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 Era, 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 "7, which

hatred and jealousy, and all the hateful and debasing passions.
For centuries the Jews had refused to hold any intercourse with
the Samaritans-for centuries they had been objects of detesta-
tion to each other. The Gospel is given to the world-the Jew
becomes the friend of the despised Samaritan, and preaches to
him the truth of God. Odious as the Samaritans were to the
Jews, they were the offspring of common ancestors; and per-
haps on this account they were the first invited to become
members of the Messiah's kingdom. The Gospel is preached
as men were able to bear it, first to the Jew, then to the Sama-
ritan-next to the proselytes of righteousness-then to the pro-
selytes of the gate-and lastly, to the idolatrous heathen.

47 Simon Magus appears to have been one of the first who ar-
rogated to himself the loftier names which were appropriated
to the anticipated mysterious Being who was at this time uni-
versally expected upon earth. In several MSS. of the greatest
authority, as well as in the principal of the ancient versions, is
this remarkable reading-οὗτός ἐτιν ἡ δύναμις τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ καλεμένη
peyan, "this man is the power of God, which is called, or
which is, the Great (a)." And the inspired writer here informs
us, that he confounded and astonished the people, and took
advantage of their ignorant wonder to assume these extraordi-
nary honours. He deceived the people by his great skill in
various tricks and juggling (b), assisted probably by his supe-
rior knowledge of the powers of nature. Ecclesiastical history
has handed down to us a large collection of improbable stories
respecting this man (c). Arnobius a writer of the third cen-
tury relates that he flew into the air by the assistance of the
evil spirit, and was thrown to the ground by the prayers of St.
Peter. Others tell us that he pretended to be the Father, who
gave the law to Moses; and that he was the Messiah, the Para-
clete, and Jupiter, and that the woman who accompanied him,
who was named Helena, was Minerva, or the first intelligence:
with many other things equally absurd, which are collected by
Calmet, to whom the reader is referred (d).

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

alian Pe- beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched Samaria.
od, 4747. the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some
algar Era,
great one:

10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the
greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long
time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things
concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus
Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

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-
maria, to confer the Gifts of the Holy Ghost on the new

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
name of Christians as the modern Unitarian; both disguising
their Christianity with equal skill.

It does not however appear necessary to enter further into
the subject, nor to discuss the conclusion of Vitringa, that there
were two Simon Magus'. I shall only add, which is more to
the purpose, that Wolfius, Krebs, Rosenmüller, and others, are
of opinion that the Simon here mentioned is the same as the
person spoken of by Josephus, as persuading Drusilla to leave
her husband, and live with Felix, the Procurator of Judea (ƒ).

(a) Ceterum in codd. ABCDE, ac verss Copt. æth. Armen. Syr. post. Vulg. Ital. legitur; ǹ kaλovμέvn μɛɣáλn quæ vocatur, i, quæ est (καλεῖσθαι saepius id. qd. είναι) et hanc vocem καλουμένη in ordinem recepit Griesbachius. Recte. Facile enim ex a librariis, quibus superflaa videretur, omitti potuit. Sensus, sive ea addatur, sive omittatur, eodem reddit.-Kuinoel Com, in lib. Hist. N. T. vol. iv. p. 300. (b) Vide Kuinoel ut sup. p. 299.-Schleusner in voc. payέvw.-Rosenmuller, &c. (c) See Vidal's notes to Mosheim, on the affairs of the Christians before Constantine, vol. i. p. 328, and Dr. A. Clarke in loc. (d) Calmet's Dictionary, Art. Simon Magus. (e) Dr. Jerem. Jones' Ecclesiastical Researches, chap. xii. p. 310, &c. (f) Wolfius Curæ Philologicæ, vol. ii. p. 1125. Joseph. Antiq. xx. 5. 2.


It is the custom at present among many who profess Chris

Julian Period, 4747. Vulgar Æra,



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 defen-
sible, 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 im-
punity, even in those cases where they have evidently failed in
their purpose; for the will of an individual is required to sub-
mit 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 in-
stances, without any appeal being made to his reason, was re-
quired 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


Julian Pe- the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered Samaria. od, 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
perseverance to Christians at present, on what grounds are we
to reject the inferences that naturally arise from such facts as
those now before us. Are we not right in concluding that this
action was intended not only for the peculiar benefit of the Sa-
maritan converts, but for an example to all the Christian
Churches, from that age to the present. The enactments of
Christianity are to be found in the conduct of Christ and his
apostles; their practice is the best model for the right govern-
ment of the Churches.

From this conduct of the apostles the ancient primitive
Church has uniformly required, that those who are admitted as
infants into the Christian Church by baptism, should in maturer
years be confirmed in their Christian profession by prayer and
imposition of hands. Though the extraordinary gifts of the
Spirit were conferred only by extraordinary men, appointed for
that especial purpose, it was believed that his ordinary gifts
might be imparted by the authorized ministers who were set
apart for the service of the sanctuary. As the miraculous gifts
were requisite at the first formation of the Christian Church, so
now, when the Christian religion is fully established, its ordi-
nary influences are equally necessary to enable man to recover
the lost image of God, of which he had been deprived by the
fall. It is but too usual with a large class of religionists to
undervalue the external rites of Christianity: but it is our duty
to examine whether any, and what rites were observed by the
apostles, and to follow their authority; rather than to inquire
into the reasonableness or propriety of the apostolic institu-
tions. The Roman Church has erred by adding to the enact-
ments of Scripture; the opposite extreme is to be no less avoid-
ed, of depreciating or neglecting its commands. That Church
is most pure whose discipline approaches the nearest to that
which was practised by its divinely appointed founders, and is
recorded for our example in the New Testament.

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."

Julian Pe

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
ousness, is converted and baptized by Philip, who now
preaches through the Cities of Judea.

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 ", 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-¿ñì tỷv óðòv tηU καταβαίνουσαν ἀπὸ Ἱερουσαλὴμ εἰς Τάζαν, αὕτη ἐςὶν ἔρημος— ad viam, quæ a Jerusalem descendit Gazam; avrŋ 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 Hora 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

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