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had washed them with tears of love) with her hair, even the hair iof her head. What notice is taken of this action! With what an eulogy, and in what a high strain of commendation is it here fpoken of? And fuch are the honours of all God's faints. Though all our good works are not recorded as Mary's are, yet God is not unmindful, that he should forget our works of faith, and labours which have proceeded of love. Every tear we shed, every figh we fetch, every alms we give, though it be only a cup of cold water, are all recorded in the Lamb's book of remembrance, and shall be produced to our eternal honour, and rewarded with a reward of grace, though not of debt, at the great and terrible day of the LORD. "I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink, naked, and ye cloathed me, fick and in prison, and
came unto me." What reason have we then to be “ fted fast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, forasmuch as we are assured, that our dabours will not be in vain or forgotten by the LORD ?" It was that Mary that anointed the LORD with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair. And what follows? Whose brother Lazarus was sick." So that being related to CHRIST, or his disciples, will not exempt persons from ficknefs. In this life, time and chance happen to all, only with this material difference, those afflictions which harden the obstinately impenitent, soften and purify the heart of a true believer. “ My son, therefore despise not the chastening of the LORD (on one hand), nor faint when thou art rebuked of him (on the other) : for whom the LORD loveth | he chasteneth, and scourgeth every fon whom he receiveth.”
JESUS loved Lazarus, and yet Lazarus was fick. And what do his fisters do for him now he is sick? No doubt they applied to a physician, for it is tempting GoD to neglect making use of means for the recovery of our health, when it is impaired. But then they were not guilty of Afa's trime, " who fought to the physicians, but not to the Lord." No; they knew the most fkilful prescriptions would be of no effect, unless attended with a blessing from Jesus the Great and Al. mighty Phyfician; and therefore his sisters fent unto him, probably at the beginning of their brother's illaefs. How unlike is their conduct, to that of the generality of people,
especially the rich and great! How unfalbionable is it now-de' days for persons to send to JESUS in behalf of their fick rela. tions ! It is so very uncustomary, that in some places, if a minister be sent for to a sick person, it is a sad symptom that the patient is almost past hopes of recovery. Thus did not Martha and her fifter Mary; they fent unto Jesus, though he was now beyond Jordan, (chap. X. 40.) where he abode, or chiefly resided, for some time. Hence it was that they knew where to send to him. But what kind of message did they send ? A very humble and suitable one. « LORD, Behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” They might have said, LORD, he who loveth thee is Gick. But they knew, that our love was not worth mentioning, and that we love Jesus only because he firft loved us. Besides, here is no prescribing to our LORD what he should do, or what means he should make use of. They do not so much as say, We pray thee to come, or only fpeak the word, and our fick brother shall be restored. They fimply tell Jesus the case, knowing it was sufficient barely to lay it before an infinitely compassionate Redeemer, and leave it to him to act according to his own sovereign good-will and pleasure. « LORD, Behold he whom thou lovest is fick." Oh how sweet is it when the soul is brought to this! And with what a holy confidence may we pray to, and intercede: with the holy Jesus, when we have reason to hope, that those we pray and intercede for, are lovers of, and are beloved of him! For his eyes are in a peculiar manner over the righteous, and his ears always open to their prayers. This was their message, and it soon reached JESUS CHRIST, And: how does he receive it? We are told, verse 4.“ When Jesus heard that, (that he whom he loved was sick) He said, this fickness is not unto death, but unto the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby.” To whom these words were spoken is not certain. In all probability, JESUS fpake them to the persons that delivered Martha's and Mary's mefase. And if so, it was no doubt a comfortable answer for the present, though it must afterwards puzzle them as well as the disciples how to explain it, when they found that Lazarus was actually dead. “This sickness is not unt@death," pot unto an abiding death, because he intended to raise him gain, soon after his decease. It is like that expresion of our
LORD in St. Mark, " The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth ;" which must not be understood in a literal, but metaphorical fenfe. And this and fuch-like instances, ought to teach us to weigh carefully our blessed Lord's words, and to wait for'an explication of them, by subsequent providences; otherwise we shall be in danger of misapplying them, and thereby' bring our souls into unspeakable bondage. " This sickness is not unto death, but unto the glory of God, that ihe Son of God may be glorified thereby.” This is the end both of the afilicLions and the deaths of God's people. By all that happens to them he will be glorified one way or another, and cause every thing to work together for their good. And who then but would be content to be sick, or willing to submit to death itself, if so be the Son of God may be glorified thereby ? This answer, no doubt, proceeded from love. For we are told,
Verse 5. that "Jesus loved Martha and her fister, and Lazarus." Oh happy family! Three in it beloved of Jesus, with a peculiar, everlasting love. “Very often it so happens, (to use the words of the pious Bishop Beveridge) that there " is but one in a city, and two in a country of this stamp."
, , loved by the glorious Jesus. What shall we fay to these things ? Why, that our Saviour's grace is free and fovereign,
and he may do what he will with his own, They who are thus so highly favoured as to have so many converted in one house, ought to be doubly thankful! Such a blessing have not
his faints. No; many, very many, go mourning over their perverse and graceless relations all their lives long; and find, even to their dying day, that their greatest foes are those of their own houshold. Surely these three relations lived a heaven upon earth. For what can they want, what could make them miserable, who are assured of Jesu's love? But surely if Jesus loves this dear little family, the next news one might think we should hear, would be, that he went immediately and healed Lazarus; or at least cured him at a distance. But instead of that, we are told, verse 6. “When he had heard that he was fick, he abode two days still in the fame place where he was.” A strange way this, in the eye of natural reason, of expressing love ; but not fo ftrange in
the eye of faith; for the LORD JESUS very often theweth his love, by deferring to give immediate answers to our prayers. Hereby, he tries our faith and patience, and exercises all our paffive graces. We have a proof of this in the Syrophenician woman, upon whom the blessed Jesus frowned, and spake roughly to at first, only that he might afterwards turn unto her and say, “woman, great is thy faith.”. Let not those then who believe, make too much hafte; or immediately in their hearts repine against the LORD, because he may not answer their requests, in their own time and way. God's time and way is best. And we shall find it to be fo in the end. Martha and Mary experienced the truth of this, though undoubtedly our LORD's feeming delay, to come and heal their brother, coft them great fearchings of heart. But will the LORD Jesus forget his dear Lazarus, whom his foul loveth? “ Can a woman forget her fucking child ?” Indeed she may, but the Lord never faileth those that fear him. Neither, is he flack concerning his promise, as fome men count slackness: for his very delays are answers. The vifon
for an appointed time; in the end it will speak and not lie.
Though our LORD abode two days where he was, to try the faith of these filters, yet after this, he said unto his dife ciples, verse 7. “ Let us go into Judea again.”. With what a holy fansiliarity does Jesus eonverse with his dear children! Our Saviour seems to speak to his disciples, as though he was only their brother, and as it were upon a level with them , " Let us go into Judea again.” How gently, according to what was predicted of him, does he lead those that are with young! Jesus very well knew the weakness of his disciples, and also what a dangerous place Judea was : how gradually therefore does he make known unto them, his design of going thither! And how does he admit his disciples to expoftulate with him on this account! “ Mafter, say they, the Jews of late fought to stone thee, and goeft thou thither again?" They were amazed at our LORD's boldness, and were ready to call it presumption; as we generally are prone to censure and condemo other, zealous and enterprizing persons, as carrying matters too far ; it may be for no other reason, if we examine the bottom of our hearts, but because they go before, and
excel ourselves. The disciples, no doubt, thought that they spoke out of love to their LORD, and assuredly they did; but what a deal of self-love was there mixed and blended with it? They feem much concerned for their Mafter, but they were more concerned for themselves. However Jesus' overlooks their weakness, and mildly replies, verse 9, and 10.“ Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of the world; but if any man walk in the night, he ftumbleth, because there is no light in him." As though our Lord'had faid, My dear disciples, I thank you for your care and concern for me. Judea is a dangerous place, and what you fay of the treatment I met with from its inhabitants, is just and true : but be not afraid of going there upon my account. For as a man walketh safely twelve hours of the day, because he walketh in the light : so as long as the time appointed by my Father for my public adminiftration lasts, I thall be as secure from the hands of my enemies, as a man that walks in broad-day is secure from falling. But as a man stumbleth if he walketh in the night, so when the night of my paffion cometh, then, but not till then, shall I be given up into the hands of my spiteful foes. Oh what comfort have these words, by the blessing of God, frequently brought to my foul! How may all CHRIST's minifters strengthen themselves with this confideration, that fo long as God hath work for them to do, they are immortal! And if after our work is over, our LORD should call us to lay down our lives for the brethren, and to seal the truth of our doctrine with our blood, it would certainly be the highest honour that can be put upon us." To you it is given not only to believe, but also to suffer,” says the apostle to the Philippians.
These things (the evangelist tells us, ver. 11.) said JESUS, and after that, (to satisfy them that he was not going into Judea without a proper call) he faith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” Our friend. Amazing! For what is a friend? As one's own soul. How dear then, and near are true believers to the most adorable Jesus! “Our friend Lazarus.". Still more amazing! Here is condescension, here is unparalleled familiarity indeed. And what of him? “ He Neepeth.”. A figurative way of expreffon. For what is death