9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
Is not that parsonic aqueous manipulation of a baby's forehead a wonderful piece of sorcery or conjuration? Are not the spiritual performances of those clerical jugglers well styled "sorceries" in Apoc. 9:21; 18:23, and they themselves "sorcerers" in ch. 22:15?
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Q&A 6. Do you suppose baptism will unite an ignorant person to Christ?
No; we must believe the truth.
Q&A 7. Then it is not the mere act of immersion in water that does anything for us?
Oh no. It is its connection with our belief in the truth.
Q&A 8. But even where the truth is believed, you don't suppose there is any virtue in the water of baptism?
No; I look upon it as an act of obedience which God has appointed as the ceremony by which a believer may be united to Christ. The union I believe to be one effected in the mind of Christ and of God, as the result of their recognition of the obedience rendered.
The Good Confession
Believing that there will be a kingdom in some sense, is not believing in the Kingdom covenanted of God. No matter how many kingdoms we believe in, if we do not believe in the particular one promised, we do not believe "the exceeding great and precious promises," and are, therefore, not prepared for remission of sins in the name of the Lord Jesus.
The kingdoms of Gentilism are multitudinous, "kingdoms beyond the skies," "the kingdom of Grace," "the Church," the post-millennial kingdom," and so forth. The Gospel has nothing to do with such Gentile notions. They are the creations of the Apostacy-the vain imaginations of mens' evil and unsanctified hearts.
The kingdom we contend for, as the subject of pre-immersional faith, is no "trifle." It is God's truth, and subversive of every Gentilism extant. Suppress this monarchical truth, and the Bible is reduced to a book of Jewish Annals, moral apothegms, and proverbial sayings. The Kingdom in its proper time, place, and circumstances, or none. It is the great subject of the Bible, and the faith admits no other.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1853.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
After their decease there were none who had power, by the laying on of hands, to impart the gift.
Simon the sorcerer
His deeds were due to arts, not to spirits; and these arts were the devices of his own brain. He may have derived his cue from books; but again, these books were not spirits, nor the works of spirits.
And had his witchcraft not been an imposture, he neither would have ignored his lucrative profession by a profession of Christianity, nor would he have offered money to purchase a power he had all along pretended to manifest. Not that he had pretended to manifest the power the apostles possessed, for he did not know what that power was; but he had pretended to exercise a power of the same kind-a supernatural power-which if he had possessed, no matter where it came from, he could not have been an impostor.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, May 1869
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Those who know the Scriptures know that a man may have "believed the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ," and thereupon have been baptised, as Simon Magus was, and yet, like him, be "in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity," having "neither part not lot in the matter" (Acts viii. 13-21).
His "heart was not right in the sight of God," as Peter declared (verse 21). We know that "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. viii. 9). "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," exclaims Paul. Consequently, our legal privileges will wither to nothing, if we do not conform to the mind and spirit and heart that belong to the high calling to which we have been called.
What this mind and spirit and heart are we learn, and learn only, from the Scriptures, and from them only by the reading of them-the daily, attentive, loving reading of them, There is constant need for insistence on this. The mind of God is in the Bible, and we cannot come under its power except by daily traffic there. We easily persuade ourselves in our own creature satisfactions that a little Bible is enough, and many of us perhaps take this little at a time when it does us little good-at the end of the day, perhaps, when our force is spent, and the brain retains little susceptibility to impression.
Let us get away from this delusion. Let us realise that our warfare against the natural mind, which is native to us all, must, if it is to be a successful warfare, be an unremitting warfare. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly," is Paul's exhortation. Oh, let us obey this sound advice.
The rich in-dwelling of the word of Christ will be a constant antidote to the foolish thoughts and words of man, which are a natural heritage with us all. It will enable us to overcome in the good fight against folly and inanity. We shall find the daily reading of the word to be "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
The Christadelphian, Dec 1896.
28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
...it is worth while noticing that the man honoured thus with divine attention at the hands of Philip was found "reading the Scriptures." God has given us the Scriptures that they might be read; and in reading them, we are paying attention to him.
In honouring them, we are honouring Him; and it is a declaration of His own
"Them that honour Me, I will honour."
This is illustrated in the case of the eunuch before us. It is illustrated in many other cases.
The first presentation of the truth to the Gentiles as such was made to a man who
"feared God and gave much alms to the people and prayed to God alway."
It is written:
"They that seek me early shall find me." "If thou seek him, he will be found of thee."
The principle holds good to the present day. Men earnestly seeking God, in the right appreciation of His Sovereign greatness and their own littleness (which is not always the mood of modern "piety")-are the men who are led out of the Babylonian jungle of obfuscating modern theology, into the way of the truth-simple, pure, beautiful truth.
Sunday Morning No 185
31 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.
Philip taught the eunuch minutely (Acts viii. 35), and all that the eunuch had to do was to believe what was taught him, and signify his belief in an intelligible, however short a fashion. "Examination" would have been a farce; but there is no Philip now to teach, with divine dogmatism, so we have to "examine." The same with Cornelius: Peter was aware that he and his friends knew the truth. - (Acts x. 37), and all he had to do was to direct them how to do under an arrangement which, for the first time, admitted the Gentiles to a covenant relation with God; and all that Cornelius and his friends had to do was to obey the directions given.
Examination would have been absurd. But there is no Peter now whose word will be taken with unquestioning faith; and so we have to examine to see if people comprehend the written truth. So with Simon, the Philippian jailor, "Crispus and the many Corinthians," and every case cited.
Contending for the faith
... the gospel I preached was false, because it took people so long to get to the understanding of it; whereas, in the days of the Apostles, a few minutes, or at most an hour, was sufficient;
2. That when Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian he said nothing about the kingdom I plead for...
First, The length of time some people take to come to the understanding of what I teach, is no proof of the gospel of the kingdom I preach being false. If such an argument were to be admitted, it would militate equally against the Apostles themselves as against me; for Paul saith, that some with whom he had to do were "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
See how "slow of heart to believe" were the disciples even, who were instructed by Jesus himself for three years and a half in "the mysteries of the kingdom." It is quite a mistake to imagine that faith comes in a few minutes, or, as the phrase is, that man may "get religion" in a flash. The renewal of man's heart, after the image of Christ, which is the basis of repentance in his name, is not instantaneous on hearing the word, but a progressive change consequent on searching the Scriptures to an enlightened comprehension of them - "they searched the Scriptures, and therefore they believed."
Queen Candace's treasurer is a case far from being parallel with the little children of nine and ten years old, whom Mr. Coleman and his colleagues dipped the other day on their assenting to their question, "Do you believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God?" or with the generality of Gentiles who, by the preaching of damnation and the Devil, are scared into the water to join a church.
The Ethiopian official was either a Jew in the service of the Cushite Queen, or a proselyte of the Mosaic religion; at all events, he was a student of the Prophets... no conclusion can be deduced from the Ethiopian's case as an argument for the scripturality of the instantaneous religion-gettings of our day.
If people are long and find it difficult to comprehend me, it is not because of the intrinsic abstruseness and obscurity of the system, but because of their minds being preoccupied with all sorts of theological foolishness. It takes so much time to disabuse their minds of this, that they grow old under the sound of the truth before they can perceive what the few advocates of it are driving at.
Add to this their general indifference to religious truth, their listlessness, educational bias, and neglect of the Bible, and you need not wonder at the length of time required to open their eyes, and to bring them to the obedience of faith. If their minds were as the sensoria of little children, a simple statement of the Gospel of the kingdom, with explanations and testimonies, would do the work-they would hear with earnest attention, comprehend with facility, believe heartily, and obey.
But this is not their mental constitution. They are neither inquisitive nor industrious, but willing to expend large sums of money on hirelings to do for them their religious thinking and theatricals.
Thus the hirelings are to the professing world what the brain is to the mortal body. Repudiating Moses and the Prophets, they are necessarily ignorant of the Apostles. Hence, their thinking is "the thinking of the flesh"-the unenlightened expositors of human folly; which being congenial to mankind, their traditions run like wildfire through the community, and throw the truth and its word into the deep obscurity of the wilderness.
I have to contend against all these hindrances in my endeavors to enlighten the people; therefore my progress with them is slow, discouraging, and not always sure. Still, there is this consolation, that I am proving my own faith, and find myself in no worse a position than Noah, Elijah, and the Messiah himself, who in the days of his flesh was forsaken of all, and was denounced by those who appeared to men to be righteous, for a madman, blasphemer, devil, and perverter of the people.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1854
Some man should guide me
Dr. Thomas was a quiet, stern, firm, neatly-made gentleman with jet black beard. His companion in the pulpit gave out the hymns and offered the prayer. Dr. Thomas delivered the address. I discovered from the remarks afterwards made as the congregation were dispersing that the address was regarded as something extraordinary, and that it was on baptism. The address had not struck me at all. I was too young to receive any impression. I had in fact wearied and slept under it, and was glad when it was over.
The one thing that interested me and my brothers was the speaker's beard, which was a novelty in those days. As we went home together arm in arm, we vowed we should never shave. I had much occasion afterwards to know who this Dr. Thomas was.
My Days and My Ways Ch 1.
36 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?
6. -- What is the Solitary Man To Do?
When the inevitable course of the earnest man is adopted, and he finds himself outside the orthodox pale, the question presses, what is he to do? If he is alone, his case will be more difficult than if there are others to keep him company. His first difficulty will be about baptism. He cannot ask former associates to baptise him. They would either refuse or misconstrue his submission at their hands. He has no friend of the truth to whom he can apply for assistance; and distance may be too great an obstacle to his availing himself of the help of the nearest.
He naturally thinks it essential that he should be baptised by one already in Christ; and he is in distress that he cannot obtain the services of such. The best advice at such a stage is to let him get the help of some devout, even if unenlightened, friend to put him under the water. There have been cases where, unable to get even this help, the believer has buried himself, though this is not to be recommended.
The example of Dr. Thomas in a similar position is doubtless a good guide. He asked the assistance of a devout acquaintance, on the understanding that the participation of said acquaintance could impart no character or efficacy to the act about to be performed, which was purely an act of obedience rendered by Dr. Thomas to God, to which the acquaintenance was but mechanically accessory.
The Ecclesial Guide
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The fact is, the kingdom was the Ethiopian's hope, as it was, and continues to be, the hope of every intelligent and pious Israelite to this day. But until Philip "guided" him, he did not know who was to occupy its throne, nor upon what new conditions men might become coheirs of it. He knew, being a student of the prophets, that the Christ, who was to be Son of God and Son of David, was to sit upon the throne in Zion as King for Yahweh, but he did not know who he was.
Philip preached to him Jesus as this very person; and baptism in his name for repentance and remission of sins to every believer of Isaiah's report. And because of this, when they arrived at water on their way, he said, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip told him that nothing hindered, if he believed with all his heart; he then declared that he believed "that the Son of God is the Anointed Jesus"-τον υιον τον Θεον ειναι τον Ινσουν Ξριστον-that Jesus was he of whom the prophet spake as the Redeemer of Jerusalem, the healer of the breach, and the restorer of the paths to dwell in.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1854
As to the validity of immersion, it depends upon several things. There must first be a belief of the gospel, and, therefore, a knowledge of the "things" that go to make it up, which, in brief, may be defined as the facts-and the import of the facts-connected with Christ's first appearing and the same with regard to his second appearing; or to put it into the form adopted by Luke, in which he observes the opposite order:
"the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ."
This is the apostolic measure of preimmersional faith, and, therefore, the only safe rule to follow, in the absence of inspired guidance. If a man discover that he has been immersed in ignorance of any part of those things, he can only take the course of the friends you mention, and be re-immersed. But it requires more than knowledge to qualify for the act.
A man must be affected by his knowledge. He must be "begotten" before he can be "born of water;" and this begettal involves the embryonic impartation, by the word, to the man, of the divine likeness, in the items of wisdom, holiness, and love.
A man must become "dead to sin" before he can be "buried with Christ." He must become alive to the moral principles involved in the truth. He must be earnestly affected with a sense of his relation to the Almighty as a descendant of the condemned man, and an individual transgressor, and must realise, in some degree, the position to which he is invited by the gospel.
If he know the truth, theoretically, but is destitute of these elements of the new man's creation, his immersion is the birth of an abortion, destined to die; or, more likely still, a "still-born:"
The Christadelphian, Dec 1870
39 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.
Spontaneous and instant translation to a different location
We have the same Philip preaching it to the eunuch (Acts 8:35), and we note that the eunuch "went on his way rejoicing." What it was that made him rejoice we know when we know the Truth in its fulness. That which made the eunuch rejoice will make us rejoice if we surrender our hearts in knowledge and faith. We have just the same reason to rejoice that he had. How great that reason is, and how unjust we are to ourselves if we do not give way to it! It is not a reason that quite lays hold of our present experience. The gospel does not propose to make us the happiest of people now, that is, as regards the outward circumstances that are supposed to lead to happiness.
On the contrary, as Paul had to acknowledge,
"If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable."
Jesus also, in his invitations to association with himself, did not propose beds of ease in this present life. He said,
"Whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."
"Blessed are ye that weep now;"
"Blessed are ye that hunger now;"
"Blessed are ye that mourn;"
"Blessed are ye when men shall hate you and when they shall separate you from their company and shall reproach you and cast out your name as evil."
All Christ's representations of the state to which the Truth subjects men in the present life portrays that "great tribulation" out of which the resplendent multitude that John saw in vision had come.
It is inevitable that it should be so. The Truth is a call to self-denial on many heads. It is the discipline of self-denial that hews men into that noble shape that fits them for divine use in the Age to come.
Bro Roberts - All parts of the Truth needed.