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that was drawn by the Holy Spirit to accept the truth, and therefore to give up falsehood. How different was this from the case of Simon, whose "heart was not right in the sight of God" the application of his case we must consider separately.
Is my heart sincere in holding the opinions I do? and am I fully persuaded in my own mind that they are conformable to the truth of the Gospel, and opposed to the falsehood of worldly principles?
3. The case of Simon is most instructive in its application to the less manifest devices, not of sorcery, but of worldliness in its mode of dealing with the religion of the gospel. To worldly minds, the results of a holy walk and conversation in the professors of spiritual religion (when observed so that they cannot be denied), seem but higher attainments of the art by which they have themselves endeavoured for a long time to make their neighbours believe that they were 66 some great ones ;"-performing certain evident duties, and some occasional acts of display in goodness, which establish for them a character that their conduct is as "the power of God." It not unfrequently happens that the example of real spiritual christians induces some worldly people to adopt the profession of spiritual religion, and to strive after the same outward standard of conduct that is raised by the true children of God; but they go the wrong way to work, as Simon did, because they do not know that the power of holiness is the gift of the Spirit of God, and they attempt to produce the same results without Him. When these efforts are directed to lead others into the same delusion, and when self-mortification is exercised in order to attain to high advancement by that means (like the meritorious fasting of the Pharisees and Romanists, and the purchase of pardons by penance and large almsgiving), then it is evident that it is supposed that the gift of God may be obtained upon the same principle as Simon imagined, when he offered money to the apostles for the purchase of their power.
The mind may however be deceived and led into such a state as this, without the existence of hypocrisy, or at least
without being conscious of having put on a false appearance of religion in the beginning; yet the mixing amongst the people of God, as being such-the assuming the character of a spiritual christian without dependance upon the Holy Spirit for grace, seems to expose a person to the danger at least of finding that his heart is not right before God. This was the point of difference between Simon and his followers :-they compared evil with good and turned, as their hearts were convinced that what they had believed was evil, and what was now offered to them was good— their hearts were sincere. Simon, on the contrary retained his own notions of the benefit of his art; and valuing the gospel as a means of improvement in it, he professed to believe while his heart was unchanged on the great principle of gospel truth—the spiritual nature of divine grace in Christ: his heart therefore was not right in the sight of God—it was not sincere; therefore he had no part nor lot in the matter of salvation by the word of God. This was the turning point in his case :—with how many others will it also prove in the day of account to have been the turning point!
Is my heart right in the sight of God? Does He perceive that while I profess to be a sinner, I feel that I am so?—that while I profess to depend solely on his grace, I do not in reality rest on the merit of my own works for salvation?—that while I deny myself in some of my conduct apparently for Christ's sake, I do not consider my selfdenial as purchasing that which can only be the gift of the Holy Spirit?
4. But was not Simon sorry for his fault? Alas! how many a reprobate sinner, loving his sin and hating the power that will not tolerate it, has under reproof cried to a christian-‘Oh pray for me, that what you say may not happen to me!' This was all that Simon said; while Peter had told him to give himself to prayer, and to turn away from his wickedness. To ask for the prayers of Peter, and for the turning away of just punishment was no echo to the call for his own prayers, and for the turning away from the cause of punishment. Yet such is often
the foolish deceit with which unrepentant and worldly sinners ensnare themselves, so that a shuddering at the thought of hell is mistaken for a sorrow for sin; and a wish for the prayers of others, for a desire to pray oneself. The system of the Romanists carries out the request of Simon, rather than the rebuke of Peter; by ascribing to the purchased prayer of the priests an efficacy in removing the punishment it is their part to denounce against
Do I ever mistake the testimony of my conscience against sin, for the feeling of my heart in resisting it? or, Is my alarm at the consequences of my sins leading me to forsake them, or is it only making me desire to shun their punishment? Do I ask for the prayers of others to help my own, or to stand in the place of my own?
Oh Gracious God, who art not extreme to mark what is done amiss, and who rememberest that thy people are but dust, help me I beseech thee, to profit by the tenderness of thy past dealings with me, in reaching forward to the things that are yet before me in my christian course, so that my heart may be continually enlarged more and more with the power of increasing love. Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me, that I may reject every device of falsehood, and cleave to every principle of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Give me a single eye in thy service, and unite my heart to fear thy name that it may be right in thy sight, O God;-let the confession of my lip be ever the true voice of the feeling in my heart towards thee. Impart to me that abhorrence of sin which is the work of the Spirit who overcomes sin, and grant that the fear of condemnation may never afflict my conscience without affecting my heart. heart. Hear my prayers, O God, and put it into the hearts of those of thy people who know me, to pray for me, that we may obtain the blessing thou hast promised when even two of thy people agree as touching what they shall ask, in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour. AMEN.
May God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, give me the Holy Spirit, that I may understand this portion of His Holy Word, and profit by it.
ACTs, chap. VIII. verses 26 to 40.
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 27 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 28 Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read 29 Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, "Go near, and 30 join thyself to this chariot." And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, "Understandest thou what thou 31 readest?" And he said, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the Scripture which he read was this, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so 33 opened he not his mouth: in his humiliation his judgment was taken away and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from 34 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?" 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and 36 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 37 doth hinder me to be baptized?" And Philip said, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." And he answered and said, "I he38 lieve 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 39 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, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing, 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities till he came to Cæsarea.
After the departure of Peter and John, it pleased God to inform Philip by means of an angel, that he was to leave Samaria, to proceed upon another mission. The angel told him to set out at once, and to travel southward, until he should get to the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, a city which was in the way from Jerusalem to Egypt. The road to which Philip was directed, was one that passed through a desert part of the country. He immediately obeyed these instructions; and when he came to the part of the road pointed out by the angel, he there found a person of Ethiopia returning homeward from Jerusalem. He was an officer of high authority under the queen of the Ethiopians who was called Candace, being chief treasurer of her kingdom. He was a proselyte, that is to say, a foreigner who had joined the religion of the Jews; and as such he had gone up to Jerusalem to perform his acts of worship, and was now going back to Ethiopia. He travelled in a carriage; and as he went along he was reading from the Jewish Scriptures the prophecy of Isaiah. When this man was approaching 'where Philip was, the Holy Spirit within him bid him go up close to the open carriage. Accordingly Philip ran up to it, and heard the Ethiopian reading aloud the book of Isaiah; upon which he asked him, whether he was able to understand what he was reading. The Ethiopian replied that he did not; asking how could it be expected that he should, unless he were instructed. Probably he had but recently been. brought over to Judaism; and he manifested his desire for instruction, by calling Philip up into the carriage, and placing him by his side.
The passage in Isaiah to which he had come in his reading, was the fifty-third chapter and the 7th verse, "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. was taken away by distress and judgment, (see the margin), and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living." After reading this aloud, the Ethiopian inquired of Philip, to whom the prophet Isaiah referred by these words. Did he mean to say that he was himself brought as a lamb to the slaughter, &c.?