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and began to speak. The tokens of life, strength and vigour, appeared immediately upon the command of Jesus, His life was manifestly known hereby to be the effect of the power accompanying the word of Jesus.
This was reckoned a miracle by the numerous company present, before whom it was publicly done; and they reported it to others, for it follows: “ And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a prophet is risen up among us, and that God hath visited his people. And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about."
We will now take a view of the last story of this kind. “ Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and Martha-Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold he whom thou lovest is sick.” Hereby we learn, that Lazarus did not die suddenly; that he was not taken off by a fit, but by a sickness which made gradual advances. His sisters sent to Jesus, “ He whom thou lovest is sick;" supposing that out of his affection for Lazarus, he would come to Bethany; and hoping also that he might possibly get thither before he was dead. That Lazarus was dangerously sick, is evident not only from the substance of the message, but from their sending a messenger so far, and also from their not coming either of them
to Christ. It is also hence apparent, that there could be no fraud and contrivance. The matter is not secretly transacted between Lazarus, his sisters, and Jesus, but here is a messenger employed. Moreover, if they had had any thought of such a great design in hand, as making a pretence of raising up Lazarus, though not dead, some one of these sisters would have come herself. Nothing but real sickness could have kept the sisters at home, and from coming to Jesus. The thought of making a pretence of so great a miracle as raising a dead man to life would certainly have obliged one of the nearest relations to come in person to him, who was to have the honour of so mighty a work.
Jesus staid some time in the place where he was, after the receiving a message of Lazarus's sickness. He receives no more messages; a sign there was no longer any need of his coming, and that Lazarus was recovered; or else that he was in such a state, that his friends had no longer hopes of any benefit from Jesus.
But at length Jesus resolves to go into Judea, and sets out with his disciples for Bethany, though it was nigh to Jerusalem, where the Jews had lately sought his life: a sure sign of the consciousness of his innocence and integrity. Had it been thought necessary to concert a pretended miracle between Jesus and these persons: Lazarus might have come to the country be. yond Jordan, and a death and a resurrection might have been contrived there. None would have chosen Bethany for the scene of a pretended miracle at this time; so near the fiercest enemies, so near the great council of the Jews. If a miracle had been contrived at Bethany, it would not have been upon an inhabitant of the place, a well-known person, but some stranger purposely arrived there by accident, but who should have no occasion to come thither again. What reward, what sum of money could be sufficient to induce a well-known person, inhabitant of Bethany, so near Jerusalem, to enter into a combination with Jesus, to be the person on whom an imposture of this kind should be acted?
“ Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.-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." Hence it is evident, that Lazarus's death and burial were public things. Moreover these sisters did not go to Jesus: Martha does not go, till she hears Jesus is near the house; and Mary stays still at home; all arguments of true sorrow, and that there was no contrivance.
"" Then saith Martba unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." How natural expressions of sorrow and concern! Did this person, who spoke these words, know her brother was alive still, and only feigned to be dead ? Impossible. « But I know, that even now whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." More words, that demon. strate, they were not in any concerted design of feigning a miracle. After some more discourse between her and Jesus, she went her way, and “called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is ceme 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, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily, and went out, followed her; saying, She goeth unto the grave, to weep there.” Mary's grief was real, in the opinion of all these persons, who might, one would think, have known it to be counterfeit, if it had been so.
“ 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.” She had no more thought of seeing her brother raised presently by Jesus, than her sister Martha had.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” Here are in this joint weeping of Mary and her friends the token of a deep sorrow, arising from the death of Lazarus, and a despair of ever seeing him again, before the resurrection at the last day. Their grief so far exceeded the boundsit ought to have done, when Jesus, who had already given such demonstrations of his power, was with them, that he “ groaned in spirit, and was troubled.”
." Ver. 34. “ And said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see.” Jesus himself first makes the proposal of going toward the sepulchre by asking the question ; “ where they had laid him." There appear no where any intimations that they had hopes of seeing Lazarus alive again.
They go toward the sepulchre, ver. 38. “ Jesus—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 has been dead four days.” Need. I here remark, that these are the words of one, who knew her brother was dead? She expresses herein such a want of all hopes of seeing her brother alive again, that Jesus reproves her, and says: “Said I not unto thee, That if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?"
Now with what deliberation, and with what solemnity of address to the Father, does Jesus proceed to this great work, that the minds of all the company might be attentive, and observe!
Ver. 41-44. “ Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lift 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 with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him.go!!
There is no occasion for remarks here: he who was dead came out with burial clothes upon: him, with all the tokens of a corpse buried by his friends; so bound, that in. a natural course he was not able to move; and he was ordered to be unloosed by others, not being able to help. himself; that all might see the tokens of life, strength and vigour, by the actions of walking:
Is there any reason to doubt after this view of this relation, whether this was a real miracles. and whether they who were present must not be sure it was so, and report it as such, as John. has done?
But we will proceed a little farther. All present are represented as persuaded it. For many of the Jews, which came to Mary and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on. him:" that is, believed him to be the Messias. “ But some of them,” being wicked malicious. men, “ went to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done." And the Pharisees considering the greatness of this work, and that such things as these would tend to bring “all. men,” great numbers of people, to believe on him, " from that day forth they took counsel to-gether to put him to death,” ver. 53.
That this thing was no imposture, but a real miracle, appears finally from hence; that not. long after this, (by which time the Pharisees might have inquired into the matter, and got evidence of the imposture, if any could be had) Jesus comes publicly to Jerusalem, enters into. the temple, teaches there boldly from day to day, spends several days at Jerusalem, and in the neighbourhood, at Bethany itself, the place of this action; and lives all this time in the most public open manner at the near approach of one of the Jewish principal festivals, where there was a general resort thither from all parts. He celebrates moreover this great feast with his disciples in Jerusalem. And supper being over, he goes into a garden, an usual place of retirement, with his disciples: whither the officers of the high priest come to apprehend him, to whom he voluntarily surrenders himself. Whereupon he is examined and tried before the council, and been fore Pilate, but not one imposture of any kind is proved or charged upon him.
I might conclude here, but I am willing to add a few observations on the propriety and beauty of our Lord's action, and of the evangelists' relations.
St. Matthew informs us, that when the ruler came to Jesus, he was discoursing to the people. “ While Jesus spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler to him—saying, My daughter is even now dead, but come and lay thy hand upon her.—And Jesus arose and followed him," Matt. ix. 18.
Jesus is always ready, never unwilling or unprepared for the performance of any good work: but immediately hearkens to the call, and proceeds without delay from good and useful discourse to great and useful works.
Not only the disciples, but those also that were hearing him, go along with him: “ And much people followed him, and thronged hiin,” Mark v. 24. As he is going, a woman in the crowd, who had a long and grievous infirmity, secretly touches him and is healed. “ Jesus, perceiving that virtue had gone out of him,”. instead of omitting the notice hereof, and hasting along to Jairus's house, lest the case should become too desperate and beyond his reach; but knowing that all things were in his power, stops, turns him about, and asks, " Who touched me?”
How sedate is his temper! He is not exalted with the thought of the honour done him by a ruler of a synagogue, who had earnestly besonght him to heal his daughter. He is not in any haste to proceed to his house, lest the opportunity of showing his power in the family of a ruler in Israel should be lost: but stands still, inquires who touched him; hears the poor woman tell her case, and confirms her cure, by bidding her “
in peace. Jesus was now going to Jairus 's house, whose daughter was by this time dead. And there was no way left for him to help this ruler; and perform his request, of laying his hand on his daughter, that she might live, without raising her up from the dead. As he is going to this surprising awful action of giving life to the dead, virtue issues forth from him through his garment, and heals a long and obstinate disease. How great is Jesus here! How transporting the idea the mind forms of him!
When he came “to the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and” others « making a noise, he said unto them: Give place, for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth,” Matt. ix. 28. What modesty! what humility! “ They laughed him to scorn," supposing him to speak of natural sleep. Yet he corrects not their mistake. Nothing can draw out from him any word that has the appearance of boast or vanity. I shall by and by give a like instance of modesty in St. John's history of the miracle of La
He who reads such passages as these in these evangelists, the one originally of so sordid an employment as that of a publican, the other an illiterate fisherman, may be assured, they did not invent, but that they drew some real character: there not being, I believe, another such example of modesty to be found in any author ancient or modern; how well soever skilled in historical facts, or however renowned for greatness of genius and fruitfulness of fancy. The humble modesty is equal to the miracle. Such things as these do they write, in the coolest terms, the plainest manner. They subjoin not a fulsome, or any other set encomium. They have not added a passionate exclamation, or so much as a hint of special observation. But the attentive reader, when he pauses and reflects, finds his heart glowing with an ardent affection and zeal for him of whom they write. Nor can he help being transported with the thought of the unparalleled unaffected honesty and simplicity of the evangelists.
" But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.'
How simple! and yet how truly great is this narration of St. Matthew ! I cannot leave this story, till I have observed the wondrous propriety of our Lord's action throughout the whole of this affair ; which was so public, so diversified with incidents, and so various in its circumstances. So soon as Jairus comes to him, he goes along with him, in order to perform the useful work he had' desired' of him. As he is going, a woman is healed by a secret touch of his garment. He asks, ~ Who touched me?” The disciples tell him, that was a strange question. Still our Lord insists upon it, that somebody had touched him.
He then looks round him, but points out no person : is only silent, till the woman comes, and
trembling reveals the whole matter. And what a lustre has this delay of Jesus in the way to Jairus's house thrown upon his character! What a discovery has it made of his knowledge and power! When he hears it reported to the father, that the damsel was dead, he bids him“ not fear, but believe.” When he comes to the house, he directs all things with the highest propriety, by clearing the house of strangers, that it might be quiet ; taking in with him, “ into the room where the young woman lay," the properest persons that could be chosen out of his disciples, and out of the whole multitude that was there.
In the history of raising the young man at Nain it is said : “ And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier, (and they that bare him stood still) and he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise."
On ordinary occasions Jesus could not work a miracle without being first sought to, lest thereby a suspicion should have arisen, that he had chosen objects within his power. But here the meeting of the corpse being perfectly casual, he had an opportunity of showing both his power and his goodness, without being sought to. And he wisely and graciously lays hold of it, as soon as it offers. How glorious is Jesus here! Travelling with his disciples he meets a dead man, and carried forth to burial. And he on the sudden, without any previous notice of the case, without any prior preparation, raises the dead man to life.
« And he delivered him to his mother.” The highest propriety! He was moved by compassion to perform this work, and he delivers the raised person to her, to whom his life was the greatest comfort. Not to say farther, that she would best know, whether it was her son or another, that was restored to her: and that instead of making a show, and calling upon the multitude to admire the action; he barely delivers the young man to his mother, as if he had only performed an ordinary piece of kindness.
In the history of raising Lazarus there are these things very observable. Jesus had declared to his disciples a design of going to Bethany. Before he sets out from the place where he then was, he says to them: “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth ; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.” Here we have again a like example of humble modesty, with that I observed before in the account of Jairus's daughter. These low soft terms does he use concerning death, and raising to life : the one he terms sleep, the other awaking him out of it; as appears from what follows. “ Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.” Jesus was obliged to let them understand what he meant. “ Then said he unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes, that I was not there (to the intent you inay believe) nevertheless let us go.
When Jesus spoke in the low and ambiguous term of sleep, he added: “ But I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” But having now said plainly, that Lazarus was dead, he does not say: But I go to raise him to life : only intimates in general, that there would be some new proof given them to confirm their faith ; studiously avoiding every thing that had any appearance of boasting. The modesty here is rather greater than in the former case. There Jesus had to do with a mixed multitude of strangers. Here he is talking with his own disciples. Yet he forbears to say beforehand in plain terms, that he should raise Lazarus to life.
Herein also is adorable the wisdom, the goodness, the condescension of Jesus ; that he who could have healed sick Lazarus, or raised him when dead, without opening his lips, or rising from his seat, went from the place of his retirement beyond Jordan into Judea, where they had lately sought his life: because his raising up Lazarus at Bethany, the place where he had died, and was well known, in all those circumstances, and before so many persons as he afterwards did, in person, would be a means of convincing men of the truth of his mission, and of drawing men of that and future ages to the belief of his doctrine, which is so suited to prepare them for eternal life.
There is likewise somewhat very remarkable in the manner of performing this miracle. The great works which our Lord did are in themselves a proof, that he was espoused by God. He accordingly made frequent and public appeals to his works, as certain proots and evidences, that God was with him. But he did not ordinarily, at the time of doing these works, formally and expressly address himself to God. But now being about to perform in the sight of niortal men so extraordinary and affecting a thing, as the raising up from the grave a man that had been buried four days, he lifts up his eyes to heaven, and adores the Father in an act of praise and thanksgiving; acknowledging the power of doing the works he had already done, and of that he
was then going to perform, to have been given him by the Father. “ Then took they away the stone from the place, where the dead was laid. And Jesus lift
And Jesus lift 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.”
That is, the works I do, declare that thou art with me; but that the people may have the fullest assurance that thou concurrest with we, and that the words I speak are not mine but thine ; before I do this great and awful work in their sight, I publicly praise and thank thee. In this way (of an immediate appeal to God) the fullest proof possible was given, that his authority was from the Father, and all objections were answered. See John xiv. 8—11. xvi. 28—30.
Other things might be observed here, but I shall take notice of but one particular more. “ And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” Sure the majesty of the voice well became the work. Herein is some resemblance of that loud command, at the sound of which shall be broken all the bars of hell and the grave, and their doors fly open,
and the dead of all orders and of all times shall awake and come forth; some to honour, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. There is a peculiar propriety and decency in this loud and majestic voice, as it had been immediately preceded by an humble and thankful acknowledgment of the Father, who is over all.
THE END OF A VINDICATION OF THREE OF OUR SAVIOUR'S MIRACLES.