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STEPHEN S DEATH.pdf

STEPHEN S DEATH.pdf

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. WILLIAM ARNOT


" And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this
sin to their cliarge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."-
ACTS vii. 60.
BY REV. WILLIAM ARNOT


" And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this
sin to their cliarge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."-
ACTS vii. 60.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 02, 2013
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STEPHEN S DEATH.BY REV. WILLIAM ARNOT" And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not thissin to their cliarge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."-ACTS vii. 60.I THINK the young man Saul was an attentive listener,both to the martyr s sermon and the prayer that followed it. I think that he obtained the germs of hissystematic theology that day. Sometimes in our Divinity halls a young man receives instruction in thegreat things of the covenant as he learns languagesand mathematics, without having for the time any specific use for his acquisition. The truth is stored in an un-renewed heart, and lies there dormant until the quick ening Spirit come. The seed of the Word has beendropped into frozen furrows; and when the meltingcomes it is there ready to spring. Thus the word fromStephen s lips dropped into Saul s memory. I like toentertain the conception that in Stephen s speech Paulfound the idea of the Epistle to the Hebrews.Another stage of the martyrdom: " He kneeleddown." The stones were overcoming overwhelminghim. He is fainting from loss of blood. Stephen willnot remain on his feet till he fall. While he has strengthleft he will bow down to pray; and he prays aloud for hisenemies: "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." A secret sigh might have reached the throne as well; but theloud voice made known, both to friends and to foes,the latest exercise of the martyr s spirit. The expression of that prayer maybe the means of winning souls,and therefore it is articulately expressed. That prayermay have remained like a barb in the conscience of some of his murderers, which would not let them gountil it led them to the blood of the covenant.
 
" When he had said this, he fell asleep." All thingsare yours, when you are Christ s, and death amongthem. This dreaded name is an article in the inventory of a Christian s possessions. When death becomesStepJieris DeatJi. 145the property of a disciple, it is baptized and gets a newname. It has many different Christian names. ForPaul, it was a departing to be with Christ; for Stephen,it was to fall asleep. When the earthly house of thistabernacle is dissolved, we have a building of God, anhouse not made with hands. A relative of my ownlately gave a new name to this messenger, which I hadnot heard before, and which I rather like. Leavingher own home, to pay a visit of some weeks in theneighboring city, she said to a friend, with referenceto the possibility of not returning, "I am like a passenger, with my ticket in my hand, waiting at the station till the train come up." According to her secretanticipation the train did come up, ere the visit wasover, and she was carried gently away.Sleep is a very impressive and appropriate Christianname for death. If we were not made indifferent byfamiliarity, with it, natural sleep would seem a verysolemn and mysterious experience. We might wellbe familiar with death, for we have a symbol and rehearsal of it every night. We might be familiar withthe resurrection, for we have a symbol and rehearsal of it every morning. If faith were lively, we might liedown every night as an infant lies down to sleep in amother s arms: we might be comforted in the morningwhen we awaked by remembering that this same Jesusstands yet at the right hand of the throne, girt formighty work, as our protector, and alert to receiveall his own, when life is over, into the joy of theLord.
 
It is remarkable, that of all the Christian names of death, this one should be employed here. It mightseem an appropriate epithet, when an aged Christian,on his chair or his bed, after a gradual decay of strength,with a gentle smile on a wan countenance, speaks thismoment of his hope in Christ, and the next momentglides away. When death in such circumstances iscalled a sleep, the analogy is easily apprehended, andat once accepted as true. But a cruel death by stoning, amid the yells and curses of infuriated executioners, stripped like gladiators for their bloody work death in such a tumult called a sleep ! Yes; and thereis a design in the choice of the name. God sits Kin g146 The Church in the House.on these floods. Jesus stands up and speaks again tothe sea; and at his word there is a great calm. Atsight of him "standing" over the waves, the wearyvoyager is instantly at the land where he desired tobe. Sweeter to the martyr would be the glory of Emmanuel s land when he touched its shore, because of the storm through which he had passed.The executioners, engaged and paid, and held inreadiness, to do the work quickly, lest the sentence,lacking the due authority, might be recalled, " laid downtheir clothes at a young man s feet, whose name wasSaul." Such is the first introduction of this man to thereaders of the Bible. The Apostle of the Gentilessteps upon the stage, the acknowledged head of a ruf fian band, in the very act of shedding the first martyr sblood. What hath God wrought ! How unsearchableare his judgments, and his ways past finding out !"When he had said this, he fell asleep; but Saulwas consenting unto his death. We should not over

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