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hundred miles from Jerusalem, by which he was entitled to the privilege of a free citizen of Rome.
George. Then he was not a Jew?
Aunt. Yes, he was; a Hebrew of the Hebrews; both his parents being Jews, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was brought up to the occupation of tent-making; he was also a pupil under the great Gamaliel, and one of the most zealous of the sect of the pharisees. Now this man made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women to prison.
Maria. How this must stop the progress of christianity!
Aunt. On the contrary, it proved the means of its spreading for hitherto the preaching of the gospel had been confined to Jerusalem; but the persecution was so severe, that it dispersed, in a great measure, the whole body of the church, and drove many into foreign countries. Some went into the regions of Judea and Samaria; others to Phænicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. Andronicus and Junia, who were of note among the saints, and relations of the persecutor Saul (whom he afterwards mentions in Rom. xvi. 7, as having embraced the faith before him,) went, as it is supposed, as far as Rome; but in whatever direction they fled, they proclaimed the joyful tidings of the gospel.
George. Did the apostles leave Jerusalem ?
Aunt. No; as pillars of the church, they continued in their stations, till they were called thence of God. Philip, one of the deacons, went to Samaria, where he preached Christ, and wrought mi. racles in his name, curing diseases, and casting out impure spirits. And the city was filled with joy, and those who believed were baptised, both men and women. Among the rest, one Simon, a sorcerer, commonly called Simon Magus, became a believer, and was baptised. And he continued with Philip, wondering, when he beheld the miracles which were wrought.
When the Apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John, who, when they arrived, prayed for them, and laid their hands on them; and they immediately received the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost. Simon the magician, observing that a power of working miracles, and speaking with tongues, was conveyed by the laying on of hands, offered money to the apostles, saying, Give me this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
Maria. Was he struck dead, as Ananias was for surely it was a very wicked thought!
Aunt. God has a sovereign right either to spare or punish immediately, as he sees fit, or to extend pardon to the most rebellious. Peter gave Simon a severe rebuke, saying, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought to purchase the gift of God with money: thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
George. Was it impossible that he should be forgiven?
Aunt. Peter did not absolutely say so; for he exhorted him to repent, if perhaps the thought of his heart might be forgiven,
Maria. Did he repent?
Aunt. We have no account that he did: on the contrary, ecclesiastical history describes him as a chief propagator of error as long as he lived. The apostles returned to Jerusalem, after having preached the word of God in many villages of Samaria.
George. Then Philip continued at Samaria?
Aunt. He did, till God commanded him to arise and go toward the South, into a desert country, between Jerusalein and Gaza. He immediately abeyed; and, arriving at the place, observed a foreign nobleman sitting in his chariot. He was an eunuch of great authority, and chief treasurer to Candace, queen of Ethiopia: being a Jewish proselyte, he had been to Jerusalem to worship, probably at the feast of tabernacles. By the impulse of the Spirit
, - Philip joined the chariot, and found him devoutly reading that scripture, Isaiah liii. 7, He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not bis mouth. Philip asked him if he understood the
He frankly acknowledged he did not, but expressed a desire to be instructed, and invited Philip to come into the chariot. He then asked him whether the
prophet spake this of himself, or of some other person. Philip immediately explained it to him, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ powerfully and effectually: then, coming to a place where there was water, the eunuch said, See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptised? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest: to which he answered, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still:
and they went down, both of them into the water; and Philip baptised him.
Maria. Did Philip go with him to Ethiopia?
Aunt. They were no sooner come up out of the water, than Philip was conveyed away by the Spirit of the Lord; and the eunuch saw him no more. He was afterwards found at Azotus, whence he travelled to Cæsarea, preaching in all the cities through which he passed.
George. It must make the eunuch very sorrowful, to lose his friend so soon.
Aunt. But he had found an inestimable treasure in Christ, which afforded him such satisfaction and delight, that he went on his way rejoicing. Here is a lesson of instruction for you, my dear children, if you do not understand all you read in the scripture, to apply to those who have been taught of God to explain it to you; that your errors may be corrected, and your doubts removed.
George. DID Saul continue his persecution all this time?
Aunt. He did, with unremitting zeal; for when he found that the dispersion of the believers tended to the propagation of the gospel, he was the more enraged: and as the power of the great Sanhedrim extended to all the Jewish synagogues in the remotest parts, he procured letters of commission from them, to go to Damascus, the metropolis, or chief city, of Cælo-Syria, situated about one hundred and sixty miles north-east of Jerusalem; in order that if he found any professing Christ, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem, to be punished.
Maria. Then the believers could have no other resource than to flee from city to city.
Aunt. But the Almighty prevented it, by stopping him in his mad career: for when he was come nigh to Damascus, suadenly there shone round about him a light from heaven : and he fell prostrate with fear. In this situation, he heard a voice, saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Lord, who art thou ? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. And he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Our Lord mercifully bade him arise and go into the city, and it should be told him what he should do.
Lucy. Did the men who were with him see the vision ?
Aunt. They heard a voice, but saw no man. And when Saul arose from the earth, he had lost his eyesight, and was led by the hand into Damascus: where he continued three days without sight, and did neither eat nor drink.
Lucy. He was in a pitiable situation at this time.
Aunt. The Lord took compassion on him, and, to send him relief, appeared in a vision to Ananias, an established disciple, commanding him to go into the city, and inquire for one Saul of Tarsus, who was in the house of Judas. Ananias, startled at the name, said, Lord, I have heard by many of this man,