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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 7 - Verse 60

Verse 60. And he kneeled down. This seems to have been a voluntary kneeling; a placing himself in this position for the purpose of prayer, choosing to die in this attitude.

Lord. That is, Lord Jesus. See Barnes "Ac 1:24".

 

Lay not, etc. Forgive them. This passage strikingly resembles the dying prayer of the Lord Jesus, Lu 23:34. Nothing but the Christian religion will enable a man to utter this passage in his dying moments.

He fell asleep. This is the usual mode of expressing the death of saints in the Bible. It is an expression indicating

(1.) the peacefulness of their death, compared with the alarm of sinners;

(2.) the hope of a resurrection—as we retire to sleep with the hope of again awaking to the duties and enjoyments of life. See Joh 11:11,12; 1 Co 11:30; 15:51; 1 Th 4:14; 5:10; Mt 9:24.

 

In view of the death of this first Christian martyr, we may remark,

(1.) That it is right to address to the Lord Jesus the language of prayer.

(2.) It is peculiarly proper to do it in afflictions, and in the prospect of death, Heb 4:15.

(3.) Sustaining grace will be derived in trials chiefly from a view of the Lord Jesus. If we can look to him as our Saviour, see him to be exalted to deliver us, and truly commit our souls to him, we shall find the grace which we shall need in our afflictions.

(4.) We should have such confidence in him, as to enable us to commit ourselves to him at any time. To do this, we should live a life of faith. In health, and youth, and strength, we should seek him as our first and best Friend.

(5.) While we are in health, we should prepare to die. What an unfit place for preparation for death would have been the situation of Stephen! How impossible then would it have been to have made preparation! Yet the dying bed is often a place as unfit to prepare as were the circumstances of Stephen.—When racked with pain; when faint and feeble; when the mind is indisposed to thought, or when it raves in the wildness of delirium, what an unfit place is this to prepare to die! I have seen many dying beds; I have seen many in all stages of their last sickness; but never have I yet seen a dying bed which seemed to me to be a proper place to make preparation for eternity.

(6.) How peaceful and calm is a death like that of Stephen, when compared with the alarms and anguish of a sinner! One moment of such peace, in that trying time, is better than all the pleasures and honours which the world can bestow. And to obtain such peace, the dying sinner would be willing to give all the wealth of the Indies, and all the crowns of the earth. So may I die—and so may all my readers—enabled, like this dying martyr, to commit my de- parting spirit to the sure keeping of the great Redeemer! When we take a parting view of the world; when our eyes shall be turned for the last time to take a look of friends and relatives; and when the darkness of death shall begin to come around us, then may we be enabled to cast the eye of faith to the heavens, and say, "Lord Jesus, receive our spirits;" and thus fall asleep, peaceful in death, in the hope of the resurrection of the just.

{b} "lay not this sin" Mt 5:44; Lu 23:34

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