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peaceful slumbers. The repose of the breathless corpse, insensible of alarms, and sorrows, and cares, will be a lovely emblem of the sweeter repose of the soul in the arms of Divine love, till ere long Christ shall come to awaken us out of our sleep by that general resurrection of which this of Lazarus was a figure and pledge.
Let these glorious thoughts and expectations animate us to all the returns of affection, duty, and zeal. Let them teach us the temper of Thomas when he said, Let us go and die with him. "Blessed Jesus! how much better is it to die with and for thee, who art the resurrection and the life, than to prolong these wretched days of absence, meanness, and affliction, by forsaking thee when thou art leading us into danger!”
JOHN XI. 17-46.
THEN When Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus saith unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come
into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she arose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye leid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me : And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
Let us by faith continually regard Jesus (as his discourses and actions concur to represent him) as the resurrection and the life; believing on this glorious specimen here given of it, that he can, and will finally cause all that are in the graves to hear his voice, and to come forth, (John v. 28, 29.) A most delightful thought, which we should often apply both to ourselves and to our pious friends! Let the consideration, that they are to arise in the resurrection at the last day, moderate our sorrows for their removal, and forbid our mourning as others that have no hope. (1 Thess. iv. 13.) Were a resurrection on earth expected, though at the distance of several years, we should consider them only as persons absent on a long journey, and expect their return with patience and cheerfulness but oh, how much more certain is the resurrection of the just than the issue of any of our journeys or expectations in life!
We often go, in our thoughts at least, to the grave to weep; but let us not forget to raise our contemplations higher, even to Jesus, who here expressed such tender sentiments of compassion, and wept when he saw the tears of others, though he knew he was going to wipe them away by restoring that friend whom they lamented.-He afflicted himself, and it may be proper for us sometimes to do it, and to hold down our thoughts to those views of things which may give us pain and regret; if that attention be so adjusted and attempered as only to produce a sadness of the countenance that may improve the heart. (Eccles. vii. 3.)
Let the modesty with which our Lord conducted this grand and solemn scene teach us to avoid all mean transports of self-applause, and all fondness for ostentation and parade. Like Jesus, let us in all our ways acknowledge God, and maintain a continual dependance on his influence, to be sought by fervent prayer; and then we may go forth to every duty with a courageous and cheerful assurance that he will carry us honourably and comfortably through it. Let us but stedfastly believe, and we shall see the glory of God: he will manifest his power for our help; and when our case appears to be remediless, then is the time for his almighty hand to save. Let us adore and trust in him who was armed with so divine a power as to be able to rescue the prisoners of death, and to recover the trophies of the all-conquering and devouring grave. And if we are true believers, let us learn to take our part in the triumph with a joyful assurance, that though we putrify in the dust, and after the skin worms devour our bodies, yet in our flesh we shall at length see God. (Job xix. 26.)
It was surely a happy time that succeeded all the lamenta
tions of these affectionate mourners. With what mutual congratulations and unutterable endearments did Lazarus and his sisters behold each other! With what humble gratitude and adoration did they all prostrate themselves at the feet of their Almighty Saviour! But who can conceive the greater transports which shall run through the whole redeemed world at the resurrection day, when piety and friendship shall be perfected, and those who were dearest to each other, both in the bonds of nature and of grace, shall spring up together to an immortal undivided life! In the mean time, let us trust our friends with him (with whom, if we are Christians indeed, we have trusted our souls), believing that the separations he appoints are prudent and kind, and that even our prayers for their recovery are denied in mercy.
JOHN XI. 47-57.
THEN gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.-And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high-priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high-priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
Where shall we find such restless, such causeless, such incorrigible malice, as was in the hearts of these rulers against our blessed Saviour? What but Divine grace can reclaim men, when to have heard of the resurrection of Lazarus from their own friends and confidants, who had just been eye
witnesses of it, instead of conquering their hearts, served only to inflame their murderous rage!
This is an instance where we evidently see the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there, (Eccles. iii. 16.) The highpriest lays down a most dangerous, though plausible, maxim, which is in effect no other than this, "That the murder of an innocent person by forms of law" which, (as a noble sufferer observed, is surely the worst kind of murder,) nay, even of a person who by miracles demonstrated that he was an ambassador from God, was to be chosen, rather than by protecting and obeying him, to give umbrage to an earthly power, which seemed superior to their own." When will the politicians of this earth learn to trust God in his own ways, rather than to trust themselves, and their own wisdom, in violation of all the rules of truth, honour, and conscience? Till then, like this foolish ruler, they will be caught in their own craftiness; and it is more than possible that they may, in many instances, hasten the very distress they are contriving to avoid. For this was here the event: the Romans (called therefore the people of Messiah the Prince, Dan. ix. 26,) were sent as executioners of the Divine vengeance, and the Jews were given up to a spirit of discord and madness, the terrible effects of which were such as cannot be read without horror, till their place and nation were taken away; nor could even the Roman general forbear declaring that the hand of God was apparent in their destruction.
Let us attend to this Divine oracle which God saw fit to put into the mouth of so wicked a man. Jesus has actually died for the people, even for all the children of God that are scattered abroad. His death is substituted instead of theirs ; and by it they are redeemed and delivered, and shall ere long be incorporated together, and all the happy colony be raised to an abode of eternal glory. Blessed harvest, which springs up from redeeming blood! Heroic love of the dear Redeemer, which at the proper time brought him to Jerusalem, where he knew that evil was determined against him! Let us follow him, in a courageous adherence to God and our duty, in the midst of danger and opposition; and not wonder if we are set up as the marks of infamy and reproach, when we see Jesus marked out by a public mandate, as if he had been a robber or a murderer; and find so numerous and grand a court of judicature requiring their subjects to seize this most generous Friend of the whole world as the grand enemy of God and his country.