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Let us by faith continually regard Jesus (as his discourses and actions concur to represent him) as the resurrection and the life; believing on this glorious specimen here given of it, that he can, and will finally cause all that are in the graves to hear his voice, and to come forth, (John v. 28, 29.) A most delightful thought, which we should often apply both to our. selves and to our pious friends! Let the consideration, that they are to arise in the resurrection at the last day, moderate our sorrows for their removal, and forbid our mourning as others that have no hope. (1 Thess. iv. 13.) Were a resurrection on earth expected, though at the distance of several years, we should consider them only as persons absent on a long journey, and expect their return with patience and cheerfulness : but oh, how much more certain is the resur. rection of the just than the issue of any of our journeys or expectations in life !
We often go, in our thoughts at least, to the grave to weep; but let us not forget to raise our contemplations higher, even to Jesus, who here expressed such tender sentiments of compassion, and wept when he saw the tears of others, though he knew he was going to wipe them away by restoring that friend whom they lamented.—He afflicted himself, and it may be proper for us sometimes to do it, and to hold down our thoughts to those views of things which may give us pain and regret; if that attention be so adjusted and attempered as only to produce a sadness of the countenance that may improve the heart. (Eccles. vii. 3.)
Let the modesty with which our Lord conducted this grand and solemn scene teach us to avoid all mean transports of self-applause, and all fondness for ostentation and parade. Like Jesus, let us in all our ways acknowledge God, and maintain a continual dependance on his influence, to be sought by fervent prayer ; and then we may go forth to every duty with a courageous and cheerful assurance that he will carry us honourably and comfortably through it. Let us but stedfastly believe, and we shall see the glory of God: he will manifest his power for our help ; and when our casę appears to be remediless, then is the time for his almighty hand to save.
Let us adore and trust in him who was armed with so divine a power as to be able to rescue the prisoners of death, and to recover the trophies of the all-conquering and devouring grave. And if we are true believers, let us learn to take our part in the triumph with a joyful assurance, that though we putrify in the dust, and after the skin worms devour our bodies, yet in our flesh we shall at length see God. (Job xix. 26.)
It was surely a happy time that succeeded all the lamentations of these affectionate mourners. With what mutual congratulations and unutterable endearments did Lazarus and his sisters behold each other! With what humble gratitude and adoration did they all prostrate themselves at the feet of their Almighty Saviour ! But who can conceive the greater transports which shall run through the whole redeemed world at the resurrection day, when piety and friendship shall be perfected, and those who were dearest to each other, both in the bonds of nature and of grace, shall spring up together to an immortal undivided life! In the mean time, let us trust our friends with him (with whom, if we are Christians indeed, we have trusted our souls), believing that the separations he appoints are prudent and kind, and that even our prayers for their recovery are denied in mercy.
JOHN XI. 47–57. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.—And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high-priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high-priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews ; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
Where shall we find such restless, such causeless, such incorrigible malice, as was in the hearts of these rulers against our blessed Saviour ? What but Divine grace can reclaim men, when to have heard of the resurrection of Lazarus from their own friends and confidants, who had just been eyewitnesses of it, instead of conquering their hearts, served only to inflame their murderous rage !
This is an instance where we evidently see the place of juigment, that wickedness was there ; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there, (Eccles. iii. 16.) The highpriest lays down a most dangerous, though plausible, maxim, which is in effect no other than this, “ That the murder of an innocent person by forms of law” which, (as a noble sufferer observed, is surely the worst kind of murder,) nay, even of a person who by miracles demonstrated that he was an ambassador from God, was to be chosen, rather than by protecting and obeying him, to give umbrage to an earthly power, which seemed superior to their own.” When will the politicians of this earth learn to trust God in his own ways, rather than to trust themselves, and their own wisdom, in violation of all the rules of truth, honour, and conscience? Till then, like this foolish ruler, they will be caught in their own crafti. ness; and it is more than possible that they may, in many instances, hasten the very distress they are contriving to avoid. For this was here the event: the Romans (called therefore the people of Messiah the Prince, Dan. ix. 26,) were sent as executioners of the Divine vengeance, and the Jews were given up to a spirit of discord and madness, the terrible effects of which were such as cannot be read without horror, till their place and nation were taken away ; nor could even the Roman general forbear declaring that the hand of God was apparent in their destruction.
Let us attend to this Divine oracle which God saw fit to put into the mouth of so wicked a man. Jesus has actually died for the people, even for all the children of God that are scattered abroad. His death is substituted instead of theirs ; and by it they are redeemed and delivered, and shall ere long be incorporated together, and all the happy colony be raised to an abode of eternal glory. Blessed harvest, which springs up from redeeming blood ! Heroic love of the dear Redeemer, which at the proper time brought him to Jerusalem, where he knew that evil was determined against him! Let us follow him, in a courageous adherence to God and our duty, in the midst of danger and opposition; and not wonder if we are set up as the marks of infamy and reproach, when we see Jesus marked out by a public mandate, as if he had been a robber or a murderer ; and find so numerous and grand a court of judicature requiring their subjects to seize this most generous Friend of the whole world as the grand enemy of God and his country.
Luke ix. 51-62. And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead : but
go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
And Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Who would not have imagined that the blessed Jesus should have been most cordially welcome wherever he came, when there was grace in all his words, and benevolence in all his actions? Yet these Samaritans would not receive him because he was a Jew. And thus do unhappy prejudices, taken up on imaginary grounds, against men, and things in the general, sometimes injure the best of men, and prove much more hurtful to the persons themselves by whom they are entertained.
The rash disciples would have called for fire from heaven; and let us observe how Christ treated the proposal. He treated it like himself; like the kind compassionate Friend of human nature; and also like one who well knew what was in man, (John ii. 25), and how little human terrors and severities can do towards producing a real conviction. Yet fire from heaven might have carried along with it some rational ground of conviction, which penal laws and sanguinary executions can never produce. What then would Christ have said to these disciples if they had themselves proposed to smite with the sword, or to cast fire-brands into the house of these inhospitable men? Little do they know their own spirit; little do they understand either the true genius or the true interest of the gospel, who have recourse to such violent methods as these to extirpate heresy and to propagate truth. Let us bless God that neither the guilt nor misery of such a conduct is ours.
Let us learn to search our own hearts, that we may form a thorough acquaintance with ourselves; which will greatly promote both the comfort and usefulness of life. Especially let us attend to our aims and intentions, and be greatly jealous over our own hearts, lest we indulge our irregular passions under religious pretences, and set up the standards of malice and pride in the name of the Lord.
May no considerations of ease or interest, or even of human friendship, lead us to turn a deaf ear to the calls of duty; or suffer us, when we once have engaged in his service, to think of deserting it, lest on the whole we should be judged unfit for the kingdom of God! May thy grace, O Lord, animate our souls, that nothing may prevent our faithfulness unto death, and so deprive us of that crown of life which thy grace has promised to such a character ! (Rev. ii. 10.)
Luke x. 1-16. After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute