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able to comprehend them. Every man has within his own breast what lcadeth him to the acknowledgment of this grand, this fundamental support of religion ; a certain foreboding of immortality, which it is not in his power ever to banish. But, being addicted to sin on account of the present pleasures attending it, we vehemently wish that there were no future state ; and, in consequence of these wishes, we will not allow ourselves to weigh the arguments offered in its behalf, and so, at length, came to work ourselves into an actual disbelief of it. Or if the truth, proving too hard for us, should constrain our assent, the habit of yielding to our passions, which we labour under, has influence sufficient to make us act contrary to our convictions. Wherefore, though the evidence of a future state was more clear and forcible than it is, men might hinder themselves from seeing it, just as they hinder themselves from seeing the evidence hy which it is at present supported. In a word, the proofs of the soul's immortality have always been sufficient to persuade those who have any candour or love of goodness, and to demand more is unreasonable, because, although it were given, it might prove ineffectual If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." Accordingly, Abraham's assertion is verified by daily experience ; for they who look on all the eternal Son of God, who actually arose from the dead, has said concerning the punishments of the damned as so many idle tales, would pay little regard to any thing that could be told them even by a person risen from the dead.
Our Lord, after delivering this awful parable, warned his disciples that offences, stumbling-blocks, or occasions to fall, would certainly come ; but that if any one, by a careless and improper conversation, should place them in the way of his brother, he would be guilty of a great crime, and bring on heavy woe upon his head. They were, therefore, enjowed to cultivate, among other duties, that of forgiveness, lest a spirit of malice and resentment should find its way among them. As the conversation was now desultory, the apostles asked their Master to increase their faith : when he told them, that if they had faith as a grain of mustard-seed, they might say to a sycamore tree that stood near the place, be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea, and it should obey then. This passage is variously understood, some supposing that it refers to the faith of miracles, and is to be interpreted literally; while others take it as a proverbial expression, relating to the conquering of such temptations as might be the most difficult to subdue.
As nothing is more closely connected with every part of vital religion than a spirit oi humility, our Lord then addressed them in a way well calculated to excite that disposition. [Luke xvii. 7..10.] But which of you, having a servant ploughing, or feeding cuttle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, go and sit down to meat ? And will not rather say unto him, make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me till I huve eaten and drunken, and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him ? I trow not. So, likewise, ye, when ye shall have done all these things which are commanded you, say we are unprofitable servants, we have done only that which it was our duty to do. Thus did Christ guard against those pernicious doctrines which were now taught by the Pharisees, and which afterwards did the most extensive injury in his church.
There dwelt, at this time, in the town of Bethany, a village about two miles from Jerusalem, a pious and respectable family, with whom Jesus was intimately acquainted, and whom he had visited on a former occasion, namely, that of Lazarus, and his two sisters, Martha and Mary. The form of these sisters had distinguished herself by berbasidumus attention to our Lord's accommodatiou ; and Mary was marked as
Having chosen that better part which should never be taken froin her. She also anointed our Lord's feet with ointment, and wiped them with the hair of her head, a little before that he was offered up. Lazarus, the brother, a young man whom Christ regarded with the most tender attachment, was now taken dangerously sick. His sisters dispatched a messenger to Christ, to inform him of this trying circumstance, in the hopes that he would favour them with his immediate attendance, and an exertion of his healing power.
But when the Son of God received this information, he determined to abide longer in the country beyond Jordan, that the glory of God might be more fully manifest by the greatness of the miracle he was going to perform.
At length, after waiting two days, he expressed to his disciples his intention of returning to Judea, which so much excited their wonder, that they could not help intimating to hin that he would, by this conduct, certainly endanger his life. 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 wurld. But if any man walk in the night, if he step out of the path of duty, or undertake his duty in an improper time or manner, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he : and after that he suith unto them, our friend Lazarus sleepeth ; but I go that I may awake him out of his sleep. His disciples understood him literally ; and thought, therefore, that this was a favourable sympton, till he informed them plainly that Lazarus was dead; and that so far from being sorry that this was the case, he was glad that he had not been present, as they would speedily become the witnesses of an event, that would tend greatly to the confirmation of their faith. Nevertheless, said he, let us go unto him. Then said Thomas unto his fellow-disciples, since our Master will run this great hazard, let us also go that, if it be necessary, we may die with him.
Thus, as Dr. Lardner has remarked, Jesus, who could have raised Lazarus from the dead without opening his lips, or rising from his seat, leaves the place of his retirement beyond Jordan, and takes a long journey into Judea, where the Jews lately attempted to kill him. The reason was, his being present The reason was, his being present in person, and raising
, Lazarus to life again before so many witnesses at Bethany, where he died, and was well known, would be the means of bringing the men of that and future ages to believe in his doctrine, which is so well fitted to prepare them for a resurrection to life ; an admirable proof and emblem of which he gave them in this great miracle.
It is probable, in this journey towards Jerusalem, that our Lord met with ten lepers as he was passing through Samaria. These unhappy men drew near to the road, and called to Jesus with a loud voice, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
He did not seem to treat them with much regard, but only bid them go and shew themselves to the priests. And as they went, they fouud themselves suddenly restored to a perfect soundness. One of them, a poor Samaritan, perceiving the benefit which had been conferred upon him, cast himself at the feet of his deliverer, and returned God thanks ; but the other nine, who, heiug Jews, had the benefit of better instructions, persevered in their journey without displaying the same sense of gratitude. Jesus enquired, were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine ? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, by a public acknowledgment of the miracle, save this stranger. And he said unto him, arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.
When Jesus and his disciples were come nigh to Bethany, they learned from some of the inhabitants, whom they met accidentally, that Lazarus was four days buried. Wherefore, as a day or two must have been spent in making preparations for the buriai, he could not well be less than five days dead when Jesus arrived. [Jola xi. 18.) Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off. And many of the Jeu's came to Martha and Mary to com/ort them concerning their brother. The evangelist mentions the vicinity of Bethany to Jerusalem, and speaks of the company
of friends that were with the two sisters, to shew us, that by the directions of providence this great miracle had many witnesses, some of whom were persons of note, and inhabitants of Jerusalem.
It seems, the news of our Lord's coming reached Bethany before he arrived, and Martha, the sister of Lazarus, having heard of it, went out to meet him. Her iritention, no doubt, was to welcome bim : but, being in an excess of grief, the first thing she uttered was a complaint that he had not come sooner.
Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him ; but Mary sat still in the house. Martha was so overjoyed with the news, that she did not take time to tell her sister, but went out in all haste. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadət been here my brother had not died. Imagining that Jesus could not cure her brother while at a distance from him, she thought that, by delaying to come, he had neglected to save his life. Thus Martha, in one respect, betrayed a mean notion of the Lord's power; though, in another, her faith aimed at something very high; for she immediately added, but I know that, even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee ; insinuating that she believed his prayer migật yet restore her brother to life. However, she founded her hopes, not on his own power, but on the power of God, to be exerted at his intercession. It is probable, that Martha either had not heard that Christ had before this raised two persons from the dead, or might think her brother's resurrection to be more difficult than theirs, because bis spirit had longer departed. Jesus assured her that her brother should rise again, meaning that it should take place immediately, and according to her desire. But her fears prevented her from understanding him in this sense, but of the resurrection at the last day. To cherish her weak faith, and, as it were, raise it by steps to the belief and acknowledgment of his power, Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: I am the author of the resurrection, and of the life which followeth upon the resurrection; therefore I am able at any time to raise the dead. He that believeth as thy brother did, though he were dead, yet shall he lice, provided I be pleased to raise him. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die eternally, nor shall even endure natural death, if I am pleased to preserve him by my almiglity power. Believest thou this ? She said unto him, yea, Lord, I believe that thom art the Christ, the Son of God, that should come into the world; and therefore must adorit all that thou hast asserted. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, the Master is come, and calleth for chee.
Mary no sooner heard the joyful news of the arrival of Jesus, than she rose and went to bim, without speaking a word to the company of friends who, because she was of a softer disposition than her sister, paid especial attention to her grief; for the remained with her in the house while Martha was gone out; and when she went out they followed her, fearing that she was going to the grave to weep there,
. They even wept with her, when they saw her weep as she spake to Jesus. By this means were the Jews that had come from Jerusalem brought out to the grave, and made witnesses of the resurrection of Lazarus. Vi hen Mary came to Jous, she fell down at his feet, and expressed herself just as Martha had done, only she wept as she spake. When Jesus therefore du her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. He could not look on the afiliction of the two sisters and their friends without having a share in it. Besides, le groaned deeply, being grieved to find that his friends entertained a sus icion of his loving them less than their great love to him might clavin, and was troubled. In the Greek it is, “he troubled himself;" he allowed himselito be angry at the malice of the devil, who had introduced sin into the world, and thereby made such havoc of the human kind. But to keep them no longer in suspense, he asked where they had buried Lazarus, that he might go to the grave, and give them immediate relief by bringing him to life again. On this vccasion, it appeared that Jesus was possessed of a delicate sensibility of human passions. For when he beheld Martha, and Mary, and their companions around him, all in tears, the tender feelings of love, and pity, and friendship, moved him to such a degree, that he wept as he went along. [John xi. 34.] And said, where have ye laid him? they say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. In this grief of the Son of God there was a greatness and generosity, not to say an amiableness of disposition, in finitely wobler than that which the Stoie philosó hers aimed at in their so much boasted apathy.
Then suid the Jews who saw him weeping, behold how he loved him. And some of them said, could not he who, in so many instances, hath opened the eyes. of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died. Jesus, iherefore, again groaning in himself, perhaps on account of his friends as well as of the Jews, who seemed ali of them uiwilling to admit the extent of his power, cometh to the grave, which was a cave, and had a stone lay upon it, by way of cover. Jesus said, take ye away the sto ne. Martha, the sister of him ihat was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh ; for he hath been dead four days. She meant, probably, to susimuate, that her brother's resurrection was not to be expected, considering the state he was in. Wherefore, [John ii. 10.] Jesus saith unto her, said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldst believe thou shouldest see the glory of God ? i. e. an instance. of the great power ud good less of God in thv brother's resurrection. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. . On many occasions, Jesus had publicly appealed to his own miracles as the proofs of his mission ; but he did not ordinarily make a formal address to bis Father before he worked them, though to have done se would have she ed from whence he derived his authority. Nevertheless, being about to raise Lazarus from the dead, he praved for his resurrection, to make the personis present sensible that, in working his miracles, he acted by the assistance, not of devils, as his enemies maliciously affirmed, but of God; and that this miracle in particular could not be effected without an immediate interposition of the divwe power. The evangelist, it is true, does not say directly, either that Jesus prayed, or that he praved for this end : but the thanksgiving which he tells us he offered up, implies both. And Jesus lift up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou has heard ine. And I know 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 : I did not prav for my own sake, as if I had entertained any doubt of thine impowering me to do this ini acle, for I know that thou hearest me always ; but I prayed for the people's sake, to make them sensible that thou lovest me, hast sent me, and art continually with me. By this prayer and thanksgiving, therefore, Jesus has insinuated, that his own resurrection from the dead is an infallible proof of his divine mission ; no power i ferior to God's being able to accomplish a thing of this kind. And when he had thus spoke1, le tied riike a loud voice, Lazarus coine for th. The dead man heard the voice of the Sog of God, and came forth immediately : for he did not i'tive slowly and by degrees, as the dead child did that was raised by the prophet Elisha. But i he affect thus instantly following the command, plainly shewer whose the power was that revived the brcathless clay. If the Lord had net intended this, instead of
speaking, he might have raised Lazarus by a secret inward volition. Because the people were not so much as dreaming of a resurrection, they must have been surprised when they beard our Lord pray for it. The cry, “ Lazarus come forth,"
, must have astonished them more, and raised their curiosity to a prodigious pitch. But whey they saw liim spring out alive, in perfect health, that had been rotting in the grave four days, they could not but, be a. itated with many different passions, and overwhelmed withi inexpressible amazement. [John xi. 14.] 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, lovse him, and let him go. It would have been the least part of the miracle, had Jesus made the rollers wherewith Lazarus was bound unloose themselves from around his body before he came forth. But le bi ught him out just as he was lying, and ordered the spectators to loose hiin, that they might be the better convinced of the miracle. Accordingly, in taking off the graveclothes, they bad the fullest evidence both of his death and resurrection. For, or the one hand, the manner in which he was swathey must of itself have killed bim in a little time, had he been alive when buried ; consequently, it demonstrated, bevond all exception, that Lazarus was several days dead before Jesus called hun forth. Besides, in stripping him, the linen might offer, both to their eyes and smell, abundant proofs of his putrefaction, and, by that meanis, convince them that he had not been in a trance, but was really departed. On the other hand, by his lively countenauce appearing when the napkin was removed, his fresh colour, his actire vigour, and his brisk walking, they who came near him and handled him were made sensible that he was in perfect health, and had an opportunity to try the truth of the miracle by the closest examination.
Cousidering the nature and circumstances of this great miracle, it might have overconie the obstinacy of prejudice, and should have put to shame the impudence of malice. Wherefore, we cannot help being surprized to find that the cry, '“ La za rus come forth,” did not produce on all the people present an effect some way similar to that which it had on Lazarus. It raised him from the natural death, and might
. have raised the stupidest of the spectators from the spiritual, by working in them the lively principle of faith.
Every reader must be sensible that there is something incomparably beautiful in the whole of our Lord's behaviour on this occasion. After having given such an astonishing instance of his power, he did not speak one word in his own praise, either directly or indirectly. He did not chide the disciples for their unwillingness to accompany him into Judea He did not rebuke the Jews for having, in former instances, maliciously detracted from the lustre of his miracles, every one of which derived additional credit from this incontestable wonder. He did not say how much they were to blame for persisting in their infidelity, though he well knew what they would do. He did not insinuate, even in the most distant manner, the obligations which Lazarus and his sisiers were laid under by this signal favour. He did not upbraid Martha and Mary with the discontent they had expressed at bis having delaved to me to the roliet of their brother. Nay, he did not so much as put them in mind of the mean not.op they had entertained of bis power ; but always consistent with lumself, he was on this, as on every other occasion, a pattern of perfect humility und absolute self-denial.
This miracle was too remarkable not to produce the most important effects in the minds of the beholders. Sone of them, struck with this instance of divive power and herevolence, vielded to the conviction, and acknowledged him as the true Messiah ; but others, desirous of ingratiating themselves with the rulers of the nations,