Stephan was chosen one of the first deacons of the Christian Church at Jerusalem. He was of high report for wisdom, and the endowments of the Holy Spirit. He confuted the most learned Jews in their arguments, and applied such wholesome truths to the test of their consciences, that being sorely galled, and unable to answer, their rage was unbounded.
Stephen, however, regarded them not, but fixing his ardent gaze upward, was ravished with the vision of glory revealed to him, and declared that he saw the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.
This farther enraged his enemies, who resolved to deal with him as a blasphemer; and, therefore they raised a great noise and clamor, stopped their ears to hear no cries for mercy, and rushing upon him, they hurried him out of the city in order to stone him, according to an ancient law against blasphemers.
The witnesses, according to custom, stripped themselves, and then began the tragedy, which was soon seconded by the multitude. During all this, the pious martyr was on his knees praying to God, and earnestly interceding for his murderers, “that he would not charge this guilt upon them” — till at length he fell asleep in the arms of death, being the first martyr who suffered in the Christian Church, A. D. 34.