To Succor and to Save

From “St. Stephen,” Sermons Preached in Westminster Abbey (1866)

Observe, and at whatever distance imitate, this blessed martyr’s faith. How was it, it may be asked, that he endured? He endured as seeing him that is invisible. Others might not see, but he saw heaven opened, and saw the glory of God, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.

Observe, I beseech you, that “standing.” Often as we read of Christ sitting at the right hand of God, this is the only occasion upon which he is spoken of in Scripture as standing there. And why standing? As in act to help, as rising from his throne to succor and to save, to uphold his servant in this the hour of his extremest need. Such was the latest sight which his closing eyes beheld on earth.

No wonder that those who looked on him should have seen his face as it had been the face of an angel. And then, after a sharp, short agony, his eyes opened once more, and he beheld that same Lord, not now far off but near; and he was ever with him.

Earth and earth’s toil, and the gnashing teeth and the fierce faces of foes, and whatever of mortal pain this flesh can suffer, had for him forever passed away. His was the crown which his name “Stephen” had prophesied for him from the beginning, and his the rest of Paradise, and the beatific vision, and the exceeding weight of glory. May God give us grace in our humbler sphere, according to our smaller strength, that we too may be faithful unto death, and may so receive a crown of life!”

Richard Trench (1807-1886) was an Irish Anglican archbishop and Biblical scholar, who served as professor of theology at Kings College London and as Dean of Westminster Abbey before becoming Archbishop of Dublin. He is probably best known for today for his studies of Jesus’ parables and miracles.


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