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Julian Pe- and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia, and of Asia, Jerusalem. riod, 4746, disputing with Stephen.
Vulgar Era, 33 or 34.
of such persons, was an adjective belonging to the name of
Bishop Pearce looks for the Libertines in Africa. He observes that the Libertines, the Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, are here joined, as having one and the same synagogue for their public worship. And it being known that the Cyrenians (chap. ii. 10.) lived in Lybia, and the Alexandrians in the neighbourhood of it, it is most natural to look for the Libertines also in that part of the world. Accordingly we find Suidas, in his Lexicon, saying upon the word Λιβερτίνοι, that it is ὄνομα τῷ ἔθνες, the name of a people. And in Gest. Collationis Carthagini habitæ inter Catholicos et Donatistas, published with Optatus's works, Paris, 1679 (No. 201. and p. 57.) we have these words :-Victor episcopus Ecclesiæ Catholicæ Libertinensis dixit, Unitas est illic; publicam non latet conscientiam. From these two passages Bishop Pearce thinks that there was in Lybia a town or district called Libertina, whose inhabitants bore the name of Abeprivo, Libertines, when Christianity prevailed there. They had an episcopal see among them, and the above-mentioned Victor was their bishop at the council of Carthage, in the reign of the Emperor Honarius. And from hence it seems probable that the town or district, and the people existed in the time of which Luke is here speaking. They were Jews, no doubt, and came up as the Cyrenian and Alexandrian Jews did, to bring their offerings to Jerusalem, and to worship in the temple there. Cunæus, in his Rep. Heb. ii. 23. says, that the Jews who lived in Alexandria and Lybia, and all other Jews who lived out of the Holy Land, except those of Babylon and its neighbourhood, were held in great contempt by the Jews who inhabited Jerusalem and Judea, partly on account of their quitting their proper country, and partly on account of their using the Greek language, and being quite ignorant of the other. For these reasons it seems probable that the Libertines, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, had a separate synagogue (as perhaps the Cili
Vulgar Æra, 33 or 34.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and Jerusalem. the spirit by which he spake.
11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14 For we have heard him say, That this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
Stephen defends himself before the Sanhedrim.
ACTS vi. 15. vii. 1-51.
15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly
cians and those of Asia had,) the Jews of Jerusalem not suffer-
34 In this address of St. Stephen to the Jews, he seems desirous to prove to them by a reference to the lives of their venerated ancestors, the crror of their prevailing expectations and opinions. From the promise given to Abraham (Gen. xvii. 8.) they expected that God would put them in possession of the land of Canaan, that is, the enjoyment of this present world. As this prediction had never been entirely fulfilled, (Numb. xxxiii. 55, 56) the Jews were led to suppose it would receive its full completion in the person of the Messiah; and to this notion perhaps may be attributed their deep-rooted and preconceived ideas of the temporal nature of Christ's kingdom. When our blessed Lord, therefore, rejected all earthly power and distinction, and left them still under the dominion of the Romans, they concluded he could not be the predicted Son of David.
St. Stephen begins by endeavouring to convince them of their misapprehension on this point of the sacred promise, by demonstrating to them through a recapitulation of the history of the Patriarchs, that such could not have been the meaning of the prediction; for even their Father Abraham (he argues) to whom the land was first promised, "had none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot on." The other Patriarchs in the same manner passed a life of pilgrimage and affliction, and never attained to the blessed inheritance. Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, and the friend of God, had no possession till his death; then only he began to take possession of his purchase, clearly intimating the spiritual signification of the promised
2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; Jerusalem. riod, 4746, The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
or 4747. Vulgar Era, 33 or 34.
Canaan. Moses had a prospect of that land, but he died before
The parallel between Moses and Christ is so exact, and has been so fully proved, note 20, p. 26, even from their very birth, that it is here unnecessary to make any further allusion to it. It is evident the Jews considered the arguments of St. Stephen in this light, otherwise they would not have been so violently exasperated against the speaker. Having thus demonstrated from these typical characters, that thus it behoveth Christ to suffer, and having accused the Jews of following the same persecuting and rebellious conduct which led their ancestors to refuse Moses, saying, "who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" St. Stephen, in the next place, notices another opinion, of which they were more particularly tenacious, their own exclusive privileges, which persuaded them into the belief that it was utterly impossible that the Gentiles should ever be admitted into the same covenant with themselves. From the history of the past the inspired disciple now deduces the possibility of this event, and illustrates it by recalling to their memory the fact that the tabernacle of witness, the first Church of the Jews which was appointed in the wilderness, had been given to the Gentiles, for Joshua had carried it with him into Canaan, when the latter were in possession of the Holy Land. A significant action, testifying that both Jew and Gentile, through the Captain of their salvation, should be made partakers of the same temporal and spiritual blessings. Afterwards, in allusion to the idea they entertained, that their temple and law were of perpetual duration, to continue even unto the end of the world, St. Stephen declares to them that God does not dwell in temples made with hands, and immediately reproaches them for not understanding the spiritual signification of their appointed worship and ordinances.
It is evident, then, through every part of this discourse, that
8 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and Jerusalem.
riod, 4746, from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall
4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and intreat them evil four hundred years 35
the object St. Stephen had in view, was to represent to his
The destruction of the Jewish temple imparts this impressive lesson to every Christian nation and individual, that the trueness of a Church does not constitute its safety, but that the continuance of the divine blessing is only secured by the maintenauce of a pure faith and consistent conduct. The temple itself was to be esteemed and valued as the habitation of the Divine presence, making the building holy-in the same way that our bodies are sanctified and purified, and are made the temples of the Holy Ghost, by the indwelling spirit of grace within us. If with the Jews, as individuals, we resist the holy influences of God, his presence will be withdrawn from us, and we shall bring down upon our earthly tabernacle the same fearful and inevitable destruction, which was poured down upon the temple of Jerusalem. We shall be delivered over to the hand of the enemy.
(a) See Jones's admirable letter to three converted Jews, vol. vi. p. 212.
35 In Exodus xii. 40. it is said the Israelites were to be sojourners four hundred and thirty years, reckoning from Abraham's leaving Chaldea, when the sojourning began; here four hundred years is mentioned, reckoning from the birth of Isaac, thirty years after Abraham's departure from Chaldea.-See Gen. xv. 13. and Josephus Antiq. ii. 152. and ix. 1.
Markland ap. Bowyer would read this verse in the following manner that his seed should sojourn in a strange land (and that they should bring them into bondage, and intreat them evil,) four hundred years. He observes it seems to be St. Stephen's purpose to relate how long they were to be sojourners, and in a foreign country; rather than how long they were to
7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage Jerusalem. riod, 4746, will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come Vulgar Era, forth, and serve me in this place.
33 or 34.
8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.
9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction and our fathers found no sustenance.
12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
13 And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.
14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem ".
be in bondage and affliction, which they were not four hun-
This opinion incidentally corroborates the interpretation given to Stephen's address. See last note.
36 Of the two burying places of the Patriarchs, one was in Hebron, which Abraham bought of Ephron, Gen. xxiii. 16. (not as here said of the sons of Emmor); the other in Sychem, which Jacob (not Abraham) bought of the children of Emmor, Gen. xxxiii. 19. Jacob was buried in the former, which Abraham bought; the sons of Jacob in the latter, which Jacob bought. There are many ways of reconciling these discrepancies: Bishop Barrington would point the 15th and 16th verses thus-καὶ ἐτελεύτησεν αὐτὸς, καὶ οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν, καὶ μετετέθησαν εἰς Συχέμ· καὶ ἐτέθησαν ἐν τῷ μνήματι, ὃ ὠνήσατο ̓Αβραάμ. κ.τ.λ. Markland is also of the same opinion. Dr. Owen states, the Old Testament history leads us to conclude that Stephen's account was originally this" So Jacob went down into Egypt, and there died, he and our fathers; and our fathers were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre," ò ŵvýσato rins