Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER XV

CONVERSIONS

Simon the Sorcerer. The Conversion of the Ethiopian. The

Place of Baptism. The Divine Confession. Having called attention to the subject of miracles as connected both with the Church and conversion, we now return to the case of Simon. “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands he may receive the Holy Spirit. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money: Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent, therefore, of this thy wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me." This case has sometimes been cited as showing that baptism is not connected with the forgiveness of sins.

a Acts viii. 18-24.

But this proves too much, for it lies with equal force against faith, as we are informed that “Simon himself also believed, and when he was baptized he continued with Philip and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.” If he was a true believing penitent when he was baptized, there can be no doubt in regard to his pardon. It will be borne in mind that Peter only charges him with the one sin, and enjoins upon him repentance and

prayer,

which is the law of pardon for erring Christians. He says: “Repent, therefore, of this thy wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought”—not the thoughts, but the thought-"of thy heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall”—

!--not yet in, but _"in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.” While the prevailing opinion is that Simon was a hypocrite and had not been pardoned or converted, yet the history as here given does not prove that such was the fact. The subsequent history of Simon, as given by early writers, in regard to his great wickedness, his following and encountering Peter, and his violent death, is involved in difficulty, contradiction, and must be considered unreliable.

We are next informed, that “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."a Here follows the story of Philip's preaching to "a man of Ethiopia,” which we will transcribe in full as showing the use of miracles, as well as how the gospel was preached, believed, and

a Acts viii. 25.

[ocr errors]

obeyed. “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the

way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 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 treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias and said, Understandest thou what thou readest ? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he entreated Philip to come up and sit with him. And the place of the Scripture which he was reading was this: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb dumb before his shearer, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away; and who shall declare his generation ? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip and said, I pray thee of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way they came unto a certain water, and the eunuch said, See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized ? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the spirit of the Lord caught away. Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities till he came to Cæsarea." a

The first thing to be noted in this case is that the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip directing him where to go; and when he had come to the place the Spirit said, “join thyself to this chariot.” Thus we find that here the mission of the angel of the Lord and the Spirit was to bring the preacher to the hearer, and not to pardon the sinner. Again, it will be observed, that Philip began from the prophecies to preach Jesus. This rule was followed in the days of the apostles when preaching to the Jews or to the proselytes of the Jewish faith. The person here addressed was either a Jew or a proselyte to the Jewish faith. He preached Jesus. What are we to understand by this expression? We are informed "Moses of old time hath in every city those who preached him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Thus to preach Moses was to teach his law. Topreach Jesus was to teach the requirements of His gospel. It was to tell the story of the cross, to present in full the terms of His amnesty proclamation; the requirements of Him who had a right to teach and direct and rule and reign as the Prophet, Priest, and King. Again, it is evident that in preaching Jesus he * Acts viii. 26-40.

b Acts xv. 21.

a

a

preached baptism. Nor can Jesus be preached without preaching baptism. Notwithstanding we may be disposed to deem it of light importance, or non-essential, yet it was taught by Christ, enjoined by Him in His great commission. It was required by Peter at the opening of the gospel age. It is either stated or implied in every case of pardon, and no unbaptized person is ever addressed as pardoned, sanctified, or saved. The epistles addressed to the Corinthians speak of them as having been baptized. And there is no record of any one anywhere having been admitted into the Church of Christ without baptism. While it is the only ordinance in the gospel uniting the sacred names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet being only a part of a perfect systein it may not be deemed more important than hearing, believing, or repenting, but is as universally enjoined and implied as any of these terms of pardon. After hearing Philip preach, the eunuch evidently understood baptism to be the consummating act in receiving Christ; hence he asked to be baptized and immediately went on his way rejoicing

It is important to note that here we have the first case of a responsive confession of faith in Jesus required immediately before baptism. Philip said unto him, “If thou believest with all thy heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” While this confession of the eunuch is considered by some an interpolation, we have the following proof that such was the practise. Christ says, “Every one therefore who shall

« ÖncekiDevam »