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after He rose, as recorded in Acts, “But ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and

my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” a This was the order in which the gospel was to be preached, but had not yet been preached, to the Gentiles. Returning to the narrative, the historian says: But“ a certain man, , named Simon, was in the city before, using sorcery and bewitching the people of Samaria, saying that he was some great one. To whom they all gave heed from the lowest to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. . . . 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.”b Here we have the first use of the word “kingdom" after it was opened on the day of Pentecost. The word kingdom is sometimes used in reference to Christ's present reign on earth, sometimes in reference to His future reign in heaven; persons are spoken of as "translated into the kingdom of his dear Son.”c Christ is also spoken of as the Judge of the “living and dead at his appearing and kingdom.”d The kingdom is never spoken of hereafter as it was in the gospels as “approaching," as “at hand.” It may now be divided into two great apartments: the present and the future kingdom, the kingdom of grace, and the kingdom of glory. To the faithful subjects of the present “An entrance a Acts i. 8.

d 2 Tim. iv. I.

b Acts viii. 9-12.

c Col. i. 13.

shall be administered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”a

When the people of Samaria believed Philip's preaching, “They were baptized, both men and women.” Because there is nothing said here in regard to their repentance it is not, therefore, to be presumed that they were impenitent when they were baptized, but we may assume that they turned to God with full purpose of heart.

a 2 Pet. i. 11.

CHAPTER XIV

MIRACLES

The Province of Miracles. Necessary to Establish the Gospel.

Necessary Only in Age in Which They Occurred. They Have Ceased. Did Not Convey Pardon. The genuineness of the conversion of Simon, which immediately follows this, has been disputed and requires careful consideration, but before doing this we call attention to the province of miracles. “Then Simon himself believed also, and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”a

This gift of the Holy Spirit, conferred by prayer and the laying on of the apostles' hands, was a miraculous endowment, as is plainly evident, and it was confined to the apostolic age. The apostles had the power to

a Acts viii. 13-17.

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work miracles; they could confer that power on others, but those upon whom they conferred it could not give it to a third class. While Philip had the power to work miracles, he, not being an apostle, could not confer this power on his converts. The church at Rome did not seem to have this power before Paul visited it. This is quite evident and is one of the strongest proofs that it was not established by Peter or any of the apostles. Paul, in writing to the Romans, says: "For I long to see you that I may impart

“ unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established.”a If the church at Rome had been founded by Peter, or if it had been founded by any of the apostles, its members would have been endowed with all the spiritual gifts belonging to the Church at that time. The strong presumption is, therefore, that the spiritual gift to which Paul refers is the same that was conferred by Peter and John on the people who “received the word of God” at Samaria, and which could only be conferred by an apostle.

So far as the history shows, miracles were confined to the apostolic age and were designed to cease. If this were not so, people in all ages would have a right to ask, nay, to demand, that the Church continue the working of miracles to prove her divine origin and mission. Miracles were for a confirmation of the testimony, and any proposition once proved is forever proved. The creation, according to the Bible, and so far as science has proven, began in miracle and ends in natural order—in a system of laws. Christianity

a Rom. i. 11.

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began in miracle, and ends in the harmonious system of the gospel. Paul shows conclusively, in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of First Corinthians, that miracles were to cease, after summing up all spiritual gifts, diversities of tongues, gifts of healing, miracles, supernatural knowledge, wisdom, and power. He says:

“And yet show I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not love, I have become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies they shall fail; whether there be tongues they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come then that which is in part shall be done away. . . Now abideth faith, hope, love—these three, but the greatest of these is love."a Thus, after the testimony was confirmed, and the great propositions of the gospel were abundantly proved by the miracles, signs, and wonders, they ceased, and “the more excellent way” of faith, hope, and love continued and has been before the world for about nineteen hundred years.

While miracles have ceased, “Faith, Hope, and Love" abide. The Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the kinship of Jesus, His atonement, intercession, prayer and Providence and not miracles,

a i Cor. xiii, 1–13.

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