Acts 8:20
But Peter replied, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!
Sermons
Success and Disappointment in Christian WorkW. Clarkson Acts 8:5-25
Christianity True and FalseActs 8:9-24
Saul, Simon, and PhilipK. Gerok.Acts 8:9-24
Simon Magus and Simon PeterK. Gerok.Acts 8:9-24
Simon Magus, or Wrong-HeartednessD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 8:9-24
Simon the Magian Unmasked and Put to ShameD. J. Burrell, D. D.Acts 8:9-24
Simon the SorcererJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 8:9-24
Simon the SorcererAmerican Sunday School TimesActs 8:9-24
Simon the Sorcerer, an Admonitory Example of a False TeacherK. Gerok.Acts 8:9-24
SimonyG. V. Lechler, D. D.Acts 8:9-24
Sudden Conversions not Always GenuineC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 8:9-24
The Fortune HunterW. A. G.Acts 8:9-24
The Sin of SimonDean Vaughan.Acts 8:9-24
The Sin of Simon; or Trading in Holy ThingsSt. J. A. Frere, M. A.Acts 8:9-24
The Type of One Stricken with Religion-BlindnessP.C. Barker Acts 8:9-24
The Spirit of Mammon in the Christian ChurchR.A. Redford Acts 8:14-24
The Apostle's Visit to SamariaDean Goulburn.Acts 8:14-25
The Church and the WorldProf. Luthardt.Acts 8:14-25
The Deputation to SamariaJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 8:14-25
The First Church VisitationK. Gerok.Acts 8:14-25
A Right State of the HeartE. Cooper.Acts 8:20-24
Gift and PurchaseArthur Brooks.Acts 8:20-24
Peter's Admonition to Simon the SorcererH. R. Raymond, D.D.Acts 8:20-24
Right HeartsW. Birch.Acts 8:20-24
Simony Assumes Various FormsG. T. Stokes, D. D.Acts 8:20-24
Sin and SalvationJ. W. Burn.Acts 8:20-24
The Gall of Bitterness and the Bond of IniquityS. Barnard.Acts 8:20-24
The Impotence of MoneyBp. H. C. Potter, D. D.Acts 8:20-24
The Natural HeartH. Crosby, D. D.Acts 8:20-24
Peter and John represented the apostolic authority, but not as something to be imposed on believers, but as linking them with the source of spiritual gifts. Simon represented the spirit of this world in the Church - the sins of ambition, covetousness, hypocrisy, priestcraft, intimately connected with the one fatal error of admitting the world's calculations into the Church. "He offered them money." The Church has listened to such offers far too much. The Simon-spirit, the mixture of sorcery and faith, has filled some portions of the professed Church with lies and mammon-worship. Notice-

I. THE TRUE APOSTOLIC SPIRIT manifested.

1. Dependence on prayer.

2. Separation of spiritual gifts from oil money considerations.

3. Detection and denunciation of the false and sordid.

II. The CHURCH'S DANGER from the laxness of discipline.

1. Those that have "neither part nor lot in this matter" must be kept out of the number of God's people.

2. Especially must the ministry be preserved from every form of simony.

3. The bold and fearless course on the part of those in office is much the safest. Hypocrisy is weakness. Simon will succumb to Peter, if Peter only speaks out the Word of God, and stands up for purity of faith and conscientiousness. Better a poor Church with spiritual gifts, than a treasury full of hypocrites' offerings and no Holy Ghost descending on the world. - R.







But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee.
I do not know that the age in which Simon lived was especially a commercial age; but whatever may have been its distinctive peculiarity, there cannot be much doubt about ours. There have been successive ages, each of a characteristic type, as, e.g., the age of the shepherds, illustrated in the long centuries of pastoral life in the East; the age of conquest, as depicted in the story of the Persian kings; the age of the arts and of letters, as seen in Greece; the age of civic rule and military despotism, as revealed in the history of Rome; the age of religious enthusiasm, as traceable in the history of the middle ages and the crusades; the age of luxury, as found in the France of the Louises, and of revolution, as found in the France of the Buonapartes. But, though in all of them men recognised the uses of wealth, and sought it, in no one of them was the conception of its capabilities so fevered and exaggerated as in our own. We are living in times when men not merely believe that wealth is of all things the most desirable (men have believed that from the time of the rich young man), but when they believe also that there is nothing that cannot be purchased with money. And therefore it is that this answer of Peter is so timely. "This power you covet is communicable, but you cannot buy it! You have seen these common people quickened into a disclosure of powers such as your poor arts have never dreamed of; but the wealth of an empire could not purchase the least or lowliest of them." "Well, what of it?" one might answer. They are not the gifts and powers that I crave. But the things I do crave can be purchased with money. I look about me and see that there is nothing so potent as wealth. I find that in society nothing covers so many faults as money; that neither birth nor death are separate from the questions, "What will he inherit?" or "What did he leave?" That while we scorn the French .marriage of convenience in name, we observe in fact; that poverty, if not a disgrace, is an impertinence; that every taste that I cultivate makes wealth more desirable and poverty more irksome; that while I can acquire the habits of luxurious living with facility, I can surrender them only with pain; and finally that, no matter how selfish or unscrupulous has been my career, it is only necessary that it shall have been exceptionally successful to secure for me, when dying, the applause of mankind. Wherein, then, consists the folly or even the error in my owning also that everything that I do care for can be purchased with money? That error and that folly consist in this: that these gifts of the Spirit which Simon would fain have bought with money are but the type of every other best gift in all the world, and that of these as of those, it is everlastingly true that they are not for sale. Recall some of them for a moment, and see if it is not so.

I. HEALTH. Some of us have drifted into one of those European refuges of the invalid like Ems or Karlsbad; places where people whose lungs or limbs or livers are diseased have come together to drink the waters and submit to the regimen, or be washed whole again in the baths. Oh, those melancholy processions of gloomy-visaged and despondent men and women! I have heard of one of them bursting into a storm of passionate denunciation because a healthy-looking servant had entered his apartment. How dared such an one insult him with the offensive contrast of her unwelcome presence! And yet the one was only a peasant girl, and the other a prince and a millionaire. Would he not have been willing to have shared his millions if he could have bought with them the other's single gift of health? Unfortunately, however, it is not for sale.

II. Next in rank is that higher boon of MENTAL CULTURE. There are hundreds of thousands of men and women who rarely know a day without an experience of pain, who yet are possessors of a secret which makes them habitually insensible to it. There are accomplishments in which they can so lose themselves that, for the time, nothing unwelcome really touches them; and above all, in the pages of a book, they can so pass out of the consciousness of their outer world into the consciousness of that inner world to which the poet, or the historian has introduced them, that penury and loneliness and pain will be for the time being forgotten. But such a pleasure as this is not purchasable. Indeed, just because high living is usually so fatal to high thinking, the pleasures of culture are almost prohibited to the merely rich. Now it does not matter that such persons have never known (because incapable of knowing) the joys of high intellectual activity and so cannot greatly miss what they have never tasted. What they do know is that weariness of ennui, that proneness to idle gossip, to coarser indulgence which is the everlasting tendency of an habitually luxurious life. So thoroughly is this understood where wealth is hereditary that occupations have to be created as a defence against the dangers of their peculiar circumstances. But when such occupations are wanting, the intellectual apathy is at times a hideous and appalling nightmare.

III. More tragically is this true in the domain of the AFFECTIONS. Love is not for sale; and That mysterious sentiment which must be won and deserved — not purchased, never goes along with a jointure nor can be made over with transfers of real estate. There have been plenty of people with no capacity for such an affection who have bartered themselves for some one else's possessions, but in selling their persons or their accomplishments they have usually sold all that they had to sell The power of greatly and unselfishly loving another was not in them, and what they had not to deliver they could not sell. But, where in any man or woman there has been such a capacity, the heart has steadily and invariably refused to follow the beckoning of mere worldly possessions. If any one else loves us, we may be sure that it is not for what we have, but for what we are.

IV. And that reminds me of one other unpurchasable possession — A GOOD CONSCIENCE, or peace of mind. The world has always had in it people who, having lived selfish lives, have striven, before they were done with life, to square accounts by the lavish distribution of their means. All along they have been uncomfortably conscious of the compassion of thoughtful men and quiet women. And when they have encountered such they have been dimly sensible that these people had a secret of peace, of hopeful and certain anticipation, of which they themselves knew nothing. Oh, what would they not give if they could buy that! Nay, more, as they look backward what else would they not give if they but had it to give, if somehow they could transform those cruel and accusing memories. But that peace of God which passeth all understanding, passeth all price as well! Conclusion: I want to say one word to the young. You are living in an atmosphere where the loudest bid that is made is the bid for money. Be afraid of an idolatry so poor and mean! Money, in itself considered, is neither good nor bad. It is an instrument. You may have it without being bad and you may be without it without being good. But to live for it, to fret because you are without it, is the death of all nobleness and the doom of aspiration, There must have been some hours in your life when your heart has thrilled with a genuine aspiration, and when, sitting alone, you have pored over the page that has told you of the great names that have made humanity immortal, and who, as they moved onward and upward have left behind them the lustre of a nobility that can never pale. And at such moments, surely you have longed to be like those nobler beings and to follow their radiant footsteps. Cling to that longing and follow it, for, sooner or later, this love of goodness will bring you into the presence of One who is the divinest of all. And yet, how poor He was! How utterly and absolutely Christ triumphed without the aid of money. Nowadays there is no enterprise, however uoworldly its aims, that must not rest upon a pecuniary basis. And yet there has lived in the world One, who from first to last was penniless. Since He came and went away, what colossal fortunes have been heaped up, what mighty combinations of capital have ruled the credit of the civilised world and made even princes and sovereigns to fawn obsequiously upon their possessors. What has become of them? Who remembers them? But all the while the sway of that Galilean peasant who had not where to lay His head, broadens and deepens and advances. Would you possess the secret of His resistless spell? Verily, if like Simon you come to buy it with mere money, you and your money shall most surely perish together. But if you come discerning that the gifts of God are gifts which money cannot purchase, then indeed you may hope to learn that secret, which shall make you rich for ever!

(Bp. H. C. Potter, D. D.)

As we read Peter's words, their very sound brings out the nature of the sin, for their terms express the contradiction that is involved in the misuse of money. To purchase a gift is evidently impossible. One of the two words must be wrong. Either the thing is not a gift, or else we have not purchased it. Is the world, is our life, a gift or a purchase? Between those two ideas we are for ever vacillating. Our belief in God says it is a gift; our lives of activity and energy say it is a purchase. We talk of Providence, and then are discouraged at our misfortunes or our failures, as if we had never heard of such a thing as God's providence. We pray for all blessings, temporal and spiritual, and then congratulate ourselves when we have put ourselves in a position to obtain them. Now, into these lives, for ever tossed between these two ideas, enters the element of money. Its one reason of existence is purchase. We cannot eat it or wear it; the man who hoards it for the mere pleasure of looking at it is acknowledged to be a pitiable fool. Can we not see how at once this universal thing, so necessary and so much desired, throws all its weight on the side of purchase in our view of life? It makes one continual barter. Purchase is a necessary element of life, and money represents it. It is needed for our independence; without it we sink down into gift-receivers from out" fellow-men. The strong, self-reliant character that belongs to men of business comes entirely from their holding so natural a relation to their fellow-men they receive what they pay for, they expect to be paid for what they give. That is the simple law of honest trade and of honest manhood, and woe to the man who attempts to avoid it, whether by begging or gambling. The very money which he receives is a rebuke to him, as it tells him of the universal existence of that law of purchase between man and man which, like all other laws, will punish the man who violates it. But when money, with the principle which it represents, begins to enter into our relation to God, then the contradiction comes, and the sin with it. Just as living on men's gifts spoils our true relation to them, so trying to purchase of God spoils entirely the true sense of our relation to Him. God must give: that fact is written in our belief of Him as our Creator, our great Superior, infinitely above us. It is the fact that is repeated in the tone of authority that fills every revelation of Him; it is the thought of every heart that cares to look for Him in the earth around us. There is no God if we can purchase things of Him. Money is utterly atheistic in its very central principle when taken out of its proper place; and, as men heap it up, we have only the repetition of the old-storied struggle of the giants who heaped mountain upon mountain, all of which were so good in their places on earth, that they might reach to heaven, and unseat God from His throne. As money grows in power and influence, this will be its destructive power upon men's lives. Beware of this danger; it meets all, as they pass out of childhood's state of gift-receiving into manhood's time of purchase. There is nothing with which to meet it but the simple knowledge of God cultivated by every means which is thrown about us, and by every spiritual influence which can be brought to bear upon us. The relation to God must be learned more and more closely in all its special features. The thought and the effort must be fixed directly on Him by morals, by religion, by worship, by study, by prayer. Never more than in these times, when money is the world's great power, did mankind more need the simplest, purest, most childlike belief in God, that life may be truly complete on both sides, toward man and toward God. The two sides will not remain without effect upon each other. The dependence of the one will soften and save from cruelty and haughtiness the independence of the other. He who knows that he is constantly receiving from One above him cannot be cruel and exacting toward one below him; nay, he cannot keep from being like his great, bountiful God in sweet acts of charity. The independence of the one will add a sense of responsibility and power to the other; he who appreciates the power that God has given him among his fellow-men will more gladly enter the service of that God to whom he owes so much, thankful for the opportunity to do something. And see how, once more, the relation between rich and poor is touched by this higher view of God as a constant and manifold Giver. Must the poor man stand aside, and see his neighbour, who has money, go before him in opportunities of doing good, in acquisition of high and refined motives and character in life? From how much does the want of money shut him out? Of how many of God's gifts does it deprive him? Of but one — ease of bodily relation toward his fellow-men, one of the most dangerous gifts that can be bestowed. Shall he stand mourning for that one, while all the time God waits to bestow character here, salvation hereafter, while moral possessions and eternal life are open to him, and means of doing good by personal growth and work which wealth can never buy are at his hand? "Thy money perish with thee." Money is perishable — in substance, form, possession. Our souls are immortal. Which shall affect the other? Shall we and our money perish together? or shall our lives, knowing our God, lift up the money by the devotion of us to whom it belongs? Shall it dazzle us with its glitter, and prevent our seeing God? or shall we save it by our power of serving God? We are the greater, surely, and to us God has opened a path out of this bondage in which earthly things are for ever holding us. Walk in it; break the chain, golden though it be, that binds our immortal souls to this earth; and seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and with that gift all other gifts shall be a blessing, and not a destruction.

(Arthur Brooks.)

Simon desired to obtain spiritual power and office, not in the Divine method, but in low, earthly ways. Money was his way because it was the one thing he valued and had to offer; but surely there are many other ways in which men may unlawfully seek for spiritual office and influence in the Church. Many a man who would never dream of offering money in order to obtain a high place in the Church, or would have been horrified at the very suggestion, has yet resorted to other methods just as effective and just as wrong. Men have sought high position by political methods. They have given their support to a political party, and have sold their talents to uphold a cause, hoping thereby to gain their ends. They may not have given gold which comes from the mint to gain spiritual position, but they have all the same given a mere human consideration, and sought by its help to obtain spiritual power; or they preach and speak and vote in Church synods and assemblies with an eye to elections to high place and dignity. An established Church, with its legally secured properties and prizes, may open a way for the exercise of simony in its grosser forms. But a free Church, with its popular assemblies, opens the way for a subtler temptation, leading men to shape their actions, to suppress their convictions, to order their votes and speeches, not as their secret conscience would direct them, but as human nature and earthly considerations would tell them was best for their future prospects.

(G. T. Stokes, D. D.)

Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter
In meditating upon the story of the Samaritan impostor, and studying our own depraved nature in it, we may remark —

I. THAT THE NATURAL HEART HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OF DIVINE THINGS.

1. According to some modern teachings, all men have a religious instinct, and worship God in some honest way, which, as He is a kind God, must be acceptable to Him. On analysis, we shall find that this is only either the action of a guilty conscience or of a poetic fancy. In the one case the man has a vague idea of retribution for his sins, and strives in some crude way to appease the offended divinity. In the other, the same disposition of mind which makes the painter and the poet makes the dreamy weaver of cobweb thoughts about the unseen. There is a desire to avert evil, and a blind ceremonial in consequence, or there is a constructive imagination indulging in its exercise.

2. But is this religion? Is this knowing and serving God? Can this satisfy the heart and purify the life? The religion of pagan nations is largely the product of this instinct. Does a comparison of these with Christian nations lead us to covet their condition? The religious instinct is of no higher character than the eating and drinking instinct, as far as true religion is concerned. They are both of the earth, earthy. Men are cut off from God by sin, and they can return only by the use of Divine means.

3. That which Simon brought out into full relief was simply the common character of the natural man. Divine things are treated with low, earthly affections, and, of course, as low, earthly things. Simon in trying to buy God's power was no worse than the many who try to buy God's pardon.

4. The prominent sinners of Scripture are only prominent by reason of their circumstances, not their sin. That is common to all. Pharaoh, Balaam, Doeg, Ananias and Simon are only types raised up high enough for all to see.

II. THAT MAN'S WICKEDNESS BEFORE GOD IS IN THE CONDITION OF HIS HEART. Men posit sin in overt acts, and fail to explore the pollution of their hearts. Our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount endeavours to correct this fatal error, and shows that the seat of murder, etc., is in the heart, and that the sins may there reside when these outward exhibitions are avoided. Simon's desire, not his request, was his sin. God saw the wickedness in his heart. He cannot allow wickedness concealed any more than wickedness in display, and can receive none except as the unholy heart is renewed. This fundamental truth is what the poets and philosophers ignore. They would reform man on the basis of the old evil heart. They would make the outer circles of life pare, and leave the core rotten. If, however, they say that the heart of man is pure, how then did it ever produce such universal impurity in life? But some will say, "We believe the heart must be renewed, but why cannot man renew it himself?" In reply, we say —

III. THAT ONLY GOD'S POWER CAN RENEW THE HEART. When the affections are in the wrong, how can their own influence take them out? Where is the first impetus to come from when that which forms the force of the life is fixed upon evil? Do you take refuge in the thought that there is some element of good in The heart, and that this at last accomplishes the renewal? Then why does it not always accomplish it? Any exceptional case destroys your theory, for Nature always works in the same way. But, besides that, how could the good element in the heart overcome the bad unless it had a majority? And if it had a majority, how came the heart ever to go wrong? No. The evil heart cannot renew itself. God alone can do that. Its condition without God is described as being in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity, wretched and helpless. The bound prisoner cannot loosen himself; another must do it. The conspicuous examples of this truth, such as the drunkard and the gambler vainly striving (in order to save their bodies or their property or their reputation) to stop their excesses, are only specimens of a universal rule.

IV. THAT THE HOPE OF MAN IS IN PRAYER. "'Pray the Lord." The "if" was not a doubt whether God would pardon if Simon prayed, but whether Simon would ever pray. Prayer must have penitence as its spirit. "Repent." It must have a deep conviction of personal sin. Simon seems to have been too far gone to have any such conviction. Hence we find him only afraid. Though Simon apparently did not take the road to pardon and to God, we see in Peter's injunction what the road is. It is prayer to God. The heart needs His forgiving grace. That grace, through Christ's sacrificial death for sin, fills the Divine reservoir, and is ready to be outpoured on every seeking soul. Prayer is that act of faith which makes the connection with this reservoir; the acceptance of the Divine power, which is waiting to be gracious to every sinner.

(H. Crosby, D. D.)

I. BY A MAN'S HEART WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND HIS PREVAILING VIEWS, DISPOSITIONS, AND DESIRES. When these are such, as his situation requires, then his heart is right in the sight of God. "Now man by sin has lost God's favour and ruined his soul. But by grace he is placed in such a situation that he may recover God's favour and save his soul. The offers of salvation are made to him. When therefore he accepts this offer, when his prevailing views, dispositions, and desires are such as, in this situation, they ought to be, then his heart is right in the sight of God.

II. WHAT ARE THE PARTICULARS IN WHICH THIS STATE OF HEART CONSISTS. When the heart is in a right state —

1. It is deeply humbled before God on account of its sinfulness. God sees that all men are great sinners, that sin is a dreadful evil. When a man, then, esteems himself to be a little sinner, or perhaps hardly a sinner at all; when he endeavours to excuse, or even to justify whatever he has done amiss, it must be clear that his heart cannot be right before God. In order to be right he must think of sin as God thinks of it, and feel his own depravity.

2. It thankfully believes in Christ for the pardon of his sins. God, who is rich in mercy, is not willing that sinners should die eternally. He hath, therefore, provided for them a way of salvation. So long, then, as a man rejects God's offers of pardon and continues at enmity with his Maker, how is it possible that his heart can be right in the sight of God? It never can be right till he obey the gospel, and comply with the terms of it. And these terms are "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."

3. It longs after holiness. God is holy and would have all men to be holy. How is it possible, then, for the heart to be right in His sight, if it does not love what He loves, and desire to be what He is?

III. THE NECESSITY OF ITS BEING SO. Till a man's heart be thus right in the sight of God —

1. He can have no interest in the promises of the gospel. Call to mind what these promises are, as well as the persons to whom they are given. "Blessed are the poor in spirit," etc. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." "Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall find mercy." "This is the promise which God hath given us, even eternal life," etc. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." "Sin shall not have dominion over you," etc. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness," etc. Now, how is it possible for a man to have any share or lot in the matter, whose heart is not right in the sight of God?

2. He cannot perform the duties of religion. This is not merely to go through the forms of religious worship. This a man may do irrespective of the state of his heart. To perform the duties of religion is to perform them in a spiritual manner, with a penitent, a believing, and an holy frame of mind. But how can this be done by those who are unhumbled in heart, who have no living faith in Christ, nor any real desire after holiness?

3. He cannot taste the pleasures of religion. Consider what they are. They spring from a sense of pardon; from God's love shed abroad in the heart; from communion with Him. Now what can the man unhumbled, unbelieving, and unholy, know of these?

4. He can have no meetness for the enjoyment of heavenly happiness in the life to come. The things which constitute the happiness of the saints in light are that they see and serve God. They are with Christ, they behold His glory, and sing His praises. But to the unhumbled, the unbelieving, and the unholy, heaven then would not be heaven. They have no taste nor meetness for it, and consequently they have no part nor lot in the matter.

(E. Cooper.)

As Sir Walter Raleigh laid his head on the block, the executioner, before lifting the dreadful axe, said, "Does your head lie right, Sir Walter?" Sir Walter turned his face to the headsman, saying, "You know, good friend, it matters-not how the head lies if the heart be right." Then he laid his head on the block, and in another moment the head of the brave man rolled on the straw of the scaffold floor. Sir Walter's last speech is an everlasting truth. Nothing comes amiss when the heart is right; but a man may have all the riches of England, yet if his heart be not right he will have fits of misery, which would make his friends avoid him if he were not rich. But you may find another man who lives at the top of a house in a back room, and chiefly on bread and weak tea; yet if that man's heart be right in the sight of God, he rejoices evermore and in everything gives thanks. Have you a right heart? If you have not, it is the cause of all your trouble; it is making your life one long toilsome weariness. The language of a wrong heart is, "Oh, dear, is it always going to be like this?" Many and many a time you may hear a wrong heart sigh, "Oh, I am so tired of my life!" Men can do great things. We can draw down electricity and send our message on its wings across the ocean in a moment. We dig down into the bowels of the earth for our light and heat; we sail on the wings of the wind; we dive to the bottom of the sea for our pearls; we make spindles to pull out and twist a thread so fine as to excel that of a spider; we put together looms to weave the most beautiful and intricate patterns: and have made a hammer which can either crack an egg, or dash a piece of steel into powder. But there is one thing we cannot do; we cannot make a human heart right. If your watch should get out of order, you know that it can be set right; but some of us have tried many years to patch up our heart; but it is the one thing which humanity cannot do; it is the act of an Almighty Being to fix aright the human heart. What a blessed position if we could say, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed!" The French have a proverb, that if a man would enjoy a happy life, he must have good digestion and a hard heart. That may be a wise worldly proverb; but I will tell you a better, that if your heart be right in the sight of God, you may have a had digestion, and yet enjoy a happy life. It is a good thing to visit the hospital and see those still, pale, painful faces, and hear some of them say, "It's all right!" What! with broken limbs, with crushed body, with cancer within and sores without, "all right"? Yes; when the heart is right with God, your life shall also be right at all times. Your heart cannot be right nor your life happy —

I. UNLESS YOU FEEL THE PRESENCE OF A LOVING, FORGIVING, AND HELPFUL GOD AT ALL TIMES. During a drought I noticed a mountain torrent pouring its stream ,of water from rock to rock. Whence this flow of water? It comes from the Creator's reservoirs inside the mountains. Kneel down, put your ear on the heather, and in the stillness of the mountain solitude you will hear the water trickling beneath from God's hidden reservoir to the torrent yonder. When the rain teems on the hills, the surface water flows into the streams, but a much larger quantity of water quietly sinks through the earth into great cisterns which God has provided there; and these cisterns pour themselves out through crevices in the rock by a natural syphon arrangement. Whenever I place my ear to the ground to listen to the quiet trickling of the underground water-supply, it reminds me of God! He is invisible, but near; and there is never a time when the flowing of His love is suspended. There are times of drought when the underground cisterns are emptied, and then, of course, if you put your ear to the mountain, you will hear no trickling of water; but there never is a time when a man can find a place in the world without God. Some people have an idea of the presence of God which they do not put into daily use. You have certain garments which you put away in summer and bring forth in winter. So, some people keep in their minds an idea of an ever-present God; but they do not make a daily practical use of this idea. When there is a fever, or a railway accident, or something terrible, they rush to their memory-box for the idea which has been kept wrapped up there, and cry, "O God, help me!" Such a life is miserable. The idea of a present God should be like garment which is always suitable and comfortable at all periods.

III. UNLESS WE KNOW THAT GOD IS NIGH AT HAND AND NOT AFAR OFF. Here is a gentle girl earning her living amongst strangers. She is much tempted in her position, and longs for help; and feeling that if she does not get it, she may fall, she goes to the telegraph office to send a message to her father far away. While she waits there, it comforts her to know that the click of the instrument is a message coming from her father, saying, "My child, keep up your heart and do your duty!" The message cheers her, but she goes away to her lonely lodging saying, "Ah, if father were only nearer." Likewise, the soul which is wearied with its trials and sins, needs a loving and forgiving God nigh at hand. A distant God cannot comfort us; we need a God to abide with us; such as we have in the heavenly Father who manifests himself to us in Jesus. See in that room, at midnight, lies a timid child, who in the darkness is afraid. But while she is trembling, she bears her father cough in the other room; and, in" a moment, the child is comforted. Likewise, when we are in the darkness of sorrow, or bereavement, or affliction unto death, we are always afraid unless we can feel that God is near. Some years ago, one of my children one night when I went to kiss her while she lay in bed, said, "Papa, are you going out to-night?" I replied, "No, dear!" She said, "What are you going to do?" I answered, "Going to write in the study." She said, "Then will you put your hat on the chair, and when I am afraid, I shall see by your hat that you are at home, with me!" So the promises of Jesus are tokens to us of our heavenly Father's love and care. But we need something nearer than the telegraph, closer than a cough in the other room, more tangible than a hat on a chair. It is comforting to have an idea of a God somewhere; but oh, how much more consoling to feel that He dwells in our heart! When we walk in a garden at night we can feel the sweet perfume of the silent flowers, and even in the darkness of night the flowers though silent speak to us. And he will probably exclaim: — "Oh, what lovely flowers; how delighted I am with this .sweet garden!" The blind man cannot see the flowers, but they speak to him with the sweet odour of their fragrance and comfort. Most of us grope through life in the dark; but as we grope, we feel at times that God is touching our spirit, and we say, "Oh, blessed fact, God is speaking to me."

III. UNLESS IT IS INSPIRED WITH LOVE TO JESUS FOR LAYING DOWN HIS LIFE ON THE CROSS. A young English nobleman, an officer in the Life Guards, was charged with the serious offence of forgery; but he was not guilty. A younger brother had done the deed; and the brave soldier took the blame on himself, and bore the burden of a guilt that was not his own. He enlisted as a private soldier under the French, who were then at war in Algeria. While there, he won the admiration of the French and the respectful fear of the Arabs. But there was one French colonel who hated him. Why? A beautiful Arab princess was taken prisoner whom the colonel seized as his victim; and the English noble. man revealing his name and rank, threatened that if the Frenchman did not act righteously towards the lady, he would expose him. The colonel yielded, and sent the princess back to her father, but, after that, he hated the English nobleman, and sought an opportunity of disgracing him. One day, the colonel taunted the noble private, and stung him so keenly that he pulled the coward from his horse and dashed him to the ground. According to French military law, there was only one verdict for such an offence — death. Now it happened that this nobleman, unknown to himself, had won the heart of a pretty French girl, a vivandiere — a woman who sells to the soldiers provisions and liquors — whom he had treated with polite kindness. When she heard that he was condemned, she galloped off to headquarters and obtained a reprieve. Away she sped with the precious pardon, and when she came near the camp, she saw the signal that the last moment had arrived. A shrill cry was heard: "Wait! in the name of France." But the stern word of command sounded out upon the silence, "Fire!" and the girl's cry came too late. But while the volley was being fired, more fleet than the bullets, she had flung her arms about him, and then turned her head backward with her brave smile as the balls pierced her own bosom. She dropped on the ground, and he caught her up, saying, "My child! they have killed you! What am I worth that you should perish for me!" Looking up quickly at the sorrowing soldiers, he exclaimed, "Oh, that you had fired one moment sooner!" She heard him, and in an unspeakable look which revealed her secret, she said, "I cannot speak as I would. But I have loved you. All is said!" Then she gave a tired sigh and the brave, loving creature lay dead in his arms with her head on his breast. He obtained his release, and his younger brother having confessed his crime, he was reinstated in his old position. Years passed away, but whenever the name was mentioned of the young creature who had lain down her life for him, he would bow his head as before some sacred thing. I have told you this touching tale in order that you may be reminded of Jesus who laid down His life for you and me. Does not your heart bow in tenderness at the sound of His name? Then consecrate your life in return for that wondrous love which bled and died to save a wretch like you. Oh, that you would believe that Jesus died for you! See, here is a boy who in the darkness of night is playing by swinging on the teagle chain of a lofty warehouse. He is swinging in and out of the top room, when suddenly the break gives way, and the chain rattles over the wheel carrying the boy quickly down. It is quite dark, and the poor boy hangs there holding on with both hands; but he is getting tired, and he fears he will be dashed to pieces in the yard below. Now one arm drops helpless, and finding his strength giving way, he shrieks in terror, and falls; but instead of being dashed to pieces, he finds that he has dropped only two or three inches from the ground! In his fright in the darkness, he feared he might fall a hundred feet, when he was really close to the ground. Likewise, some of you are in dreadful misery on account of your sins; but if you would trust Jesus, you would find yourself at liberty. Drop into His arms! He is aa near! Believe that He died instead of you. Venture to think that He really loves you. The proverb is applicable in great things as well as small. "Nothing venture, nothing have."

(W. Birch.)

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart be forgiven thee
I. THE WICKED INTENTIONS OF MEN REQUIRE PARDON. "The thought of thine heart." Simon did not obtain his wish; but it was in his heart. The essence of the sin was there. He laid the plan, and began its execution, but was foiled. Hence Peter lays stress upon what was in the man's heart. He had been received into the fellowship of the saints; but this availed nothing so long as he was in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. Something was out of order in the man, and that the main thing: "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter; for," etc. The apostle would not allow him to console his conscience with the mere circumstance that he had failed in his attempt. In the new creation the Holy Ghost, therefore, makes the heart His first care. This is the citadel, which having been captured by grace, the whole man is gained for Christ. To be clean, we must be cleansed from secret faults; and not until the thoughts of our hearts are forgiven shall we stand justified before the Lord.

II. THE MEANS BY WHICH THE WICKED ARE TO SEEK PEACE WITH GOD. "Repent... and pray." The foundation of duty and privilege in the spiritual kingdom is the blood of the Lamb, but there is another vital fact involved in our rescue from sin. It is a moral being who has sinned, and who requires the sovereign remedy of grace. The activity of his moral nature must assert itself. Though only willing in the day of God's power, he must not expect to be dragged like a stone to the fountain of cleansing, or like a brute to the altar of mercy. God's Spirit meets him in the path of sin, and this is His charge: "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness." The sacrifice of Christ has made an open door for penitence. "Him hath God exalted," etc. If the sinner repents in an evangelical manner, he will be found in Christ.

III. THE BARE POSSIBILITY OF SUCCESS SHOULD ENCOURAGE THE SINNER TO USE THIS MEANS OF GRACE. "Pray God if perhaps," etc. In what are called worldly adventures, men are not only willing, but eager, to take their chances, and though a thousand chances are against it, they bend every energy toward its attainment. Can it be that the soul is not worth a venture? "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Peter did not intend to deny the validity of the promises, or to cast doubt over the effectiveness of repentance or prayer. His misgiving arose from Simon's own state. He may have thought it highly improbable that Simon would ever become at heart a better man. In accordance with the text we sing, "Venture on Him"; but we imply no venture of risk, but one of courage. The uncertainty of your salvation is, indeed, alarming, but it lies in your neglect of the means of grace. If there were but the slightest possibility of Christ's being able to save you, it would be amazing stupidity in you to slight Him. It is not a possibility, but a certainty. "He is able also to save them to the uttermost," etc.

(H. R. Raymond, D.D.)

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity
I. THIS MAN'S STATE. In a state of nature as evidenced by his covetousness, ambition, and hypocrisy. This state is called —

1. The gall of bitterness because it is bitter(1) To God; which appears by the bitter sufferings of Christ (Isaiah 53:6; Matthew 26:38).(2) To every good man as felt in their first awakenings, bitter remorse (Matthew 26:75), bitter reflections.(2) To the impenitently wicked (Mark 9:44).

2. The bond of iniquity (Proverbs 5:22). This bond is —(1) Strong.(2) Reproachful (Proverbs 14:34).(3) Unprofitable.

II. HOW IT WAS PERCEIVED. By its fruit (Matthew 12:33, 35). A man's state may be discerned —

1. By his ignorance of Divine things.

2. By the company he keeps.

3. By the books he reads.

4. By his places of resort.

(S. Barnard.)

How true and comprehensive this description of the sinner's State! Our first parents thought the forbidden fruit of the sweetest, they found it of the bitterest, and this transgression involved in their miserable gratification involved bondage to evil. True parable and prophecy of the history of their sinful discendants. How sweet the intoxicating draught to the drunkard, but how bitter the consequences, especially the enslaved habit. So with all evil. Note here that —

I. SIN is —

1. The gall of bitterness. The term bitter is applied by us to —(l) Disappointment. When a man makes a speculation which turns out badly, or transacts business that does not pay, centres his hopes on objects which elude him, he Buffers a "bitter disappointment." Does sin turn out well? Does it pay? Has it ever fulfilled man's aspiration?(2) Hard circumstances. When a man is deplorably poor, or overtaxed, or afflicted, we say what a "bitter lot." He then surely must suffer the quintessence of bitterness who is destitute of God's riches, who groans under the devil's burdens, and who suffers from the mortal malady of sin. "The way of transgressors is hard."(3) Ruin. When a man has made his last throw and lost, when he is hopelessly bankrupt, or when he suffers the fate of a felon, we exclaim, "How bitter!" What, then, must be the feelings of a man who has gambled away his life, who has become bankrupt in morals, who has soon to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.

2. The bond of iniquity. Sin is the servitude of —

(1)The mind which it imprisons in the sphere of matter.

(2)The affections which it sets upon earthly things.

(3)The will which it paralyses for good.

II. SALVATION.

1. Sweetens every bitter lot. It brings —

(1)Pardon to the sinful.

(2)Comfort to the wretched.

(3)Rest to the burdened.

(4)Heaven.

2. Liberates the most enslaved. It gives freedom of thought, heart, and will.

(J. W. Burn.)

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