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of the testimony of Stephen in respect to the Sonship and Di
vinity of Christ—the cause of his giving testimony--and an examination and application of his references to the evidences of the old testament, and Jacob's testimony.
HAVING examined briefly some of the testimony given by the apostles on the important subject of our Lord's Sonship, and real divinity, and having come to the faithful testimony of Stephen, it is purposed to follow him to the old testament, and see what further information may be gained upon this weighty subject, from that fund of knowledge.
The cause of Stephen's testimony gives weight to his evidence, and is the reason of examining it. Stephen was appointed by the church to an important station, and set apart in the most solemn manner, by the imposition of the hands of the apostles and by prayer. Being filled with the Holy Ghost, he did great signs and wonders in the name of Jesus Christ, insomuch as to excite the attention and admiration of the wise and the learned.
We find in the Acts of the apostles, chapter 6, verses 8, 9 and 10, that Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. “ Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyreneans, and Alexandrians, and of themof Cilicia, and of Asia,disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and
the spirit by which he spake.
These men being defeated in their arguments, stirred up the people and brought Stephen before the great national Council, and alleged two things against him :First, speaking of blasphemy against the holy place. Second, speaking against the law, or customs which Moses delivered.
These charges were endeavored to be supported by the inferences of witnesses of what they heard him say, viz. “ that Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us." They might have heard him say, Jesus would destroy that place, and change the customs which Moses delivered them, yet this was not speaking blasphemy against the holy place, or the law.
On the high priest's putting to Stephen the question,“ are these things so ?" Stephen answered to the accusation, and took the opportunity to disclose his faith at large-by examining his testimony, in conjunction with that which the apostles, prophets and patriarchs generally gave, we hope to shew that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in his Divine Nature, and consequently very God, and that he is the God of Israel; that he was styled their king in his pre-existent state ; and that by and through him are made all divine communications of and from the Father, to all intelligent beings, whether in creation, providence or redemption. There is one thing more it is well to premise and consider, before we close this digression, and enter upon the testimony, viz. It is said in John, chapter 1, verse 18, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Paul and Moses likewise bare testimony to the same fact, that God the Father in in his own proper person, no man hath seen, or can see and live, and that the Son in his own proper person hath appeared at sundry times in divers manners, to the patriarchs, prophets and apostles. We
pass now to the examination of the testimony and authority of scripture in this matter, which if we credit, establishes the doctrine urged.
In attending to the facts and faith declared by Stephen in his defence before the great Jewish Council, we find he said, Acts, chapter 7,“ Men, brethren, and Fathers, hearken; the God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, and said unto him, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred,” &c. Verse 6, “ And God spake on this wise, that his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and intreat them evil four hundred years." Verse 7, “And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God; and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.” Verse S, " And he gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day ; and Isaac begat Jacob,” &c. Stephen then summarily relates of Joseph's being sold into Egypt, and the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt, &c. he then observes, verse 17, “ But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham," &c. Stephen proceeeds on to speak of the birth of Moses, his learning, and his standing up in defence of his brethren, expecting his brethren would understand that God had called him for the purpose of delivering them
from their state of bondage, but they understood not. He relates, that Moses fled to Midian ; and proceeds to verse 30; “ And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight; and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Xbraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. Then said the Lord to him, put off thy shoes from thy feet; for the place where thou standest is holy ground.” We come now to cite the 38th verse; « This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers who received the lively oracles to give unto us."
Verse 39th, “ To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turn back again into Egypt.” Again, verse 44; “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.”
From a moment's review of Stephen's testimony, it may be ascertained whether or not any thing can be drawn to favour and illustrate the doctrine we have under consideration, namely, our Lord's Divinity and proper Sonship in his pre-existent state.
Stephen states, that God appeared to Abraham and gave him command to leave his native country and kindred. And, that God appeared “in a flame of fire in a bush” in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, by the name of the God of Abraham, and
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And that they “ had the tabernacle of witness.” It is thought that none will doubt, but what the character spoken of as making his appearance, was the real God of Israel, in his proper person. Whether it was the Father in his own person, or the Son, is the important point for us to decide. It is thought we have the greatest reason to believe, that the manifestations spoken of, are in the person of the Son; not only from the declaration of Stephen made before the Council, but we find that the same character is sometimes called the Angel of the Council, and sometimes the God of Israel, and we cannot learn from scripture, that the Father ever made his appearance personally-and much less as an Angel or Messenger sent. An instance of this character appearing as an Angel is found in Genesis, 28th chapter, verses from the 10th to the 14th inclusive: “And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillow, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth; and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and in thee, and in thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed." ExEmine a little farther, and we find that God ap