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66 Be not
lived in ages past; peruse the records of their high achievements, and gaze on the monuments of their sublime renown: and if you too would be useful, eminent, and noble, be it your aspiration that their spirit may be transfused into your bosoms, and that their immortal virtues may be recognized in your lives. ashamed of the testimony of the Lord.” Dishonour not by practical cowardice, the fair fame of the worthies whose “goodly fellowship" you claim ; nor hazard by guilty compliances, the ultimate rejection of the Master you say you
If you be not decided and courageous for Him, you are branded with a false-heartedness he will spurn with indignation from his presence ; for his own lips have announced “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."*
Let all within this sanctuary finally reflect, that if in life and in death they continue in a state of separation from the Lord Jesus, having no part in his mediatorial work, they cannot be partakers of ultimate acceptance and happiness. If the soul be not committed to him, the soul must be lost. 0, who can endure to think without horror, of an immortal spirit having no friend in its final change, entering without a guardian the regions of retribution, appearing alone and speechless before the tribunal of omniscient scrutiny, condemned to the blight of an irrevocable curse, and banished to wander houseless amidst the trackless deserts of ruin, where relentless tempests beat in an eternal storm? Yet such must be the dread consummation where Christian faith has not prompted the invocation, “ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit !—And will you not believe in him? And will you not count all things but loss 'that you may win, Christ and be found in him? Ponder! What is the result? “ The day shall declare it :” but I do hope in God, that many will appear, who shall have united in the proclamation I now propose for you to pronounce -“ NEVERTHELESS, I AM NOT ASHAMED; for I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED, AND AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE TO KEEP THAT WHICH I HAVE COMMITTED UNTO HIM AGAINST THAT DAY !"
* Luke ix. 26.
NOTE TO SERMON VIII.
THE observations of Bishop Horsley in his letters to Dr. Priestley, on the martyrdom of Stephen as connected with the divinity of the Lord Jesus, are so striking, that I may be allowed to introduce them at length.
“I shall always insist that the blessed Stephen died a martyr to the deity of Christ. The accusation against him, you say, 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 attend to the conclusion of the story. He “ looked up stedfastly into heaven,” says the inspired bistorian," 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 something to be seen,]" and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." He saw the man Jesus in the midst of this 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 was uttered in a prayer to Jesus, first for himself and then for his murderers. They stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit—and he cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” It is to be noted, that the word God is not in the original text, which might be better rendered thus: “ They stoned Stephen, invocating and saying," &c. Jesus therefore was the God, whom the dying martyr invocated in his last agonies; when men are apt to pray,
with the utmost seriousness, to him whom they conceive the mightiest to save.
It seems the holy Stephen, full, as we are informed he was, in those trying moments, of the Holy Ghost, was not in the opinion which you are pleased to impute to me: but you will observe, that I disclaim it, that“ the proper object of prayer is God the Father.” This, you tell me, I cannot but acknowledge. That the Father is a proper object of prayer, God forbid that ever I should not acknowledge. That he is the proper object, in the sense in which you seem to make the assertion, in prejudice and exclusion of the other Persons, God forbid that ever I should concede. I deny not that there is an honour personally due to him as the Father. There is also an honour personally due to the Son, as the Son; and to the Spirit, as the Spirit. But our knowledge of the personal distinctions is so obscure, in comparison of our apprehension of the general attri
butes of the Godhead, that it should seem that the Divinity (the to Delov) is rather to be generally worshipped in the three Persons jointly and indifferently, than that any distinct honours are to be offered to each separately. Prayer, however, for succour against external persecution, seems addressed with particular propriety to the Son.
When you deny, not only that any precept, but that any proper example, is to be found in Scripture, to authorize the practice, you seem to have forgotten, beside many other passages, the initial salutations of St. Paul's epistles. St. Stephen's “short ejaculatory address” you had not forgotten, but you say, “it is very inconsiderable.” But why is it inconsiderable? Is it because it was only an ejaculation? Ejaculations are often prayers of the most fervent kind; the most expressive of self-abasement and adoration. Is it for its brevity that it is inconsiderable? What then is the precise length of words, which is requisite to make a prayer an act of worship? Was this petition preferred on an occasion of distress, on which a Divinity might be naturally invoked? Was it a petition for a succour which none but a Divinity could grant? If this was the case, it was surely an act of worship. Is the situation of the worshipper the circumstance which, in your judgment, lessens the authority of his example? You suppose perhaps some consternation of his faculties, arising from distress and fear. The history justifies no such supposition. It describes the utterance of the final prayer, as deliberate act of one who knew his situation, and pogsessed his understanding. After praying for himself, he kneels down to pray for his persecutors : and such was the composure with which he died, although the manner of his death was the most tumultuous and terrifying, that, as if he had expired quietly upon his bed, the sacred historian says, that “ he fell asleep.” If therefore you would insinuate, that St. Stephen was not himself, when he sent forth this “ short ejaculatory address to Christ,” the history refutes you. If he was himself, you cannot justify his prayer to Christ, while you deny that Christ is God, upon any principle that might not equally justify you, or me, in praying to the blessed Stephen. If St. Stephen, in the full possession of his faculties, prayed to him who is no God; why do we reproach the pious Romanist, when he chants the litany of his saints? If the persuasion of Christ's divinity prompted the holy martyr's dying prayer, then there is no room to doubt, but that the assertion of Christ's divinity was the blasphemy, for which the Jews, hardened in their unbelief, condemned him.” Tracts, &c. 232_236. 3rd odit.
HOSEA VI. 4.
0 Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall
I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.
“ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”—God is indeed entitled to all that reverent devotion can render. He is clothed with attributes of ineffable majesty ; he is the Creator of the ends of the earth ; in him we live and move and have our being ; by his watchful and tender providence all our wants are supplied ; to his government we are accountable; and before his tribunal we must at last appear, to receive a portion in everlasting happiness or misery. Yet how little practical influence do the divine claims possess on the hearts and conduct of men ! There are some who offer adoration and service to the creations of their own fancy, and the work of their own hands ; there are others, who deliberately renounce the revelation of his glory as a cunningly devised fable; there are others, who exist in an entire neglect and