Text. — "Then laid they their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the Apostles' hands, the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me this power that on whomsoever I lay my hands he may receive the Holy Spirit. But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money. — Acts 8:17-20.

THE New Testament takes a sensible view of money. Its valne is not disparaged. Thrift is not condemned. To acquire money honestly does no violence to the spirit of the Gospel. The poor man and the man of wealth enter the Kingdom of Heaven upon precisely the same terms. Each must humble himself to the dimensions of the needle's eye.

Money has its place, a very necessary place in human society. In its proper place it is nowhere in the New Testament condemned, but praised rather. Jesus recognized in many of his sayings its value, or at least implied it, though he did not turn aside to acquire it for himself. In the parable of the Pounds, and also of the Talents, the pursuit of it is used to illustrate the method of acquiring moral values. The kingdom


of heaven is as a merchantman seeking goodly pearls. The Good Samaritan made a noble use of his money and was highly set forth for doing so by our Lord. The little company of the disciples had a treasurer. They went into the city to buy bread.

It happens that in a few instances Jesus rebuked men's greed, and sought to correct their false notions about the relative value of money. From these instances it has been in-



ferred by some that Christianity is inimical to thrift, enterprise, and material acquisition. Nothing conld be farther from the truth. Instead of despising money the New Testament stamps it as having even spiritual value. My father used to impress upon his boys that they should appreciate the " value of a dollar." What money he had came hard, as it seems to come with all farmers. When I wanted to go away to school he was fearful that I would not be economical, that I would not appreciate the value of a dollar. My father was right. A dollar has value. It has at the lowest a material


value and a young man has no right to recklessly spend it. Dollars must be earned by somebody. The fruit of honest toil is sacred. We boys used to wink at the old men talking so much about the value of a dollar. Since I have reared a family and educated children I see their point of view. I have lost my wink.

Money has a spiritual value. It is only when one is trying to make it do what it cannot do, that he runs counter to the teachings of the Master. When men carried on merchandise in the Temple precincts, when they bought and sold in the place of prayer he used severe measures. When he saw that a rich young ruler was wedded to his possessions above everything else he told him to sell all and give to the poor. This command was not in contempt of wealth. Jesus would have been the last one in the world to unload on the poor something inferior and hurtful. It was stamping money with spiritual value, for when is wealth so beautiful as when used to benefit and uplift the poor ?

The value of a dollar! Would that all men appreciated it. People spend their dollars for that which is not bread and for that which satisfieth not. The pulpit should not disdain to speak of these things. See what transmutations the dollar may undergo. We pay taxes. Where do we get more for our money? A great free country whose flag is over us all,


a city full of light and charm throwing every protection around property, health, and life, affording hospitals for the sick, charity for the poor, education for our children — these


are some of the blessings which money brings. Or, suppose a man saves his dollars and builds a home. Here his children grow up. The memories and traditions of the fireside bless them all through life. The hearthstone is God's altar, the home is a temple of his. While dollars alone cannot make a home, they do make it possible. Think you they have no spiritual value? Has not the home-builder learned the value of a dollar even as the boy or girl who wishes to turn it into an opportunity for education? Has money given to the support of a church no spiritual value? No sensible man would want to live in a community that had no church in it — even though he never darkened its door himself? I met a man recently who had given a large sum for missions and hospital work in the foreign field. He seemed very happy over it. He considered it a splendid investment. But it will bring him no returns in kind. It is a spiritual use of money. Does not this man know the value of a dollar?


I heard one man in our community, ask another how much a certain rich man recently deceased, had left. "All he had" facetiously replied the other. If so it were sad. It is a common saying that a man cannot take his money with him. I think he can. It were to upset the highest and best theory of values to say that he cannot. The mother working night and day to support a fatherless brood surely takes her money with her. Mr. Pearson, the Chicago millionaire, who in life gave away all his fortune for noble uses, surely did not die poor. Mr. Carnegie has been quoted as saying that it is a disgrace for a man to die rich. Is it not rather a disgrace for a rich man to die poor? That saying of Scripture. "We brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out," was not written of the soul.

Among the higher values of life then may be reckoned money honestly come by and worthily used.

Another thing brought out with startling effect in the text is the very fundamental value of a right heart.

Here was where Simon the Sorcerer was all wrong. He was a church member, for he had been baptized, but he had



not been converted. His heart was not right. We speak of tainted money, but we mean a tainted heart. There are some things that good money even cannot buy. Simon's money was not good money because Simon was not a good man. The taint was in him. He had gotten it by imposing upon the credulity of people. He was a sham. When Philip came speaking truth to the people Simon saw that his hold upon them was gone. But a quack is not easily put down. He watched Philip in his campaign. He fell into line and "hit the sawdust trail." Peter and John came down from Jerusalem to further enlighten and strengthen the converts. They prayed with them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. To make the occasion more impressive they used a little ceremony — they laid their hands on them and the blessing came. This was something Simon could see. The notion of cause and effect flashed into his mind at once. He thought within himself, "why could not I turn that trick?" He had money. The evangelists seemed no doubt to be in need of it. He offered them money, not as a free gift for the blessing of the Holy Spirit in his own soul, but for the power to confer it upon others. The effort to purchase a reputation for holiness by giving dollars instead of yielding up the heart did not cease with Simon the Sorcerer. Simon shot his bolt but missed the mark. He played and lost. It was an instance of money


in a wrong place. That was a very precious season among the converts. They were coming into the everlasting riches through humble faith in God, by repentance and obedience to the gospel. The atmosphere was one of deep unselfishness and sincerity. God was breathing upon them his Holy Spirit. His gifts are without price. They cannot be bought with money. I think we should still keep some high moments in the worship of the Church where the atmosphere of the occasion is not tremulous with the appeal for money.

Peter was indignant. "Thy money perish with thee." "Thy heart is not right before God." It was a terrible rebuke, sounding more like the thunders of Sinai than the gentle voice of the Nazarene. It brought the Sorcerer to his knees.


Poor men, these apostles of the kingdom were, but they scorned money in this holy service, offered to them from a wrong motive. Perhaps if the Church should sometimes rise to these heights and refuse money it would get more. How far Simon was from the spirit and blessedness of that holy hour. How far a wrong heart puts us from all that is fine


and genuine in the relations of life. An evil heart is the saddest of tragedies. It breeds increasing discord, alienation and bitterness. A wrong heart is generally very strongly wedded to money and the evil of it is that it measures everything in terms of money.

The gospel can have no effective lodgment in us until our hearts get right. Never was a more important petition sent up than that of the Psalmist, " Create in me a clean heart, God." The revised version reads, "the eyes of your heart being enlightened." All the faculties of man are heightened and made more trustworthy if the heart is pure. Judgment, understanding, feeling, imagination, all share in the marvelous strength of a good heart.

All Judas could say of the box of precious ointment poured upon the head of Christ was, "it might have been sold for three hundred shillings and given to the poor." What a blunder! Mary had just performed a service of love, and love eternal was trying to say something to each man there. It was too bad that the silence had to be broken with the words, "it might have been sold."

John explains the circumstances by saying that Judas had an evil heart. Judas was the treasurer of the band. He kept the bag. Like so many of his kind he grew to believe that the


bag could keep him. Because his heart was evil judgment was taken from him. The fact that he set a price on the gift shows a lack of the finer appreciation, for it cheapened it. All things are cheapened for the man whose heart is not right. "The man who cannot see the priceless," says Ainsworth, "is quite capable of selling it."

For all honest and clear judgment, for all appreciation of beauty aesthetic or moral, for all self-respect and spiritual


power, for the ability to look at the flowers and enjoy their fragrance, to look at the stars and be thrilled by their sublimity, to look into the faces of little children and feel no shame a pure and upright heart is absolutely indispensable.

The capacity for friendship may be included among the higher values of life, but not that inner-circle kind of friendship where congenial and selfish souls shut themselves off from others. Friendship based upon sympathy and need is what is meant, such friendship as brought these high-privileged men down to the lowly Samaritans that they might lift them up to the standard of the kingdom. True friendship gives out,


it cannot withhold. It is democratic rejoicing to help in the uplift of men. Friendship greatly stimulates the appreciation of human values. If we shun people we shall be sure to depreciate them. It may be said that men such as lawyers, physicians, officers of the law, and tradesmen do not confirm the statement that he who knows people best finds most to hope for in them. These callings by their very nature introduce their votaries to people under exceptional and sometimes disadvantageous circumstances. But it may be said that even among these the great majority are optimists. Making all allowance, they see more that is good than bad in human nature. We may still hold to the fine saying of somebody, that to know all would be to forgive all and love all.

We are all built for friendship. To forego it is to starve the soul.

To cherish it is to fill one's life with satisfaction. The prerequisites of friendship are sympathy and sincerity, sympathy to inspire and direct us, sincerity to commend us.

In this matter the spurious will not take us very far. Practicing friendship is indeed an art. To affect an interest we do not feel is not only offensive it is futile. People have a keen sense for the genuine.


Early Christianity owed no little of its popularity to the stimulus of friendship. Strangers came together and found that they were brethren. Hospitality was free and generous.


The common life was exalted. The rich and the poor commingled.

This social value cannot be overlooked in accounting for the success of the early church. Were it emphasized today the church would double its power. A cold, unsocial Church is a paradox. The Master said, ' ' I have called you friends. ' '

The intellectual powers of men are greatly heightened by the practice of friendship. It is deep calling unto deep. When one sits down to write how difficult to find a good, thought or felicitous expression. But when one sits down to write to a friend troops of gentle thoughts invest themselves on every hand with chosen words. Sometimes the atmosphere of home grows dull and heavy. The family speak to one another in monosyllables, if at all. A friend comes in, all tongues are loosened and speech is bright and gay. The world is full of interesting things. All surprise themselves by talking well.


Life is full of pleasant surprises to the friendly man. People are better than he had supposed. He finds that goodness has a way of distributing itself. He will find honor among thieves, tender charity among the debased, and chivalry among outlaws.

There are not so many thoroughly bad people. I have always wondered why Abraham failed to find even ten righteous men in Sodom. He surely did not hunt very long. There must have been enough goodness in the city to outfit ten men. Sodom ought, it seems, to have been saved.

I have known good men to fail in the exercise of the offices of friendship because in manner if not in speech they carry a sort of rebuke for those who are not up to their standard. This is unfortunate. Men should meet upon the level. One's delinquencies are sufficiently rebuked by the fact that a better man seems to take no notice of them.

It was in a way an epoch in the history of the Church when Peter and John came down to Samaria with the sanction of the Mother Church to hearten the new converts. It made them feel that they were loved and cared for. And the apostles were enlarged in heart by the contact. In fact one of the problems



of the early Church was this thing, so regnant in the Spirit of Jesns, to be friendly to those without the pale. The great need of the preacher is to know life. He cannot get it from books least of all from statistics. He must know at short range and in personal contact with it. Every preacher should compel himself to large pastoral obligations. Two preachers whom I knew, were once talking together on the public square of the town. They parted, one saying that he must get to his study and prepare for Sunday. The other said I think I will walk around the square and see if I cannot pick up a sermon. Both were right but other things being equal, the man who gets his sermon out of the people will preach to the largest congregation.

I have spoken of sincerity. It is not easy to maintain it amid all the lure of the world. " Every man" says Emerson, alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person hypocrisy begins."

Do you feel that the age is false, that plain dealing and frank speaking have given way to finesse and simulation? Why then not make it our aim to stand in true relations with others.


We have nothing to lose and every thing to gain. True friendship is possible only on condition that we do not capitulate. We show respect for others when we refuse to appear in a false light to them.

Sympathy too, conditions friendship, for without it there can be no lasting bond. Good comradeship may exist among equals marked by loyalty and disinterestedness, but the circle will be small. Sympathy leads far afield to all sorts and conditions of men. It opens doors of service in unexpected places. It helps us to see the good even when choked by evil. It interprets to us the minor chords of life's sadness and pathos. Jesus was ' ' touched with a feeling of our infirmities. ' '

The offices of friendship are among the sweetest of earth. He who fulfills them is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. The weary and heavy laden will bless him and upon whomsoever he lays hands they shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Another thing not sufficiently appreciated by the majority, is what may be called The Spiritual Sense.


Simon the Sorcerer with all his hearing of the word, and seeing of the works of Philip, quite missed the significance of it all.

He lacked the spiritual sense, the power to rightly interpret. Only after he was crushed and humiliated did the scales fall from his eyes. His penitence was genuine and touching. The last sentence from his lips, as the incident passes is full of a sweet cadence: "Pray for me." So for many of us spiritual vision comes after earthly pride is broken.

Are we cultivating the spiritual sense in our Churches? It is to be feared that the Church is too much at home with the world.

We talk about the spirit of our age, and about keeping abreast of the times. In a way there is some wisdom in this but at best it is shallow. We import the quick and snappy phrases of commerce and the street into sermons. We urge the Church to take its cue from the methods of worldy success. We seem to think that all the wisdom we need to make the Church go can be picked up in the head office of a business corporation. In the long run it will be found insufficient. The kingdom cannot be financed by method. The ranks cannot be kept filled by madness. It is not the language of the street


we need but the language of the kingdom. It is not frenzied denunciation that will carry conviction but the words of Him whose voice is as the sound and throb of many waters.

And why trail the Church along in the wake of the world's swift and changing life?

The world is not notably successful or satisfied. Modern business methods are no guarantee against failure, even in business. As a matter of fact the majority of business enterprises fail.

Does the Church sufficiently invite the confidence and hope of the burdened, the oppressed and the sorrowing? Are they not coming less and less with their confessions and difficulties ?

The lame and the broken still lie outside the beautiful gates


of the temple and ask alms. We have silver and gold, but can we heal? They do not leap and walk. Their ankle bones do not receive strength.


In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews we have a long list of men and women celebrated for their faith, in other words their spiritual sense.

They seem to have been " efficient." They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth. They were accounted anything but "practical" by their contemporaries. But of all high antiquity their names alone survive. They walked with God. Though strangers in the earth they were the only ones who never lost their way. They followed the gleam and widened the horizons of the world. To this day we who have lost our way go to them to be set right. They had the spiritual sense.

Christians must, of course, live in the world, but they should also feel at home in heavenly places. Jesus mingled with men and went into the ways of the multitude, but he was most at home on the mountain side, in the haunts of prayer, and among the sinful and suffering. The disciples may well imitate their Lord, and sense the spiritual values of life.

The Church has too much followed the fashion of the world, in methods, in speech and in spirit. Indifference is everywhere complained of. Curious and absurd cults make headway. The people have itching ears for some new thing. This proves that the Church has, at least partially lost her message.


There are some explanations for this. We are smothered with too many little enterprises clamoring for support. We exhaust ourselves in little forays of reform but fight no great battle.

Instead of feeding the sheep the preacher must always be shearing them.

Our songs are strident with mock heroics, and our prayers rap the delinquents.

We have fallen into careless and misguided methods.

Worship should be calm, reverent and thoughtful. The sense of the spiritual values are best developed by indirection and in an atmosphere of contemplation.


We must rise to an intellectual grasp of truth. We are not loving God with all our minds. Our eyes are not dazzled by the ways of the Infinite. We are lost in! the littleness of things It is hard to grasp and hold the vision of God. We trust altogether to the emotional. All our enterprises and plans spring out of emotional hours, often purposely prearranged. We


hurry them to completion ere the tide is lost. We are afraid of deliberation. Our specious enthusiasms melt away in hours of calm. A Catholic priest said, "I read the Church advertisements and see that you protestants are screaming for a big audience next Sunday. We Catholics are slower, we want a big audience in the next generation. We do not care so much about next Sunday. ' ' Thus speaks Rome with the wisdom of a thousand years.

The spiritual sense will in time perish unless encouraged and fed by great ideals of which the mind can take hold. We ruin things by hurry.

These which have been enumerated are some of the spiritual values of life. They seem to me most worth while. We all desire to get the most possible out of life. Jesus himself was very particular about values. He saw that most people were getting a bad bargain in life. He came to show them the true values. He asks no one to become poorer. He desires to enrich all. Alas, there are some whom the wealth he speaks of, will never satisfy.





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