« PreviousContinue »
tressing, to hear a future life spoken of as a life that must be happy to hear death represented as securing ease and comfort :-with no mention of Him who is alone the resurrection and the life: with no reference to that faith in him, which God has promised to count unto us for righteousness. We talk of a better world: we talk of the happiness of heaven and forget that there is a sting in death-the sting of sin; and that he alone can remove that sting, who now tells Martha to look on him as the resurrection and the life, who giveth us the victory, and in whom whosoever believeth shall not die eternally.
He asks her with pointed earnestness, Believest thou this?
27. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
This is the truth, which was the basis of all the rest. He was the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. This Martha knew ; and she would soon know more clearly what only his death could reveal, and his resurrection confirm that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;" that when "all were dead, he died for all," that whosoever liveth and believeth in him may never die. The body indeed shall die; shall lose its beauty and its powers; shall moulder in the grave. The sentence is still without remission, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Still the man shall live;
shall be conscious of existence for his soul shall return to God who gave it, to the Saviour who redeemed it, to the Holy Ghost who purified it, and so shall ever be with the Lord." And in the end, when this world passeth away, "the dead in Christ shall rise;" he shall " change their vile body that it may be made like unto his glorious body," and "be with him where he is, and behold the glory which he had with the Father" from the beginning. This is the truth which he has disclosed, and which by his own resurrection he has sealed. He " being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of them that slept;" the earnest of that vast harvest, when all that has been "sown in corruption, shall be raised in incorruption," and enter upon a state that shall have
Let all put the question to themselves which Jesus put to Martha, Believest thou this? We all believe it; and yet how little is it seen in our lives that we have this conviction within! How few admit the thought, This year, this day, I may die, and dying, enter upon an eternal world! Can we proceed, and say, "But none of these things move me, neither count I my earthly life dear unto myself:" for "I know in whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep what I have committed to him." He is the resurrection and the life. He is my life here on earth for "the life which I live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God." He will be my life in the world that is to come :
for though he died for our sins," he "rose again for our justification ;" and is now set down for ever at the right hand of the Majesty on high, that he may fulfil the merciful assurance, that whosoever liveth and believeth in him shall never die.
Here then is comfort for a dying bed. Not the comfort of the ignorant, who says, that such must be the end of all, without reflecting on what may follow. Not the comfort of the atheist, who calls death the debt of nature. What consolation does that thought supply! But here is the Prince of Life, who says, Though thou art dying, though there is a bottomless pit far more dreadful than the grave, he that believeth in me shall never die.
JESUS ACCOMPANIES MARY AND MARTHA TO THE GRAVE OF LAZARUS.
JOHN Xi. 28-40.
28. 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.
29. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
32. 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.
33. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35. Jesus wept.
36. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37. 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?
We have sufficient proof here, if proof were needed, that Jesus did not merely bear the form and fashion of a man, but the nature and feeling too. He saw around him a scene of grief: those who were thus mourning, were persons in whom he took that peculiar interest which belongs to what we call friendship; and their grief excited in him those emotions of sorrow, that sympathy which we cannot withhold when we witness distress in those we love. Jesus wept. Though he was inwardly conscious, that a very short period would elapse before that sorrow was turned into joy, yet the sorrow and the signs of it were present, and
he did not resist the sympathetic feeling which they excited in him. Jesus wept.
The Holy Spirit, who guided the sacred writers into all truth, has recorded this circumstance. Had it not been Jesus who wept, had not Jesus, who wept, been the Son of God, it would not have been an important circumstance. But now it is full of consolation: it assures us how deep an interest he feels in those who devote themselves to him, as Martha and Mary did it encourages us in every thing with freedom and boldness to make our supplications known before him : it teaches us more surely than words could teach us, that we do not commit ourselves to a Master" who cannot be touched with our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Here too we learn another lesson. Philosophy did not teach it; sometimes it pretended to teach otherwise but he who knows the circumstances and the heart of man, here shows us, that it is no sin and no reproach to be affected with our own sorrows and those of our friends. Nay, it is part of that brotherly kindness which the gospel cherishes, to · make all men take a share in the circumstances of their neighbours; to "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."
38. Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon
39. 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.
1 Heb. iv. 15.