Acts 8:9
Simon an example of the kind of deceivers under whose spell the ancient world was taken captive. Samaria half heathen. "Salvation is of the Jews" (cf. John 4.). A striking instance showing that a dim twilight of knowledge is the condition favorable to the growth of falsehood and superstition. They would not have given heed to Simon had they studied the whole Scripture. Yet the gospel found a ready soil because the true wonders could be opposed to the false.

I. THE STATE OF THE WORLD APART FROM CHRIST. Given up to "strong delusion to believe lies."

1. Abuse of human learning and philosophy. Simon probably versed in ancient lore.

2. The distinction between sorcery and marc and true science, and the wonders of human progress, has been the fruit of Christian teaching and the development of the kingdom of God. 3. The signs of man's birthright still traceable in his degrading bondage. Subjection to the power of God. Readiness to worship. Idea of a Divine kingdom.

II. THE VICTORY OF THE TRUTH OVER THE FALSEHOOD,

1. Good tidings - liberty, peace, joy - " without money and without price."

2. Power manifested. This is the true kingdom, not such as Simon pretended to show.

3. Subjugation of all - even Simon himself. As in Egypt, the miracles of God are infinitely more wonderful than the deceits of the false teachers. So let us learn confidence in the gospel message. We may yet bring the very deceivers themselves to the feet of Christ. The world will be amazed as the gospel reveals its power. "Have faith in God." - R.







But there was a certain man called Simon
This Simon was the first heretic in the Christian Church, the first to claim its fellowship while out of sympathy with its fundamental truths. His mistakes were many and grievous.

1. He began with an unscrupulous ambition. No sooner had Peter and John begun to confer the gifts of spiritual power by the laying on of hands than Simon saw that his own juggleries were cast into the shade. All that he perceived were the outward phenomena; the inward grace did not occur to him.

2. He was guilty, thus, of utter insincerity. His pious airs and phrases, while he worshipped with the Christians, were all make-believe. His heart was wholly unchanged; he was still an unregenerate sinner, in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity.

3. He was grievously mistaken as to the purchasing power of money. He thought that money could do anything. His mind was so utterly sordid that he was as honest as he could be in proffering coin for the sovereign gifts of God. There are men in our times who seem to have a like confidence in filthy lucre. Their very souls grow yellow as they bow before their wretched golden god. They subordinate all things to persona[ gain. Friendship, beneficence, patriotism, and piety are of value only, as they can be made to serve their selfish ends.

4. He was a blasphemer. He should have been appalled at the mere thought of tampering with the influence of the Divine Spirit; but "fools rush in where angels fear to tread." God was nothing to him, and sacred things were of value only to grind at his mill. It is well that Peter and John had the courage to unmask this miserable impostor. There is no telling what harm he might have done otherwise in the early Church. As it is, he vanishes from our sight cringing under a terrific warning and whining for an intercession which, had it been offered, would have seemed to him only another of the apostles' masterly conjurations. Farewell to him! And may no disciple of his ever again pollute the pure atmosphere of the Church of God!

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

I. THE TRAITS OF A TRUE CHRISTIANITY.

1. It has growth. A true gospel has germinative power; it propagates itself; it is a seed which springs up wherever it is dropped, whether in Judea, Samaria, or Antioch.

2. It has breadth. It overcomes the prejudices of race and nation, breaks the bounds of sect, and brings Jews and Samaritans into one fellowship.

3. It has power (ver. 7). The physical miracles of the apostolic age were pictures of spiritual power in all ages. Even now the gospel drives out unclean spirits and gives power to the impotent. Men can see the results of its power though they may not understand its source.

4. It brings joy (ver. 8). Every soul truly converted tastes the joy of salvation, and is glad with an indwelling happiness.

5. It has discipline (vers. 14-16). The Church recognises a central authority, to which all its workers are loyal.

6. It has high moral standards, which are not framed to suit base natures nor influenced by worldly considerations (vers. 20-23).

II. THE TRAITS OF A FALSE CHRISTIANITY. Even in the true Church, and in its purest days, there was to be found a Simon the sorcerer.

1. The false Christianity is often concealed under the formal rites of the Church service. Outwardly Simon was a baptised member, inwardly he was a hypocrite.

2. It is revealed in the spiritual manifestations of the Church. When the Holy Ghost descends, Simon is at once detected.

3. Its spirit is that of selfish ambition, seeking for power over men rather than power with God.

4. It should be dealt with promptly, rebuked unsparingly, and should find no countenance in the Church.

5. It may find mercy and forgiveness if the false disciple will seek the Lord.

This short sketch reminds us —

1. That men in every age have been prone to deify great wickedness.

2. That great wickedness, to answer its end, has often identified itself with religion.

3. That true religion exposes all such imposture. We take Simon as the representative of wrong-heartedness.Note —

I. Its essence — covetousness. "He offered them money."In relation to this observe that —

1. It is opposed to mental improvement. It necessarily blinds the eye and limits the intellectual horizon: whereas benevolence elevates the mind, gives vastness to the view, and places every object in the full light of heaven.

2. It is condemned by moral consciousness. There is a principle within which is an infallible indicator of the soul's health, and this ever condemns covetousness, The selfish man wears out his self-respect, and stands before God and himself a wretched man.

3. It is condemned by the verdict of society. Society may flatter but it cannot respect a covetous man. Hence men assume the features and speak the language of benevolence.

4. It is incompatible with moral order. This requires one-ness, mutual attraction. But selfishness repels from one another and from God.

5. It is denounced by Scripture. Covetousness is declared to be idolatry, against which as the most revolting form of depravity the heaviest judgments are denounced.

II. ITS TENDENCY — ruin. This is no constitutional infirmity claiming palliation, but a disease of the heart. As in physics, so in morals, if the heart be wrong the most serious consequences are imminent. The text reminds us of three evils.

1. It involves the greatest sacrifice, "Thy money perish with thee." Peter took it for granted that he would perish. A good man's money lives in its .consequences.

2. It precludes an interest in religion, "Thou has neither part nor lot," etc., i.e., in Christianity with its glorious doctrines, promises, and provisions.

3. It necessitates great personal wretchedness. Covetousness is at once —

(1)A hitter "gall," and

(2)A slavish life, "bonds."

III. ITS CURE.

1. Prescribed.(1) Repentance — a change in the controlling disposition.(2) Prayer — conscious dependence upon God.(3) Forgiveness. Covetousness is a sin against God, and for it a sinner must be either forgiven or damned. Repentance and prayer are essential to pardon.

2. Ignored. Simon did not attend to the heavenly prescription. He did not repent of his sin although he deplored its consequences. lie did not pray for himself, but he asked Peter to pray for him, and not that his heart might be changed, but that the consequence of his sin might be averted. Observe the two evils ever prevalent in false religions.(1) Selfishness. To avoid misery is the leading idea in the religion of millions.(2) Proxyism. The tendency to trust others in religious matters is the foundation of all ecclesiastical imposture and the great curse of the world.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Look at —

I. THE CONDITION IN WHICH PHILIP FOUND THE CITY OF SAMARIA. You find there the condition of the whole world represented. Samaria was diseased, possessed, and deluded. These are the conditions in which Christianity has always to fight its great battle. Christianity never finds any town prepared to co-operate with it. We are none of us by nature prepared to give the Christian teacher a candid hearing. We "hate the fellow, for he never prophesies good of us." The literary lecturer pays homage to his audience, but the preacher rebukes it, humbles it. The early preachers did not trim, and balance, and smooth things. It was because they did fundamental work that they made progress so slow, but so sure. The world is —

1. Diseased — there is not a man who is thoroughly and completely well. If he suppose himself to be so, he is so only for the moment; he was ill yesterday, or will be to-morrow. You stand up in the mere mockery of strength; it is when we lie down that we assume the proper and final attitude of the body. How ill we are, what aches and pains!

2. Possessed. Possessed with demons, unclean spirits, false ideas. Why make a marvel about demoniacal possession, or push it back some twenty centuries? We are all devil-ridden. Out of Christ we are mad!

3. Deluded. Samaria was bewitched. Understand that somebody has to lead the world. In republicanism there is a sovereignty. In a mob there is a captaincy. There is only one question worth discussing so far as the future is concerned, and that is who is to rule. To-day you find men making churches for the future. You might as well make clothes for the future. My question is, who is to be the man, the life, the sovereign of the future? Christ, or Simon? As Christians we have no difficulty about the result.

II. PHILIP'S COURSE IN SAMARIA.

1. He took no notice of Simon. There are some persons who think we ought to send missionaries to argue down the infidels. Let us do nothing so foolish. There is nothing to be argued down. Argument is the weakest of all weapons. If occasion should naturally arise for the answering of some sophistical argument, avail yourselves of it, but do not imagine that Christianity has to go down to Samaria to fight a pitched battle, face to face with Simon Magus.

2. He preached Christ. Simon had been preaching himself. Philip never mentioned himself. Thus Philip did not argue down Simon, he superseded him. The daylight does not argue with the artificial light. The sun does not say, "Let us talk this matter over, thou little, beautiful, artificial jet. Let us be candid with one another, and polite to one another, and let us treat one another as gentlemen talking on equal terms. Let us thus see which of us ought to rule the earth." The sun does nothing but shine! What then! Men put the gas out! "Let your light so shine before men," etc.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

American Sunday School Times.
The phases of human conduct do little more than repeat themselves along the ages. "There is nothing new under the sun." Dugald Stewart remarks, "In reflecting on the repeated reproduction of ancient paradoxes by modern authors, one is almost tempted to suppose that human invention is limited, like a barrel-organ, to a specific number of tunes." A period of deep religious and emotional feeling is always apt to be accompanied by a superstitious and mystical craving. Stephen's martyrdom brings to light two typical characters at once; Saul with harassing persecutions, and Simon with delusions calculated to deceive even the elect, and the spurious professor was more dangerous than the violent foe. Note from the story that —

I. MERE WORKING OF WONDERS DOES NOT PROVE THAT A MAN COMES FROM GOD. For the marvellous performances may not be miracles at all. In every age founders of religious systems have attempted what silly people have accepted as veritable interpositions of God. Human credulity is swift to assert that what is mysterious is divine. So fortune-tellers, spiritualists, necromancers, and quacks have swayed men and led women captive.

II. MIRACLES ARE AT THE BEST ONLY EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY. Of themselves, they never converted a soul. The genuine wonders wrought by Philip mocked this magician; as in Moses' time, there was one supreme limit beyond which no human sleight of hand could go. Simon astonished, but Philip healed. So they left the impostor and went over to the Christian deacon in a body (ver. 12). Not that Philip was more eloquent or persuasive than Simon; not that his miracles stirred them more; but Philip preached Christ. Marvels arrest the mind, and that is in demand when audiences are dull;: but it is the Spirit of grace only who touches the heart. How curious it must have appeared to those spiritually-minded converts that Simon Magus at last came over into the Church.

III. THE BEST METHOD IN DEALING WITH ERROR IS TO PROCLAIM THE TRUTH, AND LEAVE RESULTS TO GOD. We are to advance the banner of Jesus Christ right out into the field brightly as if we trusted it, and most opponents will melt away before the mere marching of God's host, without even a skirmish (ver. 13).

IV. IT IS GENERALLY PRUDENT TO WAIT FOR A LITTLE BEFORE ADMITTING UNTESTED PERSONS INTO CHURCH MEMBERSHIP. It is a most interesting question, to be decided according to individual and local circumstances, how long one is to be delayed in ascertaining his own mind before he becomes publicly committed. These incidents are worth study in our modern times; for if the apostles could be deceived, it is possible for Church officers now.

V. GROWTH IN SPIRITUAL GRACES RENDERS ONE MORE GENTLE IN FEELING AND MORE CHARITABLE TO OTHERS (vers. 14, 15). The apostolic company at Jerusalem were glad to hear what the Lord was doing, and Peter and John went over to the scene of action, and began to pray that God would bestow the gift of His Spirit. We cannot forget that the last wish of John's concerning the Samaritans was that fire might fall on them (Luke 9:52-56). He was older now, and kinder, and gentler.

VI. ORDER OUGHT TO BE OBSERVED IN THE OFFICIAL ORGANISATION OF THE CHURCH (ver. 17). These little significant forms are not to be lightly esteemed. The people had received that gift of the Holy Ghost by which their hearts had been renewed; but not the extraordinary gift by which they could work miracles. There was no physical transmission of anything in this laying on of hands; it was a mere sign. And it is not likely that all converted persons in Samaria were endowed with this superior gift; some discrimination must have been made according to fitnesses of character or grades of office (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).

VII. EVERY SIN HAS ITS MEASURE OF DESERVED RETRIBUTION, AND MEETS ITS APPROPRIATE MONUMENT (vers. 18-20). This hypocrite's fate it has been to add a new word to our language; so, everywhere the Bible goes, that wicked thing which he did is held in everlasting remembrance.

VIII. THE ESSENCE OF A SIN RESIDES IN THE INTENTION: (ver. 22). Solemn admonition is given in the intimation that a wicked man is held responsible for his "thought" (Isaiah 55:7). Peter's expression would look like a curse, if it were not for the suggestion that repentance and prayer might yet find the door open for pardon.

IX. PROFESSION OF RELIGION IS NOT REAL PIETY.

(American Sunday School Times.)

I. HE GAVE HIMSELF OUT TO BE SOME GREAT ONE. False teachers do not seek the glory of God, but their own.

II. HE BEWITCHED THE PEOPLE. False teachers seek to dazzle by popular arts, instead of enlightening and converting.

III. HE BELIEVED, WAS BAPTIZED, AND CONTINUED WITH PHILIP. Thus the unbelieving often speak the language of Canaan, because they observe that it is effective; and contract a hypocritical bond of fellowship with the servants of God, in order to cover their foul stains with the cloak of pretended sanctity.

(K. Gerok.)

I. SIMON THE UPRIGHT.

1. As a zealous servant of his Lord whom he serves everywhere with joy, in Samaria as in Jerusalem.

2. As an earnest admonisher of sins, which he reproves with holy zeal.

3. As a faithful guide to the way of salvation by repentance and prayer, which he knew from his own experience.

II. SIMON THE IMPURE.

1. In the lying nature of his heathen magic.

2. In the hypocrisy of his deceitful Christianity.

3. In the defective nature of his superficial repentance.

(K. Gerok.)

I. THE UPRIGHT ENEMY.

II. THE FALSE FRIEND.

III. THE FAITHFUL SERVANT OF THE LORD. Each indicated according to the disposition of his heart, his manner of acting and his fate.

(K. Gerok.)

On a general view of this passage, notice —

I. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GOSPEL, MIRACLES AND THOSE OF A MERE MAGICIAN LIKE THIS SIMON.

1. Power by itself is an ambiguous sign. There are other powers in the world besides God's. Powers which have broken loose from Him, which oppose Him, and which He permits, for a time, for the trial of His people, and for the overthrow of His foes. Such a power was that exercised by this sorcerer. It came for the exaltation of a creature; to make beholders say, "This man is the great power of God." It did not come to attest anything — to say, I have a message for you from God; and if you ask how you are to know that it is from God, this is the sign. That is the true use of power, in connection with Divine truth. It ought to come as the third part of God's triple seal: first goodness, then wisdom, then power. That was the use which Jesus Christ made of power. This has never been the order of an impostor. He may astound and bewitch men with sorceries: but he will never succeed in counterfeiting those other parts of God's seal, which the truly wise will wait for before they call either him or his the great power of God.

2. We are all in danger of too much worshipping power. Money is power, and talent, and rank, and office, and knowledge. But all these are of the earth, and will perish with it. Power-worship is too often devil-worship. Let the power you worship be all God's power. You will know it by its signs; by its pointing upwards; by its drawing you towards God; by its making the unseen world real to you, and the world of show and semblance less attractive.

II. THE EXISTENCE OF A VISIBLE AS WELL AS AN INVISIBLE CHURCH. We see how men fight against this truth. Men have been weary of the formality and hypocrisy and heartlessness which had taken possession of the visible fold, and have sought to go apart with a few, of whose consistency and devotion they could be assured. But there was a Simon Magus baptized by Philip the Evangelist, and recognised as a member of the Christian community by two of the apostles themselves. "Let both grow together until the harvest," is the rule of Divine wisdom as much as of Divine forbearance. If you attempt to judge, you will err both ways: you will often be taken in by loud profession, you will oftener be driven into uncharitableness, into injury of souls. While the day of grace lasts, we must shut out from hope and from privilege no one who desires and claims either. And if others were to sit in judgment upon us, where should we be? We need patience, but we need severity too; patience from others, severity from ourselves, and a union of both from God.

III. THIS PARTICULAR SIN WHICH REQUIRES IN THE CASE BEFORE US SO STERN A REPROOF. Simon offered money to the apostles to share their gift with him. He would purchase the Holy Ghost with money. The very idea is blasphemy. The law of this land calls a particular offence, that of buying and selling sacred offices in the ministry, by a name derived from that of this man, Simony. But this is not the only nor the chief sense in which we can be guilty of the sin of Simon. Simon had that mercenary mind which St. Paul calls the root of all evil. He thought that money could do everything. He deified money. Knowing what it was to him; how he taught, practised sorcery, and aimed at popularity, and set himself up as some great one for money; he took it for granted that every one else regarded money in the same way. Alas! "let him that is without sin among you" in this matter "cast the first stone" at him! If there are none now who seek to buy God's gifts with money, at least are there not some who consent to sell their own souls for money? Oh these dishonesties in trade, in speculation, in trusts, yes, even in charity! If we really cared for God's gifts, I can even fancy that some of us might offer money for them. If we do not offer money for God's gifts, is it not because we care ten thousand times more for things which money can purchase? But I will tell you what no money can buy: it cannot buy any one of God's highest gifts; it cannot even buy health, eyesight, comeliness, affection, repose of conscience, hope in death, or a single ray of the love of God. And therefore a man who learns by long habit to think that money is everything, is as much what the Scripture calls a fool, as he is what the Scripture counts a sinner. The sin of Simon is the being altogether of the earth, and yet expecting to have heaven too. It is the bringing all that is base and mean and corruptible, and expecting to receive — not in exchange for it, but along with it — all that is spiritual and eternal and Divine. To such a spirit it may well be said, "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter," etc.

(Dean Vaughan.)

The way in which the Holy Ghost is introduced here throws light upon apostolic usages and upon problems of Christian life in all ages. Compare Acts 19:1-7, in which, however, there is a difference, inasmuch as the disciples had not advanced beyond the teaching of John. They had not so much as heard of the Holy Ghost. The Samaritans were favoured with distinctive Christian teaching and baptism, but lacked that experience which we identify with conversion, viz., the receiving of the Holy Spirit. This, alas, is not peculiar to that age. Multitudes now are Christians, and yet not Christians. Strange paradox! Many become Christians by persuasion, conform to rites, live moral lives, without attaining consciousness of Divine sonship. We are not justified in excluding such from our assemblies; but their condition is full of danger, and renders them liable to fall into the gravest sins. To all such let Simon be a warning. As to his offence, notice —

I. WHAT IT WAS.

1. An insult to God. It could not have been the unpardonable sin, however, since the apostle holds out hope of forgiveness; but it may have been one of those sins which prepare for and predispose to it.(1) It betrays a low estimate of the Holy Spirit. One who could speak as Simon did must have regarded Him very cheap! No more than a piece of sordid merchandise! Of a like character are all conceptions of monopolising spiritual privileges, of selling or buying such, or of bribing God by money, good works, etc.(2) It was a contradiction of the principle on which the gospel is based — grace not works — that no man might boast or presume. Grace is the ground not of pardon only, but of every Divine gift.

2. A desire through Christianity to aggrandise self. Spiritual life springs from, and consists in, the crucifixion of self. In Simon self was alive and rampant. With him as with so many professors it was self first and God and righteousness afterwards. Every Christian worker should examine his heart and see whether he is serving self or the Master.

II. HOW HE FELL INTO IT. This can never be fully answered; it is a part of the "mystery of iniquity." But note —

1. His previous life tended to lead him into such an error. He was a magician. One who blended the mystical doctrines of Eastern wisdom with the practice of sorcery, and prepared the way for the subsequent monstrous growths of heresy, called by the general name of Gnosticism.

2. He had not yet fully understood the gospel. Probably he had learnt only a few of its doctrines, and those only imperfectly.

3. He was inwardly a stranger to Divine grace. He had not yet been converted. This defect is at the root of most heresies.

III. ITS PUNISHMENT — destruction.

1. Imminent and impending. The sentence was not only uttered by the apostle, it was inherent in the sin itself.

2. Graciously postponed. His might have been the fate of Korah and Ananias, etc. God gave him space for repentance.

(St. J. A. Frere, M. A.)

The traffic in Church matters and spiritual gifts.

I. FROM WHAT IT PROCEEDS — a covetous and ambitious heart. As Simon was for so long held in estimation and had bewitched the people, but was now displaced by the Christian evangelists, so he now resolved to regain his old status by money. Thus have all, who by impure means attempt to force themselves into the ministry, no other designs than to serve the idols of honour, sensuality, or mammon. On this account the Church has regarded Simon as the father of heresies and the type of sectarianism; for the mainspring of almost all founders of sects is love of power, which, united with arrogance, by its audacity and hypocrisy, bewitches the people cleaving to externals.

II. WHAT IT SUPPOSES. A bitter and unrighteous heart. His heart was full of gall, i.e., envy towards the apostles, and the preference given to their preaching above his arts; of unrighteousness, for notwithstanding his Christian profession he would be no follower of the Cross, but a proud miracle worker. He apparently attached himself to the apostles, but in heart was offended at them. Hence hypocrisy. He thought to bewitch these servants of Jesus with money as he had bewitched the people with magic, and himself with honour and mammon. Consequently unrighteousness towards the apostles, and a low estimation of their office and persons. Envy and jealousy, an earthly disposition and a low estimation of the ministry and its office bearers, mark even still the followers of Simon.

III. AT WHAT IT AIMS. Not grace, but power. He did not wish to save souls by the preaching of the gospel, but only to acquire for himself a name by deeds of supernatural might. In this are all like him who desire the office but not the grace: who have in view not the service of Christ, but personal dignity and prerogative; and those, too, who are covetous of gifts for the office — learning, eloquence, etc. — but dispense with the qualification of holiness (Luke 10:20).

IV. HOW IT ACTS. Simon offered money. Few offer actual money, now, for the ministerial office, but many employ means no less base. How often must this or that patron be gained over by crooked ways 1 How often is the office converted into a marriage portion!

V. WHAT IT ENTAILS. Simon along with his wicked designs retained a slavish fear of Divine punishment. He dreads damnation but will not have salvation. So all Simonists are slaves. They carry about them an evil conscience, and can have no true freedom in their ministry.

(G. V. Lechler, D. D.)

We see here —

1. The power of ignorance. Simon used sorcery and the people were bewitched. Society in all ages is troubled by these artful characters, and strange to say people are ever ready to submit to them.

2. The power of religion. The sorcerer and his dupes believed the gospel. At dawn the unclean animals of the night flee to their dens; so gospel light chases away the morally unclean. We notice —

I. THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH TOWARDS THE UNGODLY (ver. 14). Wherever the primitive Church found a tendency toward the truth, they were ready to help. The true spirit of the gospel removes all party walls. Jew and Samaritan, black and white, etc., are all brethren according to the New Testament. Let us follow His example Who came to seek and to save the lost.

II. THE EXISTENCE OF GOOD AND EVIL IN THE CHURCH Judas was among the twelve, false teachers were at Corinth, etc., heretics abounded in the early churches, superstition was rampant in the Middle Ages, strange errors abounded in reformed communities. Why? Because of the limited knowledge of men. Christ likened His kingdom to a net full of fishes — good and bad. The Church may suspect many, but to select is dangerous, because of the imperfect knowledge of the selectors. The Church is often censured because of its imperfections, but, its enemies being witnesses, it is the best of moral schools.

III. IN THE LIFE OF MEN THERE ARE EVENTS WHICH EXHIBIT THE MASTER PRINCIPLE (ver. 18). Simon saw here an opportunity of making his fortune. A bad man may go through the routine of Christian duties, deceiving and deceived, but some event will happen which will discover the inner man. This will not be usually in great public matters, but in small things connected with the home or shop. Simon was one of those fortune hunters which are so numerous to-day, whose God is Mammon, whose Bible the Ledger, and whose creed Gain. A quite incidental circumstance, of whose issue in an opposite direction he was quite sure, found him out. Thus the devil makes fools of the wisest.

IV. WHEN THE EVIL IS FOUND OUT IT IS THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH TO REFORM IT. Peter's conduct is an example to the Church in all ages, and teaches us that church discipline should be administered —

1. Impartially. God is no respecter of persons. Simon's policy had paid him well; he was rich and powerful. But Peter cared nothing for his position. Woe to the Church which palliates evil because of the social status of the offender. Achan in the camp means disaster in the field.

2. Compassionately. Though Peter spoke the truth frankly, he opened up the path to mercy (Galatians 6:1).

V. BAD MEN WHEN DISCIPLINED WILL OFTEN HAVE THEIR OWN WAY. Peter told Simon to repent and pray, but Simon only wanted immunity from punishment in his own wicked course. So now God offers pardon on certain conditions, but men refuse the conditions, and go on pleasure seeking, mammon worshipping, hoping that at last some good man's prayer will secure mercy.

(W. A. G.)

Fish sometimes leap out of the water with great energy, but it would be foolish to conclude that they have left the liquid element for ever; in a moment they are swimming again as if they had never forsaken the stream; indeed it was but a fly that tempted them aloft, or a sudden freak: the water is still their home, sweet home. When we see long accustomed sinners making a sudden leap at religion, we may not make too sure that they are converts; perhaps some gain allures them, or sudden excitement stirs them, and if so they will be back again at their old sins. Let us hope well, trot let us not commend too soon.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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