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manifestation of himself, not ascending but ascended. Here Stephen saw him as the great "forerunner entered within the vail," whose entrance is a pledge that all his people shall be admitted there; that where the head is there the members shall be ; that the body of Christ, which is the company of all his faithful people, shall not be finally separated, but that all shall be with him where he is, there to behold his glory." It is impossible indeed for the mind to form to itself an idea more sublime than that of the ultimate re-union of the Lord with all his scattered members; yet this, glorious as is the hope that it holds out, is not, I conceive, the full object of this manifestation of Christ to Stephen. It is true he saw him in heaven in his human nature, but it is more distinctly stated that he saw him at THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD; that is in the place of authority and power, "at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him." This was the truth peculiarly cheering at that moment. Stephen was then exposed to the persecutions of an enraged multitude; the Lord's people were a little handful; it would seem as if they could be crushed at once. For Stephen himself it might suffice that the time of his own departure was at hand, and that there was such a blessed prospect before him; but he must have felt for the church that should be left; and this was the view that would cheer him, that Jesus their

2 Heb. vi. 20.

4 1 Pet. iii. 22.

3 John xvii. 24.

head was at the right hand of God, that he was there "seated until his enemies be made his footstool;"5 that he was there, not only interceding for his people as their "advocate with the Father," but that he was there as their defender. Thus Stephen saw him standing at the right hand of God, ready to execute every purpose of protection for his people; ready to withstand the adversary, "the accuser" of the brethren, and to plead his own most precious blood shed for them; and ready to overthrow and frustrate all his wiles and machinations. This great truth is the believer's confidence to this hour; and his only confidence as it regards his own sin, his own daily transgressions, his own continued and deeply lamented deadness,—that Jesus "ever liveth to make intercession for him." And it is his strength as regards the assaults of the enemy against himself personally, or against the church of Christ,-that there is an all-sufficient friend; and that, whatever he may allow, to purge and purify an individual believer or the church itself, nothing shall be permitted finally to prevail against either. "No weapon that is formed against it shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against it in judgment shall be condemned." Nor shall the fraud, or malice, or violence of the devil or man "pluck" one of his people "out of his hand."1

9

II. This full confidence then we find expressed in STEPHEN'S PRAYER.

5 Ps. cx. 1.
8 Heb. vii. 25.

61 John ii. 1.

9 Isa. liv. 17.

7 Rev. xii. 10.

1 John x. 28.

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His declaration excited still more the wrath and fury of the multitude. This is what we not uncommonly witness, that the open profession of what God permits us to see in his word elicits still more the anger of those who are opposed to the truth of God. But the believer will speak. As the psalmist said, "I believed, and therefore will I speak ;" so, whenever a suitable occasion offers, the Christian will not keep silence. And this was a suitable occasion; Stephen felt for the miserable condition of this infatuated people, and that it was his duty to bear his testi mony to the glorious and gracious support which was then vouchsafed to him. He therefore not only saw these things but proclaimed them. "And when they heard it they cried with a loud voice, and stop ped their ears;" poor deluded creatures, willing by their own exclamations to keep God's truths from reaching even their outward ears! Alas! how often do we see this, the loudest clamour raised, merely that God's message may not come unto ourselves. "But they ran upon him with one accord," (here, at all events, they were agreed, to drown the voice of conscience, and to stop the voice of him that would awaken it,) "and cast him out of the city and stoned him and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, CALLING UPON GOD, AND SAYING, LORD JESUS, RECEIVE MY SPIRIT."

This, THE PRAYER OF STEPHEN, is an important point for consideration; and, in the first instance,

2 Ps. cxvi. 10.

observe how it establishes the godhead of Jesus. None other but God is the object of prayer, and therefore Jesus is God. The offering of prayer to Jesus was the great and distinctive feature of the Christians; it was the very description of them given by a heathen. Pliny, in his official letter to the Emperor Trajan, describes them as meeting together on a stated day, and singing a hymn to Christ as God. And this is the distinction of Christians as described in the word of God. When the apostle Paul writes to the Christians at Corinth he says he not only addresses them, but those "that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord."s And thus the commission to Saul was to "bind all that call upon the name of the Lord;" and his endeavour was to "destroy" those that "call upon this name."5 There cannot be a shadow of doubt, that by this expression divine worship was intended; for we find these very words, by which prayer to God is evidently described, applied to Christ likewise. Thus in Joel ii. 32, we read that "it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered;" in which promise it is obvious that calling upon God in the way of divine worship is intended. Now, if will look to the 1st chapter of the epistle to the Romans, you will find this very expression with the same promise applied to calling upon Christ. "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart; that is the word of faith which

3 1 Cor i. 2.

4 Acts ix. 14.

5 Ibid. ix. 21.

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we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." This is an evident reference to the passage of Joel; which shows that the LORD spoken of by the prophet is the same LORD referred to by the apostle, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ; and therefore that the worship paid to him is the worship of the creature to God. This also we may be assured will ever be the actual distinction of Christians. There may be a belief in Christ; there may be an acknowledgment of him; but nothing short of this full acknowledgment constitutes a Christian, or gives any one a title to be distinguished by the name of Christ. We may believe Jesus to be a prophet, the Mahometans do as much; we may believe him to be the chief of prophets, the Socinians receive him as such; nay, we may call him the highest of created beings, even the first of the archangels, as the Arians do; but we cannot worship him ex

cept we believe him to be God.

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This is a point

of paramount importance, and the question between the true believer and those who lightly call

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