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7. Stephen's Speech to Sanhedrin
1And the high priest said, Are these things so? 2And he said, Brethren and fathers, hearken: The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3and said unto him, Get thee out of thy land, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee. 4Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Haran: and from thence, when his father was dead, God removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell: 5and he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: and he promised that he would give it to him in possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 6And God spake on this wise, that his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should bring them into bondage, and treat them ill, four hundred years. 7And the nation to which they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 8And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob the twelve patriarchs. 9And the patriarchs, moved with jealousy against Joseph, sold him into Egypt: and God was with him, 10and delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11Now there came a famine over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent forth our fathers the first time. 13And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's race became manifest unto Pharaoh. 14And Joseph sent, and called to him Jacob his father, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. 15And Jacob went down into Egypt; and he died, himself and our fathers; 16and they were carried over unto Shechem, and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a price in silver of the sons of Hamor in Shechem. 17But as the time of the promise drew nigh which God vouchsafed unto Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18till there arose another king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. 19The same dealt craftily with our race, and ill-treated our fathers, that they should cast out their babes to the end they might not live. 20At which season Moses was born, and was exceeding fair; and he was nourished three months in his father's house. 21and when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and he was mighty in his words and works. 23But when he was well-nigh forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, smiting the Egyptian: 25and he supposed that his brethren understood that God by his hand was giving them deliverance; but they understood not. 26And the day following he appeared unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28Wouldest thou kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday? 29And Moses fled at this saying, and became a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons. 30And when forty years were fulfilled, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31And when Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold, there came a voice of the Lord, 32I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. And Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33And the Lord said unto him, Loose the shoes from thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 34I have surely seen the affliction of my people that is in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I am come down to deliver them: and now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? him hath God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the hand of the angel that appeared to him in the bush. 36This man led them forth, having wrought wonders and signs in Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37This is that Moses, who said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. 38This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel that spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received living oracles to give unto us: 39to whom our fathers would not be obedient, but thrust him from them, and turned back in their hearts unto Egypt, 40saying unto Aaron, Make us gods that shall go before us: for as for this Moses, who led us forth out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. 41And they made a calf in those days, and brought a sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their hands. 42But God turned, and gave them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets,
Did ye offer unto me slain beasts and sacrifices
Forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43And ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch,
And the star of the god Rephan,
The figures which ye made to worship them:
And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
44Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the wilderness, even as he appointed who spake unto Moses, that he should make it according to the figure that he had seen. 45Which also our fathers, in their turn, brought in with Joshua when they entered on the possession of the nations, that God thrust out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 46who found favor in the sight of God, and asked to find a habitation for the God of Jacob. 47But Solomon built him a house. 48Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in houses made with hands; as saith the prophet,
49The heaven is my throne,
And the earth the footstool of my feet:
What manner of house will ye build me? saith the Lord:
Or what is the place of my rest?
50Did not my hand make all these things?
51Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? and they killed them that showed before of the coming of the Righteous One; of whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers; 53ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels, and kept it not. 54Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. 57But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed upon him with one accord; 58and they cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60And 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.
26. The day following he appeared. Stephen declareth now that the fathers did not only neglect, but maliciously reject the grace of God. For although the evil which he mentioneth did proceed from one man only, yet doth he by right assign the fault unto them all. For if they had been thankful to God, they would all with one consent have repressed his forwardness. 414414 “Proterviam,” petulance. But they are whisht, 415415 “Tacent omnes,” they are all silent. and suffer that good turn which Moses had done to be upbraided unto him; and, so much as in them lieth, they bring them into extreme danger whom they ought to have defended by endangering themselves. 416416 “Oppositas suis capitibus,” by exposing their own hands. Therefore, his drift is this, that the people themselves were in the fault, that they were no sooner delivered and eased. 417417 “Nonnisi per populum stetisse quominus levationem citius sentiret,” that is was owing entirely to the people themselves that they did not sooner obtain some alleviation. So the wickedness of men doth oftentimes hinder God from doing that [which] he would do. He is ready to help those that be his in due time, but we keep back his hand from ourselves with divers lets, and afterwards we complain of his slowness, but unjustly. Furthermore, this unthankfulness was too wicked against God, and too cruel against Moses. They were to thank God for giving such a faithful patron in the king’s court. They were to love and reverence Moses; but they rewarded him full evil 418418 “Atqui pessimam et iniquissimam mercedem reportat,” but he receiveth a very bad and most iniquitous recompense, viz. with threatenings and reproaches. Furthermore, inasmuch as the fact was brought to the king’s ears, we must needs impute that to the treachery of the people. Therefore, as when afterward the people could see the land of Canaan, they did through their own folly keep themselves from entering in; so now, refusing the grace of God in the person of one man, they cause the time of their deliverance to be deferred forty years. For although God had determined what he would do, yet those are justly blamed for the delay which hinder 419419 “Impediunt ac turbant,” impede and disturb. Moses in his office.
Men ye are brethren. There is, indeed, amongst men a general conjunction, so that they ought to use great courtesy one toward another, and to abstain from all injuries; but this is more unmeet and intolerable, when those hurt one another who are nearer linked together. Therefore, Moses doth not only use a general reason, that it may revoke 420420 “Quae ad aequitatem revocet,” which may call back or dispose to equity. their minds which were desirous to do harm, but he mentioneth their kindred and fellowship of blood to mollify their cruelty. Yet all in vain; for he which had done injury to his neighbor doth forwardly thrust him from him, and addeth thereunto threatening. And this is a common thing amongst men; for an evil conscience doth drive men into fury, and the worse every man’s cause is, the more boldly and cruelly doth he extol himself. But under what color doth he which hath the worst cause set himself so stubbornly against Moses? He saith he is no judge; but he did not reprove them according to authority, but did only friendly admonish them. Is it the duty of a judge alone to admonish us when we do amiss? But this is a common vice, used of all stubborn and unruly persons, to give place to no admonitions, save only when they are enforced by violence and authority; yea, they are like frantic [phrenzied] men who rail upon 421421 “Furiose impetunt,” furiously assault. their physicians. For which cause we must be the more careful to bridle our lust, lest we run headlong with such blind fury against those which are desirous to cure our vices. Furthermore, we are taught by this example, that the servants of God cannot so do their duty in reproving such vices of men, but they shall suffer many injuries, offend many, and incur dangers; and chiefly when they do well, they shall surely hear evil. But they must swallow up the unworthiness of these evils, 422422 “Sed horum malorum indignitas illis est devoranda,” but the indignity of these evils must be devoured by them, (overlooked or submitted to.) that they may not therefore cease to do that which the Lord commanded them, and which he alloweth. 423423 “Proinde ei probari,” and is therefore approved by him. Moses is burdened here with a cruel false accusation that he usurpeth the authority of a ruler, and by this means they lay treason to his charge. Secondly, it is objected unto him reproachfully that he slew an Egyptian; both these were very odious. Whereby we may gather with how dangerous a temptation the mind of the holy man was stricken. And forasmuch as we see that he was neither discouraged by exile, neither by any other evils, so that it did not repent him of his well-doing, let us also learn by his example to bear a valiant and strong mind and courage against all such assaults of Satan,