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a constant reliance on thy mercies? Why are we not more joyed in this, than dejected with the other? since the least grain of the increase of grace is more worth, than can be equalled with whole pounds of bodily vexation.
O strange consequence! Lazarus is dead; nevertheless, Let us go unto him. Must they not needs think, “What should we do with a dead man? What should separate, if death cannot?” Even those, whom we loved dearest, we avoid once dead. Now we lay them aside under the board, and thence send them out of our houses to their grave. Neither hath death more horror in it, than noisomeness; and if we could entreat our eyes to endure the horrid aspect of death in the face we loved, yet can we persuade our scent to like that smell that arises up from their corruption? O love stronger than death! Behold here a friend, whom the very grave cannot sever. Even those, that write the longest and most passionate dates of their amity, subscribe but, your friend till death; and if the ordinary strain of human friendship will stretch yet a little further, it is but to the brim of the grave: thither a friend may follow see us bestowed in this house of our age ; but there he leaves us to our worms and dust. But for thee, O Saviour, the grave-stone, the earth, the coffin are no bounders of thy dear respects: even after death, and burial, and corruption thou art graciously affected to those thou lovest. Besides the soul (whereof thou sayest not, “ Let us go to it,” but, “Let it come to us,”') there is still a gracious regard to that dust, which was and shall be a part of an undoubted member of that mystical body, whereof thou art the Head. Heaven, and earth, yields no such friend, but thyself. O make me ever ambitious of this love of thine ; and ever unquiet, till I feel myself possessed of thee.
In the mouth of a mere man, this word had been incongruous, Lazarus is dead, yet let us go to him ; in thine, O Almighty Saviour, it was not more loving, than seasonable; since I may justly say of thee, thou hast more to do with the dead, than with the live ing: for, both they are infinitely more, and have more inward communion with thee and thou with them. Death cannot hinder, either our passage to thee, or thy return to us. I joy to think the time is coming, when thou shalt come to every of our graves, and call us up out of our dust, and we shall hear thy voice, and live.
Great was the opinion, that these devout sisters had of the of Christ : as if death durst not shew her face to him, they suppose his presence had prevented their brother's dissolution. And now, the news of his approach begins to quicken some late hopes in them.
Martha was ever the more active. She, that was before so busily stirring in her house to entertain Jesus, was now as nimble to go forth of her house to meet him. She, in whose face joy had wont to smile upon so Blessed a guest, now salutes him with the sighs and tears and blubbers and wrings of a disconsolate mourner.
I know not, whether the speeches of her greeting had in them more sorrow or religion. She had been well catechized before. Even she also had sat at Jesus his feet; and can now give good account of her faith in the power and Godhead of Christ, in the certainty of a future resurrection. This conference hath yet taught her more, and raised her heart to an expectation of some wonderful effect.
And now she stands not still, but hastes back into the villaye to her sister ; carried thither by the two wings, of her own hopes and her Saviour's commands. The time was, when she would have called off her sister from the feet of that Divine Master, to attend the household occasions : now she runs to fetch her out of the house, to the feet of Christ.
Doubtless, Martha was much affected with the presence of Christ; and, as she was overjoyed with it herself, so she knew how equally welcome it would be to her sister: yet she doth not ring it out aloud in the open ball, but secretly whispers this pleasing tidings in her sister's ear, The Master is come, and calleth for thee; whether out of modesty, or discretion. It is not fit, for a woman to be loud and clamorous. Nothing beseems that sex better, than silence and bashfulness; as not to be too much seen, so not to be heard too far. Neither did modesty more charm her tongue than discretion ; whether in respect to the guests, or to Christ himself. Had those guests heard of Christ's being there, they had, either out of fear or prejudice, withdrawn themselves from him : neither durst they have been witnesses of that wonderful miracle, as being overawed with that Jewish edict, which was out against him: or, perhaps, they had withheld the sisters from going to him, against whom they knew how highly their governors were incensed. Nei. ther was she ignorant of the danger of his own person, so lately before assaulted violently by his enemies at Jerusalem. She knew they were within the smoke of that bloody city, the nest of his enemies ; she holds it not therefore fit to make open proclamation of Christ's presence, but rounds her sister secretly in the ear. Christianity doth not bid us abate any thing of our wariness and honest policies; yea, it requires us to have no less of the serpent, than of the dove. There is a time, when we must preach Christ on the house-top; there is a time, when we must speak him in the ear, and, as it were, with our lips shut. Secresy hath no less use than divulgation.
She said enough, The Master is come, and calleth for thee, What a happy word was this, which was here spoken! What a high favour is this, that is done; that the Lord of Life should personally come and call for Mary! vet such as is not appropriated to her. Thou comest to us still, O Saviour; if not in thy bodily presence, yet in thy spiritual: thou callest us still; if not in thy personal voice, yet in thine ordinances. It is our fault, if we do not, as t'uis good woman, arise quickly, and come to thee. Her friends were there about her, who came purposely to condole with her; her heart was full of heaviness : yet so soon as she hears mention of Christ, she forgets friends, brother, grief, cares, thoughts, and hastes to his presence.
Still was Jesus standing in the place where Martha left him : whether it be noted, to express Mary's speed, or his own wise and gracious resolutions; his presence in the village had perhaps invited danger, and set off the intended witnesses of the work : or it may be, to set forth his zealous desire to dispatch the errand he came for ; that, as Abraham's faithful servant would not receive any courtesy from the house of Bethuel, till he had done his master's business concerning Rebekab, so thou, O Saviour, wouldst not so much as enter into the house of these two sisters in Betha. ny, till thou hadst effected the glorious work which occasioned thee thither. It was thy meat and drink to do the will of thy Father. Thy best entertainment was within thyself. How do we follow thee, if we suffer either pleasures or profits, to take the wall of thy services ?
So good women were well worthy of kind friends. No doubt, Bethany, being not two miles distant from Jerusalem, could not but be furnished with good acquaintance from the city. These, knowing the dearness and hearing of the death of Lazarus, came over to comfort the sad sisters. Charity, together with the common practice of that nation, calls them to this duty. All our distresses expect these good offices, from those that love us; but, of all others, death, as that which is the extremest of evils, and makes the most fearful havoc in families, cities, kingdoms, worlds. The complaint was grievous, I looked for some to comfort me, but there was none. It is some kind of ease to sorrow, to have partners; as a burden is lightened by many shoulders: or as clouds, scattered into many drops, easily vent their moisture into air. Yea, the very presence of friends abates grief. The peril, that arises to the heart from passion, is the fixedness of it, when, like a corrosiving plaister, it eats in into the sore. Some kind of remedy it is, that it may breathe out in good society.
These friendly neighbours, seeing Mary hasten forth, make haste to follow her. Martha went forth before ; I saw none go after her: Mary stirs; they are at her heels. Was it, for that Martha, being the elder sister and the housewife of the family, might stir about with less observation? or was it, that Mary was the more passionate, and needed the more heedy attendance? However, their care and intentiveness is truly commendable : they came to comfort her; they do what they came for. It contents them not, to sit still and chat within doors, but they wait on her at all turns. Perturbations of mind are diseases. Good keepers do not only tend the patient in bed, but when he sits up, when he tries to walk : all his motions have their careful assistance. We are no true friends, if our endeavours of the redress of distempers in them we love be not assiduous and unweariable.
It was but a loving suspicion, She is gone to the grave, to weep there. They well knew how apt passionate minds are, to take all occasions to renew their sorrow. Every object affects them. When she saw but the chamber of her dead brother, straight she thinks, “ There Lazarus was wont to lie,” and then she wept afresh; when the table, “ 'There Lazarus was wont to sit," and then new tears arise;" when the garden, «« There Lazarus had wont to walk," and now again she weeps. How much more do these friends suppose the passions would be stirred with the sight of the grave, when she must needs think, “ There is Lazarus!” O Saviour, if the place of the very dead corpse of our friend have power to draw our hearts thither and to affect us more deeply, how should our hearts be drawn to and affected with heaven, where thou sittest at the right hand of thy Father! There, I thou which wert dead and art alive, is thy body and thy soul present, and united to thy glorious Deity. Thither, O thither let our access be: not to mourn there, where is no place for sorrow; but to rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorious, and more and more to long for that thy beatifical presence.
Their indulgent love mistook Mary's errand. Their thoughts, how kind soever, were much too low. While they supposed she went to a dead brother, she went to a Living Saviour. The world hath other conceits of the actions and carriage of the regenerate, than are truly intended ; setting such constructions upon them, as their own carnal reason suggests. They think them dying, when behold they live ; sorrowful, when they are always rejoicing ; poor, while they make many rich. How justly do we appeal from them, as incompetent judges; and pity those misinterpretations, which we cannot avoid !
Both the sisters met Christ; not both in one posture : Mary is still noted, as for more passion, so for more devotion ; she, that before sate at the feet of Jesus, now falls at his feet. That presence had wont to be familiar to her, and not without some outward homeliness ; now it fetches her upon her knees, in an awful veneration: whether out of a reverend acknowledgment of the secret excellency and power of Christ; or out of a dumb intimation of that suit concerning her dead brother, which she was afraid to utter. The very gesture itself was supplicatory. What position of body can be so fit for us, when we make our address to our Saviour? It is an irreligious unmannerliness, for us to go less. Where the heart is affected with an awful acknowledgment of Majesty, the body cannot but bow.
Even before all her neighbours of Jerusalem, doth Mary thus fall down at the feet of Jesus. So many witnesses as she had, so many spies she had of that forbidden observance. It was no less than excommunication, for any body to confess him: yet good Mary, not fearing the informations that might be given by those Jewish gossips, adores him ; and, in her silent gesture, says, as much as her sister had spoken before, Thou art the Christ, the Son of God. Those, that would give Christ his right, must not stand upon scrupulous fears. Are we naturally timorous ? Why
do we not fear the denial, the exclusion of the Almighty ? With out, shall be the fearful.
Her humble prostration is seconded by a lamentable complaint; Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. The sisters are both in one mind; both in one speech; and both of them, in one speech, bewray both strength and infirmity: strength of faith, in ascribing so much power to Christ, that his presence could preserve from death ; infirmity, in supposing the necessity of a presence for this purpose. Why, Mary, could not thine Omnipotent Saviour, as well in absence have commanded Lazarus to live? Is his hand so short, that he can do nothing but by contaction? If his power were finite, how could he have forbidden the seizure of death? if infinite, how could it be limited to place, or hindered by distance? It is a weakness of faith, to measure success by means, and means by presence, and to tie effects to both, when we deal with an Almighty Agent. Finite causes work within their own sphere: all places are equally near, and all effects equally easy to the Infinite. O Saviour, while thou now sittest gloriously in heaven, thou dost no less impart thyself unto us, than if thou stoodst visibly by us, than if we stood locally by thee: no place can make difference of thy virtue and aid.
This was Mary's moan: no motion, no request sounded from her to her Saviour. Her silent suit is returned with a mute answer. No notice is taken of her error. O that marvellous mercy, that connives at our faulty infirmities! All the reply that I hear of is, a compassionate groan within himself. O Blessed Jesu, thou, that wert free from all sin, wouldst not be free from strong affections. Wisdom and holiness should want much work, if even vehement passions might not be quitted from offence. Mary wept: her tears drew on tears from her friends : all their tears united drew groans from thee. Even in thy heaven, thou dost no less pity our sorrows. Thy glory is free from groans, but abounds with compassion and mercy. If we be not sparing of our tears, thou canst not be insensible of our sorrows. How shall we imitate thee, if, like our looking-glass, we do not answer tears, and weep on them that weep upon us ?
Lord, thou knewest, in absence, that Lazarus was dead; and dost thou not know, where he was buried ? Surely, thou wert further off, when thou sawest and reportedst his death, than thou wert from the grave thou inquiredst of. Thou, that knewest all things, yet askest what thou knowest, Where have ye laid him? Not out of need, but out of will ; that as in thy sorrow, so in thy question, thou mightest depress thyself in the opinion of the beholders for the time, that the glory of thine instant miracle might be the greater, the less it was expected. It had been all one to thy Omnipotence, to have made a new Lazarus out of nothing; or, in that remoteness, to have commanded Lazarus, wheresoever he was, to come forth: but thou wert neither willing to work more miracle than was requisite, nor yet unwilling to fix the minds of the people upon the expectation of some marvellous thing, that thou