Sermons by the Monday Club
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran on him with one accord,…
I. THE CALL OF STEPHEN WAS TO MARTYRDOM. Neither he nor the Church knew the honour which awaited him. Note —
1. That the humblest service leads to the highest.
2. How a man may enlarge a narrow sphere. We do not want so much men for large places as men to enlarge small places.
3. What God wanted of Stephen did not fully appear at the first. All that the Church could see was, that he had qualifications for a difficult trust. God bad a larger purpose. He wanted him, not to live, but to die.
4. That a man's greatest services may only begin when he is buried.
5. That no Divine cause hinges on a man. God always has another.
II. STEPHEN WAS CALLED BECAUSE HE WAS FULL OF THE HOLY GHOST. Through the Spirit he —
1. Had a message.
2. The power of a holy face. The baptism of the Spirit is an illumination. We have seen faces of men and women weal; and expressionless, dark and evil, through conversion glorified. The change at first is in softening, idealising. As it progresses, the peace of God is reflected in the features. In its completeness there is the manifestation of unearthly power.
3. He displayed the Divine union of severity and gentleness.
4. Had a vision.
5. Was sustained. He triumphed over pain.
III. THE EFFECTS OF THE MARTYRDOM.
1. On the world. He showed how a Christian could die. There had been deaths of disciples already, but they were shameful, dreadful: first Judas, then Ananias and his wife. But God now gave His people a grave to glory in.
2. On the Church (ver. 1). A general persecution was let loose. The Christians met the storm as they had been instructed by Jesus; they fled from the city and were scattered, but wherever they went they preached. Thus a part of the Divine plan appeared. In all ages persecution has been one of the greatest providential agencies for the spread of the gospel.
3. On the apostles. It was a discipline only paralleled by that which followed the crucifixion; but through it they were to become better leaders, and God would take care of His Church. They met the trial nobly. They stayed at their posts. The influence of their constancy upon the Christians, and also upon their enemies, must have been very great.
4. Upon the devout Jews. The persecution tested them. At the peril of their lives they paid the murdered man the reverence of burial. So the death of Jesus brought out Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
5. On Saul. Upon him the impression was deep. His reference to the part he had had in the murder, when he was in his trance at Damascus, shows it. One of the goads against which, from that time, he kicked in vain, was then buried in his heart. The immediate result was to infuriate him. But he had received his death-wound. The cord of love held him.
(Sermons by the Monday Club.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,