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P. 1
The Prayer of Stephen.

The Prayer of Stephen.

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Published by glennpease
Friedrich, Schleiermacher 1768-1834.



{Fifth Sunday after Trinity 1832.)

Text : Acts vii. 60. " And Stephen kneeled down and cried with,
a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he
had said this, he fell asleep."
Friedrich, Schleiermacher 1768-1834.



{Fifth Sunday after Trinity 1832.)

Text : Acts vii. 60. " And Stephen kneeled down and cried with,
a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he
had said this, he fell asleep."

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 30, 2013
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THE PRAYER OF STEPHE.Friedrich, Schleiermacher 1768-1834.{Fifth Sunday after Trinity 1832.)Text : Acts vii. 60. " And Stephen kneeled down and cried with,a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when hehad said this, he fell asleep."FEEE and unrestricted as we are in our church as to ourchoice of subjects for meditation from the treasuries of the divine Word, many of you may still perhaps wonderwhy I have selected this passage. For you are aware that Ihave often lately taken occasion to express the opinion thatthe state of things brought before us in this narrative nolonger exists in our times : that when people boast of havinghad to bear sufferings for Christ's sake, it has usually beenonly a self-deception on their part ; for when the thing hasbeen more closely looked into, either it has been found to beno suffering at all, judged by the ordinary measure of humanlife ; or, if it was real suffering, then it was not for Christ'ssake, but for the sake of some man's system or opinion.But all Scripture given by God is profitable for doctrine andinstruction in righteousness ; and there is no part of it,however slight its direct bearing on our circumstances maybe, about which that statement does not always hold good ;and that, without our having to wander into applications of the words widely different from the direct meaning of thewriters. Therefore, with this belief, we will take to-day, asthe subject of our devout meditations, this prayer of Stephenin its various aspects.s. s. ^®° 25386 THE PEAYER OF STEPHE.
 
I. I shall call your attention first to the thought that mostdeeply touches and stirs our feelings, that we may then beable to take a calmer view of other points, — the thought,namely, that these words are the prayer of a dying man.And it is the utterance, not of one who was merely ex-periencing the common lot of men, but of one who was dyingfor the Saviour's sake, and for the confession of His name, — the prajT-er of him who was, after the Saviour Himself, thefirst martyr in the Christian Church.What a joyful thing it is to think of these words in theiroriginal connection ! how immediately and vividly theyrecall to us those words which they so closely resemble, thewords of the Saviour on the cross ; Father, forgive them, forthey know not what they do ! And yet we do not evenknow if he who uttered them had ever heard of those wordsof the Saviour ; for it was not until later that the plan sorich in blessing to believers was systematically set about, of collecting and handing down the sayings of the Lord, so thatevery one might easily acquire a knowledge of the mostimportant of them. But if Stephen had not heard them, itonly proves the more certainly that the same Spirit who hadspoken in the Master was speaking in the disciple. Andbecause this Spirit has never since that time been withdrawnfrom the Christian Church, because it is He who is thesource of all good gifts, of all words and deeds that tend tothe advancement of the kingdom of God, we may all claimthis utterance as our own. For remember the words of theapostle, that " all things are ours,"— each individual with hisgifts and his works,— so that in the Church of God everydeed pleasing to Him is not only a common benefit, butsomething that all, as members of one body, may appropriateas their own. And how often may similar prayers havegone up inaudibly from the hearts of those who followed thefirst preachers of the gospel on this thorny path ! For howmuch precious blood was poured out in later times through
 
THE PRAYER OF STEPHE. 387this same animosity of men against the greatest proof of goodwill that God had ever shown them ! And how could itbut be that in those who were impelled by the same feeling tobrave such dangers and sufferings, the same Spirit should stirtheir hearts and speak through their lips in a similar way ?But now that the Christian faith is enthroned in so manynations ; now that, ready as the heart of man would still beto rise against the name of the Lord and to fight against itwith the sword of earthly power, none are tempted to do so,because there would be no chance of success ; now thatthrough the increase of intellectual gifts and the manifoldoutward blessings produced by the beneficent spirit of Christianity wherever it has reached, the Christian nationsmaintain so clear a supremacy over all others ; — whence nowshould come any such sufferings for the Saviour's sake?The more remote from us those times become, the more rarebecome such instances of persecution. Christians themselveshave indeed sometimes been found in fierce antagonismagainst each other, each party sure that truth and pure loveto the Saviour are on his own side ; while their party feelingmakes all real knowledge and perception of His teachingimpossible. But seeing that this has only occurred onpassing occasions and in times of unusual excitement, wegladly throw over it a veil of loving oblivion. And yet wecannot but say that though the trial may not perhaps comein exactly the same form, yet times of a similar nature maybe before us. 'For just because the spread of the Christianfaith brings in its train so rich an enlargement of all humanfaculties, of all mental endowments, of all the comforts of common life ; because, at the same time, on its doing sodepends the possibility of making known the word of theLord ever more widely among men, till it gradually fills thewhole earth, — for these very reasons everything that concernsthe true prosperity of men in all their affairs stands in closeconnection with the kingdom of God. And if differing

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