Imágenes de página
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

tioned in Hie text, it feeing a little before the Christian asra: ret it establishes the fact, that a queen of this name, did reign in this place; and we learn from others, that it was a common name to the queens of Ethiopia. Pliny, giving an account of the report made by Nero's messengers, who were sent to examine this country, says, Edificii oppidi (Meroes) jmuca: regnare fcrminum Casdaces; quod nomen multis jam annis adrcginat tramiit. Hist. Nat. lib. vi. cap. 29. ad fin. They reported, that " the edifices of the city were few: that a woman reigned there of the name of Candacc; which name had passed to their queens successively, for many years." To one of those queens, the eunuch in the text belonged: and the above is sufficient authority to prove that queens of this name, reigned over this part of Ethiopia.

Had come to Jerusalem for to worship] Which is a proof that he was a worshipper of the God of Israel; but how came be acquainted with the Jewish religion? Let us for a little, examine this question. In 1 Kings x. 1, &c. we have the account of the visit paid to Solomon by the queen of Sheba; the person to whom our Lord refers, Matt. xii. 42. and Luke xi. 31. It has been long credited by the Abyssinians that this queen, who by some is called Balkis, by others Maqueda, was not only instructed by Solomon in the Jewish religion, but also established it in her own empire on her return : that she had a son by Solomon named Menilek, who succeeded her in the kingdom; and from that time till the present, they have preserved the Jewish religion. Mr. Bruce throws some light upon this subject, the substance of what he says, is the following; "There can be no doubt of the expedition of the queen of Sheba; as Pagan, Moor, Arab, Abyssinian and all the countries round, vouch for it, nearly in the terms of Scriptare. Our Saviour calls her queen of the South; and she is called in 1 Kings x. 1, &c. 2 Chron. ix. 1, &c. queen of Sheba or Saba; for Saba, Azab and Azaba all signify the south: and she is said to have come from the uttermost parts of the earth. In our Saviour's time the boundaries of the known land southward, were Raptum or Prassum; which were the uttermost parts of the known earth, and were with great propriety 60 stiled by our Lord. The gold, myrrh, cassia, and frankincense which she brought with her, are all products of that country. The annals of the Abyssinians, state that she was a pagan when she left Saba or Azab, to visit Solomon; and that she was there converted and had a son by Solomon, who succeeded her in the kingdom, as stated above. All the inhabitants of this country, whether Jews or Christians, be

[ocr errors]

read the prophet Esaias, and *-TMcir-40J,6

1 r 'A. D. cir. 32.

said, Understandest thou what thou An. oiymp. readest? dr. ecu. 4.

31 And he said, d How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that

Horn. 12. 11. dEph. 3.3,4.

lieve this; and farther, that the 45th Psalm was a prophecy of her journey to Jerusalem; that she was accompanied by a daughter of Hiram, from Tyre; and that the latter part of the Psalm, is a prophecy of her having a son by Solomon, and of his ruling over the Gentiles." Travels, Vol. II. page 395, &c. All this being granted, and especially the scripture fact of the queen of Sheba's visit, and the great probability, supported by uninterrupted tradition, that she established the Jewish religion in her dominions, on her return; we may at once see that the eunuch in que.vtion, was a descendant of those Jews; or that he was a.proselyte in his own country, to the Jewish faith; and was now come up at the great feast, to worship God at Jerusalem. Mr. Bruce may be right; but some think that Saba, in Arabia Faelix, is meant; see the note on Matt. xii. 42.

Verse 28. Sitting in his chariot, read Esaias the prophet.] He had gone to Jerusalem to worship; he had profited by his religious exercises, and even in travelling, he is improving his time. God sees his simplicity and earnestness, and provides him an instructor, who should lead him into the great truths of the gospel; which, without such an one, he could not have understood. Many, after having done their duty, ai they call it, in attending a place of worship, forget the errand that brought them thither; and spend their time on their return, rather in idle conversation, than in reading or conversing about the word of God. It is no wonder that such should be always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Verse 29. Then the Spirit said unto Philip] This holy man having obeyed the first direction he received from God; and gone southward, without knowing the reason why; it was requisite that he should now be informed of the object of his mission: the Spirit said unto him, go near and join thyself, Sfc. The angel who had given him the first direction had departed; and the influence of the Holy Spirit now completed the information. It is likely that what the Spirit did in this case, was by a strong impression on his mind, which left him no doubt of its being from God.

Verse 30. Heard him read the prophet Esaias] The eunuch it seems, was reading aloud, and apparently in Greek, for that was the common language in Egypt: and indeed almost in every place, it was understood. And it appears that it was the Greek version of the Septuaginl that he was reading, as the quotation below, is from that Version.

Verse 31. How can I, except some man should guide me?]

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

This is no proof that " the Scriptures cann6t be understood without an authorized interpreter," as some of the papistical writers assert. How could the eunuch know any thing of the gospel dispensation, to which this Scripture referred? That dispensation had not yet been proclaimed to him; he knew nothing about Jesus. But where that dispensation has been published; where the four Gospels and the apostolic epistles are at hand, every thing relative to the salvation of the soul, may be clearly apprehended by any simple upright person. There are difficulties, it is true, in different parts' of the sacred writings, which neither the pope nor his conclave can solve: and several, which even the more enlightened protestant cannot remove: but these difficulties do not refer to matters in which the salvation of the soul is immediately concerned: they refer to such as are common to every ancient author in the universe. These difficulties being understood, add to the beauty, elegance, and justness of the language, thoughts, and turns of expression; and these, only the fete who are capable of understanding, are able to relish. As to all the rest, all that relates to faith and practice, all, in which the present and eternal interest of the soul is concerned, " the wayfaring man, though a fool, (quite illiterate) shall not err therein."

That he would come up, and sit with him.~\ So earnestlydesirous was he, to receive instruction relative to those things which concerned the welfare of his soul.

Verse 32. The place of the scripture'] Tlspioyr, rrj ypzyrf, the section, or paragraph.

Verse 33. In his humiliation, his judgment zcas taken azcay] He who was the fountain of judgment and justice, had no justice shewn him, (mercy he needed not) in his humiliation; viz. that time in which he emptied himself, and appeared in the form of a servant.

Who shall declare his generation] Trtv yrno.v airsu; answering to the Hebrew wn duro, which Up. Lowth understands as implying his manner of life. It was the custom among the Jews, when they were taking away any criminal from judgment to execution, to call out and enquire whether

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, band 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; c what doth hinder me to be baptized?

[ocr errors]

there was any person who could appear in behalf of the character of the criminal? whether there was any who, from intimate acquaintance with his manner of life, could say any thing in his favour? This circumstance I have noticed before, and it has been particularly remarked in the case of Stephen; see at the end of chap. vii. In our Lord's case, this benevolent enquiry does not appear to have been made; and perhaps to this breach of justice, as well as of custom, the prophet refers: and this shews how minutely the conduct of those bad men was known 700 years before it took place. God can foreknow what he pleases; and can do what he pleases; and

Hall the operations of his infinite mind are just and right.

! Some think that icho shall declare his generation? refers to his eternal sonship; others to his miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the virgin; others, to the multitudinous progeny of spiritual children, which should be born unto God, in consequence of his passion and meritorious death. Perhaps the first, is the best and moi-t natural sense.

Verse 31. Of tthom speaketh the prophet this] This was a very natural enquiry: for in the text itself, and in its circumstances, there was nothing that could determine the meaning, so as to ascertain whether the prophet meant himself or some other person; and the very enquiry shews that the eunuch had thought deeply on the subject.

Verse 35. Began at the same scripture] He did not confine himself to this one scripture, but made this his text; and sfiewed from the general tenor of the sacred writings, that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah; and that in hit person, birth, life, doctrine, miracles, passion, death, and resurrection, the scriptures of the Old Testament were fulfilled. This preaching had the desired effect, for the eunuch was convinced of the truth of Philip's doctrine; and desired to be

| baptized in the name of Jesus.

Verse 36. See. here is icater] He was not willing to

I omit the first opportunity that presented itself, of his taking upon himself, the profession of the gosjtel. By this we may see, that Philip had explained the whole of the Christian faith

the eunuch believes and is baptized. CHAP. VIII. Philip goes to Azotus and Ca'sarea.

A.M.cir.40*;. 37 And Philip said, m If thou believ-.

A. D. cir. 32. l

An.oivmp. est with all thine heart, thou mayest. dr.ecu.4. An(j j)C answere(j ami sai^ bl believe

tliat Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water.

39 And when they were come up *•*• *■*??■

J A. D. fir. 32.

out of the water, c the Spirit of the An. oiymp.

Lord caught away Philip, that the eu- cir cc"4:

nuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and pass

both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized) ing through he preached in all the cities, till he him. came to Csesarca.

. Mark 16. 16. » Matt. 16. 16. John 6. 69. & 9. 35,38.

& 11. 27. ch. 9. 20. 1 John I. 15. & 5. 5, 13.

to him; and the tsay by which believers were brought into the Christian church.

Verse 37. / believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.~\ He believed that Jesus, whom Philip preached to him, was The CnniST or Messiah; and consequently the Son of God.

This whole verse is omitted by ABCG. several others of the first authority, Erpen'sedit. of the Arabic; the Syriac, the Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, and some of the Slavonic; almost all the critics declare against it as spurious. Griesbach has left it out of the text; and professor White in his Criseuis says, "Hie versus, ceriissime delendus," this verse, most assuredly, should be blotted out. It is found in E. several others of minor importance, and in the Vulgate and Arabic. In those MSS. where it is extant, it exists in a variety of forms, though the sense is the same.

Verse 38. And they icent dozen'] They alighted from the chariot into the voter. While Philip was instructing him, and he professed his faith in Christ, he probably plunged himself under the water, as this was the plan which appears to haTe been generally followed among the Jews, in their baptisms: but the person who had received his confession of faith, was he to whom the baptism was attributed, as it was administered by his authority.

Verse 39. The Spirit of the Lord caught aicay Philip] Perhaps this means no more than, the Holy Spirit suggested to the mind of Philip that he should tcithdrais abruptly from the eunuch; and thus leave him to pursue his journey, reflecting on the important incidents which had taken place. Some suppose that the angel of the Lord, and the spirit of the ljord, are the same person throughout this chapter. There is a remarkable reading m the Codex Alexandrine which exists thus in two lines:


77j« spirit of the Lord fell upon the eunuch: ArrEAOCAEKTHPrjACENTON*IAIliriON. But the angel of the Lord snatched uicay Philip. This reading is foucd in several other MSS. and in some Versions. Many think that the spirit or angel of God car

[ocr errors]

ried off Philip in some such manner as the Apocrypha represents the transportation of Habakkuk, who was taken up by the hair of the head, and carried from Judea to Babylon! For such an interposition, there was no need. When Philip had baptized the eunuch, the Spirit of God shewed him that it was not the w ill of God that he should accompany the eunuch to Meroe, but on the contrary, that he should hasten away to Ashdod; as God had in that, and the neighbouring places, work sufficient to employ him in.

Verse 40. Philip teas found at Azotus] From the time he left the eunuch, he was not hoard of till he got to Azotus; which according to Dr. Lightfoot, was about 34 miles from Gaza; and probably it was near Gaza that Philip met the eunuch. The Azotus of the New Testament, is the Ashdod of the Old. It was given by Joshua to the tribe of Judah, Josh. xv. 47. It was one of the five lordships which belonged to the Philistines; and is a seaport town on the Mediterranean sea, between Gaza on the south, and Joppa or Jaffa on the north. Herodotus reports, lib. ii. cap. 157. that Psammeticus king of Egypt, besieged this city 29 years; which, if true, is the longest siege which any city or fortress ever endured.

Preached in all the cities, till he came to Casarea.] This was Casarea in Palestine, formerly called Strato's toner, built by Herod the Great, in honour of Augustus. There was an excellent harbour here, made by Herod; and after the destruction of Jerusalem, it became the capital of the whole land of Judea. It must be always distinguished from Cicsarea Philippi, which was an inland town, not far from the springs of Jordan. Whenever the word Ca'sarea occurs, without Philippi, the former is intended. As Philip preached in all the cities of Palestine till he came to Cxsarea, he must have preached in the different cities of the Philistine country; Ashdod, Akkaron and Jamnia, and also in the principal parts of Samaria; as these lay in his way from Gaza to Cwsarca. As there was a readier disposition to receive the word in those places, the Spirit of the Lord, under whose guidance he acted, did not suffer him to accompany the eunuch to Abyssinia. It appears from chap. xxi. 8. that Philip settled at Cxsarea where he had a house and family; four of his unmn r

Saul continues to persecute


the Christian church

ried daughters.being prophetesses. It is likely that his itinerant mission ended herC; though he continued occasionally to perform the work of an evangelist; and to bring up his family in the knowledge and fear of God, which is the most

imperious duty that any master of a family can be called on to perform; and which it is impossible for any man to accomplish by substitute. And which none can neglect without endangering his own salvation.


Saul, bent on the destruction of the Christians, obtains letters from the high-priest, authorizing him to seize those whom he should fnd at Damascus, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, 1, 2. On his way to Damascus, he has u divine vision, is convinced of his sin and folly, is struck blind, and remains three days without sight, and neither eats nor drinks, 3—9. Ananias a disciple, is commanded in a vision, to go and speak to Saul, and restore his

sight, 10—16. Ananias goes and lays his hands on him, and he receives his sight, and is baptized, 17 19.

Saul, having spent a few days with the Christians at Damascus, goes to the synagogue, proclaims Christ, and confounds the Jews, 20—22. The Jews lay wait to kill him, but the disciples let him over the walls of the city, in a basket, by night, and he escapes to Jerusalem, 2325. Having wished to associate with the disciples there, they avoid him; but Barnabas takes and brings him to the apostles, and declares his conversion, 26, 27. He continues in Jerusalem preaching Christ, and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews, who endeavour to slay him; but the disciples take him to Ccesarea, and send him thence to his own city Tarsus, 28—30. About this time, the churches being freed from persecution, are edified and multiplied, 31. Peter heals Eneas at Lydda, who had been afflicted with the palsy eight years; in consequence of which miracle, all the people of Lydda and Saron are converted, 33—35. Account of the sickness and death of a Christian woman named Tabithu, who dwelt at Joppa; and her miraculous restoration to life by the ministry of Peter, 36—41. Gracious effects produced among the inhabitants of Lydda by this miracle, 42, 43.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


Verse 1. Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter] The original text is very emphatic, ert ipvitvzwv xireiktjf xcci aovov, and points out how determinate Saul was, to pursue and accomplish his fell purpose of totally destroying the infant church of Christ. The mode of speech introduced above, is very frequent in the Greek writers; who often express any vehement, and hostile affection of the mind by the verb ■tivtiw, to breathe, to pant; so Theocritus Idyll, xxii. ver. 82. Ev fie<rtr«v a-vvayoy, f ovov aAAaXojtri vveoyrss

They came into the assembly, breathing mutual slaughter.

Euripides has the same form, irvp itvsoucra xai fovov, breathing out fire and slaughter. Jphig. in Taur.

And Aristophanes, more fully, referring to all the preparations for tear:

2 And desired of him letters to A.M.cir.MS7.

_ , A. D. cir. 33.

Damascus to the synagogues, that An. oiymp. if he found any "of this way, cirCCI11'whether they were men or women, he might

» Gr. of the may: So ch. 19. 9, 23.

AAAa Tf/Etvras Sopv xai Xoy^ac xaj XsuxoAspouc rpv

Kaj mjAijxac, y.xi wyy.ioz; jcai §vij.o-j; £7]*ra?o£iou{.

Ranse. ver. 1048. They breathed spears, and pikes, and helmets, and crests, and greaves, and the fury of redoubted heroes.

The figure is a favourite one with Homer: hence fj-evca. irveiovrei; Atavre;, the Abantes breathing strength.—II. ii. 536. and how frequently he speaks of his fierce countrymen, as, f/svia. itveiovTts Ap^aioi, the Greeks breathing strength, see II. iii. 8. xi. 508. xxiv. 364. which phrase an old Scholiast interprets, being filled with strength and fury. St. Luke, who was master of the Greek tongue, chose such terms as best expressed, a heart desperately and incessantly bent on accomplishing the destruction of the objects of 4ts resentment. Such,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

• Ch. 22. 6. & 23. 12. 1 Cor. 15. 8.

at this time, was the heart of Saul of Tarsus; and it had already given full proof of its malignity, not only in the martyrdom of Stephen, but also in making havoc of the church; and in forcibly entering every house, and dragging men and somen, whom he suspected of Christianity, and commuting them to prison. See chap. viii. 3.

Went unto the high-priest'] As the high-priest was chief iu all matters of an ecclesiastical nature, and the present business was pretendedly religious; he was the proper person to apply to for letters by which this virulent persecutor might be accredited. The letters must necessarily be granted in the name of the whole sanhedrin, of which, Gamaliel, Saul's master was at that time the head; but the high-priest was the proper organ, through whom this business might be negotiated.

Verse 2. Letters to Damascus to the synagogues'] Damascus, anciently called ptpin Damask and pwa-n Darmask, was once the metropolis of all Syri.i. It was situated at 50 miles distance from the sea; from which it is separated by lofty mountains. It is washed by two rivers, Amara or Abara, which ran through it, and Pharpar, called by the Greeks Chrysorrhaa, the golden stream, which ran on the outside of its walls. It is one of the most ancient cities in the world, for it existed in the time of Abraham: Gen. xiv. 15. and how long before, is not known. The city of Damascus is at present a place of considerable trade, owing to its being the rendezvous for all the pilgrims from the north of Asia, on their road to and from the temple of Mecca. It is surrounded with pretty strong walls, which have nine gates; and is between four and five miles in circumference. It contains about 100,000 inhabitants, some say more, the principal part of whom are Arabs and Turks, with whom, live in a state of considerable degradation, about 15,000 Christians. Damascus, like other places of importance, has passed through the hands of many masters. It was captured and ruined by Tiglath Pileser, who carried away its inhabitants to Kin, beyond the Euphrates, about 740 years before the Christian era: and thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, chap. svii. 1—3. and that of Amos, chap. i. 4, 5. It was also taken by Sennacherib, and by the generals of Alexander the Great. Metellus and Latins seized it, during the war of Pompey with Tigranes; before Christ 65. It continued under the dominion of the Romans, till the Saracens took possession of it in A. D. 634. It was besieged and taken by Teemour lenk, A. D. 1400, who put all the inhabitants to the sword. The Egyptian Mamelukes repaired Damascus

[ocr errors]

heaven: 4 And bhe fell to the earth, and

» Dan. 8. 17. & 10. 9.

when they took possession of Syria: but the Turkish emperor Sclim having defeated them at the battle of Aleppo in 1516, Damascus was brought under the government of the Turks, ami in their hands it still remains. In the time of St. Paul, it was governed by Aretus, whose father Obodas, had been governor of it under Augustus. Damascus is 112 miles south of Antioch; 130 N. N. E. of Jerusalem; and 270 S. S. W. of Diarbek. Longitude 37°. East. Latitude 33°. 45' North. The fruit tree called the Damascene, vulgarly Damuzon, and the flower called the Damask rose, were transplanted from Damascus to the gardens of Europe: and the silks and linens, known by the name of Damasks, were probably first manufactured by the inhabitants of this ancient city.

Any of this zcay] That is, this religion, for so "pn derec in Hebrew, and iis; hodos in Hellenistic Greek, are often to be understood, mrv "]vi derec Yehovuh, the way of the Lord, implies the xchole of the zcorshrp due to him, and prescribed by himself: the zcay or path in which he wills men to zcalk, that they may get safely through life; and finally attain everlasting felicity. The Jewish writers designate the whole doctrine and practice of Christianity by a similar expression, Dnirun -p-i derec hanotsarim, the zcay, doctrine, or sect of the Christians.

Whether they acre men or zcomen] Provided they were Jezzs; for no converts had as yet been made among the Gentiles: nor did the power of the high-priest and sanhedrin extend to any but those who belonged to the synagogues. Pearce.

In every country where there were Jews and synagogues, the power and authority of the sanhedrin and high-priest were acknowledged: just as papists in all countries, acknowledge the authority of the pope. And as there can be but one pope, and one conclave; so there could be but one high-priest and one sanhedrin; and this is the reason why the highpriest and sanhedrin at Jerusalem, had authority over all Jews, even in the most distant countries.

Verse 3. Suddenly there shined round about him] This might have been an extraordinary flash of the electric fluid, accompanied with thunder; with which, God chose to astonish and confound Saul and his company; but so modified it as to prevent it from striking them dead. Thunder would naturally follow such a large quantity of this fluid, as appears to have been disengaged at this time; and out of this thunder, or immediately after it, Christ spoke in an aw fa 1 and distinct voice, which appears to have been understood bv Saul only.

« AnteriorContinuar »