« PreviousContinue »
to the lovers of JESUS CHRIST, but a fleep, and a refreshing one too? Thus it is faid of Stephen when he died, that he fell afleep." CHRIST indeed died, but believers only fleep. And thofe that fleep in JESUS, (fays the fcripture) will GoD bring with him." Our friend Lazarus fleepeth." For though he be dead, I fhall raife him from the grave fo foon; that his dying will be only like a person's taking a short fleep. "Our friend Lazarus fleepeth, but I go that I may awake him out of fleep." By this time, one would imagine, our LORD's difciples fhould have underflood him: But how unwilling are we to believe any thing that we do not like. “Then faid his difciples, LORD, if he fleep he shall do well." Oh fearful, and flow of heart to believe !. How fain would they excuse themselves from going into Judea, for fear of a few ftones! By this way of talking, how do they in effect impeach their bleffed Mafter's conduct, and under a pretence of preferving his perfon, fofter, and as it were plead for their own (though perhaps undifcerned) cowardice and unbelief? That charity, which hopeth and believeth all things for the beft, teacheth us to judge thus favourably of them. For,
Howbeit JESUS fpake of his death: they thought that he had spoken of taking reft in fleep." The great and compaffionate High-priest knowing and remembering they were but 9 duft, throws a veil of love over their infirmity; and at length, verfe 14. "Saith unto them plainly (for if we wait on Jesus, we fhall know his will plainly, one way or another) Lazarus is dead." And even then, left they fhould be fwallowed up with overmuch forrow, he immediately adds, verfe 15. " And I am glad for your fakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe," or have more faith, or have that faith which you already poffefs increased and confirmed. A plain proof this, that all JESU's delays to anfwer prayer, are only to frengthen our faith.
"Nevertheless, fays our LORD, let us go unto him." This was a sufficient hint, if they knew how to improve it, that he intended to do fomething extraordinary, though he would not tell them directly what he intended. For the LORD JESUS will keep thofe whom he loves, at his foot, and dependant on hims Let us go unto him.". He fill fpeaks as though they were his equals. Oh that Chriftians in general, Oh that mi
nifters in particular, 'would learn of him their great exemplar, to condescend to men of low degree! Well, the fecret is now Qud. JESUS has faid unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And what reception does this melancholy news meet with? With great condolance, especially from Thomas; for verse 16. Then faid Thomas, who is called Didymus, unto his fellow difciples, let us alfo go and die with him;" i. e. according to fome, with Lazarus, with whom, it may be, Thomas had contracted an intimate acquaintance. But granting it was fo; fhall I commend him for this paffionate expreffion? I commend him not. Surely he fpake unadvisedly with his lips; "Let us alfo go and die with him." As though there was no comfort henceforward to be expected in the world, now his friend Lazarus was gone. This was a great fault, and yet a fault that many of God's children run into daily, by mourning for their deceased relations overmuch, like perfons that have no hope. But this infirmity ought not to be indulged. For if our friends and dear relatives are dead, JESUS, that friend of finners, is not dead. He will be better to us than feven fons, and will abundantly supply thesplace of all creature-comforts. But I am more inclined to think that the word him, refers to JESUS his dear Mafter; and if fo, he is fo far from being blamed, that he spake like cagood foldier of JESUS CHRIST. Let us alfo go, that we may die with him. If our dear master will go into Judea, and hazard his precious life, let us not any longer make fuch frivolous excufes, but let us manfully accompany him; and if the Jews fhould not only be permitted to stone, but also to kill him, let us also go and die with him, we cannot die in a better caufe. This was a fpeech worthy of a chriftian. hero, and Thomas herein hath fet us an example, that we fhould follow his fteps, by exciting and provoking one another closely to adhere to the bleffed JESUS, especially when his caufe and intereft is in any immediate danger. This exhortation, it seems, had a proper effect. They all went, and oas bfar as we know, chearfully accompanied their glorious Mafter.
How their thoughts were exercised on the road, we are not stold. But I am apt to believe they were a little discouraged when they came to Bethany Foreff: When. Jesus came, whe
found that Lazarus had lien in the grave for four days already." And what would it avail them, to come fo many miles only to fee a dead man's tomb ? But how wifely weres all things ordered by the bleffed JESUS, to manifeft his glory in the most extraordinary manner, that not only his difciples might have their faith confirmed, but many alfo of the Jews mighty bea lieve on him. This Bethany, it feems, verfe 18.was nigħ unto Jerufalem, about fifteen furlongs off," oro about dewo miles and Martha and Mary, being what we may call peo ple of fashion, and devout likewife; many of the devout, v and we may fuppofe many of the wealthy Jews came from the metropolis, as well as other adjacent places, verfe 19 to Martha and Mary; not to pay an idle, trifling, but a ferious, profitable vifit, to comfort them concerning their brother." This was kind and neighbourly. To weep with those that weep, and to vifit the afflicted in their diftreffes, is one effent tial branch of true and undefiled religion, And O how sweet is it when we vifit furviving friends, that we have reafon to think that their departed relations died in the LORD. And we can therefore give them comfort concerning them For "bleffed are the dead, that die in the LORD, even forfaith <! the Spirit, for they reft from their labours." This and fuch like arguments, no doubt, thefe vifitors made ufc of, to comed fort Mariba and Mary. And indeed they ftood in much need of confolation. For we have reason to fuppofe, from our LORD's answer, "This fickness is not unto death, but silic glory of God; that they had entertained thoughts of the recovery of their brother. But who can tell what these two holy fouls must feel, when they found their brother did notu recover, but was dead, laid out, and now flinking in the filent... grave! What hard thoughts, without judging them,' mayıs' we fuppofe they entertained concerning JESUS! Think oye not that they were ready to cry out in the language of then I prophet, Thou haft deceived us, and we are deceived" But, man's extremity is Jasu's opportunity. In the multitude of the forrows that they had in their hearts, the news of CHRIST'S Coming refreshes their fouls. Somebody or another commendably officious, privately informs Martha of it,ac "Who, as foon as he heard that JESUS was come (without making any apology to the company for her rudeness) went - and
and met him. But Marys fat ftill in the house." But why: foMery thought thou hadst been most forward to attend on Jesus, and thy fifter Martha more prone to be cumbered: about the many things of this life. Why fitteft thou still? the may be the news was brought only privately to Martha (for it is plain from verfe 31ft, that the Jews who were in the house knew not of it ;) and Martha knowing how our LORD had chid her once, was refolved he should have no reason on the fame account to chide her any more; therefore when the news was brought, fhe would not fo much as ftay to inform her! fifter, but went out to fee whether it were true or not, and if fo, as the eldest fifter, fhe would invite the bleffed Jesus in.t How happy is it, when CHRIST's reproofs for past neglects, excite our future zeal to come out and meet him! Such re-q proofs are an excellent oil. Or, it may be, the news reached Mary's ears, as well as Martha's, but being overcome with forrow, the thought it too good news to be true, and therefore!? fat still in the houfe. O how careful ought believers to be, to cherish and maintain, even in the midst of tribulation, holy confidence and joy in GOD! For the joy of the LORDW is a believer's ftrength. Whereas giving way to melancholy and unbelief, raises gloom and vapours in the mind, clouds the understanding, clogs us in the way of duty, and gives the enemy, ,who loves to fish in troubled waters, a very great adul vantage over us.
Mary, perhaps, through the prevalence of this, and being alfo naturally of a fedentary difpofition, fat ftill in the houfe," while her fifter Martha got the ftart of her, and went" out to meet JESUS. And how does fhe accoft him? Why,of in a language befpeaking the diftrefs of a burdened and difor-91 dered mind. For the faid unto JESUS, verfe 21, "LORD, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." Here is a mixture of faith and unbelief. Faith made her fay, "LORD," if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." But unbelief made her confine CHRIST's power to his bodily prefence, Besides, here was a tacit accufation of the bleffed JESUS of unkindness, for not coming when they fent unto him the meffage, "LORD, he whom thou lovest is fick. Once she'l charged JESUS with want of care; LORD, carest thou not, that my fifter hath left me to ferve alone?" Now she taxessio VOL. VI. H A him
him with want of kindnefs. If thou had been here";" as much as to fay, if thou hadft been fo kind as 'to have come when we fent for thee," my brother had not died" and by laying thus, the does as it were lay her brother's death to JESUS CHRIST. O how apt are even thofe whom JESUS loves in a peculiar manner, to charge him foolishly! How often does the enmity of our defperately wicked hearts rife against CHRIST, when we are under the afflicting hand of his providence! Are not the very beft of us frequently tempted, in fuch circumftances, to fay within ourselves at leaft, Why does GOD thus cruelly deal with us? Why did not he keep off this ftroke, feeing it was in his power to have prevented it? How fhould we be afhamed and confounded before him upon this account? How fhould we pray and labour to be delivered from this remaining enmity of the heart, and long for that time, when mortality fhall be swallowed up of life, and we fhall never feel one fingle rifing of heart, against a good and gracious, and all-wife and glorious Redeemer, any more? However, to do Martha juftice, the pretty well recovers herfelf, verfe 22. "But I know, that even now, whatfoever thou wilt afk of GOD, GOD will give it to thee." 36 Whether thefe words imply an actual belief of our LORD's divinity, is not certain. To me they do; becaufe we fhall prefently find, that he did believe our LORD was the Son of
Gop, and the Meffiah which was to come into the world. Therefore when the faid, the knew that whatfoever he afked of GOD, GOD would give it to him, he may be underfood as referring to Gop the Father, under whom the LORD JESUS acted as Mediator, though equal to him in refpect to his eternal glory and godhead. This mystery we
Chore may us
pofe her acquainted with, becaufe JESUS had been frequently preaching at her houfe, and confequently, had opened that myftery unto her. O what a bleffed thing must it be to have fuch a Mediator fuch an high-priest and interceffor at the Father's right-hand, that whatever he afks the Father in our behalf, he will give unto us! JESUS takes this kindly at Martha's hand, and paffes over her infirmity. For if the LORD was exact to mark every thing that we fay or do amifs, alas! who could abide? He only calmly fays, unto her, verfe 23. Thy brother fhall rife again."ford is to