of his mind, so often as he doth show himself. Neither can Satan otherwise delude us, save only when, through the wickedness of our heart, our judgment is corrupt and our eyes blinded, or at least bleared through our own slothfulness.
23. Him have ye slain. He maketh mention of the death of Christ for this cause chiefly, that the resurrection might the more assuredly be believed. It was a thing full well known among the Jews that Christ was crucified. Therefore, in that he rose again, it is a great and wonderful token of his Divine power. In the mean season, to the end he may prick their consciences with the feeling of sin, he saith that they slew him; not that they crucified him with their own hands, but because the people, with one voice, desired to have him put to death. And although many of the hearers unto whom he speaketh did not consent unto that wicked and ungodly cruelty, yet doth he justly impute the same to the nation; because all of them had defiled themselves either with their silence, or else through their carelessness. Neither hath the cloak and color F104 of ignorance any place, forasmuch as he was showed before of God. This guiltiness, therefore, under which he bringeth them, is a preparation unto repentance.
By the determinate counsel. He removeth a stumbling-block; because it seemeth, at the first blush, to be a thing very inconvenient, [unaccountable,] that that man whom God had so greatly adorned, being afterward laid open to all manner of mocking, doth suffer so reproachful a death. Therefore, because the cross of Christ doth commonly use to trouble us at the first sight, for this cause Peter declareth that he suffered nothing by chance, or because he wanted power to deliver himself, but because it was so determined (and appointed) by God. For this knowledge alone, that the death of Christ was ordained by the eternal counsel of God, did cut off all occasion of foolish and wicked cogitation’s, and did prevent all offenses which might otherwise be conceived. For we must know this, that God doth decree nothing in vain or rashly; whereupon it followeth that there was just cause for which he would have Christ to suffer. The same knowledge of God’s providence is a step to consider the end and fruit of Christ’s death. For this meeteth us by and by in the counsel of God, that the just was delivered F105 for our sins, and that his blood was the price of our death.
And here is a notable place touching the providence of God, that we may know that as well our life as our death is governed by it. Luke intreateth, indeed, of Christ; but in his person we have a mirror, which doth represent unto us the universal providence of God, which doth stretch itself throughout the whole world; yet doth it specially shine unto us who are the members of Christ. Luke setteth down two things in this place, the foreknowledge and the decree of God. And although the foreknowledge of God is former in order, (because God doth first see what he will determine, before he doth indeed determine the same,) yet doth he put the same after the counsel and decree of God, to the end we may know that God would nothing, neither appointed anything, save that which he had long before directed to his [its] end. For men do oftentimes rashly decree many things, because they decree them suddenly. Therefore, to the end Peter may teach that the counsel of God is not without reason, he coupleth also therewithal his foreknowledge. Now, we must distinguish these two, and so much the more diligently, because many are deceived in this point. For passing over the counsel of God, wherewith he doth (guide and) govern the whole world, they catch at his bare foreknowledge. Thence cometh that common distinction, that although God doth foresee all things, yet doth he lay no necessity upon his creatures. And, indeed, it is true that God doth know this thing or that thing before, for this cause, because it shall come to pass; but as we see that Peter doth teach that God did not only foresee that which befell Christ, but it was decreed by him. And hence must be gathered a general doctrine; because God doth no less show his providence in governing the whole world, than in ordaining and appointing the death of Christ. Therefore, it belongeth to God not only to know before things to come, but of his own will to determine what he will have done. This second thing did Peter declare when he said, that he was delivered by the certain and determinate counsel of God. Therefore, the foreknowledge of God is another thing than the will of God, whereby he governeth and ordereth all things.
Some, which are of quicker sight, confess that God doth not only foreknow, but also govern with his beck what things soever are done in this world. Nevertheless, they imagine a confused government, as if God did give liberty to his creatures to follow their own nature. They say that the sun is ruled by the will of God, because, in giving light to us, he doth his duty, which was once enjoined him by God. They think that man hath free-will after this sort left him, because his nature is disposed or inclined unto the free choice of good and evil. But they which think so do feign that God sitteth idle in heaven. The Scripture teacheth us far otherwise, which ascribeth unto God a special government in all things, and in man’s actions. Notwithstanding, it is our duty to ponder and consider to what end it teacheth this; for we must beware of doting speculations, wherewith we see many carried away. The Scripture will exercise our faith, that we may know that we are defended by the hand of God, lest we be subject to the injuries of Satan and the wicked. It is good for us to embrace this one thing; neither did Peter mean anything else in this place. Yea, we have an example set before us in Christ, whereby we may learn to be wise with sobriety. For it is out of question, that his flesh was subject to corruption, according to nature. But the providence of God did set the same free. If any man ask, whether the bones of Christ could be broken or no? it is not to be denied, that they were subject to breaking naturally, yet could there no bone be broken, because God had so appointed and determined, (<431936>John 19:36.) By this example (I say) we are taught so to give the chiefest room to God’s providence, that we keep ourselves within our bounds, and that we thrust not ourselves rashly and indiscreetly into the secrets of God, whither our eyesight doth not pierce.
By the hands of the wicked. Because Peter seemeth to grant that the wicked did obey God, hereupon followeth two absurdities; F106 the one, either that God is the author of evil, or that men do not sin, what wickedness soever they commit. I answer, concerning the second, that the wicked do nothing less than obey God, howsoever they do execute that which God hath determined with himself. For obedience springeth from a voluntary affection; and we know that the wicked have a far other purpose. Again, no man obeyeth God save he which knoweth his will. Therefore, obedience dependeth upon the knowledge of God’s will. Furthermore, God hath revealed unto us his will in the law; wherefore, those men F107 do obey God, who do that alone which is agreeable to the law of God; and, again, which submit themselves willingly to his government. We see no such thing in all the wicked, whom God doth drive hither and thither, they themselves being ignorant. No man, therefore, will say that they are excusable under this color, because they obey God; forasmuch as both the will of God must be sought in his law, and they, so much as in them lieth, do F108 to resist God. As touching the other point, I deny that God is the author of evil; because there is a certain noting of a wicked affection in this word. For the wicked deed is esteemed according to the end whereat a man aimeth. When men commit theft or murder, they offend F109 for this cause, because they are thieves or murderers; and in theft and murder there is a wicked purpose. God, who useth their wickedness, is to be placed in the higher degree. For he hath respect unto a far other thing, because he will chastise the one, and exercise the patience of the other; and so he doth never decline from his nature, that is, from perfect righteousness. So that, whereas Christ was delivered by the hands of wicked men, whereas he was crucified, it came to pass by the appointment and ordinance of God. But treason, which is of itself wicked, and murder, which hath in it so great wickedness, must not be thought to be the works of God.
24. Having loosed the sorrows of death. By the sorrows of death I understand some farther thing than the bodily sense or feeling. For those which duly consider the nature of death, because they hear that it is the curse of God, must needs conceive that God is angry in death. Hence cometh marvelous horror, wherein there is greater misery than in death itself. Furthermore, Christ died upon this occasion that he might take upon him our guiltiness. That inward fear of conscience, which made him so afraid that he sweat blood when he presented himself before the throne and tribunal seat of God, did more vex him, and brought upon him greater horror, than all the torments of the flesh. And whereas Peter saith, that Christ did wrestle with such sorrows, and doth also declare that he had the victory, by this it cometh to pass that the faithful ought not now to be afraid of death; for death hath not the like quality now which was in Adam; because by the victory of Christ the curse is swallowed up, (<461554>1 Corinthians 15:54.) We feel, indeed, yet the pricking of sorrows, but such as do not wholly wound us, whilst that we hold up the buckler of faith against them. He added a reason, because it was impossible that Christ should be oppressed by death, who is the author of life.

ACTS 2:25-31
25. For David saith of him, I saw the Lord before me always, because he is on my right hand; lest I should be moved. 26. For this my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover, my flesh shall rest in hope: 27. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. 28. Thou hast made known unto me the ways of life, thou shalt fill me with gladness with thy face. 29. Men and brethren, seeing that I ,nay boldly speak unto you of the patriarch David, because he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher remaineth with us until this day. 30. Therefore, seeing he was a prophet, and did know that God had sworn unto him with an oath that it should come to pass, that Christ should rise of the fruits of his loins, concerning the flesh, who should sit upon his throne; 31. He knowing this before, spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption.

25. The resurrection, F110 which was both declared and witnessed by certain and evident testimonies, and which might also have been gathered out of the continual doctrine of the prophets, was to be proved to the Jews as some new and strange thing. And no marvel. For we see that although Christ had oftentimes beat F111 the same into his disciples’ heads, yet did they profit but a little. And yet did they retain certain principles of true doctrine, which might have made a way for them unto the knowledge of Christ, as we shall see by and by. Therefore, because the gift of the Spirit was a fruit of the resurrection of Christ, he proveth by the testimony of David that Christ must needs have risen again, that the Jews may thereby know that he was the author of the gift. For he taketh it as a thing which all men grant, that he was raised up from death, that he may live not for himself, but for his. Now we see Peter’s drift; that that ought to seem no strange thing which was foretold so long before; and that Jesus is also Christ, because David did prophecy of him, as of the tied of the Church.
First of all, we must see whether this place ought altogether to be understood of Christ, as Peter affirmeth; that done, if there be any thing in the words worth noting, we will in order discuss it. Peter denieth that that agreeth with David which is said in this place:
“Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption,” (<191610>Psalm 16:10,)
because David’s carcass was corrupt in the grave. It seemeth at the first blush to be but a light argument. For a man might easily object, that the word is not to be urged, forasmuch as David meant nothing else, save only to exempt himself from destruction. Therefore, howsoever corruption did touch him, yet doth that no whit hinder but that he may easily say that he was safe from the danger thereof, because he knew that the Lord would deliver him. Yea, it seemeth to be a repetition of the former sentence, according to the common custom of the Hebrew tongue. Which if it be so, the sense shall be plain, that God will not suffer him to be oppressed with death, or that death should consume him. And this interpretation is confirmed by that where we read hell, it is in Hebrew ls, (seol;) where we read corruption, there it is tjç, (shachat;) both these words do signify the grave. By this means David should say twice, that he shall be delivered from death by the grace of God. Finally, he saith the same thing in this place, which he saith, (<194915>Psalm 49:15,) “God shall redeem my soul from the hand of hell.” Like as, on the other side, when he speaketh of the reprobates, he is wont to take “going down into the grave” for destruction. I answer briefly, that there is some greater thing expressed in this place than the common redemption or deliverance of the godly. David, indeed, doth promise that God will be his eternal deliverer, as well in life as in death. Neither had he been much better for this, to have been once delivered from one danger, unless he had hoped that he should be safe even unto the end through God’s protection; but he speaketh of such safety as is not common. F112 And surely the words do sound that he speaketh of some new and singular privilege. Admit I grant that it is a repetition, and that there is all one thing uttered in these two members, “Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell;” and, “Thou shalt not suffer me to see corruption;” yet do I deny that it is simply to be understood that God will deliver his Holy One from eternal destruction; for freedom from corruption is promised by name. Neither do I pass for this, that tjç (shachat) doth signify the grave, as ls, (seol,) which is put in the former member. For although I do not stand nor contend about the words, yet must we respect the etymology. Therefore, forasmuch as the grave is called tjç, (shachat) because it doth corrupt man’s body with rottenness, it is not to be doubted but that David meant to note that quality. Therefore, the place is not so much expressed by this word, as the condition of rotting. So that the sense is, that God will not suffer him of whom the Psalm speaketh “to rot or corrupt in the grave.” And forasmuch as David was not free from this necessity, it followeth that the prophecy was neither truly nor perfectly fulfilled in him.
And that the Psalm ought altogether to be expounded of Christ, the thing itself doth prove. For seeing that David was one of the sons of Adam, he could not escape that universal condition and estate of mankind,
“Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return,”
(<010319>Genesis 3:19;)
the grave standeth open (I say) for all the children of Adam, that it may swallow them up, and consume them; so that no man can exempt himself from corruption. So that, beholding ourselves apart from Christ, we see the grave prepared for us, which threateneth to us corruption. Wherefore, if David be separated from Christ, that shall not belong to him which is here said, that he shall be preserved from the grave. Therefore, when he boasteth that he shall be free from the grave, as touching corruption, without all doubt he placeth himself in the body of Christ, wherein death was overcome, and the kingdom thereof abolished. But and if David do promise himself exempting from the grave in another respect, save only so far forth as he is a member of Christ, hereby it appeareth that this freedom must begin at Christ as at the head. What man soever shall be of sound judgment shall easily know that this is a good argument. God did put all mankind under corruption; therefore, David, inasmuch as he was of the number of men, could not be free from the same. Neither is it to be doubted, but that the Jews, before whom this sermon was made, forasmuch as without question that maxim was of force amongst them, that they were to hope for the restoring of things at the hands of Christ alone, did the more readily stay themselves upon F113 the words of Peter; because they saw that that could no otherwise be which the words do import, unless they should apply it to the Messias. For they were not come to that point of impudence, at least those of whom mention is made here, that they durst cavil in matters which were evident; for God had then offered unto his disciples those which were godly hearers, and apt to be taught. They sought the Messias in the Old Testament. They knew that David was a figure of him. There was amongst them some religion and reverence of the Scriptures then; but now the impudency of all the whole nation almost is desperate. Howsoever they be urged, they wrench themselves out one way or other. F114 Where there is no way to escape, yet they break through; although they be overcome, yet will they not yield; neither is it to be doubted but that this their shameless forwardness is a punishment for their ungodliness. But let us return unto Peter’s sermon.
Seeing that David doth not only affirm that God also shall be his deliverer, but doth express a singular way and means; namely, that he shall not be subject to the corruption of the grave, Peter doth for good causes gather, that that doth not properly appertain unto him, for that his body was corrupt in the grave. And now, because this had been somewhat hard to be spoken among the Jews, he mollifieth the hardness with a circumlocution. For he doth not flatly deny in one word that that was fulfilled indeed in David, but doth only by the way F115 signify so much unto them, because he lieth consumed in the grave after the common custom of other men. And David did so prophesy of Christ, that he did both apply this consolation unto himself privately, and’ also extend the same unto the whole body of the Church. For that which is sound and perfect in the head is spread abroad, being afterward poured out into all the members. Neither is it to be denied but that David spoke of himself in this place; yet only so far forth as he beheld himself in Christ, as in the mirror of life. First, he hath respect unto Christ; after that he turneth his eyes toward himself, and others the faithful. So that we have a general doctrine prescribed unto us in this plate, concerning the nature of faith, the spiritual joy of conscience: and the hope of eternal deliverance.
I saw. We must hold this principle. If we will have God present with us, we must set him before our eyes; and that before he do appear; for the prospect of faith pierceth far further than unto the present experience. Therefore faith hath this property, to set God always before it as a guide in all dangers and confused matters. For there is nothing that doth so much hold us up, as when we know that God is present with us; as the opinion of his absence doth often cast us down, and at length quite discourage us. David addeth, That he took not heed in vain unto the direction of God. “He is (saith he) at my right hand;” whereby he doth signify that we need not to fear lest we be deceived, F116 when as we set him before us at present; for we shall always feel his help most ready. Faith, in hoping for the help of God, ought to prevent and overgo F117 all experience, and whatsoever is perceived by the sense; but so soon as it shall give this glory to God, that it doth behold him in his Word, although he be absent, and so, consequently, invisible, it shall be overcome with the effect of the thing. For the measure of faith is not able to comprehend the infinite greatness of the power and goodness of God. He draweth a similitude from those which, when they will underprop the weak, or strengthen the fearful, do join themselves unto their side. Not to be moved, is not to be thrown down from their degree, but to remain firm in their estate; like as also <194605>Psalm 46:5, God is in the midst of it, therefore shall it not be moved. For although it come to pass sometimes that the godly be sore shaken, yet because they come to themselves again, they are said to continue firm. Therefore, there is no cause why they should be afraid of falling, who are upholden by the help of God. Like as, on the other side, those which place their strength anywhere else save only in God, they shall be like to fall at every blast of wind, but at any mean wind of temptation they shall fall to the ground.
26. For this my heart rejoiced. Joy of the soul, gladness of the tongue, and quietness of all the whole body, do ensue upon sure hope and confidence; for unless men be quite past feeling, F118 they must needs be careful and sorrowful, and so, consequently, miserably tormented, so long as they feel themselves destitute of the help of God. But that sure trust which we repose in God doth not only deliver us from carefulness, F119 but doth also replenish our hearts with wonderful joy (and gladness.) That is the joy which Christ promised to his disciples should be full in them, and which he testified could not be taken from them, (<431622>John 16:22; 17:13.) He expresseth the greatness of the joy when he saith, That it cannot be kept in, but that it will break forth into the gladness of the tongue. F120 dwbk, doth signify, indeed, glory, but it is taken in that place, as in many others, for the tongue. And so the Grecians have truly translated the same. The rest of the flesh doth signify the quietness of the whole man, which we have through the protection of God. Neither is this any let, because the faithful are continually out of quiet and tremble; for as in the midst of sorrows they do nevertheless rejoice; so there are no troubles so great that can break them of their rest. If any man object, that the peace of the faithful doth consist in the spirit, and that it is not in the flesh: I answer, that the faithful do rest in body; not that they are free from troubles, but because they believe that God careth for them wholly, and that not only their soul shall be safe through his protection, but their body also.
27. Because thou shalt not leave. To leave the soul in hell is to suffer the same to be oppressed with destruction. There be two words used in this place, both which do signify the grave amongst the Hebricians. Because lwaç, doth signify to require, I suppose it is called lws, because death is insatiable; whence also cometh that translation, Hell hath enlarged her soul. Again, they set open their mouth like hell. And because the latter tjç, is derived and set for corruption, or consumption, that quality is to be considered, as David meant to note the same. Those things which are disputed in this place by divers, concerning the descending of Christ into hell, are in my judgment superfluous; because they are far from the intent and purpose of the prophet. For the word anima, or soul, doth not so much signify the spirit being of an immortal essence as the life itself. For when a man is dead, and lieth in the grave, the grave is said to rule over his life. Whereas the Grecians translate it holy, it is in Hebrew tsj, which doth properly signify meek, or gentle, but Luke did not much regard this, because it doth not much appertain unto the present purpose. Furthermore, gentleness and meekness is so often commended in the faithful, because it behoveth them to imitate and resemble the nature of their Father.
28. Thou hast made known. He meaneth, that he was restored from death to life by the grace of God. For in that he was, as it were, a man raised from death to life, he acknowledgeth that it was a great good gift of God. This was in such sort fulfilled in Christ, that there wanted nothing unto perfection. As for the members they have their measure. Therefore Christ was far from corruption, that he may be the first-fruits of those which rise from death, (<461523>1 Corinthians 15:23.) We shall follow him in our order at length, but being first turned into dust, (<461542>1 Corinthians 15:42.) That which followeth, that he was filled with gladness, with the countenance of God, agreeth with that: Show us thy face, and we shall be safe. And, again, The light of thy countenance is showed upon us: thou hast put gladness in my heart. For it is only the pleasantness of God’s countenance, which doth not only make us glad, but also quickens us; again, when the same is turned away, or troubled, we must needs faint.
30. Therefore, seeing he was a prophet. He showeth, by two reasons, that it is no marvel if David do speak of things that should come to pass long after his time; the former is, because he was a prophet. And we know that things to come, and such as are removed far from the knowledge of men, are revealed unto the prophets. Therefore, it were wickedness to measure their speeches according to the common manner and order which we use in measuring the speeches of other men, forasmuch as they go beyond the long courses of years, having the Spirit for their director. Whereupon they are also called seers; because being placed, as it were, upon an high tower, f121 they see those things which, by reason of great distance, are hidden from other men. Another reason is, because Christ was promised to him peculiarly. This maxim was so common amongst the Jews, that they had ever now and then the son of David in their mouth, so often as there was any mention made of Christ. They be no such arguments, I confess, as do necessarily prove that this prophecy is to be expounded of Christ; neither was that Peter’s intent and purpose; but first he meant to prevent the contrary objection, whence David had such skill to foretell a thing which was unknown. Therefore he saith, That he knew Christ, both by prophetical revelation, and also by singular promise. Furthermore, this principle was of great (<451004>Romans 10:4) force amongst the better-minded sort which Paul setteth down, that Christ is the end of the law. F122 No man, therefore, did doubt of this, but that this was the mark whereat all the prophets did aim, to lead the godly unto Christ as it were by the hand. Therefore, what notable or extraordinary thing soever they did utter, the Jews were commonly persuaded that it did agree with Christ. Furthermore, we must note, that Peter doth reason soundly, when he gathered that David was not ignorant of that which was the chiefest point of all revelations.
He had sworn with an oath. God swore not only to the end he might make David believe his promise, but also that the thing promised might be had in greater estimation. And to this end, in my judgment, it is here repeated, that the Jews may think with themselves of what great weight the promise was, which God did make so notable (and so famous.) The same admonition is profitable for us also. For we need not to doubt of this, but that the Lord meant to set forth the excellency of the covenant by putting in a solemn oath. In the mean season, this is also a fit remedy for the infirmity of our faith, that the sacred name of God is set forth unto us, F123 that his words may carry the greater credit. These words, “according to the flesh,” do declare that there was some more noble thing in Christ than the flesh. Therefore Christ did so come of the seed of David as he was man, that he doth nevertheless, retain his divinity; and so the distinction between the two natures is plainly expressed; when as Christ is called the Son of God, according to his eternal essence, in like sort as he is called the seed of David according to the flesh.

ACTS 2:32-36
32. This Jesus hath God raised up; whereof we all are witnesses. 33. He being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Ghost of the Father, he hath now shed forth that which ye now see and hear. 34. For David is not ascended into heaven: But he saith, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35. Until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 36. Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for a surety, that God hath made this Jesus Lord, and the same Christ, whom ye have crucified.

32. This Jesus. After that he had proved by the testimony of David, that it was most requisite that Christ should rise again, he saith, that he and the rest of his fellows were such witnesses as saw him with their eyes after his resurrection. For this text F124 will not suffer this word raised up to be drawn into any other sense. Whereupon it followeth that that was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth which David did foreshow concerning Christ. After that he intreateth of the fruit or effect. For it was requisite for him to declare that first, that Christ is alive. Otherwise it had been an absurd and incredible thing that he should be the author of so great a miracle. Notwithstanding he doth therewithal teach us, that he did not rise for his own sake alone, but that he might make the whole Church partaker of his life, having poured out the Spirit.
33. He being therefore exalted by the right hand of God. The right hand is taken in this place for the hand or power, in like sort as it is taken everywhere in the Scripture. For this is his drift, to declare that it was a wonderful work of God, in that he had exalted his Christ (whom men thought to be quite destroyed by death) unto so great glory.
The promise of the Spirit for the Spirit which was promised. For he had oftentimes before promised the Spirit to his apostles. Therefore Peter doth signify, that Christ. had obtained power of God the Father to fulfill the same. And he maketh mention of the promise in plain words, to the end the Jews may know that this came not to pass suddenly, but that the words of the prophet were now verified, which went long time before the thing itself.
Furthermore, whereas it is said that he obtained it of the Father, it is to be applied to the person of the Mediator. For both these are truly said, that Christ sent the Spirit from himself and from the Father. He sent him from himself, because he is eternal God; from the Father, because in as much as he is man, he receiveth that of the Father which he giveth us. And Peter speaketh wisely according to the capacity of the ignorant, lest any man should move a question out of season concerning the power of Christ. And surely forasmuch as it is the office of Christ to direct us unto his Father, this is a most apt form of speaking for the use of godliness, that Christ being placed, as it were, in the midst between God and us, doth deliver unto us with his own hand those gifts which he hath received at the hands of his Father. Furthermore, we must note this order that he saith, that the Spirit was sent by Christ after that he was exalted. This agreeth with those sentences:
“The Spirit was not yet given,
because Christ was not yet glorified,” (<430739>John 7:39.)
And again,
“Unless I go hence, the Spirit will not come,” (<431607>John 16:7.)
Not because the Spirit began then first to be given, wherewith the holy fathers were endued since the beginning of the world; but because God did defer this more plentiful abundance of grace, until such time as he had placed Christ in his princely seat; which is signified by this word poured out, as we saw a little before. For by this means the force and fruit of Christ his death and resurrection is sealed; and we do also thereby know, that we have lost nothing by Christ his departing out of the world; because, though he be absent in body, yet is he present with us after a better sort, to wit, by the grace of his Holy Spirit.
34. For doubtless David. Although they might easily gather by the very effect which they saw with their eyes, that the principality was granted and given to Christ, yet to the end his glory may carry the greater credit, he proveth, by David his testimony, that it was so appointed in times past by God, that Christ should be lifted up unto the highest degree of honor. For these words, to “sit at the right hand of God,” import as much as to bear the chief rule, as we shall afterward more at large declare. Yet before he reciteth the prophecy, he saith that it agreeth only to Christ. Therefore, to the end the sense may be more manifest, the sentence must thus run. David pronounceth that it was decreed by God that a king should sit at his right hand. But this doth not appertain unto David, who was never extolled unto so great dignity. Therefore lie speaketh this of Christ. Furthermore, that ought to have seemed no strange thing unto the Jews which was foretold by the oracle of the Holy Ghost. Hereby it appeareth in what sense Peter denieth that David ascended into heaven. He intreateth not in this place of the soul of David, whether it were received into blessed rest, and the heavenly dwelling or no; but the ascending into heaven comprehendeth under it those things which Paul teacheth in the Epistle to the Ephesians, (<490409>Ephesians 4:9), where he placeth Christ above all heavens, that he may fulfill all things. Wherefore the disputation concerning the estate of the dead is altogether superfluous in this place. For Peter goeth about to prove no other thing but this, that the prophecy concerning the sitting at the right hand of God was not fulfilled in David, and that, therefore, the truth thereof must be sought elsewhere. And forasmuch as it can be found nowhere else save only in Jesus Christ, it resteth that the Jews F125 do know that that is showed to them in Christ which was foretold them so long before. That is true, indeed, that David reigned, God being the author hereof, and, in some respect, he was God’s vicegerent; yet not so that he might be above all creatures. Wherefore, this sitting agreeth to none, unless he excel and be above all the whole world.
The Lord said unto my Lord. This is the most lawful manner of ruling, when as the king (or by what other title soever he be called) doth know that he is ordained of God, therefore David pronounceth that the commandment to reign was given unto Christ by name, (<19B001>Psalm 110:1.) As if he should say, He took not the honor to himself rashly, but did only obey God when he commanded him, (<580505>Hebrews 5:5.) ]Now must we see whether Peter’s reason be sound enough or no. He gathereth that the words concern Christ, because the sitting at the right hand of God doth not agree to David. It seemeth that this may be refuted, because David did reign by the peculiar commandment, name, and help of God; which is to sit at the right hand of God. But Peter taketh that for a thing which all men grant, which is true, and which I have already touched, that a greater and more royal government is here spoken of than that which David did enjoy. For howsoever he was God’s vicegerent and did, as it. were, represent his person in reigning, yet is this power far inferior to that, to sit even at the right side of God. For this is attributed to Christ, because he is placed above all principality, and above every name that is named, both in this world, and in the world to come, (<490121>Ephesians 1:21.) Seeing that David is far inferior to the angels, he doth possess no such place that he should be counted next to God. For he must ascend far above all heavens, that he may come to the right hand of God. Wherefore no man is said to sit at it, rightly and properly, save only he which doth surpass all creatures in the degree of honor. As for him which is resident amongst the creatures, although he be reckoned in the order of angels, yet is he far from that highness. Again, we must not seek the right hand of God amongst the creatures; but it doth also surpass all heavenly principalities.
Furthermore, there is great weight even in the sentence itself. The king is commanded to bear the chiefest rule, until God have put all his enemies under his feet. Surely, although I grant that; he name of such an honorable sitting may be applied unto earthly lordship: yet do I deny that David did reign until such time as all his enemies were subdued. For we do hereby gather that the kingdom of Christ is eternal. But the kingdom of David was not only temporal, but also frail, and of a small continuance.
Moreover, when David died, he left many enemies alive here and there. he got many notable victories, but he was far from subduing all his enemies. He made many of those people which were round about him tributaries to him; some did he put to flight and destroyed; but what is all this unto all? Finally, we may prove by the whole text of the Psalm, that there can nothing else be understood save only the kingdom of Christ. That I may pass over other things: that which is here spoken touching the eternal priesthood is too far disagreeing from David’s person. I know that the Jews do prattle, that kings’ sons are called elsewhere cohenim. But he intreateth here of the priesthood as it is ascribed by Moses to the king Melchizedek. And there is established by a solemn oath a certain new kind of priesthood. And, therefore, we must not here imagine any common or ordinary thing. But it had been wickedness for David to thrust himself into any part of the priest’s office. How should he then be called cohen, greater than Aaron, and consecrated of God for ever? But because I do not intend at this present to expound the whole Psalm, let this reason suffice which Peter bringeth: That he is made Lord of heaven and earth, which sitteth at the right hand of God. As touching the second member of the verse, read those things which I have noted upon the fifteenth chapter (<461525>1 Corinthians 15:25) of the former Epistle to the Corinthians, concerning the putting of his enemies under his feet.
36. Therefore, let all the house of Israel know. The house of Israel did confess that that Christ should come which was promised; yet did they not know Who it was. Therefore, Peter concludeth, that Jesus: whom they had so spitefully handled, yea, whose name they did so greatly detest: is he whom they ought to acknowledge to be their Lord, and whom they ought to reverence. For, (saith he,) God hath made him Lord and Christ; that is, you must look for none other than him whom God hath made and given. Furthermore, he saith, That he was made, because God the Father gave him this honor. He joineth the title Lord with the word Christ, because it was a common thing among the Jews, that the Redeemer should be anointed upon this condition, that he might be the Head of the Church, and that the chiefest power over all things might be given him. He speaketh unto the whole house of Israel; as if he should say, Whosoever will be reckoned among the sons of Jacob, and do also look for the promise, let them know for a surety, that this is he and none other. He useth the word house, because God had separated that name and family from all other people. And he saith asfalwv, or for a surety, not only that they may repose their sure confidence and trust in Christ, but that he may take away all occasion of doubting from those which do oftentimes willingly doubt even of matters which are certain and sure. In the end of his oration he upbraideth unto them again, that they did crucify him, that being touched with greater grief of conscience, they may desire remedy.
And now, forasmuch as they know that Jesus is the Anointed of the Lord, the governor of the Church, and the giver of the Holy Ghost, the accusation hath so much the more force. For the putting of him to death was not only full of cruelty and wickedness, but also a testimony of outrageous disloyalty against God, of sacrilege and unthankfulness, and, finally, of apostasy. But it was requisite that they should be so wounded, lest they should have been slow to seek for medicine. And yet, notwithstanding, they did not crucify him with their own hands; but this is more than sufficient to make them guilty, in that they desired to have him put to death. And we also are accused by this same voice, if we crucify him in ourselves, being already glorified in heaven, making a mock of him, as saith the Apostle, (<580606>Hebrews 6:6.)

ACTS 2:37-39
37. And when they heard these things, they were pricked in heart, and said unto Peter and to the other apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38. Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39. For the promise appertaineth unto you, and unto your child-ten, and unto all which are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.

37. They were pricked in heart. Luke doth now declare the fruit of the sermon, to the end we may know that the power of the Holy Ghost was not only showed forth in the diversity of tongues, but also in their hearts which heard. And he noteth a double fruit; first, that they were touched with the feeling of sorrow; and, secondly, that they were obedient to Peter’s counsel. This is the beginning of repentance, this is the entrance unto godliness, to be sorry for our sins, and to be wounded with the feeling of our miseries. For so long as men are careless, they cannot take such heed unto doctrine as they ought. And for this cause the word of God is compared to a sword, (<580412>Hebrews 4:12,) because it doth mortify our flesh, that we may be offered to God for a sacrifice. But there must be added unto this pricking in heart readiness to obey. Cain and Judas were pricked in heart, but despair did keep them back from submitting themselves unto God, (<010413>Genesis 4:13; <402703>Matthew 27:3.) For the mind being oppressed with horror, can do nothing else but flee from God. And surely when David affirmeth that a contrite spirit and an humble heart is a sacrifice acceptable to God, he speaketh of voluntary pricking; forasmuch as there is fretting and fuming mixed with the prickings of the wicked. Therefore, we must take a good heart to us, and lift up our mind with this hope of salvation, that we may be ready to addict and give over ourselves unto God, and to follow whatsoever he shall command. We see many oftentimes pricked, who, notwithstanding, do fret and murmur, or else forwardly strive and struggle, and so, consequently, go furiously mad. Yea, this is the cause why they go mad, because they feel such prickings against their will. Those men, therefore, are profitably pricked alone who are willingly sorrowful, and do also seek some remedy at God’s hands.
38. Peter said. Hereby we see that those do never go away empty which ask at the mouth of the Lord, and do offer themselves unto him to be ruled and taught; for that promise must needs be true, Knock, and it shall be opened unto you, (<400707>Matthew 7:7.) Therefore, whosoever shall be rightly prepared to learn, the Lord will not suffer his godly desire to be in vain; for he is a most faithful master, so that he hath scholars which are apt to be taught and studious. Wherefore, there is no cause why he should fear, lest he suffer us to be destitute of sound counsel, if we be attentive and ready to hear him, and do not refuse to embrace whatsoever he shall teach us. And let us suffer ourselves to be governed by the counsel and authority of those men whom he offereth unto us to teach us. for this ready obedience cometh thence so suddenly in those which addict themselves unto the apostles, because they are persuaded that they are sent of God, to show them the way of salvation.
Repent. There is greater force in the Greek word, for it doth signify the conversion of the mind, that the whole man may be renewed and made another man, which thing must be diligently noted, because this doctrine was miserably corrupted in the time of Popery; for they translated the name of repentance almost unto certain external rites. They babble somewhat, indeed, about the reigned contrition of the heart; but they touch that part very slightly, and they stand principally upon the external exercises of the body, which were little worth; yea, though there were in them no corruption; but they urge nothing else in a manner but reigned trifles, wherewith men are wearied in vain. Wherefore, let us know that this is the true repentance, when a man is renewed in the spirit of his mind, as Paul teacheth, (<451202>Romans 12:2.) Neither need we to doubt of this; but that Peter did preach plainly of the force and nature of repentance; but Luke doth only touch the chief points, and doth not reckon up the words of the oration which he made. We must, therefore, know thus much, that Peter did at the first exhort the Jews unto repentance; and that done, he lifted them up with hope of pardon; for he promised them forgiveness of sins, which two things are the two parts of the gospel, as we know full well; and, therefore, when Christ will briefly teach what the doctrine of the gospel doth contain, he saith, that repentance and remission of sins (<422447>Luke 24:47) must be preached in his name. Furthermore, because we are reconciled unto God only by the intercession of Christ’s death, neither are our sins otherwise purged, F126 and done away, save only by his blood, therefore, Peter calleth us back unto him by name. He putteth baptism in the fourth place, as the seal whereby the promise of grace is confirmed.
Wherefore, we have in these few words almost the whole sum of Christianity, namely, how a man renouncing himself and taking his farewell of the world, may addict himself wholly to God; secondly, How he may be delivered by free forgiveness of sins, and so adopted into the number of the children of God. And forasmuch as we can obtain none of all these things without Christ, the name of Christ is therewithal set forth unto us, as the only foundation of faith and repentance. And we must also note this, that we do so begin repentance when we are turned unto God, that we must prosecute the same during our life; therefore, this sermon must continually sound in the Church, repent, (<410115>Mark 1:15;) not that those men may begin the same, who will be counted faithful, and have a place already in the Church; but that they may go forward in the same; although many do usurp the name of faithful men, which had never any beginning of repentance. Wherefore, we must observe this order in teaching, that those which do yet live unto the world and the flesh may begin to crucify the old man, that they may rise unto newness of life, and that those who are already entered the course of repentance may continually go forward towards the mark. Furthermore, because the inward conversion of the heart ought to bring forth fruits in the life, repentance cannot be rightly taught unless works be required, not those frivolous works which are only in estimation amongst the Papists, but such as are sound testimonies of innocence and holiness.
Be baptized every one of you. Although in the text and order of the words, baptism doth here go before remission of sins, yet doth it follow it in order, because it is nothing else but a sealing of those good things which we have by Christ that they may be established in our consciences; therefore, after that Peter had intreated of repentance, he calleth the Jews unto the hope of grace and salvation; and, therefore, Luke well afterwards, in Paul’s sermon, joineth faith and repentance together in the same sense, wherein he putteth forgiveness of sins in this place, and that for good considerations; for the hope of salvation consisteth in the free imputation of righteousness; and we are counted just, freely before God, when he forgiveth us our sins. And as I said before, that the doctrine of repentance hath a daily use in the Church so must we think of the forgiveness of sins, that the same is continually offered unto us; and surely it is no less necessary for us during the whole course of our life, than at our first entrance into the Church, so that it should profit us nothing to be once received into favor by God, unless this embassage should have a continual course; be-reconciled unto God, because
“he which knew no sin was made sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him,” (<470520>2 Corinthians 5:20.)
Moreover, the Papists do so corrupt this other part of the gospel, that they quite exclude the remission of sins, which was to be obtained by Christ. They confess their sins are freely forgiven in baptism, but they will have them redeemed with satisfactions after baptism; and although they mix the grace of Christ together therewithal, yet because they inwrap the same in men’s merits, they do by this means overthrow the whole doctrine of the gospel; for, first, they take from men’s consciences the certainty of faith; that done, forasmuch as they part the forgiveness of sins between the death of Christ and our satisfactions, they do altogether deprive us of Christ’s benefit. For Christ doth not reconcile us unto God in part, but wholly, neither can we obtain remission of sins by him, unless it be whole and perfect. But the Papists are much deceived therein, who restrain baptism unto the nativity and former life, as if the signification and force thereof did not reach even unto death.
Let us know, therefore, that forgiveness of sins is grounded in Christ alone, and that we must not think upon any other satisfaction F127 save only that which he hath performed by the sacrifice of his death. And for this cause, as we have already said, doth Peter express his name, whereby he doth signify unto us, that none of all these things can be rightly taught, unless Christ be set in the midst, to the end the effect of this doctrine may be sought in him. That needeth no long exposition where he commandeth them to be baptized for the remission of sins; for although God hath once reconciled men unto himself in Christ” by not imputing unto them their sins,” (<470519>2 Corinthians 5:19,) and doth now imprint in our hearts the faith thereof by his Spirit; yet, notwithstanding, because baptism is the seal whereby he doth confirm unto us this benefit, and so, consequently, the earnest and pledge of our adoption, it is worthily said to be given us for the remission of sins. For because we receive Christ’s gifts by faith, and baptism is a help to confirm and increase our faith, remission of sins, which is an effect of faith, is annexed unto it as unto the inferior mean. Furthermore, we must not fetch the definition of baptism from this place, because Peter doth only touch a part thereof. Our old man is crucified by baptism, as Paul teacheth, that we may rise unto newness of life, (<450604>Romans 6:4, 6.) And, again, we put on Christ himself, (1 Corinthians 12.) and the Scripture teacheth every where, that it is also a sign and token of repentance, (<480327>Galatians 3:27.) But because Peter doth not intreat in thin place openly of the whole nature of baptism, but speaking of the forgiveness of sins, doth, by the way, declare that the confirmation thereof is in baptism, there doth no inconvenience follow, if ye do omit the other part. F128
In the name of Christ. Although baptism be no vain figure, but a true and effectual testimony; notwithstanding, lest any man attribute that unto the element of water which is there offered, the name of Christ is plainly expressed, to the end we may know that it shall be a profitable sign for us then, if we seek the force and effect thereof in Christ, and know that we are, therefore, washed in baptism, because the blood of Christ is our washing; and we do also hereby gather, that Christ is, the mark and end whereunto baptism directeth us; wherefore, every one profiteth so much in baptism as he learneth to look unto Christ. But here ariseth a question, Whether it were lawful for Peter to change the form prescribed by Christ? The Papists do think, at least feign so, and thence do they take a color of liberty to change or abrogate the institutions of Christ. They confess that nothing ought to be changed, as touching the substance, but they will have the Church to have liberty to change whatsoever it will in the form. But this argument may easily be answered. For we must first know that Christ did not indite and rehearse unto his apostles magical words for enchanting, as the Papists do dream, but he did, in few words, comprehend the sum of the mystery. Again, I deny that Peter doth speak in this place of the form of baptism; but he doth simply declare that the whole strength F129 of baptism is contained in Christ; although Christ cannot be laid hold on by faith without the Father by whom he was given us, and the Spirit by the which he reneweth and sanctifieth us. The answer consisteth wholly in this, that he intreateth not in this place of the certain form of baptizing, but the faithful are called back unto Christ, in whom alone we have whatsoever baptism doth prefigure unto us; for we are both made clean by his blood, and also we enter into a new life by the benefit of his death and resurrection.
Ye shall receive the gift of the Spirit. Because they were touched with wondering when they saw the apostles suddenly begin to speak with strange tongues, Peter saith that they shall be partakers of the same gift if they will pass over unto Christ. Remission of sins and newness of life were the principal things, and this was, as it were, an addition, that Christ should show forth unto them his power by some visible gift. Neither ought this place to be understood of the grace of sanctification, which is given generally to all the godly. Therefore he promiseth them the gift of the Spirit, whereof they saw a pattern in the diversity of tongues. Therefore this doth not properly appertain unto us. For because Christ meant to set forth the beginning of his kingdom with those miracles, they lasted but for a time; yet because the visible graces which the Lord did distribute to his did shoe, as it were in a glass, that Christ was the giver of the Spirit, therefore, that which Peter saith doth in some respect appertain unto all the whole Church: ye shall receive the gift of the Spirit. For although we do not receive it, that we may speak with tongues, that we may be prophets, that we may cure the sick, that we may work miracles; yet is it given us for a better use, that we may believe with the heart unto righteousness, that our tongues may be framed unto true confession, (<451010>Romans 10:10,) that we may pass from death to life, (<430524>John 5:24) that we, which are poor and empty, may be made rich, that we may withstand Satan and the world stoutly. Therefore, the grace of the Spirit shall always be annexed unto baptism, unless the let be in ourselves.
39. For the promise appertaineth unto you. It was requisite that this should be expressly added, that the Jews might certainly think and persuade themselves that the grace of Christ did belong as well to them as to the apostles. And Peter proveth it thus, because the promise of God was made unto them. For we must always look unto this, because [that] we cannot otherwise know the will of God save only by his word. But it is not sufficient to have the general word, unless we know that the same is appointed for us. Therefore Peter saith, that those benefits which they see in him and his fellows in office were in times past promised to the Jews; because this is required necessarily for the certainty of faith, that every one be fully persuaded of this, that he is comprehended in the number of those unto whom God speaketh. Finally, this is the rule of a true faith, when I am thus persuaded that salvation is mine, because that promise appertaineth unto me which offereth the same. And hereby we have also a greater confirmation, when as the promise is extended unto those who were before afar off. For God had made the covenant with the Jews, (<020422>Exodus 4:22.) If the force and fruit thereof come also unto the Gentiles, there is no cause why the Jews should doubt of themselves, but that they shall find the promise of God firm and stable.
And we must note these three degrees, that the promise was first made to the Jews, and then to their children, and last of all, that it is also to be imparted to the Gentiles. We know the reason why the Jews are preferred before other people; for they are, as it were, the first begotten in God’s family, yea, they were then separated from other people by a singular privilege. Therefore Peter observeth a good order, when he giveth the Jews the pre-eminence. Whereas he adjoineth their children unto them, it dependeth upon the words of the promise: I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed after thee, (<011707>Genesis 17:7,) where God doth reckon the children with the fathers in the grace of adoption.
This place, therefore, doth abundantly refute the manifest error of the Anabaptists, which will not have infants, which are the children of the faithful, to be baptized, as if they were not members of the Church. They espy a starting hole in the allegorical sense,F130 and they expound it thus, that by children are meant those which are spiritually begotten. But this gross impudency doth nothing help them. It is plain and evident that Peter spoke thus because God did adopt one nation peculiarly. And circumcision did declare that the right of adoption was common even unto infants. Therefore, even as God made his covenant with Isaac, being as yet unborn, because he was the seed of Abraham, so Peter teacheth, that all the children of the Jews are contained in the same covenant, because this promise is always in force, I will be the God of your seed.
And to those which are afar off. The Gentiles are named in the last place, which were before strangers. For those which refer it unto those Jews which were exiled afar off, (and driven) into far countries, they are greatly deceived. For he speaketh not in this place of the distance of place; but he noteth a difference between the Jews and the Gentiles, that they were first joined to God by reason of the covenant, and so, consequently, became of his family or household; but the Gentiles were banished from his kingdom. Paul useth the same speech in the second chapter to Ephesians, (<490211>Ephesians 2:11,) that the Gentiles, which were strangers from the promises, are now drawn near, through Jesus Christ, unto God. Because that Christ (the wall of separation being taken away)hath reconciled both (the Jews and Gentiles) unto the Father, and coming, he hath preached peace unto those which were nigh at hand, and which were afar off. Now we understand Peter’s meaning. For to the end he may amplify the grace of Christ, he doth so offer the same unto the Jews, that he saith the Gentiles are also partakers thereof. And therefore he useth this word call, as if he should say: Like as God hath gathered you together into one peculiar people heretofore by his voice, so the same voice shall sound everywhere, that those which are afar off may come and join themselves unto you, when as they shall be called by a new proclamation.

ACTS 2:40-42
40. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Be ye saved from this froward generation. 41. Those, therefore, which willingly embraced his words were baptized: and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42. And they continued in the apostles’ doctrine, and in fellowship, and breaking of bread, and prayers.

40. And with many. Although in these things which we have had hitherto, Luke did not recite the words of St Peter, but did only briefly touch the chief points; notwithstanding he telleth us again in this place, that Peter did not use doctrine only, but did add the pricks of exhortations. And he expresseth plainly that tie stood much F131 hereupon. Whereas he saith, that he did exhort and beseech, he noteth therein his earnestness. For it was not so easy a matter for them by and by F132 to take their leave of those errors wherewith they were of late infected, and to shake off the government of the priests whereunto they were accustomed. Therefore it stood him upon to pull them violently out of this mire. The sum was this, that they should beware of that froward generation. For they could not be Christ’s unless they would depart from his professed enemies. The priests and scribes were then in great authority, and forasmuch as they did cover themselves under the visor [mask] of the Church, they did deceive the simple, This did hinder and keep back a great many from coming to Christ. Also some might waver, and other some might fall away from the right faith. Therefore Peter plainly declareth that they are a froward generation, howsoever they may boast of the title of the Church. For which cause he commandeth his hearers to separate themselves from them, lest they entangle themselves in their wicked and pestiferous fellowship. Whereas he saith, Be ye saved, he signifieth unto them that they shall surely perish if they couple themselves with such a plague. And surely experience doth teach us, how miserably those men are tossed to and fro who cannot discern the voice of their pastor from the voice of other men; F133 and again, what an hindrance softness and sluggishness is to a great many, whilst they desire to stand in a doubt. F134 Therefore he commandeth them to depart from the wicked if they will be saved. And this point of doctrine is not to be neglected. For it were not sufficient to have Christ set before us, unless we were also taught to flee those things which do lead us away from him. And it is the duty of a good shepherd to defend his sheep from the wolves. So at this day, to the end we may keep the people in the sincere doctrine of the gospel, we are ever now and then enforced to show and testify how much Papistry differeth from Christianity, and what a hurtful plague it is to be yoked with the unfaithful enemies of Christ. Neither ought Peter to be accused of railing, because he calleth the reverend 6tthers, who had the government of the Church F135 in their hands at that day, a froward generation. For those dangers which may draw the soul unto destruction are to be showed by their names. For men will not beware of poison, unless they know that it is poison.
41. They, therefore, which willingly. Luke showeth more plainly how fruitful this one sermon which Peter made was: to wit, that it gained unto Christ about three thousand men. And therewithal he declareth the nature and force of faith when he saith, that with a prompt and ready F136 mind they embraced his word. Therefore, faith must begin with this readiness and willing desire to obey. And because many do show themselves at the first very willing, who afterward have in themselves no constancy or continuance, lest we should think that it was some sudden pang F137 which by and by fell away, Luke doth also afterward commend their constancy, who (as he said) did willingly embrace this word of the apostles, showing that they were joined unto the disciples, or that they were engrafted into the same body, and that they continued in their doctrine. Therefore we must neither be slow to obey, nor yet swift to leap back; but we must stick fast, and stand stoutly to that doctrine which we did forthwith (without any tarriance [delay]) embrace. Furthermore, this example ought to make us not a little ashamed. For whereas there was a great multitude converted unto Christ with one sermon, an hundred sermons can scarce move a few of us; and whereas Luke saith that they continued, there is scarce one amongst ten that doth show even a mean desire to profit and go forward, yea, rather, the more part doth soon loathe our doctrine. Woe be, therefore, to the sluggishness and lightness of the world!
42. In their doctrine. Luke doth not only commend in them the constancy of faith or of godliness, but he saith, also, that they did constantly give themselves to those exercises which serve to the confirmation of faith; to wit, that they studied continually to profit by hearing the apostles; that they gave themselves much to prayer; that they did use fellowship and breaking of bread very much.
As touching prayer and doctrine the sense is plain. Communication or fellowship, and breaking of bread, may be taken diversely. Some think that breaking of bread doth signify the Lord’s Supper; other some do think that it signifieth alms; other some that the faithful did banquet together F138 among themselves. Some do think that koinwnia, doth signify the celebrating of the Holy Supper; but I do rather agree to those others who think that the same is meant by the breaking of bread. For koinwnia, unless it have somewhat added unto it, is never found in this sense; therefore, I do rather refer it unto mutual society and fellowship, unto alms, and unto other duties of brotherly fellowship. And my reason why I would rather have breaking of bread to be understood of the Lord’s Supper in this place is this, because Luke doth reckon up those things wherein the public estate of the Church is contained. Yea, he expresseth in this place four marks whereby the true and natural face of the Church may be judged. Do we then seek the true Church of Christ? The image thereof is lively depainted and set forth F139 unto us in this place. And he beginneth with doctrine which is, as it were, the soul of the Church. Neither doth he name all manner of doctrine, but the doctrine of the apostles, that is, that which the Son of God had delivered by their hands. Therefore, wheresoever the pure voice of the gospel doth sound, where men continue in the profession thereof, where they exercise themselves in hearing the same ordinarily that they may profit, without all doubt there is the Church.
Hereby we may easily gather how frivolous the boasting of the Papists is, whilst that they carelesslyF140 thunder out with fall mouth the name of the Church; whereas, notwithstanding, they have most filthily corrupted the doctrine of the apostles. For if it be duly examined, we shall find no sound part at all; and in most points they do as much dissent from the same, and have as little agreement therewith as light with darkness. The rule of worshipping God, which ought to be fetched out of the pure Word of God alone, is only made and patched together F141 amongst the Papists, of the superstitious inventions of men. They have translated unto the merits of works the hope of salvation, which ought to have rested in Christ alone. The invocation of God is altogether polluted with innumerable profane dotings of men. Finally, whatsoever is heard amongst them, it is either a deforming of the apostles’ doctrine, or else a clear overthrowing (and destroying) of the same. Therefore, we may as easily refute the foolish arrogancy of the Papists, as they can cloak their dealings with the title of the Church. For this shall be the state, F142 whether they have retained the purity of doctrine, from which they are as far as hell is from heaven. But they are wise enough in that point, because they will have no controversy moved about doctrine. But we, as I have said, may freely contemn that vain visor, [mask,] forasmuch as the Spirit of God doth pronounce that the Church is principally to be (esteemed and) discerned by this mark, if the simplicity or purity of the doctrine delivered by the apostles do flourish (and be of force) in the same.
In fellowship. This member and the last do flow from the first, as fruits or effects. For doctrine is the bond of brotherly fellowship amongst us, and doth also set open unto us the gate unto God, that we may call upon him. And the Supper is added unto doctrine instead of a confirmation. Wherefore, Luke doth not in vain reckon up these four things, when as he will describe unto us the well-ordered state of the Church. And we must endeavor to keep and observe this order, if we will be truly judged to be the Church before God and the angels, and not only to make boast of the name F143 thereof amongst men. It is certain that he speaketh of public prayer. And for this cause it is not sufficient for men to make their prayers at home by themselves, unless they meet altogether to pray; wherein consisteth also the profession of faith.

ACTS 2:43-45
43. And there came fear upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were wrought by the apostles. 44. And all those which believed were joined together, and had all things common. 45. And they sold their possessions and substance, and did part them to all men, as every man had need.

43. And there came. He signifieth unto us that the show and sight of the Church was such, that it made others afraid which did not consent unto [its] doctrine; and that was done for the preserving and furthering of the Church. When there ariseth any seen all men set themselves stoutly against the same; and as novelty is odious, the Jews would never have suffered the Church of Christ to stand one minute of an hour, F144 unless the Lord had restrained them with fear as with a bridle. Furthermore, Luke noteth the manner of fear, that it was no such fear as bringeth men unto the obedience of Christ, but such as causeth men to stand in a doubt, and so, consequently, doth, as it were, so bind them hand and foot, F145 that they dare not hinder the Lord’s work. Like as there be some at this day who will willingly be ignorant of the gospel; or, at least, are so holden F146 with the cares of this world, that they cannot thoroughly join themselves unto Christ; and yet they are not so hard-hearted but that they confess that the truth is on our side; and, therefore, they rest, as it were, in the middle way, neither do they favor the cruelty of the wicked, because they are afraid to strive against God. And whereas he saith, Every soul, he speaketh thus by synecdoche. For it is certain that many did contemn the hand of God, and that other some were stricken with no great fear, but that they did furiously rage together against the Church. F147 But Luke’s meaning was this, that there appeared such power of God in the Church, that the people for the most part had not one word to say. F148
And many wonders. This member serveth also to the showing of the cause. For the miracles served to make them afraid, together with other works of God, although this was not the only reason, but one of many, why they were afraid to set themselves against God, who was on that side, as they did gather by the miracles; whence we gather that they are not only profitable for this to bring men to God, F149 but also to make the wicked somewhat more gentle, and that they may tame their furiousness. Pharaoh was a man of desperate stubbornness, (<020808>Exodus 8:8, etc. 19,) and yet we see how miracles do sometimes pierce his obstinate heart. He forgetteth them by and by; but when the hand of God is heavy upon him, he is compelled through fear to yield. To be brief, Luke teacheth that the Jews were by this means kept back, that the Church, which might easily have been destroyed, might have got up her head. F150 Which thing we have oftentimes tried F151 even in our time. And he doth not only declare that they were bridled with fear, lest they should be so bold as to attempt so much as they lusted to do hurt to the Church, but that they were also humbled with reverence to the glory of the gospel.
44. And all. Whereas I have translated it joined together, it is word for word in St Luke, Into the same, or into one, which may be expounded of the place; as if he should have said that they were wont to dwell together in one place. Notwithstanding, I had rather understand it of their consent (and agreement;) as he will say in the fourth chapter, “That they had one heart,” (<440432>Acts 4:32.) And so he goeth forward orderly, when, as he beginneth with their mind, he addeth afterward their bountifulness, as a fruit proceeding thence. Therefore, he giveth us to understand that they were rightly joined together with brotherly love amongst themselves, and that they did indeed declare the same, because the rich men did sell their goods that they might help the poor. And this is a singular example of love, and therefore doth Luke record the same, to the end we may know that we must relieve the poverty of our brethren with our plenty.
But this place hath need of a sound exposition, because of fantastical [fanatical] spirits, which do feign a commonalty or participation together of goods, whereby all policy or civil government is taken away; as in this age the Anabaptists have raged, because they thought there was no Church unless all men’s goods were put and gathered together, as it were, in one heap, that they might all one with another take thereof. Wherefore, we must in this point beware of two extremes. For many, under color of policy, do keep close and conceal whatsoever they have; they defraud the poor, and they think that they are twice righteous, so they take away no other men’s goods. Other some are carried into the contrary error, because they would have all things confused. But what doth Luke? Surely he noteth another order, when he saith that there was choice made in the distribution. If any man object that no man had any thing which was his own, seeing all things were common, we may easily answer. For this community or participation together must be restrained unto the circumstance which ensueth immediately; to wit, that the poor might be relieved as every man had need. We know the old proverb, “All things are common amongst friends.” When as the scholars of Pythagoras said thus, they did not deny but that every man might govern his own house privately, neither did they intend to make their own wives common; so this having of things common, whereof Luke speaketh, and which he commendeth, doth not take away household government; which thing shall better appear by the fourth chapter, whereas he nameth two alone which sold their possessions of so many thousands. Whence we gather that which I said even now, that they brought forth and made common their goods in no other respect, save only that they might relieve the present necessity. And the impudency of the monks was ridiculous, who did profess that they did observe the apostles’ rule, because they call nothing their own; and yet, nevertheless, they neither sell any thing, neither yet do they pass for any man’s poverty;F152 but they stuff their idle bellies with the blood of the poor, neither do they regard any other thing in their having of things common, save only that they may be well filled and daintily, although all the whole world be hungry. Wherein, then, are they like to the first disciples, with whom they will be thought to be able to compare? F153

ACTS 2:46-47
46. And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they did eat their meat with gladness, and singleness of heart, 47. Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added daily unto the congregation those which should be saved.

46. Continuing in the temple. We must note that they did frequent the temple for this cause, because there was more opportunity and occasion offered there to further the gospel. Neither were they drawn with the holiness of the place, seeing they knew that the shadows of the law were ceased; neither meant they to draw others by their example to have the temple in any such reverence; F154 but because there was there great concourse of people, who having laid aside their private cares, wherewith they had been drawn away elsewhere, F155 did seek the Lord; they were continually in the temple, that they might gain such unto Christ. There might be another reason which might induce them hereunto, that they might have a mutual conference and imparting of doctrine amongst themselves, which they could not have done so conveniently in a private house, especially seeing they were so, many.
Breaking bread from house to house. Luke signifieth unto us, that they did not only show some token of true godliness publicly, but that the course and tenor of their private life was alone in that respect. For whereas some do think that in this place, by breaking of bread is meant the Holy Supper, it seemeth to me that Luke meant no such thing. He signifieth, therefore, unto us, that they used to eat together, and that thriftily. F156 For those which make sumptuous banquets do not eat their meat together so familiarly. Again, Luke addeth, in singleness of heart; which is also a token of temperance. In sum, his meaning is to declare, that their manner of living was brotherly and sober. Some do join simplicity and gladness with the praise of God; and both texts may well be allowed. F157 But because there can be no singleness of heart in praising God, unless the stone be also in all parts of the life, therefore it is certain, that there is mention made thereof in this sense, that the faithful did always use the same in all places. F158 And we must also note the circumstance of time, that, being environed and beset with many dangers, they were merry and joyful. The knowledge of God’s love toward us, and the hope of his protection, do bring us this goodness with them, that we praise God with quiet minds, whatsoever the world doth threaten. And as Luke spoke a little before of the public estate of the Church, so he declareth now what form and manner of life the faithful did use; that we may learn by their example a thrifty fellowship in our manner of living, and in all our whole life to embrace singleness, to enjoy the spiritual joy, and to exercise ourselves in the praises of God. Furthermore, the singleness of heart reacheth far; but if you join it in this place with breaking of bread, it shall signify as much as sincere love, where one man dealeth plainly with another, neither doth any man craftily hunt after his own profit. Yet had I rather set the same against that carefulness, wherewith worldly men F159 do too much torment themselves. For when as we do not cast our care upon the Lord, this reward hangeth over our heads, that we tremble and quake even when we take our rest.
47. Having favor. This is the fruit of an innocent life, to find favor even amongst strangers. And yet we need not to doubt of this, but that they were hated of many. But although he speak generally of the people, yet he meaneth that part alone which was sound, neither yet infected with any poison of hatred; he signifieth briefly, that the faithful did so behave themselves, that the people did full well like of them for their innocency of life. F160
The Lord added daily. He showeth in these words that their diligence was not without profit; they studied so much as in them lay to gather into the Lord’s sheepfold those which wandered and went astray. He saith that their labor bestowed herein was not lost; because the Lord did increase his Church daily. And surely, whereas the Church is rather diminished than increased, that is to be imputed to our slothfulness, or rather forwardness.F161 And although they did all of them stoutly labor to increase the kingdom of Christ, yet Luke ascribeth F162 this honor to God alone, that he brought strangers into the Church. And surely this is his own proper work. For the ministers do no good by planting or watering, unless he make their labor effectual by the power of his Spirit, (1 Corinthians 3.) Furthermore, we must note that he saith, that those were gathered unto the Church which should be saved. For he teacheth that this is the means to attain salvation, if we be incorporate into the Church. For like as there is no remission of sins, so neither is there any hope of salvation. F163 Furthermore, this is an excellent comfort for all the godly, that they were received into the Church that they might be saved; as the Gospel is called the power of God unto salvation to all that believe, (<450116>Romans 1:16.) Now, forasmuch as God doth gather only a part, or a certain number, this grace is restrained unto election, that it may be the first cause of our salvation.
CHAPTER 3

ACTS 3:1-11
1. Now, [or almost at that time,] Peter and John went up together into the temple, about the ninth hour of prayer. 2. Furthermore, a certain man, which was lame from his mother’s womb, was carried; whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, that he might ask alms of those which entered into the temple. 3. When he saw Peter and John draw near to the temple, he asked an alms. 4. And Peter, beholding him earnestly with John, said, Look on us. 5. And he gave heed unto them, thinking that he should receive somewhat of them. 6. And Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk. 7. And when he had taken him by the right hand, he lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle-bones received strength. 8. And leaping up he stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. 9. And all the people saw him walking, and praising God. 10. And they knew him, that it was he which was wont to sit for the alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple. And they were filled with wondering, and were astonied at that thing which was come unto him. 11. Moreover, when the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran amazed unto them, into the Porch which is called Solomon’s.

1. We saw before that many signs were showed by the hands of the apostles; now Luke reciteth one of many for example’s sake, after his common custom; namely, that a lame man, which was lame of his feet from his mother’s womb, was perfectly restored to his limbs. And he doth diligently gather all the circumstances which serve to set forth the miracle. If it had been that his legs had been out of joint, or if it had been some disease coming by some casualty, it might have been the more easily cured. But the default of nature F164 could not have been so easily redressed. When as he saith that he was carried, we gather thereby that it was no light halting, but that this man did lie as if his legs had been dead. Forasmuch as he was wont daily to ask alms, hereby all the people might the better know him. In that being healed, he walked in the temple at the time of prayer, this served to spread abroad the fame of the miracle. Furthermore, this doth not a little set forth the same, that being lifted up and set upon his feet, he leapeth up therewithal, and walketh joyfully.
Went up together. Because these words, epi to auto, doth no more signify place than time, this latter sense seemeth better to agree with the text of Peter, yet, because it is of no great importance, I leave it indifferent. That it is called the ninth hour of prayer, when as the day began to draw towards night. F165 For seeing the day from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof had twelve hours, as I have said elsewhere, all that time was divided into four parts. So that by the ninth is meant the last portion of the day; as the first hour did continue unto the third, the third unto the sixth, the sixth unto the ninth. Hence may we gather, by a probable conjecture, that that hour was appointed for the evening sacrifice. Furthermore, if any man ask, whether the apostles went up into the temple that they might pray according to the rite of the law, I do not think that that is a thing so likely to be true, as that they might have better opportunity to spread abroad the gospel. And if any man will abuse this place, as if it were lawful for us to use and take up superstitious worshippings, whilst that we are conversant amongst the ignorant and weak, his reason shall be frivolous. The Lord appointed that the Jews should offer sacrifice morning and evening, (<022941>Exodus 29:41.) By this exercise were they taught to begin and end the day with calling upon the name of God, and with worshipping him, F166 (<042802>Numbers 28:2.) Therefore Peter and John might freely come into the temple, which was consecrated to God; neither did they pollute themselves, seeing they called upon the God of Israel, that they might thereby declare their godliness. First, in that the Lord would have the older people to observe the appointed hours, F167 we gather thereby that the Church cannot be without certain discipline. And even at this day, were it profitable for us to have such meetings daily, unless our too [too] much sluggishness did let us. And whereas the apostles go up at that hour, hereby we gather that we must foreslow [neglect] no opportunity that is offered us for the furtherance of the gospel.
3. He asketh an alms. We see how God restored this lame man to his limbs contrary to his expectation. Because he thought that his disease was incurable, he was only careful for maintenance. That is given him which he durst never have asked. In like sort God doth oftentimes prevent us, neither doth he stay until he be provoked. F168 And hence can we not gather any occasion of slothfulness, as if the Lord did therefore meet us of his own accord, that being idle and slothful we may suffer the Lord to do good unto us. For we are commanded to pray, and therefore let us not foreslow [neglect] our duty. F169 But, first of all, under the person of the lame man, we have set before us an example of a man that is not yet illuminated by faith, that he may know how to pray aright. Such doth God prevent, as it is needful, even of his own accord. Therefore, when as he restoreth our souls not only to health, but also to life, he himself is to himself the cause hereof. For this is the beginning of our calling, that he may make those things to be which are not; that he may show himself unto those who seek not after him, (<450417>Romans 4:17.) Furthermore, howsoever we be already taught by faith to pray unto God, yet, because we do not always feel our miseries, it cometh not into our mind to seek for remedy; therefore the Lord bringeth the same freely and unlooked for. Finally, howsoever we be bent to pray, yet doth he exceed our hope and petitions with his goodness.
4. Look upon us. Peter doth not thus speak before he be certain of the purpose and intent of God. And surely in these words he commandeth him to hope for some singular and unwonted benefit; yet here may a question be moved, whether they had power to work miracles so often as they would? I answer, that they were ministers of God’s power in such sort, that they did attempt nothing of their own will or proper motion, but the Lord wrought by them, when he knew that it was expedient it should be so. Hereby it came to pass that they healed one and not all. Therefore, as in other things, they had the Spirit of God to be their guide and director, so also in this point. Therefore, before such time as Peter commandeth the lame man to arise, he did east and fasten his eyes upon him; this steadfast looking upon him was not without some peculiar motion of the Spirit. Hereby it cometh to pass that he speaketh so surely (and safely, without all fear) of the miracle. Furthermore, he meant by this word to provoke the lame man to receive the grace of God; yet doth he look for nothing but for an alms.
6. Silver and gold. Peter doth truly excuse himself, that he doth want that help which the lame man did require. And therefore doth he declare, that if he were able to relieve his poverty he would willingly do it; like as every man ought to consider with himself what the Lord hath given him, that he may therewith help his neighbors. For what store soever God giveth to every man, he will have the same to be an instrument and help to exercise love. Therefore he saith, that he giveth that which he hath. This was at the first a trick of mockage, F170 in that Peter beginneth to speak of his poverty, after that he had brought the lame man into a rare hope, as if he meant to mock a gaping crow; but he comforteth him immediately, to the end the miracle might be had in greater estimation by the comparison. That is horrible wickedness, in that the Pope, when as he is created, doth most unshamefastly [shamelessly] abuse this place, making thereof a comical, or rather a scoffing play. There be two cells, or places made of stone, in the one whereof when he sitteth, and the people ask an alms, using these words of Peter, he casteth abroad crosses in the air with his fingers. When he is brought into the next tell, or place, he hath bags full of money. Then his angels cry unto him,
“He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor,”
(<19B209>Psalm 112:9.)
I have made mention hereof, to the end all men may see that Satan doth questionless reign there, where they do so manifestly mock the sacred Word of God. And to the end I may return unto the former sentence, it is evident enough that Peter was instructed by a certain and sure revelation, when as he saith that he hath the gift of healing.
In the name of Jesus. He saith that this is the work and benefit of Christ, that he restoreth to the cripple the use of his feet, for name is taken for power and empire, or government. Neither must we dream that there is any magical force in the sounding or pronouncing of the word, as the Jews do dote about the word Jehovah. To be short, Peter meant to declare that he was nothing but a minister, and that Christ was the author of the miracle. For this ought to have been, and was his care, that Christ might be made known unto the world, and that his name might be sanctified. But why doth he give Christ this epithet, or title, of Nazareth? I leave to other men their own judgment; but I think thus: Forasmuch as Christ was thus called in contempt, Peter meant of set purpose to express that that Jesus of Nazareth whom they had crucified, and whose name was despised and without glory amongst the Jews, and was to the most of them detestable, was nevertheless the Messias promised of God, and that all power was given unto him of the rather; as Paul saith, that he preacheth Christ and him crucified, (<460202>1 Corinthians 2:2.)
Arise and walk. This might seem to be a very ridiculous thing. For the cripple might have readily objected, Why hast thou not first given me legs and feet? For this is a plain mock, when as thou biddest a man without feet to go. But he believed Peter’s words; and he, which was at the first so slow, doth now with a ready and joyful mind embrace God’s benefit. Whereby appeareth both the force of the word, and also the fruit of faith. The force of the word is double, both in that the cripple is so touched that he doth forthwith obey without delay; and in that it giveth strength to his dead members, and doth, after a sort, renew the man. And faith also hath her reward, in that the cripple obeyeth him which commandeth him to rise not in vain. Therefore we see how God worketh by his Word, to wit, when he giveth success to the preaching thereof, that it may pierce into the minds of men; secondly, when he giveth those things with his hand which are promised there. Moreover, he suffereth not faith to be void, but she doth indeed truly enjoy all those good things which she looketh for, and which are offered unto her in the same Word. And we must remember that which I have already said, that we have in this history a type F171 or figure of our spiritual restoring; namely, that as the Word, laid hold on by faith, did restore the cripple to his limbs, so the Lord pierceth into our souls by the Word, that he may restore the same. And, first of all, he speaketh by man’s mouth, and pricketh us forward by the obedience of faith; that done, he moveth our hearts inwardly by his Spirit, that the Word may take lively root in us; finally, he reacheth out his hand, and by all means he finisheth his work in us. We gather out of Matthew that miracles must be thus handled.
9. And all the people saw. He beginneth now to declare the fruit of the miracle, to wit, that the cripple began to show his thankfulness by praising God, and that all the people were brought into great wondering. And here is a double fruit. For he which was healed doth acknowledge and set forth the benefit of God; on the other side, the people is moved, and the fame is spread abroad, many come to see it. And whereas Luke saith that they were filled with wondering, it doth only declare a preparation, which a more full proceeding F172 (and going forward) did at length follow. For it was necessary that they should go forward, because this their wondering had served to no end of itself, but did rather make them astonied and amazed, than bring them (from their own proceedings) unto God.
Therefore it was, as it were, the foundation of the building which was to come, in that the people was touched with amazedness. For if we pass over the works of God contemptibly or carelessly, we shall never be able to profit by them. Furthermore, this place cloth teach us what miracles do work of themselves in men; to wit, that they breed a confused amazedness. For although the Lord doth call us straightway unto himself, by showing plainly his goodness and power there, yet such is the weakness of our nature, that we stumble or faint in the midway, until such time as we be holpen by doctrine.
Let us, therefore, learn reverently to consider the works of God, that the wondering at them may make an entrance for doctrine. For when doctrine is cold and unprofitable with us, God doth justly punish our unthankfulness by this means, because we have despised the glory of his works. Again, because we are not so quick of sight, that we can see so much in the works of God alone, as is sufficient, let us learn to join therewithal the help of doctrine. F173 To be brief, the one ought not to be separated from the other. Which thing experience doth sufficiently teach us. For hereby it came to pass that the world did so wickedly abuse miracles.
The Papists do object unto us miracles again and again. Let us suppose that they be true, whereof they make such boast, yet do they greatly err in this, that they wrest them to a wrong end; to wit, that they may darken the name of God, and infect the pure truth of the gospel with their inventions. For whence come so many superstitious worshippings of saints, save only from the abuse of miracles? For when any miracle is wrought, men must needs be moved. And because they are deaf when they should hear the Word, and do not mark what God cloth mean, Satan doth craftily take an occasion of superstition by our amazedness. F174 As, for example, I will acknowledge the power of God in a miracle. If it were wrought by Peter, Satan will by and by put this in my head, and will say thus: F175 Dost thou not see that this is a man of God? F176 therefore thou dost owe unto him divine honor. The same thing had befallen the Jews when they were amazed, unless Peter’s sermon had called them back into the right way. But in Popery, where none did call them back or reprove them, F177 the preposterous wondering of men did easily get the upper hand. Wherefore, we must so much the more F178 seek for medicine out of the Word, that doctrine may direct us unto the right end, being lifted up F179 with the miracles.
11. In the porch. It is like that there was a porch built in that place where Solomon’s porch was sometimes, and that it took the name therefrom. For the old temple was pulled down, but Zerubbabel and Ezra, ill the re-edifying and new building of the same temple, had imitated the same, so nigh as they could possibly devise. Afterward Herod renewed the same, and made it far more gorgeous, but that vain cost which he had bestowed had not yet blotted out the remembrance of Solomon in the hearts of the people. And Luke nameth the same as a most famous place, whereunto the people ran together (by heaps, to celebrate their feasts unto God at the times appointed.)

ACTS 3:12-16
12. And when Peter saw that, he made answer unto the people, Men of Israel, why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so steadfastly on us, as if by our own power or godliness we have made this man walk? 13. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom ye have delivered, and whom ye have denied before the face of Pilate, when he had judged him to be loosed. 14. But ye have denied the holy, the just, and have desired to have a murderer given you. 15. But ye have murdered the Prince of life: whom God hath raised up from the dead; whereof we are witnesses: and in the faith of his name, his name hath strengthened this man, whom ye have seen and known. 16. And the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in presence of you all.

12. Men of Israel. He beginneth his sermon with a reproving of the people. And yet doth he not simply reprove them because they wonder; for that was altogether profitable and worthy praise; but because they do wickedly ascribe unto men that praise which is due to the work of God. As if he should say, Ye do amiss, in that you stay in us, and stand gazing upon us, whereas you ought rather to look upon God and Christ. Therefore, this is to be amazed evilly, when as our minds do stay in men. And we must note that he condemneth the respect of men; as if, saith he, we by our own power and virtue had done this. Therefore there is an error and corruption in this, if we attribute that unto the godliness and power of men which is proper to God and Christ. And, as concerning power, no man will deny that it cometh of God; yet when they have confessed this in one word, they do not cease to take from God his right, to the end they may adorn the creatures with that which they take from him; as we see the Papists place the power of God in the saints; yea, they include his power in a stone or stock of wood, so soon as the image is consecrated to Barbara or Chrysogonus. But, notwithstanding, let us suppose that they do not offend in that former member; yet do they foolishly think that they have done their duty toward God, when as they leave him the power, and assign the miracles unto the godliness of saints. For why do they run unto them, when they will obtain either rain or fair weather, or be delivered from diseases, unless they do imagine that they have by their godliness deserved that God should grant them this right and privilege? This is, therefore, but a childish starting-hole, F180 when they confess that God is the author of the power; but they thank the godliness of saints for those benefits which they have received. Howsoever they color the matter, we must always know this, that Peter doth generally condemn those which do so look unto men in miracles, that they think that their holiness is the cause thereof. This is the first part of the sermon, wherein he reproveth superstition. And we must note his manner and order of teaching. For because men are inclined to nothing more than to fall from God unto the creatures, it is very expedient to prevent this vice in time. And if the people were forbidden to look unto the apostles, much more doth the Spirit draw us away from calling upon every petty saint.
13, 14. The God of Abraham. He addeth a remedy now in calling them back unto Christ. And the sum is this, That this is God’s purpose in those miracles which he worketh by the apostles to set forth the glory of his Christ; whereupon it followeth that all those do deal disorderly who set up Peter, or any other, whatsoever he be, forasmuch as all men must decrease, and Christ alone must be excellent, (<430330>John 3:30.) Here appeareth a manifest difference between Christ and the apostles. First of all, he is the author, they are only the ministers; secondly, this is the lawful end, that he alone may have the glory; and as for them there is no respect to be had of them as concerning glory; for certainly they which do glorify any in miracles besides Christ, they set themselves flatly against the counsel of God.
He maketh mention of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to the end he may declare unto the people that he meaneth nothing less than to lead them away from the old and ancient worship of the true God, which they had received of the fathers. Furthermore, God hath given himself this title, that he might (dissever and) distinguish himself by some mark from idols; for we do not comprehend God in his essence, which cannot be seen, and which is infinite; therefore, he useth such means as agree best with us, to bring us to the knowledge of him. The Turks do boast that they do worship God, which is the creator of heaven and earth; but before they come at heaven they vanish away. Therefore, to the end God might keep his people from vain and erroneous inventions, he kept them in his covenant; therefore, when he calleth himself the God of Abraham, he did briefly teach that which Moses declareth more at large, (<053012>Deuteronomy 30:12,)
“Say not, Who shall ascend into heaven? Who shall go down into the depth? Or who shall sail over the seas? The word is nigh,” etc.
Furthermore, as amongst the Jews the name of the holy fathers was in high estimation, so Peter doth closely F181 tell them, that they were no better than other men, without the only begotten Son of God. And at this day God will be known by a more evident mark yet, when as he calleth himself the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us now return unto Peter; he saith that he bringeth in no new religion, that. he may draw away the people from the law and the prophets; for if he should attempt this, God had forbidden them to hear him, (<051303>Deuteronomy 13:3.) Like as Paul teacheth, that we must retain one foundation in the spiritual building, (<460311>1 Corinthians 3:11,) because, so soon as we depart even but a little from Christ, there can nothing ensue but ruin. And hereby also we may easily discern in what sense he calleth God the God of the fathers; for neither doth he take this for a general maxim, that what manner of worship soever the fathers had, we must continue the same, as the Papists do foolishly vaunt that they do follow the manner of worshipping which was used amongst the fathers; for Peter doth expressly reckon up Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from whom true religion did proceed, and by whom it was divinely delivered; whereby he doth signify unto us, that we must not follow all fathers, whereof many did grow out of kind, and became altogether unlike to the first fathers; that this honor is due to the children of God alone, and that others are to be refused; which thing the prophets do also beat in F182 everywhere:
“Walk not in the ways of your fathers,” etc.,
(<262018>Ezekiel 20:18.)
Whom ye have delivered. He mingleth with doctrine a most sharp chiding, according as the matter did require; for it was impossible to bring them truly unto God, unless they were first brought to the knowledge of their sins; neither doth he only lightly touch them, but he doth very gravely show them the horribleness of that offense which they had committed. To this end tendeth that comparison, that they delivered him to be put to death, whom Pilate would have loosed; and again, that, pardoning a murderer, they put the Prince of life to death; that they did reject the just and holy. Men must be so stricken, that being brought to know their guiltiness, they may earnestly fly unto the remedy of pardon. Such vehemence and earnestness did Peter also use in his first sermon; he saith afterward that God raised him up, whereby they ought to know that, in putting Christ to death, they did strive against God; although Peter had respect unto an higher thing, to wit, that their cruelty did no whit impair the glory of Christ, because God had nevertheless restored him to life. When as he saith, that he and his fellows in office were witnesses of the resurrection, his meaning is, that they saw it with their eyes, (<422448>Luke 24:48.) Therefore, this is referred not only unto the apostolical function, but because they saw Christ with their eyes after that he was risen from the dead; although I do also grant that this second thing is comprehended under these words, because it is likely that Peter doth make mention of that function which was committed unto him, to the end he may purchase the greater authority.
16. And in the faith of his name. When as he saith in the faith of his name, and his name; and again, the faith which is by him; this repetition is a token of a fervent affection, for because he was wholly given to set forth the glory of Christ, he beateth in [inculcateth] the same thing oftentimes. Moreover, we see that when Paul is occupied about the showing and setting forth of the grace of Christ, he thinketh that he hath never spoken enough touching the same; and surely such is the wicked nature of men, that Christ cannot be so highly extolled, and so preached, that his honor can remain sound unto him. Let us, therefore, remember that Peter did use such variety and plenty of words, to the end he might stay us in Christ. As touching the phrase, when as he saith, his name in the faith of his name hath strengthened, he showeth both the cause and the manner; the power of Christ had healed the cripple but by faith. When as he saith, the faith which is by him, by this word he signifieth unto us that our faith cannot arise up unto God unless it be grounded in Christ, and se, consequently, that this our faith doth look unto Christ and stay itself upon him, and so he showeth that there cat be no right faith in God when we pass over this mean.
Furthermore, as he said before, that he and the other apostles were witnesses of Christ’s life, so he doth now declare that this life was manifestly proved unto the Jews by a sign or effect, because they see the cripple healed, in whom they had an excellent and evident token of the Divine power of Christ. And when as in this last member he maketh faith the cause of this soundness, he layeth unthankfulness to their charge by the way, unless they give faith her due praise; and although faith may be referred as well unto the man that was healed as unto the apostles, yet we need not to stand much about this manner, because the power of the gospel is set forth by synecdoche.

ACTS 3:17-21
17. And now, brethren, I know that through ignorance you did it, as did also your rulers. 18. And God hath fulfilled all things which he had spoken by the mouth of his prophets, that Christ should suffer. 19. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be forgiven, 20. When the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send him that was preached before, Jesus Christ: 21. Whom heaven must contain until the time that all things be restored, which he hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the beginning of the world, [or set before your eyes and represented.]

17. Because it was to be doubted, lest, being cast down with despair, they should refuse his doctrine, he doth a little lift them up. We must so temper our sermons that they may profit the hearers, for unless there be some hope of pardon left, the terror and fear of punishment doth harden men’s hearts with stubbornness; for that of David is true, That we fear the Lord when we perceive that he is unto us favorable, and easy to be pacified, (<19D004>Psalm 130:4.) Thus doth Peter lessen the sin of his nation, because of their ignorance; for it had been impossible for them to have suffered and endured this conscience, if they had denied the Son of God, and delivered him to be slain, wittingly and willingly; and yet will he not flatter them, when as he saith that they did it through ignorance; but he doth only somewhat mitigate his speech, lest they should be overwhelmed and swallowed up of despair. Again, we must not so take the words as if the people did sin simply of ignorance, for under this there did lie hid hypocrisy; but as wickedness or ignorance doth abound, the action is named of the one or the other. This is, therefore, Peter’s meaning, that they did it rather through error and a blind zeal, than through any determined wickedness; but a question may be moved here, if ally man have offended wittingly and willingly, whether he shall surely fall into despair or not? I answer, that he doth not make mention in this place of all manner of sin; but only of the denying of Christ, and of the extinguishing of the grace of God, so much as in them did lie. If any man be desirous to know more concerning this, he may read the first chapter of the First Epistle to Timothy, (<540113>1 Timothy 1:13.)
As did also your rulers. First, this seemeth to be an improper comparison, for the scribes and the priests were carried headlong with a wonderful madness, and they were full of wicked unfaithfulness;f183 but the perverse study and zeal of the law did prick forward the people. Again, the people were incensed against Christ, inasmuch as their rulers did provoke them thereunto. I answer, that they were not all of one mind, for without doubt many of them were like unto Paul, unto whom that doth truly appertain, which he writeth elsewhere of the princes and rulers of this world, if they had known the wisdom of God they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, he speaketh not generally of all the rulers; but if any of them be curable, them doth he invite to repentance.
18. And God. Hereby it appeareth more plainly to what end he made mention of ignorance; for when he telleth them that God hath accomplished those things which he had foretold, he doth so touch their offense in the death of Christ, that it turneth to their salvation. Ignorance, saith he, hath made you guilty, yet God hath brought that to pass which he had determined, that Christ should redeem you by his death. This is a most notable consideration, when as we ponder and consider with ourselves, that through the wonderful counsel of God our evils are turned to another end to us, yet this doth no whir excuse us, for so much as in us lieth we cast away F184 ourselves by sinning; but that conversion whereof I have spoken is a notable work of God’s mercy, whereof we must speak, and which we must extol with humility. The Jews did what they could to extinguish all hope of life in the person of Christ; and yet, nevertheless, that death gave life as well to them as to the whole world. We must also remember that which we saw elsewhere, lest there should any false and absurd opinion creep in, that Christ was laid open to the lust of the wicked, that God is made the chief author by whose will his only Son did suffer.
19. Repent. We must note, that when he exhorteth unto repentance, he doth also declare that there is remission of sins prepared for them before the face of God. For, as I said of late, no man can be stirred up to repentance, unless he have salvation set before him; but he which doth despair of pardon, being, as it were, given over unto destruction already, doth not ‘fear to run headlong against God obstinately. Hereby it cometh to pass that the Papists cannot deliver the doctrine of repentance. They babble, indeed, very much concerning the same; but because they overthrow the hope of grace, it cannot be that they should persuade their disciples unto the study of repentance. Moreover, I confess that they babble a little touching forgiveness of sins; but because they leave men’s souls in doubt and in fearfulness, and, furthermore, do cast them as it were into a labyrinth, (or place out of which they know not how to come,) this part of the doctrine being corrupt, they confound the other also.
20. That when. If we follow Erasmus and the old interpreter, this sentence shall be unperfect, F185 which may be made perfect, thus: When the time of refreshing shall come, you may also enjoy this refreshing; when Christ shall come to judge the world, you may find him a redeemer and not a Judge. But because Beza doth fitly translate it, After that they shall come, it is better to retain that which is not so racked; F186 so you resolve it thus: That sins are so forgiven against the day of the last judgment; because, unless we be cited to appear before God’s judgment-seat we are not greatly careful to pacify God. First of all, we must note, that he setteth before them the day of judgment, to the end the former exhortation may take the greater effect. For there is nothing which doth more prick us, than when we are taught that we must once give an account. For so long as our senses are holden and kept in this world, they are drowned, as it were, in a certain drowsiness, F187 that I may so call it. Wherefore the message of the last judgment must sound as a trumpet to cite us to appear before the judgment-seat of God. For then at last being truly awaked, we begin to think of a new life. In like sort, when Paul preached at Athens, God saith, that he doth now will all men to repent; because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world, (<441730>Acts 17:30, 31.) The sum is this, that Christ, who is now unto us a Master, when as he teacheth us by the gospel, is appointed of the Father to be a Judge, and shall come in his due time; and that, therefore, we must obey his doctrine betimes, that we may gather the fruit of our faith then.
But some man may object, that Peter speaketh otherwise of the last day. For this doth not serve to make them afraid, when he saith, the time of refreshing. I answer, that there is a double prick, wherewith the faithful are pricked forward when as they are told of the last judgment. For the profit of faith doth not appear in this world, yea rather it seemeth to go well with the despisers of God; but the life of the godly is full of miseries. Therefore our hearts should oftentimes faint and quail, unless we should remember that the day of rest shall come, which shall quench all the heat of our trouble, and make an end of our miseries. The other prick whereof I spoke is this, when as the fearful judgment of God causeth us to shake off delicacy and drowsiness. So Peter mixeth in this place threatenings with promises, partly to the end he may allure the Jews unto Christ, and partly that he may prick them forward with fear. Furthermore, this is a thing much used in the Scripture, as it speaketh either unto the reprobate, or unto the elect, sometimes to make the day of the Lord doleful and fearful, sometimes to make the same pleasant and to be wished for. Peter therefore doth very well, who, whilst that he putteth the Jews in good hope of pardon, doth make the day of Christ pleasant to them, to the end they may desire the same.
And shall send him. He saith expressly that Christ shall be Judge, to the end they may know that the contempt of the gospel shall not be unpunished. For how should not Christ punish the same? In the meanwhile, this doth greatly comfort the faithful, when as they know that it shall be in his hand to give. salvation, who doth now promise and offer the same. He addeth, moreover, that he shall come who is now preached unto them. Whereby he taketh away all excuse of ignorance. As if he should say, Christ is preached unto you now before he come to judge the world; to the end that those who will embrace him may receive the fruit of their faith at that day; and to the end that others, who shall refuse him, may be punished for their unbelief. Although the Grecians do read this two ways; for some books F188 have prokekhrugmenon, that is, preached before; and other some prokeceirismenon, that is, showed, or set before their eyes. But both have one sense, to wit, that Christ is not offered unto them in vain now by the doctrine of the gospel; because he shall be sent the second time by his Father to be a Judge, armed and prepared to render vengeance, unless they embrace him now for their Redeemer.
21. Whom the heaven must contain. Because men’s senses are always bent and inclined towards the gross and earthly beholding of God and Christ, the Jews might think with themselves that Christ was preached, indeed, to be raised up from the dead, yet could they not tell where he was; for no man did show them where he was. Therefore Peter preventeth them, when he saith that he is in heaven. Whereupon it followeth that they must lift up their minds on high, to the end they may seek Christ with the eyes of faith, although he be far from them, F189 although he dwell without the world in the heavenly glory. But this is a doubtful F190 speech; because we may as well understand it that Christ is contained or comprehended in the heavens, as that he doth comprehend the heavens. Let us not therefore urge the word, being of a doubtful signification; but let us content ourselves with that which is certain, that we must seek for Christ nowhere else save only in heaven, whilst that we hope for the last restoring of all things; because he shall be far from us, until our minds ascend high above the world.
Until the time of restoring. As touching the force and cause, Christ hath already restored all things by his death; but the effect doth not yet fully appear; because that restoring is yet in the course, and se, consequently, our redemption, forasmuch as we do yet groan under the burden of servitude. For as the kingdom of Christ is only begun, and the perfection thereof is deferred until the last day, so those things which are annexed thereunto do now appear only in part. Therefore, if at this day we see many things confused in the world, let this hope set us upon foot and refresh us, that Christ shall once come that he may restore tall things. In the mean season, if we see the relics of sin hang on us, if we be environed on every side with divers miseries, if the world be full of wasting and scattering abroad, let us bewail these miseries, yet so that we uphold with the hope of restoring. And this is the reason why Christ doth not appear by and by, F191 because the warfare of the Church is not yet full, F192 whose time, seeing it is appointed by God, it is not for us to prevent the same. F193
Which he spoke. I do not expound this of the times alone, but I refer it unto the whole period; so that the sense is this: That whatsoever he had spoken before of the kingdom of Christ is witnessed by all the prophets. Certes, the gospel doth win no small credit hereby, that so soon as God began to show himself to the world, he did always set Christ before them; after that he began to speak unto the fathers, he did always lay this foundation of doctrine. By the same argument Paul commendeth the gospel, both in the beginning of his Epistle to the Romans, (<450101>Romans 1:1,) and also in the end, (<451625>Romans 16:25,) to wit, that it is no new thing, but promised even from the beginning. F194 This is true antiquity, which is able to purchase credit to doctrine: when as God himself is the author, the holy prophets the witnesses, and the continual course of times confirmeth the testimony. This confirmation was especially necessary for the Jews, who being brought up in the doctrine of the law, ought to admit nothing but that which agreeth therewith. Therefore Peter doth command them only to mind those things which the prophets have testified of Christ.

ACTS 3:22-24
22. Moses truly said unto the fathers, The Lord your God shall raise up a Prophet unto you of your brethren, [like unto me;] him shall ye hear, according to all things which he shall speak unto you. 23. And it shall come to pass, that every soul which shall not hear that Prophet shall be destroyed of the people. 24. And all the prophets from Samuel, and thenceforth, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold these days.

22. By this argument he proveth that he goeth not about to cause them to revolt from Moses, because it is a part of the law to take heed to and obey this chief teacher. Here might a doubt arise, why Peter thought it more convenient to cite this testimony of Moses than others, seeing there were many others in readiness far more plain; but he did this for this cause, because he intreateth in this place of the authority of doctrine; and this was the best way to bring the Jews to be Christ’s disciples. For he should have preached in vain of all other things, unless they had been persuaded that his doctrine was reverently to be received. This is therefore the thing which Peter aimeth at, to bring them to hear Christ willingly, as the master whom God hath appointed to teach them.
But here ariseth a question, which hath in it great difficulty; to wit, in that Peter applieth that unto the person of Christ which Moses spoke generally of the prophets. For although he make mention of a prophet in the singular number, yet the text [context] doth plainly declare, that he speaketh not of one alone; but that this word is put indefinitely. For after that Moses had forbidden the people to give themselves unto the superstitions of the Gentiles, by turning aside unto enchanters and soothsayers, he showeth them therewithal a remedy, whereby they may avoid all vanity; to wit, if they depend wholly upon the Word of God alone. By this means he promiseth that God will be careful at all times to send them prophets, that they may teach them aright. As if he should say, God will never suffer you to be destitute of prophets, of whom you may learn whatsoever shall be profitable for you to know. And Moses saith expressly, of thy brethren, to the end the Jews may know that the oracles of God are to be sought and set no where else, seeing that God had appointed unto them teachers of the kindred of Abraham. He addeth further, like unto me that they may know that they were not to hear God only at one time, or by the mouth of one man; but as God proceedeth to teach us by divers ministers throughout the continual course of time, so must we hold on in the obedience of the word. Now, the Jews were wont to reverence Moses; therefore, he will have them to give like honor to the prophets. I know that many would fain restrain it unto Christ. They catch at this word, whereas Moses doth testify that the prophet shall be like unto him, (<051815>Deuteronomy 18:15,) whereas, notwithstanding, it is written, that there arose none like unto Moses. I confess that there is in both places the same note of likeness, yet in a diverse sense. For, in the second place, the likeness or equality is expressed, as it doth plainly appear. They catch also at another thing, that the prophet shall far excel Moses, of whom he beareth witness as a crier or herald. But this is never a whit stronger, because Moses goeth about to bring to pass that the word of God may be believed by whomsoever it be brought.
Therefore, there is no cause why we should set ourselves to be laughed to scorn by the Jews, by wresting the words of Moses violently, as if he spoke of Christ alone in this place. Yet we must see whether Peter doth cite the testimony fitly, whose authority ought to serve for a sound reason. I say; that in Peter’s speech there is nothing which is not most convenient. For he saw that which all men ought to grant, that this testimony doth so appertain unto the other prophets, that yet notwithstanding it doth chiefly commend Christ, not only because that he is the prince and chief of all the prophets, but because all other former prophecies were directed toward him, and because God did at length speak absolutely by his mouth, For God spoke in divers manners, and at sundry times in times past3 unto our fathers by the prophets, he addeth the conclusion at length, in the last days in his only begotten Son, (<580101>Hebrews 1:1, 2.) Therefore, it came to pass, that they wanted prophets for a certain years F195 before his coming; which thing is plainly gathered out of the words of Malachi, who, after he hath commanded the people to be mindful of the law, he passeth over by and by unto John Baptist and unto Christ, as if he should say, that the prophecies are now ended until the last revelation come, (<390404>Malachi 4:4-6;) according to that,
“The law and the prophets prophesied until John; after that the kingdom of God is preached,” (<401113>Matthew 11:13.)
And that was so common amongst the people, that the woman of Samaria could say, according to the common fame and opinion,
“We know that the Messias shall come,
who will teach us all things,”
(<430425>John 4:25.)
Therefore, we know that after the return of the people all the prophets ceased, to the end they might be made more attentive to hear Christ, by that silence or intermission of revelations. Therefore, Peter did not wrest this place, or abuse the same through ignorance, but he took that doctrine which all men had received for a principle; that God had promised to teach his people at the first by his prophets as by means, F196 but at length principally by Christ, at whose hands they were to hope for the perfect manifestation and laying open of all things. And to this purpose serveth that excellent testimony or commendation wherewith his Father setteth him forth, “Hear him,” (<401705>Matthew 17:5.)
23. Every soul. Here, by a most grievous punishment against the rebellious, the authority of all the prophets, but most of all of Christ, is established; and that for good causes. For seeing there is nothing that God doth account more precious than his word, it cannot be that he should suffer the same to be freely contemned. Therefore, if any man despised the law of Moses, he was adjudged to die the death. And hereunto Moses had respect when he said, “He shall be put away from among the people.” For God had adopted the stock and kindred of Abraham unto himself, upon this condition, that this might be sufficient for them unto the chiefest felicity to be reckoned in that number, as it is said in the Psalm, “Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.” And in another place, “Blessed is the nation whom the Lord hath chosen to be his inheritance.” Wherefore it is not to be doubted, but that he pronounceth that he shall be blotted out of the book of life whosoever shall refuse to hear Christ. For he is not worthy to be accounted one of the Church, whosoever he be that refuseth to have him to be his Master, by whom alone God doth teach us, and by whom he will have us to hear himself; and he cutteth himself away from the body, whosoever he be that refuseth to be under the Head.
24. And all. When as he saith that all the prophets do with one consent send their scholars unto Christ, that appeareth more plainly hereby, which I said, that the commendation of the gospel is contained under that testimony of Moses, and so, consequently, that the conclusion of prophecies is principally noted. Again, this maketh much for the certainty of the gospel, that all the prophets, for a long time, [series of ages,] do yet, notwithstanding, so temper their form of teaching with one consent, that they do testify altogether that men ought to hope for a certain, better, and more perfect thing. Therefore, whosoever will believe Moses and the prophets, he must needs submit himself unto the doctrine of Christ, without which all that is lame and imperfect which they taught, (<430547>John 5:47.)

ACTS 3:25-26
25. You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shalt all families of the earth be blessed. 26. God raised up unto you first his Son Jesus, and he sent him, blessing you, whilst that he doth turn away every one from his sins.

25. You are the children. He signifieth that the grace of the covenant was appointed principally for them, which covenant God made with their fathers. And so as he pricked them forward to obey the gospel, by terrifying them with the terror of punishment, so he allureth them now again to receive the grace which is offered them in Christ; so that we see how that God omitteth nothing whereby he may bring us unto himself. And it is the duty of a wise minister so to prick forward the sluggish and slow bellies, that he do lead those gently which are apt to be taught; we must also note diligently this course of teaching, where Peter showeth that the gospel is assigned and appointed unto the Jews. For it is not sufficient to have the mercy of God preached unto us generally, unless we also know that the same is offered unto us by the certain ordinance of God. For this cause is it that Paul standeth so much upon the avouching of the calling of the Gentiles, (<451518>Romans 15:18; <490303>Ephesians 3:3, 4;) because, if any man should think that the gospel came unto him by chance, when as it was scattered here and there, faith should quail; F197 yea, there should be a doubtful opinion instead of faith. Therefore, to the end we may steadfastly believe the promise of salvation, this application (that I may so term it) is necessary, that God doth not cast forth uncertain voices, that they may hang in the air, but that he doth direct the same unto us by his certain and determinate counsel. Peter telleth the Jews, that Christ is promised unto them after this sort, to the end they may more willingly embrace him. And how proveth he this? because they are the children of the prophets and of the covenant. He calleth them the children of the prophets, which were of the same nation, and therefore were heirs of the covenant, which did belong unto the whole body of the people. For he argueth thus: God made his covenant with our fathers; therefore we, which are their posterity, are comprehended in the covenant.
Whereby the doubting [doting] subtlety of the Anabaptists is refuted, who do expound the children of Abraham only allegorically; as if God had had no respect to his stock, when he said, “I will be the God of thy seed,” (<011707>Genesis 17:7.) Certainly Peter doth not speak in this place of the shadows of the law; but he affirmeth that this is of force under the kingdom of Christ, that God doth adopt the children together with the fathers; and so, consequently, the grace of salvation may be extended unto those which are as yet unborn, (<450907>Romans 9:7.) I grant, indeed, that many which are the children of the faithful, according to the flesh, are counted bastards, and not legitimate, because they thrust themselves out of the holy progeny through their unbelief. But this doth no whit hinder the Lord from calling and admitting the seed of the godly into fellowship of grace. And so, although the common election be not effectual in all, yet may it set open a gate for the special elect. As Paul intreateth in the 11th to the Romans, (<451123>Romans 11:23,) whence we must set [seek] an answer for this question.
And in thy seed. He proveth that the covenant was made with the fathers, because God said unto Abraham,
“In thy seed shall all nations be blessed,” (<012218>Genesis 22:18.)
But if we admit Paul’s interpretation, this testimony shall make nothing for the present cause. Paul teacheth that Christ is this seed, (<480316>Galatians 3:16.) If the blessing be promised to all mankind by Christ, what is this to the especial or particular privilege of one nation? Secondly, Peter himself seemeth shortly after to subscribe to this exposition of Paul, when as he saith that Christ was sent, that in him the Jews may be blessed. For this could not be, unless Christ were that blessed seed. I answer, When Paul referreth it unto Christ, he standeth not upon the word seed, but he hath respect to an higher tiling; to wit, that it cannot be one seed, unless it be united and knit together in Christ, as in the Head. For Ismael and Isaac, although both of them be the sons of Abraham, yet do they not make one seed, because they be divided into two people. Therefore, though many be estranged from the family of Abraham, which came of hint according to the flesh, yet Moses noteth one certain body, when he promiseth the blessing unto the seed of Abraham. And whence cometh the unity, save only from the Head, which is Christ? In this sense doth Paul understand this word seed of Christ, although it be a noun collective; because, if you depart from hint, the posterity of Abraham shall be as torn members, neither shall there be any thing else in them, save only mere wasteless and scattering abroad. Peter agreeth with that doctrine, because he doth so extend the blessing unto all the people, that he doth, nevertheless, seek the fountain in Christ.
Secondly, forasmuch as the Jews do what they can to wring [wrest] from us this testimony, the godly readers must arm themselves against their cavils; and so much the rather, because Christian writers have been too slack in this point, as I have said in the Epistle to the Galatians. First, as touching the word seed, there is no cause wily they should prattle that Paul doth not rightly restrain it unto Christ; for he cloth not this simply, but in that respect whereof I have spoken. In which point, I confess, both our Latin and Greek interpreters have erred. Now, we must see what this manner of speech doth import. The Gentiles shall be blessed in the seed of Abraham. Our men think that there is some cause noted; to wit, that through that seed the Gentiles shall be blessed. The Jews toss this to and fro, because this phrase signifieth every where in the Scriptures, an example or similitude; as, on the other side, F198 to be cursed in Sodom, in Israel, or in another people, is to take them for a notable example of a curse. I answer, that it is a doubtful speech, and taken diversely, according to the circumstance of the places, which the Jews do craftily dissemble. For they gather many places, out of which they prove that there is a comparison made; as if it should be said, The Gentiles shall desire to be blessed, like to the seed of Abraham. But when as the Scripture saith elsewhere, “They shall bless themselves in the living God,” as <240402>Jeremiah 4:2; <236516>Isaiah 65:16; and again, “Do bless in the name of the Lord,” (<051008>Deuteronomy 10:8,) and in other such like places; who doth not see that there is a cause expressed? Therefore, I say that this form of speech ought to be understood according to the circumstances of the places.
And now, forasmuch as I have declared that the seed of Abraham can be found nowhere else save only in Christ, it remaineth that we consider of what sort the office of Christ is. So shall it appear, undoubtedly, that he is not made a bare example or pattern, but that the blessing is truly promised to him; because without him we be all accursed. Yet there remaineth one doubt; for certain both these are spoken in one sense, They shall be blessed in thee, and in thy seed; but Abraham was nothing else but a type or mirror of the blessing. I answer, that in the person of Abraham, that body is also noted out, which dependeth upon one head, and is knit together in the same.
All the families. The Jews do grossly expound this, That all nations shall desire to be blessed, as the seed of Abraham. But we say otherwise, That they shall be engrafted into the society. For the name of Abraham tendeth to this end, because it should come to pass that God should gather all people F199 unto him. Also, when the prophets will declare the force hereof, they foretell everywhere that the inheritance of salvation shall be common to the Gentiles. And hereby it appeareth that the covenant of God, which was then proper to the Jews alone, is not only common to all men, but is made with us expressly; otherwise, we could not conceive that hope of salvation which is firm enough out of the gospel. Therefore, let us not suffer this promise to be wrung from us, which is, as it were, a solemn declaration, whereby the Lord maketh us his heirs together with the fathers. Whereunto Peter also had respect, when as he saith shortly after, that Christ was first sent unto the Jews; for he doth signify that the Gentiles also have their order, though it be secondary.
26. He hath raised up his Son. He gathereth out of the words of Moses that Christ is now revealed. But the words do seem to import no such thing; yet doth he reason fitly thus, because the blessing could no otherwise be, unless the beginning thereof did flow from the Messias. For we must always remember this, that all mankind is accursed, and, therefore, there is a singular remedy promised us, which is performed by Christ alone. Wherefore, he is the only fountain and beginning of the blessing. And if so be that Christ came to this end, that he may bless the Jews first, and, secondly, us, he hath undoubtedly done that which was his duty to do; and we shall feel the force and effect of this duty in ourselves, unless our unbelief do hinder us.
This was a part of the priest’s office under the law, to bless the people; and, lest this should be only a vain ceremony, there was a promise added; as it is, (<040627>Numbers 6:27.) And that which was shadowed in the old priesthood was truly performed in Christ, (<580701>Hebrews 7:1, 6.) Concerning which matter we have spoken more at large in the seventh chapter to the Hebrews. I like not Erasmus’s translation; for he saith, when he had raised him up, as if he spoke of a thing which was done long ago. But Peter meaneth rather, that Christ was raised up, when he was declared to be the author of the blessing; which thing, since it was done of late and suddenly, it ought to move their minds the more. For the Scripture useth to speak thus, as in the last place, of Moses, whereunto Peter alludeth. To raise up a prophet, is to furnish him with necessary gifts to fulfill his function, and, as it were, to prefer him to the degree of prophetical honor. And Christ was raised up then, when he fulfilled the function enjoined him by his Father, but the same thing is done daily when he is offered by the gospel, that he may excel amongst us. We have said that in the adverb of order, first, is noted the right of the first-be-gotten, because it was expedient that Christ should begin with the Jews, that he might afterward pass over unto the Gentiles.
Whilst that he turneth. He doth again commend the doctrine of repentance, to the end we may learn to conclude under the blessing of Christ newness of life, as when Esaias promiseth that a “Redeemer should come to Zion,” he addeth a restraint; F200 “Those which in Jacob shall be turned from their iniquities.” For Christ doth not do away the sins of the faithful, to the end they may grant liberty to themselves to sin under this color; but he maketh them therewith all new men. Although we must diligently distinguish these two benefits which are linked together, that this ground-work may continue, that we are reconciled to God by free pardon, I know that other men turn it otherwise; but this is the true meaning of Luke; for he speaketh thus word for word, “In turning every one from his wickedness.”
CHAPTER 4
In this narration we must consider three things chiefly. That so soon as the truth of the gospel doth once appear, Satan setteth himself against the same on the other side, so much as he is able, and attempteth all things that he may smolder the same in the very first beginnings. Secondly, That God doth furnish his children with invincible force and strength, F210 that they may stand steadfast and unmovable against all assaults of Satan, and not yield unto the violence of the wicked. And, last of all, we must note the event and end, that howsoever the adversaries seem to bear the chiefest swing, and they themselves do omit nothing which may serve to blot out the name of Christ; and, on the other side, howsoever the ministers of sound doctrine be as sheep in the mouths of wolves, yet doth God spread abroad the kingdom of his Son; he fostereth the light of the gospel which is lighted; and he is the protector of his children. Therefore, so often as the doctrine of the gospel ariseth, and divers motions do rise on the other side, and the course thereof is letted divers ways, there is no cause why godly minds should faint or quail, as at some unwonted thing; but they ought rather to remember, that these are ordinary endeavors of Satan, so that we must think upon this well before it come to pass, that it cannot otherwise be but that Satan will spew out all his might and main, so often as Christ doth come abroad with his doctrine. And therewithal let us consider that the constancy of the apostles is set forth unto us for an example, lest, being overcome either with any perils, or threatenings, or terrors, we leap back from that profession of faith which the Lord requireth at our hands. And, moreover, let us comfort ourselves with this, that we need not to doubt but that the Lord will give prosperous success when we have done our duty faithfully.

ACTS 4:1-4
1. And as they spoke unto the people, the priests and the governor of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2. Taking it grievously that they taught the people, and preached, in Jesus’ name, the resurrection from the dead. 3. And they laid hands on them, and they put them in prison until the morrow. For it was now even. tide. 4. And many of those which heard the word believed; and the number of men there was about five thousand.

1. And as they spoke. Hereby it appeareth how watchful the wicked be, because they are always ready at an inch to stop the mouth of the servants of Christ. And, undoubt edly, they came together, as it were, to quench some great fire; which thing Luke signifieth, when as he saith that the ruler or captain of the temple came also; and he addeth, moreover, that they took it grievously that the apostles did teach. Therefore, they came not upon them by chance, but of set purpose, that, according to their authority, they might restrain the apostles, and put them to silence. And yet they have some show of law and equity; for if any man did rashly intrude himself, it was the office of the high priest to repress him; and also in like sort, to keep the people in the obedience of the law and the prophets, and to prevent all new doctrines. Therefore, when they hear unknown men, and such as had no public authority, preaching unto the people in the temple, they seem, according as their office did require, and they were commanded by God, to address themselves to remedy this. And surely, at the first blush, it seemeth that there was nothing in this action worthy of reprehension, but the end doth at length declare that their counsel was wicked, and their affection ungodly.
Again, it was a hard matter for the apostles to escape infamy and reproach, because they, being private and despised persons, did take upon them public authority; to wit, because, when things are out of order, many things must be essayed to [against] the common custom, and especially, when we are to avouch and defend religion and the worship of God, and the ringleaders themselves do stop all ways, and do abuse that office against God, which was committed unto them by God. The faithful champions of Christ must swallow up and pass through this ignominy in [under] Popery. For a thousand summers will go over their heads before any reformation or amendment will wax ripe amongst them for the better. Therefore, Luke standeth upon this point, when as he saith that they were grieved because the resurrection was preached in the name of Christ. For hereupon it followeth that they did hate the doctrine before they knew the same. He expresseth the Sadducees by name, as those which were more courageous F211 in this cause. For they were almost [usually] a part of the priests; but because the question is about the resurrection, they set themselves against the apostles more than the rest. Furthermore, this was most monstrous confusion amongst the Jews, in that this sect, which was profane, was of such authority. For what godliness could remain, when as the immortality of the soul was counted as a fable, and that freely? But men must needs run headlong after this sort, when they have once suffered pure doctrine to fall to the ground amongst them. Wherefore, we must so much the more diligently beware of every wicked turning aside, lest such a step do follow immediately.
Some men think that the ruler of the temple was chosen from among the priests, but I do rather think that he was some chief captain of the Roman army; for it was a place which was fortified both naturally and artificially. Again, Herod had built a tower there, which was called Antonia; so that it is to be thought that he had placed there a band of soldiers, and that the Roman captain had the government of the temple, lest it should be a place of refuge for the Jews, if they had stirred up any tumult, which we may likewise gather out of Josephus. And this agreeth very well, that the enemies of Christ did crave the help of the secular power, under color of appeasing some tumult. In the mean season, they seek favor at the hands of the Romans, as if they were careful to maintain the right of their empire.
4. And many of them which heard. The apostles are put in prison, but the force of their preaching is spread far and wide, and the course thereof is at liberty. Of which thing Paul boasteth very much, that the Word of God is not bound with him, (<550209>2 Timothy 2:9.) And here we see that Satan and the wicked have liberty granted them to rage against the children of God; yet can they not (maugre their heads F212) prevail, but that God doth further and promote the kingdom of his Son; Christ doth gather together his sheep; and that a few men unarmed, furnished with no garrisons, do show forth more power in their voice alone, than all the world, by raging against them. This is, indeed, no common work of God, that one sermon brought forth such plentiful fruit; but this is the more to be wondered at, that the faithful are not terrified with the present danger, and discouraged from taking up the cross of Christ together with the faith. For this was a hard beginning for novices. Christ did more evidently declare by this efficacy and force of doctrine that he was alive, than if he should have offered his body to be handled with hand, and to be seen with the eyes. And whereas it is said that the number of those which believed did grow to be about five thousand, I do not understand it of those which were newly added, but of the whole church.

ACTS 4: 5-12
5. And it came to pass, that the next day their rulers, and elders, and scribes, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 6. And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and so many as were of the kindred of the priests, 7. And when they had set them before them, they asked them, In what power, or in what name, have ye done that? 8. Then Peter, being filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9. If we be judged this day for healing the man which was lame, by what means he is made whole: 10. Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of. Nazareth, whom ye have crucified, whom God hath raised up from the dead, this man standeth before you whole. 11. This is the stone which was refused of you the builders; it is placed in the head of the corner. 12. Neither is there salvation in any other. Neither is there any other name given under heaven unto men, wherein we must be saved.

5. It is a thing worthy to be noted in this place, that the wicked do omit no subtilty that they may blot out the gospel and the name of Christ, and yet do they not obtain that which they hoped for; because God doth make their counsels frustrate. For they make an assembly, wherein they do all things so tyrannously, that yet, notwithstanding, lust beareth a show of right, and liberty is driven far away, and at length the truth may seem to be condemned by good right. But the Lord bringeth upon them a sudden fear, so that they dare not do that which they can, and which they do most of all desire. Whatsoever the apostles shall bring in defense of their cause, that shall remain buried and shut up with the walls, where there is none which doth bear them any favor. And therefore there is no place left for the truth. Yet we see how the Lord bringeth their counsel to nought, whilst that being kept back with fear of the people, they stay themselves and bridle their fury, to the end they may avoid envy. But I marvel much why Luke doth make Annas the highest priest in this place, seeing that it appeareth by Josephus, that this honor was not taken from Caiaphas until Vitellius had entered Jerusalem to bear rule, after that Pilate was commanded to depart unto Rome. All men grant that the Lord was crucified in the eighteenth year of Tiberius. And that empire [the reign of Tiberius] did continue four years longer. And it must needs be, that there were three years complete, after the death of Christ, before Pilate was put from the office of the pro-consul. For when Tiberius was dead he came to Rome; so that Caiaphas was high priest yet three years after the death of Christ. Wherefore it is to be thought, that that whereof Luke speaketh in this place did not happen immediately after the resurrection of Christ; although the doubt cannot thus be answered. F213 For Josephus reporteth, that Jonathas was chosen into the place of Caiaphas; but because this Jonathas was the son of Annas, it is a thing not unlike to be true, that the son was called by the name of the father; as Caiaphas also had two names; for they did also call him Joseph.
7. In what power. They do yet seem to have some zeal of God. For they feign that they are careful that the honor due unto God may not be given to any other. Name is taken in this place for authority. In sum, they deal as if they were most earnest defenders and maintainers of God’s glory. In the mean season, their importunateness is wonderful, in that they go about to drive the apostles to make denial, by asking many questions concerning a manifest matter, and to wring out by fear some other thing than they had confessed. But God doth bring their crafty wiliness to nought, and maketh them hear that which they would not.
8. Peter, being filled with the Holy Ghost. It is not without great cause that Luke addeth this, to the end we may know that Peter spake not with such a majesty of himself. And surely, seeing he had denied his Master, Christ, being afraid at the voice of a silly woman, (<402670>Matthew 26:70,) he should have utterly fainted in such an assembly, when he did only behold their pomp, unless he had been upholden by the power of the Spirit. He had great need of wisdom and strength. F214 He excelleth in both these so much, that his answer is indeed divine. He is another manner of man here than he was before. Furthermore, this profiteth us two manner of ways. For this title, or commendation, is of no small force to set forth the doctrine which shall follow immediately, when it is said that it came from the Holy God, [Spirit.] And we are taught to crave at the hands of the Lord the Spirit of wisdom and strength, when we make profession of our faith, to direct our hearts and minds. The fullness of the Spirit is taken for a large and no common measure.
9. If we be judged. Undoubtedly Peter layeth tyranny to the charge of the priests and the scribes, because they examine them unjustly concerning a benefit which deserveth praise, as if he and his fellow had committed some heinous offense. If, saith he, we be accused for this cause, because we have made a sick man whole. Peter hath in this place more respect unto the wicked affection of the mind than unto the very order of the question. For if, under color of a miracle, the apostles would have drawn away the people from the true and sincere worship of God, they should have been worthily called to answer for themselves; because religion doth far excel all the good things of this present life. But seeing they (having no cause at all) did wickedly make an offense of that which they ought to have honored, Peter, being supported with this confidence, doth at the first gird them wittily with a taunting preface, because they sit as judges to condemn good deeds. Yet he toucheth this point but lightly, that he may pass over unto the matter.
10. Be it known unto you. Peter might (as I have already said) have turned aside unto many starting-holes, F215 if he would not have entered the cause; F216 but because the miracle was wrought, to this end, that the name of Christ might be glorified, he descendeth by and by unto this. For he knew that he was the minister of such excellent power of God, that he might have a seal to confirm his doctrine. In the meanwhile, the wicked, will they, nil they, are enforced to hear that which they would have had buried full deep. When they have done what they can, this is all; they cause Peter to avouch and object to their faces, that wherewith they were so grieved, when it was spoken to others. And, first he maketh Christ the author of the miracle. Secondly, because it seemed to be an absurd and incredible thing, that a dead man should be endued with divine power, he testifieth that Christ is alive, because God hath raised him up from the dead, howsoever they had crucified him. So that the miracle giveth him occasion to preach the resurrection of Christ. And by this testimony Peter meant to prove that he was the true Messias. He saith that they had crucified him, not only to the end he may upbraid this unto them, that they may acknowledge their fault; but also that they may understand that they have in vain striven against God; and so, consequently, cease to rage so unluckily and with such deadly success.
11. This is the stone. He confirmeth by testimony of Scripture that it is no new thing that the ringleaders F217 of the Church, which have glorious titles given them, and have the chief room in the temple of God, have, notwithstanding, wickedly rejected Christ. Therefore he citeth a place out of the 118th Psalm, (<19B822>Psalm 118:22,) where David complaineth that he is rejected of the captains [leaders] of the people, and yet, notwithstanding, he boasteth that he was chosen of God to have the chief room. Moreover, he compareth the Church, or the state of the kingdom, by an usual metaphor to a building, he calleth those which have the government the masters of the work, F218 and he maketh himself the principal stone, whereon the whole building is stayed and grounded. For that is meant by the head of the corner. Therefore, this is David’s comfort, that howsoever the captains have rejected him, so that they would not grant him even the basest place, yet did not their wicked and ungodly endeavors hinder him from being extolled by God unto the highest degree of honor. But that was shadowed in David which God would have perfectly expressed in the Messias. Therefore Peter dealeth very aptly when as he citeth this testimony, as being spoken before of Christ, as they knew full well that it did agree properly to him. Now we know to what end Peter did cite the Psalm; to wit, lest the elders and priests being unadvisedly puffed up with their honor, should take to themselves authority and liberty to allow or disallow whatsoever they would. For it is evident that the stone refused by the chief builders is placed by God’s own hand in the chief place, that it may support the whole house.
Furthermore, this happeneth not once only, but it must be fulfilled daily; at least it must seem no new thing if the chief builders do even now reject Christ. Whereby the vain boasting of the Pope is plainly refuted, who maketh his boast of the bare title, that he may usurp whatsoever is Christ’s. Admit we grant to the Pope and his horned beasts that which they desire, to wit, that they are appointed to be ordinary pastors of the Church, they can go no farther at length than to be called chief builders with Annas and Caiaphas. And it is evident what account ought to be made of this title, which they think is sufficient to mix heaven and earth together. Now let us gather out of this place some things which are worth the noting. Forasmuch as they are called master-builders who have government of the Church, the name itself putteth them in mind of their duty. Therefore, let them give themselves wholly to the building of the temple of God. And because all men do not their duty faithfully as they ought, let them see what is the best manner of building aright, to wit, let them retain Christ for the foundation; that done, let them not mix straw and stubble in this building, but let them make the whole building of pure doctrine; as Paul teacheth in <460312>1 Corinthians 3:12. Whereas God is said to have extolled Christ, who was rejected of the builders, this ought to comfort us, when as we see even the pastors of the Church, or, at least, those which are in great honor, wickedly rebel against Christ, that they may banish him. For we may safely set light by those visors which they object against us; so that we need not fear to give Christ that humor which God doth give to him. But if he wink for a time, yet doth he laugh at the boldness of his enemies from on high, whilst they rage and fret upon earth. Furthermore, though their conspiracies be strong and well guarded with all aids, yet must we always assure ourselves of this, that Christ’s honor shall remain safe and sound. And let the fruit of this confidence ensue also, that we be valiant and without fear in maintaining the kingdom of Christ, whereof God will be an invincible defender, as he himself affirmeth.
We have already spoken of Peter’s constancy, in that one simple man, having such envious judges, and yet having but one partner in the present danger, showeth no token at all of fear, but doth freely confess in that raging and furious company, that thing which he knew would be received with most contrary minds. And whereas he sharply upbraideth unto them that wickedness which they had committed, we must let [seek] from hence a rule of speech when we have to deal with the open enemies of the truth. For we must beware of two faults on this behalf, that we seem not to flatter by keeping silence or winking; for that were treacherous silence, whereby the truth should be betrayed. Again, that we be not puffed up with wantonness, or immoderate heat as men’s minds do oftentimes break out more than they ought in contention. Therefore, let us use gravity in this point, yet such as is moderate; let us chide freely, yet without all heat of railing. We see that Peter did observe this order. For at the first he giveth an honorable title; when he is once come to the matter he inveigheth sharply against them; neither could such ungodliness as theirs was be concealed. Those which shall follow this example shall not only have Peter to be their guide, but also the Spirit of God.
12. Neither is there salvation in any other. He passeth from the species [salvation] unto the genus, [or more particular,] and he goeth from the corporal benefit unto perfect health, [or general.] And assuredly Christ had showed this one token of his grace, to the end he might be known to be the only author of life. We must consider this in all the benefits of God, to wit, that he is the fountain of salvation. And he meant to prick and sting the priests with this sentence, when as he saith that there is salvation in none other save only in Christ, whom they went about to put quite out of remembrance. F219 As if he should say, that they are twice damned who did not only refuse the salvation offered them by God, but endeavor to bring the same to nought, and did take from all the people the fruit and use thereof. And although he seemeth to speak unto deaf men, yet doth he preach of the grace of Christ, if peradventure some can abide to hear; if not, that they may at least be deprived of all excuse by this testimony.
Neither is there any other name. He expoundeth the sentence next going before. Salvation (saith he) is in Christ alone, because God hath decreed that it should be so. For by name he meaneth the cause or mean, as if he should have said, forasmuch as salvation is in God’s power only, he will not have the same to be common to us by any other means than if we ask it of Christ alone. Whereas he saith under heaven, they do commonly refer it unto creatures, as if he should say, that the force and power to save is given to Christ alone. Notwithstanding, I do rather think that this was added, because men cannot ascend into heaven, that they may come unto God. Therefore, seeing we are so far from the kingdom of God, it is needful that God do not only invite us unto himself, but that reaching out his hand he offer salvation unto us, that we may enjoy the same. Peter teacheth in this place, that he hath done that in Christ, because he came down into the earth for this cause, that he might bring salvation with him, Neither is that contrary to this doctrine, that Christ is ascended above all heavens, (<490410>Ephesians 4:10.) For he took upon him our flesh once for this cause, that he might be a continual pledge of our adoption. He hath reconciled the Father to us for ever by the sacrifice of his death: by his resurrection he hath purchased for us eternal life. And he is present with us now also, that he may make us partakers of the fruit of eternal redemption; but the revealing of salvation is handled in this place, and we know that the same was so revealed in Christ, that we need not any longer to say, “Who shall ascend into heaven?” (<451006>Romans 10:6.) And if so be this doctrine were deeply imprinted in the minds of all men, then should so many controversies concerning the causes of salvation be soon at an end, wherewith the Church is so much troubled. The Papists confess with us, that salvation is in God alone, but by and by they forge to themselves infinite ways to attain unto the same. But Peter calleth us back unto Christ alone. They dare not altogether deny that we have salvation given us by Christ; but whilst they feign so many helps, they leave him scarce the hundredth part of salvation. But they were to seek for salvation at the hands of Christ wholly; for when Peter excludeth plainly all other means, he placeth perfect salvation in Christ alone, and not some part thereof only. So that they are far from understanding this doctrine.

ACTS 4:13-18
13. And when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and considered that they were men unlearned and ignorant, they wondered; and they knew them, that they had been with Jesus. 14. And when they saw the man that had been healed standing with them, they could not say against it. 15. But when they had commanded them to depart out of the council, they consulted among themselves, 16. Saying, What shall we do to these men? For a manifest sign is done by them, and it is openly known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; neither can we deny it. 17. But lest it be noised any farther among the people, in threatening let us threaten them, that they speak not henceforth to any man in this name. 18. And then when they had called them, they charged them that they should not speak at all, or teach, in the name of Jesus.

13. Here may we see an evil conscience; for being destitute of right and reason, they break out into open tyranny, the hatred whereof they had essayed to escape. Therefore, he doth first declare that they were convict, that it may appear that they did war against God wittingly and willingly like giants. For they see a manifest work of his in the man which was healed, and yet do they wickedly set themselves against him. In as much as they know that Peter and John were men unlearned and ignorant, they acknowledge that there was somewhat more than belongeth to man in their boldness; therefore they are enforced to wonder whether they will or no. Yet they break out into such impudence, that they fear not to seek some tyrannous means to oppress the truth. When as they confess that it is a manifest sign, they condemn themselves therein of an evil conscience. When they say that it is known to all men, they declare that passing over God they have respect unto men only. For they betray their want of shame thereby, that they would not have doubted to turn their back if there had been any color of denial. And when they ask what they shall do, they make their obstinate wickedness known unto all men. For they would have submitted themselves unto God, unless devilish fury had carried them away to some other purpose. This is the spirit of giddiness and madness, therewith God doth make his enemies drunk. So when they hope shortly after that they can by threatenings bring it about, that the same shall go no farther, what can be more foolish? For after they have put two simple men to silence, shall the arm of God be broken?
17. In threatening let us threaten. Here may we see what a deadly evil power void of the fear of God is. For when that religion and reverence which ought doth not reign, the more holy the place is which a man doth possess, the more boldly F220 doth he rage. For which cause we [should] always take good heed that the wicked be not preferred unto the government of the Church. And those which are called to this function must behave themselves reverently and modestly, lest they seem to be armed to do hurt. But and if it so happen they abuse their honor, the Spirit declareth there, as in a glass, what small account we ought to make of their decrees and commandments. F221 The authority of the pastors hath certain bounds appointed which they may not pass. And if they dare be so bold, we may lawfully refuse to obey them; for if we should, it were in us great wickedness, as it followeth now.

ACTS 4:19-23
19. And Peter and John answered them, and said, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than to God, judge ye. 20. For we cannot but speak those things which we have seen and heard. 21. And when they had threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing. for which they might punish them, because of the people; for all men did glorify God because of that which was done. 22. For the man was more than forty years old on whom the sign of healing was showed. 23. Furthermore, when they were let go, they came to their fellows, and told them whatsoever things the priests and elders had said.

19. Whether it be right. Let us remember to whom they make this answer. for this council did undoubtedly represent the Church; but because they do abuse their authority, the apostles say flatly that they are not to be obeyed. And (as men use to do in an evident matter) they refer over the judgment unto their adversaries for a reproach unto them. Furthermore it is worth the noting, that they set the authority of God against their decrees; which thing should be done out of season, unless they were the enemies of God, who notwithstanding, were otherwise the ordinary pastors of the Church. Moreover, the apostles express a farther thing also to wit, that the obedience which men use toward evil and unfaithful pastors, howsoever they hold the lawful government of the Church, is contrary to God. This question doth the Pope answer pleasantly, F222 because he saith that all those things are divine oracles whatsoever it hath pleased him to blunder out un-advisedly. F223 By this means the danger of contrariety is taken away. But the bishops can challenge no more at this day than God had given then to the order of the priests. Therefore, this is a toy too childish, [viz.] that they can command nothing but that which is agreeable to the commandment of God. F224 Yea, rather the thing itself declareth evidently that there shall be no conflict then if they suffer their vain and unbridled lust to range freely, having vanquished and renounced the doctrine of Christ.
Therefore, by what title soever men be called, yet must we hear them only upon this condition, if they lead us not away from obeying God. So that we must examine all their traditions by the rule of the Word of God. We must obey princes and others which are in authority, yet so that they rob not God (who is the chief King, Father, and Lord) of his right and authority. If we must observe such modesty in politic [civil] government, it ought to be of far more force in the spiritual government of the Church. And lest, according to their wonted pride, they think that their authority is abated, when God is extolled above them, Peter draweth them away from such pleasant flattering of themselves, telling them that this matter must be determined before the judgment-seat of God; for he saith plainly before [in the sight of] God; because, howsoever men be blinded, yet will God never suffer any man to be preferred before him. And surely the Spirit did put this answer in the mouth of the apostles, not only to the end he might repress the furiousness of the enemies, but that he might also teach us what we ought to do, so often as men become so proud, that having shaken off the yoke of God, they will lay their own yoke upon us. Therefore, let us then remember this holy authority of God, which is able to drive away the vain smoke of all man’s excellency.
20. For we cannot. Many things which are found out by hearing and seeing may, yea, ought to be concealed, when as the question is concerning the redeeming of peace. For this is a point of discourtesy and of wicked stubbornness to move and raise a tumult about unnecessary matters; but the apostles do not speak generally, when as they say they cannot but speak. For the gospel of Christ is now in hand, wherein consisteth both the glory of God and the salvation of men. It is an unmeet thing, and sacrilegious wickedness, that the same should be suppressed by prohibitions and menacings F225 of men; for God commandeth that his gospel be preached, especially since they did know that they were chosen to be witnesses and preachers of Christ, and that God had opened their mouth. Therefore, whosoever putteth them to silence, he endeavoreth so much as he is able to abolish the grace of God, and fordo [destroy] the salvation of men. And if so be that a prohibition so wicked do stop our mouths, woe be to our sluggishness. Now, let all men see what confession God requireth at their hands, lest, when they keep silence because of men, they hear a fearful voice proceed out of the mouth of Christ, whereby their unfaithfulness shall be condemned. And as for those which are called unto the office of teaching, let them be terrified with no threatenings of men, with no color of authority, but let them execute F226 that office which they know is enjoined them by God. Woe be unto me, saith Paul, if I preach not the gospel, because the function is committed unto me, (<460910>1 Corinthians 9:10.) Neither ought we only to set this commandment of God against the tyrannous commandments of men, but also against all lets which Satan doth oftentimes thrust in to break off and hinder the course of the gospel. For we have need of a strong buckler to bear off such sore assaults, which all the ministers of Christ do feel; but howsoever we speed, this is a brazen wall, that the preaching of the gospel doth please God, and therefore that it can for no cause be suppressed.
21. And when they had threatened them. And here is the end of sedition, that the wicked cease not to breathe out their fury, yet are they bridled by the secret power of God, so that they cannot tell how to do any hurt. F227 How is it that being content with threatenings, they do not also rage against their bodies, save only because the power of God doth bind them as a chain? Not that the fear of God doth prevail with them, for it is the regard of the people alone which hindereth them; but the Lord doth bind them with his bonds, though they be ignorant thereof. Luke commendeth unto us the providence of God in preserving his children; and though it be hidden from the wicked, yet we may behold the same with the eyes of faith, Furthermore, the wonderful counsel of God doth show itself here, in that the glory of Christ is furthered by those which are his most deadly enemies. For whereas the priests do assemble themselves together, it is not done without great rumor. All men wait for some rare and singular event; the apostles depart, being let loose and acquitted. Therefore, the adversaries are not only vanquished, but they confirm the gospel against their will. Notwithstanding, it is expedient for us to mark again, that the faithful do so get the victory, that they are always humbled under the cross. For they are threatened again, and straitly charged, that they teach not henceforth in the name of Christ. Therefore, they do not so get the upper hand that they do not triumph, save only under the reproach of the cross. Whereas Luke saith that they did all glorified God, he noteth the fruit of the miracle now the second time, although it may be that they were not all brought unto the perfect end. For that man which is touched with the feeling of the power of God, and doth not come unto Christ, neither hath his faith confirmed by the miracle he stayeth, as it were, in the midway. Yet this was some thing, though not all, that the power of God was acknowledged in the healing of the man, so that the adversaries being ashamed, did cease off from their fury, or at least give back a little.
23. Furthermore when they were let go. It shall appear by and by to what end they declared to the other disciples what things had befallen them, to wit, that they might be the more emboldened and encouraged by the grace of God hereafter; secondly, that they might arm themselves with prayer against the furious threatenings of their enemies; and thus must the children of God do, one must prick forward another, and they must join hand in hand, that they may vanquish the common adversary fighting under Christ’s banner. They consider F228 with themselves what dangers hang over their heads, to the end they may be the more ready to enter F229 the same, although they see their enemies press sore upon them; yet lest it should grieve them F230 to have a new combat ever now and then, they assure F231 themselves that they shall be invincible F232 through the same power of God whereby they got the victory before. And it is to be thought (although Luke makes no mention thereof) that the apostles being contented with their former answer, did not contend with those furies, [furious men;] and yet we must persuade ourselves that they were not so forgetful of their former constancy that they did submit themselves unto their ungodly decree like slaves. F233

ACTS 4:24-31
24. And when they had heard it, they lifted up their voice unto God with one accord, and said, Lord,, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, the sea, and all things which are therein; 25. Which by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why have the heathen raged together, and why have the people imagined vain things? 26. The kings of the earth have stood up, and the rulers have met together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27. For of a truth, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, have come together in this city against thy holy Son, Jesus, 28. That they might do whatsoever thine hand and thy counsel had decreed before to be done. 29. And now, O Lord, look upon the threatenings of these men; and grant unto thy servants that they may speak thy word with boldness; 30. Reaching out thine hand to this end, that healing, and signs, and wonders, may be done by the name of thy only Son, Jesus. 31. And when they had prayed, the place moved wherein they were assembled: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and did speak the word of God with boldness.

We are taught by this example what is our duty to do when our adversaries do imperiously threaten us; for we must not carelessly laugh in time of danger, but the fear of danger ought to drive us to crave help at the hands of God, and this is a remedy to comfort and set us up on foot, lest, being terrified with threatenings, we cease off from doing our duty. Here is a double fruit of this history, that the disciples of Christ do not jest when they hear that their enemies do threaten them so sore and press so sore upon them, as careless and sluggish men use to do; but being touched with fear, they fly to seek help at the hands of God; and again, they are not terrified, neither yet do they conceive any immoderate fear; F234 but crave of God F235 invincible constancy with right godly petitions.
24. Thou art God, which hast created. Although this title and commendation of God’s power be general, yet it ought to be referred unto the present matter, for they do in such sort acknowledge the power of God in the creation of the whole world, that they apply the same therewithal unto the present use. In like sort, the prophets do oftentimes commend the same, to the end they may redress that fear which troubleth us when we behold the power of our enemies; secondly, they add thereunto the promise, and they make these two foundations of their boldness whereby they are emboldened to pray. And surely our prayers are such as they ought to be, and acceptable to God only then, when as staying ourselves upon his promises and power, we pray with certain hope to obtain that for which we pray, for we cannot otherwise have any true confidence unless God do will us to come unto him, and promise that he is ready to help us; and, secondly, unless we acknowledge that he is able enough to help us; wherefore let the faithful exercise themselves in this double meditation so often as they address themselves unto prayer. Furthermore, we gather hereby after what sort we ought to consider the creation of the world; to wit, that we may know that all things are subject to God, and ruled by his will, and when that the world hath done what it can, there shall no other thing come to pass but that which God hath decreed; yea, that the wantonness of the wicked is monstrous, as if the clay should resist the potter; for this is the meaning of the faithful generally, that whatsoever dangers hang over their heads, yet can God prevent the same infinite ways, forasmuch as all things are in his hand, and that he is able to make all the parts of heaven and earth (which he hath created) to obey him.
25. Who by the mouth of David. They descend now into the second member, that they ask nothing but that which God hath promised to perform, so that his will and power are joined together, to the end they may fully assure themselves that they shall obtain their requests; and because the kingdom of Christ is now in hand, they make rehearsal of the promise of God, wherein he promiseth to defend and maintain the same, so that when the whole world hath done what it can to overthrow it, yet all shall be in vain; and herein their godliness and sincere zeal, in that they are not so much careful for their own safety, as for the increasing and advancement of the kingdom of Christ.
Why have the Gentiles raged? We must need confess that David speaketh of himself, who after he was chosen king by the Lord, and anointed by Samuel the prophet, did enjoy the kingdom very hardly, F236 because his enemies withstood him on every side. We know how the rulers and people conspired together with Saul and his family; after that the Philistines, and other strange enemies, despising him when he came newly to the crown, made war against him, striving who should begin first, wherefore it is not without cause that he complaineth that the kings rage and take counsel together, and that the people do go about divers things; nevertheless, because he knew that God was the supporter of his kingdom, he derideth their foolish enterprises, and affirmeth that they are vain; but because his kingdom was established, that it might be a figure or image of the kingdom of Christ, David doth not stay still in the shadow itself; but he apprehendeth the body, yea, the Holy Ghost, as the apostles do truly repeat the same, doth sharply reprove the foolish and ridiculous madness of the world, in that they dare invade the kingdom of Christ which God had esta-blished, as well in the person of David as of Christ himself. And this is a singular comfort, in that we hear that God is on our side, so long as we go on warfare under the kingdom of Christ. Hereby we may persuade ourselves, that howsoever all men, both high and low do wickedly conspire together against this kingdom, yet shall they not prevail, for what is all the whole world compared with God? But we must first of all know and assure ourselves of this, that God will continually maintain the kingdom of his Son, whereof he himself is the author, so that we may set his decree (which shall not be broken) against the rashness of men, that trusting to the help of his hand, we may not doubt to despise all the preparation and furniture of men, though they be terrible; and he doth diligently express how great the bands of the adversaries are; he saith, that they attempt all things, he doth also reckon up their counsels, lest any of these do terrify us. Furthermore, when as the Psalm teacheth, that the kingdom of Christ shall endure, maugre the heads of the adversaries, it doth also show that there shall be many adversaries, which shall endeavor to overthrow the same. On the one side, he bringeth in the kings raging, on the other, the people all out of quiet, F237 whereby he signifieth that all estates shall be offended at it; F238 and no marvel, because nothing is more contrary to the flesh than the spiritual sword of the gospel wherewith Christ killeth us, that he may make us obey him, (<451516>Romans 15:16.) Therefore, we must know this for a surety, that the kingdom of Christ shall never be quiet in the world, lest when we are to fight, we be afraid as at some strange thing.
26. Against the Lord, and his Christ. The Spirit teacheth by this word, that all those do make war against God which refuse to submit themselves to Christ; they do full little think this oftentimes, notwithstanding it is so that because God will reign in the person of his Son alone, we refuse to obey him so often as we rebel against Christ, as the Lord himself saith in John, “He which honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father.” Wherefore let the hypocrites profess a thousand times that they mean nothing less than to make war against God, yet shall they find this true, that God is their open enemy, unless they embrace Christ with his gospel. The use of this doctrine is double, for it armeth us against all the terrors of the flesh, because we must not fear, lest they get the victory of God which withstand the gospel. Again, we must beware, lest, through the contempt of godly doctrine, we advance ourselves against God to our own destruction.
27. Have met together in this city. They declare that this prophecy was proved to be true by the event, to the end they may believe the same more assuredly, for the sense is, Lord, thou hast spoken it and we have in truth tried [experienced] the same to be true; and they call to mind that which was done four years before, or thereabout. In like sort, it is expedient for us to apply the events of things which are foretold to the confirmation of our faith; but because it might seem that the matter fell out far otherwise then than the Psalm pronounceth, forasmuch as they raged not in vain, neither were the assaults of the enemies frustrate when they had put Christ to death; and their violence went further afterwards after a fearful manner. The faithful remove this offense, and say that the enemies could do no more than God had appointed; therefore, howsoever the wicked did suppose that Christ was quite taken away by death, and did now vainly triumph, yet the faithful confess that their rage was all but vain. But here may a question be moved, why he calleth them the Gentiles and people of Israel, seeing there was but one body? I think that the diversity of countries is noted in this place, out of which the Jews came together to the feast, as if they should have said, that the Jews which were born in divers places, having made, as it were, a concourse, did assault the kingdom of Christ, yet was their fury frustrate and of none effect.
Thy holy Son Jesus. The Grecians use the very same word which I translated even now, servant, when mention was made of David, for they call [pa~ida] sometimes a servant sometimes a son; and David is so called, because he was the minister of God, as well in ruling the people as in the office of a prophet; but this word, son, agreeth better with the person of Christ, unless some man had liefer take it thus, that Luke meant to allude unto that likelihood [resemblance] which David had with Christ when he setteth down a word of a double signification. It is expressly said, that God hath anointed his Son, that that may truly agree to him which is in the Psalm, for in anointing him God made him a King, and yet we must note therewithal what anointing this was, for we know that he was not anointed with visible oil, but with the Holy Ghost.
28. That they might do. I have already declared to what end this is spoken; that the kingdom of Christ was so far from being overrun by that conspiracy, that in truth it did then flourish. Notwithstanding herein is contained a singular doctrine, that God doth so govern and guide all things by his secret counsel, that, he doth bring to pass those things which he hath determined, even by the wicked. Not that they are ready willingly to do him such service, but because he turneth their counsels and attempts backward; so that on the one side appeareth great equity and most great righteousness; on the other appeareth nought but wickedness and iniquity. Which matter we have handled more at large in the second chapter. Let us learn here, by the way, that we must so consider the providence of God, that we know that it is the chief and only guider of all things which are done in the world, that the devil and all the wicked are kept back with God’s bridle, lest they should do us any harm; that when they rage fastest, yet are they not at liberty to do what they list, but have the bridle given them, yet so far forth as is expedient to exercise us. Those men which do acknowledge the foreknowledge of God alone, and yet confess not that all things are done as it pleaseth him, are easily convict by these words, That God hath appointed before that thing to be done which was done. Yea, Luke being not contented with the word counsel, addeth also hand, improperly, yet to the end he might the more plainly declare that the events of things are not only governed by the counsel of God, but that they are also ordered by his power and hand.
29. And now O Lord. They do very well extend that unto themselves which they cited concerning Christ; because he will not, be separated from the gospel; yea, what trouble so ever befalleth his members, he applieth that to his own person. And they crave at God’s hands that he will beat down the cruelty of the adversaries; yet not so much for their own sake that they may live quietly and without vexation, as that they may have liberty to preach the gospel in all places. Neither was it for them to desire a life which they might spend idly, having forsaken their calling. For they add, “Grant unto thy servants, O Lord, that they may speak boldly.” And by the way we must note this speech, that the Lord would behold their threatenings. For seeing it belongeth properly to him to resist the proud, and to throw down their lofty looks; the more proudly they brag and boast, the more do they undoubtedly provoke God to be displeased with them, and it is not to be doubted but that God, being offended with such indignity and cruelty, will redress the same. So Ezechias, to the end he may obtain help in extremity, declareth before the Lord the arrogancy of Sennacherib and his cruel threatenings, (<233714>Isaiah 37:14 and 17.) Wherefore let the cruelty and reproaches of our enemies rather stir up in us a desire to pray, than any whit discourage us from going forward in the course of our office.
30. Grant unto thy servants. Seeing that one miracle had stinged the enemy so sore how is it that these holy men do desire to have new miracles done daily? Therefore we gather that hence which I have already touched, that they make so great account of the glory of God, that in comparison of this, they set light by all other things. They have respect unto this one thing only, that the power of God may be declared by miracles, which the godly ought always to desire, although the adversaries burst, and all the whole hell do rage. The same must we also think of boldness to speak. They knew that the wicked could abide nothing worse than the free course of the gospel; but because they know that that is the doctrine of life which God will have published whatsoever befall; they do undoubtedly prefer the preaching thereof before all other things, because it is acceptable to God. And we are taught that we do then rightly acknowledge the benefits of God as we ought, if by this occasion we be pricked forward to pray, that he will confirm that which he hath began. The apostles had showed a token of heroic fortitude; now again they pray that they may be furnished with boldness. So Paul desireth the faithful to pray unto the Lord that his mouth may be opened, whereas, notwithstanding, his voice did sound everywhere (<490619>Ephesians 6:19.) Therefore, the more we perceive ourselves to be holpen by the Lord, let us learn to crave at the hands of God that we may go forward hereafter; and especially seeing the free confession of the gospel is a singular gift of God, we must continually beseech him to keep us in the same.
31. And when they had prayed. Luke declareth now that God did not only hear this prayer, but did also testify the same by a visible sign from heaven. For the shaking of the place should, of itself, have done them small good; but it tendeth to another end, that the faithful may know that God is present with them. Finally, it is nothing else but a token of the presence of God. But the fruit followeth, for they are all filled with the Holy Ghost, and endowed with greater boldness. We ought rather to stand upon this second member. For whereas God did declare his power then by shaking the place it was a rare and extraordinary thing; and whereas it appeared by the effect, that the apostles did obtain that which they desired, this is a perpetual profit of prayer, which is also set before us for an example.

ACTS 4:32-37
32. And the multitude which believed had one heart and one soul; and no man did say that any of those things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33. And the apostles did bear witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ with great power; and great grace was upon them all. 34. For there was one among them that kicked: for so many as possessed lands or houses, setting them, they brought the price of those things which were sold, 35. And they laid it at the feet of the apostles: and it was distributed to every man according as he had need. 36. And Joses, which was suremined of the opostles Barnabas, (which is, the son of comfort,) a Levite, of the country of Cyprus, 37. Whereas he had land, he sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

32. And the multitude. In this place there are three things commended; that the faithful were all of one mind; that there was a mutual partaking of goods amongst them; that the apostles behaved themselves stoutly in announcing the resurrection of Christ. He saith that the multitude had one heart; because this is far more excellent than if a few men should have a mutual consent. And heretofore he hath declared, that the Church did grow to be about five thousand. And now he saith that there was wonderful concord in so great a multitude, which is a very hard matter.
And surely where faith beareth the chief sway, it doth so knit the hearts of men together, that all of them do both will and nill one thing. For discord springeth hence because we are not all governed with the same Spirit of Christ. It is well known that by these two words, heart and soul, he meaneth the will. And because the wicked do oftentimes conspire together to do evil, this concord was laudable and holy therefore because it was amongst the faithful.
And no man did say. This is the second member; that they coupled this love with external benefits. But we shall see anon, after what sort they had their goods common. This is now worth the noting in the text of Luke that the inward unity of minds goeth before as the root, and then the fruit followeth after. And surely even we ought to observe the same order, we must love one another, F239 and then this love of ours must show itself by external effects. F240 And in vain do we boast of a right affection, unless there appear some testimony thereof in external offices. Moreover, Luke declareth therewithal, that they were not of one mind for any respect of their own commodity, forasmuch as the rich men, when they did liberally bestow their goods, sought nothing less than their own gain.
33. And with great power. This third member appertaineth to doctrine. For Luke doth signify that the zeal which the apostles had to preach the gospel was so far from being diminished, that they were rather endowed with new power. Whereas he doth only name the resurrection of Christ, it is synecdoche; for this part is put for the whole gospel. But Luke maketh mention of the resurrection alone, because it is, as it were, the furnishing or fulfilling of the gospel; and, secondly, because they had endured a sore combat for the same, and the Sadducees were sore grieved at it, who aid then bear the chief swinge, [sway.]
And great grace was. He signifieth that this served not a little to the spreading abroad of doctrine, in that, by helping the poor so bountifully, they found favor at the hands of strangers. For he saith that they were beloved, because they were beneficial. F241 Therefore, there is a showing of a reason in these words, No man amongst them did lack. Although we need not doubt of this, but that their honesty, and temperance, and modesty, and patience, and other virtues, did provoke many to bear them good-will. He declareth F242 afterward, after what sort they had their goods common, which he had touched before, to wit, that the rich men sold their lands and houses, that they might relieve the poverty of the poor,
34. For so many as were. Although this be an universal speech, yet is it all one as if it were indefinite. And assuredly it is to be thought that there were many which did not diminish their possessions, and that may be gathered out of the text, [context.] For when he speaketh of Joses anon, undoubtedly he meant to note a notable example, passing all others. Therefore he saith, that all did that which many did every where; neither doth this disagree with the common use of the Scripture. Again, he meaneth not that the faithful sold all that they had, but only so much as need required. For this is spoken for amplification’s sake, that the rich men did not only relieve the poverty of their brethren of the yearly revenue of their lands, but they were so liberal, that they spared not their lands. And this might be, though they did not rob themselves of all, but only a little diminish their revenues; which we may gather again out of the words of Luke, for he saith that this was the end, that no man might lack. He showeth further, that they used great wisdom, F243 because it was distributed as every man had need. Therefore the goods were not equally divided, but there was a discreet distribution made, lest any should be out of measure oppressed with poverty. And, peradventure, Joses hath this commendation given him by name, because he sold his only possession. For by this means he passed all the rest.
Hereby it appeareth what that meaneth, that no man counted anything his own, but they had all things common. For no man had his own privately to himself, that he alone might enjoy the same, neglecting others; but as need required, they were ready to bestow upon all men. And now we must needs have more than iron bowels, seeing that we are no more moved with the reading of this history. The faithful did at that day give abundantly even of that which was their own, but we are not only content at this day wickedly to suppress that which we have in our hands, but do also rob others. They did and faithfully bring forth their own; we invent a thousand subtile shifts to draw all things unto us by hook or by crook. They laid it down at the apostles’ feet, we fear not with sacrilegious boldness to convert that to our own use which was offered to God. They sold in times past their possessions, there reigneth at this day an insatiable desire to buy. Love made that common to the poor and needy which was proper to every man; such is the unnaturalness of some men now, that they cannot abide that the poor should dwell upon the earth, that they should have the use of water, air, and heaven. F244
Wherefore, these things are written for our shame and reproach. Although even the poor themselves are to blame for some part of this evil. For seeing goods cannot be common after this sort, save only where there is a godly agreement, and where there reigneth one heart and one soul; many men are either so proud or unthankful, or slothful, or greedy, or such hypocrites, that they do not only so much as in them lieth quite put out the desire to do well, but also hinder ability. And yet must we remember that admonition of Paul, that we be not weary of well-doing, (<480609>Galatians 6:9.) And whereas, under color of this, the Anabaptists and fantastical [fanatical] men have made much ado, as if there ought to be no civil property of goods amongst Christians, I have already refuted this folly F245 of theirs in the second chapter. For neither doth Luke in this place prescribe a law to all men which they must of necessity follow, while that he reckoneth up what they did in whom a certain singular efficacy and power of the Holy Spirit of God did show itself; neither doth he speak generally of all men, that it can be gathered that they were not counted Christians which did not sell all that they had.
CHAPTER 5

ACTS 5:1-6
1. And a certain man called Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2. And he kept back part of the price, his wife knowing thereof, and bringing part, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3. And Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart that thou shouldest lie to the Holy Ghost, and keep back part of the price of the ground? 4. Did it not, remaining, remain to thee? and, being sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast put this thing in thy heart? Thou hast not lied to men, but to God. 5. And when Ananias heard these words, falling, he yielded up the ghost; and there came great fear upon all those which had heard these things. 6. Furthermore, the young men which were present gathered him up, and, carrying him out, they buried him.

1. THOSE things which Luke hath reported hitherto did show that that company, which was gathered together under the name of Christ, was rather a company of angels than of men, Moreover, that was incredible virtue, that the rich men did despoil themselves of their own accord, not only of their money, but also of their land, that they might relieve the poor. But now he showeth that Satan had invented a shift to get into that holy company, and that under color of such excellent virtue; for he hath wonderful wiles of hypocrisy to insinuate himself. This way doth Satan assault the Church, when as he cannot prevail by open war. But we must specially in this place have respect unto the drift of the Holy Ghost. For in this history he meant to declare, first, how acceptable singleness of heart is to God, and what an abomination hypocrisy is in his sight; secondly, how greatly he alloweth [approves] the holy and pure policy and govermnent of his Church. For this is the principal point, the punishment wherewith punished Ananias and his wife. As the greatness thereof did at that time terrify them all, so it is unto us a testimony that God cannot abide this unfaithfulness, when as bearing a show of holiness where there is none, we do mock him contemptibly. For if, having weighed all the circumstances, we be desirous to know the sum, Luke condemneth no other fault in Ananias than this, that he meant to deceive God and the Church with a reigned offering. Yet there were more evils packed under this dissimulation: the contempt of God, whom he feareth not, though he knew his wickedness; sacrilegious defrauding, because he keepeth back part of that which he professeth to be holy to God; perverse vanity and ambition, because he vaunteth himself in the presence of men, without having any respect unto God’s judgment; want of faith, because he would never have gone this way to work, unless he had mistrusted God; the corrupting of a godly and holy order; furthermore, the hypocrisy itself was a great offense of itself.F246 The fact of Ananias did bear a goodly show,F247 although he had given only the half of his land. Neither is this a small virtue, for a rich man to bestow the half of his goods upon the poor; but the sacrifices of the ungodly are an abomination to God, (<201508>Proverbs 15:8;) neither can any thing please him where the singleness of heart is wanting. For this cause is it that Christ maketh more account of the two mites offered by the widow, than of the great sums of others, who of their great heaps gave some part, (<422102>Luke 21:2.) This is the cause why God doth show an example of such sharp punishment in Ananias. Now, let us note every point by itself. He laid it at the feet of the apostles. Lo, what ambition doth! Ananias is ashamed not to be accounted one of the best; therefore, although he be greedy of money, yet to the end he may purchase a name amongst men, he depriveth himself of some part of his riches. In the meanwhile, he doth not consider that he lieth and deceiveth in the sight of God, and that God will punish this lie. So it is, that he honoreth the apostles’ feet more than God’s eyes. Wherefore, we must take good heed, that when we do well, we do not seek to be praised of the bystanders; F248 and it is not without cause that Christ saith, that it is profitable for us when we give our alms, to have the left hand ignorant of that which the right hand doth.
3. And Peter said. How did Peter know Ananias’ fraud (and purloining?) Undoubtedly by the revelation of the Spirit. Therefore, Luke signifieth unto us, that the apostles did after a sort represent God’s person, and supply his room. If the Spirit of God, by the mouth of a mortal man, do so sore urge an hypocrite, being otherwise painted with the beautiful color of virtues, how shall the reprobate abide the voice of God himself, with the sound of the trumpet, when they shall appear before his judgment-seat? Furthermore, Peter pointeth out the cruelness and horribleness of the offense F249 by his question, when he saith, that Satan had filled the heart of Ananias. For there is no man whose heart is not pricked with the pricks of Satan, and all men are also many ways tempted, yea, these temptations pierce into their minds; but where Satan possesseth the heart, he reigneth in the whole man, having, as it were, expelled God. This is a sign of a reprobate, to be so addicted and given over to Satan, that the Spirit of God hath no place. That which followeth afterward concerning lying may have a double sense; either that he did falsely bear a show of the Spirit, or that he lied against the Spirit. And, indeed, it is word for word mentiri Spiritum; but forasmuch as the Greek word [yeudesqai] is joined with a double accusative case and that doth better agree with the text [context,] I am rather of this mind, that Ananias is reprehended, because he did lie falsely to the Holy Ghost. Which he confirmeth shortly after, when he upbraideth this unto him, that he hath lied unto God, and not unto men. Wherefore we must take great heed, that hypocrisy reign not in us, which hath this wickedness proper to it, to go about to deceive God, and, as it were cornicum oculos configere. To go about to make blind those which are most wise; F250 which cannot be without a disloyal and unseemly mock. Wherefore it is not without cause that Peter saith, that where this cometh to pass the heart is possessed of Satan. For who durst (unless he were void of reason) so blaspheme God? Therefore Peter asketh him as of some wonder, because such blindness is horrible.
4. Did it not remaining. This amplifieth the offense because he sinned, being enforced by no necessity. For seeing it is no just or lawful excuse to have been provoked by some other means, how much worse is it to run headlong unto wickedness willingly, and, as it were of set purpose to pull down God’s vengeance? We gather out of this, that no man was enforced to sell his goods or lands. For Peter saith, that Ananias had free liberty to keep both his land and his money; because in the second member, the field which was sold is taken for the price itself. Therefore he should nevertheless have been counted faithful, though he had kept that which was his own. Whereby it appeareth that they are men destitute of their right wits, who say that it is not lawful for the faithful to have anything of their own.
Thou hast not lied to men, but to God. Although the words be diversely construed, yet do I not doubt but that this confirmeth the former sentence. For hypocrites do so enwrap themselves in so many shifts, that they think they have nothing to do with God. And Peter speaketh thus expressly, because Ananias had deceived the Church. But he ought to have considered, that
“where two or three be gathered together in the name of Christ, he is present there as the chief governor,” (<401820>Matthew 18:20;)
yea, he ought to have behaved himself no otherwise in that assembly, than if he should have seen God with his eyes. For seeing that God will reign in the Church, if we give him any reverence, we must reverence that rule and government religiously which he exerciseth by his Word. The apostles were indeed men, but not private men, because God had put them in his stead. Furthermore, we must note, that he saith that he lieth to God who doth lie to the Holy Ghost. For the divinity of the Holy Ghost is manifestly proved by this form of speech. In like sort Paul saith, “Ye are the temples of God, because his Spirit dwelleth in you,” (<460316>1 Corinthians 3:16,17; and 6:19.)
5. When Ananias heard these things. The death of Ananias doth, indeed, declare and prove the force of the word, which Paul cloth highly extol; to wit, that it is the savor of death unto death to those which perish, (<470216>2 Corinthians 2:16.) He speaketh, indeed, of the spiritual death of the soul, but there was a visible sign in the body of Ananias of that punishment which cannot be seen with the eyes of men. He was not slain with sword, by force, nor hand, but was stricken dead with the only hearing of the voice. When we hear this, let the threatenings of the gospel terrify us, and humble us in time, lest we also feel the like effect. For that which is spoken of Christ,
“He shall slay the wicked with the breath of his mouth.” (<231104>Isaiah 11:4,)
doth not only appertain to the head of the wicked, but also to every member. For those which refuse the salvation offered in his word, it must needs be deadly to them, which was naturally wholesome. But and if any man do think it an absurd thing that the apostle did punish Ananias bodily, first, I answer, that this was an extraordinary thing; secondly, that this was one of the gifts of the Spirit, as it appeareth by the 19th chapter of the First to the Corinthians, (verse 10.) After which sort we shall afterward see Elymas, the sorcerer, stricken with blindness by Paul, (<441308>Acts 13:8.) Therefore, Peter did nothing which was impertinent to his function, when he did in time shoot that dart which the Holy Ghost had given him. And whereas some think that this was too cruel a punishment, this cometh to pass, because, weighing Ananias’ sin in their own and not in God’s balance, they count that but a light offense which was a most great and grievous crime, being full of such heinous offenses as I have already declared. Other some do think that this was nothing so, because they see many hypocrites escape scot free daily, which do no less mock God than did Ananias; yea, because they themselves being most gross contemners of God, are yet notwithstanding unpunished for their wickedness. But as God hath poured out visible graces upon his Church in the beginning, to the end we may know that he will be present with us by the secret power of his Spirit, yea, he showed that openly by external signs, which we feel inwardly by the experiment of faith; so he declared by the visible punishment of two, how horrible a judgment remaineth for all hypocrites, which shall mock God and his Church.
And there came great fear. This was the Lord’s purpose, by punishing one to make the rest afraid, that they might reverently beware of all hypocrisy. And that which Luke saith, that they feared, doth appertain unto us also. For God meant to give all ages a lesson at that time, that they may learn to deal sincerely and uprightly with him. In the mean season, the punishment of this wicked person ought to have encouraged the godly hereafter to consecrate their goods more freely to God and the poor; because they might gather how precious alms was in the sight of God, seeing the profaning thereof was so punished. F251

ACTS 5:7-11
7. And there was passed about the space of three hours, when his wife came in, ignorant of that which was done. 8. And Peter said unto her, Tell me, sold ye the field for so much? She answered, Surely, for so much. 9. And Peter said unto her, What is this that ye are agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those which have buried thy husband are at the door, which shall carry thee out. 10. And immediately she fell down at his feet, and gave up the ghost. Furthermore, when the young men came in, they found her dead, and when they had carried her out, they buried her beside her husband. 11. And there came great fear upon all the church, and upon all which heard these things.

7. That punishment wherewith the Lord punished Sapphira containeth no new thing, save only that the example was the more confirmed thereby. And it came to pass by the certain providence of God, that the Church should see apart the obstinate wickedness and treacherous mind of them both. Seeing their faults were alike, they might have been known together; but this was more fit and profitable for the Church, that they might severally bewray their own wickedness. Neither was Sapphira provoked by the sight of her husband to dissemble, (as it falleth out oftentimes,) that the fault could be ascribed to shamefacedness, but of her own accord, and being pricked forward by no other means, she seemeth to be no better than her husband. Moreover, their wickedness in lying was like, forasmuch as she may see by Peter’s interrogation that their guile was found out.
8. Tell me. We see that God doth not by and by F252 punish her, but first he trieth the matter thoroughly, lest he should send vengeance upon any save the obstinate, and those which will not be pardoned. F253 For although Sapphira did know that the matter was hidden, she ought to have been stricken with this question of Peter, no otherwise than if she had been cited to appear before the judgment-seat of God. She hath a time granted her to repent; yea, this is, as it were, a pleasant F254 inviting unto repentance. But she, in holding on so carelessly, F255 doth declare that she was incurable, because she is touched with no fear of God.
And hereby are we taught to labor diligently to bring sinners into the way. For the Spirit of God keepeth this moderation; but when as stubbornness and the stubborn contempt of God is added unto the offense, it is now high time to punish. Therefore, those men are too arrogant who are displeased with the immoderate rigor of God. It is rather our duty to consider how we shall in time to come F256 stand before the judgment-seat of God; although this is too much to despise his holy power and majesty, if we will have him mocked freely without any punishment. Moreover, so many circumstances, which before I have gathered, do sufficiently prove that Ananias and Sapphira were not worthy of one death only. For, first of all, hypocrisy is of itself very abominable to God. Secondly, whereas they are determined to lie unto God, this ariseth of great contempt, in that they do not reverence and fear Christ, being the Chief Governor of those amongst whom they were. It is ungodliness joined with impudency; because, so they can escape shame and reproach amongst men, before whom they were determined to vaunt and brag, they pass not to deny their manifest wickedness unto God. Whereas they do stubbornly deny their offense, this doth, as it were, make up the heap and measure. And whereas innumerable hypocrites do no less mock God and the Church daily, who, notwithstanding, are not punished with death, I have already showed why this ought to seem to be no inconvenient thing. F257 Forasmuch as God is the only Judge of the world, it belongeth to him to punish every man at his pleasure, when and how it seemeth good to him. Wherefore we must not prescribe unto him a certain mean and manner of punishment. But the greatness of the spiritual judgment, which is as yet hid, hath been set before us in the bodily punishment of two, as in a mirror. For if we consider what it is to be cast into eternal fire, we shall not judge that this is the greatest evil and punishment of all, to fall down dead before men. Look the 10th chapter of the First to the Corinthians, verse 5.
9. To tempt the Spirit. He uttereth the same thing in other words which he had said before; to wit, that they did mock God unreverently and contemptibly. But he said that they tempted the Spirit, because they had cunningly packed their fraud, as if the Spirit of God were not the knower of the hearts. For it was a point of too great carelessness, seeing the one made the other privy to their wickedness, to make their match between themselves, having, as it were, excluded God. For the Scripture saith, that God is tempted either when his power is taken from him, or the knowledge of all things is denied him. Furthermore, he meaneth that Spirit which governed the Church by the apostles. For when Christ saith, When the Spirit cometh, he shall judge the world, he noteth no other kind of authority than that which he exerciseth by the ministry of the Church.
11. And there came fear. He saith, again, that the punishment of one was a lesson to all. But he plainly expresseth in this place a double fear. He saith that the Church feared, because the faithful do never so perfectly fear God, but that they profit yet more, being admonished by his judgments. Therefore, by all those punishments which we read have been laid upon men in times past, and do daily see to be laid upon them, doth God call us back from the enticements and liberty of sinning. For our flesh must be bridled every now and then after this sort, because one bridle will scarce serve the turn. There was another manner [of] fear in the strangers, yet no such fear as brought them unto the sincere worship of God; yet, notwithstanding, it was such as caused them to give the glory to God.

ACTS 5:12-16
12. And by the hands of the apostles were done many signs and wonders amongst the people. And they were all with one accord in the Porch of Solomon. 13. And of the other durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. 14. And the multitude of those that believed in the Lord, both of men and women, grew more and more. 15. So that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them in beds and couches, that at the least way the shadow of Peter, as he came, might shadow some of them. 16. And a multitude of the next cities came together to Jerusalem, bringing their sick, and those which were vexed with unclean spirits, which were all healed.

12. He returneth to miracles of another sort, which are more proper to the gospel; to wit, whereby Christ doth not only declare his power, but also his goodness; to the end he may allure men unto himself with the sweetness of his grace. For he came to save the world, and not to condemn it. Therefore, whereas the sick are healed, and others are delivered from devils, these benefits done to the body do represent the spiritual grace of Christ; and therefore they agree with his natural F258 office that I may so speak. That fearful sign which was showed in Ananias and Sapphira came to pass extraordinarily F259 Luke saith that the Church was increased by miracles, because they serve for faith, F260 (as we have said,) to prepare some, to confirm others. Whereby that is proved again, which I have said elsewhere that miracles must never be separated from the word. Luke showeth the multitude of miracles by this, in that the sick were brought forth everywhere, that they might be healed. For God meant thus to set forth the gospel of his Son, especially at the beginning; that he, might for a certainty testify to the Jews, that that restoring of all things was present, which was so often promised, and in which all their hope was reposed, as they themselves did pretend, (and make semblance.) It is well known that couches were certain little beds in which the men of old were wont to rest at noon. Because they might the more easily carry them out, they laid the sick in them.
And they were all with one accord. He signifieth unto us that they were wont to meet together at certain hours, not only for doctrine and prayers’ sake, but that they might win others unto the Lord, as occasion was given. For every man lived at home at his own house, but they had their meetings there, as assuredly no body of the Church can otherwise continue. For if every man will be his own teacher, and pray apart by himself, and if there be no meetings and assemblies, how excellently soever the Church be ordered and appointed, yet must it needs decay and come to nought. He saith that they were all of one mind, to the end we may know that they did all keep that order willingly, that no man was so disordered as to keep himself at home, F261 neglecting the public assembly. Wherein they showed a token, not only of modesty, but also of constancy. For they could not do this without danger, seeing the place was so famous. For which cause, the agreement of them all to put themselves in hazard was so much the more worthy of commendation.
13. And of other durst no man. This was the second fruit of the miracles, in that these which believed not, being convict with the excellent power of God, dare not despise the apostles, but are rather enforced to reverence the Church. Yet that might seem an absurd thing, that being terrified with miracles, they flee from God and his people. I answer, that they were letted through their own fault from coming; and it is not to be doubted but that God doth call us unto himself by miracles. Therefore, whosoever they be that go not so far, as willingly to embrace the grace of God which shineth in them, they are letted and hindered by their own perverse and evil conscience. Yet this is some fruit, in that God wringeth some fear out of them; although Luke doth ascribe this not only to the miracle, but rather comprehendeth all together which might serve to the increasing of the dignity of the Church. For all things were so ordered, that there shined there a certain divine majesty; for they did no less differ from the other than angels from men.
For there is a certain secret majesty in holy discipline and in sincere godliness, which doth even fast bind the wicked whether they will or no. But we know not at this day of what sort the same is; yea, rather, we cause ourselves to be despised together with the gospel, through our profane liberty of evil living. Furthermore, the punishment of Ananias and his wife did not a little terrify the wicked, and keep them from breaking in unadvisedly into the company of those men, where God had showed himself so sharp a Judge. Yet we must note that he speaketh of men which were indifferent in this place, and of those which were not of the worst sort; for there were at that time many at Jerusalem, whom neither the reverence of signs, neither yet of the angelic holiness of the godly, could move. Therefore Luke meaneth moderate men, in whom there are some seed of the fear of God; like as we see at this day certain, whom the vanity of the world keepeth back from submitting their necks unto the yoke of Christ; yet because they smell out some divine thing in our doctrine, F262 they dare not despise the same; yet we may see also in what deadly grins [gins] Satan insnareth all those which have not the Spirit of Christ, that they do not only fear to provide for themselves, but purposely avoid those remedies which are offered them unto salvation. They both see and allow those things which are both holy and profitable, and yet, notwithstanding, they are either carried headlong unto things which are worse, or else they wax drowsy in their filthiness.
15. The shadow of Peter, as he came. The Papists abuse this text, [as a pretexts] not only to the end they may commend reigned miracles, which they say are done at the graves of martyrs, but also that they may boast of their relics. Why (say they) shall not the grave, or garment, the touching of the bones of Peter, have power to heal, as well as his shadow had this power? I answer, we must not by and by think that that is right which Luke saith was done by ignorant men, and those which knew not the pure faith. Yet we have a more certain answer in readiness than this. For the apostles were endued with such power for this cause, because they were ministers of the gospel. Therefore they used this gift, inasmuch as it served to further the credit of the gospel; yea, God did no less show forth his power in their shadow than in their mouth. Those miracles whereof the Papists babble are so unlike to these, that they are rather altogether contrary. For this is the end of their miracles, to lead away the world from Christ unto saints.

ACTS 5:17-26
17. And the high priest rose, and all that were with him, that is to say, the sect of the Sadducees, and were. filled with zeal, [or indignation.] 18. And they laid hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19. And the angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison in the night season, and bringing them out, said, 20. Go, and standing, speak in the temple unto the people all the word, of this life. 21. When they heard this early in the morning, they entered into the temple and taught. But when the high priest came, and those which were with him, they called a council, and all the whole senate of the children of Israel, and sent into the common prison to fetch them. 22. But when the ministers came, they found them not. Therefore they returned and told, saying, 23. The prison truly found we shut with all diligence, and the keepers standing at the door; but when the prison was opened, we found none within. 24. When the chief priest, and the captain of the temple, and the priests, heard these sayings, they doubted of these things, what this would be. 25. Furthermore, a certain man coming told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye had put in prison stand in the temple, teaching the people. 26. Then the captain going with the ministers, brought them without violence. For they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.

17. Luke hath hitherto declared that the Church was wonderfully increased, that it was furnished F263 with divers gifts, that it excelled in miracles; finally, that the kingdom of Christ did flourish there by all means. Now he beginneth to show that the fury of the wicked was kindled with these things, so that they raged sorer afresh. F264 Whence we may gather with what blind fury and rage Satan driveth them forward, when as they are so little terrified with such evident power of God, that they run headlong more boldly, and with greater force, and bend all their force, as it were, to overthrow the very heaven. As this so great blindness is a horrible punishment of Almighty God, so ought it to teach all men to submit themselves betimes to God, lest that they themselves, being taken with the spirit of giddiness, (whilst they run against the hand of God,) be broken in pieces with the same. Nevertheless, let us know that God will so increase his Church with spiritual good things, that yet, notwithstanding, he suffereth the same to be vexed of the wicked. Therefore we must alway be ready for the combat; for our estate at this day is not unlike to theirs. Especially the knowledge of the gifts of God, whereby he testifieth that he is present with us, ought to encourage us, lest the fury and boldness of the wicked do terrify and dismay us. For this is no small comfort, when we know that God is present with us.
Which were with him. He meaneth those which were most familiar, and the highest linked in friendship with the chief priest, whose counsel he was wont to use, and whom he had, being, as it were, gathered and culled out of the whole order, not for judgment, or discretion, but for the love of his faction; as they did then contend among themselves shamelessly, like mortal enemies. Furthermore, Luke saith again, that the Sadducees did bear the greatest swing at that day; to the end we may know that the government was then confused with horrible wasteness; F265 when as such a sect could bear rule. But God suffered the synagogue to be drowned in such extreme reproach, after that he had separated his Church from it, to the end they might have the less excuse, who despising the gospel, did continue in such a sink of filthiness. In the mean season, what did enforce and drive forward those swine, who were touched with no care of the life to come, save only mere ambition, and desire to keep that lordship and pre-eminence which they had gotten?
They were filled with zeal. I had liefer keep the Greek word still (especially seeing it is common enough otherwise) than to translate it emulation (or indignation;) for he speaketh generally of the perverse and violent force wherewith hypocrites are carried and inflamed to maintain their superstitions; whereby it appeareth what account God maketh of zeal, and what praise it deserveth, when as it is not governed by reason and wisdom, that is, when it is not led and guided by the Spirit of God. We see at this day those men moved and stirred with devilish fury, who will be counted the most devout of all men, who rage horribly to shed innocent blood. Nevertheless, let us note that he speaketh not in this place of an unadvised or blind zeal, which was in many of the Jews, as Paul affirmeth, but we understand rather a hot and unbridled violence; for although the wicked be accused of their own consciences, because they wittingly resist godliness, yet do they deceive themselves with a false show of zeal, because it is lawful to prevent new things. F266 So at this day almost in all Popery they boast only of zeal, whereas notwithstanding they are zealous for their belly. But admit we grant that that is true which they pretend, how can this excuse the heat of their cruelty whereunto they are enforced by their blindness? as if this were a chief virtue to grant liberty to their wrath, F267 to be avenged of that which displeaseth them; but this was former in order, to make a difference between good and evil, lest any thing be dissolved F268 unadvisedly.
19. The angel of the Lord. The Lord brought the apostles out of prison, not because he would rid them quite out of the hands of their enemies, for he suffered them afterwards to be brought back again, and to be beaten with rods; but he meant to declare, by this miracle, that they were in his hand and tuition, to the end he might maintain the credit of the gospel; partly that the Church might have another confirmation thereby, partly that the wicked might be left without excuse wherefore we must not hope always, nay, we must not always desire that God will deliver us from death; but we must be content with this one thing, that our life is defended by his hand, so far as is expedient. In that he useth the ministry of an angel, in this he doth according to his common custom; for he testifieth every where in the Scriptures, that the angels are ministers of his goodness towards us. Neither is that a vain speculation, for this is a profitable help for our infirmity, that we know that not only God doth care for us, but also that the heavenly spirits do watch for our safety. Again, this was no small pledge of God’s love towards us, that the creatures of all other most noble are appointed to have regard of our safety. The angel openeth the prison in the night, because he would not work the miracle when the wicked might see him, although he would have the same being wrought known by the event itself.
20. Speak in the temple. This is the end of their deliverance, that they employ themselves stoutly in preaching the gospel, and provoke their enemies courageously, until they die valiantly. For they were put to death at length when the hand of God ceased, after that they had finished their course; but now the Lord openeth the prison for them, that they may be at liberty to fulfill their function. That is worth the marking, because we see many men, who, after they have escaped out of persecution, do afterwards keep silence, as if they had done their duty towards God, (and were no more to be troubled;) other some, also, do escape away by denying Christ; but the Lord doth deliver his children, not to the end they may cease off from the course which they have begun, but rather that they may be the more zealous afterward. The apostles might have objected, It is better to keep silence for a time, forasmuch as we cannot speak one word without danger; we are now apprehended for one only sermon, how much more shall the fury of our enemies be inflamed hereafter, if they shall see us make no end of speaking? But because they knew that they were to live and to die to the Lord, they do not refuse to do that which the Lord commanded; so we must always mark what function the Lord enjoineth us. There will many things meet us oftentimes, which may discourage us, unless being content with the commandment of God alone, we do our duty, committing the success to him.
The words of this life. A singular commendation of the gospel, that it is a lively doctrine, bringing salvation unto men; for the righteousness of God is revealed unto us in it, (<450117>Romans 1:17;) and in it Christ offereth himself unto us with the sacrifice of his death, with the Spirit of regeneration, with the earnest of our adoption. And this is spoken expressly to the apostles, to the end they may the more courageously enter all manner of combats for the gospel, forasmuch as they hear that they are ministers of eternal salvation. The demonstrative is added for the more certainty, as if the angel did point out life with his finger, as assuredly we need not to seek the same far, when we have the word in our mouth and in our heart; unless peradventure some man had rather take it by hypallage, the words of this life, for these words, which I do not reject, yet that former sense me thinks is better, for it was a new revelation of Christ wherein they had life present.
21. And when the chief priest came. The chief priest calleth all the council together now, lest, if giving the honor to his own sect, he omit others, and be not able to bear the burden; therefore, he is enforced by fear to call the multitude together, notwithstanding they observe diligently and straitly the form of law. The elders are called who did govern, that nothing may be done but according to the sentence and authority of the council. Who would not have hoped for a moderate end, seeing they began thus? and surely they pretend what color they can, lest they seem to oppress the truth violently and tyrannously; but when they hear that the apostles teach in the temple, howsoever they know that they came not out by deceit of man, but miraculously, yet they hold on still in their purpose; where appeareth, together with the ungodliness of behavior and contempt of God, horrible fury and want of reason. Therefore, the beautiful colors of right and equity F269 do never so cover hypocrites, but that they do at length betray their wickedness. They must need certainly gather by all circumstances, that it is the work of God that the prison was opened, yet they do not doubt openly to rage against God.
These things are also meet for our time. We know how proudly the Papists boast of that maxim of theirs, that lawful councils must be obeyed, because they represent the Church. Moreover, they call those lawful councils, and they will have them so accounted, wherein nothing is wanting touching the external form, and such a council was this whereof Luke speaketh in this place; and yet, notwithstanding, we know that it was gathered to put out F270 the name of Christ; for although the priests did then creep in unto honor by subtlety, or by inordinate suit, F271 to win the favor of men, or by other wicked policies, or whether they burst in unto the same by bribery, or murder, F272 yet the dignity of the priesthood did continue as yet until Christ was revealed. There was in the assembly of the elders a representing of the Church; but where the truth of God is not sought, all outward appearance is nothing else but a mere visor. Therefore, it is in vain for the Papists to cover their abominations with the shadow of this buckler, because it is not sufficient for those to be gathered together who are rulers of the Church, unless they do this in the name of Christ, otherwise forasmuch as it is an usual policy of Satan to transform himself into an angel of light, (<471114>2 Corinthians 11:14,) we will grant him as fit a covert under the title of the Church as he can wish.
He brought them without violence. We have spoken somewhat before of the captain of the temple. For I do not think F273 that it was lawful for the Jews to set and appoint whom they would to rule the temple, but that the president of the province did appoint one to have the government of the temple. And he saith, that they were brought without violence, that is, that they were not drawn violently, lest any tumult should arise, so that, whereas they neither fear nor reverence God, they are afraid of men. The apostles also do show their modesty in that, that whereas they are guided with a great number of men, yet do they suffer themselves to be led away by the officers, lest they should be authors of any tumult.

ACTS 5:27-28
27. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council; and the chief priest asked them, 28. Saying, Did not we, in commanding, command you, that you should not teach in this name? And behold ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and you will bring the blood of this man upon us.

28. The chief priest layeth two crimes to the charge of the apostles, for he accuseth them of contumacy or stubbornness, F274 a because they obeyed not the decree of the council. In the second member he betrayeth an evil conscience, or, at least, he showeth that he handled rather a private business than any public cause, for he complaineth that the apostles will cause the priests and the scribes to be hated for the death of Christ. Behold, therefore, what that is which nettleth them, because they fear the revenge and punishment of wicked murder. He pretendeth, at the first, doctrine; but we may gather out of the end that he was not so careful for doctrine. In the mean season, he accuseth the apostles of sedition; for he taketh that for a thing which all men, for the most part, did grant, F275 that Christ was put to death justly. Notwithstanding this is the principal point of the accusation, that they did not obey the commandment of the priests. It was an heinous offense not to obey the chief priest; how much more heinous was it, then, to despise the whole order? But the chief priest doth not consider what is his duty towards God and the Church; F276 he abuseth his authority tyrannously, as if the same were not under any laws, as the Pope dealeth with us at this day; for seeing that he taketh to himself an unbridled authority and government, he feareth not to condemn us for schismatics, so soon as he seeth us refuse his decrees; for he catcheth at these sentences: “He which despiseth you despiseth me,” (<421016>Luke 10:16;) and thereupon he concludeth that we will rebel F277 against God. But if he will be heard as the ambassador of Christ, he must speak out of the mouth of Christ.
Now, forasmuch as he doth manifestly play the minister of Satan, he borroweth authority, without shame and color, of the name of Christ; yea, the very form of speech which the chief priest useth doth prove how carelessly spiritual tyrants who usurp such authority and lordship as is not subject to the word of God, dare grant liberty to themselves to attempt whatsoever pleaseth them. With a commandment (saith he) have we commanded. Whence cometh such strait rigor, save only because they think that all that must be received without exception which they shall command?

ACTS 5:29-33
29. And Peter and the apostles answering, said, We ought rather to obey God than men. 30. The God of our fathers hath raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, hanging him upon a tree. 31. Him God hath lifted up with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. 32. And we are his witnesses of these words [or things,] and the Holy Ghost also, whom God hath given to them that obey him. 33. And when they heard these things, they were cut in sunder, and would slay them.

29. This is the sum of their answer, It is lawful for them, nay, they ought to prefer God before men. God commandeth us to bear witness of Christ; therefore it is in vain for you to command us to keep silence. But I have declared before in the third chapter, when this sentence taketh place, that we ought rather to obey God than men. God doth set men over us in such sort with power, that he keepeth still his own authority safe and sound. Therefore, we must obey rulers so far, that the commandment of God be not broken. Whereas power and authority is lawfully used, then it is out of season to make comparison between God and man. If a faithful pastor do command or forbid out of the Word of God, it shall be in vain for men which are stubborn to object that we ought to obey God; for God will be heard by man. Yea, man is nothing else but an instrument of God. If a magistrate do his duty as he ought, a man shall in vain say that he is contrary to God, seeing that he dissenteth in nothing; yea, rather the contrary rule is then in force. We must obey God’s ministers and officers if we will obey him. F278 But so soon as rulers do lead us away from the obedience of God, because they strive against God with sacrilegious boldness, their pride must be abated, that God may be above all in authority. Then all smokes of honor vanish away. For God doth not vouchsafe to bestow honorable titles upon men, to the end they may darken his glory. Therefore, if a father, being not content with his own estate, do essay to take from God the chief honor of a father, he is nothing else but a man. If a king, or ruler, or magistrate, do become so lofty that he diminisheth the honor and authority of God, he is but a man. We must thus think also of pastors. For he which goeth beyond his bounds in his office, (because he setteth himself against God:) must be despoiled of his honor, lest, under a color or visor, he deceive. The office of a pastor is very excellent, the authority of the Church is great, yet so that no part of God’s power and Christ’s mastership be diminished. Whence we may easily gather that the pride of the Pope is ridiculous, who, when as he treadeth under foot the whole kingdom of Christ, and doth set himself openly against God, will yet, nevertheless, lie hid under the name of Christ. F279
30. The God of our fathers. They descend unto the matter whereof they are to speak, that they may declare that they made small account of the commandment of the priests, not without cause, nor yet unadvisedly. For (as I have already said) the comparison between God and man taketh no place save only when there is some contrariety. Therefore they prove by this, that they are enforced by the fear of God to refuse the commandment of the priests; because God commandeth that which they forbid. Therefore, first of all, they say that God had raised up Christ, after the common custom of the Scriptures. For this speech is common, that God raised up prophets or judges, or rather ministers, whom he determined to use into some great work; which importeth as much as that all excellency of nature is weak, unless God do furnish those with singular gifts whom he preferreth unto any excellent office. Peradventure, also they allude unto that famous place of Moses, which Peter cited in his first sermon, (<051815>Deuteronomy 18:15, above 3:22.) They cite the God of the fathers by name, as the author, that they may declare that they bring in no new form of religion, neither yet will they enforce upon the people any new god. For they were to make answer to that false slander, that they went about to lead away the people from the law and the prophets. Not that they allow all that worship which was used by the fathers, as profane men are content with this only argument, that the fathers taught thus, that they do all things according to the custom and decree of their ancestors; but the apostles speak in this place of those fathers with whom God hath made his covenant, who followeth right and pure doctrine, who embraceth the promise of salvation with true faith; finally, who had their beginning of the heavenly Father, and who, through the only begotten Son of God, were the children of God together with their posterity.
Whom ye. In this member the apostles declare unto them plainly that they were the enemies of God who would have the chief honor given them as unto the governors and prelates of the Church. Whereupon it followeth that they are unworthy even of the smallest authority. Although there is also a prevention, being a token of boldness, when as he speaketh of that thing boldly and freely which they did account a shameful thing, to wit, lest any part of Christ’s glory should seem to be diminished because he suffered a slanderous F280 death upon the cross; as if it had been said, You have slain him. Neither was your cruelty satisfied with a plain and common death; for he was hanged upon a tree. But neither could death extinguish his power; neither could that shame and reproach which he suffered amongst you take away his honor. Therefore the calling of God continueth firm and stable. Therefore, as the apostles hit the priests in the teeth with that wickedness and heinous offense which they had committed, so they prevent, by a granting, to express the manner of the reproachful death which Christ suffered, lest the authors of the wickedness triumph as having gotten the victory.
31. Him has God lifted up. Therefore the apostles do signify that whatsoever the wicked do go about, it did not hinder and keep back Christ from fulfilling his function which was enjoined him by his Father. The right hand of God is taken for his power. Neither is the same metaphor used in this place, which we had before, chapter 2, and which is common elsewhere, when Christ is said to be lift up unto the right hand of the Father; but the meaning of this place is, that Christ, which was slain by the hand of men, was lifted up on high by the power of God, that he might bear rule over angels and men. And this seemeth secretly to be set against all the enterprises of Satan and the world; as if he should say that they shall have no good success, because they shall never climb so high as to hinder the hand of God, whereby he hath both wrought mightily already in his only begotten Son, neither will he ever cease to work. Yet the end is added also, that he may be a captain and Savior. For so often as God did put his people in hope of salvation, he was wont to promise a prince or a king, by whose hand he would restore all things. The apostles do testify that this principality was granted to Christ. Notwithstanding they do more plainly express his office by the other adjunct. F281 The sum is this, that Christ is placed in the highest degree of honor, that he may govern the people of God, and not that only, but that he may show himself to be a saving captain, or the author of salvation.
To give repentance. They show in this place how Christ reigneth to save the people, to wit, when he bringeth his own to repentance, and doth reconcile them unto God through the remission of sins. Furthermore, we know that the sum of the gospel is contained in these two things. Wherefore the apostles do not only stand upon the defense of their cause, but they preach the office of Christ plentifully, F282 that they may win even some of the mortal enemies of Christ, F283 if it may be. Furthermore, we have declared before what the word repentance doth signify, to wit, that it is an inward turning of man unto God, which showeth itself afterwards by external works. For Christ giveth us the Spirit of regeneration for this cause, that he may renew us inwardly; to the end that a new life may afterward follow the newness of the mind and heart. And if it belong to Christ to give repentance, then it followeth that it is not a thing which is in man’s power. And surely, seeing that it is a certain wonderful reformation, (or fashioning again,) which maketh us new creatures, repaireth in us the image of God, bringeth us out of the bondage of sin unto the obedience of righteousness; it is a thing as impossible for men to convert themselves as to create themselves. Repentance is, I grant, a voluntary conversion, but whence have we this will, save only because God changeth our heart, that it may be made fleshy of a stony heart; flexible, of hard and stubborn; and, finally, righteous of wicked, (<261119>Ezekiel 11:19.) And this cometh to pass when Christ regenerateth thus by his Spirit. Neither is this given in a moment, but it must be increased daily during our whole life, until we be fully joined to God; which shall be then when we have put off our flesh.
This is, indeed, the beginning of repentance, when a man, who before was turned away from God, renounceth the world and himself, and doth purpose to lead a new life. But because when we have entered the way, we are far from the mark, we must needs go forward continually. We have F284 a both through the benefit of Christ. For as he beginneth repentance in us, so doth he also give us perseverance. This is an inestimable grace; but it should do us but a little good, unless it were coupled with forgiveness of sins. For Christ doth both find us the enemies of God at the first, and also there are always vices remaining in us, which cause disagreement between him and us; so that he may justly be offended with us, rather than merciful unto us. And therein doth our righteousness consist, if God do not impute our sins unto us. Therefore, this latter grace must never be separated from them. Yea, rather the gospel shall be lame F285 and corrupt, unless it consist upon [of] these two members, that is, unless men be taught that they are reconciled to God by Christ by the free imputation of righteousness, and that they are fashioned again unto newness of life by the Spirit of regeneration. So that we understand briefly how we must obtain salvation in Christ.
32. And we are his witnesses. After that they have declared that their doctrine came from God, they descend now unto the other part that they speak as they were commanded by God, lest they seem to attempt anything unadvisedly. For this also was a necessary defense, as it is for all the ministers of the gospel, to wit, that they make this openly known to all men that they teach nothing but that which they have received of God. Secondly, that they are called hereunto, so that they cannot avoid the necessity of teaching, unless they will resist God. Luke putteth words in this place, instead of things, according to the Hebrew phrase. Although if any man had rather understand it of the speech itself, I do not deny but that it may be so. The sum is, seeing they are brought forth by God to be witnesses, they may not give back, F286 but they must publish things which he hath commanded.
And also the Spirit. They confirm their calling by the effect; for this was a seal to approve their doctrine, seeing that God gave the Holy Spirit to those which believed. Forasmuch, as it appeared manifestly by this, that he allowed the faith of the gospel, and it was acceptable to him. In that they say to those which obey him, I refer it unto Christ, as if they should have said, those which believe in Christ are plentifully rewarded for their obedience. Therefore God will have Christ obeyed. Wherefore even our ministry doth please him in that thing. Yet here may a question be moved, Seeing that we have saith by the revelation of the Spirit, how is it said in this place, that the same is given after faith? I answer, that the gift of tongues, of prophecy, of interpretation, of healing, and such like, are spoken of in this place, wherewith God did beautiful his Church. As Paul saith, where he asketh the Galatians, whether they received the Spirit by the law, or by the hearing of faith, (<480302>Galatians 3:2.) Therefore the illumin-ation of the Spirit goeth before faith, because it is the cause thereof; but there follow other graces afterward, that we may go forward, according to that, “To him that hath shall be given,” (<401312>Matthew 13:12.) And if we will be enriched every now and then with new gifts of the Spirit, let us hold out unto God the lap of faith. F287 But the reward wherewith our want of faith is rewarded at this day is far unlike; F288 for the most part being destitute of the Spirit of God doth neither see nor understand anything.
33. They were cut in sunder. The priests ought to have been thoroughly moved, though they had had hearts of iron, but they burst. F289 Whence we gather that no reasons can prevail with the reprobate, to bring them unto the obedience of Christ; for unless God speak within, the outward doctrine shall be able to do nothing else but to beat the cars. The apostles were able so to overcome their enemies, that they should not have had one word to say; but their fury was so untamed, and unbridled that they do rather go mad. Yet we must therewithal note the force of the word, because although the reprobate are not thereby changed, that they may become better, yet it pierceth into their hearts, so that it urgeth their consciences; for thence springeth their fury, because they saw themselves F290 urged by their judge. They would gladly mock all the gospel, as they attempt whatsoever they can, that they may count it as nothing; but there is in the same a certain hidden majesty, which driveth away mightily all their delicacy. F291 And chiefly when they are cited by the sound of the trumpet to appear before the judgment-seat of God, then appeareth their madness and fury.

ACTS 5:34-39
34. And a certain Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, precious to all the people, rising in the council, commanded the apostles to be carried out a little space. 35. Then he said unto them, Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves, what ye intend to do touching these men. 36. For before these days there arose one Theudas, saying, that he was some great man, to whom consented a number of men, about four hundred, who perished; and they were all scattered abroad which had obeyed him, and were brought to nought. 37. After him arose one Judas of Galilee, in the days of the tribute, and led away much people after him, and he likewise perished; and all which had obeyed him were scattered abroad. 38. Now, therefore, I say unto you, Abstain from these men, and let them atone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it shall come to nought: 39. But if it be of God, you cannot destroy it; lest, at any time, ye be found to fight with God.

34. Luke showeth now after what manner God brought to nought the fury of the wicked. They were purposed to put the apostles to death; Gamaliel standeth up amidst them, to break off that mad consultation. Furthermore, he noteth the circumstances, to the end we may know how it could be, that one man could prevail so much against so many. He saith he was a Pharisee which sect was in great estimation, as we know. He saith that he was in price, or honored amongst the people; And they feared the people. Hereby it cometh to pass that they are the more afraid to do any thing contrary to his mind. So God doth oftentimes set sudden terrors against his enemies, (when they look not for them,)to stay their violence. Furthermore, Gamaliel commandeth the apostles to go aside, lest they should be the more emboldened by his words. For we must not think that he spake thus, because he did allow F292 the doctrine of the gospel, or that he meant to defend the same; but because he saw all the rest inflamed with fury, he being a man moderate and courteous, doth with sober speech temper that excess.
But if we consider all things well, this judgment and opinion is unmeet for a wise man. I know that many count it as an oracle, but it appeareth sufficiently hereby that they judge amiss, because by this means men should abstain from all punishments, neither were any wicked fact any longer to be corrected. Yea, all helps of life were to be refused, which we cannot prolong one moment. F293 Both things are true, that no endeavor of men can destroy that which is of God; and that that which is of men is not so strong that it can stand. But he gathereth amiss hence, that men must sit still and say nothing in the mean season. We must rather mark what God commandeth us to do, and he will have us to restrain wickedness. To this end hath he appointed magistrates, and armed them with the sword; to this end hath he set elders over his Church, to bring the froward in order, and that they may not suffer sin licentiously to rage without punishment. Therefore it is gathered amiss that we must refrain from punishing, because God is sufficient of himself to take away evils. Although his whole counsel is such, Gamaliel willeth the scribes and elders to take heed that they make not open war against God. And he speaketh as it were touching a doubtful matter; whereby it appeareth that he hath no certainty from the foundation, when as he doubteth in the quality of the cause, neither dare set down whether it be good or evil, but doth only command to defer it for a time, until the cause appear more plainly.
In sum, Gamaliel setteth an evil consequent from true grounds; F294 because he applieth that amiss unto the external office and manner of doing which ought to serve for faith only. On the other side, let this be our logic, That which is of God must needs stand, though all the world say nay; therefore faith must stand without all fear, against all the assaults of Satan and men, seeing faith is under-propped and supported with the eternal truth of God; although heaven fail, our salvation is safe, which hath God to be the author and keeper thereof; because God doth defend the kingdom of Christ, it can never be overthrown with any violence; because the doctrine of the gospel is grounded in God, howsoever men resist or shake the same, yet shall it nevertheless continue firm. Again, although the wicked attempt whatsoever they can, and seek all means F295 to destroy the Church, although they furiously strive against Christ and his Church so much as they are able, yet they shall not prevail, because it is the property of God to bring the counsels of men to nought; and by this means doth he punish their rashness. We see that both members are well applied to faith. But, in the mean season, there is no cause why the servants of Christ should be less diligent in maintaining the truth; why they should suffer the Church to decay through their fault; F296 why they should carelessly wink at their wickedness who endeavor to turn all things topsy-turvy.
36. There arose one Theudas. If we credit Josephus, Gamaliel altereth in this place the true course of the history. For he reporteth that Judas Gaulanites, who was born in Gamala, at such time as Quirinius, or Cyrenius, was proconsul, did raise a tumult with his adherents, because they would not have their goods taxed; F297 and that Theudas, at such time as Cuspius Fadus was procurator, did boast that he was a prophet of God. And Fadus was sent into Judea by Claudius Caesar. The former history is recorded in the Eighteenth Book of Antiquities; and the other in the Twentieth. But I think that when Luke saith, After him was there one Judas, he meant not to note the course of time, as if he were the latter; but forasmuch as Gamaliel brought in two like examples, he might put the one in place of the other, F298 without having respect of time. Therefore the word post is as much as moreover, or besides.
Furthermore, even these examples wherewith Gamaliel confirmeth his opinion do not sufficiently agree with the present cause. For, because they did not by and by resist Judas, that sedition which he had raised was the occasion of many murders, and at length he was vanquished with hand and weapon. Theudas also had done far more hurt, unless he had been put to flight in time by Cuspius Fadus. But Gamaliel hath respect unto this alone, that men have unlucky success when as they advance themselves un-advisedly; and that cometh to pass by the just judgment of God. But because the priests refuse to hearken when God giveth them good counsel, they are worthy to be made amazed by man with frivolous reasons, wavering hither and thither through foolish perplexity. Furthermore, if we cast the time, we shall find that it was twelve years at least after the death of Christ before the apostles were beaten. For unto the five years which remained of the government of Tiberius, we must add three and a half which Caligula reigned. Fadus was not sent by Claudius into Judea before the second or third year of his reign. Gamaliel rehearsed not the act within a day or two after. Therefore that space of time is complete whereof I spake. Wherefore the constancy of the apostles was the more excellent, who, though they be so evil rewarded for those long pains which they had endured, yet are they not discouraged, neither do they cease to hold on as they had begun.
That he was some great man. Some books F299 have, Saying that he was somebody; yet both carry one sense. For he boasted that he was such a prophet that he could dry up Jordan, that those which were with him might go over dry foot. Nevertheless, we see how far Gamaliel is from true knowledge, who compareth the holy ministers of Christ unto seducers and robbers; although he mitigateth his words afterward, and, inclining toward the better part, leaveth it indifferent whether they have taken this matter in hand, having God for their author or no. Yet he speaketh doubtfully, because he provideth F300 only for quietness, all inquiry being set apart. This is only to be allowed F301 in his speech, that he feareth [deterreth] the wicked from wicked boldness, because there is nothing more to be feared than to strive against God.

ACTS 5:40-42
40. And they obeyed him. And when they had called the apostles, having beaten them, they commanded them that they should not speak in the name of Jesus; and they let them go. 41. Therefore they went rejoicing from the face of the council, because they were counted worthy to suffer reproach for his name. 42. And they did not cease daily in the temple, and in every house, to teach and preach Christ Jesus.

40. Having beaten them, they commanded. He saith that Gamaliel’s counsel was allowed; yet the apostles are beaten, and forbidden to preach. F302 Hereby we gather how great the rage of the enemies was, who being now pacified, or at least mitigated, do yet, notwithstanding, rage immoderately. F303 And it appeareth also what evil success those doubtful counsels have, wherein men alone are respected, and the truth of God set aside. Gamaliel obtaineth thus much, that the lives of the apostles may be saved; F304 but, in the mean season, the Son of God is blasphemed and slandered in their person; the truth of the gospel is buried in eternal silence, so much as in the enemies lieth, God surely doth by this means wonderfully spread abroad his word; yet that counsel ceaseth not to be evil. Which we must note for this cause, because most men at this day do think, that they do not a little obey God, if they save the lives of those men which come in hazard for the doctrine of the gospel, or somewhat appease F305 the enemies who are otherwise bloody. In the mean season, they are not afraid to drive them unto the wicked denial of Christ, the confessing of whom is far more precious in the sight of God than the life of all men. But what could they do who, casting away all care of godliness, go about to redeem God’s favor with the duty of courtesy? F306
41. Then they went rejoicing. We must not think that the apostles were so senseless but that they felt some shame and did also lament, when they felt the punishment; for they had not quite put off nature; F307 but when they considered the cause, then joy got the upperhand. So the faithful must be two manner of ways affectioned so often as they suffer persecution for the gospel; they must be touched with the bitterness of punishments, F308 yet so that they overcome this sorrow with spiritual joy. For they should have (changed their mind, and) stricken sail by and by, unless they had been strengthened and encouraged by that joy. F309 And it is not to be doubted, but that even death was sweet, and pleasant to Peter on this fashion, which, notwithstanding the Lord doth testify shall be bitter unto him. Let us, therefore, learn that we must wrestle with sorrow and care, F310 that we hold on courageously to suffer the cross, and that we bear the same when it is laid upon us.
That they were counted worthy. This might seem at the first blush absurd, in that Luke placeth honor in reproach; F311 but the disagreement which is between God and the world causeth this, that that which is counted amongst men most reproachful, excelleth in dignity and glory in the sight of God and his angels. We know that the kind of death which Christ suffered was of all other most shameful, and yet did he triumph most nobly upon the cross; so, when we are made like unto him, we may worthily boast that it is a point of singular excellency, that we suffer rebuke in the sight of the world. Thus doth Paul boast of the marks of Christ, (<480617>Galatians 6:17.) For we must here respect the cause which doth associate us unto Christ, F312 who doth not only swallow up the shame of the world with his glory, but doth also turn reproaches, slanders, and mocks of the world, into great honor. Wherefore, it is no marvel that there be so few found which are strong and stout to bear the cross, because we are almost all drowned and overwhelmed with the sense of the flesh; and there is scarce one amongst an hundred which considereth that the reproach of Christ doth far excel all the triumphs of the world, which is the only matter of comfort. Wherefore, we must use the greater diligence in thinking upon this sentence; that we are at this day made partakers F313 of the sufferings of Christ, that we may be partakers of his glory.
42. They ceased not. Constancy did also accompany their Joy. For how is it that we are discouraged with persecution, save only because none lifteth up himself unto Christ, that he may in mind lay hold upon the fruit of victory, and so be pricked forward unto patience? But that man which thinketh with himself that he is happy when he suffereth for Christ’s sake, shall never faint, though he must suffer hard conflicts. Therefore the apostles are, after a sort, armed with stripes, so that they valiantly make haste unto death. Therefore, woe be to our daintiness, who, having suffered a little persecution, do by and by resign up the light F314 to another, as if we were now old worn soldiers.
CHAPTER 6

ACTS 6:1-6
1. And in those days, when the number of the disciples grew, there arose a murmuring of the Greeks against the Hebrews, because their widows were despised in the daily ministry. 2. Therefore, when the twelve had called unto them the multitude of the disciples, they said, It doth not please [or it is not good] that we should serve tables, having left the word of God. 3. Therefore, brethren, look out seven men of you, of known honesty, full of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom, whom we will appoint over this business, 4. And we will give ourselves unto prayer, and to the ministration of the word. 5. The speech pleased the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Ghost; and Philip, and Prochorus, [Nicanor,] and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch; 6. These did they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands upon them.

1. Luke declareth here upon what occasion, and to what end, and also with what rite, deacons were first made. He saith, When there arose a murmuring amongst the disciples, it was appeased by this remedy, as it is said in the common proverb, Good laws have taken their beginning of evil manners. And it may seem to be a strange thing, seeing that this is a function so excellent and so necessary in the Church, why it came not into the apostles’ minds at the first, (before there was any such occasion ministered,) to appoint deacons, and why the Spirit of God did not give them such counsel which they take now, being, as it were, enforced thereunto. But that which happened was both better then, and is also more profitable for us at this day, to be unto us an example. If the apostles had spoken of choosing deacons before any necessity did require the same, they should not have had the people so ready; they should have seemed to avoid labor and trouble; many would not have offered so liberally into the hands of other men. Therefore, it was requisite that the faithful should be convict [convinced] by experience that they might choose deacons willingly, whom they saw they could not want; and that through their own fault.
We learn in this history that the Church cannot be so framed by and by, but that there remain somewhat to be amended; neither can so great a building be so finished in one day, that there may not something be added to make the same perfect. Furthermore, we learn that there is no ordinance of God so holy and laudable, which is not either corrupt or made unprofitable through the fault of men. We wonder that things are never so well ordered in the world, but that there is always some evil mixed with the good; but it is the wickedness and corruption of our nature which causeth this. That was, indeed, a godly order, whereof Luke made mention before, when the goods of all men being consecrated to God, were distributed to every man as he had need; F315 when as the apostles, being, as it were, the stewards of God and the poor, had the chief government of the alms. But shortly after there ariseth a murmuring which troubleth this order. Here appeareth that corruption of men whereof I have spoken, which doth not suffer us to use our good things. We must also mark the subtilty F316 of Satan, who, to the end he may take from us the use of the gifts of God, goeth about this continually, that it may not remain pure and sound; but that, being mixed with other discommodities, it may, first, be suspected, secondly, loathed, and, lastly, quite taken away. But the apostles have taught us, by their example, that we must not yield unto such engines (and policies) of Satan. For they do not think it meet (being offended with the murmuring) to take away that ministry which they know pleaseth God; but rather invent a remedy whereby the offense may be taken away, and that may be retained which is God’s. Thus must we do. For what offenses soever Satan raise, F317 we must take good heed that he take not from us those ordinances which are otherwise wholesome.
The number increasing. We ought to wish for nothing more than that God would increase his Church, and gather together many F318 on every side unto his people; but the corruption of our nature hindereth us from having any thing happy in all points. For there arise many discommodities also, even of the increasings of the Church. For it is a hard matter to keep many hypocrites from creeping into the multitude, whose wickedness is not by and by discovered, until such time as they have infected some part of the flock with their infection. Moreover, many wicked, froward, and dissolute persons do insinuate themselves under a false color of repentance. And that I may pass over innumerable things, there is never such agreement amongst many, but that, according to the diversity of their manners, their opinions are also diverse, so that one thing cannot please all alike. This offense causeth many to be desirous to choose a few for a Church; it causeth them to loathe or else to hate a multitude. But no trouble, no irksomeness, ought so much to prevail, but that we must always be desirous to have the Church increased; but that we must study to enlarge the same; but that we must cherish so much as in us lieth unity with the whole body.
A murmuring of the Greeks. Hereby it appeareth that they were not fully regenerate by the Spirit of God, to whom the diversity of nation and country ministereth occasion of disagreement. For in Christ there is neither Jew nor Grecian, (<480328>Galatians 3:28.) Therefore, this indignation smelleth F319 of the flesh and the world. Wherefore we must take good heed that the like fault be not found in us. F320 There is another fault in that they declare their indignation by murmuring. Furthermore it is uncertain whether the complaint were true or no. For when Luke saith that the Greeks murmured, because their widows were not honored, he showeth not what was done in deed, but what they thought was done. And it may be that forasmuch as the apostles did prefer the Jews, F321 because they were better known, the Greeks did think (though falsely) that their widows were despised as strangers. And this seemeth to be more like to be true. Furthermore the word ministering may be expounded two manner of ways, actively or passively. For we know that at the first there were widows chosen unto the ministration. F322 Notwithstanding, I do rather think that the Greeks did complain, because their widows were not so liberally relieved as they wished. So that the ministration shall be that daily distribution which was wont to be made.
2. The twelve having the multitude called unto them. It is a point [proof] of patience and meekness that the apostles are no more moved. F323 It is a point of prudence and godly carefulness, in that they prevent the evil which began to arise, F324 without deferring the remedy. For after that every dissension and division hath gathered strength, it is a wound hard to be cured. By this assembly it appeareth that the Church was governed by order and reason, so that the apostles had the chiefest authority, and that they did impart their counsels and purposes unto the people. F325 Again, we must note that the faithful, or Christians, are in this place called disciples, in whom that of Isaiah must be fulfilled, “That they were all taught of God.” And again, that of Jeremiah, “They shall all know God, from the least to the greatest.”
It pleaseth not. It is in Greek [ouk areston]. By which word, the Grecians do now express every opinion or decree which is better than another, or which is to be preferred as being better. F326 I do rather think that the apostles declare what is profitable, than simply what they have decreed. But if it be not expedient for them to meddle with this business, F327 they seem [now] to acknowledge some fault in that they ministered hitherto. And surely that is true, that use is the father of wisdom. F328 Wherefore there shall be no absurdity if we shall say, that the apostles desire of the Church to be unburdened of that function, after that they have tried [experienced] that it is not meet for them. But if there were any fault, it ought rather to be ascribed unto necessity than unto them; for they took not this burthen upon them greedily, but seeing there was no other way as yet, they had better burthen themselves out of measure than that the poor should be forslowed. F329 And when as they say that it is not meet that they should be occupied in providing for the poor, their meaning is, that are unable to endure both burthens, so that they must needs let the one alone. For it is as if they should say, If thou wilt enjoy our ministry in the preaching of the gospel, deliver us from the charge of the poor, because we are not able to do both. But this seemeth to be spoken out of season by them, because they had not left the charge of teaching before, although they had the oversight of the alms. I answer, forasmuch as the administration was confused, they were so enwrapped, F330 that they could not wholly attend upon doctrine as was meet. Therefore, they refuse that function which draweth them away from the free and perfect F331 charge of teaching. Notwithstanding, we may not think that they had quite cast away all care of the poor, but that they did only seek somewhat to be lightened and eased, that they might attend upon their office. And, in the mean season, they declare that the ministry of the word is so painful F332 that it requireth a whole man, neither will it suffer him to be occupied about any other business; which, if it had been well considered, there had been a far other order taken in the Church.
The Popish bishops did suck F333 up great riches under color of the ministration or deaconship; nevertheless, they entangled themselves in divers businesses, which they were scarce able to overcome, F334 though every one of them had had ten heads. Notwithstanding, such is their wickedness, that they say that there can be no church unless it be drowned in this depth; F335 neither do they cease to brag and boast that they are the successors of the apostles, whereas there is nothing which appeareth to be more contrary. They were careful for this, that they might not be occupied about serving of tables, and so be compelled to leave their own banquets. For whosoever is careful for his own table, he taketh leave to be vacant F336 from other men’s tables.
But omitting these things, let us mark this sentence. We know what a holy thing it is to be careful for the poor. Therefore, forasmuch as the apostles prefer the preaching of the gospel before if we gather thereby that no obedience is more acceptable to God. Notwithstanding, the hardness is also declared, F337 when as they say that they cannot discharge both these duties. Surely we are not better than they. Therefore, let every one of us that is called unto the function of teaching addict himself wholly to order this his estate well. F338 For we are inclined to nothing more than to fall to slothfulness. Again, the flesh ministereth goodly cloaks and colors, so that those men cannot see by and by that they are led away from their calling which enwrap themselves in strange business. Wherefore, to the end ministers may prick forward themselves to do their duty, let them remember this saying of the apostles oftentimes, wherein they declare that, forasmuch as they are called unto the function of teaching, they must not any longer take charge of the poor. Therefore, what excuses have profane affairs F339 (taken in hand even for some private gain) where that is set aside, which is otherwise accounted no small part of the worship of God.
3. Therefore, brethren, look out. Now we see to what end deacons were made. The word itself is indeed general, yet is it properly taken for those which are stewards for the poor. Whereby it appeareth how licentiously the Papists do mock God and men, who assign unto their deacons no other office but this, to have the charge of F340 the paten and chalice. Surely we need no disputation to prove that they agree in no point with the apostles. But if the readers be desirous to see any more concerning this point, they may repair unto our Institution, chapter 8. As touching this present place, the Church is permitted to choose. For it is tyrannous if any one man appoint or make ministers at his pleasure. F341 Therefore, this is the (most) lawful way, that those be chosen by common voices F342 who are to take upon them F343 any public function in the Church. And the apostles prescribe what manner [of] persons ought to be chosen, to wit, men of tried honesty and credit, F344 men endued with wisdom F345 and other gifts of the Spirit. And this is the mean between tyranny and confused liberty, F346 that nothing be done without F347 the consent and approbation of the people, yet so that the pastors moderate and govern (this action, F348) that their authority may be as a bridle to keep under the people, F349 lest they pass their bounds too much. In the mean season, this is worth the noting, that the apostles prescribe an order unto the faithful, lest they appoint any save those which are fit. For we do God no small injury if we take all that come to hand F350 to govern his house. Therefore, we must use great circumspection that we choose none F351 unto the holy function of the Church unless we have some trial of him first. The number of seven is applied F352 unto the present necessity, lest any man should think F353 that there is some mystery comprehended under the same. Whereas Luke saith, full of the Spirit and wisdom, I do interpret it thus, that it is requisite that they be furnished both with other gifts of the Spirit, and also with wisdom, F354 without which that function cannot be exercised well, both that they may beware of the leger-demain F355 of those men, who being too much given unto begging, require F356 that which is necessary for the poverty of the brethren, and also of their slanders, who cease not to backbite, though they have none occasion given them. For that function is not only painful, but also subject to many ungodly murmurings. F357
4. And we will give ourselves unto prayer. They show again that they have too much business otherwise, wherein they may exercise themselves during their whole life. For the old proverb agreeth hereunto very fitly, which was used sometimes in the solemn rites, do this. Therefore, they use the word [proskarterhsai] which signifieth to be, as it were, fastened and tied to anything. Therefore, pastors must not think that they have so done their duty that they need to do no more when they have daily spent some time in teaching. There is another manner of study, another manner of zeal, another manner of continuance F358 required, that they may F359 indeed boast that they are wholly given to that thing. They adjoin thereunto prayer, not that they alone ought to pray, (for that is an exercise common to all the godly,) but because they have peculiar causes to pray above all others. There is no man which ought not to be careful for the common salvation of the Church. How much more, then, ought the pastor, who hath that function enjoined him by name to labor carefully [anxiously] for it? So Moses did indeed exhort others unto prayer, but he went before them as the ringleader F360 (<021711>Exodus 17:11.) And it is not without cause that Paul doth so often make mention of his prayers, (<450110>Romans 1:10.) Again, we must always remember that, that we shall lose all our labor bestowed upon plowing, sowing, and watering, unless the increase come from heaven, (<460307>1 Corinthians 3:7.) Therefore, it shall not suffice to take great pains in teaching, unless we require the blessing at the hands of the Lord, that our labor may not be in vain and unfruitful. Hereby it appeareth that the exercise of prayer F361 is not in vain commended unto the ministers of the word.
5. Stephen, full of faith. Luke doth not, therefore, separate faith from the Spirit, as if it also were not a gift of the Spirit; but by Spirit he meaneth other gifts wherewith Stephen was endued, as zeal, wisdom, uprightness, brotherly love, diligence, integrity of a good conscience; secondly, he expresseth the principal kind. Therefore, he signifieth that Stephen did excel first in faith, and, secondly, in other virtues; so that it was evident that he had abundance of the grace of the Spirit. He doth not so greatly commend the rest, because undoubtedly they were inferior to him. Moreover, the ancient writers do, with great consent, affirm that this Nicholas, which was one of the seven, is the same of whom John maketh mention in the Revelation, (<660215>Revelation 2:15,) to wit, that he was an author of a filthy and wicked sect; forasmuch as he would have women to be common. For which cause we must not be negligent in choosing ministers of the Church. For if the hypocrisy of men do deceive even those which are most vigilant and careful to fake heed, what shall befall the careless and negligent? Notwithstanding, if when we have used such circumspection as is meet, it so fall out that we be deceived, let us not be troubled out of measure; forasmuch as Luke saith that even the apostles were subject to this inconvenience. Some will ask this question, then, what good shall exhortation do? to what use serveth prayer, seeing that the success itself showeth that the election was not wholly governed by the Spirit of God? I answer, that this is a great matter that the Spirit directed their judgments in choosing six men; in that he suffereth the Church to go astray in the seventh, it ought to seem no absurd thing. For it is requisite that we be thus humbled divers ways, partly that the wicked and ungodly may exercise us; partly that, being taught by their example, we may learn to examine ourselves thoroughly, lest there be in us any hidden and privy starting-corners of guile; F362 partly that we may be more circumspect to discern, and that we may, as it were, keep watch continually, lest we be deceived by crafty and unfaithful men. Also it may be that the ministry of Nicholas was for a time profitable, and that he fell afterward into that monstrous error. And if so be it he fell in such sort from such an honorable degree, the higher that every one of us shall be extolled, let him submit himself unto God with modesty and fear.
6. Having prayed, they laid their hands upon them. Laying on of hands was a solemn sign of consecration under the law. To this end do the apostles now lay their hands upon the deacons, that they may know that they are offered to God. Notwithstanding, because this ceremony should of itself be vain, they add thereunto prayer, wherein the faithful commend unto God those ministers whom they offer unto him. This is referred unto the apostles, for all the people did not lay their hands upon the deacons; but when the apostles did make prayer in the name of the Church, others also did add their petitions. Hence we gather that the laying on of hands is a rite agreeing unto order and comeliness, forasmuch as the apostles did use the same, and yet that it hath of itself no force or power, but that the effect dependeth upon the Spirit of God alone; which is generally to be thought of all ceremonies.

ACTS 6:7-10
7. Furthermore, the word of God grew, and the number of the disciples increased greatly at Jerusalem, and a great company of the priests obeyed the faith. 8. And Stephen, full of faith and power, wrought wonders and great signs amongst the people. 9. But there arose certain of the synagogue, which was called the synagogue of the Libertines and Cyrenians, and of Alexandria, and of those which were of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10. And they could not resist the wisdom and spirit wherewith he spake.

Luke setteth forth again the increasing of the Church, to the end he may the better declare the power of God and his grace in the continual going forward thereof. This was an excellent work of God that the Church should suddenly, and, as it were, in a moment, be raised up; but this is worthy no less admiration, in that he furthereth that work which he had begun amidst so many lets, in that the number of these is increased, whom to diminish, and so, consequently, to destroy the whole stock, the world doth so greatly labor. In that he saith that the Word of God did grow, his meaning is, that it was spread further abroad. The Word of God is said to grow two manner of ways; either when new disciples are brought to obey the same, or as every one of us profiteth and goeth forward therein Luke speaketh in this place of the former sort of increasing, for he expoundeth himself by and by, when he speaketh of the number of the disciples. Notwithstanding, he restraineth this so great an increasing of faith unto one city. For although it be to be thought that the disciples were scattered abroad elsewhere, yet was there no certain body save only at Jerusalem.
And a great company. Seeing that (in speaking properly) our faith doth obey the doctrine of the gospel, it is a figurative speech, uttered by metonymia, when Luke saith. That they obeyed the faith; for the word faith is taken by him for the Word of God, and the very profession of Christianity. And he reckoneth up the priests by name, because they were for the most part enemies; for which cause it was a wonderful work of God that some should be converted, and much more wonderful that many. For at the first they raged against Christ with this brag, “Hath any of the rulers believed in him? But this multitude, which knoweth not the law, are accursed.”
8. And Stephen. Luke reciteth in this place a new combat of the Church, whereby it appeareth that the glory of the gospel was always joined with the cross and divers troubles. And this is the sum, that the Church was assaulted in the person of one man. Whereby it came to pass that the enemies were the more bold, and being imbrued with innocent blood, did rage sorer than they had wont; for they had not gone as yet beyond the prison and rods. But to the end we may know that the name of Christ was glorified as well in the life as in the death of Stephen, Luke saith at the first, that he was full of faith and power. Whereby he signifieth that his faith was excellent, and that he excelled in power to do miracles. Neither ought we to imagine perfection of faith, because he is said to be full of faith; but this manner of speaking is much used in the Scripture, to call those full of the gifts of God who are abundantly endued with the same. I take power (without question) for ability to do miracles. Faith comprehendeth not only the gift of understanding, but also the ferventness of zeal. Forasmuch as his name was famous by reason of his excellency, it came thereby to pass that the rage of the wicked was bent against him, as it were, with one consent, to overthrow him. F363 For so soon as the force and grace of the Spirit doth show itself, the fury of Satan is by and by provoked.
And it shall appear by the text that Stephen was diligent and courageous in spreading abroad the doctrine of the gospel; but Luke passeth over that, being content to have commended his faith, which could not be slothful and sluggish.
9. And there arose certain. This was the beginning of persecution, because the wicked, after that they have essayed in vain to set themselves against Christ by disputing, when they saw that that former attempt did take none effect, they fly unto slanders, (caviling,) and tumults, and at length they break out into violence and murder. Therefore, Luke meaneth by the word rise, that those of whom he speaketh did assault the gospel with their tongue, and did not, by and by, bring Stephen before the judgment-seat, but did first set upon him, by disputing against him. Furthermore, he signifieth that they were strangers, which lived in Judea, either that they might exercise merchandise, or else get learning. Therefore he saith that some of them were Cyrenians, some of Alexandria, some of Cilicia, some of Asia. He saith that they were all of the synagogue of the Libertines. It is to be thought that the free men of the citizens of Rome had caused a synagogue to be builded of their own charges, that it might be proper to the Jews which came together out of the provinces. F364
Therefore, those which were brought thither by the grace of God, and ought to have embraced Christ so much the more willingly, assault him first, and inflame the fury of others, as it were with a trumpet. Also Luke will in many other places afterward declare that the Jews, which were scattered abroad in the provinces, were most deadly enemies to sound doctrine: and most venomous F365 in moving tumults. He reckoneth up many, to the end the victory of the truth may be more famous, whilst that in any, gathered of divers countries, depart, being vanquished by one man; and it is not to be doubted but that they were enforced to hold their peace with shame. Stephen had already won great favor, and gotten great dignity by miracles. F366 He answereth the disputers now in such sort that he getteth the upper hand much. He putteth not that wisdom and spirit which he saith his adversaries could not gainstand, as divers things. Therefore resolve these words thus: They could not resist the wisdom which the Spirit of God gave him. For Luke meant to express that they fought not on both sides as men; but that the enemies of the gospel were therefore discouraged and overcome, because they did strive against the Spirit of God, which spake by the mouth of Stephen. And forasmuch as Christ hath promised the same Spirit to all his servants, let us only defend the truth faithfully, and let us crave a mouth and wisdom of him, and we shall be sufficiently furnished to speak, so that neither the wit, neither yet the babbling of our adversaries, shall be able to make us ashamed. So the Spirit was as effectual in our time in the mouth of the martyrs which were burnt, and it uttereth the like force now daily, that though they were ignorant men, (never trained up in any schools,) yet did they make the chief divines which maintained Popery no less astonished with their voice only, than if it had thundered and lightned. F367

ACTS 6:11-15
11. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard this man speak blasphemous words against Moses and God. 12. And they moved the people, and the elders, and the scribes. And invading him, they took him and brought him into the council. 13. And they brought forth false witnesses) which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law. 14. For we have heard him say, That this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the ordinances which Moses hath given us. 15. And when all which sat in the council had beholden him, they saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

12. Being overcome with the power of the Spirit, they give over disputing, but they prepare false witnesses, that with false and slanderous reports, they may oppress him; whereby it appeareth that they did strive with an evil conscience. For what can be more unmeet than in their cause to lean unto lies? F368 Admit he were a wicked man, and guilty, yet he must not have false witness borne against him. F369 But hypocrites, which shroud themselves under zeal, do carelessly grant themselves leave to do that. We see how the Papists at this day corrupt manifest places of Scripture, and that wittingly, whilst that they will falsely wrest testimonies against us. I confess, indeed, that they offend for the most part through ignorance; yet can we find none of them which doth not grant himself liberty to corrupt both the sense and also the words of the Scripture, that they may bring our doctrine into contempt; F370 yea, they slander us monstrously even in the pulpit. If you ask these Rabbins, whether it be lawful to slander a man or no, they will deny that it is lawful generally; but when they come unto us, good zeal doth excuse them, because they think that nothing is unlawful which may burden us or our cause; therefore they flatter themselves in lying, falsehood, and dogged impudence. Such hypocrisy did also blind them of whom Luke speaketh in this place, which used false witness to put Stephen to death; for when Satan reigneth, he doth not only prick forward the reprobate unto cruelty, but also blind their eyes, so that they think that they may do whatsoever they will. We are specially taught by this example, how dangerous the color of good zeal is, unless it be governed by the Spirit of God; for it breaketh out always into furious madness, and, in the mean season, it is a marvelous visor to cover all manner of wickedness.
14. We have heard. It shall full well appear by Stephen’s defense, that he never spake anything touching Moses or the temple without reverence; and yet, notwithstanding, this was not laid to his charge for nothing, for he had taught the abrogating of the law. But they are false witnesses in this, and suborned to lie, because they corrupt purposely those things which were well and godly spoken. So Christ was enforced to clear himself, that he came, not to destroy the law, but to fulfill the law; because, when he had preached of abrogating the ceremonies, the wicked wrested this unto another purpose, as if he meant to abolish and take away the whole law. Furthermore, they wrested that wickedly unto the temple of Jerusalem, which he spake of his body. What, was it not objected to Paul, that he taught, “That evil is to be done, that good may come thereof?”
Therefore, there is no cause why we should wonder at this day that that is so falsely misconstrued which we teach godly, well, and profitably; yea, we must rather persuade ourselves thus, that the doctrine of the gospel can never be handled so warily and moderately, but that it shall be subject to false accusations; for Satan, who is the father of lying, doth always bestir himself in his office. Again, because there be many things which are contrary to the reason of the flesh, men are inclined to nothing more than to admit false reports, which corrupt the true and sincere sense of doctrine. This malice of Satan, and the sleights, ought to make us more wary and more circumspect that no preposterous thing, or anything that is improperly spoken, escape us, wherewith they may be armed to fight against us; for we must carefully cut off from the wicked that occasion whereat they snatch. And if we see that, doctrine, which is by us well and godly delivered, corrupted, deformed, and torn in pieces with false reports, we must not repent that we have begun, neither yet is there any cause why we should be more slack hereafter; for it is not meet that we should be flee from the poisoned and venomous bitings of Satan, which the Son of God himself could not escape. In the mean season, it is our part and duty to dash and put away those lies wherewith the truth of God is burdened, like as we see Christ free the doctrine of the gospel from unjust infamy. Only let us so prepare ourselves that such indignity and dishonest dealing may not hinder us in our course.
Because we teach that men are so corrupt, that they are altogether slaves unto sin and wicked lusts, the enemies do thereupon infer this false accusation, that we deny that men sin willingly, but that they are enforced thereunto by some other means, so that they are not in the fault, neither bear any blame; yea, they say farther, that we quench altogether all desire to do well. Because we deny that the works of holy men are for their own worthiness meritorious, because they have always some fault or imperfection in them, they cavil that we put no difference between the good and the evil. F371 Because we say that man’s righteousness consisteth in the grace of God alone, and that godly souls can find rest nowhere else, save only in the death of Christ; they object that by this means we grant liberty to the flesh, (to do whatsoever it will,) that the use of the law may no longer remain. When as we maintain the honor of Christ, which they bestow as it pleaseth them here and there, after that they have rent it in a thousand pieces like a prey; they feign that we are enemies to the saints, they falsely report that we seek the licentiousness of the flesh instead of the liberty of the Spirit. Whilst that we endeavor to restore the Supper of the Lord unto his pure and lawful use; they cry out impudently that we overthrow and destroy the same. Others also which take away all things, as did the Academics, because that doth not please them which we teach concerning the secret predestination of God, and that out of the Scriptures, lay to our charge despitefully, that we make God a tyrant which taketh pleasure in putting innocent men to death, seeing that he hath already adjudged those unto eternal death which are as yet unborn, and other such things as can be said on this behalf; whereas, notwithstanding, they are sufficiently convicted that we think reverently of God, and that we speak no otherwise than he teacheth with his own mouth. It is a hard matter to endure such envy, yet must we not therefore cease off to defend a good cause. For the truth of God is precious in his sight, and it ought also to be precious unto us, although it be unto the reprobate the savor of death unto death, (<470216>2 Corinthians 2:16.)
But now I return unto Stephen’s accusation, the principal point whereof is this, that he blasphemed God and Moses. They do, for good considerations, make the injury common to God and to Moses, because Moses had nothing in his doctrine which was his own or separated from God. They prove this, because he spake blasphemously against the temple and the law; furthermore, they make this the blasphemy, because he said that the coming of Christ had made an end of the temple and the ceremonies. It is not credible that Stephen spake thus as they report; but they maliciously wrest those things which were spoken well and godly, that they may color their false accusation; but although they had changed nothing in the words, yet Stephen was so far from doing any injury to the law and the temple, that he could no way better and more truly praise the same. The Jews did suppose that the temple was quite dishonored, unless the shadowy estate thereof should endure for ever, that the law of Moses was frustrate and nothing worth, unless the ceremonies should be continually in force. But the excellency of the temple and the profit of the ceremonies consist rather in this, whilst that they are referred unto Christ as unto their principal pattern. Therefore, howsoever the accusation hath some color, yet is it unjust and wicked. And although the fact come in question, that is, whether the matter be so as the adversaries lay to his charge, notwithstanding the state [of the question] is properly [one] of quality, for they accuse Stephen, because he taught that the form of the worship of God which was then used should be changed; and they interpret this to be blasphemy against God and Moses; therefore the controversy is rather concerning right (as they say) than the fact itself; for the question is, Whether he be injurious and wicked against God and Moses, who saith, that the visible temple is an image of a more excellent sanctuary, wherein dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead, and who teacheth that the shadows of the law are temporal?
This Jesus of Nazareth. They speak thus of Christ disdainfully, as if the remembrance of him were detestable. Nevertheless, it may be gathered out of their accusations, that Stephen did, in the abrogating of the law, set the body against the shadows, and the substance against the figure; for if ceremonies be abolished by Christ, their truth is spiritual. The Jews, which would have them continue for ever, did consider nothing in them but that which was gross, carnal, earthly, and which might be seen with the eyes. Briefly, if the use of ceremonies were continual, they should be frail and should vanish away, because they should have nothing but the only external show, so that they should have no soundness. Therefore, this is their true perpetuity, when as they are abrogated by the coming of Christ; because it followeth hereupon that the force and effect thereof doth consist in Christ.
Shall change the ordinances. It is out of all doubt that Stephen meant this of the ceremonial part only; but because men are wont to be more addicted to external pomp, these men understand that which was spoken, as if Stephen would bring the whole law to nothing. The principal precepts of the law did indeed concern the spiritual worship of God, faith, justice, and judgment; but because these men make more account of the external rites, they call the rites which are commanded concerning the sacrifices, ordinances of Moses, by excellency. This was bred by the bone from the beginning of the world, and it will never out of the flesh so long as it lasteth. F372 As at this day the Papists acknowledge no worship of God save only in their visors; although they differ much from the Jews, because they follow nothing but the frivolous invention of men for the ordinances of God.
15. And when they had beheld. Men do commonly in places of judgment turn their eyes toward the party arraigned, when as they look for his defense. He saith that Stephen appeared like to an angel; this is not spoken of his natural face, but rather of his present countenance. For whereas the countenance of those which are arraigned useth commonly to be pale, whereas they stammer in their speech, and show other signs of fear, Luke teacheth that there was no such thing in Stephen, but that there appeared rather in him a certain majesty. For the Scripture useth sometimes to borrow a similitude of angels in this sense; as <092409>1 Samuel 24:9; <101417>2 Samuel 14:17; <101927>2 Samuel 19:27.
CHAPTER 7

ACTS 7:1-4
1. And the chief priest said, Are these things so? 2. He answered, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 3. And he said unto him, Come out of thy country, and from amongst thy kindred, and come into the land which I will show thee. 4. Then he came out of the land of the Chaldees, and dwelt in Charran. After that his father was dead, God brought him thence into this land, wherein ye now dwell.

1. There appeareth as yet some color of equity in the high priest and in the council; and yet, notwithstanding, there is a most unjust prejudice in his words; for he asketh him not what cause he had to teach thus, neither doth he admit him unto the defense of right, (which was, notwithstanding, the chief;) but he demanded precisely whether Stephen uttered these words, whatsoever they were; as the Papists at this day will not demand what doctrine it is, and whether it can be proved out of the Scriptures; but they inquire F373 whether any man durst mutter against their superstitions, that so soon as he is convict, they may forthwith burn F374 him. Furthermore, Stephen’s answer may seem at the first blush absurd and foolish. He beginneth first at the very first beginning; afterwards he maketh a long narration, wherein there is no mention made, in a manner, of the matter in hand; and there can be no greater fault than to utter many words which are nothing appertinent unto the matter; F375 but whosoever shall thoroughly consider this long speech, he shall find nothing therein which is superfluous; and shall full well perceive that Stephen speaketh very ap-pertinently, F376 as the matter requireth. He was accused as an apostate (or revolt,) which did attempt the overthrow of religion and the worship of God; therefore, he beateth in F377 this diligently, that he retaineth that God which the fathers have always worshipped, so that he turneth away the crime of wicked backsliding; F378 and declareth that his enemies were pricked forward with nothing less than with the zeal of the law, for they bear a show that they were wholly determined F379 to increase the glory of God; therefore, he wringeth from them this false boasting, and because they had the fathers always in their mouths, because they were puffed up with the glory of their nation, Stephen declareth also that they have no cause to be proud of this, but rather that the corruptions of the fathers were so great and so many, that they ought to be ashamed and humbled.
As concerning the principal state of the cause, because the question was concerning the temple and the ceremonies, he affirmeth plainly that their fathers were elected of God to be a peculiar people before there was any temple, and before Moses was born; and to this end tendeth that exordium or beginning which is so far fet, (fetched.) Secondly, he telleth them that all external rites which God gave by the hand of Moses were fashioned according to the heavenly pattern.
Whereupon it followeth, that the ceremonial law is referred unto another end, and that those deal foolishly and disorderly who omit the truth, and stay only in the signs. If the readers shall refer the whole oration of Stephen unto these points, they shall find nothing therein which agreeth not very well with the cause, as I shall declare again briefly in the end; nevertheless, that scope of the whole oration shall not hinder but that we may discuss all things briefly which are worth the noting.
2. Men, brethren, and fathers. Although Stephen saw that those which sat in the council were, for the most part, the sworn enemies of Christ, yet because the ordinary government of the people did belong to them, and they had the oversight of the Church, which God had not as yet cast off, therefore, he is not afraid, for modesty’s sake, to call them fathers. Neither doth he flatteringly purchase favor hereby; but he giveth this honor to the order and government appointed by God, until such time as the authority should be taken from them, the order being altered. Nevertheless, the reverence of the place which they had doth not hinder him nor stop his mouth; but that he doth freely dissent from them, whereby it appeareth how ridiculous the Papists are who will have us so tied unto bare and vain invented titles, that they may enforce us to subscribe unto their decrees, though they be never so wicked.
The God of glory. By this beginning, he declareth that he doth not disagree or dissent from the fathers in true religion which they followed; for all religion, the worship of God, the doctrine of the law, all prophecies, did depend upon that covenant which God made with Abraham; therefore, when Stephen confessed that God appeared to Abraham, he embraceth the law and the prophets, which flow from that first revelation as from a fountain; moreover, he calleth him the God of glory, that he may distinguish him from the false and reigned gods, who alone is worthy of glory.
When he was in Mesopotamia. It is well known that that is called by this name which lieth between the river Tigris and Euphrates; and he saith before, he dwelt in Charran, because Abraham, being warned by an oracle, fled F380 from Chaldea to Charran, which is a city of Mesopotamia, famous by reason of the slaughter of Crassus and the Roman army; although Pliny saith that it was a city of Arabia; and it is no marvel that Chaldea is in this place comprehended under the name of Mesopotamia, because, although that region, which is enclosed with Tigris and Euphrates, [Mesopotamia,] be properly the country between two rivers, yet those which set down any description of countries F381 do call both Assyria and Chaldea by this name.
The sum is this, that Abraham being commanded by God, did forsake his country, and so he was prevented with the mere goodness of God when as he sought that which was offered him at home of the [its] own accord. Read the last chapter of Joshua; but it seemeth that Moses’ narration doth somewhat disagree with this, for after that, about the end of the 11th chapter of Genesis, he had declared, that Abraham doth [did] go into another country to dwell, having left his house, he addeth, in the beginning of the 12th, that God spake unto Abraham. This is easily answered, for Moses reciteth not in this latter place what happened after the departure of Abraham; but lest any man should think that Abraham wandered into other countries, having unadvisedly forsaken his own house, (as light and indiscreet men F382 used to do sometimes,) he showeth the cause of his departure, to wit, because he was commanded by God to flit into another place. And thus much do the words of the oracle import. For, if he had been a stranger in another country, God could not have commanded him to depart out of his native soil, forsaking his kinsmen and father’s house. Therefore, we see that this place agreeth wondrous well with the words of Moses. For after that Moses hath said that Abraham went to Charran, to the end he may show that this journey was taken in hand, not through any lightness of man, but at the commandment of God, he addeth that afterwards which he had before omitted, which manner of speaking is much used of the Hebrews.
3. Come out of thy country. God useth many words, to the end he may the more wound the mind of Abraham, as if it were not a thing sharp enough of itself to be banished out of his own country. And that served to try his faith; even as that other thing also, that God assigneth him no land wherein he may dwell, but maketh him stand in doubt, and wait for a time. Wherefore the obedience of Abraham was so much the more to be commended, because the sweetness of his native soil keepeth him not back from going willingly, as it were, into exile; and in that he doubteth not to follow God, although there appear no certain resting-place, but is commanded to wander to and fro for a time. Whereas, the showing of the land is deferred, it differeth not much from deceiving of him. F383
Furthermore, we learn continually by our own experience how profitable it was for Abraham thus to be exercised, and, as it were, trained by little and little. Many men are carried with a godly affection to attempt great things, but by and by, so soon as their heat is waxen cold, it repenteth them of their purpose, and they would gladly slip their necks out of the collar. F384 Therefore, lest Abraham should faint when he was in the midst of his course, through the remembrance of those things which he had left behind him, God sifteth and trieth his mind thoroughly, immediately after he had begun, lest he take anything in hand lightly and unadvisedly. To this purpose serveth the parable which Christ setteth before us concerning the building of the tower, (<421428>Luke 14:28.) For he teacheth that we must first cast the charges, lest with shame we be enforced to leave off building after we have begun. And though this were a particular thing in Abraham in that he was commanded to go out of his own country, and to go into a far country, in that God carried him from place to place, yet, notwithstanding, there is in these words some figure of the calling of us all. We are not all simply commanded to forsake our country, but we are commanded to deny ourselves; we are not commanded to come out of our father’s house, but to bid adieu to our own will, and to the desires of our own flesh. Again, if father and mother, wife and children, hinder us from following God, we must forsake them all. The commandment is given simply to Abraham to flit; but we are commanded to do the stone upon condition. For if in any place we cannot serve God, we must rather make choice of exile than to stay in our nest, being slothful and sluggish. Therefore, let us have the example of Abraham always before our eyes. He is the father of the faithful, he was tried all manner of ways. Doth he forget his country, his friends, and himself, that he may give over himself unto God? (<450416>Romans 4:16,17.) If we will be counted the children of God, we must not degenerate from him.
Which I shall show thee. We must note that which I touched a little before, that Abraham is kept in doubt, to the end his patience may be tried. And this must we also apply to our own use, that we may learn to depend wholly upon God. And surely this is a principal exercise of our faith to put our trust in God, even when we see nothing. God, indeed, will oftentimes show us a land wherein he granteth us an abiding-place; yet, notwithstanding, because we are strangers in the world, we have no certain and continual place of abode anywhere. Again, our life, as Paul saith, is hid, (<510303>Colossians 3:3;) and being like unto dead men, we hope for salvation, which is hid in heaven. Therefore, as touching our perpetual habitation, God doth cause us to depend upon his providence alone, when he commandeth us, as it were, to wander in a strange country. Lest such deferring discourage us, we must hold this general rule of faith, that we must go whither God calleth us, howsoever he do not show that which he promiseth.
4. Then going out. The readiness and willingness of faith is commended in these words. For when he is called he maketh no delay, but maketh haste F385 and subdueth all his affections, that they may obey the holy commandment of God. It is uncertain for what cause he stayed at Charran; yet it may be that the weakness of his father caused him to tarry there, who, as we read, died there shortly after; or else, because he durst go no further, until such time as the Lord had told him whither he should go. It is more like to be true in mine opinion, that he was stayed there a while with the wearisomeness and sickness of his father, because Stephen saith plainly that he was brought thence after the death of his father.

ACTS 7: 5-8
5. And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not the breadth of a foot; and promised that he would give it to him to possess, and to his seed after him, when as he had no son. 6. And God spake after this manner, Thy seed shall sojourn in a strange land; and they shall bring it into bondage, and shall evil entreat it four hundred years. 7. But the nation whom they shall serve will I judge, said God. And afterwards they shall come out, and shall worship me in this place. 8. And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so he begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.

5. We must note three firings in this place; that God exercised the patience of his servant, because, after that he had brought him out of his own country, he dwelt in the land of Canaan as a stranger.
[First,] For Abraham possessed not one foot’s-breadth, save only that which he bought to bury in. And that is counted no possession which serveth not for the uses of this life. Secondly, forasmuch as that field was bought, Stephen doth for good causes say, that God gave Abraham nothing. For that could not be gotten either with money, or by any other means which man could invent, which Abraham did hope for of the promise.
Secondly, we must note, that though God did not show Abraham the thing itself as yet, yet did he uphold him by his word. And this is our stay, when God promiseth that that is laid up for us which as yet we possess not. Therefore, when as the thing, that is, the possession of the land, was wanting, Abraham had for his help and stay the promise of God; and being content with the same alone, he desired nothing in the land of Canaan save only an uncertain resting-place wherein he might sojourn.
For as much as [epaggellesqai] signifieth simply to promise, I thought there was no cause why, with Erasmus, I should translate it in this place, to promise again. For I resolve it adversatively, although he had promised, that by the way we may note as it were, a show of deceiving, F386 unless peradventure some man be disposed to apply it unto the promises which are oftentimes repeated. F387
Thirdly, we must note that the promise was such that it did not much differ from a mere mock. God promised the land to the seed of Abraham when he was fourscore years old, and had to wife one that was barren, neither had he any hope to have any issue. This seemeth to be more than frivolous. For why doth he not rather promise that he will give him seed? But this was a notable trial of faith, in that Abraham, without asking any question, or any curious disputation, did obediently and meekly embrace that which he had heard proceed out of the mouth of the Lord. Therefore, let us remember that God doth so lift up and comfort his servant with his word, that he doth not only defer the giving of the thing, F388 but also he may seem after a sort to mock him; as he dealeth with us also in some respect. For, although he call us the heirs of the world, (<590205>James 2:5,) he suffereth us oftentimes to want even a competent living and necessary helps. And this doth he of set purpose, that he may bring the wisdom of the flesh to nought, seeing that we do not otherwise give due honor to his word.
6. Thy seed shall be a stranger. Stephen putteth the Jews in mind in how miserable and reproachful an estate their fathers were in Egypt; and showeth that this their servitude, wherewith they were oppressed, came not by chance; because it was foretold long before by the oracle of God. This history ought to have been of great force, partly to tame their lofty courages, F389 and to teach them modesty; partly to set forth the grace of God, because God had always had a care of that nation. For this is a singular benefit, in that the people are restored wonderfully, as it were, from death to life. In the mean season, the Jews are taught that the Church of God was elsewhere than in the land wherein they dwelt; that the fathers were chosen to be a peculiar people, and that they were kept safe under the tuition of God, before ever the temple was built, or the external ceremonies of the law were instituted.
These things appertain unto the general scope or drift of the sermon. But hence may we gather a profitable admonition. Bondage is of itself hard and bitter; but when cruelty of masters is added thereunto, it seemeth to be intolerable. Wherefore, it must needs be that the mind of the godly man was sore wounded, when he heard that his seed should serve, and be villanously and cruelly entreated, Moreover, this was no small trial; forasmuch as these things were, to look to contrary—the inheritance of the land of Canaan which was now promised, and bondage in a strange country. For who would not have thought that God had, as it were, forgotten his former promise, when as he telleth Abraham that his seed shall endure miserable bondage? He saith, at the first, that he will give his seed the land. But he had as yet no seed; yea, all hope of seed was now cut off. But when doth he promise that he will give it? After his death. By and by he saith, that that seed should be carried away to another place, that it may serve strangers. And how long? Four hundred years. Doth he not seem, by this means, to pull back his hand, that he may not perform that which he had promised?
Let us know that this was done, (not once only,) for God dealeth oftentimes with us thus, so that he may seem contrary to himself; and he speaketh also in such sort as that he may seem to call back F390 that which he had promised. Therefore, it cannot be but that flesh will judge that he is contrary to himself; but faith doth know that his words do agree well together amongst themselves, and with his works. And this is the purpose of God, to the end he may extend the sight of our faith the farther, to show his promises afar off, as it were, a long place [space] being put between. Therefore it is our duty to go forward, and to strive to attain unto that salvation which is set before us through many straits, F391 through divers lets, through long distance, through the midst of deeps, and, finally, through death itself. Furthermore, seeing that we see that the people which God had chosen did serve the Egyptians, and was uncourteously F392 afflicted, we must not be discouraged if the like condition be prepared for us at this day. For it is no new thing, neither any unwonted thing, for the Church of God to lie oppressed under tyranny, and to be, as it were, trodden under foot of the wicked.
7. The nation whom they shall serve. This judgment is joined with the deliverance of the people. For, whereas God doth punish the cruelty and tyranny of the wicked Egyptians, he doth that for his people’s sake, whom he took into his tuition, that it may be seen that he is the deliverer of his Church. Therefore, so often as we are unjustly afflicted by the wicked, let us remember that God is the Judge of the world, who will let no injuries be unpunished. Let every man thus think with himself, Seeing that I am under the tuition of God, who is the Judge of the world, and to whom it belongeth to punish all injuries, those shall not escape his hand who trouble me now. There is the like place in <053243>Deuteronomy 32:43, where God saith that vengeance is his. Whence Paul gathereth that we must give place to wrath, (<451219>Romans 12:19;) as if he should say, that this ought to serve to reform impatience, and to bridle our evil affections, in that God promiseth that he will revenge; for he which revengeth himself doth take God’s office from him. And let us still remember that which I have already said, that God is touched with an especial care to revenge injuries done to his children, as it is in the Psalm, “Hurt not mine anointed, and be not troublesome to my prophets.”
They shall come thence and serve me. Therefore their deliverance went before the temple and the worship of the law; whereupon it followeth, that the grace of God was not tied to ceremonies. Nevertheless, Stephen noteth the end of their deliverance, that God chose both a peculiar people and a peculiar place for the true worship of his name. Whence we gather again, that we must regard what he commandeth and alloweth. Other nations also were determined to worship God; but because their rites were corrupt and bastardly, F393 God doth separate the Jews from the rest, and assigneth them a place where he will have them to worship him sincerely and duly as they ought. This place teacheth us, that God’s benefits must be referred to this end, that men might be brought to addict and give over themselves wholly to him. Now, since that God hath dispersed the treasures of his grace throughout the whole world, we must endeavor to sanctify him, by worshipping him purely and holily, in what country soever we dwell.
8. He gave him the covenant. When as he confesseth that circumcision is the covenant of God, he cleareth himself sufficiently of that crime which was laid to his charge; but, in the mean season, he showeth that the Jews deal amiss, if they place the beginning of their salvation in the external sign. For if Abraham was called, and the land and redemption promised to his seed before such time as he was circumcised, it appeareth that the glory of the whole stock cloth not depend upon circumcision. Paul useth the same argument in the 4th chapter to the Romans, (<450411>Romans 4:11.) For, seeing that Abraham obtained righteousness, and pleased God before he was circumcised, he gathereth thence that circumcision is not the cause of righteousness. Therefore we see that Stephen frameth no vain and idle narration; because this was very much appertinent unto the cause, that the Jews might remember how God had adopted them with their fathers, and it is to be thought that Stephen did plainly express both things; that although circumcision was given by God, that it might be a sign of grace, yet was the adoption before it both in order and in time. But we have no need to dispute any longer in this place concerning the nature and force of circumcision. Only let us note this, that God doth first promise those things to Abraham which he confirmeth afterward by circumcision, that we may know that the signs are vain and nothing worth, unless the word go before. Let us also note, that there is a profitable doctrine contained in the word covenant, to wit, that God maketh his covenant with us in the sacraments, that he may declare his love toward us; which thing, if it be true, first, they are not only works of external profession amongst men, but they gave great force inwardly before God, to confirm the faith. Secondly, they are no vain figures; because God, who is true figureth nothing there which he doth not perform.

ACTS 7:9-16
9. And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt. Notwithstanding, God was with him; 10. And he delivered him out of all his afflictions: and he gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt, and over all his house. 11. And there came a famine upon all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction; neither did our fathers find food. 12. And when Jacob had heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent our fathers thither first. 13. And at the second coming Joseph was known of his brethren; and the kindred of Joseph was made known to Pharaoh. 14. Then Joseph sent, and called out his father Jacob and all his kindred, seventy-five souls. 15. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, and our fathers; 16. And they were carried into Sychem, and they were laid in the sepulcher which Abraham had bought for money of the sons of Hemor, the son [father] of Sychem.

9. Now followeth the greatest wickedness of the nation of Israel, that they conspired F394 together to oppress their innocent brother, which cruelty is contrary F395 to nature. Neither could the Jews object that it was a private fault of a few; for the infamy reacheth unto all the people. Forasmuch as all the patriarchs, Benjamin excepted, had polluted themselves with that treachery; therefore in that Stephen vouchsafeth to give them an honorable name that redoundeth to the greater reproach of the nation. They boasted proudly of their fathers; he showeth what manner [of] persons the chief of them were; to wit, murderers of their brother, F396 so much as in them laid. For, besides that slavery was a kind of death, we know what they went about at the first and, secondly, what cruel punishments Joseph suffered, of all which his brethren were guilty. Hereby it appeareth that God was bountiful and merciful to those which were, as it were unwilling, and which did resist him. For him (who was about to be the author of health and help F397) would they have destroyed. Wherefore they did what they could to renounce all the benefits of God. So he will declare afterward that Moses was rejected when he was offered of God to be a redeemer. Therefore, the Jews have small cause to brag of the excellency of their kindred; but this alone remaineth for them, that, being ashamed, F398 they confess that whosoever they are, they have the same through the mere mercy of God, and that they consider that the law was given to set forth the same.
God was with him. God was not so with him that he did always show forth his power in helping him. For that is no small thing which is said in the Psalm, (105:18,) “That the iron went through his soul.” Surely, it must needs be that he was in great heaviness, F399 when, being destitute of all help, he suffered reproach also together with bonds and the punishment of an ungodly and wicked man; but God useth oftentimes to be present with his in such sort, that he lieth hid for a time. And the end was an evident F400 token of his presence, which Joseph saw not at the first. Furthermore, we ought to remember this every now and then, that Joseph was not delivered because he had called upon God in the [a] temple but afar off in Egypt.
10. Stephen addeth the means, because God gave him favor in the sight of Pharaoh. God could have delivered him by some other means, but his counsel had respect unto a farther thing, that Joseph, being ruler of the kingdom, might entertain his father and all his family. In these two words, favor and wisdom, there is the figure hypalloge. For the wisdom wherewith Joseph was endued was the cause that he found favor; although I confess that they were two distinct benefits. For, though Joseph were a faithful interpreter of dreams, and did excel in divine wisdom, yet the proud tyrant would never have brought him to so great honor, unless God had bent the mind of Pharaoh unto a certain unwonted love; yet, notwithstanding, we must consider that order whereby God useth to bring him into favor. F401 Wisdom doth not only signify the gift of prophecy in interpreting dreams, but prudence in giving counsel; for Moses putteth in both. That which Stephen reporteth of one man in this place is extended unto all. For what aptness and readiness F402 soever is in men, it ought to be reckoned amongst the gifts of God, and that his special gifts. F403 And it is he that giveth good success as it pleaseth him, that his gifts may be profitable to that end for which it seemed good to him to give them. Therefore, although Joseph be made chief ruler of Egypt by Pharaoh, yet is he lifted up to so great honor properly by the hand of God. F404
11. There came a famine. Hereby it appeareth that the deliverance of Joseph was such a benefit as was common to all the family of Jacob. For, seeing the famine drew on, F405 Joseph was sent before in due time to provide sustenance to feed the hungry; as he himself doth acknowledge the wonderful counsel of God in that point. Nevertheless, the free goodness of God appeareth plainly in the person of Joseph, whilst that he is appointed to nourish and feed his brethren, who had sold him, and by that means sent him far away, and thought that he was gone away quite F406 out of the world. He putteth meat in their mouths who had thrown him into a pit, and had deprived him of the air and the common breath. Finally, he nourisheth and preserveth their life who were not afraid F407 to take from him his life. In the mean season, Stephen putteth the Jews in mind of this, that the patriarchs were enforced to depart out of that land which was given them for an heritage, and that they died in another place. Therefore, forasmuch as they were sojourners in it, they are at length banished out of the same. F408
14. Whereas he saith that Jacob came into Egypt with seventy-five souls, it agreeth not with the words of Moses; for Moses maketh mention of seventy only. Jerome thinketh that Luke setteth not down, word for word, those things which Stephen had spoken, or that he took this number out of the Greek translation of Moses, (<014627>Genesis 46:27,) either because he himself, being a proselyte, had not the knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, or because he would grant the Gentiles this, who used to read it thus. F409 Furthermore, it is uncertain whether the Greek interpreters set down this number of set purpose, or whether it crop [crept] in afterward through negligence, [mistake;] which (I mean the latter) might well be, forasmuch as the Grecians used to set down their numbers in letters. Augustine, in his 26th book of City of God, [De Civitate Dei,] thinketh that Joseph’s nephews and kinsmen F410 are comprehended in this number; and so he thinketh that the words went down doth signify all that time which Jacob lived. But that conjecture can by no means be received. For, in the mean space, the other patriarchs also had many children born to them. This seemeth to me a thing like to be true, that the Seventy Interpreters did translate that truly which was in Moses. And we cannot say that they were deceived; forasmuch as [in] Deuteronomy 10, where this number is repeated, they agree with Moses, at least as that place was read without all doubt in the time of Jerome; for those copies which are printed at this day have it otherwise. Therefore, I think that this difference came through the error of the writers which wrote out the books. F411 And it was a matter of no such weight, for which Luke ought to have troubled the Gentiles which were accustomed with the Greek reading. And it may be that he himself did put down the true number; and that some man did correct the same amiss out of that place of Moses. For we know that those which had the New Testament in hand were ignorant of the Hebrew tongue, yet skillful in F412 the Greek,
Therefore, to the end [that] the words of Stephen might agree with the place of Moses, it is to be thought that that false number which was found in the Greek translation of Genesis was by them put in also in this place; concerning which, if any man contend more stubbornly, let us suffer him to be wise without measure. Let us remember that it is not without cause that Paul doth forbid us to be too curious about genealogies. This, so small a number, is purposely expressed, to the end the power of God may the more plainly appear, in so great an enlarging of that kindred, which was of no long continuance. For such a small handful of men could not, by any human manner of engendering, grow to such an infinite multitude as is recorded in <021237>Exodus 12:37, within two hundred and fifty years. We ought rather to weigh the miracle which the Spirit commendeth unto us in this place, than to stand long about one letter, whereby the number is altered. There arise other questions (and those which are more hard to be answered) out of the rest of the text, [context.]
16. Stephen saith, that the patriarchs were carried into the land of Canaan after they were dead. But Moses maketh mention only of the bones of Joseph, (<010113>Genesis 1:13.) And <062432>Joshua 24:32, it is reported, that the bones of Joseph were buried without making any mention of the rest. Some answer, that Moses speaketh of Joseph for honor’s sake, because he had given express commandment concerning his bones, which we cannot read to have been done of the rest. And, surely, when Jerome, in the pilgrimage of Paula, saith, that she came by Shechem, he saith that she saw there the sepulchres of the twelve patriarchs; but in another place he maketh mention of Joseph’s grave only. And it may be that there were empty tombs F413 erected to the rest. I can affirm nothing concerning this matter for a certainty, save only that this is either a speech wherein is synecdoche, or else that Luke rehearseth this not so much out of Moses, as according to the old fame; as the Jews had many things in times past from the fathers, which were delivered, as it were, from hand to hand. And whereas he saith afterward, they were laid in the sepulcher which Abraham had bought of the sons of Hemor, it is manifest that there is a fault [mistake] in the word Abraham. For Abraham had bought a double cave of Ephron the Hittite, (<012309>Genesis 23:9,) to bury his wife Sarah in; but Joseph was buried in another place, to wit, in the field which his father Jacob had bought of the sons of Hemor for an hundred lambs. Wherefore this place must be amended.

ACTS 7:17-19
17. And when the time of the promise drew near, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people increased, and was multiplied in Egypt, 18. Until another king arose, which knew not Joseph: 19. This man dealt subtilely with our kindred; he evil-entreated our fathers, that they might cast out their infants, lest they should be increased.

17. Stephen passeth over unto the deliverance of the people, before which F414 went that innumerable issue which had increased beyond the ordinary manner in no long space of time. Therefore, he setteth down this as a singular gift of God, that the people was increased, to the end we may know that that came not to pass according to the common or wonted custom of nature. But, on the other side, God seemeth to take from the Jews all hope, because Pharaoh doth tyrannously afflict them, and their bondage groweth greater daily. And when as they are commanded to cast out their male infants, it seemeth that the destruction of the whole nation was present. There is another token of deliverance given, when Moses cometh abroad; but because he is by and by refused and enforced to fly into exile, there remaineth nothing but mere despair. The sum is this; that God, being mindful of his promise, did increase the people in time, that he might perform that which he had sworn to Abraham; but the Jews (as they were unthankful and froward) did refuse the grace of God, so that they did what they could to shut up the way before themselves. Furthermore, we must note the providence of God in this place, whilst that he doth so order the course of times, that his works have always their opportunity. But men who make haste disorderly in their desires cannot hope patiently, and be at rest, until such time as God showeth forth his hand; for this cause, because they take no heed to that moderation whereof I have spoken. And to the end God may exercise the faith of his children so often as he appeareth with joyful tokens of grace, he setteth other things against those on the other side, which cut off suddenly the hope of salvation. For who would not have said of the Hebrews, that they were utterly undone, when as the king’s commandment appointed all the men children to be put to death? For which cause the meditating upon that doctrine is the most [more] necessary for us, that God doth kill and restore to life; he leadeth unto hell, and bringeth back again.
19. Dealt subtilely. The old interpreter did not translate this amiss, to deceive. F415 For Stephen meaneth that the king of Egypt did craftily invent new shifts and wicked pretenses, that he might every now and then lay heavier burdens upon the people, like as almost all tyrants do; for how unjustly soever they vex their subjects, they are [but] too witty to invent excuses. And it is not to be doubted but that Pharaoh abused this honest color, that it was not meet that the Jews, who were sojourners, should have a place of abode in his realm for nought, and that they should be free from all burthens, seeing they did enjoy great commodities. Therefore, he deceitfully made them vile bondslaves of free-men. When Stephen saith that this tyrant knew not Joseph, hereby it appeareth how soon the remembrance of benefits passeth away among men, For although we do all with one consent detest unthankfulness, yet is there no vice more common amongst us.
Lest they should be increased. Erasmus translateth this improperly, in my judgment. For [Zwogoneisqai] expresseth more than lest their children should live. For the word is fet [fetched] thence, because the people doth all always remain alive in the offspring. And, furthermore Stephen doth not reckon up all the parts of their evil-entreating, but putteth down one example of extreme cruelty. Whence we may easily gather how near the whole seed of Abraham was to destruction. For Pharaoh seemed to have murdered them all with that commandment as with one stroke of a sword. But such violent barbarism did the more set forth the unlooked-for and incredible power of God; because when Pharaoh hath, by all means possible, striven against God, yet all is in vain.

ACTS 7:20-29
20. At that time was Moses born, who was acceptable to God And he was brought up three months in his father’s house. 21. And the daughter of Pharaoh took him up when he was cast out, and nourished him up for her own son. 22. And Moses was taught in all wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in word and deed. 23. And when the time of forty years was fulfilled, it came into his mind to go visit his brethren, the children of Israel. 24. And when he saw one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and revenged him which had the wrong, having smitten the Egyptian. 25. And he thought that his brethren would have understood that by his hand should give them deliverance; but they understood not. 26. The next day he was seen as they strove, and set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren: why hurt ye one another? 27. And he which did injury to his neighbor thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? 28. Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst the Egyptian yesterday? 29. And Moses fled at this saying, and became a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons.

20. It is not without cause that Stephen noteth the circumstance of time. Moses was born at the very same time when the king had commanded that all the men children should be cast out. Therefore, it seemeth that the minister of deliverance is dead before he is born. But that time is most fit for God to work in, when there is no hope or counsel to be looked for at man’s hands. And it appeareth also most plainly how God doth make perfect his power in man’s weakness, (2 Corinthians 41:9.) Moses is kept three months, but at length his parents (that they may save their own lives) are enforced to cast him out into the river. Only they put him into a little coffer, F416 that he may not by and by [immediately] perish. When as Pharaoh’s daughter taketh him up, he escaped death indeed, yet so that he goeth into another nation, being cut off from the kindred of Israel. Yea, he was like to be a most troublesome adversary to his nation, unless God had restrained his mind. It is forty years before he showeth any token of brotherly good-will.
22. Whereas Luke reporteth that he was taught in all wisdom of the Egyptians, he putteth that in his commendation as a point of excellency. Notwithstanding, it might have so fallen out, as it doth oftentimes, that being puffed up with profane sciences, he might have despised the base common people; yet because God had determined to redeem his people, he doth, in the mean season, frame both the mind of Moses and all other things to finish his work. The reason of man’s flesh F417 should murmur in this place, Why doth God wink at so long miseries of the people? Why doth he suffer Pharaoh to rage more cruelly daily? Why doth he not suffer Moses to grow up amongst his own people? Why doth he after a sort cut him off from the kindred of Israel, being adopted by the king’s daughter? Why will he suffer him to remain amidst courtly pleasures, F418 and doth not rather pull him thence? But the end itself is so wonderful, that we are enforced to confess that all these things were governed by singular counsel and order to set forth the glory of God.
Whereas I said that Luke speaketh in this place of the learning of the Egyptians for honor’s sake, I would not have it so taken as if there were in the same no corruption. Forasmuch as astrology F419 doth consider the wonderful workmanship of God, not only in the placing of the stars, and in such excellent variety, but also in their moving, force, and secret offices, it is a science both profitable and worthy of praise. The Egyptians bestowed great study in this, but being not content with the simple order of nature, they wandered also into many foolish speculations, as did the Chaldeans. It is uncertain whether Moses was infected with these superstitions or no. Yet, howsoever it be, we see how sincerely and plainly he setteth that before us to be considered in the frame of the world, which is appertinent unto godliness. Surely this was excellent modesty, in that he which could reason with learned and witty men of the secrets of nature, doth not only omit higher subtleties, but doth also descend unto the common capacity of every most simple man, and doth, in a common style, set forth unto men unlearned those things which they perceive by experience. When Justinian [Justin] babbleth concerning Moses, he maketh him a magician, which, with juggling and enchantments, made passage for the people through the Red Sea; so that Satan did not only go about to bury the power of God, but also to blaspheme the same. But we know that Moses did not strive with the enchanters by magic, but did that only which God had enjoined him.
Furthermore, the Egyptians had mystical divinity, wherewith they colored their doting inventions and monstrous abominations, as if they would prove that they went mad not without reason: as the Papists, whereas they delude and mock men like stage-players, in their mass and other foolish rites, yet they invent mysteries, that they may persuade men that there is nothing there but that which is divine. The common sort of priests cannot climb so high, but those which amongst them will be accounted more cunning F420 do omit no rite, how foolish and childish soever it be, affirming that there is some spiritual mystery in every [one] of them. There is extant concerning this matter a most foolish mingle-mangle, which they call the Rationall [Rationale] of Divine Offices. But forasmuch as sacrificing priests alone did use such dotings amongst themselves, it is not to be thought that Moses spent any time in these, whose bringing up was princely, but that he was taught in liberal arts.
He was mighty. This phrase doth express among the Hebrews a double excellency, when as he which doth excel in wit and learning, is also apt to attempt and bring to pass great and weighty matters. F421 Stephen’s meaning is, therefore, that Moses was furnished with rare gifts, so that they did all confess that he was a singular man. But seeing he was in such estimation, the Israelites had the less hope that he should be the minister which should work their deliverance.
23. When the time was fulfilled. Many gather by this that Moses was never estranged in mind from his nation; but the words of Stephen incline rather toward the contrary, to wit, that the Spirit of God did at length awake his mind, as it were out of sleep, that he might at length go visit his brethren, whom he had long time neglected. It is to be thought that he was not ignorant of what stock he came, seeing he had some token thereof in his flesh, and seeing the rumor thereof was spread abroad in the court, because the king’s daughter could not adopt him to be her son without some suspicion of wickedness, unless his kindred had been known; yet was it long before he was of such courage that he durst make known the love which he bare toward his kindred. And this serveth not a little to set forth the glory of God, that Moses, being ignorant of his calling, doth remain a long time idle in the king’s court, and is afterward called of the Lord contrary to the hope of all men, and his own also. Therefore, this new care for his brethren which came into his mind, proceeded from a new and unwonted motion of God’s Spirit.
24. When he saw a certain man. Moses came not to this spectacle by chance, but forasmuch as God had appointed him to be the deliverer of his people, he would have him show forth this token, and, as it were, make this beginning. For Stephen doth plainly express that he did attempt nothing unadvisedly, but did that which became him that was appointed to be a deliverer of the people, knowing that he was thereunto called. For unless God had armed him, (and made him puissant,) it had been a thing altogether unlawful for him to kill any man, how wicked soever he had been. It is a godly deed, and praiseworthy, for a man to set himself against the wicked, to defend the good against the injuries of the wicked, to bridle their violence; but it is not for a private person to punish, (or take vengeance.) Therefore, it was unlawful for Moses to slay the Egyptian, save only inasmuch as the Lord had put the sword in his hand according to the right of his calling. But this heroical courage and nobleness of heart F422 was a work of the Holy Ghost; because God doth mightily show forth his power in those whom he appointeth unto great matters, that they may be able to fulfill their function. In sum, Stephen meaneth that Moses was even then offered to be the minister of deliverance when the day was at hand, according to the covenant made with Abraham, yet did the people hope for nothing less.
26. The day following he appeared. Stephen declareth now that the fathers did not only neglect, but maliciously reject the grace of God. For although the evil which he mentioneth did proceed from one man only, yet doth he by right assign the fault unto them all. For if they had been thankful to God, they would all with one consent have repressed his forwardness. F423 But they are whisht, F424 and suffer that good turn which Moses had done to be upbraided unto him; and, so much as in them lieth, they bring them into extreme danger whom they ought to have defended by endangering themselves. F425 Therefore, his drift is this, that the people themselves were in the fault, that they were no sooner delivered and eased. F426 So the wickedness of men doth oftentimes hinder God from doing that [which] he would do. He is ready to help those that be his in due time, but we keep back his hand from ourselves with divers lets, and afterwards we complain of his slowness, but unjustly. Furthermore, this unthankfulness was too wicked against God, and too cruel against Moses. They were to thank God for giving such a faithful patron in the king’s court. They were to love and reverence Moses; but they rewarded him full evil F427 with threatenings and reproaches. Furthermore, inasmuch as the fact was brought to the king’s ears, we must needs impute that to the treachery of the people. Therefore, as when afterward the people could see the land of Canaan, they did through their own folly keep themselves from entering in; so now, refusing the grace of God in the person of one man, they cause the time of their deliverance to be deferred forty years. For although God had determined what he would do, yet those are justly blamed for the delay which hinder F428 Moses in his office.
Men ye are brethren. There is, indeed, amongst men a general conjunction, so that they ought to use great courtesy one toward another, and to abstain from all injuries; but this is more unmeet and intolerable, when those hurt one another who are nearer linked together. Therefore, Moses doth not only use a general reason, that it may revoke F429 their minds which were desirous to do harm, but he mentioneth their kindred and fellowship of blood to mollify their cruelty. Yet all in vain; for he which had done injury to his neighbor doth forwardly thrust him from him, and addeth thereunto threatening. And this is a common thing amongst men; for an evil conscience doth drive men into fury, and the worse every man’s cause is, the more boldly and cruelly doth he extol himself. But under what color doth he which hath the worst cause set himself so stubbornly against Moses? He saith he is no judge; but he did not reprove them according to authority, but did only friendly admonish them. Is it the duty of a judge alone to admonish us when we do amiss? But this is a common vice, used of all stubborn and unruly persons, to give place to no admonitions, save only when they are enforced by violence and authority; yea, they are like frantic [phrenzied] men who rail upon F430 their physicians. For which cause we must be the more careful to bridle our lust, lest we run headlong with such blind fury against those which are desirous to cure our vices. Furthermore, we are taught by this example, that the servants of God cannot so do their duty in reproving such vices of men, but they shall suffer many injuries, offend many, and incur dangers; and chiefly when they do well, they shall surely hear evil. But they must swallow up the unworthiness of these evils, F431 that they may not therefore cease to do that which the Lord commanded them, and which he alloweth. F432 Moses is burdened here with a cruel false accusation that he usurpeth the authority of a ruler, and by this means they lay treason to his charge. Secondly, it is objected unto him reproachfully that he slew an Egyptian; both these were very odious. Whereby we may gather with how dangerous a temptation the mind of the holy man was stricken. And forasmuch as we see that he was neither discouraged by exile, neither by any other evils, so that it did not repent him of his well-doing, let us also learn by his example to bear a valiant and strong mind and courage against all such assaults of Satan,

ACTS 7:30-34
30. And when forty years were expired, there appeared unto him in the desert of Mount Sinai the angel of the Lord, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31. And so soon as Moses saw it, he wondered at the vision. Furthermore, when he drew near to consider, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32. I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob; and Moses was afraid, and durst not draw near. 33. And the Lord said unto him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 34. In seeing, I have heard [seen] the affliction of my people in Egypt, and have heard their mourning, and I am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.

30. And when forty years were expired. As Moses was no blockish man, F433 every one of us may easily gather how many things might have come into his mind which might have caused him to mistrust his calling. The shifts and sleights of Satan are captious. We are more than bent naturally to distrustfulness; F434 what doubts soever arise in our minds concerning the word of God we do easily admit the same. It was a hard exchange to be thrust from earthly delights and a sumptuous life unto the painful and base office of feeding sheep; and especially forasmuch as Moses saw so much time spent, and being in the mean season sent into the wilderness, what other thing could he imagine with himself but that that was vain and a plain mock which the Lord had promised? Forasmuch as being now fourscore years of age, he was occupied about the feeding of his father-in-law’s sheep, when could he have hoped that there should have been any use of him in delivering the people? It is good for us oftentimes to call to mind these combats of the godly until they be thoroughly imprinted in our memory, lest our minds faint, and our hearts fail us, if the Lord make us stay longer than we could wish. Again, Moses giveth a notable example of modesty, seeing that in all that time he attempteth nothing; he raiseth no tumults, neither intrudeth himself any way to bear rule, as troublesome men use to do; but employeth himself in his shepherd’s function as diligently as if he should never have been called unto any greater charge. But whilst he tarrieth the Lord’s leisure so patiently, he [the Lord] appeareth unto him at length.
The angel of the Lord appeared unto him. It is first demanded who this angel was? and, secondly, why he appeared in such a form? For after that Luke had called him an angel, he bringeth him in immediately speaking thus: I am the God of Abraham, etc. Some answer, As God doth sometimes attribute and impart unto his ministers those things which are most proper to himself, so it is no absurd or inconvenient thing, if they have his name given them; but seeing this angel affirmeth manifestly that he is the eternal God, who alone is, and in whom all things have their being, we must needs restrain this title unto the essence of God; for it can by no means agree to the angels. It might be said more fitly, that because the angel speaketh in the name of the Lord, he taketh upon him his person, as if he declared his commandments word for word, as out of the mouth of God, which manner of speaking is usual in the prophets; but when Luke shall say afterwards, that this was the same angel through whose assistance and guiding Moses delivered the people: and Paul, in the 10th chapter of the First to the Corinthians, (<461004>1 Corinthians 10:47) doth affirm that Christ was that guide, there is no cause why we should now wonder that the angel taketh to himself that which is proper to God alone.
Therefore, let us, first of all, set down this for a surety, that there was never since the beginning any communication between God and men, save only by Christ; for we have nothing to do with God, unless the Mediator be present to purchase his favor for us. Therefore, this place doth plentifully prove the divinity of Christ, and teacheth that he is of the same essence with the Father. Furthermore, he is called an angel, not only because he had the angels always to bear him company, and to be, as it were, his apparitors: F435 but because that deliverance of the people did shadow the redemption of us all, for whose sake Christ was to be sent of his Father, that he might take upon him the shape of a servant together with our flesh. It is certain, indeed, that God did never appear unto men as he is, but under some shape agreeable to their capacity; notwithstanding, there is another reason why Christ is called by this name, because he being appointed by the eternal counsel of God to be unto men the minister of salvation, doth appear unto Moses to this end. Neither is that contrary to this doctrine, which is written in the 2nd chapter to the Hebrews, (<580216>Hebrews 2:16) that Christ never took the angels, but the seed of Abraham; for although he took upon him the shape of an angel for a time, yet did he never take the nature of angels, as we know that he was made very man.
It resteth that we speak somewhat of the burning bush. That is common, that God doth apply the signs unto the things by a certain likelihood, and this is almost the common order and way of the sacraments. Furthermore, this was the fittest thing that could have been shown to Moses, to confirm his faith in the present business. He knew in what state he had left his nation. Although there were a greater F436 number of men, yet were they not unlike to a bush. For the thicker the bush is, and the more store of shrubs it hath, F437 the more subject is it to take fire, that it may burn on every side; so the people of Israel were but a weak band, and such as was laid open to all injuries; and this unwarlike multitude being pressed down even with their own weight, had incensed the cruelty of Pharaoh only with the prosperous success of increasing. Therefore, the people being oppressed with cruel tyranny, is, as it were, a pile of wood set on fire at every corner, neither is there any thing which keepeth it from being consumed to ashes, save this, because the Lord sitteth in the midst thereof; and although the [an] undoubted F438 fire of persecution did then burn, yet because the Church of God is never free from afflictions in the world, the continual estate thereof is after a sort painted out in this place. For what other thing are we but fuel for fire? And there fly abroad innumerable fire-brands of Satan continually, which set on fire both our bodies and also our minds; but the Lord delivereth and defendeth us, by his wonderful and singular goodness, from being consumed. Therefore, the fire must needs burn, that it may burn us in this life; but because the Lord dwelleth in the midst of us, he shall so preserve us that afflictions shall do us no harm, as it is also said in the 46th Psalm, (<194605>Psalm 46:5.)
31. He wondered at the vision. Let us know that God did use thus to deal with our fathers, that they might assuredly know his majesty; for he meant to make a manifest distinction between the visions which he showed, and the juggling casts of Satan. And this certainty is more necessary, for what credit should the oracles of God otherwise carry, wherein the covenant of eternal life is contained? Therefore, forasmuch as this alone is the true stay of faith, to have God to be the author thereof, that he may [he must needs] undoubtedly declare that it is he that speaketh. Again, forasmuch as Satan walketh about continually, and doth by many and strange shifts insinuate himself, and hath so many ways to deceive, and especially seeing he doth pretend the name of God craftily, we must take great heed of his mocks. We see how in times past he deluded all nations, and [how he deludes] the Papists also. For all the monsters of superstitions, all the dotings of errors which were in times past, and do as yet reign in Popery, did proceed from dreams, visions, and false revelations; yea, furthermore, even the Anabaptists have their illusions thence. Therefore, this is the only remedy that God do distinguish by certain marks those visions which he showeth; for then are we without danger of erring, when he hath revealed his majesty unto us. For this cause was the mind of Moses stricken with admiration, and then afterwards he draweth near to consider; after that he is come nearer, the Lord toucheth him with a more lively feeling of [I confess indeed] his presence, so that he is afraid. For I confess that there are none of all these things which Satan cannot imitate, yet falsely like an ape. And the Lord doth not only show himself by such signs, but helping our dullness, he doth also open our eyes that we may not be deceived. Again, the Holy Ghost doth imprint in our minds certain marks and tokens of God’s presence, that there may no doubt remain.
32. I am the God of thy fathers. Now, we see to what end the vision was offered to Moses; to wit, that the word of God might have his [its] authority. For bare visions should do but little good, unless doctrine were joined therewithal; and it is joined with them not as an inferior part, but as the cause of all visions and the end. And whereas he calleth himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there is a double reason why he calleth himself so. As the majesty of God is infinite, if we will comprehend it, it doth rather swallow up our senses; if we endeavor to ascend unto it we vanish away; therefore, he adorneth himself with titles under which we may comprehend him. But we must mark that God maketh choice of such titles, as that he may by them call us back unto his word. For he is called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for this cause, because he committed unto them the doctrine of salvation, that he might thereby be known to the world. But God had respect properly unto the present circumstance when he spake to Moses on this wise; for both this vision, and the hope of the delivery of the people, and the commandment which he was about to give to Moses, did depend upon the covenant which he had made in times past with the fathers. So that the suspicion of novelty is taken away, and the mind of Moses is lifted up to hope for redemption, which was grounded in the whole F439 promise.
Therefore, this title is as much as if God had said, I, which have promised in times past to your fathers, that I have a care of your safety, which have taken the kindred of Abraham to my tuition by a free covenant, yea, which have appointed this time for an end of your bondage, I appear now unto thee, that I may perform that which I promised, like as at this day all the promises of God must lean and be stayed upon this foundation, that they may be sure and certain to us, that God hath adopted us in Christ, and hath promised that he will be our God and our Father. And Christ gathereth out of this place by good reason that the godly live after they be dead, (<402232>Matthew 22:32;) for if the whole man perish in death, this were an unfitting speech, F440 I am the God of Abraham. Let us suppose that there is no Rome, shall not he be laughed at which shall call himself consul of Rome? For this is requisite in relation, that the members be answerable between themselves. F441 There is also another reason to be considered, that forasmuch as God hath in his hand both life and death, without all doubt he preserveth those alive whose father he will be, and whom he counteth his children; therefore, though Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died, concerning the flesh, yet do they live in spirit with God.
And Moses being afraid. This might seem to be an absurd thing, that a voice full of consolation doth rather terrify Moses than make him glad; but it was good for Moses to be thus terrified with the presence of God, that he might frame himself unto the greater reverence; neither doth the voice of God alone strike his mind, but his majesty, whereof he saw a sign in the burning bush. And what marvel is it, if man be afraid when he seeth God? and especially let us remember that men’s minds are by this means prepared unto fear and reverence as in <022022>Exodus 20:22,
“Thou hast seen signs, thou hast heard the sound of the trumpet, that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord.”
But some will say, Why dare not Moses now for fear consider, who was not afraid to draw near before? I answer, that the nearer we draw unto God, the more his glory doth appear, so are we the more afraid, and that by right. And God maketh Moses afraid for none other cause, save only that he may make him obedient unto him. This fear was a preparation not unfit for greater boldness; and to this end tendeth that which followeth, Put off thy shoes from thy feet; for he is admonished by this sign with reverence to receive the commandments of God, and to give him due glory by all means.
33. Because the place wherein. The Lord meant by this commendation which he giveth to the place, to lift up the mind of Moses into heaven, that he might not think upon any earthly thing. And if so be that Moses was to be pricked forward with so many pricks, that having forgotten the earth, he might hearken to God, must not we have our sides even, as it were, digged through, F442 seeing we are an hundred times more slow than he? Notwithstanding, here may a question be asked, how this place became so holy? for it was no more holy than other places before that day. I answer, that this honor is given to the presence of God, and not to the place, and that the holiness of the place is spoken of for man’s sake. For if the presence of God do make the earth holy, how much more force thereof ought men to have? F443 Notwithstanding, we must also note, that the place was thus beautified only for a time, so that God did not fix his glory there, as Jacob erected an altar to God in Bethel, after that God had showed some token of his presence there, (<013507>Genesis 35:7.) When as his posterity did imitate the same afterward, it was such worship as was reproved. F444 Finally, the place is called holy for Moses’ sake only, that he may the better address himself to fear God and to obey him. Forasmuch as God doth now show himself unto us everywhere in Christ, and that in no obscure figures, but in the full light and perfect truth, we must not only put off our shoes from our feet, but strip ourselves stark-naked of ourselves. F445
34. In seeing I have seen. God promiseth now that he will deliver his people, that he may appoint Moses to be his minister afresh, because the former objection was taken away by so long space of time. For God is said to see our miseries when he hath respect to us, and is careful for our safety; as he is said again to shut his eyes, and turn his back, when as he seemeth to set light by our cause. In like sort is he said to come down. He needeth not to move out of his place to help us, for his hand reacheth throughout the heaven and earth; but this is referred unto our understanding. For, seeing that he did not deliver his people from their affliction, he might seem that he was afar off, and was busied about some other thing in heaven. Now he saith that the Israelites shall perceive that he is nigh unto them. The sum tendeth to this end, that Moses knowing the will of God, may not doubt to follow him as a guide, and the more boldly to employ himself about the delivery of the people, which he knew was the work of God. For we must note that he saith that he heard the mourning of the people. For although he hath respect unto those which are in misery and unjustly oppressed, yet when we lay our mournings and complaints in his lap, he is especially moved to have mercy; although this word may be taken for those blind and confused complaints which are not directed unto God, as it is taken oftentimes elsewhere.

ACTS 7:35-37
35. This Moses, whom they had denied, saying, Who made thee a ruler and judge? him, I say, hath God sent to be a ruler and a redeemer, in the hand of the angel which appeared unto him in the bush. 36. He brought them out, having showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37. This is Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, The Lord your God shall raise up unto you a Prophet, out of the midst of your brethren, like unto me; hear him.

35. Stephen passeth over many things, because he maketh haste unto this stun, that the Jews may understand that the fathers were not delivered therefore, because they had deserved that with their godliness, but that this benefit was bestowed upon them, being altogether unworthy; and, secondly, that there is some more perfect thing to be hoped for of these beginnings. When Moses, being ordained of God to be their revenger and deliverer, was now in a readiness, they stopped the way before him; therefore God doth deliver them now, as it were against their will. That which is added touching miracles and wonders, serveth as well to the setting forth of the grace of God, as to make known the calling of Moses. It is surely a strange thing, that God doth vouchsafe to declare his power by divers wonders, for such an unthankful people’s sake. But in the mean season, he bringeth his servant in credit. Therefore, whereas the Jews set less by him afterward, whereas they essay sometimes to drive him away by railing, whereas they scold sometimes, sometimes murmur, sometimes set upon him outrageously, they bewray thereby both their wickedness, and also their contempt of the grace of God. Their unthankfulness and ungodliness was so increased always, that God must needs have striven with wonderful patience with such a froward and stubborn people.
A ruler and a deliverer. We must understand the contrarieties F446 which augment the fault. They would have obeyed Moses if a tyrant had appointed him to be a judge, but they contemn him proudly, and refuse him disdainfully, being appointed of God, and that to be a deliverer. Therefore, in despising him, they were wicked; and in rejecting grace, unthankful. And whereas Moses hath such an honorable title given him, God doth not so give and resign unto man that honor which is due to himself, that he loseth any whit of his authority thereby. For doubtless Moses was not called a redeemer or deliverer in any other respect save only because he was the minister of God. And by this means the glory of the whole work remaineth in the power of God wholly. Therefore let us learn that so often as men have the titles which belong to God given them, God himself is not despoiled of his honor; but because the work is done by their hands, they are by this means commended. To this end tendeth that which Stephen saith, that this charge was committed to Moses in the hand of the angel. For by this means Moses is made subject to Christ, that under his conduct and direction he may obey God. For hand is taken in this place not for ministry, but for principality. Wherefore, God did so use the service of Moses, that the power of Christ did surpass him, as he is even at this day the chief governor, in accomplishing the salvation of the Church; yea, he useth the ministry of men in that sort, that the force and effect dependeth upon him alone.
37. A Prophet shall God raise up. Stephen endeavoreth undoubtedly to prove by these words that Christ is the end of the law; although he doth not express the same in plain words. And assuredly, (as we have already said,) Luke reciteth not word for word all those things which Stephen uttered; but it is sufficient for him to note the principal points of matters. Furthermore, we have said before in the third chapter, that this testimony is so applied to Christ, that notwithstanding it agreeth to the other prophets also. For after that Moses had forbidden the people to be carried to and fro with the wicked superstitions of the Gentiles, he showeth what ought to follow. There is no cause (saith he) why thou shouldst desire magicians and enchanters; for God will never suffer thee to want prophets to teach thee faithfully. And now it is certain that the ministry of the prophets was temporal, as was also the ministry of the law; until Christ should bring the full perfection of wisdom into the world. Therefore Stephen’s speech tendeth to this end, that Moses doth not keep the people fast bound to himself alone when as he setteth before them and commendeth unto them another teacher. The prophets were indeed, interpreters of the law and all their doctrine was, as it were, an addition or appurtenance F447 of those things which were uttered by Moses; but forasmuch as this was also certain, that Christ should bring a more perfect kind of doctrine, because he should make an end of all the prophecies, it followeth, that he is made the chief; and that the principal mastership (that I may so call it) is his, lest the faith of the gospel should be doubtful. Now we know to what end Stephen intermingled Moses’ testimony, to wit, that he may prove that the Jews did no less contemn him, (of whom they made boast with open mouth to be their only teachers)even now when he is dead, than they did in times past, whilst he lived, wickedly and frowardly reject him. For whosoever believeth Moses, he will not refuse to be the disciple of Christ, whose messenger and crier he was, (<430546>John 5:46.) For the rest F448 out of the third chapter.

ACTS 7:38-41
38. This is he which was in the congregation in the wilderness, with the angel which had spoken unto him in mount Sinai, [or did speak to him in the mount,] and with our fathers; who received lively oracles, that he might give them to us: 39. Whom our fathers would not obey, but they refused him, and they turned back in their hearts into Egypt, 40. Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for we know not what is happened to this Moses which brought us out of the land of Egypt. 41. And they made a calf in those days, and they offered sacrifice to the idol, and they rejoiced over the works of their own hands.

38. Stephen proceedeth to set forth the frowardness F449 of the people, who though they were provoked [stirred up] with so many benefits of God, yet did they never cease maliciously to reject him. If they had been disobedient and unthankful to God before, yet this so wonderful a deliverance ought to have brought them into a better mind; but he declareth that they were always like themselves. It was meet that so many miracles should not only have stuck fast in their minds, but also have continued still before their eyes. But having forgotten all, they fly back suddenly unto the superstitions of Egypt. The memorial of their cruel servitude was yet fresh, which they had escaped by passing over the Red Sea; and yet they prefer those tyrants by whom they were more than cruelly handled, before their deliverer, This was, therefore, a heap of ungodliness most desperate, that their stubbornness could not be broken or overcome with so many benefits of God, but that they did always return unto their nature. This doth greatly augment the greatness of the offense, where Stephen saith that Moses was then with them in the wilderness. For besides that there appeareth here rare goodness and long-sufferance of the Lord, in bearing with them, they make themselves to be without all excuse, whilst that being beset on every side with so many straits, being brought into so great distress; having Moses to be their guide in their journey, and the faithful keeper of their life, they fall away nevertheless treacherously from God, Finally, it appeareth that they were like untamed beasts, whom God could not keep in obedience with so many bands. Therefore, inasmuch as Moses left not off to govern them even through the wilderness, under the conduct and aid of the angel, it is an easy matter to gather by this circumstance of time, how incurable and obstinate their frowardness was; as it was a point of monstrous rebellion, not to be humbled with miseries, F450 and even with the very sight of death.
Whereas he saith, that Moses was with the angel and the fathers, there is a contrary respect. F451 He was present with the fathers, that he might be their guide according to the commandment of the Lord; he was with the angel as a minister. Whereupon it followeth that he was no private person to whom this injury was done, but it was done to the governance of God, when the people could be kept back, with the reverence of neither, from running headlong into wicked rebellion. We have already spoken of the angel. But the participle [lalountov] or which spake, hath a double meaning. For it may be understood either of the first vision, whereby Moses was called to redeem the people, or of that speech which God had with Moses, after they were come over the Red Sea. And because Christ declared both ways, that he was the author of their deliverance, it is no great matter whether we choose; yea, there is no let but that it may be extended unto both. For he which began to speak to Moses from the beginning, that he might send him into Egypt, did continue the tenor of his speech afterward, until the work was finished.
Which received lively oracles. Erasmus translated it lively speech; but those which are expert in the Greek tongue, they shall know that I have more truly translated the words of Stephen. For there is greater majesty in Oracles than in Speech, I speak only of the word; for I know that whatsoever proceedeth out of the mouth of God, the same is an oracle. Moreover, he purchaseth authority for the doctrine of Moses in these words, because he uttereth nothing but that which proceeded from God, Whereupon it followeth, that they did not so much rebel against Moses as against God; whereby their stubbornness F452 is more discovered, And this is a general way to establish doctrine, when men teach nothing but that which is commanded them by God. For what man dare make Moses inferior to him, who (as the Spirit affirmeth) ought only to be believed for this cause, because he faithfully unfolded and delivered the doctrine which he had received of God? But some men may ask this question, Why he called the law a living speech? For this title seemeth to disagree much with the words of Paul, where he saith that the law is the ministry of death, and that it worketh death, and that it is the strength of sin, (<460307>1 Corinthians 3:7.) If you take lively speech for that which is effectual, and cannot be made frustrate by the contempt of men, there shall be no contrariety; but I interpret it as spoken actively, for that which maketh to live. F453 For seeing that the law is the perfect rule of godly and holy life, and it showeth the righteousness of God, it is counted, for good causes, the doctrine of life and salvation. And to this purpose serveth that solemn protestation of Moses, when he calleth heaven and earth to witness, that he hath set before them the way of death and life. In which sense the Lord himself complaineth, that his good law is broken, and his good commandments, whereof he had said, “He which shall do these things shall live in them,” (Ezekiel 20) Therefore the law hath life in itself. Yet if any man had liefer take living for that which is full of efficacy and strength, I will not greatly stand in contention.
And whereas it is called the ministry of death, that is accidental to it, because of the corrupt nature of man; for it doth not engender sin, but it findeth it in us. It offered life, but we, which are altogether corrupt, can have nothing but death by it. Therefore, it is deadly in respect of men alone. Though Stephen had respect unto a farther thing in this place; for he doth not only speak of the bare commandments, but comprehendeth all Moses’ doctrine, wherein the free promises are included, and so consequently, Christ himself, who is the only life and health of men. We must remember with what men Stephen had to do. They were such as were preposterously zealous of the law, who stayed only in the dead and deadly letter of the law; and, in the mean season, they raged against Stephen, because he sought Christ in the law, who is, indeed, the soul thereof. Therefore, by touching their perverse ignorance glancingly, he giveth them to understand that there is some greater and some more excellent thing hidden in the law than they have hitherto known. For as they were carnal, and content with an outward show, they sought no spiritual thing in it, yea, they would not so much as suffer the same to be showed them.
That he might give them to us. This serveth to refute the false accusation wherewith he was falsely burthened. For seeing he submitteth his neck to the yoke of the law, and professeth that he is one of Moses’ scholars, he is far from discrediting him amongst others. Yea, rather he turneth back the fault which was laid to his charge upon those which were the authors of the slander. That was, as it were, a common reproach for all the people, because the fathers would not obey the law. And therewithal he telleth them that Moses was appointed to be a prophet, not only for his time, but that his authority might be in force with the posterity, even when he was dead. For it is not meet that the doctrine of God should be extinguished together with ministers, or that it should be taken away. For what is more unlikely F454 than that that should die whereby we have immortality? So must we think at this day. As the prophets and apostles spake unto the men of their time, so did they write unto us, and (that) the force of their doctrine is continual, because it hath rather God to be the author thereof than men. In the mean season, he teacheth that if any reject the word appointed for them, they reject the counsel of God.
39. They refused, and were turned away. He saith that the fathers rejected Moses; and he showeth the cause also, because they gave themselves rather unto the superstitions of Egypt; which was horrible, and more than blind fury, to desire the customs and ordinances of Egypt, where they had suffered such grievous things of late. He saith that they were turned away into Egypt in their hearts; not that they desired to return thither, (bodily,) but because they returned in mind unto those corruptions, which they ought not so much as to have remembered without great detestation and hatred. It is true, indeed, that the Jews did once speak of returning; but Stephen toucheth not that history now. Furthermore, he doth rather express their stubbornness, when he saith that they were turned away. For after that they had taken the right way, having God for their guide and governor, they start aside suddenly, as if a stubborn unbroken horse, not obeying his rider, should frowardly run backward.
40. Make us. Though the Jews be turned back divers ways, yet Stephen maketh choice of one notable example above all the rest, of their filthy and detestable treachery, to wit, when they made themselves a calf, that they might worship it instead of God. For there can no more filthy thing be invented F455 than this their unthankfulness. They confess that they were delivered out of Egypt; neither do they deny that this was done by the grace of God and the ministry of Moses; yet, notwithstanding, they reject the author of so great goodness, together with the minister. And under what color? They pretend they cannot tell what is become of Moses. But they know full well that he is in the mount. They saw him with their eyes when he went up thither, until such time as the Lord took him unto himself, by compassing him about with a cloud. Again, they know that Moses is absent for their health’s sake, who had promised that he would return, and bring unto them the law which God should give. He bade them only be quiet a while. They raise mad uproars suddenly within a small time, and without any cause; yet to the end they may cover their madness with the color of some reason, they will have gods present with them, as if God had showed unto them no token of his presence hitherto; but his glory did appear daily in the cloud and pillar of fire. Therefore we see what haste they make to commit idolatry through wicked contempt of God, that I may, in the mean season, omit to declare how filthy and wicked their unthankfulness was, in that they had so soon forgotten those miracles which they ought to have remembered even until the end of the world. Therefore, by this one backsliding, it appeareth sufficiently what a stubborn and rebellious people they were.
Moreover, it was more expedient for the cause which Stephen had in hand, to recite this history of their rebellion than the other. F456 For the people doth quite overthrow the worship of God; they refuse the doctrine of the law; they bring in a strange and profane religion. And this is a notable place, because it pointeth out the fountain from which all manner of superstitions did flow since the beginning, and especially what was the first beginning of making idols; to wit, because man, which is carnal, will, notwithstanding, have God present with him, according to the capacity of his flesh. This is the cause why men were so bold in all ages to make idols. F457 And God doth, indeed, apply F458 himself to our rudeness thus far, that he showeth himself visible, after a sort, under figures; for there were many signs under the law to testify his presence, And he cometh down unto us, even at this day, by baptism and the supper, and also by the external preaching of the word. But men offend two manner of ways in this; for, first, being not content with the means which God hath appointed, they boldly get to themselves new means. This is no small fault, because their fingers itch always to have new inventions without keeping any mean, and so they are not afraid to pass the bounds which God hath appointed them. But there can be no true image of God, save that which he appointed. Therefore, what images soever are reigned and invented by man besides his word, they are false and corrupt.
There is also another vice no less intolerable, that as man’s mind conceiveth nothing of God but that which is gross and earthly, so it translateth all tokens of God’s presence unto the same grossness. Neither doth man delight in those idols only which he himself hath made, but also doth corrupt whatsoever God hath ordained, by wresting it unto a contrary end. God cometh down unto us, indeed, as I have already said, but to this end, that he may lift us up into heaven with him. But we, because we are wholly set upon the earth, will, in like sort, have him in the earth. By this means is his heavenly glory deformed, and that fulfilled altogether which the Israelites say here, Make us gods. For whosoever he be that doth not worship God spiritually, he maketh unto himself a new god; and yet if ye thoroughly weigh all things, the Israelites will not have a god made of set purpose by them, but they think rather that they have the true and eternal God under the shape of the golden calf. For they are ready to offer the appointed sacrifice, and they approve that with their consent which Aaron saith, that those are the gods by whom they were brought out of Egypt. But God pusseth not for those frivolous imaginations; but he complaineth that men put strange gods in his place, so soon as they depart even a very little from his word.
41. And they made a calf. We may easily gather by that which goeth before, why they were more delighted in that figure than in any other. For although Egypt did swarm with innumerable idols, yet it is well known that they made the greatest account of an ox. And whence is it that they are so desirous to have an idol, save only because they were turned back into Egypt, as Stephen hath already said? We must note the speech when he saith that they offered sacrifice to the idol. Aaron commandeth the people to assemble themselves together to worship God; they come all together. Therefore they testify that they mean nothing less [any thing rather] than to defraud God of his worship, howsoever they translate the same unto the calf; yea, rather, they are determined to worship God in the image of the calf. But because they forsook the true God, by making an idol, whatsoever followeth afterward it is judged to be given to the idol, because God refuseth all wicked worshipping. For it is not meet to account that as bestowed upon him which he hath not commanded; and because he forbids them expressly to erect any visible image unto him, that is mere sacrilege whatsoever is done afterward in honor thereof.
They rejoiced over the works. This speech is taken out of Isaiah, yet, out of the prophets, who, in like sort, upbraid unto the Jews that they were delighted in their own inventions. And surely it is wonderful madness, when men arrogate unto themselves anything in God’s matters. I take this rejoicing to be that solemn dancing whereof Moses speaketh, in the thirty-second chapter of Exodus. Yet Stephen toucheth a common vice, wherewith idolaters are infected. For although it be altogether unlawful for men to attempt anything in religion which God hath not appointed, yet do they invent everything unadvisedly, and setting light by the Word of God, they make choice of the works of their own hands; but Stephen showeth that while they take such pleasure in this liberty, they displease God so much the more. But if we will have God to allow our worship, we must abstain from the works of our hands, that is, from our own inventions; for all that which men invent of themselves is nothing else but sacrilegious profanation. The idol is properly so called reproachfully, as it were a thing nothing worth, because no reason doth suffer man to make God. F459

ACTS 7:42-43
42. And God turned himself, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven: as it is written in the book of the prophets, Have ye offered unto me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness, O ye house of Israel? 43. And ye took to you the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, and figures which ye made to worship them; therefore I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

Stephen will here declare that the Jews did never make an end of sinning, but that they wandered farther in their froward errors; so that that first fall of theirs was unto them as it were an entrance into a labyrinth. And this doth he assign unto the just vengeance of God, that after that time their madness grew so, that they gat for one idol infinity. This example teacheth us to be careful to follow the rule which God hath set down; because, so soon as we are turned even but a little aside from the same, we must needs be carried to and fro with divers dotings, we must needs be entangled in many superstitions, and be utterly drowned in the huge sink of errors; which punishment God in justice layeth upon men which refuse to obey his word. Therefore Stephen saith that God was turned away; which word imported as much as if he should say, that he turned his back. For he had fastened his eyes after a sort upon the people, when he showed his singular care which he took in governing them; being offended with their falling away, now he turneth his face another way.
We may also hereby gather that we can no otherwise follow the right way, save only when the Lord watcheth over us to govern us; but so soon as his face is turned away, we run by and by into errors. The Israelites were forsaken of God even then when they made the calf; but Stephen meant to express the greatness of the punishment, as if he should have said, that they were altogether cast off into a reprobate sense then; as Paul also teacheth, that those which gave not glory to God when he had showed himself unto them, were, by the just judgment of God, given up unto blindness and blockishness, and unto shameful lusts, (<450128>Romans 1:28.) Hereby it came to pass, that after that religion began to be corrupt, innumerable abominations succeeded a few superstitions, and gross monsters of idolatry came in place of light corruptions. For because men neglected the light which was set before them, they became altogether blockish by the just judgment of God, so that they had no more judgment than brute beasts. Idolatry surely is very fertile, that of one reigned god there should by and by come an hundred, that a thousand superstitions should flow from one. But this so great madness of men springeth hence, because God revengeth himself by delivering them to Satan; because, after he hath once in hand to govern us, there is no change in his part, but he is plucked away F460 from us by our rash lightness.
Have ye offered unto me slain beasts and sacrifices? This place is taken out of the fifth chapter of Amos, (<300525>Amos 5:25.) The speech which Stephen useth showeth that all the prophecies were gathered into one body; and Amos addeth, (after that he had inveighed against the idolatry and sundry sins of the people,) that this is no new evil, that the Jews are rebellious against God, because their fathers had fallen away from true godliness even in the wilderness. Furthermore, he denieth that they offered slain beasts to him, not because there were there no sacrifices at all, but because God refused their corrupt worship; like as he reproveth and chideth the people in Isaiah, because they honored him with no sacrifice,
“Thou,” (saith he,) “O Jacob, hast not called upon me, neither hast thou honored me with thy sacrifices, neither have I made thee serve in offering or incense. Thou hast not bought for me calamus, neither hast thou filled me with fatness. But thou hast been burdenous [burdensome] unto me in thy sins, and hast caused me to serve in thine iniquities,” (<234322>Isaiah 43:22.)
Assuredly the Jews did all these things daily, but God accepteth not the obedience of the wicked, neither doth he approve the same. Again, he abhorreth all that which is polluted with such mingle-mangles as are added. F461 Thus doth Amos speak of the fathers which were revolts. F462 That which is added forthwith may be referred either unto them or unto their posterity.
43. You took to you the tabernacle of Moloch. Some take the copulative for the adversative [particle,] as if he should say, Yea, rather, ye worshipped the idol. It may be resolved also into the conjunction causal, thus, You did not offer sacrifices to me, because ye erected a tabernacle to Moloch. But I expound it somewhat otherwise, to wit, that God doth first accuse the fathers for the more vehemency; and then afterwards he addeth, that their posterity did increase the superstitions, because they gat to themselves new and diverse idols; as if the prophet had spoken thus in the person of God, If I shall rip up from the beginning, (O house of Jacob,) how your kindred hath behaved itself toward me; your fathers began to overthrow and corrupt, even in the wilderness, that worship which I had commanded; but you have far passed their ungodliness, for you have brought in an infinite company of gods. And this order is fitter for Stephen’s purpose; for he intendeth to prove, (as we have already said,) that after the Israelites felt away unto strange and bastardly rites, they never made an end of sinning, but being stricken with blindness, they polluted themselves every now and then with new idolatries, until they were come even unto the last end F463 of impiety. Therefore, Stephen confirmeth this sentence fitly with the testimony of the prophet, that the Jews, descending of wicked and rebellious fathers, had never ceased to wax worse and worse. And although the prophet’s words be somewhat unlike to these, yet is the sense all one. It is to be thought that Stephen, who had to deal with the Jews, did repeat word for word in their tongue that which is in the prophet; Luke, who wrote in Greek, did follow the Greek interpreter. The prophet saith, Ye honored Succoth your king, and Chiun your image, the star of your gods. The Greek interpreter made a noun common of a noun proper, because of the alliance F464 of the word Succoth, which signifieth a tabernacle. Furthermore, I cannot tell whence he fetcheth that his Remphan, unless it were because that word was more used in that time.
And figures which ye made. The word image, which is in the prophet, doth of itself signify no evil thing. Moreover, the word [tupov]; is taken amongst the Grecians in good part.For the ceremonies which God appointed are called [tupoi]; notwithstanding the prophet condemneth expressly the figures [types] which the Jews had made. Why so? Because God will not be worshipped under a visible and external form. If any man object that he speaketh in this place of stars; that is true, I confess; but I stand only upon this, that although the prophet doth give their idols some honest name, yet doth he sharply condemn their corrupt worship; whereby the foolish and childish caviling of the Papists is refuted. Because they deny that those images which they worship are idols, they say, that that mad worship of theirs is, [eikonodouleia], or serving of images, and not [eidolodouleia], or worshipping of idols. Seeing they mock God sophistically, there is no man that is endued even but with common understanding, which doth not see that they are more than ridiculous even in such toys. For although I move no question about the word, it is certain that the word [tupov]; is more honorable than [eikwn]. But those same [tupoi], or figures, are simply condemned in this place, which men make to themselves, not only [prov thn latreian], or that they may worship them, but [prov thn proskunhsin], that is, that they may give them even any reverence at all. Therefore that filthy distinction falleth flat to the ground, wherein the Papists think they have a crafty starting-hole. F465
Beyond Babylon. The prophet nameth Damascus; neither doth the Greek interpretation dissent from the same. Wherefore it may be that the word Babylon cropt [crept] in here through error; though in the sum of the thing there be no great difference. The Israelites were to be carried away to Babylon; but because they thought that they had a sure and strong fortress in the kingdom of Syria, whose head Damascus was, therefore the prophet saith that Damascus shall not help them, but that God shall drive them farther; as if he should say, So long as you have Damascus set against your enemies, you think that you are well fenced; but God shall carry you away beyond it; even into Assyria and Chaldea.

ACTS 7:44-50
44. Our fathers had the testimony of witness in the wilderness, like as he had appointed, speaking to Moses, that he should make it according to the form which he had seen: 45. Which tabernacle our fathers which succeeded brought with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, which God drove out before the face of our fathers, until the days of David; 46. Who found favor before God, and desired that he might find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47. But Solomon built him an house. 48. But the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as the prophet saith, 49. Heaven is My seat, and the earth is my footstool. What house will ye build for me? saith the Lord; or what place is it that ye should rest in? 50. Hath not my hand made all these things?

44. The tabernacle of witness. Stephen showeth here that the blame cannot be laid upon God, because the Jews polluted themselves with divers superstitions, as if God had suffered them to wander freely. F466 For he saith that God had commanded how he would be worshipped by them. Whereupon it followeth that they were entangled in so many errors, because they would not follow that form which God had appointed. Although he girdeth [reprehendeth] them for two causes: Because, being not content with that rule alone which God had prescribed, they invented to themselves strange worships; secondly, because they had no respect unto the right end of the temple, and of the ceremonies which God had appointed. For whereas they ought to have been unto them exercises of the spiritual worship, they apprehended nothing but that which was carnal, according to their carnal nature; F467 that is, they took the shadow for the body.
Therefore we see that the Jews were first reprehended for their boldness, for because that being not content with the plain word of God, they were carried away after their own inventions. Secondly, they are reproved for the preposterous abuse of the true and sincere worship; because they followed the flesh instead of the Spirit. They had, saith he, the tabernacle of witness. Therefore it was their own wantonness and rashness only which caused them to sin. For seeing they were well taught what was the right way and order of worshipping God, all cloak and color of ignorance was taken away.
Which thing is worth the noting. For seeing God doth after a sort bridle us, when he maketh his will known unto us, if after we have received his commandment we turn aside, either unto the right hand or to the left, we be twice guilty; because the servant which knoweth his master’s will, and doth it not, shall suffer more stripes: This is the first mark whereby the Holy Spirit doth distinguish all bastardly and corrupt worshippings from the true and sincere worship. Yea, (to speak more briefly,) the first difference between true worship and idolatry is this: when the godly take in hand nothing but that which is agreeable to the Word of God, but the other think all that lawful which pleaseth themselves, and so they count their own will a law; whereas God alloweth nothing but that which he himself hath appointed. To this end serveth the word witness.
The Hebrew word [dm] (moed) signifieth, indeed, an appointed place and time, or an assembly of men; but the reason expressed in Moses showeth that there is another cause why it is so named. For in Moses this is oftentimes repeated, “I will meet with you there.” Therefore the tabernacle was consecrated by the covenant and the word of the Lord, and his voice was heard there continually, that it might be distinguished from all profane places.
According to the form which he had seen. This is referred unto the second point which I have touched; for it may be that he which shall use the ceremonies only which God appointed, shall notwithstanding worship God amiss. For God careth not for external rites, save only inasmuch as they are of the heavenly truth; therefore God would have the tabernacle to be made like unto the heavenly figure, F468 that the Jews might know that they were not to stay still in the external figures. Furthermore, let him which is disposed read my Commentaries upon the Epistle to the Hebrews, and he shall see what that figure, whereof mention is made Exodus 25, (<022540>Exodus 25:40; <580805>Hebrews 8:5,) did signify. Stephen doth only briefly tell them in this place that the worship which God commanded the Jews is spiritual, and that they, according to their carnal blockishness, were evil and false interpreters; therefore, as we have said, that God alloweth no worship but that which is grounded in his commandment, so we are taught here that it is requisite in the right use of the commandment, that the spiritual truth be present; which thing being granted, it was the like question which we said did consist principally in this issue, whether the shadows ought to yield to the body or not. Whereas Moses is said to have seen a form or figure, the Spirit of God signifieth thereby that it is unlawful for us to invent forms at our pleasure; but that all our senses must be set upon that form which God showeth, that all our religion may be formed according to it. The word figure signifieth here, in this place, the principal pattern, F469 which is nothing else but the spiritual truth.
45. Which they brought in. This serveth to increase the frowardness F470 of the nation, that whereas the tabernacle did continue with them, and they carried the same whithersoever they went, yet could they not be kept within the bounds of God’s covenant, but they would have strange and profane rites; to wit, declaring that God dwelt amidst them, from whom they were so far distant, and whom they did drive out of that inheritance which he had given them. To this purpose serveth that also, that God did beautify the tabernacle with divers miracles; for the worthiness thereof F471 was established by those victories which the Jews had gotten, as it appeareth by divers places of the holy history; therefore, it must needs be that they were very disobedient, which did not cease oftentimes to start aside from that worship which was so many ways approved.
Until the days of David. Although the ark of the Lord continued long in Shiloh, yet it had no certain place until the reign of David, (<090103>1 Samuel 1:3;) for it was unlawful for men to erect a place for the same, but it was to be placed in that place which the Lord had showed, as Moses saith oftentimes. Neither durst David himself, after he had taken it from the enemies, bring it into the thrashing-floor of Araunah until the Lord had declared, by an angel from heaven, that that was the place which he had chosen, (<102416>2 Samuel 24:16.) And Stephen counteth this a singular benefit of God, not without great cause, that the place was showed to David wherein the Israelites should hereafter worship God; as in the Psalm he rejoiceth as over some notable thing: “I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord; our feet shall be stable in thy courts, O Jerusalem,” (<19D203>Psalm 132:3) The priesthood was coupled with the kingdom; therefore, the stability of the kingdom is showed in the resting of the ark; therefore it is said that he desired this so earnestly that he bound himself with a solemn vow, that he would not come within his house, that his eyes should enjoy no sleep, nor his temples any rest, until he should know a place for the Lord, and a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. Furthermore, the place was showed to David, but it was granted to Solomon to build the temple, (<110507>1 Kings 5:7.)
47. Solomon built. Stephen seemeth to gird Solomon glancingly F472 in this place, as if he did not regard the nature of God in building the temple; yet did he attempt that work not without the commandment of God. There was also a promise added, wherein God did testify that he would be present with his people there. I answer, that when Stephen denieth that God dwelleth in temples made with hands, that is not referred unto Solomon, who knew full well that God was to be sought in heaven, and that men’s minds must be lifted up thither by faith; which thing he uttered also in that solemn prayer which he made:
“The heaven of heavens do not contain thee,
and how much less this house?” (<110823>1 Kings 8:23;)
but he reproveth the blockishness of the people, which abused the temple, as if it had had God tied to it; which appeareth more plainly by the testimony of Isaiah, (<230606>Isaiah 6:6,) which he citeth also; God, saith he, would have Solomon to build him a temple; but they were greatly deceived who thought that he was, as it were, included in such a building; as he complaineth by his prophet that the people do him injury, when as they imagine that he is tied to a place; but the prophet doth not for that cause only inveigh against the Jews, because they worshipped God superstitiously, thinking that his power was tied to the temple, but because they did esteem him according to their own affection, and, therefore, after that they had ended F473 their sacrifices and external pomp, they imagined that he was pleased, and that they had brought him indebted to them. This was almost a common error in all ages; because men thought that cold ceremonies were sufficient enough for the worship of God. The reason is, because forasmuch as they are carnal, and wholly set upon the world, they imagine that God is like to them; therefore, to the end God may take from them this blockishness, he saith that he filleth all things.
49. For whereas he saith, that heaven is his seat, and the earth his footstool, it must not be so understood as if he had a body, or could be divided into parts, after the manner of men; but because he is infinity, therefore he saith that he cannot be comprehended within any spaces of place; therefore, those men are deceived who esteem God or his worship according to their own nature; and because the prophet had to deal with hypocrites, he doth not only dispute about the essence of God, but also teacheth generally, that he is far unlike to men, and that he is not moved with the vain pomp of this world as they are. Here ariseth that question also, why the prophet saith that the Lord hath no place of rest in the world, whereas, notwithstanding, the Spirit affirmeth the contrary elsewhere, “This is my rest for ever,” (<19D214>Psalm 132:14.) Moreover, Isaiah doth adorn the Church with this self-same title, that it is the glorious rest of God, alluding unto the temple, I answer, that when God appointed signs of his presence ill the temple, and sacrifices in times past, he did not this to the end he might settle and fasten himself and his power there; therefore, the Israelites did wickedly, who, setting their minds wholly upon the signs, did forge to themselves an earthly God. They dealt also ungodly, who under this color took to themselves liberty to sin, as if they could readily and easily pacify God with bare ceremonies. Thus doth the world use to mock God.
When God doth declare, by the external rites, that he will be present with his, that he may dwell in the midst of them, he commandeth them to lift up their minds, that they may seek him spiritually. Hypocrites, which are entangled in the world, will rather pluck God out of heaven; and whereas they have nothing but vain and bare figures, they are puffed up with such foolish confidence, that they pamper themselves in their sins carelessly, so, at this day, the Papists include Christ in the bread and wine in their imagination; that done, so soon as they have worshipped their idol with foolish worship, they vaunt and crack as if they were as holy as angels. We must diligently note these two vices, that men do superstitiously forge to themselves a carnal and worldly God which doth so come down unto them, that they remain still having their minds set upon the earth, and that they rise not up in mind to heaven. Again, they dream that God is pacified with frivolous obedience; hereby it cometh to pass, that they are besotted in the visible signs; and, secondly, that F474 they go about to bring God indebted to them after a childish manner, and with things which be nothing worth.
Now we understand in what sense the prophet saith that God hath no place of rest in the world. He would, indeed, that the temple should have been a sign and pledge of his presence, yet only to the godly, which did ascend into heaven in heart, which did worship him spiritually with pure faith; but he hath no place of rest with the superstitious, who, through their foolish inventions, tie him unto the elements of the world, or do erect unto him an earthly worship; neither yet with hypocrites, who are puffed up with drunken confidence, as if they had done their duty towards God well, after that they have played in their toys. In sum, the promise received by faith doth cause God to hear us in his temple, as if he were present to show forth his power in the sacraments; but unless we rise up unto him by faith, we shall have no presence of his. Hereby we may easily gather, that when he dwelleth amidst those that be his, he is neither tied to the earth, neither comprehended in any place, because they seek him spiritually in heaven.
50. Hath not mine hand? The prophet telleth the people in these words, that God hath no need either of gold, either of precious furniture of the temple, either of the sacrifices; whereupon it followeth that his true worship is not contained in ceremonies. For he desireth none of all these things which we offer unto him, for his own sake, but only that he may exercise us in the study of godliness; which argument is handled more at large, Psalm 1. For although this be a shameful foolishness to go about to feed God with sacrifices, yet unless hypocrites were drowned in the same, they would make no such account of toys, because all that is unsavory before God which dissenteth from the spiritual worship; therefore, let us know that God seeketh us and not ours, which we have only at pleasure; and hereby it appeareth also what great difference there is between true religion and the carnal inventions of men.

ACTS 7: 51-53
51. You stiff-necked, and of an uncircumcised heart and ears, ye have always resisted the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye. 52. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain those which foretold of the coming of the Just; of whom you are now made the betrayers and murderers: 53. Who have received the law in the dispositions of angels, and have not kept it.

51. Forasmuch as Stephen doth not expressly answer the points of the accusation, I am of their mind who think that he would have said more, if his oration had not been broken off with some uproar. For we know what a session of judges he had; therefore, no marvel if they enforced him to hold his peace with noise and outcries. And we see, also, that he did use long insinuation of set purpose, that he might tame and appease them who were like brute beasts most cruel; but it is likely that their madness was then incensed, when he proved that they had most wickedly corrupted the law, that the temple was polluted with their superstitions, and that there is nothing sincere amongst them; because, whilst they did stick in bare figures, they did not worship God spiritually, because they did not refer the ceremonies unto the heavenly figure; but though Stephen did not enter the cause straightway, but essayed to make their fierce minds somewhat more gentle by little and little, yet did he reason very fitly, to purge himself of the crime laid to his charge.
These two things, as we have said, were the principal points of the question, that Stephen had blasphemed God and his temple; that he went about to disannul the law. That Stephen might clear himself of both these false slanders, he began at the calling of Abraham, and declareth that the Jews excelled the Gentiles, not of their own nature, not by any right of their own, not by any merits of works, but by a free privilege, because God had adopted them in the person of Abraham. This is also very pertinent to the cause, that the covenant of salvation was made with Abraham before any temple or ceremonies were, yea, before circumcision was appointed. Of which things the Jews did so boast, that they said there was no worship of God without them, neither any holiness. After that he set down how wonderful and manifold the goodness of God was towards Abraham’s stock, and again how wickedly and frowardly they had refused, so much as in them lay, the grace of God; whereby it appeareth that it cannot be ascribed to their own merits that they are counted God’s people, but because God did choose them of his own accord, being unworthy, and did not cease to do them good, though they were most unthankful. Their lofty and proud spirits might by this means have been subdued, tamed, and humbled, that being emptied of that wind of foolish glory they might come unto the Mediator. Thirdly, he declared that the Angel was the governor and chief, in giving the law and delivering the people, and that Moses did so serve in his function, that he taught that there should come other prophets hereafter, who should, notwithstanding, have one which should be the chief of them, that he might make an end of all prophecies, and that he might bring the perfect accomplishment of them all. Whereby it is gathered that those are nothing less than Moses’ disciples, who reject that kind of doctrine which was promised and commended in the law, together with the author thereof.
Last of all, he showeth that all the old worship which was prescribed by Moses is not to be esteemed of itself, but that it ought rather to be referred to another end, because it was made according to the heavenly pattern; and that the Jews have always been wicked interpreters of the law, because they conceived nothing but that which was earthly. Hereby is it proved that there is no injury done to the temple and the law when Christ is made, as it were, the end and truth of both, But because the state of the cause did consist chiefly in this, that the worship of God doth not properly consist in sacrifices and other things, and that all ceremonies did nothing else but shadow Christ, Stephen was purposed to stand upon this point if the Jews would have permitted him; but because, when he was come to the pith of the matter, they cannot abide to hear any more, (they were so incensed with fury,) the application of those things which he had said, unto this cause which he had in hand, is wanting. And he is enforced to use a sharp reprehension for a conclusion, Ye of an hard neck, saith he, (<023209>Exodus 32:9; 33:3,5.) We see how soon he is offended with them with an holy zeal, but because he saw that he spake many things to small end, especially before deaf men, he breaketh off his doctrine. This is a metaphor taken from horses or oxen, which Moses useth often, when he will say that his people is a rebellious people, and disobedient to God, and also unruly.
The upbraiding which followeth was of greater force with them. Circumcision was unto them a vail and covering to cover all vices. Therefore, when he calleth them uncircumcised in heart, he doth not only mean that they are rebellious against God and stubborn, but that they were found treacherous and covenant-breakers, even in that sign whereof they did so greatly boast; and so he turneth that back most fitly to their shame, whereof they made boast to their glory. For this is all one, as if he should have said that they had broken the covenant of the Lord, so that their circumcision was void and profane. This speech is taken out of the law and the prophets. For as God hath appointed the sign, so he would have the Jews know to what end they were circumcised; to wit, that they might circumcise their hearts and all their corrupt affections to the Lord, as we read, “And now circumcise your hearts to the Lord,” Wherefore, the letter of circumcision, as Paul calleth it, is a vain visor with God, (<450228>Romans 2:28.) So, forasmuch as at this day the spiritual washing is the truth of our baptism, it is to be feared, lest that may well be objected to us, that we are not partakers of baptism, because our souls and flesh are polluted with filthiness.
Ye have always resisted. At the first Stephen vouchsafed to call these men fathers and brethren, against whom he inveigheth thus sharply, Therefore, so long as there remained any hope that they might be made more gentle, he dealt not only friendly with them, but he spake honorably unto them. Now, so soon as he espieth their desperate stubbornness, he doth not only take from them all honor, but lest he should have any fellowship with them, he speaketh unto them as unto men of another kindred. You, saith he, are like to your fathers, who have always rebelled against the Spirit of God. But he himself came of the same fathers; and yet that he may couple himself to Christ, he forgetteth his kindred, inasmuch as it was wicked. And yet for all this, he bindeth them not all in one bundle, as they say, but he speaketh unto the multitude.
And those are said to resist the Spirit who reject F475 him when he speaketh in the prophets. Neither doth he speak in this place of secret revelations, wherewith God inspireth every one, but of the external ministry; which we must note diligently. He purposeth to take from the Jews all color of excuse; and, therefore, he upbraideth unto them, that they had purposely, and not of ignorance, resisted God. Whereby it appeareth what great account the Lord maketh of his word, and how reverently he will have us to receive the same. Therefore, lest, like giants, we make war against God, let us learn to hearken to the ministers by whose mouth he teacheth us.
52. Which of the prophets? Forasmuch as they ought not to bear their fathers’ fault, Stephen seemeth to deal unjustly, in that he reckoneth this amongst their faults unto whom he speaketh; but he had just causes so to do. First, because they did vaunt that they were Abraham’s holy progeny, it was worth the labor to show unto them how great vanity that was, as if Stephen should say, that there is no cause why they should vaunt of their stock, forasmuch as they come of those who were wicked murderers of the prophets. So that he toucheth that glancingly which is more plainly set down by the prophets, that they are not the children of prophets, but a degenerate and bastardly issue, the seed of Canaan, etc. Which thing we may at this day object to the Papists, when as they so highly extol their fathers. Furthermore, this serveth to amplify withal, whereas he saith that it is no new thing for them to resist the truth, but that they have this wickedness, as it were, by inheritance from their fathers. Furthermore, it was requisite for Stephen by this means to pluck from their faces the visor of the Church, wherewith they burdened him. F476 This was an unmeet prejudice against the doctrine of the gospel, in that they boasted that they are the Church of God, and did challenge this title F477 by long succession. Therefore, Stephen preventeth them on the contrary, and proveth that their fathers did, no less than they, rage against the prophets, through wicked contempt and hatred of sound doctrine. Lastly, this is the continual custom of the Scripture to gather the fathers and children together F478 under the same guiltiness, seeing they pollute themselves with the same offenses, and that famous sentence of Christ answereth thereto, “Fulfill the measure of your fathers, until the just blood come upon you, from Abel unto Zacharias.”
Who have foretold. Hereby we gather that this was the drift of all the prophets, to direct their nation unto Christ, as he is the end of the law, (<451004>Romans 10:4.) It were too long to gather all the prophecies wherein the coming of Christ was foretold. Let it suffice to know this generally, that it was the common office of all the prophets to promise salvation by the grace of Christ. Christ is called in this place the Just, not only to note his innocency, but of the effect, because it is proper to him to appoint justice in the world. And even in this place doth Stephen prove that the Jews were altogether unworthy of the benefit of redemption, because the fathers did not only refuse that in times past, which was witnessed unto them by the prophets, but they did also cruelly murder the messengers of grace, and their children endeavored to extinguish the author of righteousness and salvation which was offered unto them. By which comparison Christ teacheth that the wicked conspiracy of his enemies was an heap of all iniquities.
53. Who have received the law. They called that fury wherewith they raged against Stephen zeal of the law, as if he had been a forsaker of the law, and a revolt F479 and had enforced others to fall away in like sort. Although he was determined to clear himself of this false accusation, yet he did not go through with his answer. For he could not be heard, and it was to no end to speak to deaf men. Therefore, he is content, at a word, to take from them their false color and pretense. It is evident, saith he, that you lie, when you pretend the zeal of the law, which you transgress and break without ceasing; and as he objected unto them in the words next going before, the treacherous murder of the Just, so now he upbraideth unto them their revolting from the law. Some man will say that Stephen’s cause is no whit bettered hereby, because the Jews break the law. But as we have already said, Stephen doth not so chide them, as if his defense did principally consist in this issue, but that they may not flatter themselves in their false boasting. For hypocrites must be handled thus, who will, notwithstanding, seem to be most earnest defenders of God’s glory, though indeed they condemn him carelessly. And here is also a fit antistrophe, because they made semblance that they received the law which was committed to them, which was, notwithstanding, reproachfully despised by them.
In the dispositions of angels. It is word for word, into the dispositions, but it is all one. Furthermore, we need not seek any other interpreter of this saying than Paul, who saith that the law was disposed or ordained by angels, (<480316>Galatians 3:16;) for he useth the participle there whereof this noun is derived. And his meaning is, that the angels were the messengers of God, and his witnesses in publishing the law, that the authority thereof might be firm and stable.
Therefore, forasmuch as God did call the angels to be, as it were, solemn witnesses when he gave the Jews his law, the same angels shall be witnesses of their unfaithfulness. F480 And to this end doth Stephen make mention of the angels, that he may accuse the Jews in presence of them, and prove them guilty, because they have transgressed the law. Hereby we may gather what shall become of the despisers of the gospel, which doth so far excel the law, that it doth, after a sort, darken the glory thereof, as Paul teacheth, (2 Corinthians 3.)

ACTS 7:54-58
54. Furthermore, when they heard these things, they were cut asunder in their hearts, and they gnashed upon him with their teeth. 55. But forasmuch as he was full of the Holy Ghost, he looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56. And he said, Behold, I see the heavens open, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God. And they cried with a loud voice, and stopped their ears; 57. And with one accord they ran upon him: 58. And having cast him out of the city, they stoned him.

54. When they heard. The beginning of the action had in it some color of judgment; but at length the judges cannot bridle their fury. First, they interrupt him with murmuring and noise, now they break out into envious and deadly cryings, F481 lest they should hear any one word. Afterward they hale the holy man (out of the city,) that they may put him to death. And Luke expresseth properly what force Satan hath to drive forward the adversaries of the word. When he saith that they burst asunder inwardly, he noteth that they were not only angry, but they were also stricken with madness. Which fury breaketh out into the gnashing of the teeth, as a violent fire into flame. The reprobate, who are at Satan’s commandment, must needs be thus moved with the hearing of the word of God; and this is the state of the gospel, it driveth hypocrites into madness who might seem before to be modest, as if a drunken man who is desirous of sleep be suddenly awakened. Therefore, Simeon assigneth this to Christ, as proper to him, to disclose the thoughts of many hearts, (<420235>Luke 2:35.) Yet, notwithstanding, this ought not to be ascribed to the doctrine of salvation, whose end is rather this, to tame men’s minds to obey God after that it hath subdued them. But so soon as Satan hath possessed their minds, if they be urged, their ungodliness will break out. Therefore, this is an accidentary [accidental] evil; yet we are taught by these examples, that we must not look that the word of God should draw all men unto a sound mind.
Which doctrine is very requisite for us unto constancy. Those which are teachers cannot do their duty as they ought, but they must set themselves against the contemners of God. And forasmuch as there are always some wicked men, which set light by the majesty of God, they must ever now and then have recourse unto this vehemency of Stephen. For they may not wink when God’s honor is taken from him. And what shall be the end thereof? Their ungodliness shall be the more incensed, so that we shall seem to pour oil into the fire, (as they say.) But whatsoever come of it, yet must we not spare the wicked, but we must keep them down mightily, although they could pour out all the furies of hell. And it is certain that those which will flatter the wicked do not respect the fruit, F482 but are faint-hearted through fear of danger. But as for us, howsoever we have no such success as we could wish, let us know that courage in defending the doctrine of godliness is a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.
55. Forasmuch as he was full. We cannot almost express into what straits the servant of Christ was brought, when he saw himself beset round with raging enemies; the goodness of his cause was oppressed, partly with false accusations and malice, partly with violence and outrageous outcries; he was environed with stern countenances on every side; he himself was haled unto a cruel and horrible kind of death; he could espy succor and ease no where. Therefore, being thus destitute of man’s help, he turneth himself toward God. We must first note this, that Stephen did look unto God, who is the judge of life and death, (turning his eyes from beholding the world,) when he was brought into extreme despair of all things, whilst that there is nothing but death before his eyes. This done, we must also add this, that his expectation was not in vain, because Christ appeared to him by and by. Although Luke doth signify, that he was now armed with such power of the Spirit as could not be overcome, so that nothing could hinder him from beholding the heavens; therefore Stephen looketh up toward heaven, that he may gather courage by beholding Christ; that dying he may triumph gloriously, having overcome death. But as for us, it is no marvel if Christ do not show himself to us, because we are so set and tied upon the earth. Hereby it cometh to pass, that our hearts fail us at every light rumor of danger, and even at the falling of a leaf. And that for good causes; for where is our strength but in Christ? But we pass over the heavens, as if we had no help any where else, save only in the world, Furthermore, this vice can be redressed by no other means than if God lift us up by his Spirit, being naturally set upon the earth. Therefore, Luke assigneth this cause, why Stephen looked up steadfastly toward heaven, because he was full of the Spirit. We must also ascend into heaven, having this Spirit to be our director and guide, so often as we are oppressed with troubles. And, surely, until such time as he illuminate us, our eyes are not so quick of sight, that they can come unto heaven. Yea, the eyes of the flesh are so dull, that they cannot ascend into heaven.
He saw the glory of God. Luke signifieth, as I have said, that Christ appeared forthwith to Stephen so soon as he lifted up his eyes towards heaven. But he telleth us before, that he had other eyes given him than the fleshly eyes, seeing that with the same F483 he flieth up unto the glory of God. Whence we must gather a general comfort, that God will be no less present with us, if, forsaking the world, all our senses strive to come to him; not that he appeareth unto us by any external vision, as he did to Stephen, but he will so reveal himself unto us within, that we may indeed feel his presence. And this manner of seeing ought to be sufficient for us, when God doth not only, by his power and grace, declare that he is nigh at hand, but doth also prove that he dwelleth in us.
56. Behold, I see the heavens. God meant not only privately to provide for his servant, but also to wring and torment his enemies; as Stephen doth courageously triumph over them, when he affirmeth plainly that he saw a miracle. And here may a question be moved, how the heavens were opened? For mine own part, I think that there was nothing changed in the nature of the heavens; but that Stephen had new quickness of sight granted him, which pierced through all lets, even unto the invisible glory of the kingdom of heaven. For admit we grant that there was some division or parting F484 made in heaven, yet man’s eye could never reach so far. Again, Stephen alone did see the glory of God. For that spectacle was not only hid from the wicked, who stood in the same place, but they were also so blinded within themselves, that they did not see the manifest truth. F485 Therefore, he saith that the heavens are opened to him in this respect, because nothing keepeth him from beholding the glory of God. Whereupon it followeth that the miracle was not wrought in heaven, but in his eyes. Wherefore, there is no cause why we should dispute long about any natural vision; because it is certain that Christ appeared unto him not after some natural manner, but after a new and singular sort. And I pray you of what color was the glory of God, that it could be seen naturally with the eyes of the flesh? Therefore, we must imagine nothing in this vision but that which is divine. Moreover, this is worth the noting, that the glory of God appeared not unto Stephen wholly as it was, but according to man’s capacity. For that infiniteness cannot be comprehended with the measure of any creature.
The Son of man standing. He seeth Christ reigning in that flesh wherein he was abased; so that in very deed the victory did consist in this one thing. Therefore, it is not superfluous in that Christ appeareth unto him, and for this cause doth he also call him the Son of man, as if he should say, I see that man whom ye thought ye had quite extinguished by death enjoying the government of heaven; therefore, gnash with your teeth as much as you list: there is no cause why I should fear to fight for him even unto blood, who shall not only defend his own cause, but my salvation also. Notwithstanding, here may a question be moved, why he saw him standing, who is said elsewhere to sit? Augustine, as he is sometimes more subtle than needs, saith, “that he sitteth as a judge, that he stood then as an advocate.” For mine own part, I think that though these speeches be diverse, yet they signify both one thing. For neither sitting, nor yet standing, noteth out how the body of Christ was framed; but this is referred unto his power and kingdom. For where shall we erect him a throne, that he may sit at the right hand of God the Father, seeing God doth fill all things in such sort, that we ought to imagine no place for his right hand?
Therefore, the whole text is a metaphor, when Christ is said to sit or stand at the right hand of God the Father, and the plain meaning is this, that Christ hath all power given him, that he may reign in his Father’s stead in that flesh wherein he was humbled, and that he may be next him. And although this power be spread abroad through heaven and earth, yet some men imagine amiss that Christ in every where in his human nature. For, though he be contained in a certain place, yet that hindereth no whit but that he may and doth show forth his power throughout all the world. Therefore, if we be desirous to feel him present by the working of his grace, we must seek him in heaven; as he revealed himself unto Stephen there. Also, some men do affirm ridiculously out of this place, that he drew near unto Stephen that he might see him. F486 For we have already said, that Stephen’s eyes were so lifted up by the power of the Spirit, F487 that no distance of place could hinder the same. I confess, indeed, that speaking properly, that is, philosophically, there is no place above the heavens. But this is sufficient for me, that it is perverse doting to place Christ any where else save only in heaven, and above the elements of the world.
57. Crying with a loud voice. This was either a vain show of zeal, as hypocrites are almost always pricked forward with ambition to break out into immoderate heat; as Caiaphas when he heard Christ say thus, After this ye shall see the Son of man, etc., did rent his clothes in token of indignation, as if it were intolerable blasphemy; or else certainly the preaching of the glory of Christ was unto them such a torment, that they must needs burst through madness. And I am rather of this mind; for Luke saith afterward, that they were carried violently, as those men which have no hold of themselves use to leap out immoderately. F488
58. They stoned. God had appointed this kind of punishment in the law for false prophets, as it is written in the 13th chapter of Deuteronomy; but God doth also define there who ought to be reckoned in that number; to wit, he which doth attempt to bring the people unto strange gods; therefore the stoning of Stephen was both unjust and also wicked, because he was unjustly condemned; so that the martyrs of Christ must suffer like punishment with the wicked. It is the cause alone which maketh the difference; but this difference is so highly esteemed before God and his angels, that the rebukes of the martyrs F489 do far excel all glory of the world. Yet here may a question be moved, How it was lawful for the Jews to stone Stephen, who had not the government in their hands? For in Christ’s cause they answer, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. I answer, that they did this violently and in an uproar. And whereas the president did not punish this wickedness, it may be that he winked at many things, F490 lest they should bring that hatred upon his own head which they bare against the name of Christ. We see that the Roman presidents did chiefly wink at the civil discords of that nation, even of set purpose; that when one of them had murdered another, F491 they might the sooner be overcome afterward.

ACTS 7:58-61
And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, named Saul.59. And they stoned Stephen, calling on, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said thus, he fell on sleep. 61. And Saul consented [was consenting] to his death.

And the witnesses. Luke signifieth, that even in that tumult they observed some show of judgment. This was not commanded in vain that the witnesses should throw the first stone; because, seeing they must commit the murder with their own hands, many are holden with a certain dread, who otherwise are less afraid to cut the throats of the innocent with perjury of the tongue. But in the mean season, we gather how blind and mad the ungodliness of these witnesses was, who are not afraid to imbrue their bloody hands with the blood of an innocent, who had already committed murder with their tongues. Whereas he saith, that their clothes were laid down at the feet of Saul, he showeth that there was no let in him, but that being cast into a reprobate sense he might have perished with the rest. F492 For who would not think that he was a desperate, [desperado,] who had infected his youth with such cruelty? F493 Neither is his age expressed to lessen his fault, as some unskillful men go about to prove; for he was of those years, that want of knowledge could no whit excuse him. And Luke will shortly after declare, that he was sent by the high priest to persecute the faithful. Therefore he was no child, he might well be counted a man. Why, then, is his youth mentioned? That every man may consider with himself what great hurt he might have done in God’s Church, unless Christ had bridled him betimes. And therein appeareth a most notable token both of God’s power and also of his grace, in that he tamed a fierce and wild beast in his chief fury, even in a moment, and in that he extolled a miserable murderer so highly who through his wickedness was drowned almost in the deep pit of hell.
59. Calling on. Because he had uttered words enough before men, though in vain, he turneth himself now unto God for good causes, and armeth himself with prayer to suffer all things. For although we have need to run unto God’s help every minute of an hour during our whole warfare, yet we have greatest need to call upon God in the last conflict, which is the hardest.
And Luke expresseth again how furious mad they were, because their cruelty was not assuaged even when they saw the servant of Christ praying humbly. Furthermore, here is set down a prayer of Stephen having two members. In the former member, where he commendeth his spirit to Christ, he showeth the constancy of his faith. In the other, where he prayeth for his enemies, he testifieth his love towards men. Forasmuch as the whole perfection of godliness consisteth upon [of] these two parts, we have in the death of Stephen a rare example of a godly and holy death. It is to be thought that he used many more words, but the sum tendeth to this end.
Lord Jesus. I have already said, that this prayer was a witness of confidence; and surely the courageousness and violentness F494 of Stephen was great, that when as he saw the stones fly about his ears, wherewith he should be stoned by and by; when as he heareth cruel curses and reproaches against his head, he yet stayeth himself meekly F495 upon the grace of Christ. In like sort, the Lord will have his servants to be brought to nought as it were sometimes, to the end their salvation may be the more wonderful, And let us define this salvation not by the understanding of our flesh, F496 but by faith. We see how Stephen leaneth not unto the judgment of the flesh, but rather assuring himself, even in very destruction, that he shall be saved, he suffereth death with a quiet mind. For undoubtedly he was assured of this, that our life is hid with Christ in God, (<510303>Colossians 3:3.)
Therefore, casting off all care of the body, he is content to commit his soul into the hands of Christ. For he could not pray thus from his heart, unless, having forgotten this life, he had cast off all care of the same.
It behoveth us with David (<193106>Psalm 31:6) to commit our souls into the hands of God daily so long as we are in the world, because we are environed with a thousand deaths, that God may deliver our life from all dangers; but when we must die indeed, and we are called thereunto, we must fly unto this prayer, that Christ will receive our spirit. For he commended his own spirit into the hands of his Father, to this end, that he may keep ours for ever. This is an inestimable comfort, in that we know our souls do not wander up and down F497 when they flit out of our bodies, but that Christ receiveth them, that he may keep them faithfully, if we commend them into his hands. This hope ought to encourage us to suffer death patiently. Yea, whosoever commendeth his soul to Christ with an earnest affection of faith, he must needs resign himself wholly to his pleasure and will. And this place doth plainly testify that the soul of man is no vain blast which vanisheth away, as some frantic fellows imagine dotingly, F498 but that it is an essential spirit which liveth after this life. Furthermore, we are taught hereby that we call upon Christ rightly and lawfully, because all power is given him of the Father, for this cause, that all men may commit themselves to his tuition. F499
60. Kneeling down, he cried. This is the other part of his prayer, wherein he joineth the love of men with faith in Christ; and surely if we desire to be gathered to Christ for our salvation, we must put on this affection. Whereas Stephen prayeth for his enemies, and those most deadly, and even in the very instant when their cruelty might provoke him unto desire of revenge, he declareth sufficiently what affection he beareth toward all other men.
And we know that we are all commanded F500 to do the same which Stephen did; F501 but because there is nothing more hard than so to forgive injuries, that we will wish well to those who would have us undone, (<400543>Matthew 5:43, 44;) therefore we must always set Stephen before our eyes for an example. He crieth indeed with a loud voice, but he maketh show of nothing before men which was not spoken sincerely and from the heart, as God himself doth witness. Yet he crieth aloud, that he may omit nothing which might serve to assuage the cruelty of the enemies. The fruit appeared not forthwith, yet undoubtedly he prayed not in vain; and Paul is unto us a sufficient testimony F502 that this sin was not laid to all their charges. I will not say as Augustine, that unless Stephen had prayed the Church should not have had Paul; for this is somewhat hard; only I say this, that whereas God pardoned Paul, it appeareth thereby that Stephen’s prayer was not in vain. Here ariseth a question, how Stephen prayeth for those which he said of late did resist the Holy Ghost; but this seemeth to be the sin against the Spirit which shall never be forgiven? We may easily answer, that that is pronounced generally of all which belongeth to many everywhere; therefore, he called not the body of the people rebellious in such sort that he exempted none. Again, I have declared before what manner of resisting he condemned in that place; for it followeth not by and by, that they sin against the Holy Ghost who resist him for a time. When he prayeth that God will not lay the sin to their charge, his meaning is, that the guiltiness may not remain in them.
And when he had said thus, he fell on sleep. This was added, that we may know that these words were uttered even when he was ready to yield up the ghost, which is a token of wonderful constancy; also this word sleep noteth a meek kind of death. Now, because he made this prayer when he was at the point of death, he was not moved with any hope of obtaining pardon, to be so careful to appease his enemies, but only that they might repent. When this word sleep is taken in the Scripture for to die, it must be referred unto the body, lest any man imagine foolishly with unlearned men, that the souls do also sleep.
CHAPTER 8
In this history we may first see the state of the godly in this world, to wit, that they are like sheep appointed to be slain, as it is in the Psalm, (<194422>Psalm 44:22;) and especially when the Lord letteth loose the bridle to his enemies, that they may put that cruelty in execution which they have in mind conceived. Secondly, here is set down the end of persecutions, to wit, that they are so far from breaking off the course of the gospel, that they are rather made helps to further the same through the wonderful counsel of God. Like as it was a manifest miracle, that the scattering abroad, mentioned by Luke, gathered many unto the unity of faith who were estranged from God before. Now, let us consider every thing in order.

ACTS 8:1-4
1. And at that day there was great persecution raised against the church which was at Jerusalem. Therefore they were all scattered abroad throughout all regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2. And religious men dressed Stephen together, and they mourned sore for him. 3. But Saul made havock of the church, and, entering into houses, and drawing thence men and women, he cast them into prison. 4. And they being dispersed, did go about preaching the word of God.

1. At that day. The persecution began at Stephen, after that, when their madness was thereby set on fire, it waxed hot against all, both one and other. For the wicked are like brute beasts, for when they have once tasted blood they are more desirous thereof, and become more cruel through committing murder. For Satan, who is the father of all cruelty, doth first take from them all feeling of humanity when they are once imbrued with innocent blood; that done, he stirreth up in them an unquenchable thirsting after blood, whence those violent assaults to commit murder come; so that when they have once begun, they will never make an end with their will. Moreover, when they have power once granted them to do hurt, their boldness increaseth in tract of time, so that they are carried headlong more immoderately, which thing Luke also noteth when he saith, The persecution was great. Undoubtedly the Church had but small rest before, neither was it free from the vexation of the wicked; but the Lord spared his for a time, that they might have some liberty, and now they began to be sorer set on.
These things must be applied unto our time also. If the furiousness of our enemies seem at any time to be as it were fallen on sleep, so that it casteth not out flames far, let us know that the Lord provideth for our weakness; yet, let us not in the mean season imagine that we shall have continual truce, but let us be in readiness to suffer sorer brunts, as often as they shall break out suddenly. Let us also remember, that if at any time the constancy of one man have whetted the cruelty of our enemies, the blame of the evil is unjustly ascribed to him. For Luke doth not defame Stephen, F503 when as he saith, that by means of him the Church was sorer vexed than before; but he rather turneth this to his praise, because he did valiantly, as the standard-bearer, encourage others with his example to fight courageously. When he calleth it the Church which was at Jerusalem, his meaning is not that there were Churches elsewhere, but he passeth over unto these things which ensued thereupon. For whereas there was but this one only body of the godly in all the world, it was rent in pieces through flight; yet there sprung up more Churches by and by of those lame members which were dispersed here and there, and so the body of Christ was spread abroad far and wide, whereas it was before shut up within the walls of Jerusalem,
They were all scattered abroad. It is certain that they were not all scattered abroad, but the Scripture useth an universal note, for that which we say, Every where or abroad. F504 The sum is this, that not only a few were in danger; because the cruelty of the enemies raged throughout the whole Church. Many do oftentimes take themselves to their feet, through faintness of heart, even when they hear any light rumor, but these are in another case. For they fled not unadvisedly, being discouraged, F505 but because they saw no other means to pacify the fury of the adversaries. And he saith, that they were scattered not only through divers places of Judea, but that they came even unto Samaria; so that the middle wall began to be pulled down, which made division between the Jews and the Gentiles, (<490214>Ephesians 2:14.) For the conversion of Samaria was, as it were, the first fruits of the calling of the Gentiles. For although they had circumcision, as had the people of God, yet we know that there was great dissension, and that not without great cause, forasmuch as they had in Samaria only a forged worship of God, as Christ affirmeth, because it was only an unsavory emulation. F506 Therefore God set open the gate for the gospel then, that the scepter of Christ, sent out of Jerusalem, might come unto the Gentiles. He exempteth the apostles out of this number, not that they were free from the common danger, but because it is the duty of a good pastor to set himself against the invasions of wolves for the safety of his flock.
But here may a question be asked, forasmuch as they were commanded to preach the gospel throughout the whole world , (<411616>Mark 16:16,) why they stayed at Jerusalem, even when they were expelled thence with force and hand? I answer, that seeing Christ had commanded them to begin at Jerusalem, they employed themselves there until such time as being brought into some other place by his hand, they might know, for a surety, that he was their guide. And we see how fearfully they proceeded to preach the gospel; not that they foreslowed [shunned] that function which was enjoined them, but because they were amazed at a new and unwonted thing. Therefore, seeing they see the gospel so mightily resisted at Jerusalem, they dare go to no other place until such time as they have broken that first huge heap of straits. Assuredly, they provide neither for their ease, nor yet for their own commodities either for being void of care by staying at Jerusalem; for they have a painful charge, they are continually amidst divers dangers they encounter with great troubles. Wherefore, undoubtedly, they are purposed to do their duty; and especially, whereas they stand to it when all the rest fly, that is an evident testimony of valiant constancy. If any man object that they might have divided the provinces amongst them, that they might not all have been occupied in one place, I answer, that Jerusalem alone had business enough for them all.
In sum, Luke reckoneth up this as a thing worthy of praise, that they followed not the rest into voluntary exile to avoid persecution; and yet he doth not reprehend the flight of those men whose state was more free. For the apostles did consider what particular thing their calling had; to wit, that they should keep their standing, seeing the wolves did invade the sheepfold. The rigor of Tertullian, and such like, was too great, who did deny indifferently that it is lawful to fly for fear of persecution. Augustine saith better, who giveth leave to fly in such sort that the churches, being destitute of their pastors, be not betrayed into the hands of the enemies. This is surely the best moderation, which beareth neither too much with the flesh, neither driveth those headlong to death who may lawfully save their lives. Let him that is disposed read the 180th Epistle to Honoratus.
That I may return to the apostles, if they had been scattered here and there with fear of persecution, even at the beginning, all men might have rightly called them hirelings. How hurtful and filthy had the forsaking of the place been at the present time? How greatly would it have discouraged the minds of all men? What great hurt should they have done with their example among the posterity? It shall sometimes so fall out indeed, that the pastor may also fly; that is, if they invade him alone, if the laying waste of the Church be not feared if he be absent. F507 But and if both his flock and he have to encounter with the adversary, he is a treacherous forsaker of his office if he stand not stoutly to it even until the end. Private persons have greater liberty.
2. They dressed Stephen. Luke showeth, that even in the heat of persecution the godly were not discouraged, but being always zealous, they did those duties which did belong to godliness. Burial seemeth to be a matter of small importance; rather than they will foreslow [neglect] the same, they bring themselves in no small hazard of life. And as the circumstance of time doth declare, that they contemned death valiantly, so again, we gather thereby that they were careful to do this thing not without great and urgent cause. For this served greatly to exercise their faith, that the body of the holy martyr should not be left to the wild beasts, in whom Christ had triumphed nobly according to the glory of his gospel. Neither could they live to Christ, unless they were ready to be gathered unto Stephen into the society of death. Therefore the care they had to bury the martyr was unto them a meditation unto invincible constancy of professing the faith. Therefore they sought not in a superfluous matter, with an unadvised zeal, to provoke their adversaries. Although that general reason, which ought always and every where to be of force amongst the godly, was undoubtedly of great weight with them. For the rite of burying doth appertain unto the hope of the resurrection, as it was ordained by God since the beginning of the world to this end.
Wherefore, this was always counted cruel barbarism to suffer bodies to lie unburied willingly. Profane men did not know why they should account the rite of burial so holy; but we are not ignorant of the end thereof, to wit, that those which remain alive may know that the bodies are committed to the earth as to a prison, F508 until they be raised up thence. Whereby it appeareth that this duty is profitable rather for those which are alive than those which are dead. Although it is also a point of our humanity to give due honor to those bodies to which we know blessed immortality to be promised.
They made great lamentation. Luke doth also commend their profession of godliness and faith in their lamentation. For a doleful and unprosperous end causeth men, for the most part, to forsake those causes wherein they were delighted before. But, on the other side, these men declare by their mourning, that they are no whit terrified with the death of Stephen from standing stoutly in the approbation of their cause; considering therewithal what great loss God’s Church suffered by the death of one man. And we must reject that foolish philosophy which willeth all men to be altogether blockish that they may be wise. It must needs be that the Stoics were void of common sense who would have a man to be without all affection. Certain mad fellows would gladly bring in the same dotings into the Church at this day, and yet, notwithstanding, although they require an heart of iron of other men, there is nothing softer or more effeminate than they. They cannot abide that other men should shed one tear; if anything fall out otherwise than they would wish, they make no end of mourning. God doth thus punish their arrogancy jestingly, (that I may so term it,) seeing that he setteth them to be laughed at even by boys. But let us know that those affections which God hath given to man’s nature are, of themselves, no more corrupt than the author himself; but that they are first to be esteemed according to the cause; secondly, if they keep a mean and moderation. Surely that man which denieth that we ought to rejoice over the gifts of God is more like a block than a man; therefore, we may no less lawfully sorrow when they be taken away. And lest I pass the compass of this present place, Paul doth not altogether forbid men mourning, when any of their friends are taken away by death, but he would have a difference between them and the unbelievers; because hope ought to be to them a comfort and a remedy against impatience. For the beginning of death caused us to sorrow for good causes; but because we know that we have life restored to us in Christ, we have that which is sufficient to appease our sorrow. In like sort, when we are sorry that the Church is deprived of rare and excellent men, there is good cause of sorrow; only we must seek such comfort as may correct excess.
3. But Saul We must note two things in this place, how great the cruelty of the adversaries was, and how wonderful the goodness of God was, who vouchsafed to make Paul a pastor of so cruel a wolf. For that desire to lay waste the Church wherewith he was incensed did seem to cut away all hope. Therefore his conversion was so much the more excellent afterward. And it is not to be doubted but that this punishment was laid upon him by God, after that he had conspired to put Stephen to death, together with the other wicked men, that he should be the ringleader of cruelty. For God doth oftentimes punish sins more sharply in the elect than in the reprobate.
4. And they were scattered abroad. Luke declareth in this place also, that it came to pass by the wonderful providence of God, that the scattering abroad of the faithful should bring many unto the unity of faith; thus doth the Lord use to bring light out of darkness, and life out of death. For the voice of the gospel, which was heard heretofore in one place only, doth now sound everywhere; in the mean season, we are taught by this example that we must not yield unto persecutions, but rather be encouraged unto valiantness; for, when the faithful flee from Jerusalem, they are not afterward discouraged either with exile or with their present miseries, or with any fear, that they degenerate into slothfulness; F509 but they are as ready to preach Christ even in the midst of their calamity as if they had never suffered any trouble. Moreover, Luke seemeth to note that they led a wandering life in that they changed their lodgings often. Therefore, if we desire to be counted their brethren, let us prick forward ourselves so diligently, that no fear or bitterness of cross discourage us, but that we go forward in showing forth the profession of faith; and that we never be weary of furthering the doctrine of Christ; for it is an absurd thing that exile and flight, which are the first exercises of martyrdom, should make us dumb and fainthearted.

ACTS 8:5-13
5. And when Philip came into the city of Samaria, he preached Christ to them. 6. And the multitude gave ear to those things which Philip spake, hearing with one consent, and seeing the signs which he showed. 7. For whereas many were possessed with unclean spirits, they came out, crying with a loud voice; and many that had the palsy, and which were lame, were healed; 8. So that there was great joy in that city. 9. And a man, named Simon, had been before in the city, exercising the art magic, and bewitching the people of Samaria, saying that he was some great man: 10. To whom they all gave heed, both small and great, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11. And they had given heed unto him, because they had been bewitched long time with his witchcraft. 12. But as soon as they believed Philip preaching concerning the kingdom of God, and in the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13. And Simon himself believed, and being baptized, did cleave to Philip; and when he saw the signs and great powers which were done, he wondered.

5. Luke said that they all preached the Word of God, now he maketh mention of Philip alone, both because his preaching was more fruitful and effectual than the preaching of the rest, and also because there followed notable histories, which he will add afterward. He put the city of Samaria for the city Samaria which was laid waste by Hyrcanus, and built again by Herod, and called Sebaste. Read Josephus, in his Thirteenth and Fifteenth Books of Antiquities. When he saith that Philip preached Christ, he signifieth that the whole sum of the gospel is contained in Christ. The other speech which he useth shortly after is more perfect; yet it all one in effect. He joineth the kingdom of God and the name of Christ together; but because we obtain this goodness through Christ, to have God to reign in us, and to lead an heavenly life, being renewed into spiritual righteousness, and dead to the world, therefore the preaching of Christ containeth this point also under it. But the sum is this, that Christ doth repair with his grace the world, being destroyed; which cometh to pass when he reconcileth us to the Father. Secondly, when he regenerateth us by his Spirit, that the kingdom of God may be erected in us when Satan is put to flight. Moreover, whereas he declared before, that the apostles did not stir one foot from Jerusalem, it is to be thought that he speaketh of one of the seven deacons in this place, whose daughters did also prophesy.
6. And the multitude gave ear. Luke declareth how the Samaritans did embrace Philip’s doctrine. For he saith that they heard, whereby they took some taste; there was also another prick whereby they were pricked forward, and that was miracles; at length there followed attentiveness. This is the right going forward unto faith; for those which refuse that doctrine which they have not heard, how is it possible that they should ever come unto faith, which cometh by hearing? (<451014>Romans 10:14.) Therefore, whereas they were ready to hear, that was the first step unto reverence and attentiveness. And therefore it is no marvel if faith be so rare, and almost none in the world; for how many be there which vouchsafe to hearken when God speaketh? whereby it cometh to pass that the more part rejecteth the truth before they know the same, and have not so much as lightly tasted it. And as hearing is the beginning of faith, so it should not be sufficient of itself, unless the majesty of doctrine should also move the hearts. And surely, whosoever considereth that he hath to do with God, cannot hear him contemptuously when he speaketh; and the very doctrine which is contained in his word shall purchase authority for itself, so that attentiveness shall flow of itself from hearing. As touching miracles we know that there is a double use thereof; they serve to prepare us to hear the gospel, and to confirm us in the faith thereof. The adverb, with one accord, may be joined as well with hearing as with attentiveness. This latter doth like me better, that they were attentive with one accord; and therein doth Luke commend the force and efficacy of Philip’s preaching, because a great number of men was suddenly won to hear attentively with one consent.
7. Unclean spirits. He toucheth certain kinds briefly, that we may know with what miracles they F510 were brought to attribute any authority to Philip. That crying wherewith the unclean spirits cried was a token of resistance. Wherefore this served not a little to set forth the power of Christ, that he did bind the devils with his commandment, though they resisted stubbornly.
8. The joy whereof he speaketh is a fruit of faith. For it cannot be but that so soon as we know that God will be favorable and merciful our minds shall be wrapt with incomparable joy, and such as doth far pass all understanding, (<500407>Philippians 4:7.)
9. A certain man named Simon. This was such a let that it might seem that the gospel could have no passage to come unto the Samaritans; for the minds of them all were bewitched with Simon’s jugglings. And this amazedness was grown to some strength by reason of long space of time. Furthermore experience teacheth what a hard matter it is to pluck that error out of the minds of men which hath taken root through long continuance and to call them back unto a sound and right mind who are already hardened. Superstition made them more obstinate in their error, because they counted Simon not only as a prophet of God, but even as the Spirit of God.
10. For the surname, great power, tendeth to this end, that whatsoever should otherwise be divine might wax vile through this greatness. Therefore the power of Christ appeareth hereby more plainly, in that Philip brake through these lets; which thing Luke amplifieth,
11. When he saith that they were astonied, from the least to the greatest. For seeing all men, of what estate soever they were, were deluded, what entrance could the gospel have, especially since it was no mean seducing? for all their senses were besotted. And besides that we see thereby how mighty the truth is, there is also set before us an example of constancy in Philip, who, though he saw no way, yet doth he set hand to the Lord’s work with a valiant courage, waiting for the success which God should give. And thus must we do, we must valiantly attempt whatsoever the Lord commandeth, even when our endeavors seem to be vain. Furthermore, whereas Satan did bewitch the Samaritans, let us know that it is the common punishment of infidelity. All men are not bewitched, indeed, with the jugglings of enchanters, neither are there Simons everywhere, which can so seduce and deceive; but my meaning is, that it is no wonder, F511 if Satan do mock men diversely in the dark; for they are subject to all errors whosoever are not governed by the Spirit of God. Furthermore, when Luke saith that they were all seduced one with another, we are taught that neither wit, neither all that reason and wisdom which we have, are sufficient to avoid the craftiness of Satan withal. And surely we see in what foolish and doting errors they were entangled, who were counted in the world wiser than others.
The great power of God. Therefore Satan abused the name of God to deceive, which is the most pestilent kind of deceiving, so far is it from being any excuse. It hath been said before, that Simon did take to himself the name of the principal power of God, that he might suppress and surpass whatsoever was elsewhere divine, as the sun darkeneth all the stars with his light. This was wicked and ungodly profaning of the name of God. But we read of nothing which was done here, which is not done as yet daily; for men are bent to nothing more than to translate that to Satan which is proper to God. They pretend religion; but what did this pretense help the Samaritans? Therefore it goeth well with us when God setteth forth to us his power in Christ, and declareth therewith that we must not seek the same anywhere else, and doth discover the sleights and juggling casts of Satan, which we must avoid, to the end he may keep us still in himself.
12. When they had believed. That is the miracle whereof I spake because they heard Philip, who were altogether made astonied with the illusions of Simon; in that they were made partakers of the heavenly wisdom who were blockish and dull. So that they were, after a sort, brought from hell to heaven. Whereas baptism followed faith, it agreeth with Christ’s institution, as concerning strangers, (<411604>Mark 16:47,) and those which were without. For it was meet that they should be engrafted into the body of the Church before they should receive the sign; but the Anabaptists are too foolish, whilst they endeavor to prove by these places that infants are not to be baptized. Men and women could not be baptized without making confession of their faith; but they were admitted unto baptism upon this condition, that their families might F512 be consecrated to God; for the covenant goeth thus:
“I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed,”
(<011707>Genesis 17:7.)
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; F513 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; <420813>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; F514 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, F515 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; F516 and that they are not offered in vain, so that F517 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. F518
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 F519 (<550410>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. F520

ACTS 8:14-17
14. And when the apostles which were at Jerusalem had heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15. Who, when they were come down, they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16. For he was not as yet come down upon any of them; but they were only baptized in the name of Christ Jesus. 17. Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

14. Luke describeth, in this place, the proceedings of the grace of God in the Samaritans, as he useth to enrich the faithful continually with greater gifts of his Spirit, for we must not think that the apostles took that counsel whereof Luke speaketh, without the instinct of the same God who had already begun his work in Samaria by the hand of Philip; and he useth his instruments diversely unto divers parts of his work, according to his good pleasure. He used Philip as an instrument to bring them unto the faith; now he ordaineth Peter and John to be ministers to give the Spirit and thus doth he foster the unity of his Church when one helpeth another, and not only knit man and man together, but whole churches also. He could have finished that which he had begun by Philip; but to the end the Samaritans might learn to embrace brotherly fellowship with the first Church, he meant to bind them herewith as with a band; secondly, he meant to grant the apostles (whom he had commanded to preach the gospel throughout the whole world — <411615>Mark 16:15) this privilege, that they might the better all grow together into one faith of the gospel; and we know that it was otherwise dangerous, lest, seeing the Jews and Samaritans were much unlike in mind and manners, being so divided, they should by this means divide Christ, or at least feign to themselves a new Church.
In the mean season, we see how careful the apostles were to help their brethren; for they stay not until they be requested, but they take this charge upon them of their own accord. The apostles do not this through any distrust, as if they did suspect that Philip did not his duty so uprightly as he ought; F521 but they set to their hand to help him in his work, and Peter and John came not only to help him, and to be partakers of his labors, but also to approve the same. Again, Philip is not grieved because other men finish that building which he had begun, but they one help another full gently and faithfully; and surely it is ambition alone which will not suffer holy fellowship and mutual imparting of duties to enter. F522 Whereas Luke saith that Peter was sent by the rest, we may hereby gather that he was not the chief ruler over his fellows in office; F523 but did so excel amongst them, that yet, notwithstanding, he was subject to, and did obey the body.
Which were at Jerusalem. This may carry a double meaning, either that all the apostles were at Jerusalem then, or that there were certain resident there when the rest went hither and thither; and I do rather allow this latter, for it is to be thought that they did so divide themselves, that always some of the number might take upon them divers embassages, as occasion was offered, that some might stay at Jerusalem, as in the principal standing. F524 Again, it may be that after every man had spent some time in his voyage, they were wont to assemble themselves there. It is certain, indeed, that that time which they spent at Jerusalem was not spent in idleness; and, secondly that they were not tied to some one place, forasmuch as Christ had commanded them to go over all the world (<411615>Mark 16:15.)
15. They prayed. Undoubtedly they taught first, for we know that they were no dumb persons; but Luke passeth over that which was common to them and Philip, and declareth only what new thing the Samaritans had by their coming, to wit, that they had the Spirit given them then.
16. But here ariseth a question, for he saith that they were only baptized into the name of Christ, and that therefore they had not as yet received the Holy Ghost; but baptism must either be in vain and without grace, or else it must have all the force which it hath from the Holy Ghost. In baptism we are washed from our sins; but Paul teacheth that our washing is the work of the Holy Ghost, (<560305>Titus 3:5.) The water used in baptism is a sign of the blood of Christ; but Peter saith, that it is the Spirit by whom we are washed with the blood of Christ (<600102>1 Peter 1:2.) Our old man is crucified in baptism, that we may be raised up unto newness of life, (<450606>Romans 6:6;) and whence cometh all this save only from the sanctification of the Spirit? And, finally, what shall remain in baptism if it be separate from the Spirit? (<480327>Galatians 3:27.) Therefore, we must not deny but that the Samaritans, who had put on Christ, indeed, in baptism, had also his Spirit given them; and surely Luke speaketh not in this place of the common grace of the Spirit, whereby God doth regenerate us, that we may be his children, but of those singular gifts wherewith God would have certain endued at the beginning of the gospel to beautify Christ’s kingdom. Thus must the words of John be understood, that the disciples had not the Spirit given them as yet, forasmuch as Christ was yet conversant in the world; not that they were altogether destitute of the Spirit, seeing that they had from the same both faith, and a godly desire to follow Christ; but because they were not furnished with those excellent gifts, wherein appeared afterwards greater glory of Christ’s kingdom. To conclude, forasmuch as the Samaritans were already endtied with the Spirit of adoptioni the excellent graces of the Spirit are heaped upon them, in which God showed to his Church, for a time as it were, the visible presence of his Spirit, that he might establish for ever the authority of his gospel, and also testify that his Spirit shall be always the governor and director of the faithful.
They were only baptized. We must not understand this as spoken contemptuously of baptism; but Luke’s meaning is, that they were only endued then with the grace of common adoption and regeneration, which is offered to all the godly in baptism. As for this, it was an extraordinary thing that certain should have the gifts of the Spirit given them, which might serve to set forth the kingdom of Christ and the glory of the gospel; for this was the use thereof, that every one might profit the Church according to the measure of his ability. We must note this, therefore, because, while the Papists will set up their feigned confirmation, they are not afraid to break out into this sacrilegious speech, that they are but half Christians upon whom the hands have not been as yet laid. This is not tolerable now because, whereas this was a sign which lasted only for a time, they made it a continual law in the Church, as if they had the Spirit in readiness to give to whomsoever they would. We know that when the testimony and pledge of God’s grace is set before us in vain, and without the thing itself, it is too filthy mockery; but even they themselves are enforced to grant that the Church was beautified for a time only with these gifts; whereupon it followeth that the laying on of hands which the apostles used had an end when the effect ceased. I omit that, that they added oil unto the laying on of hands, (<410613>Mark 6:13;) but this, as I have already said, was a point of too great boldness, to prescribe a perpetual law to the Church, that that might be a general sacrament, which was peculiarly used amongst the apostles, (<480307>Galatians 3:7; <450606>Romans 6:6;) that the sign might continue still after that the thing itself was ceased; and with this they joined detestable blasphemy, because they said that sins were only forgiven by baptism, and that the Spirit of regeneration is given by that rotten oil which they presumed to bring in without the Word of God. The Scripture doth testify that we put on Christ in baptism, and that we are engrafted into his body, that our old man may be crucified, and we renewed into righteousness. These sacrilegious robbers have translated that to adorn the false visor of their sacrament which they have taken from baptism. F525 Neither was this the invention of one man only, but the decree of one council, whereof they babble daily in all their schools.
17. When they had laid their hands. The laying on of hands followeth prayers, whereby they testify that the grace of the Spirit is not included in the external ceremony, which they crave humbly at the hands of another. And yet when they confess that God is the author, they neglect not the ceremony which was delivered them by God to this use; and because they usurp it not rashly, the effect is also annexed. This is the profit and efficacy of signs, because God worketh in them, and yet he remaineth the only giver of grace and distributeth the same according to his good pleasure; but let us remember that the laying on of hands was the instrument of God, at such time as he gave the visible graces of the Spirit to his, and that since the Church was deprived of such riches, it is only a vain visor without any substance. F526

ACTS 8:18-25
18. And when Simon saw that the Holy Ghost was given by the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19. Saying, Give me also this power, that on whom I shall lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20. And Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God is obtained with money. 21. Thou hast no part nor inheritance in this business; for thy heart is not right before God. 22. Therefore repent of this wickedness, and pray unto God, if peradventure the cogitation of thy heart may be forgiven thee. 23. For I see that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of unrighteousness. 24. And Simon answering, said, Pray ye for me unto God, that none of these things may happen to me which ye have said. 25. Then when they had testified and spoken the word of God, they returned to Jerusalem, and they preached the gospel in many streets of the Samaritans.

18. And when Simon. Simon’s hypocrisy is now discovered, not because that he had feigned before that he believed; for when he was convicted he gave Christ his hand in earnest, like as many yield unto the gospel, lest they strive against God, but in the mean season they continue like to themselves; whereas the denial of ourselves ought to follow true faith. And this is to mix Christ with Satan, when doctrine pierceth not unto the hidden affections of the heart, but the inward uncleanness lieth hidden there. F527 Therefore God wipeth away that false color now in Simon, lest by professing the name of Christ he deceive both himself and others. For that ambition which was hidden before breaketh out now, when as he desireth to be equal with the apostles. This is now one vice; another is, because while he thinketh that the grace of God is to be sold, he will get some greedy gain thereby. F528 Whereby it appeareth that he is a profane man, and such as had not tasted the first principles of godliness; for he is touched with no desire of God’s glory; yea, he doth not once think what it is to be a minister of God. As he had heretofore gotten gain by his magic, so he thought that it would be gainsome if he might give the graces of the Spirit. For undoubtedly he hunted after riches, and sought to purchase praise in the sight of the world; and he did God great injury also, because he thought that this heavenly power did nothing differ from his magical enchantments. Now we understand briefly what and how many ways Simon offended. In the gifts of the Spirit he doth not adore, neither acknowledge the power of Christ; he doth not confess that the apostles were endued with heavenly power, to set forth Christ’s glory by their ministry; his own ambition driveth and carrieth him headlong, so that he desireth to become excellent; and to make the world subject to himself, setting God apart, he will buy the Holy Ghost, as if he could be bought with money.
20. Peter answered. Peter giveth him the repulse here stoutly, and being not content to chide him, he addeth a bitter curse (or wish,) that Simon and his money may perish together; though he doth not so much wish unto him destruction, as he telleth him that the just vengeance of God hangeth over his head, that he might terrify him. In sum, he showeth what he hath deserved, when he hath made the Spirit of God subject to filthy buying and selling; as if he should have said, Thou art worthy to perish with thy money, F529 when thou dost so blaspheme the Spirit of God. For we may easily gather by that which followeth, that Peter would rather have had Simon saved than destroyed. But as it were supplying the place of a judge, he pronounceth what punishment Simon’s ungodliness deserveth; and it was requisite that he should be thus accused with such vehemence, that he might perceive the greatness of his offense. F530 To the same end tendeth that that he judged his money to perish; for he signifieth that it was as it were infected and polluted with cogitation of wickedness, because it was offered to such a wicked use. And surely we ought rather to wish that all the whole world perish, than that those things should darken the glory of God, which, in comparison thereof, are nothing worth. When he wisheth thus to a sacrilegious man, he doth not so much respect the person as the fact; for we must be offended with the offenses of men in such sort, that we must pity the men themselves. Such are those sentences of God which adjudge adulterers, thieves, drunkards, and wrongful dealers, to destruction, (<460609>1 Corinthians 6:9; <490505>Ephesians 5:5;) for they do not cut off all hope of salvation from them, but they are only referred unto their present state and declare what end is prepared for them, if they go forward obstinately.
21. Thou hast no part. Some do frame this sentence otherwise, that Simon is not partaker of grace, because he setteth a price thereof. But the other reading which we have followed is more usual, to wit, that that reason be joined to the former member. And surely it is better to knit the two sentences together, thus, Thy money perish with thee, because thou thinkest that the inestimable gift of the Spirit can be bought with money. Whereas the old interpreter had put, in this word; Erasmus translated it more fitly, in this business; for Peter’s meaning is, that that sacrilegious person hath nothing to do in all that administration, who doth wickedly profane the same.
Furthermore both the Papists, and also the old divines, have disputed much concerning simony; but that which the Papists call simony doth not agree with Simon’s fact. Simon would have bought the grace of the Spirit with money; the Papists apply the crime of simony unto their idle revenues; and yet I speak not this that I may extenuate those horrible sins which reign at this day in Popery, in buying and selling spiritual promotions. Now, this wickedness is filthy enough of itself, in that they hold such a mart in the Church of God. And in the mean season, we must note the true definition of simony, to wit, that it is a wicked buying and selling of the gifts of the Spirit, or some other such like thing, whilst that a man abuseth them unto ambition or other corruptions. Though I confess that all those imitate Simon who strive to attain unto the government of the Church by unlawful means; which thing we see committed at this day without shame, as if it were lawful; and we can scarce find one priest in all Popery which is not manifestly a simoniacal person in this respect; because none can put up his head amongst them, F531 but he must creep in by indirect means. Although we must confess, (which thing even children see, to our great shame,) that this vice is too common even amongst the false professors of the gospel.
But let us remember, first, to the end we may be free from the infection of Simon, that the gifts of the Spirit are not gotten with money, but that they are given of the free and mere goodness of God, and that for the edifying of the Church; that is, that every man may study to help his brethren according to the measure of his ability; that every man may bestow F532 that about the common good of the Church which he hath received; and that the excellency of no man may hinder, but that Christ may excel all. Notwithstanding, it may seem a marvelous matter, that Peter excludeth Simon from being a partaker of the Spirit, as concerning special gifts; because his heart is not right before God. For the wickedness of Judas did not let him from having the gifts of the Spirit in great measure; neither had the gifts of the Spirit been so corrupted amongst the Corinthians, if their heart had been right in the sight of God. Therefore that reason which Peter allegeth seemeth insufficient; because many men excel oftentimes in the gifts of the Spirit, who have an unclean heart. But, first of all, there followeth no absurdity, if God give such graces to men which are unworthy thereof. Secondly, Peter prescribeth no general rule in this place, but because the Church alone is for the most part made partaker of the gifts of the Spirit, he pronounceth that Simon, who is a stranger to Christ, is unworthy to have the same graces given him, (which are bestowed upon the faithful,) as if he were one of God’s household. Moreover, he had blasphemed those gifts whereof he is deprived.
22. Repent, therefore. Whereas he exhorteth him unto repentance and prayer, he putteth him in some hope of pardon thereby; for no man shall ever be touched with any desire of repentance, save only he which shall believe that God will have mercy upon him; on the other side, despair will always carry men headlong unto boldness. Furthermore, the Scripture teacheth that God is not called upon aright save only by faith. Therefore, we see how Peter raiseth up Simon now unto hope of salvation, whom he had thrown down before with the cruel lightnings and thunderbolts of words; and yet Simon’s sin was no small sin. But, if it could be, we ought to pluck men even out of hell.
Therefore, until such time as even the most wicked men do by manifest signs betray themselves to be reprobates, no one of them is to be handled so sharply but that remission of sins is to be set before him. Yea, we must so deal with those for whom sharp chiding is profitable, by reason of their hardness and stubbornness, that we throw them down with one hand, and set them on foot with the other; for the Spirit of God doth not suffer us to accurse them F533 But Peter seemeth to bring him into some fear and doubt, when he saith, if peradventure. And the Papists go about to prove by this place and such like, that we must pray with doubtful minds; because men may unadvisedly promise themselves certain success in their petitions. But we may readily answer them; for the word ei ara signifieth as much as if a man should say, If by any means thou must obtain pardon of God. Peter useth this word, not that he may leave Simon’s mind in a perplexity, but that he may the more prick him forward to be earnest in prayer. For the very difficulty doth not a little serve to stir us up; because when we see the thing at hand, we are too careless and sluggish. Therefore Peter doth not terrify Simon, that he may overthrow or trouble all hope of obtaining in his heart, but putting him in sure hope if he shall crave pardon humbly and from his heart, he telleth him only that pardon is hard to be gotten, by reason of the greatness of his offense, to the end he may provoke him unto ferventness; for it is requisite that we may be lightened by faith when we go unto God, yea, that she be the mother of prayer.
23. In the gall of bitterness. Peter doth sharply reprove Simon again, and striketh him with God’s judgment. For unless he had been compelled to descend into himself, he would never have been turned in good earnest unto God. For there is nothing more deadly for men which are blockish than when we flatter them, or when we do but a little scrape the skin, whereas they ought rather to be thrust through. Therefore, until such time as a sinner shall conceive sorrow and true heaviness by reason of his sin, we must use such severity as may wound his mind; otherwise the rotten sore shall be nourished within, which shall by little and little consume the man himself. Yet let us always observe this mean, that we provide for men’s salvation so much as in us lieth. Moreover, there be two excellent fine metaphors in Peter’s words; the one whereof seemeth to be taken out of Moses, where he forbiddeth that there be not in us any root, from which springeth gall and wormwood, (Deuteronomy 29.) By which speech is noted the inward wickedness of the heart; when as it hath so conceived the poison of ungodliness, that being therewith infected, it can bring forth nothing but bitterness. To the same end tendeth the binding of iniquity: to wit, when the whole heart is kept bound and tied by Satan. For it falleth out sometimes that men which are otherwise given very godlily, do break out into evil works, who have not their heart corrupt inwardly with poison. We know that hypocrisy is engendered in man’s nature; but when as the Spirit of God doth shine, we are so blinded in our vices, that we nourish them within as if it were some hidden bundle. Therefore Peter’s meaning is, that Simon fell not only in one point, but that his very heart root was corrupt and bitter; that he fell into Satan’s snares not only in one kind of sin, but that all his senses were ensnared, so that he was wholly given over to Satan, and was become the bond-slave of iniquity. In the mean season, we are taught that the greatness of offenses is esteemed not so much according to the fact F534 which appeareth, as according to the affection of the heart.
24. Simon answered. Hereby we gather that he did not so take that which Peter had threatened unto him, but that he did consider that his salvation was sought. And though Peter alone spake, yet he attributeth the speech unto all by reason of the consent. Now ariseth a question what we ought to think of Simon. The Scripture carrieth us no farther, save only unto a conjecture. Whereas he yieldeth when he is reproved, and being touched with the feeling of his sin, feareth the judgment of God; and that done, flieth unto the mercy of God, and commendeth himself to the prayers of the Church; these are assuredly no small signs of repentance; therefore we may conjecture that he repented. And yet the old writers affirm with one consent, that he was a great enemy to Peter afterward, and that he disputed with him by the space of three days at Rome. The disputation is also extant in writing under the name of Clement, but it hath in it such filthy dotings, that it is a wonder that Christian ears can abide to hear them. Again, Augustine, writing to Januarius, saith, that there were divers and false rumors spread abroad in Rome in his time concerning that matter. Wherefore, nothing is more safe than bidding adieu to uncertain opinions, simply to embrace that which is set down in the Scriptures. That which we read elsewhere of Simon may justly be suspected for many causes.
25. And they testified. In these words Luke teacheth that Peter and John came not only that they might enrich the Samaritans with the gifts of the Spirit, but also that they might establish them in the faith which they had already received, by approving Philip’s doctrine. For thus much doth the word testify import; as if he should say, that it came to pass by their testimony, that the word of God had full and perfect authority, and that the truth was of force, as being well testified and authentic. Notwithstanding Luke teaeheth therewithal that they were faithful witnesses of God, when he addeth that they uttered the word of God. This was, therefore, the sum of the apostles’ doctrine, faithfully to utter those things which they had learned of the Lord, and not their own inventions, or the inventions of any man else. He saith, that they did this not only in the city, but also in villages. Therefore we see that they were so inflamed to further the glory of Christ, that whithersoever they came they had him in their mouth. So that the seed of life began to be sown throughout the whole region, after that it was preached in the city. F535

ACTS 8:26-31
26. And an angel of the Lord spake to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south, to the way which goeth down from Jerusalem to Gaza; it is waste. 27. And when he arose, he went. And, behold, a man, an Ethiopian, an eunuch, a man of great authority with Candace, queen of Ethiopia, which had the rule of all her treasure, which carne [had come] to Jerusalem to worship 28. And as he returned, and sat in his chariot, he read Esaias the prophet. 29. And the Spirit said to Philip, Draw near, and be thou joined to this chariot. 30. And as Philip ran unto it, he heard him reading the prophet Esaias, and he said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31. He said, How can I, unless some man direct me? And he requested Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

26. And the angel. Luke passeth over unto a new history, to wit, how the gospel came even unto the Ethiopians. For though he reporteth there was but one man converted unto the faith of Christ, yet because his authority and power was great in all the realm, his faith might spread abroad a sweet smell far and wide. For we know that the gospel grew of small beginnings; and therein appeared the power of the Spirit more plainly, in that one grain of seed did fill a whole country in a small space. Philip is first commanded by the angel to go toward the south; the angel telleth him not to what end. And thus doth God oftentimes use to deal with those that be his, to prove their obedience. He showeth what he will have them to do; he commandeth them to do this or that, but he keepeth the success hidden with himself. Therefore let us be content with the commandment F536 of God alone, although the reason of that which he enjoineth, or the fruit of obedience, appear not by and by. F537 For although this be not plainly expressed, yet all the commandments of God contain a hidden promise, that so often as we obey him, all that work which we take in hand must needs fall out well. Moreover, this ought to be sufficient for us, that God doth allow our studies, when as we take nothing in hand rashly or without his commandment. If any man object, that angels come not down daily from heaven to reveal unto us what we ought to do, the answer is ready, that we are sufficiently taught in the Word of God what we ought to do, and that they are never destitute of counsel who ask it of him, F538 and submit themselves to the government of the Spirit. Therefore nothing doth hinder and keep us back from being ready to follow God, save only our own slothfulness and coldness F539 in prayer.
To the way which goeth down to Gaza. All the learned grant that that is called Gaza here which the Hebrews call Haza. Wherefore, Pomponius Mela is deceived, who saith that Cambyses, king of Persia, called that city by this name, because when he made war against the Egyptians, he had his riches laid up there. It is true, indeed, that the Persians call treasure or plenty, Gaza; and Luke useth this word shortly after in this sense, when as he saith that the eunuch was the chief governor of the treasure of Candace; but because that Hebrew word was used before such time as Cambyses was born, I do not think but that it was corrupt afterwards, the letter h (heth) being changed into g, which thing we see was done in all others almost. The epitheton waste is added for this cause, because Alexander of Macedonia laid waste that old Gaza. Also Luke refuteth those who make Constantinus the builder of the second and new Gaza, who affirmeth that it was an hundred and fifty years before; but it may be that he beautified and enlarged the city after it was built. And all men confess that this new Gaza was situate on the seacoast, distant twenty furlongs from the old city.
27. Behold, a man, an Ethiopian. He calleth him a man, who he saith shortly after was an eunuch; but because kings and queens in the East were wont to appoint eunuchs over their weighty affairs, thereby it came to pass that lords of great power were called generally F540 eunuchs, whereas, notwithstanding, they were men. Furthermore, Philip findeth indeed, now at length, that he did not obey God in vain. Therefore, whosoever committeth the success to God, and goeth on forward thither whither he biddeth him, he shall at length try F541 that all that falleth out well which is taken in hand at his appointment. F542 The name Candace was not the name of one queen only; but as all the emperors of Rome were called Caesars,, so the Ethiopians, as Pliny withesseth, called their queens Candaces. This maketh also unto the matter that the writers of histories report that that was a noble and wealthy kingdom, because it may the better be gathered by the royalty and power thereof how gorgeous the condition and dignity of the eunuch was. The head and principal place F543 was Meroe. The profane writers agree with Luke, who report that women used to reign there.
Came [had come] to worship. Hereby we gather that the name of the true God was spread far abroad, seeing he had some worshippers in far countries. Certes, it must needs be that this man did openly profess another worship than his nation; for so great a lord could not come into Judea by stealth, and undoubtedly he brought with him a great train. And no marvel if there were some everywhere in the East parts which worshipped the true God, because that after the people were scattered abroad, there was also some smell F544 of the knowledge of the true God spread abroad with them throughout foreign countries; yea, the banishment F545 of the people was a spreading abroad of true godliness. Also, we see that though the Romans did condemn the Jewish religion with many cruel edicts, yet could they not bring to pass but that many, even on [in] heaps, would profess the same. F546 These were certain beginnings F547 of the calling of the Gentiles, until such time as Christ, having with the brightness of his coming put away the shadows of the law, might take away the difference which was between the Jews and the Gentiles; and having pulled down the wall of separation, he might gather together from all parts the children of God, (<490214>Ephesians 2:14.)
Whereas the eunuch came to Jerusalem to worship, it must not be accounted any superstition. He might, indeed, have called F548 upon God in his own country, but this man would not omit the exercises which were prescribed to the worshippers of God; and, therefore, this was his purpose, not only to nourish faith privily F549 in his heart, but also to make profession of the same amongst men. And yet, notwithstanding, he could not be so divorced F550 from his nation, but that he might well know that he should be hated of many. But he made more account of the external profession of religion, which he knew God did require, than of the favor of men. And if such a small sparkle of the knowledge of the law did so shine in him, what a shame were it for us to choke the perfect light of the gospel with unfaithful silence? If any do object that the sacrifices were even then abrogated, and that now the time was come wherein God would be called upon everywhere without difference of place, we may easily answer, that those to whom the truth of the gospel was not yet revealed, were retained in the shadows of the law without any superstition. For whereas it is said that the law was abolished by Christ, as concerning the ceremonies, it is thus to be understood, that where Christ showeth himself plainly, those rites vanish away which prefigured him when he was absent. Whereas the Lord suffered the eunuch to come to Jerusalem before he sent him a teacher, it is to be thought that it was done for this cause, because it was profitable that he should yet be framed by the rudiments of the law, that he might be made more apt afterward to receive the doctrine of the gospel. And whereas God sent none of the apostles unto him F551 at Jerusalem, the cause lieth hid in his secret counsel, unless, peradventure, it were done that he might make more account of the gospel, as of some treasure found suddenly, and offered unto him contrary to hope; or because it was better that Christ should be set before him, after that being separated and withdrawn from the external pomp of ceremonies and the beholding of the temple, he sought the way of salvation quietly at such time as he was at rest. F552
28. He read Esaias. The reading of the prophet showeth that the eunuch did not worship a God unadvisedly, according to the understanding of his own head, whom he had reigned to himself, but whom he knew by the doctrine of the law. And surely this is the right way to worship God, not to snatch at bare and vain rites, but to adjoin the word thereunto, otherwise there shall be nothing but that which cometh by chance and is confused. And certainly the form of worshipping prescribed in the law differeth nothing from the inventions of men, save only because God giveth light there by his word. Therefore, those which are God’s scholars do worship aright only, that is, those who are taught in his school. But he seemeth to lose his labor when he readeth without profit. For he confesseth that he cannot understand the prophet’s meaning, unless he be helped by some other teacher. I answer, as he read the prophet with a desire to learn, so he hoped for some fruit, and he found it indeed. Therefore, why doth he deny that he can understand the place which he had in hand? For because F553 he manifestly confesseth his ignorance in darker places. There be many things in Isaiah which need no long exposition, as when he preacheth of the goodness and power of God, partly that he may invite men unto faith, partly that he may exhort and teach them to lead a godly life. Therefore, no man shall be so rude an idiot F554 which shall not profit somewhat by reading that book, and yet, notwithstanding, he shall, peradventure, scarce understand every tenth verse. Such was the eunuch’s reading. For seeing that, according to his capacity, he gathered those things which served to edification, he had some certain profit by his studies. Nevertheless, though he were ignorant of many things, F555 yet was he not wearied, so that he did cast away the book. Thus must we also read the Scriptures. We must greedily, and with a prompt mind, receive those things which are plain, and wherein God openeth his mind. As for those things which are hid from us, we must pass them over until we see greater light. And if we be not wearied with reading, it shall at length come to pass that the Scripture shall be made more familiar by continual use.
31. How should I? Most excellent modesty of the eunuch, who doth not only permit Philip who was one of the common sort, to question with him, but doth also willingly F556 confess his ignorance. And surely we must never hope that he will ever show himself apt to be taught who is puffed up with the confidence of his own wit. Hereby it eometh to pass that the reading of the Scriptures doth profit so few at this day, because we can scarce find one amongst a hundred who submitteth himself willingly to learn. For whilst all men almost are ashamed to be ignorant of that whereof they are ignorant, every man had rather proudly nourish his ignorance than seem to be scholar to other men. Yea, a great many take upon them haughtily to teach other men. Nevertheless, let us remember that the eunuch did so confess his ignorance, that yet, notwithstanding, he was one of God’s scholars when he read the Scripture. This is the true reverence of the Scripture, when as we acknowledge that there is that wisdom laid up there which surpasseth F557 all our senses; and yet notwithstanding, we do not loathe it, but, reading diligently, we depend upon the revelation of the Spirit, and desire to have an interpreter given us.
He prayed Philip that he would come up. This is another token of modesty, that he seeketh an interpreter and teacher. He might have rejected Philip according to the pride of rich men; for it was a certain secret upbraiding of ignorance when Philip said, Understandest thou what thou readest? But rich men think that they have great injury done them if any man speak homely to them. And, therefore, they break out by and by into these speeches, What is that to thee? or, What hast thou to do with me? But the eunuch submitteth himself humbly to Philip that by him he may be taught. Thus must we be minded if we desire to have God to be our teacher, whose Spirit resteth upon the humble and meek, (<236602>Isaiah 66:2.) And if any man, mistrusting himself, submit himself to be taught, the angels shall rather come down from heaven F558 than the Lord will suffer us to labor in vain; though (as did the eunuch) we must use all helps, which the Lord offereth unto us, for the understanding of the Scriptures. Frantic men require inspirations and revelations F559 from heaven, and, in the mean season, they contemn the minister of God, by whose hand they ought to be governed. Other some, which trust too much to their own wit, will vouchsafe to hear no man, and they will read no commentaries. But God will not have us to despise those helps which he offereth unto us, and he suffereth not those to escape scot free which despise the same. And here we must remember, that the Scripture is not only given us, but that interpreters and teachers are also added, to be helps to us. For this cause the Lord sent rather Philip than an angel to the eunuch. For to what end served this circuit, that God calleth Philip by the voice of the angel, and sendeth not the angel himself forthwith, save only because he would accustom us to hear men? This is, assuredly, no small commendation of external preaching, that the voice of God soundeth in the mouth of men to our salvation, when angels hold their peace. Concerning which thing, I will speak more upon the ninth and tenth chapters.

ACTS 8:32-35
32. Furthermore, the sentence of Scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to be slain, and as a lamb dumb before the shearer, so opened he not his mouth. 33. In his humility his judgment is exalted. Who shall declare his generation? because his life is taken from the earth. 34. And the eunuch answering Philip said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other? 35. And Philip opening his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

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. F560 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 F561 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 F562 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, F563 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, (<431834>John 18:34, 36,) but not to save his life, but rather that he might willingly offer himself to die, F564 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, F565 as Peter doth; but that doctrine of faith which I have already touched is former F566 in order.
33. In his humility his judgment. The eunuch had either the Greek volume, or else Luke did set down the reading which was then used, as he useth to do. The prophet saith that Christ was exalted out of sorrow and judgment, by which words he signifieth a wonderful victory, which immediately ensued his casting down. For if he had been oppressed with death, there could nothing have been hoped for at his hands.
Therefore, to the end the prophet may establish our faith in Christ, after that he had described him to be stricken with the hand of God, and to be subject to be slain, F567 he putteth upon him a new person now; to wit, that he cometh up out of the depth of death as a conqueror, and out of the very hell, being the author of eternal Life. I know, indeed, that this place is diversely expounded. Some there be which understand by this, that he was carried from the prison to the cross; other some there be who think that to be taken away doth signify as much as to be brought to nought. And, indeed, the signification of the Hebrew word, hjl (lachah) is doubtful, F568 as is also the signification of the Greek word airesqai. But he which shall thoroughly weigh the text, [context,] shall agree with me in that which I have said, that he passeth now from that doleful and unseemly sight which he had set before our eyes, unto the new beginning of unlooked-for glory. Therefore the Greek interpretation differeth not much from the words of the prophet in the sum of the matter. For Christ’s judgment was exalted in his humility or casting down; because at such time as he might seem to be cast down and oppressed, the Father maintained his cause. After this sort judgment shall be taken in this place (as in many other) for right. But it signifieth condemnation in the Hebrew text. For the prophet saith, that after that Christ shall be brought into great straits, and shall be like unto a condemned and lost man, he shall be lifted up by the hand of the Father. Therefore the meaning of the words is, that Christ must first have suffered death, before the Father should exalt him unto the glory of his kingdom; which doctrine must be translated unto the whole body of the Church; because all the godly ought wonderfully to be lifted up with the hand of God, that they be not swallowed up of death. But when God appeareth to be the revenger of his, he doth not only restore them to life but also, getteth to them excellent triumphs of many deaths, as Christ did triumph most gloriously upon the cross; whereof the apostle maketh mention in the Colossians 2.
His generation. After that the prophet hath set forth the victorious death of Christ, he addeth now that his victory shall not last only for a small time, but shall go beyond all number of years. For the exclamation of the prophet importeth as much as if he should deny that the perpetuity of Christ’s kingdom can be expressed by the tongue of men. But interpreters have wrested this place miserably. Whereas the old writers have endeavored hereby to prove the Eternal Generation of the Word of God against Arius, it is too far dissenting from the prophet’s mind. Chrysostom’s exposition is never a whit truer, who referreth it unto the human generation. Neither do they understand the prophet’s meaning, which suppose that he inveigheth against the men of that age. Other some think better, who take it to be spoken of the Church, save only that they are deceived in the word generation, which they think doth signify a posterity or issue. But the word rd, (dor,) which the prophet useth, signifieth, amongst the Hebrews, an age, or the continuance of man’s life. Therefore, undoubtedly this is the prophet’s meaning, that Christ’s life shall endure for ever, when as he shall be once delivered by his Father’s grace from death; although this life, which is without end, appertaineth unto the whole body of the Church; because Christ rose, not that he may live for hlmself, but for us. Therefore, he extolleth now in the members F569 the fruit and effect of that victory which he placed in the Head. Wherefore every one of the faithful may conceive sure hope of eternal life out of this place; secondly, the perpetuity of the Church is rather avouched in the person of Christ.
Because his life is taken from the earth. This is, to look to, (to be) a very absurd reason, that Christ doth reign with such renown in heaven and earth, because he was cut off. For who can believe that death is the cause of life? But this was done by the wonderful counsel of God, that hell should be a ladder, whereby Christ should ascend into heaven; that reproach should be unto him a passage into life; that the joyful brightness of salvation should appear out of the horror and darkness of the cross; that blessed immortality should flow from the deep pit of death. Because he humbled himself, therefore the Father exalted him, that every knee may bow before him, (<502910>Philippians 2:10,) etc. Now must we bethink ourselves what fellowship we have with Christ, that it may not be troublesome to any to go the same way.
34. The eunuch said to Philip. Here it appeareth what an earnest desire the eunuch had to learn. He wandereth in divers prophecies of Isaiah as through doubtful boughts, F570 and yet he is not weary of reading. And whilst that he arrogateth nothing to himself, he getteth far more, contrary to his hope, even at a sudden, than he could get during his whole life by taking great pains, if he had brought all his quickness of wit. So the Lord will be unto us a Master, though we be but small, if, acknowledging our ignorance, we be not loth to submit ourselves to learn. And as the seed, covered with earth, lieth hid for a time, so the Lord will illuminate us by his Spirit, and will cause that reading which, being barren and void of fruit, causeth nothing but wearisomeness, to have plain light of understanding. The Lord doth never keep the eyes of his so shut, but that so soon as they are once entered, the way of salvation appeareth unto them in the Scripture; but that they profit ever now and then a little by reading. Yet doth he suffer them to stick fast oftentimes, and permitteth their course to be hindered by some bar which is laid in the way, both that he may try patience of faith in them, and also that he may teach them humility, by putting them in mind of their ignorance, that he may make them more attentive after that they have shaken off drowsiness; that he may make them more fervent in prayer; that he may prick them forward to love the truth more dearly; that he may set forth the excellence of his heavenly wisdom, which is otherwise not so esteemed as it ought. But howsoever the faithful do not attain unto the mark of perfect knowledge, yet they shall always perceive that their labor is not in vain, so that they stop not the way before themselves with proud loathsomeness. F571 Let this going forward suffice us until the time of full revelation do come, that even a small taste of knowledge doth drip F572 into us the fear of God and faith.
35. Philip, opening his mouth. To open the mouth is taken in Scripture for, to begin a long speech concerning some grave and weighty matter. Therefore Luke’s meaning is, that Philip began to intreat [discourse] of Christ, as it were, with full mouth. He saith that he began with this prophecy, because there is no one which depainteth out Christ more lively; F573 and it was then brought F574 to his hand. Therefore, after that Philip had showed, by the prophet’s words, after what sort Christ should come, and what was to be hoped for at his hands, he conferred the thing itself afterward, that the eunuch might know that that Christ which was promised was already revealed and given, and that he might understand his power. Where we translate it, that he preached Christ, Luke saith that he preached the gospel. The sense is, that he taught that of Christ which he uttered in his gospel himself, and commanded to be taught; whereby we gather, that when Christ is known, we have the sum of the gospel.

ACTS 8:36-40
36. And as they went on the way, they came to a water. And the eunuch said, Lo, here is water, what letteth me to be baptized? 37. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. He answering, said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38. Then he commanded the chariot to be stayed, and they went both down into the water; to wit, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39. And when they were come out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more. Therefore, he went on in his way rejoicing. 40. But Philip was found at Azotus; and, going on his journey, he preached the gospel to all cities, until he came to Cesarea.

36. What letteth me? The eunuch’s baptism ensueth now, whence we gather how greatly he profited in a small time, seeing he offereth himself willingly to give Christ his name. For it must needs be that faith was after a sort ripe in his heart, seeing that he brake out into external profession with such desire. I like not that which Chrysostom noteth, that he was kept back with modesty from requiring baptism plainly; for that interrogation hath greater vehemency than if he should simply have said to Philip, I will have thee to baptize me. But we see that Christ was preached to him in such sort, that he knew that baptism was a sign of new life in him, and that therefore he would not neglect the same, because it was added to the word, and such an addition as was inseparable. Therefore, as he embraced that willingly which he heard concerning Christ, so now he breaketh out with a godly zeal into the external confession of faith; neither doth he think it sufficient for him to believe inwardly before God, unless he testifieth before men that he is a Christian. There might many things have come into his mind, which might have kept him back from being baptized, lest that he should lay himself open to the hatred and rebukes both of the queen, and also of the whole nation. But he denieth that any of these things doth hinder him from desiring to be numbered amongst the disciples of Christ. If being instructed but a few hours he came to this point, how filthy is the sluggishness of those men who suppress the faith which they have conceived, having been taught five, ten, or twenty years?
If thou believest with all thy heart. Whereas the eunuch is not admitted to baptism, until he have made confession of his faith, we must fetch a general rule hence, That those ought [not] to be received into the Church, who were estranged from the same before, until they have testified that they believe in Christ. For baptism is, as it were, an appurtenance of faith, and therefore it is later in order. Secondly, if it be given without faith whose seal it is, it is both a wicked and also too gross a profaning. But frantic fellows do both unskillfully and also wickedly impugn baptizing of infants under color hereof. Why was it meet that faith should go before baptism in the eunuch? To wit, because seeing that Christ marketh those alone which are of the household of the Church with this note and mark, they must be ingrafted unto the Church who are to be baptized. And as it is certain that those who are grown up are ingrafted by faith, so I say that the children of the godly are born the children of the Church, and that they are accounted members of Christ from the womb, because God adopteth us upon this condition, that he may be also the Father of our seed. Therefore, though faith be requisite in those which are grown up, yet this is untruly translated unto infants whose estate is far unlike. But certain great men have abused this place, when as they would prove that faith hath no confirmation by baptism. For they reasoned thus, The eunuch is commanded to bring perfect faith unto baptism, therefore there could nothing be added. But the Scripture taketh the whole heart oftentimes for a sincere and unfeigned heart, whose opposite is a double heart. So that there is no cause why we should imagine that they believe perfectly who believe with the whole heart, seeing that there may be a weak and faint faith in him who shall, notwithstanding, have a sound mind, and a mind free from all hypocrisy. Thus must we take that which David saith, That he loveth the Lord with all his heart. Philip had, indeed, baptized the Samaritans before, and yet he knew that they were yet far from the mark. Therefore, the faith of the whole heart is that which, having living roots in the heart, doth yet notwithstanding desire to increase daily.
I believe that Jesus Christ. As baptism is grounded in Christ, and as the truth and force thereof is contained there, so the eunuch setteth Christ alone before his eyes. The eunuch knew before that there was one God, who had made the covenant with Abraham, who gave the law by the hand of Moses, which separated one people from the other nations, who promised Christ, through whom he would be merciful to the world. Now he confesseth that Jesus Christ is that Redeemer of the world, and the Son of God; under which title he comprehendeth briefly all those things which the Scripture attributeth to Christ. This is the perfect faith whereof Philip spake of late, which receiveth Christ, both as he was promised in times past, and also showed at length, and that with the earnest affection of the heart, as Paul will not have this faith to be feigned. Whosoever hath not this when he is grown up, in vain doth he boast of the baptism of his infancy. For to this end doth Christ admit infants by baptism, that so soon as the capacity of their age shall suffer, they may addict themselves to be his disciples, and that being baptized with the Holy Ghost, they may comprehend, with the understanding of faith, his power which baptism doth prefigure.
38. They went down into the water. Here we see the rite used among the men of old time in baptism; for they put all the body into the water. Now the use is this, that the minister doth only sprinkle the body or the head. But we ought not to stand so much about such a small difference of a ceremony, that we should therefore divide the Church, or trouble the same with brawls. We ought rather to fight even an hundred times to death for the ceremony itself of baptism, inasmuch as it was delivered us by Christ that that we should suffer the same to be taken from us. But forasmuch as we have as well a testimony of our washing, as of newness of life, in the figure of water; forasmuch as Christ representeth unto us his blood in the water as in a glass, that we may fet F575 our cleanness thence; forasmuch as he teacheth that we are fashioned again by his Spirit, that being dead to sin, we may live to righteousness; it is certain that we want nothing which maketh to the substance of baptism. Wherefore the Church did grant liberty to herself, since the beginning, to change the rites somewhat, excepting this substance. For some dipped them thrice, some but once. Wherefore there is no case why we should be so straitlaced in matters which are of no such weight; F576 so that external pomp do no whit pollute the simple institution of Christ.
39. When they were come up. To the end Luke may at length conclude his speech concerning the eunuch, he saith that Philip was caught away out of his sight. And that was of no small weight to confirm him, forasmuch as he saw that that man was sent unto him by God like to an angel, and that he vanished away before he could offer him any reward for all his pains; whence he might gather that it was no gainful insinuation, seeing that he was vanished away before he had one halfpenny given him. Whereas Philip had no reward at the eunuch’s hand, let the servants of Christ learn hereby to serve him freely, or rather let them so serve men for nothing that they hope for a reward from heaven. The Lord granteth leave, indeed, to the ministers of the gospel to receive a reward at their hands whom they teach, (<460909>1 Corinthians 9:9,) but he forbiddeth them therewithal to be hirelings which labor for lucre’s sake, (<431012>John 10:12, 13.) For this must be the mark whereat they must shoot, to gain the men themselves to God.
Rejoicing. Faith and the knowledge of God bring forth this fruit always of themselves. For what truer matter of joy can be invented than when the Lord doth not only set open unto us the treasures of his mercy, but poureth out his heart into us, (that I may so speak,) and giveth us himself in his Son, that we may want nothing to perfect felicity? The heavens begin to look clear, and the earth beginneth to be quiet then; the conscience being then delivered from the doleful and horrible feelings of God’s wrath, being loosed from the tyranny of Satan, escaping out of the darkness of death, beholdeth the light of life. Therefore it is a solemn thing amongst the prophets to exhort us to be joyful and to triumph, so often as they are about to speak of the kingdom of Christ. But because those men whose minds are possessed with the vain joys of the world, cannot lift up themselves unto this spiritual joy, let us learn to despise the world and all vain delights thereof, that Christ may make us merry indeed.
40. He was found at Azotus. It is well known, out of the book of <061122>Joshua 11:22, that Azotus was one of the cities out of which the sons of Anak could not be expelled. It is distant from Ascalon almost two hundred furlongs; the Hebrews call it Ashdod. Thither was Philip carried; there began he to take his journey on foot after the manner of men, sowing the seed of the gospel wheresoever he became, [passed.] This is surely rare and wonderful stoutness, F577 that he spreadeth the name of godliness in his journey. And whereas Luke saith expressly that he preached in all cities until he came to Cesarea, and doth not declare that he returned to Samaria, we may thereby conjecture that he staid at Cesarea for a time; and yet I leave this indifferent.
CHAPTER 9

ACTS 9:1-5
1. And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the highest priest, 2. Required epistles of him to Damascus unto the synagogues, that if he should find any of this sect, whether they were men or women, he might carry them bound to Jerusalem. 3. And as he was in the way, it happened that he drew near to Damascus: and suddenly there shined a light about him from heaven: 4. And falling flat to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5. And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against pricks.

1. And Saul. Luke setteth down in this place a noble history, and a history full well worthy to be remembered, concerning the conversion of Paul; after what sort the Lord did not only bring him under, and make him subject to his commandment, when he raged like an untamed beast but also how he made him another and a new man. But because Luke setteth down all things in order as in a famous work of God, it shall be more convenient to follow his text, [context,] that all may come in order whatsoever is worth the noting. When as he saith, that he breathed out threatenings and slaughter as yet, his meaning is, that after that his hands were once imbued with innocent blood, he proceeded in like cruelty, and was always a furious and bloody enemy to the Church, after that he had once made that entrance F578 whereof mention is made in the death of Stephen. For which cause it was the more incredible that he could be so suddenly tamed. And whereas such a cruel wolf was not only turned into a sheep, but did also put on the nature of a shepherd, the wonderful hand of God did show itself therein manifestly.
2. And Luke describeth therewithal that he was furnished with weapons and power to do hurt, when as he saith that he had obtained letters of the highest priest, that he might bring all those bound to Jerusalem whom he should find professing the name of Christ. There is mention made of women, that it may the better appear how desirous he was to shed blood who had no respect of sex whom even armed enemies are wont to spare in the heat of war. Therefore he setteth forth before us a fierce and cruel beast who had not only liberty given him to rage, but had also his power increased to devour and destroy godly men, as if a madman had a sword put into his hand. Whereas I have translated it sect, Luke hath way, which metaphor is common enough in the Scriptures. Therefore Paul’s purpose was quite to put out the name of Christ by destroying all the godly cruelly.
3. As he was in the way. In craving epistles of the high priest, he ran headlong against Christ willingly; and now he is enforced to obey whether he will or no. This is surely the most excellent mercy of God, in that that man is reclaimed unto salvation contrary to the purpose of his mind, whom so great a heat carried headlong into destruction. Whereas the Lord suffereth him to receive letters, and to come near to the city; (whereby we see how well he knoweth the very instants of times to do everything in due time; F579) he could have prevented him sooner, if it had seemed good to him so to do, that he might deliver the godly from fear and carelessness. F580 But he setteth out his benefits more thereby, in that he tieth the jaws of the greedy wolf, even when he was ready to enter the sheepfold. Also we know that men’s stubbornness increaseth more and more by going forward. Wherefore the conversion of Paul was so much the harder, forasmuch as he was already made more obstinate by continuing his fury.
Shined about him. Because it was no easy matter to pull down F581 so great pride to break such a lofty courage, to pacify such a blind heat of wicked zeal, and, finally, to bridle a most unbridled beast, Christ must needs have showed some sign of his majesty, whereby Paul might perceive that he had to do with God himself, and not with any mortal man;. although there were some respect had of humbling him, (because he was unworthy to have Christ,) to accustom him by and by to obey, by laying upon his neck the meek and sweet yoke of his Spirit. And he was scarce capable of so great gentleness, until his cruelty might be broken. F582 Man’s sense cannot comprehend the Divine glory of Christ as it is; but as God did oftentimes put upon him forms wherein he did show himself, so Christ did now declare and make manifest his divinity to Paul, and showed some token of his presence, that he might thereby terrify Paul. For although the godly be afraid and tremble at the seeing of God, yet it must needs be that Paul was far more afraid when as he perceived that the divine power of Christ was set full against him.
4. And therefore Luke saith that he fell to the ground. For what other thing can befall man, but that he must lie prostrate and be, as it were, brought to nothing, when he is overwhelmed with the present feeling of God’s glory? And this was the first beginning of the bringing down of Paul, that he might become apt to hear the voice of Christ, which he had despised so long as he sat haughtily upon his horse.
Saul, Saul! Luke compared the light which shined round about Paul to lightning, though I do not doubt but that lightnings did fly in the air. And this voice, which Christ did send out to beat down his pride, may full well be called a lightning or thunderbolt, because it did not only strike him, and make him astonished, but did quite kill him, so that he was now as nobody with himself, who did so much please himself before and did challenge to himself authority to put the gospel to flight. Luke putteth down his name in Hebrew in this place, Saul, Saul! because he repeateth the words of Christ, who spake unto him, undoubtedly, according to the common custom of the country.
5. Who art thou, Lord? We have Paul now somewhat tamed, but he is not yet Christ’s disciple. Pride is corrected in him, and his fury is brought down. But he is not yet so thoroughly healed that he obeyeth Christ; he is only ready to receive commandments, who was before a blasphemer. Therefore, this is the question of a man that is afraid, and thrown down with amazedness. For why doth he not know, by so many signs of God’s presence, that it is God that speaketh? Therefore that voice proceeded from a panting and doubtful mind; therefore, Christ driveth him nigher unto repentance, When he addeth, I am Jesus, let us remember that that voice sounded from heaven. Therefore it ought to have pierced the mind of Paul when he considered that he had made war against God hitherto. It ought to have brought him by and by to true submission, when he considered that he should not escape scot free, if he should continue rebellious against him whose hand he could not escape.
This place containeth a most profitable doctrine, and the profit thereof is made manifold, for Christ showeth what great account he maketh of his gospel, when he pronounceth that it is his cause, from which he will not be separated. Therefore he can no more refuse to defend the same than he can deny himself. Secondly, the godly may gather great comfort by this, in that they hear that the Son of God is partner with them of the cross, when as they suffer and labor for the testimony of the gospel, and that he doth, as it were, put under his shoulders, that he may bear some part of the burden. For it is not for nothing that he saith that he suffereth in our person; but he will have us to be assuredly persuaded of this, that he suffereth together with us, F583 as if the enemies of the gospel should wound us through his side. Wherefore Paul saith, that that is wanting in the sufferings of Christ what persecutions soever the faithful suffer at this day for the defense of the gospel, (<510124>Colossians 1:24.) Furthermore, this consolation tendeth not only to that end to comfort us, that it may not be troublesome to us to suffer with our Head, but that we may hope that he will revenge our miseries, who crieth out of heaven that all that which we suffer is common to him as well as to us. Lastly, we gather hereby what horrible judgment is prepared for the persecutors of the Church, who like giants besiege the very heaven, and shake their darts, which shall pierce F584 their own head by and by; yea, by troubling the heavens, they provoke the thunderbolt of God’s wrath against themselves. Also, we are all taught generally, that no man run against Christ by hurting his brother unjustly, and specially, that no man resist the truth rashly and with a blind madness, under color of zeal.
It is hard for thee. This is a proverbial sentence, taken from oxen or horses, which, when they are pricked with goads, do themselves no good by kicking, save only that they double the evil by causing the prick to go farther into their skins. Christ applieth this similitude unto himself very fitly, because men shall bring upon themselves a double evil, by striving against him, who must of necessity be subject to his will and pleasure, will they nill they. Those which submit themselves willingly to Christ are so far from feeling any pricking at his hands, that they have in him a ready remedy for all wounds; but all the wicked, who endeavor to cast out their poisoned stings against him, shall at length perceive that they are asses and oxen, subject to the prick. So that he is unto the godly a foundation whereon they rest, but unto the reprobate who stumble at him, a stone which with his [its] hardness grindeth them to powder. And although we speak here of the enemies of the gospel, yet this admonition may reach farther, to wit, that we do not think that we shall get any thing by biting the bridle so often as we have any thing to do with God, but that being like to gentle horses, we suffer ourselves meekly to be turned about and guided by his hand. And if he spur us at any time, let us be made more ready to obey by his pricks, lest that befall us which is said in the Psalm, That the jaws of untamed horses and mules are tied and kept in with a hard bit, lest they leap upon us, etc.
In this history we have a universal figure of that grace which the Lord showeth forth daily in calling us all. All men do not set themselves so violently against the gospel; yet, nevertheless, both pride and also rebellion against God are naturally engendered in all men. We are all wicked and cruel naturally; therefore, in that we are turned to God, that cometh to pass by the wonderful and secret power of God, contrary to nature. The Papists also ascribe the praise of our turning unto God to the grace of God; yet only in part, because they imagine that we work together. But when as the Lord doth mortify our flesh, he subdueth us and bringeth us under, as he did Paul. Neither is our will one hair readier to obey than was Paul’s, until such time as the pride of our heart be beaten down, and he have made us not only flexible but also willing to obey and follow. Therefore, such is the beginning of our conversion, that the Lord seeketh us of his own accord, when we wander and go astray, though he be not called and sought; that he changeth the stubborn affections of our heart, to the end he may have us to be apt to be taught.
Furthermore, this history is of great importance to confirm Paul’s doctrine. If Paul had always been one of Christ’s disciples, wicked and froward men might extenuate the weight of the testimony which he giveth of his Master. If he should have showed himself to be easy to be entreated, and gentle at the first, we should see nothing but that which is proper to man. But when as a deadly enemy to Christ, rebellious against the gospel, puffed up with the confidence which he reposed in his wisdom, inflamed with hatred of the true faith, blinded with hypocrisy, wholly set upon the overthrowing of the truth, [he] is suddenly changed into a new man, after an unwonted manner, and of a wolf is not only turned into a sheep, but doth also take to himself a shepherd’s nature, it is as if Christ should bring forth with his hand some angel sent from heaven. For we do not now see that Saul of Tarsus, but a new man framed by the Spirit of God; so that he speaketh by his mouth now, as it were from heaven.

ACTS 9:6-9
6. And he trembling and fearing said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, where it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7. And the men which accompanied him in his journey stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice, and seeing no man. 8. And when Saul was risen from the ground, when his eyes were opened he saw no man; but they led him by the hand, and brought him to Damascus. 9. And he was three days without sight, neither eating nor drinking.

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, (<020713>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 F585 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,” (<421016>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.
7. And the men. He speaketh now briefly of the companions of Paul, that they were witnesses of the vision. Yet it seemeth that this narration doth not in all points agree with that of Paul, which we shall see in the 22nd chapter, (<442209>Acts 22:9.) For he will say there, that his companions were terrified with the light, but they heard no voice. Some there be who think that it was a fault, F586 and that through ignorance of the writer F587 the negation is placed out of its right place. I think that it is no hard matter to answer it; because it may be that they heard the sound of the voice, yet did they not discern either who it was that spake, or what was spoken. “They heard not,” saith he, “the voice of him that spake with me.” Surely this is the meaning of these words, that he alone knew the speech of Christ. It followeth not thereupon, but that the rest might have heard a dark and doubtful voice. Whereas Luke saith in this place that there was a voice heard, and no man seen, his meaning is, that the voice proceeded from no man, but that it was uttered by God. Therefore, to the end the miracle may carry the greater credit, Paul’s companions see a light like to lightning; they see Paul lie prostrate; a voice they hear (though not distinctly F588) sounding from heaven; and yet, nevertheless, Paul alone is taught what he must do.
8. He was raised up from the earth. Luke addeth now, that he was taken with so great fear that he could not rise of himself; and not that only, but he was also blind for a time, that he might forget his former wit and wiliness. F589 When as he saith, that after that his eyes were opened, he saw not, it seemeth that it doth not agree with the other words which shall follow by and by, that his eyes were covered, as it were, with scales; but the meaning of this place is, that he was blind indeed, and deprived of his sight for that three days; because when he opened his eyes he saw nothing.
9. Whereas he saith, that he neither ate nor drank for the space of three days, that is to be counted a part of the miracle. For although the men of the east country endure hunger better than we, yet we do not read that any did fast three days, save only those who had want of victual, or who were constrained by some greater necessity. Therefore we gather that Paul was wonderfully afraid, F590 seeing that being, as it were, dead, he tasted no meat for three days.

ACTS 9:10-12
10. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, called Ananias, unto whom the Lord said in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Here am I, Lord. 11. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the way that is called Straight, and seek in the house of Judas one called Saul of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth. 12. And he hath seen in a vision a man, named Ananias, entering in, and laying his hand upon him that he might see.

10. We have said before that this man was rather chosen than any of the apostles, that Paul, having laid away the swelling of his arrogancy, might learn to hear the least, and that he [might] come down from too great loftiness even unto the lowest degree. And this vision was necessary for Ananias, lest through fear he should withdraw himself from that function which was enjoined him, to wit, to teach Paul. For though he know that the Lord calleth him, yet he slideth back, or, at least, he excuseth himself. Therefore it was requisite that he should have some certain testimony of his calling, that there should happy success be promised to his labor, that he might take that in hand with a joyful and valiant mind which the Lord commanded. Furthermore, as Christ animateth and confirmeth Ananias, by appearing to him in the vision, so he prepareth and maketh Paul ready for all things, that he may receive Ananias reverently, as if he would receive an angel coming from heaven. The Lord could have sent Paul straightway unto Ananias, and have showed him his house, but this was more fit for his confirmation; because he knew the better that the Lord had a care of him. And also the Lord setteth out his grace unto us, that as he stopped Paul before, so now he reacheth him his hand of his own accord, by his minister. And, in the mean season, we are also taught, by his example, to be more ready and careful to seek out the lost sheep.
In a vision. This word vision signifieth some light F591 which was set before the eyes to testify God’s presence. For this is the use of visions, that the majesty of the Word being well proved, it may purchase credit, amongst men; which kind of confirmation God used oftentimes toward the prophets; as he saith, that he speaketh to his servants by a vision or by a dream. He hath, indeed, suffered Satan to deceive the unbelievers with false imaginations and visures. F592 But forasmuch as Satan’s juggling casts are of power only in darkness, God doth lighten the minds of his children so, that they assure themselves that they need not to fear legerdemain. F593 Therefore Ananias answereth, Here am I, Lord, knowing indeed that it was God.
11. For, behold, he prayeth. Luke showeth that Paul gave himself F594 to prayer those three days; and peradventure this was one cause why he fasted, although it be certain, as I have already said, that he suffered such long hunger, because he was after a sort deprived of sense, as men which are in a trance use to be. Christ doth assuredly speak of no short prayer F595 in this place, but he doth rather show that Paul continued in this kind of exercise until he should be more quiet in mind. For besides other causes of terror, that voice might sound in his ears, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And it is not to be doubted but that the careful F596 looking for a perfect revelation did marvellously trouble his mind; but this was the reason why the Lord caused him to wait three days, that he might the more kindle in him an earnest desire to pray.
12. He saw a man, named Ananias. It is uncertain whether Luke do yet repeat the words of Christ, or he add this of his own. Those which take it in the person of Luke are moved with some show of absurdity, because it is an unlikely thing that Christ used these words. Although this may be easily answered thus, to wit, that Christ confirmeth Ananias after this sort, There is no cause why thou shouldst fear but that he will receive thee willingly, forasmuch as he already knoweth thy shape by a vision. I have also told him thy name, and whatsoever thou shalt do with him. Yet may the reader choose whether he will.

ACTS 9:13-16
13. And Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard of many of this man, what hurt he hath done to thy servants at Jerusalem: 14. And here he hath power from the priests to bind all which call upon thy name. 15. And the Lord said unto him, Go; because he is a chosen instrument to me to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. 16. For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name.

13. Lord, I have heard. In that Ananias objecteth the danger to the Lord, he betrayeth his weakness of faith therein. Therefore we see that the saints and servants of God are afraid of death, which thing keepeth them back from doing their duty; yea, it causeth them sometimes to stagger. Ananias would gladly go to some other place; but this is a point of a good man, that he yieldeth not so much to fear that he withdraweth himself from Christ’s obedience. And, therefore, this is a sign of rare obedience, F597 that although through fear of death he were somewhat slack at the first, yet having forgotten himself by and by, he maketh great haste to go whither Christ called him. And yet, notwithstanding, he refuseth not flatly in these words to do that which he is commanded to do, but useth an excuse F598 very modestly, Lord, what meaneth this, that thou sendest me to the hangman? Therefore we may see a desire to obey mixed with fear.
14. He hath power to bind. We gather by these words, that the fame of the persecution which Saul went about F599 was spread far and wide; for which cause his conversion was F600 more famous. Nevertheless, the Lord suffered the faithful to be evil entreated, F601 that the benefit of such sudden deliverance might afterwards be the more excellent. We must mark that speech, when he saith that the godly call upon the name of Christ. For whether you understand it, that inasmuch as they professed that they were Christ’s, they rejoiced therefore in him, or that they used to fly to him for succor, invocation cannot be without sure confidence. By both which the divinity of Christ is not only proved, but also if the second be received, which seemeth to be more natural, F602 we are taught by the example of the faithful, to call upon the name of Christ when he is preached to us.
15. Go; because he is an elect instrument. The commandment repeated the second time, and also the promise of success added, taketh away all doubtfulness. Therefore sloth shall want an excuse, if it be never redressed after that many pricks be used; like as we see that very many, who howsoever the Lord cry unto them continually, do not only loiter during their whole life, but do also cherish their slothfulness by all means possible. F603 If any man object that the Lord speaketh not at this day in a vision, I answer, that forasmuch as the Scripture is abundantly confirmed to us, we must hear God thence. F604
A vessel of election, or, as Erasmus translateth it, an elect instrument, is taken for an excellent minister. The word instrument doth show that men can do nothing, save inasmuch as God useth their industry at his pleasure. For if we be instruments, he alone is the author; the force and power to do is in his power alone. And that which Christ speaketh in this place of Paul appertaineth to all men, both one and other. Therefore how stoutly soever every man labor, and how carefully soever he behave himself in his duty, yet there is no cause why he should challenge to himself any part of praise. Those which dispute subtilely about the word vessel, dote through ignorance of the Hebrew tongue. Luke putteth the genitive ease for the dative and that according to the common custom of the Hebrew tongue. And he meant to express a certain excellency, as if he should have said, that this man shall be no common minister of Christ, but shall be indued with singular excellency above others. Nevertheless, we must note that if any thing be excellent, it dependeth upon the favor of God, as Paul himself teacheth elsewhere. Who is he that separateth thee? to wit, that thou shouldst excel others, (<460407>1 Corinthians 4:7.) To conclude, Christ pronounceth that Paul was chosen unto great and excellent things.
To bear my name amongst the Gentiles. To him who went about before to suppress the name of Christ is the same now committed to be borne. If we please to take µnç (schenos) for a vessel, this should be a continual metaphor, because a minister of the gospel serveth instead of a vessel to publish the name of Christ; but because it signifieth rather amongst the Hebrews any instrument generally, I take these words to carry my name, for to extol the same unto due honor. For Christ is placed after a sort in his princely throne when as the world is brought under his power by the preaching of the gospel.
16. And because. Paul could not do this, and have Satan quiet, and the world to yield to him willingly; therefore Luke addeth, that he shall be also taught to bear the cross. For the meaning of the words is, I will accustom him to suffer troubles: to endure reproaches, and to abide all manner [of] conflicts, that nothing may terrify him, and keep him back from doing his duty. And when Christ maketh himself Paul’s teacher in this matter, he teacheth that the more every man hath profited in his school, the more able is he to bear the cross. For we strive against it, and refuse it as a thing most contrary, until he make our minds more gentle. Also this place teacheth, that no man is fit to preach the gospel, seeing the world is set against it, save only he which is armed to suffer. Therefore if we will show ourselves faithful ministers of Christ, we must not only crave at his hands the spirit of knowledge and wisdom, but also of constancy and strength, that we may never be discouraged by laboring and toiling; which is the estate of the godly.

ACTS 9:17-19
17. And Ananias went and entered into the house, and when he had laid his hands upon him, he said, Brother Saul, the Lord hath sent me, namely Jesus, who appeared to thee in the way as thou camest, that thou mayest recover thy sight, and that thou mayest be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18. And forthwith there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he recovered his sight by and by; and arising he was baptized. 19. And when he had taken meat he was strengthened.

17. Having laid his hands upon. We have said elsewhere that this was a solemn, and, as it were, an ordinary thing amongst the Jews, to lay their hands upon those whom they did commend to God. The apostles translated that custom taken from sacrifices to their use, either when they gave the visible graces of the Spirit or when they made any man minister of the Church. To this end doth Ananias lay his hands now upon Paul, partly that he may consecrate him unto God, partly that he may obtain for him the gifts of the Spirit. And though there be no mention made of doctrine in this place yet it shall appear afterwards by Paul’s narration, that Ananias was also commanded to teach him; and by baptism, which was later in order, we gather that he was instructed in the faith. Let the readers note out of the chapter next going before how this ceremony is effectual to give the Spirit, But seeing Paul received the Spirit by the hand of Ananias, the Papists are more than ridiculous, who will have the bishops alone to lay on their hands.
18. There fell from his eyes as it had been scales. The blindness of Paul, as we have said before did not proceed from fear alone or from amazedness; but by this means was he admonished of his former blindness, that he might quite abandon that boldness and vain confidence wherewith he was puffed up. He boasted that he was taught at the feet of Gamaliel, (<442203>Acts 22:3;) and undoubtedly he thought very well of his great wittiness, F605 which was notwithstanding mere blindness. Therefore he is deprived of the sight of his body F606 three days, that he may begin to see with his mind; for those must become fools, whosoever they be, which seem to themselves wise, that they may attain to true wisdom. For seeing that Christ is the Sun of righteousness, in seeing without him we see not; it is he also which openeth the eyes of the mind. Both things were showed to Paul, and to us are they showed in his person; for he hath his eyes covered with scales, that, condemning all his knowledge of ignorance, F607 he may learn that he hath need of new light, which he hath hitherto wanted; and he is taught that he must let [seek] the true light from none other save only from Christ, and that it is given by no other means save only through his goodness. Furthermore, whereas being pined with three days hunger, he maketh no haste to receive meat until he be baptized, thereby appeareth the earnest F608 desire he had to learn, because he refreshed not his body with meat until his soul had received strength.

ACTS 9:19-25
And Saul was with the disciples which were at Damascus certain days. 20. And by and by he preached Christ, that he was the Son of God. 21. And they were all amazed which heard, and said, Is not this he which at Jerusalem made havock of those who called upon his name, and he [had come] came hither to that end, that he might carry them bound unto the priests? 22. And Saul waxed more strong, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this was Christ. 23. And when many days were past, the Jews took counsel together to put him to death: 24. And their laying in wait was known to Saul. And they kept the gates day and night, that they might slay him: 25. And the disciples having taken him by night, put him down through [by] a wall, and let him down in a basket.

20. Luke declareth now how fruitful Paul’s conversion was, to wit, that he came abroad by and by, F609 and did not only profess that he was a disciple of Christ, but did also set himself against F610 the fury and hatred of the enemies, by defending the gospel stoutly. Therefore, he who of late ran headlong against Christ with furious force, doth now not only submit himself meekly unto his will and pleasure but like a stout standard-bearer fighteth even unto the utmost danger to maintain his glory. Certain it is that he was not so quickly framed by Ananias’ industry, F611 but that so soon as he had learned the first principles by man’s mouth, he was extolled by God unto higher things afterward. He comprehendeth the sum of his preaching briefly, when he saith that Christ was the Son of God. In the same sense, he saith shortly after that he saw Christ. And understand thus much, that when Paul intreated out of the law and the prophets of the true office of the Messiah, he taught also that all whatsoever was promised of, and was to be hoped for, at the hands of the Messiah, was revealed and given in Christ. For the words signify thus much, when he saith that he preached that Christ is the Son of God. That was undoubtedly a principle amongst the Jews, that there should a Redeemer come from God, who should restore all things to a happy estate. Paul teacheth that Jesus of Nazareth is he, which he cannot do, unless he shake off those gross errors which he had conceived of the earthly kingdom of the Messiah. Certain it is that Paul declared how Christ was promised in the law, and to what end; but because all tended to this end, that he might prove that the son of Mary was he of whom the law and the prophets bare witness, therefore Luke is content with this one word only.
21. They were all amazed. This is added, that we may know that the power of God was acknowledged. For seeing that the zeal of Paul against the gospel was openly known, they saw no other cause of such a sudden change but the hand of God. And, therefore, this is also one fruit of the miracle, that they all wonder at him being made a new man so suddenly, so that his doctrine doth the more move their minds. Whereas they say that he raged horribly with great cruelty, and that he came of late to Damascus that he might proceed in his purpose, these circumstances serve to augment the miracle. We must also note the phrase, those which call on his name, which withesseth that the godly did so profess the name of Christ, that they placed all their hope of salvation in him. According to that, these
“men put their trust in chariots, and others in horses, but we will call upon the name of the Lord,” (<192007>Psalm 20:7.)
Finally, whatsoever the Scripture commandeth concerning calling upon the name of God, it agreeth to the person of Christ.
22. And Saul waxed stronger. Luke doth not only in this place commend the bold zeal of Paul in confessing the faith of Christ, but also he telleth us that he had strong reasons to convince the Jews. He waxed strong, saith he, that is, he got the victory in disputation; his confession did carry with it great force and efficacy, F612 because being furnished with testimonies of Scripture, and such other helps of the Holy Ghost, he did, as it were, tread all his adversaries under his feet. F613 For the word confounded, which Luke useth, doth signify, that, forasmuch as Paul did urge them out of measure, they were so stricken that they could not tell where they were. F614 The manner of the confounding is expressed, because Paul proved that Jesus was Christ. For the sense is this, that even when the Jews were most desirous to resist, they were overcome and confounded. So that Paul tried [found] by experience, that that was most true which he himself affirmeth, that the Scripture is profitable to convince, (<550316>2 Timothy 3:16.) Also, he performed that which he required elsewhere of a bishop and teacher, (<560107>Titus 1:7;) for he was armed with the word of God to maintain the truth. And Luke setteth down two things, that Paul so got the victory in disputing that he overthrew the Jews; and yet their stubbornness was not broken and tamed that they yielded to the truth, because their consciences rage nevertheless inwardly, and being thrown down from their false opinion, they do not submit themselves to Christ.
Whence had Paul this victory, save only because the Scripture was his sword? Therefore, so often as heretics stand up to resist the true faith, so often as wicked men endeavor to overthrow all godliness, so often as the ungodly do obstinately resist, let us remember that we must fet [seek] armor hence. Because the Papists find no weapons in Scripture, yea, because they see that it maketh quite against them, they fly into this miserable fortress F615 that they must not dispute with heretics, and that there can no certain thing be set down out of Scripture. But if Satan himself be vanquished with the sword of the word, why shall it not be able to put heretics to flight? not that they will submit themselves, or make an end of murmuring, F616 but because they shall lie overcome in themselves. F617 And if so be it we covet to escape this trouble, let us raise no tumults against God, but let us, with a quiet and meek spirit, receive that peace which the Scripture offereth us.
23. When many days were fulfilled. He saith that many days were expired, that we may know that Paul had some space of time granted him wherein he might do good. For although the Jews did resist him even from the first day, yet the Lord did not suffer the course which he had begun well to be broken off so soon, so he doth with his wonderful counsel hinder the purposes of the enemies, stay their endeavors, restrain their malice and madness, whilst that he furthereth F618 the gospel; and also we see what the hatred of the truth doth. For when the wicked see that they are unable to resist, they are carried headlong into bloody fury. They would gladly contemn the word of God if they could; but because they are enforced, whether they will or no, to feel the force thereof, they run headlong, like furious beasts, with blind violence. F619 The unadvised and rash heat of zeal will always almost break out into such cruelty, unless men suffer themselves to be ruled by the word of God. This is, assuredly, horrible blindness. For why are they so mad, save only because their wounded conscience doth vex them? But God doth by this means punish their hypocrisy, who do, therefore, hate sound religion; because, being friends of darkness, they fly the light.
Furthermore, we see how sweetly these preposterous zealous fellows F620 grant themselves liberty to do whatsoever them lusteth, when Satan hath once pricked them forward to persecute the truth. For they fear not to take counsel, under color of zeal, to put a man to death, which they know is mere wickedness, F621 as at this day the Papists think that they may do whatsoever they will, so they can quench the doctrine of the gospel. They rage not only with sword, but they go about by lying in wait, by treachery, and by most execrable means, to destroy us. We must, first, beware that that do not befall us, that we entangle not ourselves in the defense of evil causes; secondly, that we handle those causes well which we know are good. But it is to be thought that they laid wait for Paul privily; that done, when they could do no good this way, it is likely that they came to the governor of the city, and that then the gates were watched, that they might by one means or other catch him. For Paul saith that Aretas, the king’s governor, commanded that which Luke attributeth in this place to the Jews.
25. The disciples having taken him by night. There is a question moved here, whether it were lawful for the disciples to save Paul thus or no? and also, whether it were lawful for Paul to escape danger by this means or no? For the laws say that the walls of cities are holy, [sacred,] and that the gates are holy. Therefore, he ought rather to have suffered death, than to have suffered a public order to be broken for his sake. I answer, that we must consider why it is decreed by the laws that the walls should not be violated; to wit, that the cities may not be laid open to murders and robberies, and that the cities may be free F622 from treason. That reason ceaseth when the question is concerning the delivery of an innocent man. Therefore, it was no less lawful for the faithful to be let down in a basket, than it shall be lawful for any private person to leap over a wall, that he may avoid F623 the sudden invasion of the enemy. Cicero doth handle this latter member, and he setteth down very well, that although the law forbid a stranger to come near the wall, yet doth not he offend who shall go up upon the wall to save the city, because the laws must always be inclined F624 to equity. Therefore Paul is not to be blamed, because he escaped by stealth, seeing that he doth that without raising any tumult amongst the people. Nevertheless, we see how the Lord useth to humble those that be his, seeing that Paul is enforced to steal his life from the watchmen of the city if he will save himself. Therefore, he reckoneth this example amongst his infirmities. He was acquainted betime with the cross F625 with this first exercise.

ACTS 9:26-31
26. And when Saul was at Jerusalem, he essayed to join himself to the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27. But when Barnabas had taken him, he brought him to the apostles, and he told them how that he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had behaved himself boldly at Damascus, in the name of Jesus, 28. And he was conversant with them at Jerusalem; and when he was emboldened in the name of the Lord Jesus, 29. He spake, and disputed with the Grecians. And they went about to kill him. 30. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him to Cesarea, and sent him to Tarsus. 31. Then the churches throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, had peace; and they were edified, and walked in the fear of the Lord, and were filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

26. When Saul was. These were yet hard entrances F626 for Paul, who was as yet but a freshwater soldier, in that, when he had hardly escaped the hands of the enemies, the disciples would not receive him. For he might have seemed to have been so tossed to and fro, as it were, in mockery, that he could have no resting place. All his own nation was set against him for Christ’s cause. The Christians refuse him. Might he not have been quite discouraged and out of hope as one expelled out of men’s company? First, what remaineth but that he fall away from the Church, seeing he is not received? But when he remembereth the life which he had led aforetime he marvelleth not that they are afraid F627 of him. Therefore, he doth patiently suffer the brethren to refuse his company, seeing they had just cause of fear. This was true conversion, that whereas he raged horribly before, he doth now valiantly suffer the storms of persecutions; and, in the mean season, when as he cannot be admitted into the company of the godly, he waiteth with a quiet mind until God reconcile them unto him. We must diligently note what he desireth, to wit, that he may be numbered amongst the disciples of Christ. This can he not obtain. Here is no ambition, but he was to be instructed by this means to make more account even of the lowest place amongst the disciples of Christ than of all masterships in corrupt and revolted F628 synagogues, And from this submission was he exalted unto the highest degree of honor, that he might be the principal doctor of the Church, even unto the end of the world. But no man is fit to be a teacher in the Church save only he who willingly submitteth himself, F629 that he may be a fellow disciple with other men.
27. When Barnabas had taken him. Whereas the disciples fled so fast from Paul, that was, peradventure, a point of too great fearfulness, F630 and yet he speaketh of none of the common sort, but of the apostles themselves. But he doth either extenuate or lighten their fault, because they suspected him for just causes, whom they had found and tried F631 to be such a deadly enemy; and, it was to be feared, lest they should rashly endanger themselves if they should have showed themselves to be so easy to entreat. Therefore, I think that they are not to be blamed for that fear which they conceived for just cause, or that they deserve to be even accused for the same. For if they had been called to give an account of their faith, they would have provoked F632 not Paul only, but also all the furies of hell, without fear. Whence we gather that every fear is not to be condemned but such as causeth us to turn aside from our duty. The narration which Luke addeth may be referred as well unto the person of Barnabas as of Paul. Yet I think rather that Paul declareth to the apostles what had befallen him; and yet the speech may be well applied to Barnabas, especially when as mention is made of Paul’s boldness.
28. Luke saith afterwards that Paul went in and out with the disciples, which speech signifieth amongst the Hebrews familiarity, as the inhabitants of cities are said to go in and out at the gates of the city. Therefore after that Paul was commended by the testimony of Barnabas, he began to be counted one of the flock, that he might be thoroughly known to the Church. Luke saith again that he dealt boldly in the name of the Lord, by which words he commendeth his (stoutness and) courage in professing the gospel. For he durst never have whispered amidst so many lets, unless he had been endowed with rare constancy. Nevertheless, all men are taught what they ought to do; to wit, every man according to the measure of his faith. For though all be not Pauls, yet the faith of Christ ought to engender in our minds so great boldness, that we be not altogether dumb when we have need to speak. I take the name of the Lord in this place for the profession of the gospel; in this sense, that Paul defended Christ’s cause manfully.
29. He disputed with the Grecians. Erasmus noteth well in this place that those are here called Grecians, not which came F633 of Grecians, but rather those Jews who were scattered throughout divers parts of the world. Those men were wont to come together F634 to Jerusalem to worship. And it is to be thought that Paul disputed rather with strangers and aliens, F635 than with those who dwelt at Jerusalem, F636 because this latter sort would never have abidden him, neither had it been wisely done to come in their sight. Therefore being excluded from those who knew him before he tried whether there were any hope to do good amongst men whom he knew not, so that he did most stoutly whatsoever concerned the duty of a valiant soldier.
They would have slain him. Behold, again, fury instead of zeal; and it cannot otherwise be, but that hypocrisy and superstition will be cruel and fierce. The godly must be incensed with an holy wrath, when they see the pure truth of God corrupted with false and wicked opinions; yet, so that they moderate their zeal, that they set down nothing until they have thoroughly weighed the cause; and, secondly, that they essay to bring those into the way who wander out of the same. Lastly, that if they see their stubbornness to be past hope, they themselves take not the sword in hand, because they must know that they have no authority granted them of the Lord to (punish or) revenge. But hypocrites are always ready to shed blood before they know the matter; so that superstition is bloody, through blind and headlong fury. But Paul, who of late ran up and down to vex the godly, can abide nowhere now. F637 And yet this estate was far better for him, than if he should have reigned in peace and quietness, driving the godly everywhere out of their places.
30. In that he went to Tarsus, he did it undoubtedly to this end, that he might carry the doctrine of the gospel thither, because he hoped that he should have some favor and authority in his country, where he was famous; yet was he brought thither by the brethren, that they might deliver him from the lying in wait.
31. Then the Churches. Luke’s meaning is, that the enemies of the gospel were greatly provoked by Paul’s presence. For why was there such peace made suddenly by his departure, save only because the very sight of him did provoke the fury of the enemies? And yet this is no reproach to him, as if he had been, as it were, some trumpet in war; but Luke doth rather commend him for this, because he made the wicked run mad, only with the smell of him when he was near them. For Christ meant so to triumph in him, that he might be no less a trouble than an ornament to his Church.
Therefore we are taught by this example that those are not by and by F638 to be condemned, who inflame the madness of the wicked more than others; which admonition is not a little profitable. For as we are too dainty and too much besotted with the love of our own rest, so we be also sometimes angry with the best and most excellent servants of Christ, if we think that through their vehemency the wicked are pricked forward to do hurt; and by this means we do injury to the Spirit of God, whose force and speech kindleth all that flame.
And whereas Luke saith, that the Churches had peace, let us know that it was not continual, but because the Lord granted his servants some short breathing. For thus doth he bear with F639 our infirmity, when he appeaseth or mitigateth the winds and storms of persecutions, lest if they should hold on still, they should urge us out of measure. And this blessing is not to be despised, neither is it any common blessing, when as the Churches have peace. But Luke addeth other things, which are of far more value; to wit, that the Churches were edified, they walked in the fear of God, and they were filled with the consolation of the Spirit. For as we are wont to riot and exceed in time of peace, the Churches are more happy, for the most part, amidst the tumults of war, than if they should enjoy what rest they would desire. But and if holy conversation, and the consolation of the Spirit, whereby their state doth flourish, be taken away, they lose not only their felicity, but they come to nought. Therefore, let us learn not to abuse external peace in banqueting and idleness; but the more rest we have given us from our enemies, to encourage ourselves to go forward in godliness whilst we may. And if at any time the Lord let loose the bridle to the wicked to trouble us, let the inward consolation of the Spirit be sufficient for us. Finally, as well in peace as in war, let us always joyfully go forward toward him who hath a reward for us. F640
Edification may be taken either for increase; to wit, whilst the Churches are augmented with the number of the faithful, or for their going forward who are already in the flock; to wit, whilst they have new gifts given them, and have greater confirmation of godliness. In the first signification it shall be referred unto the persons; in the second unto the gifts of the Spirit. I embrace both willingly; that there were some every now and then gathered unto the Church who were strangers before, and those who were of the household of the Church did increase in godliness and other virtues. Furthermore, the metaphor of a building is very convenient, because the Church is the temple and house of God, and every one of the faithful is also a temple, (<540315>1 Timothy 3:15; <460316>1 Corinthians 3:16.) The two things which follow, that they walked in the fear of God, and that they were filled with the consolation of the Spirit, are parts of that edification. Therefore, though the Churches had peace, yet they were not drunken with delights and earthly joy, but, trusting to God’s help, they were more emboldened to glorify God.

ACTS 9:32-35
32. And it happened, that whilst Peter walked through all, he came also unto the saints which dwelt at Lydda. 33. And he found there a man named. AEneas, who had laid in his bed eight years, who had the palsy. 34. And Peter saith unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ make thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And forthwith he arose. 35. And all those which dwelt at Lydda and Assaron saw him, and were turned unto the Lord.

32. Luke setteth down how the Church was increased by miracles. And he reciteth two miracles: That a man who had been bedrid eight years, having the palsy, was suddenly healed; and that a certain woman was raised from death. First, he saith, that as Peter walked throughout all, he came to Lydda. And by all understand not Churches, but the faithful, because it is in Greek of the masculine gender, though that skilleth not much for the sense. And it was meet that the apostles, who had no certain place of abode, should wander hither and thither as occasion was offered. Wherefore, whilst they are all occupied in divers parts, Peter took upon him this charge, whereby the foolishness of the Papists is refuted, who gather Peter’s primacy by the authority which he had to visit; as if the rest of the apostles did live idly at Jerusalem like private men, when Peter did visit the Churches. Again, admit we grant that Peter was the chief apostle, which thing the Scripture showeth oftentimes, doth it thereupon follow that he was the head of the world? But would to God the bishop of Rome, who will be counted Peter’s successor, would travel as he did to animate the brethren, and would every where prove indeed that he is the apostle of Christ. Now, he which out of his throne doth with more than tyrannous lordship oppress all the Churches, pretendeth that Peter did visit the Churches with great pains.
Which dwelt at Lydda. Lydda, which was afterward called Diospolis, was situated not far from the Mediterranean Sea, being a renowned city as well for antiquity as also for many gifts. Joppa was nigh to this city, which had a famous haven, though very full of rocks. The city itself stood upon a high cliff, whence they might see to Jerusalem. At this day there is nothing to be seen there but the ruinous walls of the old city, save only that the haven remaineth, which they call most commonly Japhet. It should seem that Luke nameth Assaron as some town or city. Jerome mentioneth Saron, and thinketh that thereby is meant the whole plain lying between Cesarea and Joppa. But because Jerome showeth no reason why he should change the reading which is commonly used, I admit that willingly which Luke’s text showeth me, to wit, that it was a city hard by. But I do not contend about this matter; as I do not ambitiously gather those things which may serve for a vain brag, because it shall be sufficient for the godly readers to know those things which make to Luke’s meaning.
34. Jesus Christ maketh thee whole. It is certain that the apostles would never have attempted the doing of miracles, unless they had been first certified of the will of God, whereupon the effect did depend. For they had no such power of the Spirit given them that they could heal whatsoever sick persons they would; but as Christ himself used a measure in his miracles, so he would have his apostles to work no more than he knew were profitable. Therefore Peter did not rashly break out into these words; because he might have set himself to be laughed at, unless he had already known the will of God. It may be that he prayed apart. The Spirit who was the author of all miracles, and which wrought by the hand of Peter, did even then direct his tongue, and did move his heart by a secret inspiration. And in these words Peter showeth plainly that he is only the minister of the miracle, and that it proceedeth from the power of Christ; that he may by this means extol the name of Christ alone.
Make thy bed. These circumstances do amplify the glory of the miracle, in that he doth not only recover strength to rise, but is also able to make his own bed, who could move no member before. To the same end tendeth the continuance of the disease; for a palsy of eight years’ continuance is not easily cured. In like sort is he said to have laid in his bed, that we may know that all his members were lame; for it was a little bed wherein they were wont to rest at noon. Whereas AEneas was so ready to make trial of his members, he thereby declared the obedience of his faith. For although he perceived the strength which was given him, F641 yet he was most of all moved with the efficacy of the words, to rise.
35. And all those. His meaning is, that the miracle was published abroad, and was known throughout the whole city. For when the Scripture saith all, it doth not comprehend every one how many so ever it noteth; but it putteth all for the more part, or for many, or for the common sort of men. Therefore, the sense is, that whereas there was but a small number of godly men there, a great part of the people became members of the Church. And in this clause is expressed the fruit of the miracle, because they embraced Christ and his gospel. Wherefore those men corrupt miracles, whosoever they be, which look only upon men, and do not turn their eyes toward this end, that being instructed concerning the power and grace of Christ, they may stick only to him. Therefore that token of Christ’s divine power which he showed was the beginning of turning to him. F642

ACTS 9:36-38
36. And there was a certain disciple at Joppa called Tabitha, which, if you interpret it, is called Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and alms which she did. 37. And it happened in those days that she was sick, and died. And when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper parlour. 38. And forasmuch as Lydda was near to Joppa, the disciples, who had heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, requesting him that he would come to them.

36. There followeth a more famous token of Christ’s power, by how much it is more hard to restore life to a dead body, than to restore health to a man that is sick. But Luke doth first commend the person of Tabitha on whom the miracle was showed, and that with a double title; to wit, that she was Christ’s disciple, and that she approved her faith with good works and alms. He hath oftentimes already put this word disciple for a Christian man; and lest we should think that that name was proper to men only, he attributeth the same to a woman. And this title teacheth us that Christianity cannot be without doctrine; and that that form of learning is prescribed, that the same Christ may be Master to all. This is the chiefest praise, this is the beginning of holy life, this is the root of all virtues, to have learned of the Son of God the way to live, and the true life. The fruits of good works proceed afterward from faith. By good works I mean the duties of love, wherewith our neighbors are helped; and Luke placeth the chief kind in alms. The commendation of liberality is great, because, as the Holy Ghost doth witness, it containeth in itself the sum of a godly and perfect life. Now we see what titles Tabitha hath. For religion toward God or faith goeth first; secondly, that she exercised herself in helping the brethren, and specially in relieving the poverty of the poor. For by use it is come to pass, that all that help wherewith the poor, and those which are in misery, are helped, is called elehmosunh. Tabitha is rather a Syrian word than an Hebrew, which Luke did turn into Greek, that we might know that it was not like to the virtues of the holy women, and that she was debased in such a simple name; F643 for Dorcas signifieth a goat; but the holiness of her life did easily wipe away the blot of a name not very seemly.
37. It happened that she was sick. He saith in plain words that she was sick, that he may the more plainly express her death which followed. To the same end he saith that the corpse was washed and laid in an upper chamber; therefore, these circumstances serve to make the miracle to be believed. Whereas they carry her not straightway to the grave, but lay her in the upper part of the house, that they may keep her there, we may thereby gather that they had some hope of recovering her life. It is likely that the rite of washing, whereof Luke maketh mention, was most ancient; and I do not doubt but that it came from the holy fathers by continual course of times, as if it had been delivered from hand to hand, that in death itself some visible and of the resurrection might comfort the minds of the godly, and lift them up unto some good hope; to wit, seeing the manifestation of eternal life was not so evident, yea, seeing that Christ, the pledge and substance of eternal life, was not as yet revealed, it was requisite that both the obscurity of doctrine, and also the absence of Christ, should be supplied by such helps. Therefore they washed the bodies of the dead, that they might once F644 stand before the judgment-seat of God, being clean. F645 Finally, there was the same reason for washing the dead which was for the living; the daily washing put them in mind of this, that no man can please God save he who should be purged from his filthiness. So, in the rite of burying, God would have some sign extant whereby men might be admonished that they went polluted out of this life by reason of that filthiness which they had gathered in the world. Washing did no more help those which were dead than burial, but it was used to teach the living; F646 for because death hath some show of destruction, lest it should extinguish the faith of the resurrection, it was requisite that contrary shows should be set against it, that they might represent life in death. The Gentiles also took to themselves this ceremony, for which cause Ennius saith, A good woman did wash and anoint Tarquinius’s corpse. But (their) imitation was but apish F647 in this thing, as in all other ceremonies. And Christians also have taken to themselves this example unadvisedly, as if the observation of a figure used under the law ought to continue always; for at the beginning of the gospel, although the necessity were abolished, yet the use was lawful, until such time as it might grow out of use in tract of time. But the monks do at this day no less imitate Judaism than did the Gentiles in times past, without choice and judgment, for they wash corpses, that they may bury Christ in shadows, which, being buried with him in his grave, ought never to have been used any more.
38. The disciples, which had heard, The washing of the corpse showeth that the disciples knew not what would come to pass, for by this means they make the corpse ready to be buried. Yet this is some token of hope, that they lay her in an upper chamber, and send to Peter. Furthermore, they murmur not against God, neither do they cry out that it is an unmeet thing; but they humbly crave God’s help, not that they will make Tabitha immortal, but their only desire is to have her life prolonged for a time, that she may yet profit the Church.

ACTS 9:39-43
39. And Peter arose and came with them, whom, when he was come, they brought into the upper chamber, and all the widows stood about her weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made when she was with them. 40. And when they were all put out, Peter kneeled down and prayed; and, turning himself toward the corpse, he said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes; and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41. And he reached out his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, he restored [exhibited] her alive.42. That was noised through all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43. And it happened that he stayed many days at Joppa with a certain man, named Simon, a tanner.

39. And Peter arose. It is doubtful whether the messengers declared to Peter the (matter and) cause why they fet [sent for] him; yet it is more like to be true, that they requested him absolutely that he would come to work a miracle. But there ariseth another question, whether he knew God’s purpose or not? First, if he should mistrust the success, he should go with them unadvisedly? I answer, although he did not yet know what the Lord would do, yet can he not be blamed for yielding to the request of the brethren. Also, there were other reasons why he should come; to wit, to mitigate their sorrow; to strengthen them with godly exhortations, lest they should faint, being discouraged with the death of one woman; to establish the Church, which was as yet tender, and but as it were an infant. Lastly, this one thing ought to have been sufficient for him, because in refusing he should have been thought proudly to despise his brethren, notwithstanding we must know this also, that so often as the Lord determined to work some miracle by his apostles, he did always direct them by the secret motion of the Spirit. I do not doubt but that although Peter were not yet certain of the life of Tabitha, yet did he undoubtedly perceive that God was his guide and conductor in that journey, so that he addressed himself to go not unadvisedly, though being uncertain of the event. F648
All the widows. Luke expresseth in this place the cause for which Tabitha was raised from death; to wit because God pitied the poor, and did at their desire restore the woman to life. There were also other ends. For seeing she liveth two lives, those virtues which Luke commended before are adorned in her person, but the chief end is, that the glory of Christ may be set forth. For God could have kept her alive longer; neither doth he change his purpose, as being moved with repentance when he doth restore her to life again, but because many of the disciples were weak and novices, who had need of confirmation, God declareth by the second life of Tabitha, that his Son is author of life. Therefore God did respect the poor and widows in such sort, that, by relieving their poverty, he established in their minds the faith of his gospel; for in this miracle he gave ample matter of profiting.
40. When they were all put forth. When as he taketh a time to pray, he seemeth as yet to doubt what will be the end. When he healed AEneas he brake out into these words, without making any stop, AEneas, Jesus Christ make thee whole. But as the operation of the Spirit is not always alike and the same, it may be that though he knew the power of God, yet he went forward unto the miracle by degrees. Yet it seemeth to be an absurd thing, that he putteth all the saints out of the chamber, for whom it had been better to have seen it with their eyes. But because the Lord had not as yet revealed the time when, and the manner how, he would show forth his power, he desired to be alone, that he might the more fitly pray. Also it might be, that he knew some other reason which moved him to do this, which we know not. It is recorded in the Sacred History, (<111723>1 Kings 17:23,) that Elias did the same. For he being alone, and not so much as the mother of the child with him, doth stretch himself thrice upon the dead corpse. For the Spirit of God hath his vehement motions, which, if any man will square out according to the common use of men, or measure by the sense of the flesh, he shall do wickedly and unjustly. We must this think, when as Peter, as it were doubting, seeketh a by place, he preventeth superstition, lest any man should ascribe to his power the work of God, whereof he was only a minister, For he which withdrew himself from company, and did pray so instantly, did plainly confess that the matter was not in his own hand. Therefore, when Peter wisheth to know what pleaseth the Lord, he confesseth that he alone was the author of the work. Kneeling in time of prayer is a token of humility, which hath a double profit, that all our members may be applied unto the worship of God, and that the external exercise of the body may help the weakness of the mind; but we must take heed so often as we kneel down, that the inward submission of the heart be answerable to the ceremony, that it be not vain and false. F649
Turning towards the corpse. This seemeth also to be contrary to reason, that he speaketh unto a corpse without feeling; but this speaking unto the dead corpse was one point of the vehemency whereunto the Spirit of God enforced Peter. And if any man desire a reason, this form of speech doth more lively express the power of God in raising the dead, than if it should be said in the third person, let this body receive life again and live. Therefore, when as Ezekiel doth shadow the deliverance of the people under a figure of the resurrection:
“O dead bones,” (saith he,) “hear the word of the Lord,”
(<263704>Ezekiel 37:4.)
And Christ saith,
“The time shall come when the dead shall hear
the voice of the Son of God,” (<430525>John 5:25.)
For this was indeed the voice of Christ, which was uttered by the mouth of Peter, and gave [back] breath to the body of Tabitha. The circumstances following serve to confirm the certainty of the miracle.
41. Luke repeateth, again, in the end that she was showed openly to the disciples; whence we gather that she was raised again, rather for other men’s sake than for her own. Brain-sick fellows, F650 who dream that the soul of man is only a blast which vanisheth away until the day of the resurrection, snatch at this place to prove their doting withal. To what end was it (say they) to call back the soul of Tabitha into the prison of the body, where it should suffer such misery, if it were received into blessed rest? As if it were not lawful for God to have respect of his glory as well in death as in life; and as if this were not the true felicity of the godly to live and die to him, yea, as if Christ were not to us a vantage, as well by living as dying, (<500121>Philippians 1:21,) when we dedicate ourselves to him. Therefore, there shall no inconvenience follow, if the Lord had greater respect to his own glory than to Tabitha, although, as the commodity F651 of the faithful is always annexed to the glory of God, this turned to her greater good that she revived, that she might be a more excellent instrument of God’s goodness and power.
42. And many believed. Now appear manifold fruits of the miracle, for God comforted the poor, a godly matron was restored to the Church, in whose death it suffered great loss, and many are called unto the faith; for although Peter were [had been] a minister of so great power, yet he keepeth not the men in [on] himself; but doth rather direct them unto Christ.
43. When as he saith that Peter dwelt with a tanner, we may hereby gather of what manner of men the church of Joppa did consist, for if the chieftains of the city had been converted to Christ, some one of them would have lodged Peter; for it had been too cruel a thing to suffer an apostle of Christ to be so despised. Therefore, the Lord did gather together there, as every where, a church of the common sort of men, that he might throw down the pride of the flesh; and also thereby appeareth Peter’s courtesy, in that he vouchsafeth to lodge with a man of that calling; although it seemeth that he was rather a merchant of some good estimation, than one of the basest sort of workmen. For Luke will say afterwards that there were there some which ministered unto Peter, whereby it appeareth that he was well and honestly used.
CHAPTER 10

ACTS 10:1-6
1. And there was a certain man of Cesarea named Cornelius, a captain [centurion] of the band which was called the Italian band; 2. A devout man, and one that feared God with his household, and one which gave alms to all the people, and which prayed to God continually. 3. He saw plainly in a vision, about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in unto him, and saying to him, Cornelius. 4. And beholding, and being afraid, he said, What is it, Lord? Then he said to him, Thy prayers and thy alms are come up into remembrance before God. 5. And now send men to Joppa, and fet [send for] Simon, which is called Peter: 6. He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house lieth to the sea; he shall tell thee what thou must do.

1. Luke passeth over now unto a worthy F652 history, to wit, that God vouchsafeth to advance a stranger, and one uncircumcised, unto singular honor above all the Jews, because he doth both send his angel unto him, and for his sake bringeth Peter to Cesarea, that he may instruct him in the gospel. But first of all Luke showeth what manner of person this Cornelius was, for whose cause an angel descended from heaven, and God spake to Peter in a vision. He was a captain [centurion] of the Italian band; a band [cohort] did consist upon [of] a thousand footmen, and he which was chief captain was called a tribune, (or marshal.) Again, every hundred had a captain. A legion had for the most part five bands. That band was called the Italian band, because the Romans did choose soldiers oftentimes from amongst those which dwelt in the provinces; but they had the strength of the army F653 out of Italy; therefore, Cornelius was an Italian born; but he was at Cesarea with his hundred, to guard the city. For the Romans were wont so to distribute their places of abode, F654 that every city of renown might have a garrison to stay sudden uproars. A rare example that a soldier was so devout towards God, so upright and courteous towards men! For at that time the Italians, when as they were carried into the provinces to live in warfare, ran to and fro like hungry wolves to get some prey; they had for the most part no more religion than beasts; they had as great care of innocency as cutthroats; for which cause the virtues of Cornelius deserve the greater commendation, in that leading a soldier’s life, which was at that time most corrupt, he served God holily, and lived amongst men without doing any hurt or injury. And this is no small amplification of his praise, in that casting away superstition wherein he was born and brought up, he embraced the pure worship of God; for we know what account the Italians made of themselves, and how proudly they despised others. And the Jews were at that time in such contempt, that for their sakes pure religion was counted infamous, and almost execrable. Seeing that none of these things could hinder Cornelius, but that forsaking his idols he did embrace the true worship of the true God alone, it must needs be that he was endued with rare and singular sincerity. Moreover, he could find scarce any thing amongst the Jews wherewith he could be allured unto the study of godliness, because there was then scarce one amongst a thousand which had even some small smattering of the law; and, undoubtedly, Cornelius had lighted upon some good worshipper of God, who being sound from corrupt opinions, did expound unto him the law faithfully, without mixing any leaven therewith; but because Luke giveth him many titles of commendation, we must note them all [singly.]
2. He saith that he was a godly man, and one that feared God; secondly, that like a good householder he had a care to instruct his families; he praiseth him afterward for the offices of love, because he was beneficial [beneficent] toward all the people; and, lastly, that he prayed [to] God continually. The sum is this, that Cornelius was a man of singular virtues, wherein the integrity of the godly consisteth, so that his life was framed, in all points, according to the rule which God prescribeth unto us. And because the law is contained in two tables, Luke commendeth, in the former place, Cornelius’ godliness; secondly, he descendeth unto the second part, that he exercised the offices of love toward men. This is very profitable to be marked, because we have a way to live well described in his person.
Wherefore, in ordering the life well, let faith and religion be the foundation, which being taken away, all other virtues are nothing else but smokes. Luke reckoneth up the fear of God and prayer as fruits and testimonies of godliness and of the worship of God, and that for good causes. For religion cannot be separated from the fear of God and the reverence of him, neither can any man be counted godly, save he who acknowledging God to be his Father and Lord, doth addict himself wholly to him. And let us know that voluntary fear is commended in this place when those men submit themselves to God willingly and from their heart, who duly consider themselves what is due to him.
Moreover, because a great part of the world doth, with reigned trifles, corrupt and deprave the worship of God, Luke added, for good causes, that Cornelius prayed continually; whereby he doth signify, that he proved not his godliness only with external ceremonies, but that he worshipped God spiritually, when as he exercised himself in prayer. We must also note the continuance of his prayer; whence we gather, that he did not pray only coldly, after the common custom, but that he was earnestly bent to prayer, as the continual benefits of God do exhort us and prick us forward thereunto, and the force of faith ought there to show itself. Wherefore let every one of us exhort himself to persevere in prayer by the example of Cornelius.
With all his house. We must not lightly pass over this commendation that Cornelius had a church in his house. And, surely, a true worshipper of God will not suffer so much as in him lieth God to be banished from his house. For how unmeet a thing is it for him to maintain his own right stoutly, that his wife, children, servants, and maids may obey him, and not to regard that God is disobeyed. It shall sometimes fall out so that a godly man cannot have even his wife to be of his mind; yet he, which ruleth others, must endeavor by all means to have God obeyed; and there is nothing more meet than that we should consecrate all ours to God as ourselves. Therefore, if a godly man have children which are unlike him, or a wife of evil conditions, or lewd and wicked servants, let him not wink, nor yet suffer his house to be polluted through his slothfulness. The diligence of Cornelius is not so much commended as the blessing of God, whereby it came to pass that he had his house obedient unto him in godliness. And we must not omit the circumstance, that he instructed his family in the fear of God, setting light by the fear of danger, which did hang over his head therefore. For the Jewish religion was in great contempt; F655 and no citizen of Rome might freely F656 receive any strange religion, as they called it. Wherefore, although the sincere profession of the gospel be evil spoken of in the world, yet is it too corrupt frightfulness F657 if that unjust hatred hinder any man from offering his family to God for a sacrifice, by godly instruction.
Giving alms. There is also the figure synecdoche in this member, [clause.] For as it was said, even now, that the worship of God was proved by prayers, so now, when Luke speaketh of love, he maketh choice of one kind; whereby he showeth that Cornelius was a liberal and bountiful man. For our godliness ought so to appear to men, that we declare that we fear God by using bountifulness and justice. The word alms is translated unto those external good works wherewith we help the poor, (<235807>Isaiah 58:7,) forasmuch as misericordia, or mercy, is the inward affection of the heart properly. For from this fountain springeth true and well ordered bountifulness, if the troubles and sorrows of our brethren do move us to compassion; if, considering the unity which is amongst us, we foster and cherish them as we would cherish our own flesh, and study to help them as we would help our own members. Hypocrites are, indeed, sometimes liberal, or at least bountiful; but howsoever they waste all, F658 yet no relief which they shall bestow upon the poor shall be worthy to be called by the name of alms. For we must hold that of Paul, He which hath no love is nothing, though he give all his goods to the poor, (<461303>1 Corinthians 13:3.) Let us, therefore, learn by this word, that God doth then allow our liberality, if we relieve the poverty of the poor, being moved with compassion, and if, as it were, with open bowels we bestow that which the liberality of God doth give.
Whereas Luke saith that he gave alms to all the people, it signifieth as much as everywhere to the poor; for there were not a few rich men to whom to have given had been an absurd thing. But whereas he bestowed so liberally upon the Jews, he declared how he agreed with them in religion; in which respect Luke saith, shortly after, that he was allowed of F659 all the Jews. And if so be it he was such an excellent mirror of godliness and holiness, even when he had but a small smattering of faith, although he were letted so many ways, F660 ought not we to be ashamed who will be accounted most Christian doctors, and are yet so cold in the exercises of godliness? If a small sparkle of faith prevailed so much in him, what ought the full brightness of knowledge to work in us? But howsoever we boast of Christ with full mouth, yet how far are we, for the most part, from the example of the holy man, so that there appeareth scarce a small shadow of those virtues wherewith he was replete? For how loose F661 are we in prayer? How slow and sluggish to do the duties of mercy? Yea, many are not only letted with filthiness and covetousness from giving liberally so much of their own as they ought, but they are so inflamed with a desire F662 to have, they are become so beastly through cruelty, F663 that they are not afraid to rob the poor of their substance, and to eat their very flesh.
3. He saw in a vision. Luke putteth vision for a kind of oracle coming from God, that we may know that Cornelius was brought unto the faith of Christ after an heavenly manner. And because men are oftentimes deceived with juggling, Luke setteth down the time to avoid all suspicion, when he mentioneth the ninth hour. And at that time they were wont to divide the day into twelve hours; from the rising of the sun until the going down thereof. Whereupon it followeth that it was fair daylight when the angel appeared, that the vision might be more evident. Although there were always seals added unto visions, that they might free the servants of God from fear of illusions, because when he appeared in dreams, yet were there such marks of certainty imparted in their minds as would not suffer them to doubt.
4. And he beheld, and was afraid. Luke expresseth his attentiveness in plain words, that we may know that it was no vain imagination which came upon the man as he was sleeping or doing some other thing. The fear wherewith he was taken F664 proceeded from the perceiving of the majesty of God; F665 for so soon as men conceive the presence of God, they must needs be afraid and cast down with fear. And whereas his words do no whit terrify us, that must be imputed to our sluggishness, because we do not know nor perceive that it is God which speaketh. But the godly, to whom God revealeth himself in his word, do tremble when they hear it, as Isaiah saith, (<236602>Isaiah 66:2, 5.) Furthermore, the sight of God is unto them terrible, not that they may always lie confounded, and be swallowed up of fear, but only that they may humbly address themselves to reverence him.
What is it, Lord? It appeareth plainly by this answer, that Cornelius’ mind was touched with religion; that he knew that he had to deal with God. Therefore the common translation hath it evil, F666 Who art thou, Lord? And it is likely that that which is there read was put in instead of this, forasmuch as in the Greek text there is no doubtfulness, whereby the interpreter might be deceived, and all the copies agree together in this reading, ti esti. And assuredly, when Cornelius perceived that it is God, he submitteth himself to obey; as the answer is nothing but a commandment.
Thy prayers and alms. Because God seemeth to be after a sort deaf, unless he answer our petitions by and by, hence cometh that speech, that our prayers come unto him, and that he is mindful thereof. Furthermore, the angel assigneth this as the cause why God vouchsafeth to show to Cornelius the light of his gospel; because he hath heard his prayers and accepted his alms. Whence we gather that virtues and good works do not only please God, but that they are also adorned with this excellent reward, that he heapeth upon us and enricheth us with greater gifts for their sakes; according to that, “To him that hath shall be given,” (<401312>Matthew 13:12.) And again,
“Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many things,”
(<402521>Matthew 25:21.)
For God doth after this sort extol his by a continual course of his gifts, as it were by certain steps, until he bring them to the top.
But the Papists abuse this place two ways; for because God respected the prayers and alms of Cornelius, so that he endued him with the faith of the gospel, they wrest that unto the preparations which they have invented, as if a man did get faith by his own industry and power, and did prevent F667 the grace of God by the merits of works. Secondly, they gather, generally, that good works are meritorious in such sort, that the graces of God are increased in every man as he hath deserved. In the former they are too childishly deceived, whilst that they feign that the works of Cornelius were acceptable to God before he was illuminate by faith. And we need not to fet [seek] a proof far to refute their ignorance; for he could obtain nothing by prayer unless faith went before, which only openeth the gate for us to pray; and Augustine weigheth that well and wisely, who derideth Pelagius, because he said that faith was obtained by prayers before it was in man in any measure: Who (saith he) will seek a physician save he who is already healed in some part? And it is the health of faith which teacheth us to knock. Furthermore, the fear of God and godliness do plainly prove that he was regenerate by the Spirit. For Ezekiel giveth F668 this praise to God alone, that he frameth the hearts of men to fear him, (<263204>Ezekiel 32:40.) And Isaiah saith, that the Spirit of the fear of God resteth in Christ, (<231102>Isaiah 11:2,) that we may know that he can be found no where save only in his members. Therefore it is too great folly to feign a man in the person of Cornelius, who, having nature for his guide, can attain unto eternal life, or endeavor to come thither. Therefore they reason blockishly, that we are able to prevent the grace of God with the merits of works.
As touching the second error, when as they imagine that every one of us is increased with greater graces as he hath deserved, it may easily be refuted. First, we deny that we have any good works which God hath not freely given us; secondly, we say that the right use of gifts cometh from him also and that this is his second grace, that we use his former gifts well. Thirdly, we deny that we deserve any thing by our works, F669 which are always lame and corrupt. Good works do indeed purchase for us the increase of grace, but not by their own desert. For they cannot be acceptable to God without pardon, which they obtain by the benefit of faith. Wherefore it is faith alone which maketh them acceptable. F670 Thus did Cornelius obtain more perfect knowledge of Christ by his prayers and alms, but in that he had God to be favorable and merciful to his prayers and alms, that did depend upon faith.
Furthermore, if good works be esteemed [estimated] by faith, it is of mercy, and not of merit, that God doth allow [approve] them. For because faith findeth no worthy thing in us whereby we can please God, it borroweth that of Christ which we want. And this is too perverse, that though the Papists have this word merit every now and then in their mouths, and cease not to puff up fools with a vain confidence, yet they bring nothing whereby the studies of men may be moved to do well. For they leave their consciences always in a doubt, and command men to doubt whether their words please God or not. Must not men’s minds need faint when they are possessed with such fear? But as for us, though we take merit from works, yet when as we teach that there is a reward laid up for them, we prick men forward with an excellent and sharp prick, to desire to live well. For we address ourselves then joyfully to serve God, when we are persuaded that we lose not our labor. And whereas there appeareth at this day no more plentiful abundance of the gifts of the Spirit, but that the more part doth rather wither away, we must thank our unthankfulhess for that. For as God did crown Cornelius’ prayers and alms, and holiness, with the most precious pearl of his gospel, so there is just cause why he should suffer us to starve, being brought unto hungry poverty, when as he seeth us abuse the treasure of his gospel wickedly and ungodlily.
Yet here may a question be asked, Whether faith require the knowledge of Christ, or it be content with the simple persuasion of the mercy of God? for Cornelius seemeth to have known nothing at all concerning Christ. But it may be proved by sound proofs that faith cannot be separated from Christ; for if we lay hold upon the bare majesty of God, we are rather confounded with his glory, than that we feel any taste of his goodness. Therefore, Christ must come between, that the mind of man may conceive that God is merciful. And it is not without cause that he is called the image of the invisible God, (<510115>Colossians 1:15;) because the Father offereth himself to be holden in his face alone. Moreover, seeing that he is the way, the truth, and the life, (<431406>John 14:6;) whithersoever thou goest without him, thou shalt be enwrapped on every side in errors, and death shall meet you [thee] on every side. We may easily answer concerning Cornelius. All spiritual gifts are offered unto us in Christ; and especially whence cometh regeneration, save only because we are ingrafted into the death of Christ, our old man is crucified? (Romans, 6:5, 6.) And if Cornelius were made partaker of the Spirit of Christ, there is no cause why we should think that he was altogether void of his faith; neither had he so embraced the worship of the true God, (whom the Jews alone did worship,) but that he had also heard F671 somewhat of the promised Mediator; though the knowledge of him were obscure and entangled, yet was it some. Whosoever came at that time into Judea he was enforced to hear somewhat of the Messiah, yea, there was some fame of him spread through countries which were far off. F672 Wherefore, Cornelius must be put in the catalogue of the old fathers, who hoped for salvation of the Redeemer before he was revealed. And it is properly F673 [improperly] said of Augustine, that Peter grounded his faith; whereas it had now before a firm foundation; although Augustine thinketh as we do in the thing itself, who affirmeth plainly, that Cornelius could not pray unless he had faith, in his Book of the Predestination of Saints, and other places.
5. Now send to Joppa. God dealt most favorably with Cornelius, in that he doth not command him to go himself, but to send messengers unto Peter, that he may stay quietly at home, and that Peter may endure the toil of the journey for his sake. But let us not wonder that Cornelius was so courteously handled, seeing that God thrusteth the ministers of his word daily upon the unwilling; so that he appeareth of his accord to those which do not seek him, as he saith by Isaiah, (<236501>Isaiah 65:1.) But why doth not the angel rather teach him? F674 For this seemeth an inconvenient F675 thing that he resigneth his office to a mortal man; for the oracle should have had greater authority than when the gospel is preached to him by a mortal man. As when Christ appeared to Paul by a vision, he set, notwithstanding, Ananias to teach him, that he might by such an example establish the ministry of the preaching of the gospel, which he committed to his Church; so now the angel giveth place to Peter, that he may execute the office committed unto him by Christ. Therefore, whosoever will be the disciple of Christ, and be illuminated by the (heavenly) light of the heavenly wisdom, let him not grudge to use attentiveness and docility toward the external voice of men, which Christ useth as an instrument, and whereunto he will have our faith annexed. And we see how sore God hath punished their furious pride, who, contemning preaching, have looked for F676 revelations from heaven. For since God will be heard in men, the ministers to whom he hath given his word F677 cannot be contemned without contempt and reproach of him. Nevertheless, I confess that the spirits must be proved, (<620401>1 John 4:1,) that we hear not without choice whosoever do pretend that they are ministers of Christ. But because faith cometh by hearing, (<451017>Romans 10:17,) no man shall attain thereunto which shall refuse and despise the word when it is preached,

ACTS 10:7-16
7. And after that the angel which spake to Cornelius was departed, he called two of his servants, and a godly soldier, of those which did wait on him: 8. And when he had told them all things, he sent them to Joppa. 9. On the morrow, as they journeyed, and drew nigh to the city, Peter went up into the highest part of the house to pray, about the sixth hour; 10. And he was fasting; therefore he would eat. And in the mean season, while they made ready, there fell upon him an excess of mind. F678 11. He saw heaven open, and a vessel coming down upon him like to a great sheet, knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth; 12. Wherein were all four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and birds of heaven. 13. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. 14. And Peter said, Not so, Lord; because I have never eaten any common or unclean thing. 15. And the voice said to him again, Make not thou those things common which God hath made clean. 16. And this was done thrice; and the vessel was taken up again into heaven.

7. And after that the angel. Luke declareth here how ready Cornelius was to obey when as he maketh no tarriance, but doth that with all diligence which he was commanded to do. And this was the cause that he was so forward, because he believed the promise; as want of faith is the cause why we are so slow to follow God. Angels come not flying to us from heaven that they may appoint us certain men, but that voice of Christ soundeth in all men’s cars.
“Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,”
(<400707>Matthew 7:7.)
How is it that of an hundred scarce one or two will stir one foot, that some creep so little that they profit but a little, but because we do not indeed believe the promise? Therefore, let us learn that we must not drive off from day to day, but every man must hasten thither whither he is called, so soon as he heareth the voice of God.
Two of his servants. Cornelius had this reward for being so diligent in teaching his family, that he had faithful and honest servants who were willing to do him service; and also such as that he might commit any thing to them. On the other side, the Lord doth oftentimes punish masters with just punishments who have no regard to instruct their families. For they find those justly stubborn and unfaithful whom they would not frame unto godliness and the fear of God, and also they are afraid of their treachery.
A godly soldier. Forasmuch as this soldier was much conversant with Cornelius, he had also taught him to fear God, as well as his household servants. It is meet that we call to mind here that which I touched before, that there is no kind of life which excuseth us but that we must worship God purely. For a soldier’s life was at that time most corrupt; for they were fallen unto filthy licentiousness, from the ancient discipline, and yet the Spirit of God beareth record in this place of the godliness of soldiers. Wherefore, there is no cause why they should require a calling that is free from worshipping God, under color of warfare, who would by one means or other be free from all righteousness. If they deny that they can serve God because they be soldiers, they shall have these two soldiers meet judges and witnesses against them at the last day, who shall condemn them. And in the mean season, those brain-sick fellows are condemned who cry that it is unlawful for Christians to carry weapons. For these men were warriors, and yet godly, and when they embrace Christ they forsake not their former kind of life; they cast not away their armor as hurtful, nor yet forsake their calling.
8. Whereas Cornelius expoundeth the whole matter to the soldier and his servants, it tendeth to this end, that he may the more encourage them to give ear to the commandment, which they see is rather a commandment of God than of man; and he is not afraid to make known unto them so great a matter whom he had instructed well before.
9. On the morrow, as they journeyed. As Luke declared that Cornelius was admonished by an oracle to send for Peter, so now he setteth down another vision, whereby Peter is commanded to come to him. Whereby it appeareth that all this matter was governed by the wonderful counsel of God, who doth both make Cornelius apt to be taught, yea, he kindleth in him a study and desire to learn and, on the other side, maketh Peter willing to take in hand to teach him. But we must note the circumstances whereby he maketh the history more evident.
Peter went up upon the house, that he might pray alone by himself; for a quiet and lone place is a great help to prayer, which thing Christ himself did not omit, that the mind, being free from all things which might call it away, might be the more earnest and bent toward God. And the Jews had another manner of houses and buildings than we use; for they had walks upon the tops of their houses. The sixth hour was then noon. And it is not to be doubted but that he got himself to prayer then according to his custom. For because we are drawn away with divers businesses, F679 and there is no end of turmoiling, unless we bridle ourselves, it is good to have certain hours appointed for prayer, not because we are tied to hours, but lest we be unmindful of prayer, which ought to be preferred before all cares and business. Finally, we must think the same thing of time which we think of place; to wit, that they are certain remedies whereby our infirmities is holpen; which, if the apostles counted fit for them, how much must more the sluggish and slow use the same?
10. Excess of mind. Because our minds are wholly, as it were, set upon the earth, to the end Peter might the better comprehend the oracle, it was meet that his mind should be, as it were, moved from his place and carried up; and by this means was he prepared to receive the oracle, when as he is carried up above the world after an unwonted manner.
11. The opening of heaven signifieth, in my judgment, another thing in this place than in the seventh chapter. For it is said there that heaven was opened to Stephen, that he did behold the glory of Christ; in this place Peter saw our heaven which we see divided, so that a sheet came thence.
12. If any man ask how he could see a great multitude of living creatures at once, the question is easily answered. For Luke saith, All manner, because there were there divers kinds mixed one with another. Therefore he beginneth not at the first kind, that he may prosecute the number unto the last. Again, we must not measure this seeing according to the manner of men, because the trance gave Peter other eyes. But before we go any farther we must know the end of the vision. Some dispute more subtilely about the same than the place requireth, in my judgment. Therefore, I think that it is generally showed to Peter that the difference which God had made in times past is now taken away. And as he had put difference between living creatures, so, having chosen to himself one people, he counted all nations unclean and profane.
Now the difference between living creatures being taken away, he teacheth by the consequent that there is no such disagreement among men any longer as there was in times past, and that there is no difference between the Jew and the Grecian. Hereby Peter is admonished that he do not abhor the Gentiles as being unclean. Undoubtedly, God meant to encourage Peter to come to Cornelius without fear; but he had separated one people to himself from the rest, as saith Moses in his song, when as the Most High did distribute the nations, he put his lot in Jacob, etc., (<053209>Deuteronomy 32:9;) therefore he called it his inheritance and peculiar people.
According to this order, it had not been lawful to Peter to bring the covenant of salvation unto the Gentiles; for that was to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs, (<401526>Matthew 15:26,) unless, peradventure, they would be circumcised, and embrace the Jewish religion; for it was lawful to receive such as did yield themselves. Wherefore, when as the apostles were sent before to preach the gospel, they were forbidden to turn in unto the Gentiles, (<401005>Matthew 10:5.) And forasmuch as the preaching of the gospel is a most holy and weighty matter, Peter ought not to have attempted any thing therein with a doubting and wavering mind. Therefore, to the end he may be assured of his calling, God showeth manifestly, as in a picture, that the legal difference between the clean and unclean is abolished; whence he may gather that the wall which was heretofore between the Jews and the Gentiles is now pulled down. And Paul saith, that it is a mystery hid from the beginning of the world, that the Gentiles are made partakers of the same salvation with the people of God, and ingrafted into one body, (<490216>Ephesians 2:16; <490306>Ephesians 3:6.)
Therefore Peter durst never have opened the gate of heaven unto the Gentiles, unless God himself had made a plain way and entrance for all men, by taking away the wall of separation. I said even now that there was no time wherein it was not lawful to admit the Gentiles unto the worship of God, so they were circumcised; but so long as they continued in uncircumcision they were strangers with God. But now God made the covenant of life common to all the whole world, which he had shut up in one nation, as in a treasure. Whence we gather that this vision is not a little profitable for us; for, when as it teacheth that the difference between Jews and Gentiles continued only for a season, it is as much as if God should pronounce from heaven that he receiveth all people of the world into favor, that he may be God over all. Finally, we have an evident proclamation from heaven, which putteth us in hope of eternal life.
But some men will object that Peter was taught before concerning this matter; for he and the rest were commanded to preach the gospel throughout the whole world, (<411615>Mark 16:15.) Therefore, he was either ignorant of his calling, or else this vision was superfluous. I answer, that there was such and so great difficulty in the novelty itself, that they could not acquaint themselves therewith by and by. They knew both the prophecies of the prophets, and the late commandment of Christ concerning the calling of the Gentiles by the gospel; but when they come to the push, they doubted nevertheless, being stricken with the strangeness of the thing. Wherefore, it is no marvel if the Lord confirm Peter with a new sign, concerning which thing we must also say somewhat as yet in the next chapter.
13. A voice from heaven. The voice came from heaven as did the sheet, that Peter might know that both came from God; neither had the sight done him any good, unless God had with this voice made clean those things which were before unclean. Whereas some pick an allegory out of the word kill, as if God did signify that men are sacrificed to him by the spiritual sword of the gospel; I do not prosecute that, but plainness pleaseth me better, that God doth take away by this voice the law concerning the choice of beasts, that he may also teach that he rejecteth no people, (<451516>Romans 15:16.) For if by the former word be meant sacrificing, what shall eat signify?
14. Not so, Lord. This is the voice of him which doth as well refuse, as also object to God his own commandment; for he is afraid, for good causes, to touch that which he knew was forbidden him in the law of God, (<031121>Leviticus 11:21, etc.) Therefore he objecteth to God the law which he himself made, lest he should break the same unadvisedly. There was a certain show of repugnancy between the law and the vision; therefore Peter is not hasty, but desireth first to have his doubt dissolved before he depart from observing the law. Yet it is a strange matter why Peter resisted more in meats than did Abraham in killing his son; for Abraham [might have] had more things to object, (<012209>Genesis 22:9, 10.) I dare not here say that that befell Peter which is too common among men, to stand more about outward and small matters than about the chief points of the law; I rather make that answer which is out of doubt, that Abraham’s mind was so persuaded, and that he was furnished with such power of the Spirit, that he overcame with 1ofty and heroical fortitude all those things which might have hindered him. But the Spirit of God wrought slenderly, F680 in Peter; whereby we are taught that every small or light thing doth cause us to doubt, unless the Lord do furnish us with counsel and constancy to overcome all fear. Yet Peter dealeth very godly and very religiously, in that being in doubt amidst divers cogitations, he dare do nothing until it better appear what he ought to follow. Common signifieth in this place profane. For because the Lord (as we have said) had chosen the Jews to be a peculiar people, he had prescribed unto them this rite and manner of living, that it might distinguish them from the profane Gentiles. Therefore, whatsoever the Gentiles did use contrary to the rule of the law, that did they call common, because there was nothing pure or holy but that which God had appointed for the use of his people.
15. God hath made clean. He speaketh of meats; but this sentence must be extended unto all parts of the life. It is word for word, That which God hath made clean, do not thou make profane; but the sense is, It is not for us to allow or condemn any thing; but as we stand and fall by the judgment of God alone, so is he judge of all things, (<451404>Romans 14:4.) As touching meats, after the abrogating of the law, God pronounceth that they are all pure and clean. If, on the other side, there start up a mortal man, making a new difference, forbidding certain, he taketh unto himself the authority and power of God by sacrilegious boldness. Of this stamp were the old heretics, Montanus, Priscillianus, the Donatists, the Tatians, and all the Encratites. Afterwards the Pope, to the end he might bind all those sects in a bundle, made a law concerning meats. And there is no cause why the patrons of this impiety should babble that they do not imagine any uncleanness in meats, but that men are forbidden to eat flesh upon certain days, to tame the flesh. For seeing they eat such meats as are most fit, both for delicacy and also for riot, why do they abstain from eating bacon, as from some great offense, save only because they imagine that that is unclean and polluted which is forbidden by the law of their idol? With like pride doth the tyranny of the Pope rage in all parts of life; for there is nothing wherein he layeth not snares to entangle the miserable consciences of men. But let us trust to the heavenly oracle, and freely despise all his inhibitions. We must always ask the mouth of the Lord, that we may thereby be assured what we may lawfully do; forasmuch as it was not lawful even for Peter to make that profane which was lawful by the Word of God.
Furthermore, this is a place of great importance to beat down the frowardness of men, which they use too much in perverse judgments. There is no man almost which doth not grant liberty to himself to judge of other men’s doings. Now, as we are churlish and malicious, we lean more toward the worse part, so that we take from God that which is his. This voice alone ought to suffice to correct such boldness, That it is not lawful for us to make this or that unclean, but that this power belongeth to God alone. And also in these words is given us to understand, that the Jews were not therefore the holy people of the Lord, because they excelled through their own worthiness, but only by reason of God’s adoption. Now, after that God had received the Gentiles into the society of the covenant, they have all equal right.
16. This was done thrice. The repetition of the vision served for the confirmation of Peter, lest any doubt F681 should remain in his mind. Whence we gather how deeply the observing of the law was rooted in his mind. And I know no reason why God left him in a dump, [perplexed,] until, by the event which followed, he might learn the cause of the vision, save only because being astonished he did not desire to know what this thing meant; although it was all in good time, that the messengers of Cornelius should come shortly after to interpret it. The vessel was at length taken up again into heaven, that Peter might be certified that this message came from heaven, [God.]

ACTS 10:17-23
17. And as Peter doubted in himself what vision this should be which he had seen, behold, two men, sent from Cornelius, inquiring for Simon's house, stood at the door. 18. And when they had called, they asked whether Simon, surnamed Peter, did lodge there. 19. And as Peter thought upon the vision, the Spirit said to him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20. Arise, go down, and go with them, doubting nothing, because I have sent them. 21. And when Peter was come down unto the men which were sent from Cornelius unto him, he said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek. What is the cause wherefore ye come hither? 22. They said to him, Cornelius the captain, [centurion,] a just man, and one that feareth God, having testimony of all the nation of the Jews, was warned by an oracle by a holy angel, that he should call thee into his house, and should hear of thee words. 23. Furthermore, when he had called them in, he lodged them. F682

17. Peter was taught not only by the vision, but also by the Word of God; and yet in seeing he saw not, until the Spirit is unto him an interpreter; a most excellent mirror of our slackness. Although we be yet far unlike to Peter; for we are so far from understanding by and by what God will, or to what end he speaketh to us, that many interpretations are scarce sufficient for us. But we must also note that which Luke addeth, that Peter did think earnestly upon the vision, to wit, after that he was come to himself again after his amazedness; for this was a token of godly reverence, that he did not carelessly suffer the vision to escape him. Therefore the Lord opened to him when he did knock, (<400707>Matthew 7:7.) And we are justly plagued for our sluggishness, in that we profit no better in the Word of the Lord, seeing we are so cold, and have so small desire to inquire.
20. Go, doubting nothing. The Scripture useth this word often, when it will express of what sort the obedience of faith ought to be. So Paul, in the fourth chapter to the Romans, (<450419>Romans 4:19,) when as he commendeth the faith of Abraham, saith, That he doubted not when as the Lord promised him seed, being now aged and past hope of children. And in the fourteenth, (<451423>Romans 14:23,) in treating of meats, he condemneth doubting consciences. And it is properly to reason on both sides, (as they say,) when as we are carried hither and thither by course, by gathering contrary reasons. But we must not follow God with a doubtful and wavering, but with a quiet and constant mind. In sum, the Lord will have us to attribute so much to him, that when we hear him we dispute no longer what we have need to do, but that we set down for a certainty, that that must be done which he commandeth. And surely it is meet that his will should show us the way, when all clouds are driven away, and that it should subdue all our senses unto it, unto willing obedience, all reasoning [disputation] being broken off; which is also better gathered by the next text. For the reason is added, why it is not lawful for Peter to suspend his judgment in an uncertain matter, because God is the author of the business; because it is as much as if it should be said, that we ought to be content with the beck of God alone, that we may obey his commandment. And hereby are we also admonished that men’s consciences shall by no other means be quiet, that they safely do that which they do, than when being taught by the Word of God, they determine that they do nothing without his commandment and conduct.
21. Behold, I am he whom ye seek. Luke declareth now how ready Peter was to obey; secondly, that he understood at length, by the messengers, to what end the vision was showed unto him. For he heareth that he is called by Cornelius, a man that is a Gentile, whom he would have counted profane, and unworthy of his company, unless his judgment had been corrected with this voice, “That which God calleth pure, judge not thou to be common.” This is to be wise indeed, when as abandoning all vain confidence, and correcting our stubbornness, the authority of God doth so pull us unto it, and doth so possess our minds, that we count nothing right but that which it prescribeth.
22. Cornelius, a just man. Cornelius’ servants commend their master not ambitiously, or to the end they may flatter him, but that Peter may the less abhor his company. F683 And for this cause they say that he was approved of the Jews, that Peter may know that he was not estranged from true and sincere godliness. For even those which were superstitious, though they served idols, did boast that they were worshippers of God. But Cornelius could not have the Jews, who retained the worship of the true God alone, to be witnesses of his godliness, unless he had professed that he worshipped the God of Abraham with them. Furthermore, as this was a rare example, so it ought to have moved Peter not a little. Although they lean most of all to this argument, that they may persuade him that which they go about, that all this matter is governed by the commandment of God, as if they should say, That he is not so much called by a mortal man as by God, who had so commanded by his angel.
23. And Peter also, being overcome with the authority of God, deliberateth no longer, but lodgeth the men, that he may go with them forthwith. So we must meekly submit ourselves to God; and there remaineth nothing after that we know his will, but that we run speedily thither whither he calleth us. There is no difficulty in the rest.

ACTS 10:23-29
The day following Peter went forth with them, and certain of the brethren that were of Joppa accompanied him. 24. And the next day they entered into Cesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, having called his kinsfolks and friends together. 26. And when Peter entered in, Cornelius meeting him, and falling down at his feet, worshipped him. 26. But Peter lifted him up, saying, Arise, I am also a man. 27. And when he had talked with him, he entered in, and he found many assembled together. 28. And he said to them, You know that it is wickedness for a man that is a Jew to join himself to a man that is a stranger, or to enter in unto him; but God hath showed to me that no man must be called common or unclean. 29. For this cause I came without gainsaying, when I was called; therefore, I demand for what cause ye have called me.

The day following he went forth. It should seem that they arrived a little before night F684 because they were not as yet entered the city at noon, and the vision which was showed thrice asked no small time. Therefore, when they had taken their rest all night, they address themselves to return. Again, there was a point of courtesy in that some of the faithful do accompany Peter, who were sent, as it is to be thought, by the whole church, to bring him even to Cesarea. These men journey with Peter for goodwill and honor’s sake; but the Lord bringeth them, that they may be witnesses of his grace. So that they are bountifully rewarded for their thankfulness, when as for confirmation of their faith they see the kingdom of Christ spread abroad even unto the Gentiles.
24. Cornelius waited for them. Luke doth not only commend the godly affection of Cornelius in this point, that he waited earnestly for Peter’s coming, but because he would have his friends and kinsfolks to be companions with him in the faith. This was a thing not without great danger, to call together a company of men, that they might embrace a new kind of religion. And there wanted not reasons, under color whereof he might have flattered [excused] himself; for he was not commanded to call others to accompany him, but rather they were passed over, and he himself was chosen to be made partaker of so great goodness; but he considered with himself how much he was indebted F685 both to the glory of God, and also to the salvation of his brethren. He knew that it was an unjust thing, and a point. of discourtesy, to provide for himself alone, and not to regard others. He counted it a point of filthy carelessness F686 to hide the treasure of the gospel under the ground. Therefore, he did that which the Lord requireth of all his by Isaiah and Micah, that every one exhort his brother (taking him as it were by the hand) unto the faith.
Therefore, Cornelius hath taught us by his example, that when God revealeth himself unto us we must not choke the light of his knowledge with sloth or fear, but we must rather endeavor that our faith may shine before others to give light, and to show the way to them; for the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven is not such, that even the least portion can be taken from us, if many be made partakers thereof; but if others be made co-heirs with us, it shall rather increase our glory, Furthermore, we must mark how far he is from vainglory; for he calleth them to be his school-fellows, being himself ready to learn. This is the true study of godliness, when as together with zeal there appeareth such plainness, F687 that we are not ashamed to depend upon the mouth of God. For many are pricked forward with ambition, to employ themselves in teaching the ignorant; and foolish babbling discovereth their folly, when as they huddle out words more earnestly, and they would have none heard but themselves. But this alone ought to be the drift of all men, to bring themselves and all the whole world under God, that when men are subdued unto true humility, he alone may have the preeminence. Let not him which excelleth in the faculty and grace of teaching refuse to teach his brethren, so that he be free from boasting, and proud desire to excel. Let him to whom it was not granted to be a teacher keep himself within his bounds. Let neither of them desire mastership, as James teacheth them; but let one so edify another, that neither the learned, neither the unlearned, be ashamed to be brought into order.
Notwithstanding, it is demanded, F688 what kinsfolks he could have in Judea, seeing that he was an alien, and was come thither only by reason of war, which continued but for a short time? As I affirm nothing, so I embrace this as most probable, that he had some in his garrison which were his kinsmen; for neighbors, and those which were of acquaintance were wont to serve under one captain. And we need not doubt of this, but that Cornelius’ kinsmen were desirous to be under him, forasmuch as he was a centurion. He calleth familiar friends anagkaiouv, as those are called of the Latins, Necessarii, which are nearer together. F689
25. Falling down at his feet, he worshipped. Here is the word prosekunhsen, which signifieth to testify honor or worship, either by bowing the knee or ducking down the head, or by any other gesture. Now, the question is, whether Peter refuteth this worship for modesty’s sake only, or he disalloweth it as a thing altogether unlawful? It appeareth that Cornelius’ fact displeased Peter., by the reason which is by and by added, Arise, for even I am a man. For we may gather that there was some divine thing in that worship, because he did ascribe unto mortal man the honor which is due to God alone. But we must not think that Cornelius did count Peter instead of God; for if he translated God’s honor unto mortal man, where is that godliness and religion, with the title whereof he was of late adorned? Therefore, I think that he meant nothing less than to spoil God of his lawful worship, that he might give it to man; but forasmuch as he meant to give singular honor unto the prophet and apostle of Christ, he fell into an immoderate token of reverence, and so he offended in excess.
For it can scarce be expressed in words how prone men are to fall to superstition, when as that honor is given to the ministers of Christ, which hath any small show of divine worship; for we fall easily unawares into that whereof we thought full little. There were less danger in a king or in the chief chieftains of this world; for he which falleth down before a king keepeth himself within the bounds of earthly and civil honor. But the case standeth otherwise in the ministers of Christ; for as their office is spiritual, so if any man fall down at their feet to worship them, this honor hath in it some spiritual thing. For we must put a difference between civil worship, which men use among themselves in respect of civil order, and that under which is contained religion, or which respecteth directly the honor of God; as also between laws which are made for temporal regimen, or which bind the conscience. For certain foolish men are deceived too far, who think that kneeling is in this place condemned simply and of itself. But this is that which I said, Cornelius doth not here salute his proconsul, or the emperor, after any civil sort; but being stricken with wondering when he saw Peter, he honoreth him as he would have honored God, if he had been present; so that he giveth man more than is meet, having, as it were, forgotten himself. He thought nothing less (as I have already said) than to rob God of any part of his honor, that he might give that to man which he took from him. But when as the worship which is given to man hath somewhat which is, as it were, linked with the honor of God, men fall into a fault contrary to their hope and opinion, so that they extol man above his degree, and give him the worship which is due to God.
The Papists, omitting that distinction, snatch only at one member for they handle religious worship only. To the end they may ascribe some part thereof, with some honest color, unto creatures, they cut [subdivide] it into latria, dulia, and hyperdulia. They give latria to God alone; as if they should say, that the adoration of worship is due to him alone. They make dulia common to the dead and their bones, to images and pictures. They assign their hyperdulia to the Virgin Mary, and to the cross whereon Christ hanged. That I may omit to say that they babble through childish ignorance, how many of them do understand that rotten distinction? Neither do I speak only of the common sort, but of the chieftains. Therefore, all their worshippings must needs be infected and corrupt with wicked superstition, seeing they unadvisedly match creatures with God. But Luke saith not in this place that Cornelius gave to Peter latria, (or the honor due to God;) he useth only the general word worshipped, and he addeth, notwithstanding, that he was reproved, because he did wickedly extol man higher than became him. Surely, if that new opinion concerning the adoration which is called dulia had any place, Peter ought to have admonished Cornelius that he should not go beyond dulia. But because no worship whereunto religion is annexed, and the respect of God’s honor, doth leave to God his honor untouched, what man soever it have; therefore, Peter is content with this one only reason that he is a man. Moreover, I would gladly know of the Papists, whether they think that John was so blockish, that he would take the honor due to God, which they call latria, and give it to the angel? Surely, there was nothing else that caused him to worship the angel, save only too much and preposterous reverence, and that in honor of God, whose glory shone in the angel; notwithstanding his fact is condemned. Therefore, to the end we may give God that which is his own, let the spiritual worship, under which is comprehended religion, remain whole and sound to him.
28. Ye know that it is not lawful. This seemeth to be no friendly preface, and such as may rather harden F690 than win their hearts, when as they hear that they are accounted so unclean, that with their familiarity and conference they pollute the saints; which must needs be a great reproach for them. But it was needful for Peter thus to speak, lest they should suspect that he had an evil conscience, because, contrary to the custom delivered by the fathers, he