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. (160)
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. (161) And although they did all of them stoutly labor to increase the kingdom of Christ, yet Luke ascribeth (162) 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 3:0.) 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. (163) 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, (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.