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and do nothing; and yet men refuse to receive the same kind of evidence, to walk by the same rule, in the things of religion: i.e. in the things of Almighty God, eternity, heaven, hell, the world of spirits. Whereas, even in the things of this life, they have no choice but to believe many things which they cannot see, they refuse to do so in the things of another life. We know that there are evil and reprobate men who deny the very being and providence of Almighty God because they see Him not; "The fool hath said. in his heart, There is no God." Again there are others who deny the "Holy, Blessed, and Glorious Trinity, three Persons and one God," because, as they say, it is against their reason; and so men, rather than believe too much, fall into the sin of blaspheming their God and Saviour. But I do not wish to speak of these any further than by way of warning. The spirit in such men is but the spirit of this age, the spirit of unbelief, in its worst form; and the spirit of this age has entered into the Church, and into the hearts and thoughts of us all, far more, I fear, than we are any of us aware men think it enough answer to make to any doctrine (however sacred), that it may be untrue. apostolical succession of ministers in the Church may have failed in the course of ages: therefore
(say such men) the doctrine is not true; such is the conclusion which the spirit of the age draws. They who have been baptized in infancy grow up, to all outward appearance, the same as those who have not been baptized; therefore (say such men) there is no inward and spiritual grace in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism: and the language which even serious persons allow themselves to use of the other blessed Sacrament is even yet more painfully irreverent. God, by His grace, may keep them from carrying out these principles to their full and fatal issue: yet surely it is not to be said from how many great and holy truths they thus cut themselves off; great and holy truths which are revealed to faith, and are the reward of faith. When persons, judging from what they see, or what they think agreeable to reason, go on to deny or question the plain words of our Saviour Christ, the plain teaching of His Church from the beginning, surely they need to be reminded, if not of the great danger which they incur, yet of the blessedness which they thus lose. "Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they which have not seen, and yet have believed."
JOHN HENRY PARKER, OXFORD AND LONDON.
Sermons for the Christian Seasons.
ST. STEPHEN'S DAY.
ACTs vii. 59, 60. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he 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.
THERE follow upon Christmas-day three festivals, that of St. Stephen, that of St. John the apostle and evangelist, and that of the holy Innocents; wherein, it is thought, the Church commemorates the three kinds of martyrdom : that in will and in deed, as was the martyrdom of St. Stephen, where persons are willing to suf fer death for the sake of Christ, and do actually suffer it that in will, but not in deed, as was -the martyrdom of St. John, where persous are willing to suffer, prepared to follow their Lord to death, but are not called by God to do so: that in deed but not in will, as was the martyrdom of the holy Innocents, where persons are actually put to death, but from their being in
fants, or from some other cause, have no opportunity of exercising a willingness to suffer: whereof the first, that in will and in deed, as that of St. Stephen, is the highest.
And, surely, it is not without deep meaning that these festivals follow so close upon the great festival of Christmas: to chasten and sober our joy; to bid us rejoice as Christians, remembering that our profession calls us to be witnesses for Christ, in our lives, and (if need be) in our deaths; that trial and persecution have been, in all ages, the lot of God's saints, the portion of His true Church and people: and that, if we weigh things aright, "there should be no greater comfort to Christian persons than to be made like unto Christ, by suffering patiently adversities, troubles, and sicknesses. For He Himself went not up to joy, but first He suffered pain; He entered not into His glory before He was crucified; so truly our way to eternal joy is to suffer here with Christ; and our door to enter into eternal life, is gladly to die with Christ: that we may rise again from death, and dwell with Him in everlasting life."
St. Stephen was by birth a Jew, and is thought to have been one of the seventy disciples; at least, he is said to have been so by early writers;
and the fact, that he was chosen to be one of the seven deacons; and, chiefly, that he had attained unto such a full knowledge of Christ, would seem to make this very probable.
The origin of the office of deacons in the Church was as follows. At the first, we read, that in the Church, "All that believed were together, and had all things common, and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." After a time," when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, (i. e. of the foreign Jews, against the native Jews) because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations. "Then the twelve (apostles) called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason, that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte