11. No small miracles.He calleth miracles virtutes or powers, after the common custom of the Scripture, which were testimonies of the extraordinary power of God. And showeth that Paul’s apostleship was set forth with these ensigns, that his doctrine might have the greater authority. For it is a common speech, That wonders and signs are showed by the hand of men. So that the praise thereof is ascribed to God alone as to the author; and man is only the minister. And that he may the more amplify the miracles, he saith that handkerchiefs and partlets F1222 were brought unto the sick, which so soon as they touched they were healed. It is not unknown F1223 to what end Paul had such power given him, to wit, that he might prove himself to be a true apostle of Christ, that he might make the gospel to be believed, and might confirm his ministry. And here it is expedient to call to mind those things which we had before, touching the lawful use of miracles. And whereas God did heal the sick with Paul’s handkerchiefs, it tended to that end, that even those who had never seen the man might, notwithstanding, reverently embrace his doctrine, though he himself were absent. For which cause the Papists are more blockish, who wrest this place unto their relics; as if Paul sent his handkerchiefs that men might worship them and kiss them F1224 in honor of them; as in Papistry, they worship Francis’ shoes and mantle, Rose’s girdle, Saint Margaret’s comb, and such like trifles. Yea, rather, he did choose most simple F1225 things, lest any superstition should arise by reason of the price or pomp. For he was fully determined to keep Christ’sglory sound and undiminished.
13. And certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, essayed to name over those which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14. And there were certain sons of Sceva, a Jew, the chief of the priests, who did this. 15. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16. And the man in whom the evil spirit was ran upon them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they escaped out of that house naked and wounded. 17. And this was known to all both Jews and Grecians which dwelt at Ephesus; and fear came upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
13. To the end it may more plainly appear that the apostleship of Paul was confirmed by those miracles whereof mention was made of late, Luke doth now teach that when certain did falsely pretend the name of Christ, such abuse was most sharply punished. Whereby we gather that such miracles were wrought by the hand of Paul, to no other end, save only that all men might know that he did faithfully preach Christ to be the power of God; forasmuch as the Lord did not only not suffer them to be separate from the pure doctrine of the gospel; but did so sharply punish those who did draw them preposterously unto their enchantments; whence we gather again, that whatsoever miracles do darken the name of Christ they be juggling casts of the devil; and that those be coziness and falsifiers who draw the true miracles of God to any other end, save only that true religion may be established. F1226
Certain exorcists.I do not doubt but that this office did proceed of foolish emulation. God was wont to exercise his power diverse ways among the Jews; and he had used the prophets in times past as ministers to drive away devils; under color hereof they invented conjuration, F1227 and hereupon was erected unadvisedly an extraordinary function without the commandment of God. Also, it may be that (God appointing it so to be) it did somewhat; F1228 not that he favored it preposterously, but that they might more willingly retain the religion of their fathers, until the coming of Christ. Under the reign of Christ, wicked ambition caused strife between the Christians and the Jews. For exorcists were made after the will of men; after that (as superstition doth always wax worse and worse) the Pope would have this common to all his clerks, who were to be promoted unto an higher degree. For after that they be made door-keepers, forthwith the conjuring of devils is committed to them; and by very experience they set themselves to be laughed at. For they are enforced to confess that they give a vain title, and such as is without effect, for where is the power they have to conjure devils? and the very exorcists themselves do take upon them, to their own reproach, an office which they never put in practice. But this falleth out justly, that. there is no end of erring, when men depart from the word of God. As touching these men, we gather that they were wandering rogues, and such as went from door to door, of which sort we see many at this day in Popery; for he saith that they went about. By which words he giveth us to understand, that they went to and fro as occasion was offered them to deceive men.
We adjure you by Jesus.It is a thing like to be true, [probable] that these deceivers flee unto the name of Christ, that they might get new power, whereof they had falsely boasted before, or because the power which they had did cease, that they might darken the gospel. This invocation had two faults; for whereas they were enemies F1229 to Paul’s doctrine, they abuse the color thereof without faith, as it were, unto magical enchantments; secondly, they take to themselves without the calling of God that which is not in man’s hand. But the lawful calling upon the name of God and Christ is that which is directed by faith, and doth not pass the bounds of a man’s calling. Wherefore, we are taught by this example, that we must attempt nothing, unless we have the light of the word of God going before us, lest we suffer like punishment for our sacrilege. The Lord himself commandeth us to pray. Whosoever they be which have not the gift of miracles given them, let them keep themselves within these bounds. For when the apostles made the unclean spirits come out of men, they had God for their author, and they knew that they did faithfully execute the ministry which he had enjoined them.
16.The man running upon them.That is attributed to the man which the devil did by him. For he had not been able to do such an act of himself, as to put to flight seven strong young men being wounded and naked. And to set down for a certainty how the devil doth dwell in men, we cannot, save only that there may be F1230 a contrariety between the Spirit of God and the spirit of Satan. For as Paul teacheth that we be the temples of God, because the Spirit of God dwelleth in us; so he saith again that Satan worketh effectually in all unbelievers. Notwithstanding, we must know that Luke speaketh in this place of a particular kind of dwelling; to wit, when Satan hath the bridle so much that he doth possess the whole man.
Furthermore, God meant to show such a token, that he might declare that his power is not included in the sound of the voice, and that it is not lawful superstitiously to abuse the name of his Son. And when he suffereth Satan to deceive us, let us know that we be more sharply punished than if he should wound us in the flesh. For the false show and color of miracles is an horrible enchantment to bewitch and besot the unbelievers, that they may be drowned in deeper darkness, because they refused the light of God.
17. There came fear.The fruit of that vengeance which God brought upon those who did wickedly abuse the name of Christ is this, in that they were all touched with reverence, lest they should contemn that doctrine, whose revenger the Lord hath showed by an evident token and testimony he would be, and they were brought to reverence Christ. For, besides that God doth invite us by all his judgments to come thus far, that they may terrify us from sinning, in this example peculiarly was the majesty of Christ set forth, and the authority of the gospel established. Wherefore, there is more heavy and grievous punishment prepared for deceivers, who, with their enchantments, profane the name of Christ wittingly, lest they promise to themselves that they shall escape unpunished for such gross sacrilege. Whereas he saith that it was made known to all men, it signifieth as much as commonly or everywhere. For his meaning is, that the matter was much talked of among the people, to the end the name of Christ might be made known to more men.
18. And many of those which believed came, confessing, and showing their works. 19. And many of those which used curious arts, bringing their books, burnt them before them all; and when they had cast the price of them, they found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20. So mightily grew the word of the Lord, and was confirmed. 21. And when these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in spirit, having passed over Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After that I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22. And when he had sent two of those which ministered to him into Macedonia, to wit, Timotheus and Erastus, he stayed for a time in Asia.
18. Many which believed.Luke bringeth forth one token of that fear whereof he spake. For they did indeed declare that they were thoroughly touched and moved with the fear of God, who, of their own accord, did confess the faults and offenses of their former life, lest, through their dissimulation, they should nourish the wrath of God within. We know what a hard matter it is to wring true confession out of those who have offended, for seeing men count nothing more precious than their estimation, they make more account of shame than of truth; yea, so much as in them lieth, they seek to cover their shame. Therefore, this voluntary confession was a testimony of repentance and of fear. For no man, unless he be thoroughly touched, will make himself subject to the slanders and reproaches of men, and will willingly be judged upon earth, that he may be loosed and acquitted in heaven. When he saith, Many,by this we gather that they had not all one cause, for it may be that these men had corrupt consciences a long time; as many are oftentimes infected with hidden and inward vices. Wherefore, Luke doth not prescribe all men a common law; but he setteth before them an example which those must follow who need like medicine. For why did these men confess their facts, save only that they might give testimony of their repentance, and seek counsel and ease at Paul’s hands? It was otherwise with those who came unto the baptism of John, confessing their sins (<400306>Matthew 3:6). For by this means they did confess that they did enter into repentance without dissimulation.
But in this place Luke teacheth by one kind, after what sort the faithful were touched with the reverence of God, when God set before them an example of his severity. For which cause the impudence of the Papists is the greater, who color their tyranny by this fact. For wherein doth their auricular confession agree F1231 with this example? First, the faithful confessed how miserably they had been deceived by Satan before they came to the faith, bringing into the sight of men certain examples. But by the Pope’s law it is required that men reckon up all their words and deeds and thoughts. We read that those men confessed this once; the Pope’s law commandeth that it be repeated every year at least. These men made confession of their own accord; the Pope bindeth all men with necessity. Luke saith there came many, not all; in the Pope’s law there is no exception. These men humbled themselves before the company of the faithful; the Pope giveth a far other commandment, that the sinner confess his sins, whispering in the ear of one priest. F1232 Lo, how well they apply F1233 the Scriptures to prove their subtitle.
19. Who used curious crafts.Luke doth not only speak of magical jugglings, but of frivolous and vain studies, whereof the more part of men is for the most part too desirous. For he useth the word, perierga, under which the Grecians comprehend whatsoever things have in themselves no sound commodity, but lead men’s minds and studies through diverse crooks unprofitably. Such is judicial astrology, as they call it, and whatsoever divinations men F1234 invent to themselves against the time to come. They burn their books, that they may cut off all occasion of erring, both for themselves and for others. And whereas the greatness of the pricedoth not call them back from endamaging themselves so much, they do thereby better declarethe study [zeal] of their godliness. Therefore, as Luke did of late describe their confession in words, so now he setteth down the confession they make in deeds. But becausethe Grecians take argurionfor all kind of money, it is uncertain whether Luke doth speak of pence or sestertians. F1235 Notwithstanding, because it is certain that he expressed a sum, that we might know that the faithful did valiantly contemn gain, I do nothing doubt but that he meaneth pence, or some other better kind of coin. F1236 And fifty thousand pence (denarii) make about nine thousand pound of French money [French livres].
20.Grew mightily [lions.]The word kata kratov doth signify that the word increased not a little, (or that these proceedings were not common) as if he should say, that in those increasings appeared rare efficacy, and such as was greater than it used commonly to be. The word grewdo I refer unto the number of men, as if he should have said, that the Church was increased, new disciples being gathered together dally, because doctrine is spread abroad. And I interpret that, that the word was confirmed in every one thus, to wit, that they did profit in the obedience of the gospel and in godliness more and more, and that their faith took deeper root.
21.He purposed in spirit.His meaning is, that Paul purposed to take his journey through the instinct and motion of the Spirit; that we may know that all his whole life was framed according to God’s will and pleasure. And therefore hath he the Spirit to be the governor of his actions, because he did both give over himself by him to be ruled, and did also depend upon his government. Neither skilleth that which followeth, that he had not that success in his journey which he did hope for; for God doth oftentimes govern and rule his faithful servants, suffering them to be ignorant of the end. F1237 For he will have them so far forth addicted to him, that they follow that which he hath showed them by his Spirit, even shutting their eyes when matters be doubtful. Moreover, it is certain that he was wholly addicted to profit the churches, omitting and foreslowing [neglecting] his own commodity, in that he had rather deprive himself of Timotheus, a most excellent to him of all, most faithful, most dear, finally, a most fit companion, than not to provide for the Macedonians.
23. And at that time there happened no small tumult about that way. 24. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gains to the men of that occupation; 25. Whom, when he had called together, and those who were makers of like things, he said, Men, ye know that by this craft we have advantage. F123826. And ye see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be not gods which are made with hands: 27. And not only this part cometh in danger to us, lest it be set at nought; but also test the temple of the great goddess Diana be despised, and it come to pass that her majesty be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28. When they heard these things, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.