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not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.*
The reverend Mr. Jebb thinks, “ that the addresses of christians may with the same propriety be directed to the virgin Mary, as to the person of our Lord.”+ I hope this ingenious friend of learning and candour will reconsider this matter. Should he see reason to change his mind, he would, I am sure, ingenuously and zealously propagate the faith, which now, alas! he endeavours to destroy. Let us then contrast a devotee of the virgin Mary, with a worshipper of Jesus Christ.
David composed a psalm, in which he said, into thine hand, I commit my spirit, O LORD GOD OF TRUTH. St. Stephen invoked Jesus Christ at his death, and said, LORD JESUS receive my spirit. I Cardinal Bonaventure, who composed our lady's Psalter, that is to say, who converted all the addresses to God in the book of psalms into invocations of the virgin Mary, by changing the word Lord, or Jehovah, into Lady, said, into thine hand I commit my spirit, O LADY.S David, Stephen, and the Cardinal, put up the same address; but they directed it to different objects. Of the propriety of David's address, there is no doubt. He deposited his life in the hand of Jehovah; returned his spirit to GOD, WHO GAVE IT; # agreeably to the received doctrine of his church. But the question is, who, Stephen or the Cardinal, acted
* 1 Pet. i. 8. + Reasons for resignation, p. 3. edit. 3. 1 Acts vii. 59
§ Psa. xxxi, 5. ll Eccl. xii. 7.
with the greatest propriety: the former in performing the same devotional act to Jesus Christ'; or the latter in performing it to the virgin Mary? We will not judge in our own cause. Let us suppose a thoughtful Jew present at Stephen's death, and hearing him utter these words, Lord Jesus receive my spirit. He would instantly recollect, that he had heard something like the words before, and he would soon find that the dying man took them from the thirty-first psalm. His natural train of thought, then, would be this. “David coin“mitted his spirit to JEHOVAH. This enthusiast " committed his to Jesus. Did he take Jesus and “ Jehovah for THE SAME? David deposited his “ soul in the hands of the GOD OF TRUTH. Ste“phen his in the hands of JESUS. He certainly “ took Jesus of Nazareth for the God of truth! “ David committed his spirit to God, because God “had REDEEMED him from many evils in the
course of his providence; and because God had promised to redeem him from the power of the
grave. Did this man take Jesus of Nazareth “ for the REDEEMER of Israel? The government “of both worlds, the disposal of providence in this “ life, the distribution of rewards in the next; are “ these in the hands of Jesus? What could he “have said more of the MOST HIGH GOD, the pos“ sessor of heaven and earth 2* Is not the spirit in “ man THE INSPIRATION OF THE ALMIGHTY?T “ He, who stretched out the heavens, and laid the “ foundations of the earth, did not he form the
" spirit of man within him? * While it remains “ in the body, is it not the candle oF JEHOVAH?? “When it returns, doth it not return TO GOD who “ gave it? The soul of every living thing, the “ breath of all mankind, are they not in JEHOVAH'S “ HAND? The dying blasphemer, like the idola“ trous Belshazzar, knew these things, lified up “himself against the Lord of heaven ; and the “God in whose hand his breath was, and all his “ways, he hath not glorified. He was accused " of speaking blasphemous words against Moses, “ and against God. He was guilty; he died with “ that confidence in a creature, which he ought " to have placed in God alone. Cursed is the “ man, that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his " arm."* If Jesus Christ be God, Stephen acted with propriety: if not, the same reasons, that keep us from addressing him, ought to have operated on Stephen; yea, he was more obliged to refrain by his circumstances; he was under a charge of blasphemy, and he ought to have used more than ordinary caution, lest his adversaries should have obtained a shadow of an argument against him. People, who have been unjustly put to death for pretended treasonable practices, have always taken care to pray aloud for the reigning prince just before their execution. The propriety of their conduct is obvious. But here is an unaccountable case. A man accused of blasphemy, denying the charge, asserting in his defence the honours of the
* Zech. xii. 1. + Prov. xx. 27. | Eccl. xii. 7. § Job xii. 10.
|| Dan. v. 22, 23. | Acts vi. 11. Jer. xvii. 5.
true God, turning the accusation against his judges, charging their ancestors with guilt for worshipping the host of heaven, and yet invoking Jesus, a mere man, in language which he, his judges, his executioners, and the whole nation, had always appropriated to Almighty God! The propriety of Ste
phen's conduct depends on his faith in the deity of · Christ.
Let us attend to Cardinal Bonaventure. He invokes in his dying moments, suppose, the virgin Mary, and says, Into thine hands, O Lady! I commit my spirit. A protestant asks, Who hath required this at your hands 2* David resigned his soul into the hands of the TRUE God. Jesus Christ adopted David's words, and commended his spirit into the hands of his Father.f St. Stephen committed his into the hands of Jesus. According to my system, Jesus, the Father, and the true God, ARE ONE. I The terms of invocation differ, the object is the same, each invocation is therefore proper. But, granting for a moment, that Jesus is a mere man, I have, at least, in Stephen's invocation of him, a precedent for committing my soul to him; but where is your's for invoking Mary? Who will pretend to say, there is the same propriety in both? Isitas proper to act without a precedent, as with one? And are Jesus Christ's titles to adoration equally as spurious as those of Mary? Surely, the probability is stronger in my favour when I invoke him, whom all:
the angels are commanded to worship, than when I invoke her, in whose favour no such command can be produced. St. Stephen, the blessed martyr, is surely a safer guide, than a superstitious Cardinal of the church of Rome.
The word worship, my brethren, is used in scripture in two senses. It is sometimes put for civil respect; and sometimes for religious homage. In the first sense Abraham worshipped the sons of Heth ;* and Nebuchadnezzar worshipped Daniel, that is to say, he made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, declaring at the same time that Daniel's God was God of Gods.f This sense of the word is yet retained in the office for the solemnizing of marriage. I But in its second meaning it is inapplicable to every creature, and belongs to God alone. The ideas of supreme and subordinate religious worship are unknown to the holy scripture. Thou shalt woRSHIP THE LORD Thy God, and HIM ONLY shalt thou serve, is a law of all ages, and belongs to christians as well as to Jews.
Let us suppose Timon, a deacon of the christian congregation at Jerusalem, just returned from the stoning of Stephen, falling into the following conversation with Caleb, a christian, who had continued in the city, and had only heard a confused account of the martyr's death.
Caleb. Is Stephen really dead?
* Gen. xxxiii. 7. 12. Dan. ii. 46. 47. 48.
I “ With my body I thee WORSHIP.”