Obrazy na stronie

"Ran upon him with one accord."—It is perfectly clear that this transaction was entirely tumultuary and irregular, and offers no ground for inference as to the proper course of authorized proceeding. The enraged mob took the matter to their own hands, without waiting the result of judicial proceedings. The effect is the same whether we affirm or 'eny the power of the Jewish council to inflict capital punishment: for if they had such power, it seems evident that ey did not in this instance exercise it, since the excited mob would not wait for their judicial determination. We are herefore surprised to see this sometimes quoted as an evidence that the Sanhedrim were not, as is usually stated, at is time without the power of inflicting the punishment of death. The instance proves nothing either way. The question to which we have thus been led to allude, is, however, one which has given occasion to considerable scussion. Relying on the present and some other cases, all of which appear to admit of other explanation, some iters contend that the Jewish tribunal did really possess the power of inflicting capital punishment: and the case of r Saviour, whom the Jews could not put to death until they had obtained the concurrence of the Roman governor, - met by the observation, that they wished to avoid the odium of so unpopular an act themselves, and to throw it upon e Romans; to which end they accused him of a political offence, sedition, which, it is allowed, that the Romans doubt⚫s reserved for their own tribunal. But to this is opposed the confession of all the Jewish writers, that their great encil lost this power before the time of our Lord's death; though they differ as to the mode in which it was lost: 1 this may seem conclusive, when taken in connection with the avowal of the Jews themselves, before Pilate, that it not lawful for them to put any man to death. It is true that this declaration might, if it stood alone, be open to estrictive interpretation, as implying that they might not put any one to death accused of sedition, or under the ;uliar circumstances of the case. But some of the explanations given of this also are untenable-such as, that they int to say it was unlawful for them to put any one to death at the festival; for this, neither the letter nor spirit of law of Moses made unlawful: and, even with regard to what is inferred from the charge of sedition and treason, it is otten that they only made this charge as a last resort, after they found that Pilate was unwilling to allow of Christ's h on the charge of blasphemy. Furthermore, an important circumstance has been entirely overlooked-namely, the two thieves who were crucified with Christ, were certainly condemned by the Romans, else they would not ⚫ been crucified: whence we see that the Jews could not punish theft or robbery without the concurrence of the ans. Resisting the temptation of examining the question more largely, we shall only observe, that all other consitions which bear against the conclusion that the Sanhedrim possessed the power of punishing with death, are gly supported by any reference to the character and constitution of a Roman province, and the powers of the on to whom its government was entrusted. In all states, the power of life and death is an attribute of sovereignty, ised only by the sovereign power, or by those specially commissioned as its administrators. So it was among the ans. The power rested primarily in the emperor, and was by him delegated to his representatives in the provinces. these representatives could not re delegate their power to other persons, or to tribunals inferior to their own, while were themselves in the provinces which they governed. No evidence has been offered to show that this power in vince was possessed by any other tribunal than that of the governor, or by any tribunal jointly with his. Indeed, as a first impression, it would appear most unlikely that the Romans, however disposed to favour the Jews, should left to them the exercise of this most essential function of sovereign power. The relative position and character te Romans and Jews would alone render this supposition replete with difficulties, which no explanation can


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e Jewish Council appears however to have been left the power of trying and punishing offences not capital, and ularly ecclesiastical offences. Indeed it seems that it possessed the power of trying and passing sentence n capital cases, as in the instance of our Saviour; but that their sentence had no force until the case had been amined and the sentence confirmed by the Roman governor. Their decision on such cases, practically amounted onclusion to denounce the criminal to the governor, as one deserving of death. We incline to think that they allowed this privilege only with respect to offences against their own law; the Romans taking entire charge ences against the public peace. The Jews probably found it difficult to persuade their governors to consent to the punishment of death upon blasphemers, sabbath-breakers, and others; which may have rendered the people e more ready, as in the present and other instances, to take the punishment into their own hands.

"Cast him out of the city." - The place of stoning, as of all other capital punishments, was outside the city. ugh the whole proceeding was illegal, it seems that the people desired to inflict the death in conformity with the ions of their own Law.

he witnesses laid down their clothes," &c.-This of course means their loose outer garments. The witnesses are ularly mentioned, because they, in all cases of stoning, threw the first stones. As the stones were large, and the on considerable, it was necessary that they should lay aside their outer raiment.


occasion of the persecution in Jerusalem, the
urch being planted in Samaria, 5 by Philip
Deacon, who preached, did miracles, and bap-maria, except the
ed many, among the rest Simon the sorcerer, a
eat seducer of the people: 14 Peter and John
ne to confirm and enlarge the Church: where,
prayer and imposition of hands giving the
ly Ghost, 18 when Simon would have bought
like power of them, 20 Peter sharply reprov
his hypocrisy, and covetousness, and exhort-
him to repentance, together with John preach-
the word of the Lord, return to Jerusalem.
But the angel sendeth Philip to teach, and
otize the Ethiopian eunuch.


cution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judæa and Sa



› Saul was consenting unto his death. d at that time there was a great perse

2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

3 As for Saul, he made havock of the Church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

5 Then Philip went down to the city

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ness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

22 Repent therefore of this thy wicked


25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the Gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

27 And he arose and went: and, behold a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

32 The place of the Scripture which he read was this, 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

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31 And he said, How can I, except some it man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he


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answered and said, I believe that Jesus the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Christ is the Son of God. away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

39 And when they were come up out of

40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cæsarea.

Verse 9. "Simon."-This man wrote books, and left a sect behind him, from which, and from other sources, the early Christian writers give very full information concerning his history and doctrines. If what we are thus told be true, and much of it probably is so, we may infer, that what he here says, was more from immediate fear than from any other feeling. It is said that he afterwards fell into greater errors and abominations, and applied himself more than ever to his unlawful arts. He regarded Christianity with absolute hatred; and took pride in resisting the apostles and the doctrines which they taught. He soon left Samaria, and travelled to different provinces, attracting vast attention and the admiration of multitudes, by his false miracles and impostures. He preferred to visit those places where the Gospel had not yet been preached, that he might excite a prejudice against it, and pre-occupy men's minds with his own dangerous delusions. At last he quitted Asia, and proceeded to Rome, where he arrived about the year 41, when the emperor Claudius reigned. He remained there many years; and it is said that he was honoured by the Romans as a god, and that even the senate decreed a statue to be erected to his honour, with the inscription, "To Simon, the great God." It has, however, with great probability, been supposed that there is here a mistake, and that a statue dedicated to the Pagan deity Semo Sanco was erroneously taken for one dedicated to Simon Magus.

He lived at Rome, in the enjoyment of great reputation, till the time of the emperor Nero; when, being stimulated probably by the presence and success of his old reprover, St. Peter, he pretended that he was himself the Christ, and that, as the Son of God, he would ascend into heaven in the sight of the people. And, in fact, as we are told, he actually did, by some arts or enchantments, contrive to raise himself into the air. But, when St. Peter and St. Paul prayed that God would vindicate his own glory, and confound the pretensions of the impostor, he fell to the ground, and both his legs were broken. He was carried to Brindes, where, being overwhelmed with grief and shame, he committed suicide by throwing himself from the roof of the house in which he lodged. We should add, that this account of Simon's final conflict with St. Peter rests on very uncertain authority. To this account of Simon's end, may perhaps be referred the statement of Suetonius (1. vi., c. 12), concerning a man who undertook to fly in the air, in the presence of the emperor Nero, but who fell to the ground with such violence, that his blood spirted up to the gallery in which the emperor sat. As Simon was the founder of a sect, which survived even to the fourth century, a short statement of the doctrines which he taught may be suitably introduced, particularly as the sacred writer alludes to one of his impositions, telling us that "he gave himself out to be some great one," and led the Samaritans to regard him "as the great power of God" (v. 9, 10). From the statements of the fathers, it appears that he pretended to be nothing less than the incarnate God; and became an object of worship to his followers. His deity consisted of certain ons or persons, all of which, collectively and severally, he professed to be manifested in his person. Hence he professed to come as the Father, in respect to the Samaritans; as the Son in respect to the Jews; and as the Holy Ghost in respect to all other nations; but that it was indifferent to him by which of these names he was called. Jerome quotes from one of his books the following startling blasphemies: "I am the Word of God; I am the Beauty of God; I am the Comforter; I am the Almighty; I am the whole Essence of God."-Pretending, himself, to be the Son of God, of course he did not acknowledge Jesus Christ in that character; but declared himself his rival in that claim. He taught no doctrine of redemption, and denied the resurrection of the body; but allowed the immortality, or at least, the future existence of the soul. Purity of life he did not require; for he taught that all actions were indifferent of themselves; and that the distinction of actions as good or evil, was a delusion taught by the angels to bring men into subjection. He rejected the law of Moses, which he declared that he came to abolish. He ascribed all the Old Testament to angels, of whom he gave a bad account, and described as unfriendly to man. He declared himself their enemy; and yet directed that worship should be rendered and sacrifices should be offered to them-not in order to procure any benefit from them, but to avert their hostility to men. This may suffice as a specimen of the doctrinal impositions of Simon Magus, and which his followers, long after his demise, continued to maintain, as already intimated.

26. "Gaza, which is desert.”—See the note on Judges xvi.

27. "Ethiopia."-In the Old Testament we have had more than one occasion to express the uncertainty which attends the name Cush, which is there usually rendered Ethiopia. This uncertainty ceases here: for we know that at this time, and afterwards, the name Ethiopia was applied in a general sense to the countries south of Egypt, which were then very obscurely known. It fortunately happens that we are enabled to arrive at some conclusion, as to the particular country of Ethiopia over which Candace ruled, by the aid of Pliny and Strabo, who mention powerful queens of this very name as reigning in Meroe, or Ethiopia Proper, in such a manner as shows that the government was ordiarily, or for a long series of years, vested in female hands; and we are informed by Eusebius that this continued to be he case in his time, the fourth century. From their always giving the name of Candace to the reigning queen, we collect that this was not a proper name, but a titular distinction similar to that of Pharaoh in Egypt, and Cæsar at Rome, and hence the futility of any attempt to identify this queen by her proper name.

“An eunuch of great authority.”—This person may have been really an eunuch; but it is by no means certain that he was such. The word “eunuch” (uvauxos) in its proper signification denotes a "chamberlain,” one who guards the bed or couch; and as in the courts of the East this office was usually discharged by castrati, the word came to be applied o them generally. Hence in Gen. xxxix. 1, Joseph's master, being a court officer, is called an "eunuch," in the Herew and Greek, though he was certainly not such in our sense of the word, being a married man. It is right, therefore, when nothing appears to the contrary, to understand merely that the person thus distinguished is an officer of the court. In the present instance we are informed of the office which this "eunuch" bore, being that of treasurer to queen Canlace. We have adverted to this matter, because it seems clear to us that this person could not have been a proselyte, as s usually supposed, if he had been an eunuch; such persons being excluded by the law of Moses (Deut. xxiii. 2); and unuchs generally became such so early in life, as to preclude the notion that he was proselyted before he was made an unuch. If therefore he was an eunuch, it may be safely presumed that he was born and brought up in the Jewish eligion, for that, certainly, is the religion to which at this time he belonged. Those therefore who suppose him to

have been an eunuch, must allow that he was not a proselyte, but had been born in the religion of the Jews. If he was not an eunuch he might certainly be a proselyte; but if we inquire into the usual character and conduct of the Jewish proselytes, and consider this man's zealous study of the Scriptures, his journey from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship, and, above all, look to his high station at the court of Ethiopia, remembering also that he was himself “a man of Ethiopia,” and not a Hebrew who had gained authority there-we shall see much cause to suspect that the Jewish religion, or a modification of it, was the established religion of the country from which he came.

In the note on 2 Chron. we have stated that Abyssinia appears to have been in this condition in much earlier times: and it does not appear unlikely that the same form of religion may have been propagated to the neighbouring country, in which Candace reigned. An interesting subject of inquiry is thus alluded to, which our limits will not allow us to pursue to any satisfactory extent. We shall therefore be content with the distinct intimation, that the Jewish religion was at this time professed by, at least. some persons of high distinction in Ethiopia.

Traditions state that this "eunuch" preached the Gospel in his own country, after his return; and that the queen was the first whom he baptized; that he afterwards went to proclaim the glad tidings in the neighbouring part of Abyssinia, in Arabia Felix, and in Ceylon; and at last suffered martyrdom. It is observable that the Abyssinians allege that the province of Tigre, the part of their country nearest to Meroe, was converted by the preaching of this "eunuch," although the nation at large did not receive the Gospel until a later day.

30. "Heard him read.”—Philip not only heard his voice, but heard distinctly what he said, so as to distinguish the passage in Isaiah which he was reading. The eunuch must therefore have been reading sufficiently loud; which may strike us as strange in a person who was reading only for his private edification. But such is still the custom among the Orientals when reading privately, without any particular intention of being heard by others. "They usually go on," as Mr. Jowett well describes, "reading aloud, with a kind of singing voice, moving their heads and bodies in time, and making a monotonous cadence at regular intervals-thus giving emphasis; although not such an emphasis pliant to the sense, as would please an English ear. Very often they seem to read without perceiving the sense; and to be pleased with themselves merely because they can go through the mechanical act of reading in any way."- Christia Researches in Syria,' p. 121.


1 Saul, going towards Damascus, 4 is stricken down to the earth, 10 is called to the apostleship, 18 and is baptized by Ananias. 20 He preacheth Christ boldly. 23 The Jews lay wait to kill him: 29 so do the Grecians, but he escapeth both. 31 The Church having rest, Peter healeth Eneas of the palsy, 36 and restoreth Tabitha to life.

AND Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the High Priest,

2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusa


3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto 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 the pricks.

6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing

no man.

8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man:

but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

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18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Da


20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the Chief Priests?

22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23¶And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of

Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

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12 Cor. 11. 32.

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