When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
I. An EXAMPLE.
1. Distinguished faith overcoming the world, the flesh, the wicked one.
2. Spiritual vision. Heaven opened. New world under the government of Christ.
3. Patience and love, after the example of Jesus. The influence of Christ's martyrdom on all other martyrs. The sermon on the mount exemplified.
II. A new Divine SEAL upon the truth.
1. Sufferings and death in their relation to testimony. Necessity of martyrdom in a world like ours. Effect on the popular mind.
2. Contrast of the old and the new in the scene. The weakness of the persecutors, the strength of the persecuted. The two kingdoms must be set face to face. Righteousness against falsehood and violence. Argument is renounced, therefore the martyr's death is a public exhibition of the enemy's weakness; he is compelled to resort to violence. Show that all through Church history this is the case. The conversion of Constantine quickly followed the persecution of Diocletian. The cruelty of Rome brought about a reaction in the popular mind which paved the way for the Reformation.
3. In every darkest hour of God's people there is some point of light which holds the future within it. Saul is in that scene. His conversion partly the fruit of it. The Spirit began to work, goading him with conviction. So the blood of martyrs has always seed of truth to water: the blood of Stephen watered conviction in Saul's heart.
4. A wonderful testimony to the reality of the work of the Spirit. How the signs increased. From the gifts of Pentecost to this manifestation of Divine glory to a dying man, calling upon Jesus to receive his spirit, and so confirming, as with a light coming down directly out of heaven, all the facts of the gospel - a risen and glorified Redeemer, able to forgive sins, receiving the spirits of his disciples into heaven, giving them complete victory over the sufferings and darkness of their last hour. May we die the death of the righteous! - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.