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“ Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace :
He hides a smiling face."
There are many things in the divine government which we cannot comprehend ; and we may be tempted to think that God deals hardly with us when our requests are not granted, and our dearest friends are taken from us; yet if we reflect on our own ignorance, and the infinite wisdom and goodness of the Almighty, we shall find abundant reason to resign ourselves cheerfully and entirely to his disposal. If Isaac must be offered up, as a sacrifice, it is to prove the obedience of Abraham. If Joseph is cruelly rent from his father, it is that he may be sent before him into Egypt to preserve life. If Lazarus falls sick and dies, it is “ for the glory of God.”
3. We observe the sympathy and compassion of Christ. When our Lord knew that Lazarus was dead, he said to his disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.” At this the disciples express their surprise ; and remind him of the danger to which he would be exposed, amongst those Jews who so recently bad sought to stone him. “ Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.” The substance of our Lord's argument appears to be this :—" I have a work to perform; and until that work is done the Jews cannot touch me. Their hour, and that of the power of darkness, cannot commence until I have been to Bethany, and have raised Lazarus from the dead. This is a part of the great work which is given me to do.” Thus he teaches us, that when duty calls, we must be regardless of danger; and that, while we are doing the will of God, He will protect us. “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely; but he that perverleth his way shall stumble and fall.” “ For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” “ Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him :" as if he should say, “Let us not forsake our Master in the time of peril. Let us share all his dangers. If the Jews kill him, let them kill us also. With him let us live and die, that we may be with him in his kingdom of glory.” And such should be the disposition of every professor of the Christian faith. If we are called to confess Christ before men, amidst dangers and sufferings, let us remember that, “if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him ; if we deny him, he also will deny us.”
The scene which follows is one of the most interesting and affecting in the history of our Lord. What tenderness, what sympathy, what deep compassion, does he manifest on this mournful occasion! When he drew near the place where he had been wont to enjoy the society of this pious and devoted family,—when Martha met him in tears,—and Mary fell at his feet, weeping, when he heard the reiterated exclamation, “ Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died,” his compassionate soul melted within him; be bore a part in the lamentations of his friends; he sighed, and groaned, and wept. And they that stood by said, “ Behold how he loved him.” Our blessed Redeemer was “made in all points like unto vs, yet without sin.” He had all the innocent affections of human nature; and although that nature was, in him, so pure and holy, as to be made the abode of the “ fulness of the Godhead," it was not beneath the dignity of his character to sorrow for the afflicted, and to “ weep with those that wept.” In this respect he has left us an example which we should strive to imitate, by cultivating that tenderness of heart which shares in the sorrows, and takes pity on the misery, of others. That man who can regard with apathy the death of some, who can behold without emotion the overwhelming grief of others, is not only unworthy of the Christian name, but a disgrace to human nature. I cannot, however, think that the Saviour's emotion originated solely in his compassion for the sisters of the deceased. He knew that Lazarus would be restored to life ; and that the sorrow of Martba and Mary would be turned into joy when they should receive their brother from the dead; but he knew also that the resurrection of Lazarus would so exasperate his enemies, as to make them more intent than ever upon his destruction. He foresaw all the dreadful consequences of their obstinate unbelief; and he felt as he did when he approached the city and exclaimed, “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee! How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate!"
4. We observe the inveterate prejudice of the Jews. The great body of the people were fully prepared to resist the clearest evidence of the divine mission of our Lord. Such was their malice and envy, tbrat they took occasion to charge him with inconsistency : “ Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died ?” As if they had said, “ If he loved Lazarus so much, why did he not save him from death? But if he could not rescue his friend from sickness and death, who can believe that he gave sight to a man that was born blind ? Tell us no more of his miracles ! Why did he not work a miracle on Lazarus ?" Seeing this strange perverseness, “ Jesus again groaned in himself.” His compassion was moved afresh at their deplorable condition, who thus obstinately closed their eyes against the light, and would not be persuaded to embrace the truth. Then he approached the grave, and commanded it to be opened, that they might see the corrupting corpse; and, beholding that corpse suddenly restored to life, by his sovereign word, might be convinced that he was indeed the Messiah, or be left without excuse.
It was said by the enemies of Christ, that he wrought his miracles by the power of Satan :-" He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.” Therefore he 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."
They must now have perceived that what our Lord did was done in the name and by the power of God; and then to convince them that he himself possessed almighty power, “ 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.”
How amazing, how irresistibly convincing was this! There could be no contrivance, no imposture, here. The spectators were compelled to acknowledge that Christ was no pretended worker of miracles. They saw the literal accomplishment of his own words,“ Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.” Some of them yielded to conviction, and believed on him; but others went and told the Pharisees what things Jesus had done. “ Then gathered the Chief Priests and 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 will come, and take away both our place and nation.” They “ took counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed.” They conspired the destruction of him whom they knew to be the Son of God. It was not want of evidence, it was want of honesty, which led them madly to resist the truth of God: and now they were bent on filling up the measure of their iniquity. It is equally true of them and of all modern infidels, that “if they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
II. We proceed to consider the illustration which this miracle affords of all the leading doctrines of the Gospel.
1. It illustrates the supreme divinity of Jesus Christ. I shall not enter into any lengthened argument upon this subject. The evidence of the divinity of Christ stands upon the face of the narrative. If there be any truth in the Gospel history; if there really was such a person as the Lord Jesus Christ; if the miracles which are attributed to him were actually wrought; then he must have been, what he declared himself to be, the Son of God, in whom “dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead;” who " was in the beginning with God, and was God.” In him resided that infinite, almighty power by which the laws of nature were established, and by which alone they could be suspended or reversed. He did the works which no other man had ever done; and therefore he said, “ Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works' sake.” It may be objected, that similar miracles have been performed by men who never pretended to be VOL. XIV. Third Serios. May, 1835.
more than human beings, invested with a commission from above; by the Prophets, before our Lord's days, and by his Apostles, after his crucifixion. We grant the fact; but it should be remembered, that the Prophets and Apostles all wrought their miracles by virtue of a power which they uniformly confessed was not their own. But it was not so with Christ. His miracles were wrought in his own name ; accomplished by a power which resided in bimself; and, in some instances, as in the resurrection of Lazarus, for the specific purpose of attesting and demonstrating his own essential Godhead. Indeed, no man can maintain any thing like consistency in his interpretations of Scripture, who denies the supreme divinity of our blessed Lord.
The titles of God are all applied to him in the sacred writings. He is called “the great God, and our Saviour.” To him the attributes of God are every where ascribed ; his omniscience, his creative energy, and his eternal being. The worship which is due to God alone, we are commanded to render to him; and it is written, “ Let all the angels of God worship him." Above all, he said, appealing to his miracles in proof of that solemo declaration, “ I and my Father are one." This doctrine, like the key-stone of an arch, supports the whole fabric of Christianity. With it must stand or fall the doctrine of atonement; and, of course, that of the fallen, ruined condition of mankind, which rendered the atonement necessary. Take away these, and what have we left which the morals of Seneca or Epictetus could not supply? And it would be absurd and impious to suppose that the Almighty, who acts at all times with infinite wisdom, should have revealed a new religion from heaven, and attested it by innumerable prodigies, miracles, signs, and wonders, for no other purpose than to institute a system of morality which any mere human creature might have been instructed to impart.
“ Talk they of morals, O thou bleeding Love !
Thou maker of new morals to mankind !
The grand morality is love of Thee ! ” The divine law has been violated; and “cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” O what hath Christ done to deliver us from this tremendous penalty! He has obeyed the law, and made it honourable ; suffered its curse, and thereby expiated our offences; that “ believing in him, we might have life.” This is the condition, the one sole condition, of our restoration to the favour and the image of God. But what warrant has our faith? How shall we know that Christ is equal to the work of redeeming and saving our souls? We are assured of this by the miracles he wrought, which prove that he is in truth the Almighty God, our Saviour. “Great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." “ Therefore he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him." Do you ask, " What inust I do to be saved ?" Take hold of his infinite atonement; and
remember, “it is God that justifieth ; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us.”
« The smoke of thy atonement here,
Darkend the sun, and rent the veil;
And show'd the Great Invisible :
Its savour sweet doth always please :
Diffusing life, and joy, and peace ;
And fills them with divine perfumes.” 2. This miracle illustrates also the doctrine of the general resurrection.
One great end for which our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead was to confirm his disciples in a belief that his own resurrection should succeed his death ; as he had told them before ; showing “how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the Elders, and Chief Priests, and Scribes, and be killed, and raised again the third day.” At the same time, it was bis object, by this miracle, to confirm and illastrate the general resurrection of mankind at the last day. No doctrine is more clearly revealed than this. “The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his (Christ's) voice, and sball come forth : they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Let us learn from our Lord's gentle rebuke to Martha, never to doubt the verity of the word of God. He is a God of truth; he cannot lie; and, therefore, what he hath said, he will bring to pass, however impossible it may seem to the unbelieving mind.
To render all unbelief utterly inexcusable, the Lord Jesus Christ has given many actual examples, specimens, as it were, of the resurrection of the dead. He raised the daughter of Jairus, who was but lately deceased; the son of the widow of Nain, whom they were carrying to the grave; and Lazarus, whose body had already begun to decay ; and many others, who had been still longer dead, “ came out of their graves ” immediately after his own resurrection, “and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” “Why, then, should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” I have neither time nor inclination to enter into metaphysical arguments upon this subject. I admit that the difficulties which at first sight seem to envelope the doctrine of the universal resurrection may, in some degree, be obviated by a reference to the principles of a sound philosophy; but still the doctrine is a matter of pure revelation; and, after all, must rest upon the truth of God, who has declared it, and his almighty power to accomplish his own declaration. It is too evident, to