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Julian Pe- 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto Samaria. riod, 4747. those things which Philip spake; hearing, and seeing the
Vulgar Æra, 34.
miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them; and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.
9 But there was a certain man called Simon ", which
hatred and jealousy, and all the hateful and debasing passions.
47 Simon Magus appears to have been one of the first who ar
Justin, and after him Irenæus, Tertullian, Eusebius, Cyril, and others of the Fathers, have asserted that Simon Magus was honoured as a Deity by the Romans, and by the Senate itself, who decreed a statue to him in the isle of Tyber, where a statue has since been found with this inscription-Semoni Sanco Deo Fideo, Sacrum Sext. Pompeius Sp. F. Mutianus donum dedit. Some suppose this to have been the statue to which Justin alluded; but as it does appear to have been erected by the Senate, the most able critics have rejected the idea of Magus' deification by the Romans. Dr. Middleton, not perhaps the best authority, for he endeavoured to reject all he could find reason to discredit, treats the story with contempt; while a modern author (e), who is no less venturous, espouses the opposite opinion, and defends it at great length. This ingenious speculatist indeed attempts to prove that Josephus and Philo were Christians, and that primitive Christianity was a system of
PETER AND JOHN COME TO SAMARIA-CHAP. IX.
Jalan Pe- beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched Samaria. red, 4747. the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some Valgar Era,
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
St. Peter and St. John come down from Jerusalem to Sa-
ACTS viii. 14-17.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
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 48.
Unitarianism. They were certainly as much entitled to the
It does not however appear necessary to enter further into
(a) Ceterum in codd. ABCDE, ac verss Copt. æth. Armen. Syr. post.
It is the custom at present among many who profess Chris
St. Peter reproves Simon Magus.
ACTS viii. 18-24.
18 And when Simon saw, that through laying on of
tianity, to despise every ordinance of which they do not per. ceive the evident utility. They must comprehend the causes and the reasons of an institution, or it is treated with contempt. In all enactments of merely human origin this conduct is defensible, because experience proves to us that human laws are made to accomplish some known and definite benefit; and if they fail in that object, they are considered useless. Yet no human legislature will permit its laws to be disobeyed with impunity, even in those cases where they have evidently failed in their purpose; for the will of an individual is required to submit to the authority of the State: and there are few cases in which the resistance of an individual can be justified upon the plea, of his inability to discover the reasonableness or propriety of a law.
If we are thus required to act in matters of common life, the same principles of conduct, are more binding when applied to the divine law. We are in general able to discover the causes for which it pleased God to appoint to the Jew the observances of the Mosaic law, and to the Gentile the lighter yoke of the Christian code. The divinity of both covenants was ratified and confirmed by miracle and prophecy, and man in both instances, without any appeal being made to his reason, was required to yield unreserved obedience, because it was the will of God; for, as the apostle says, we walk by faith, not by sight.
One very remarkable characteristic alike distinguishes the Mosaic and Christian institutions: in both it is to be observed, that although on any peculiar and extraordinary occasion the supernatural influences of the Holy Spirit might be imparted to some favoured individuals; they were never bestowed in ordinary cases, unless the appointed means of grace were observed on the part of the worshipper: thereby affording the highest sanction in favour of the outward ordinances, both of the Jewish and Christian religion. If in the former dispensation the penitent would intreat for pardon, he brought his sacrifice. If a child desired admittance into the Church of God, it must be either by circumcision or by baptism; if he would renew in his youth the promises which had been made for him in his childhood, he feasted on the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, or on the body and blood of Christ, in the feast of the Christian sacrament. The means of grace are attended with the influences of the Spirit of God, and he who obeys the will of God, always partakes of the blessing.
The passage of Scripture which is contained in this section, is the first account in the Christian covenant of a new means of grace, which was sanctioned by an evident impartation of the divine influences. Peter and John went down to Samaria to impart to the new proselytes the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Evangelists who converted them, not having authority to perform the higher functions of the apostolic order. The same Almighty Being who instituted the outward means of grace, withheld the gifts of his Holy Spirit till they could be communicated by his chosen servants in his own appointed way.
If we are required to deduce moral inferences from other passages of Scripture; if the conduct of God to his ancient Church
PETER REPROVES SIMON MAGUS-CHAP. IX.
Julian Pe- the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered Samaria. riod, 4747. them money. Vulgar Æra,
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.
be still justly made a source of encouragement, and a motive to
From this conduct of the apostles the ancient primitive
I conclude this subject by availing myself of the high authority of the pious and eloquent Bishop Horne, who observes, speaking of Mr. Law, (vol. i. p. 214.) that although "the government and discipline of the Church will not save a man, yet it is absolutely necessary to preserve those doctrines that will. A hedge round a vineyard is in itself a poor paltry thing, but break it down, and all they that go by will pluck off her grapes. And no sin has been punished with heavier punishments for that reason, than throwing down fences, and making it indifferent whether a Christian be of any Church or none, so he be but a Christian, and have the birth of the inspoken word. But if Christ left a Church upon earth, and ordered submission to the appointed governors of it, so far as a man resists, or undervalues this ordinance of Christ, so far he acts not like a Christian, let his inward light be what it will."
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness; and pray Samaria. riod, 4747. God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forVulgar Era, given 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.
St. Peter and St. John preach in many Villages of the
ACTS viii. 25.
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.
The Treasurer of Queen Candace, a Proselyte of righte
ACTS viii. 26. to the end.
26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, say- Gaza. ing, Arise, and go toward the south, unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert "9.
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians 60, who had the charge of all her
49 The expression" which is desert," in the opinion of Glassius (a) and Schoetgen (b), refers to the way and not to Gaza itself. Kuinoel (c) approves of the opinion of Heinrich and Wassenburgh, that the clause was not found in the original text, but was subsequently introduced.
(a) Glassius-Grammat. Sac. Tract 2, de Pronomine, p. 514, of his collected works, and 190 of the separate work-lπì tỷv òðòv TηU καταβαίνουσαν ἀπὸ Ιερουσαλὴμ εἰς Τάζαν, αὕτη ἐςὶν ἔρημοςad viam, quæ a Jerusalem descendit Gazam; aurn hæc, seu quæ est deserta. Quæ scil. via, vocatur deserta quia non fuit admodum trita, ob intercurrentes Casii montis solitudines, secundum Strabonem, lib. xvi. Hujus autem admoneri Philippum necesse fuit, alioqui communem et magis tritam viam alteram ingressurum. (b) Schoetgen Horæ Hebr. vol. i. p. 442. (c) Lib. Hist. N. T. vol. iv. p. 311.
50 The name of the eunuch is supposed to have been Indich (a). It is probable he had but lately embraced the Jewish faith. Candace is a name common to the female sovereigns of that part of the country. A passage from Pliny is quoted by Benson and others to prove this-Regnare fæminam Candacen, quod nomen multis jam annis ad reginas transit (b).
If this remark of Pliny be just, and it is confirmed by a passage of Dio Cassius, quoted by Kuinoel, the authority of Strabo