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62

INTERRUPTION OF HIS DEFENCE-CHAP. IX.

Julian Pe 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in Jerusalem. riod, 4746, with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God or 4747. Vulgar Æra,

drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of 33 or 34. David ;

46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.

47 But Solomon built him an house.

48 Howbeit, the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,

49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool : what house will ye build me? saith the Lord : or what is the place of my rest?

50 Hath not my hand made all these things ?

SECTION XXII.
Stephen being interrupted in his Defence, reproaches the
Sanhedrim as the Murderers of their Messiah.

ACTS vii. 51-54.
51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,
ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did,

ye.
52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers perse-

so do

Selden and Beger, either to be the same as Saturn, or to be
immediately connected with him, under the appellation of
Chiun(i). He believes the origin of the notion of this star,
which was nearly the same as that of the Dioscuri, or Cabiri,
had its beginning from the traditional opinion that a star shone
during the deluge, thirty days and nights, while the waters
were increasing: for which he gives many authorities. If Mr.
Faber's hypothesis be well founded, the Israelites, in venerate
ing the god Moloch, or Remphan, imagined they were comme-
morating their ancestors, and the event of the deluge. The fact
perhaps may be as he supposes : but the motive of their conduct
can be attributed only to their carnal nature. They thrust
Moses from them, and in their hearts turned back again into
Egypt. _Idolatry not only permitted, but countenanced vice;
and the Israelites were pleased with the first apology they could
discover, for the gratification of their passions.

I have already, in another place (k) remarked the apparent
difficulty respecting the conduct of the Israelites in worshipping
the golden calf immediately after they bad left Egypt, when the
wonderful miracles which tbeir tutelar God had wrought must
have been still impressed on their minds. We learn, from this
quotation of St. Stephen, that they worshipped also the host
of heaven, and adopted many of the idolatrous rites and em-
blems of the Sabianism of the Egyptians.

(a) Vitringa Observationes Sacræ. (b) Dnbia vexata, p. 948. (c) Hale's Analysis of Chronology, vol. ii. p. 450. (d) On the Midor Prophets; on Amos v. 26. (e) De legibus Hebræorum, p: 666. (f) Selden ii. 34. (9) Lightfoot's Works, vol. viii. p. 434. (h) Origin of Pagan Idolatry, vol. ii. p. 491. (i) Faber at sap. vol. ii. p. 66. (k) Arrangement of the Old Testament, note on the Idolatry of Jeroboam, vol,

p. 117.

Julian Pe- cuted ? and they have slain them which shewed before of Jerusalem. riod, 4746, the coming of the Just One, of whom ye

have been now or 4747. Vulgar&ra,

the betrayers and murderers : 33 or 31. 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of

angels 37, and have not kept it.

37 Schoetgen (a), Whitby (b), Grotius (c), and others, would - consider this passage as referring to the attendance of the angels at the promulgation of the law on Mount Sinai. The Jows founded this opinion ou the use of the word onbx, in the Pentateuch, instead of ain'; which word, though it is a common name for God, is applied to the angels. Compare Ps. xcvii. 7. with Heb. i. 6. and Ps. viii. 6. with Heb. ii. 8. "The Jews were also accustomed to say of Moses, O'X520 byx by He ascended to the angels, who neither eat nor drink, and with whom therefore he neither ate nor drank (d.)

Parkhurst would interpret the passage with reference to the fire and lightning and thunder, which attended the giving of the law. The learned Lightfoot, however, would interpret the phrase with reference to the succession of angels, i. e. messengers, or prophets, who successively appealed to tbe Jewish Church. I would not, be observes (e), render this 'Ayyelwv, by the Hebrew word 'x'ba, angels, as the Syriac and Arabic interpreters have done; but by binibw, 'messengers ;' so pay nibw is "Ayyelog Exklnoias, 'the angel,' or 'messenger of the Church. The Jews have a trifling fiction, that those Israelites that were present at Mount Sinai, and heard the law pronounced there by God himself, should have been like angels; that they should never have begot children, nor died; but, for the time to come, should have been like to angels, had it not been for that fatal and unfortunate crime of theirs in the matter of the golden calf. If eis diarayas 'Anyelwv might admit of this passive construction, “that men might be disposed in the same predicament or state with the angels;" then I should think our blessed martyr might, in this passage, remind them of their own opinion, and the more smartly convince them of their avojila, “ transgression of the law,” even from what they themselves granted. As though be had said, “ Ye bave received a law, which you yourselves confess, would have put men into an angelical state, and yet you have not observed it."

But if this clause will not bear that interpretation, it is doubtful in what sense the word 'Ayyelwy must be taken; and whether ass dlatayas, ' unto the dispositions,' be the same with ola diaraywv, or dua diarayns, by tbe dispositions, or disposi. tion. That' expression in Gal. iii. 19. agrees with this diaTayas de ayyedwv, ordained by angels; and in both these places it would be something harsh to understand, by angel, those heavenly spirits strictly and properly so taken: for what had they to do in the disposition of the law? They were present indeed at Mount Sinai, when the law was giveo, as many places of the Holy Scriptures do witness; but then they were but present there; for we do not find that any thing farther was done or performed by them. So that the thing itself makes it necessary, that in both places we sbould understand by angels the messengers' of God's word; his prophets and ministers. And the particle es may retain its own proper force and virtue, that the sense may come to thus much ; viz. “ye have received tbe law unto the dispositions of messengers," i. e. that it should be propounded and published by ministers, prophets, and others : and that according to your own desire and wish, Exod. xx. 19. Deut. v. 25. and xviii. 15, 16, and yet ye have

64

PRAYS FOR HIS MURDERERS-CHAP. IX.

Julian Pe-
SECTION XXIII.

Jerusalem. riod, 4747. ValgarÆra, Stephen praying for his Murderers, is stoned to Death.

Acts vii. 54 to the end. viii. part of ver. 1 and 2.
54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the
heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up
stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and
Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

56 And said, Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God ".

not kept the law. Ye desired prophets, and ye had them, yet
which of those prophets bave not you persecuted ?

If the severe language of the martyred Stephen was justly
applicable to the Jews, because they rejected the testimony of
their prophets, or the law, which had been preached to them
by the angels of heaven; how much more deserving of condem-
nation must the Christian be, who rejects not only all these
evidences, but the teaching of the promised Redeemer, and his
holy apostles. Resisting the Holy Ghost was the crime of the
Jews; they refused to believe upon sufficient evidence, and per-
severed in evil agaiost reason and conscience. If we look upon
the Christian world, on every side is presented to us the same
fatal conduct. All are blessed with the knowledge of the Gospel,
and the divine evidences by which it has been established. The
grace of God is given to us. The Spirit of God has come down
to us, apd upon us. It is within and around us, appealing,
warning, reminding, entreating us, as a kind and affectionate
friend, to obey its power, to submit to its influence.

(a) Horæ Hebraicæ, vol. i. p. 738. (6) Whitby in loc. (c) Ap Critici Sacri, vol, viii. in loc. (d) Midrasch in Jalkui Simeoni, Part II. fol. 118.—2 ap Schoetgen. (e) Works, vol. viii. p. 436.

40 The great High Priest, who had passed into the holy of bolies to intercede for man, looked dowu from heaven, and opened the veil of the firmament, that his first martyr might gaze on bis exaltation and glory. The bystanders were too much engaged with the work of destruction apon earth to look up to heaven; and even if they had so done, it is by no means certain that the appearance of the Shechipah would have been manisested to them also. It is related by St. Luke as a fact, and not as a vision ; neither is it uppbilosophical to believe that He who had visibly ascended into heaven, and had promised to prepare a place there for those who love him, should impart to his holy and suffering servant, in his hour of martyrdom, a prospect of those celestial scenes to which bis spirit would soon be admitted--the exceeding great reward of the righteous.

We do not yet understand the nature of the universe of God. The blue expanse that encircles our planet on all sides, prevents us from seeing much of space in the day time. Our view is then limited to the sun, whose dista ce is comparatively small. In the nigbt our view is bounded by the magnificent fret-work, with which the God of Christianity and of creation has spangled the beautiful arch above us. The distance of the visible stars is so great, that the intellect of man is bewildered in the attempt to comprehend it. If we call in the assistance of

Julian Pe 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped Jerusalem. riod, 4747. their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. Fulgar Æra, 34.

58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the telescope, we add to our wonder and embarrassment, and when we seem to have arrived at the very verge of the visible creation, our reason still convinces us, that the telescope of the greatest power has taught us but little. The wildest flight of imagination, which delights itself with the theories of stars whose light has not yet arrived at the solar system; and of innumerable clusters of constellations, invisible to man, which extend to infinity, appears but the calm and sober effort of reason, when the subject of its thoughts is “so great a God, as our God (a)."

The Christian, however, must propose the question to bimself: amidst all this waste of words (6), “Where is the heaven of his religion? Where is the abode of the body of Christ, which visibly ascended into another place through the firmament above us ais The Christian cannot be defrauded of his consolations by the powers of the telescope, nor the lostiest flights of imagination, The God who made the noble universe, gave also Christianity to man, to direct him to an existence in a state of immortality. But if there is a state, or condition, there must also be a place, in which we shall dwell; and that place, we are repeatedly assured, is the same which the body of Christ now possesses. If St. Stephen was permitted to see the Shechinah in that place, his visual faculties must have been so strengthened that the inconceivable distance between earth and heaven was, as it were, appibilated. St. Stephon, filled with the Holy Ghost, saw, in the flesh, his blessed Redeemer. The heaven of heavens was brought near to man: and the first Christian martyr was enabled to behold it, as a pledge and earnest of his own immortal happiness; and through him a pledge to all those who by the same faith shall offer themselves living and acceptable sacrifices to God. When we consider the sublime and glorious realities to which we are destined, and the manner in which life and im. mortality have been secured to us by the crucified Saviour, the manifested God of mankind, surely we lose sight of our great and invaluable privileges, when we permit ourselves to be enthralled by the pleasures and attractions of this evil world. The faith of a Christian has done very little for man, if it does not enable him to break the chains which kept the heatben in bondage, and deliver him from the galling tyranny of unrestrained passions.

Witsius, who has permitted sew points of theology entirely to
escape him, has remarked on the circumstance of St. Stephen
seeing the heavens opened (c).

(a) Psalm lxxvii. 13.
b) Look down-thro' this wide waste of worlds,

On a poor breathing particle of dust-
Or lower--an immortal in his crimes, &c. &c.

Young's NIGHT THOUGHTS.
(c) Neque incredibile videri debet, quod is qui dedit homini soler-
tiam et artem longinquæ tanquam propiora, et parva tanquam longe
majora, telescopiorum et microscopiorum ope, oculis sistendi, Ste-
phano eam oculorum acieni dederit, ut e terra prospicere potuerit ea
quæ gererentur in coelis. Vidit autem Jesum ad dexteram Dei constitu-
tum; id est ornatum Regia, Deoque proxima, imo et Divina, Majes-
tate ac Gloria ; et fortassis etiam localiter ad dextram splendidi illius
fnlgoris, qui oculis ipsius objectus erat.-Witsius de Prophetis in
Evang. Laudatis Miscel. Sac p. 322.
VOL. II.

F

1

4

66

PRAYS FOR HIS MURDERERS-CHAP. IX. Julian Pe- the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's " Jerusalem. riod, 4747. feet, whose name was Saul. Vulgar Æra,

59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit “.

34.

,השכינה מקבל כפשם osculum
;
nam נשיקה mortis

,
sed tantum per

41. Many commentators have attempted, from a comparison of this expression with that in St. Paul's Epistle to Philemon, in which he styles himself Paul the aged, to discover the probable age of that apostle at this time. Others again think, that the latter passage ought to be rendered Paul the ambassador. No argument for the former supposition can be safely deduced from the expression here referred to, as the original word is used with great latitude. In the Septuagint, which is the best lexicon for the signification of words in the New Testament, the Greek word veaviokog is used for soldiers, 2 Macc. xii. 27. or men of mature age. It corresponds also with Divx, men, Josh. ii. 1. and 23; and, among the classical writers, it is used in the same manner. Kuinoel quotes Pbavorinus, to prove that it described any age between twenty-three and forty; and his authority is confirmed by Diogenes Laertius, 8–10. and Xenophon Cyr. viii. 3, &c. where the word veaviokog occurs, and avno, s 11. is immediately after used as an exquivalent expression.

12 That the exclamation of Stephen is sufficient to prove his belief, and the belief therefore of the early Church in the divinity of Christ, appears further from the manner in wbich the Jews were accustomed to speak of death. Their common saying was, That was the most easy death, when the Shechinah received the spirit of the just man. Schoetgen quotes Jalkut Rubeni, fol. 86. 2. Justi perfecti non moriuntur ab aogelo ipsa Shechinah animas eorum suscipit (a.)

I shall always ipsist, says Bishop Horsley, in his answer to Priestley, that the blessed Stephen died a martyr to the Deity of Christ. Tbe accusation against him was

* his speaking blasphemous things against the temple and the law.” You have forgotten to add

the charge of blasphemy “ against Moses and against God.” The blasphemy against the temple and the law, probably, consisted in a prediction, that the temple was to be destroyed, and the ritual law of course abolished. The blasphemy against Moses was, probably, his assertion that the authority of Moses was inferior to that of Christ. But what could be the blasphemy against God? what was there in the doctrine of the apostles which could be interpreted as blas. phemy against God, except it was this, that they ascribed divinity to one who had suffered publicly as a malefactor. That this was the blessed Stephen's crime none can doubt, who attends to the conclusion of the story: “He looked up stedfastly into heaven," says the inspired historian, "and saw the glory of God,” (that is, he saw the splendour of the Shechinah; for that is what is meant when the glory of God is mentioned, as somo. thing to be seen,)," and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” He saw the man Jesus in the midst of bis divine light. His declaring what he saw, the Jewish rabble understood as an assertion of the divinity of Jesus. They stopped their ears ; they overpowered his voice with their own clamours; and they hurried him out of the city, to inflict upon him the death which the law appointed for blasphemers. He died as he had lived, attesting the Deity of our crucified Master. His last breath

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