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Julian Pe

riod, 4746,

or 4747. Vulgar Æra, 33 or 34.

45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in Jerusalem. with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of 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, so do ye.

52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers perse

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 venerat-
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 their 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 Minor Prophets; on Amos v. 26. (e) De legibus Hebræorum, p. 666. (f) Selden ii. 34. (g) Lightfoot's Works, vol. viii. p. 434. (h) Origin of Pagan Idolatry, vol. ii. p. 491. (i) Faber ut sup. vol. ii. p. 86. (k) Arrangement of the Old Testament, note on the Idolatry of Jeroboam, vol. ii. p. 117.

REPROACHES THE SANHEDRIM-CHAP. IX.

63

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cuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of Jerusalem.
the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have been now
the betrayers and murderers :

53 Who have received the law by the disposition of
angels", and have not kept it.

"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 Jews founded this opinion on the use of the word x, in the Pentateuch, instead of mm; 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

-He as-עלה אצל המלאכים,also accustomed to say of Moses

cended to the angels, who neither eat nor drink, and with
whom therefore he neither ate nor drank (d.)

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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. mes-
sengers, or prophets, who successively appealed to the Jewish
Church. I would not, he observes (e), render this 'Ayyeλwv,
by the Hebrew word ', ' angels,' as the Syriac and Ara-
bic interpreters have done; but by now, messengers;' so
max mbw is "Ayyeλoç Ekkλŋoias, '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 pro-
nounced 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 εἰς διαταγας ̓Αγγελων 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 avopa, "transgression of the law," even from what they
themselves granted. As though he had said, "Ye have received
a law, which you yourselves confess, would have put men into
an angelical state; and yet you have not observed it."

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But if this clause will not bear that interpretation, it is
doubtful in what sense the word 'Ayyɛλwv must be taken; and
whether as diarayaç, 'unto the dispositions,' be the same with
dia diaraywv, or dia diarayns, by the dispositions, or disposi-
tion. That expression in Gal. iii. 19. agrees with this dia-
Tayεis de ayyeλwv, 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 pre-
sent indeed at Mount Sinai, when the law was given, 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 should understand by
angels the messengers' of God's word; his prophets and mi-
nisters. And the particle as may retain its own proper force
and virtue, that the sense may come to thus much; viz. “ ye
have received the law unto the dispositions of messengers,"
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

"i.e.

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Vulgar Era, 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 4o.

not kept the law. Ye desired prophets, and ye had them, yet
which of those prophets have 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 against 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, and 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) Hora Hebraica, vol. i. p. 738. (b) Whitby in loc. (c) Ap Critici Sacri, vol. viii. in loc. (d) Midrasch in Jalkut 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 holies to intercede for man, looked dowu from heaven, and opened the veil of the firmament, that his first martyr might gaze on his exaltation and glory. The bystanders were too much engaged with the work of destruction upon earth to look up to heaven; and even if they had so done, it is by no means certain that the appearance of the Shechinah would have been manifested to them also. It is related by St. Luke as a fact, and not as a vision; neither is it unphilosophical 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 his 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 distance is comparatively small. In the night 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

Jerusalem.

PRAYS FOR HIS MURDERERS-CHAP. IX.

65

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. Vulgar 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 himself: amidst all this waste of words (b), "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?" The Christian cannot be defrauded of his consolations by the powers of the telescope, nor the loftiest 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, annihilated. St. Stephen, 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 heathen in bondage, and deliver him from the galling tyranny of unrestrained passions.

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

(a) Psalm 1xxvii. 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 cœlis. 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
falgoris, qui oculis ipsius objectus erat.-Witsius de Prophetis in
Evang. Laudatis-Miscel. Sac. p. 322.
F

VOL. II.

Julian Pe- the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's" Jerusalem. riod, 4747. feet, whose name was Saul.

Vulgar Æra,

34.

59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit "2.

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 vɛaviokoç is used for soldiers, 2 Macc. xii. 27. or men of mature age. It corresponds also with wx, men, Josh. ii. 1. and 23; and, among the classical writers, it is used in the same manner. Kuinoel quotes Phavorinus, 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 vɛavioкoç occurs, and avno, § 11. is immediately after used as an exquivalent expression.

42 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 which 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 angelo

השכינה מקבל כפשם Osculum ; nam נשיקה mortis, sed tantum per

ipsa Shechinah animas eorum suscipit (a.)

I shall always insist, says Bishop Horsley, in his answer to Priestley, that the blessed Stephen died a martyr to the Deity of Christ. The 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 blasphemy 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 some. thing to be seen,) "and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." He saw the man Jesus in the midst of his 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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