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rather, that is risen again, who is even at the me first Jesus Christ might show forth all
This vision he immediately makes known. Stoning was a painful, a dreadful death. This shows the animating impression it pro- Who can think of it without shuddering ?duced upon his mind. And it may also be The flesh bruised, the bones broken, the skull considered as a testimony borne to the cause fractured perhaps in several places, before the for which he was going to die. “ You con- soul escapes ! But how died he, morally ? demn me for saying that he whom you cruci- This is the question. Archbishop Usher said, fied lives and reigns above. But I see him. he hoped to die with the language of the There he is. “Behold, I see the heavens publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner;"
. opened, and the Son of man standing on the and his wish was indulged. The devotional right hand of God.'”
Mrs. Rowe was found dead on her knees. Their fury now can no longer be restrained. And “ blessed is that servant, whom his Lord " Then they cried out with a loud voice, and when he cometh shall find so doing.” Stestopped their ears, and ran upon him with one phen died “calling upon God." And the two accord, and cast him out of the city, and petitions he offered are recorded. stoned him." Yet in this infamous transac- The first regards himself. “ Lord Jesus, tion, they pay some regard to the forms of receive my spirit.” Some people are afraid justice. They do this, pretendedly, in execu- to honour the Son as they honour the Father. tion of a law enacted by Moses against blas- But we are commanded to do this. And we phemers. In this law, the “hands of the have here an instance of it; a prayer adwitnesses” were to be first upon the offender dressed to oạr Saviour, and by a man who to put hiin to death, and afterward the hands was in circumstances to render his example of all the people. This circumstance explains unexceptionable; full of the Holy Ghost, and what is here added—“the witnesses laid down dying too. What does this prayer teach us ! their clothes at a young man's feet, whose It teaches us that there is a separate state name was Saul.”
between death and the resurrection. Had Here first comes in view an individual Stephen believed that the soul would either destined to be the most extraordinary charac- die or sleep with the body, would he have ter in the Church of God. Had a prophet uttered such language as this; “ Lord Jesus, stood near on this occasion and said, “Ah! receive my spirit ?" Saul, you will by-and-by be stoned for the It teaches us that Stephen considered our same profession, and die a martyr in the same Saviour as the Lord of glory, and as possesscause;" he would have been filled with sur-ing supreme power and authority in the other prise and indignation, and have exclaimed, world. “I know," as if he had said, “whom “What! is thy servant a dog, that he should I have believed, and am persuaded that he is do this thing?" O how wonderful are the able to keep that which I have committed to ways of Divine Providence !—God had his him against that day." eye upon him at this hour: he had watched It shows us that Stephen was principally over him through life; he had separated him concerned for the security and welfare of his from his mother's womb; and all this with a soul. He thought little of the body. The view to call him by his grace, and reveal his reverse of this is commonly the case. The Son in him. He was a chosen vessel unto body engrosses all the attention. There are him, to bear his name before the Gentiles, many who even seem to die as regardless of and kings, and the children of Israel. For a their souls as if they had none. They only time Saul seemed beyond the possibility of a think and talk of the physician and lawyer; reclaim. Even those who had experienced of their disorder and their temporal conthe efficacy of divine grace themselves, cerns. One is sometimes surprised to hear seemed unanimously to have despaired of him. with what coinposure persons who cannot When they heard of his conversion, they possibly possess a good hope through grace were astonished even to incredulity; and speak of their dissolution ; and arrange the when he assayed to join himself to them, they circumstances of their funeral. You would were afraid of him. Let us despair of none. conclude they had no souls to be disposed of He has a mighty arm; strong is his hand, and or provided for. Not a word escapes them high is his right hand. “I obtained mercy," concerning these! But the soul is the man. says this monument of divine grace, " that in This is the inmaterial, the immortal part
What is a man profited, if he shall gain actuates the Master and his disciples. The the whole world, and lose his own soul ? or difference only lies here: he received the what shall a man give in exchange for his Spirit without measure, while we possess it soul?" Oh! says the Christian, I feel com- in a limited degree. In him the exercise of paratively indifferent as to the destiny of my it met with no counteracting depravity; but body. Let wild beasts devour it; let the in us it is resisted by adverse powers: and flames consume it, let the winds scatter it- hence a perpetual warfare; " the flesh lustif I may but conclude that my soul shall be ing against the Spirit, and the Spirit against saved in the day of the Lord Jesus !
the flesh: and these are contrary the one to And, be it remembered, this is his concern the other: so that we cannot do the things in life as well as in death. From the hour that we would.” But, if we have not the of his conviction, the chief inquiry with him Spirit of Christ, we are none of his. The has been, not what shall I eat, or what shall same principles that resided in him must be I drink, or wherewithal shall I be clothed? found in us; and as far as they prevail, they - But, “ what must I do to be saved ?" will produce the same effect. How are my sins to be pardoned? How to Having said this," he fell asleep." Sleep be subdued ?-Is this your concern ?-If he has nothing formidable in it. A weary man, does not receive your departing spirits at after a day of toil, feels no reluctance to lie death, they will be seized by the powers of down in his bed. The disease of the babe darkness, and become the prey of devils. awakens all the anxiety of the mother, and But if you receive him in life, he will receive she cries, " Let me not see the death of the you at death; receive you to glory; receive child;" but it is otherwise when she views you to himself
, that where he is there you him asleep. She knows that it is her may be also.
power to awake him at pleasure; and to emOh! that when we come to die we may brace him refreshed and improved. And feel the sentiments of Stephen, and be able this is the soft representation given of the to say, “ Lord Jesus,
believer's death in the Scriptures; and it is " Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot,
so essentially just, that we here find a death And cut up all my follies by the root,
of violence and anguish expressed by it. I never trusted in an arm but thine,
When David had served his generation, he Nor hoped but in thy righteousness divine.”
“ fell asleep"—but he died in a palace, in a Thou art all my salvation and all my desire. fine bed, and surrounded with every indulIn every difficulty thou hast been my guide ; gence. Stephen dies under a shower of in every danger my refuge; in every dis- stones; but he, even he fell asleep! tress my consolation. My happiest moments I see his body left on the ground, mangled have been passed in communion with thee. with blows, and covered with gore. But let I cannot look back upon a well-spent life. it not be despised. That body is the workEvery view I take of myself is humbling. manship of God: it is the purchase of the But I review with thankfulness the instances Redeemer; it is the temple of the Holy of thy goodness. By thy grace I am what Ghost; it shall be renewed, and fashioned I am. And now I come to thee; and this like the Saviour's own glorious body.--Acsoul of mine, which thou hast redeemed with cordingly we find that “devout men carried thy blood, and won by thy love, I surrender. Stephen-10 his burial," says our translation;
but this is not in the original : they carried " A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On thy kind arm I fali;
him from the place of execution to his house, Be Thou my strength and righteousness, and from his house to his grave; "and made My Jesus and my all."
great lamentation over him." The second petition regards his enemies; Honour is to be valued according to the and seems to have been offered up with pe- quarter whence it comes. Who would like culiar solemnity and earnestness : for he now to be deemed the favourite of Satan! And “ kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, why should we wish to be admired and Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”. Be- caressed by the world—the very world that hold here a proof of the grandeur of soul real“ crucified the Lord of glory," when he was religion inspires: " It is the glory of a man to on earth; and would willingly do it again! pass by a transgression.” Behold an exam- You do not wish to stand high in the estimaple of obedience to a command, which infi- tion of vagrants, traitors, idiots, and madmen dels have ridiculed, and which thousands —and what, as to religious concerns, are look upon to be impracticable: " I say unto numbers better—and yet how many things you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you often conceal, or sacrifice, or pursue, to you, do good to them that hate you, and pray gain their favour! But “ devout men;" for them which despitefully use you, and the saints that are in the earth”-these persecute you.” Behold an instance of con- are “the excellent, in whom is all my delight.” formity to the temper of a dying Saviour, To belong to them; to hear them coming who prayed, “ Father, forgive them, for they around me and saying, “ My brother;" for know not what they do.” The same spirit them to rejoice when I rejoice, and to weep
when I weep; to be loved and esteemed by a character! Who would not rather baye them in life, in death ;-this is delightful; it been in the condition of the martyr than of is, to use the words of a beautiful writer, the persecutor! Surely his enemies were “ like walking in an eastern spice grove." compelled to venerate him, and inwardly to
And such were the men who testified their pray, “Let me die the death of the righteous, regard to Stephen; and bedewed his sepul- and let my last end be like his!" chre with their tears. In no other way could We may be losers, says Mr. Henry, in the they mourn for him. They knew that death service of God, but we cannot be losers by it was his gain; but it was their loss. And the And says our Saviour, “ There is no man removal of such a man is a loss; a loss to that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, the world, and a loss to the Church : the loss or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's of a protector, an intercessor, a benefactor, sake, who shall not receive manifold more in an example. As they retire, we feel the this present time, and in the world to come earth poorer; and if all of them were with life everlasting." drawn, who would wish to live here another Though he does not crown his servants ca day! Our world would be a cage of unclean this side Jordan, he owns them: and he will birds, a den of dragons, an emblem of hell. be sure to stand by those that stand by him. Oh! how the death of such a friend “cools The world may frown upon them, but he will our brainless ardours !" How it detaches smile. They may be reproached and “perseus from
cuted for righteousness' sake;" but he is near
that justifieth them;" and " he that toucbeth "These low grounds where sorrows grow, And every pleasure dies !"
them, toucheth the apple of his eye." They How it induces us to say, with Thomas, tive trials; but he will be with them in
may expect a succession of personal and rela“ Let us go away, that we may die with trouble," and deliver them and honour them. him!"
They must die; but they need not shudder Do we pass through the world so as to at the approaching event. He will be the draw forth the blessings while they live, and strength of their heart, and their portion for the tears of many when we die! Are tyran- ever," when every worldly resource fails nical masters, are selfish neighbours, are As “the earthly house of this tabernacle dis hard-hearted and close-fisted professors of re- solves, they will have a building of God, a ligion thus lamented ?—" When the wicked house not made with hands, eternal in the perish,” says Solomon, there is shouting.” heavens.” Though invisible to the eye of -This is dreadful.-For a man to think that there is no individual upon earth that wishes within the vail; yea, by faith “ they see the
sense, they know that he is pleading for them his continuance; that if he were removed, heavens opened, and the Son of man standno one being would sigh; and could, he en- ing at the right hand of God.” And while deavour to come back, he would find the door looking down upon them, though inaudible of life bolted against him—why there is some to the ear of sense, by faith they hear his thing in this more chilling than death, and more voice saying, “ Be thou faithful unto death, cruel than the grave. And yet how many and I will give thee a crown of life!" are there, who, if they were carried to their burial to-morrow, would excite no lamentation over them-unless indeed a lamentation that they had not died sooner.
DISCOURSE LXVII. would be ready to say—“ O that the wretch had died before: by his wanton speculations he had ruined the substance that was to rear
A CHRISTIAN IS NOT A FAVOURITE my babes.” Another—" ( that the wretch
WITH THE WORLD. had died before he had seduced my daughter, the glory of my family.” A third-- () that Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ the wretch had died before, by his infidel Jesus shall suffer persecution.—2 Tim, üii. 12. principles he had poisoned the mind of my Who can help admiring the frankness of darling son."
the Scripture ! Let us hasten to conclude by inquiring- We find nothing like this in the methods Whether an inflexible adherence to the employed by the enemy of our souls. He cause of God be not wisdom; and whether deceives in order to destroy. He keeps his wisdom be not justified of all her children ?-- followers in ignorance. He allures them on How amply was Stephen indemnified by the by flatteries and lies. He conceals from them glory he immediately enjoyed in heaven-by the dreadfulness of the end, and the hardthe usefulness which his example has pro- ships of the way: he cries, “Peace, peace; duced on earth-by the testimony of Divine when there is no peace.” approbation—by the satisfaction of his own But the Gospel hides nothing. It shows us mind!
the difficulties as well as the enjoyments of Who could help feeling interested in such I religion; the sacrifices it requires, as well as
the rewards it insures. Now this is perfectly, ted by the grace of Jesus Christ-And to just; and it is every way profitable. It serves depend on the mediation of Jesus Christ. to discriminate between the false, the timid, We cannot live godly in Christ Jesus, unthe worldly-minded; and those who are in less we are influenced by “ the revelation" earnest; those who know that they must of Jesus Christ. “No man hath seen God at advance or perish, and who will not flinch any time; the only begotten Son, which is in whatever they may feel. It also prevents the bosom of the Father, he hath declared surprise and confusion when the evil day him:” and he hath declared him in such a comes; and keeps us from being discouraged manner as he was never known before. He because of the way. Yea, it even tends to has displayed him not only as making the confirm and establish our faith and hope, by world, but as “reconciling the world unto showing us in ourselves the truth of God's himself, not imputing their trespasses unto word, and the experience of his people. them.” Hence we are to go to him, not as
Upon this principle is founded the declara- innocent creatures, but as guilty ; feeling our tion of the Apostle, in which, having mention- need of redemption, and exercising faith on ed the sufferings he had himself endured, he him “who suffered, the just for the unjust, adds, “ To suffer is not peculiar to me: let that he might bring us unto God.”—He has my son Timothy, and believers universally displayed him more affectionately; as reckon upon the same treatment: the cup is God of all grace,” as “the Father of mercommon to all, though some are called to cies;" as love itself. Hence we are to drink a larger draught of it: *Yea, and all him as children, not slaves; “ receiving not that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall the spirit of bondage again to fear; but the suffer persecution.” In these words let us Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba consider two things.
Father.” Shall I say he has revealed him 1. THE LIFE THEY DESCRIBE. II. The after a more spiritual manner; as looking at CONDITION THEY ANNOUNCE.
the heart, and not attaching himself to par1 THE LIFE THEY DESCRIBE. It may be ticular places and forms? He has: and at taken with two distinctions.
the same time taught us the use we are to First. It is not merely a moral life, but a make of it. “ The hour cometh, and now is, godly one. The religion of many people when the true worshippers shall worship consists only in certain regards to their fellow- the Father in spirit and in truth: for the creatures, and if they “ do justly,” and “love Father seeketh such to worship him. God is mercy," they are not concerned to " walk a Spirit: and they that worship him must humbly with their God.” We by no means worship him in spirit and in truth.” depreciate morality. The Gospel demands We cannot live godly in Christ Jesus, unit; and makes provision for it. A man can- less we are conformed to the example of not be religious without being moral ; but he Jesus Christ. His godliness was not only may be moral without being religious. It is real, but perfect. His soul was full of God; well to be a good master, a good neighbour, all his actions, words, and purposes referred a good subject—but how are you disposed entirely to him. He trusted in God, and towards God? Are you honest? Are you never desponded under the darkest dispensaliberal? It is well. But I have another tions: “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now question to ask. Are you "renewed in the come, that ye shall be scattered, every man spirit of your minds ?" Are you holy? Are to his own, and shall leave me alone: and you godly?-Nothing but that disposition yet I am not alone, because the Father is towards God, which is implied in godliness, with me.” He loved him supremely: nor can give principle to our actions; induce us was this love cooled by the dreadful sufferto avoid every sin however secret; engage ings he was appointed to endure. Instead us to make conscience of every duty how- of avoiding his tremendous passion, he went ever private; and carry us through every dis- forth to meet it, and said, “That the world couragement that lies in the way everlasting. may know that I love the Father; and as the Virtue without godliness may gain us a fair Father gave me commandment, even so I character among men, and variously subserve do. Arise, let us go hence.”. His devotedour temporal advantage; but whatever it may ness to his honour was invariable: "I seek do for us as to this world, it will not be suf- not mine own glory, but the glory of him ficient with regard to another.
that sent me. My meat is to do the will of Secondly. st is not merely a godly life, him that sent me, and to finish his work." but a Christian one. We are not only to live His attachment to his worship was so great, godly, but to live godly “ in Christ Jesus.” that he could say, “The zeal of thine house This is a very interesting addition, and it will hath eaten me up." How often do we read be necessary to examine it.- What is it to of his devotion ! He prayed in the wilderlive godly " in Christ Jesus?" It is in all our ness. He prayed in the garden. He rose religious concerns-To be governed by the up a great while before day, and went out, revelation of Jesus Christ–To be conformed and departed into a solitary place, and there to the example of Jesus Christ–To be actua-prayed. He went up into a mountain, and
continued all night in prayer to God. It is humble him as much as his week-days. He impossible for us, while encompassed with even looks off from his holy things, to find a infirmities, to equal him: but we must re- better foundation to rely upon; a better semble him. “ He that saith he abideth in righteousness to appear in before God. And him ought himself also to walk even as he where is this to be found? He has boldness walked." If any man have not the Spirit and access with confidence, by the faith of of Christ, he is none of his.” He had the Him who was delivered for our offences, and Spirit without measure; but the same mind raised again for our justification, and ever must be in us which was also in Christ Jesus. lives to make intercession for us. He is the
We cannot live godly in Christ Jesus, un- great High Priest over the house of God; he less we are actuated by the grace of Jesus represents and introduces us; and we are Christ. It is a truth taught us in the Scrip- accepted in the Beloved.” ture, and of which we need to be constantly II. Let us attend to the CONDITION these reminded, that " from him is our fruit found.” words announce, as the consequence of the Though we bear it, he enables us to yield it. life they describe. Yea, and all that will live "We live; yet not we, but Christ liveth in godly in Christ Jesus “shall suffer persecuus: and the life that we live in the flesh we tion.' live by the faith of the Son of God.” Does the This doctrine is frequently observable in branch flourish independently of the tree, or the Scripture. Our Lord preached it to his by means of the sap derived by union from it? immediate disciples when he said, “In the “ As the branch," says the Saviour, “cannot world ye shall have tribulation.” It is strong. bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; ly implied in the declaration, “ If no more can ye except ye abide in me: for will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and without me ye can do nothing."
take up his cross, and follow me." It is reThe engagements to which we are called cognised even in the promise, “ There is no in the Scripture, seem fitter for angels than man that hath left house, or brethren, or sis for frail and depraved men. How are they to ters, or father, or mother, or wife, or child. be accomplished-how are these enemies to ren, or lands, for my sake, and the Gospel's, be conquered-how are these trials to be but he shall receive an hundredfold now in borne-how are these duties to be perform- this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, ed? How are we to live with our conver- and mothers, and children, and lands, with sation in heaven;" to walk by faith, and not persecutions; and in the world to come eterby sight;" to " forgive those that trespass nal life.” Paul held the same sentiment; and, against us until seventy times seven ?” Who therefore, as he visited the churches, he not would not shrink back, and lie down in de- only exhorted them to continue in the faith, spair, but for the voice that cries, “ My grace but reminded them that “they must, through is sufficient for thee: for my strength is much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of made perfect in weakness ?" The charge of God.” Suffering in the Christian life be alenthusiasm has been frequently advanced ways takes for granted: “If children, then against this doctrine--but would it not be heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with easy and just to retort the charge? What Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, enthusiasm is like that which expects such that we may be also glorified together." mighty effects without an adequate cause ? Events perfectly answered to these intimaUpon our principle, a Christian has a re- tions. In the Acts of the Apostles we see source equal to all the claims of his high call- what Christians endured from Jews and Gening; and may without presumption say, “I tiles, priests and people; and history spreads know both how to be abased, and I know how before us examples of the same truth in to abound: every where and in all things I every successive period. am instructed both to be full and to be hun- But how is this !' It seems wonderful, it gry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can not incredible, that persons whose lives are do all things throngh Christ who strengthen- harmless
, and hoły, and passed in endeavours eth me."
to do good, should experience treatment like We cannot live godly in Christ Jesus, this. "But the wonder ceases if we observe unless we depend on the mediation of Jesus That ever since the Fall there has been Christ. There are many who find it an easy an irreconcilable enmity between the “ seed of thing to hope in God: they confidently pre- the woman and the seed of the serpent;" that sume on the acceptance of their perform- “ man being alienated from the life of God," ances; and seem even to challenge a reward. loves nothing that reminds him of God, or that But it is otherwise with a Christian. He resembles him; that the tempers and actions sees, he feels the poverty and unworthiness of the righteous necessarily reprove and up of his duties. He confesses that when he has braid the wicked; that their endeavours to save, done all, he is an unprofitable servant; and disturb them in their sins; that the Gospel con instead of being recompensed for the excel- demns the worldly as well as the vicious
, and lences of his obedience, he wonders that he the formal, as well as the negligent; that as is not rejected for its defects. His sabbaths there is nothing in Christianity that flatters sin,