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meantest to work; and therefore askest, Where have you luid him?
They are not more glad of the question, than ready for the answer; Come, and see. It was the manner of the Jews, as likewise of those Egyptians among whom they had sojourned, to lay up the dead bodies of their friends with great respect. More cost was wont to be bestowed on some of their graves, than on their houses. As neither ashamed then, nor unwilling, to shew the decency of their sepulture, they say, Come, and see. More was hoped for from Christ, than a mere view. They meant and expected, that his eye should draw him on to some further action. O Saviour, while we desire our spiritual resuscitation, how should we labour, to bring thee to our grave! how should we lay open our deadness before thee, and bewray to thee our impotence and senselessness! Come, Lord, and see what a miserable carcase I am; and, by the power of thy mercy, raise me from the state of my corruption.
Never was our Saviour more submissively dejected than now, immediately before he would approve and exalt the Majesty of bis Godhead. To his groans and inward grief, he adds his tears. Anon, they shall confess him a God : these expressions of passions shall onwards evince him to be a man.
The Jews construe this well; See how he loved him. Never did any thing but love fetch tears from Christ. But they do fouily misconstrue Christ in the other; Could not he, that opened the eyes of him that was born blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Yes, know ye, () vain and importune questionists, that he could have done it with ease. To open the eyes of a man born blind was more, than to keep a sick man from dying: this were but to uphold and maintain nature from decaying; that were to create a new sense, and to restore a deficiency in nature.
To make an eye was no whit less difficult, than to make a man : he, that could do the greater, might well have done the less. Ye shall soon see this was not for want of power. Had ye said, “Why would he not? Why did he not ?" the question had been fairer, and the answer no less easy ; For his own greater glory. Little do ye know the drift, whether of God's acts, or delars; and ye know as much, as you are worthy. Let it be sufficient for you. to understand, that he, who can do all things, will do that, which shall be most for his own honour.
It is not improbable, that Jesus, who before groaned in himself for compassion of their tears, now groaned for their incredulity. Nothing could so much afflict the Saviour of Men, as the sins of men. Could their external wrongs to his body have been separated from offence against his Divine Person, their scornful indignities had not so much affected him. No injury goes so deep, as our spiritual provocations of our God. Wretched men! why should we grieve the good Spirit of God in us? Why should we make him groan for us, that died to redeem us?
With these groans, O Saviour, thou camest to the grave of La
the other; CoulChrist. But they
zarus. The door of that house of death was strong and impenetrable. Thy first word was, Take away the stone. O weak beginning of a mighty '
miracle! If thou meantest to raise the dead, how much more easy had it been for thee to remove the gravestone! One grain of faith in thy very disciples was enough to remove mountains; and dost thou say, Take away the stone ? I wis, there was a greater weight, that lay upon the body of Lazarus, than the stone of his tomb; the weight of death and corruption : a thousand rocks and hills were not so heavy a load as this alone : why then dost thou stick at this shovelfull Yea, how easy had it been for thee, to have brought up the body of Lazarus through the stone, by causing that marble to give way by a sudden rarefaction! But thou thoughtest best, to make use of their hands rather: whether for their own more full conviction ; for had the stone been taken away by thy followers, and Lazarus thereupon walked forth, this might have appeared to thy malignant enemies, to have been a set match betwixt thee, the disciples, and Lazarus : or whether for the exercise of our faith, that thou mightest teach us to trust thee under contrary appearances.
Thy command to remove the stone seemed to argue an impotence : straight, that seeming weakness breaks forth into an act of Omnipotent power. The homeliest shows of thy human infirmity are ever seconded with some mighty proofs of thy Godhead; and thy miracle is so much more wondered at, by how much it was less expected.
It was ever thy just will, that we should do what we may. To remove the stone, or to untie the napkin, was in their power; this, they must do: to raise the dead was out of their power; this, therefore, thou wilt do alone. Our hands must do their utmost, ere thou wilt put to thine.
O Saviour, we are all dead and buried in the grave of our sinful nature. The stone of obstination must be taken away from our hearts, ere we can hear thy reviving voice : we can no more remove this stone, than dead Lazarus could remove his; we can add more weight to our graves. O let thy faithful agents, by the power of thy Law and the grace of thy Gospel take off the stone, that thy voice may enter into the grave of miserable corruption.
modest kind of mannerliness in Martha, that she would not have Christ annoyed with the ill scent of that stale carcase ? or was it out of distrust of reparation, since her brother had passed all the degrees of corruption, that she says, Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four days ? He, that understood hearts, found somewhat amiss in that intimation. His answer had not endeavoured to rectify that, which was utterly faultless. I fear, the good woman meant to object this, as a likely obstacle to any further purposes or proceedings of Christ. Weak faith is still apt to lay blocks of difficulties, in the way of the great works of God.
Four days were enough to make any corpse noisome. Death itself is not unsavoury; immediately upon dissolution, the body re.
tains the wonted sweetness : it is the continuance under death, that is thus offensive. Neither is it otherwise in our spiritual condition: the longer we lie under our sin, the more rotten and corrupt we are. He, who upon the fresh commission of his sin recovers himself by a speedy repentance, yields no ill scent to the postrils of the Almighty. The candle, that is presently blown in again, offends not : it is the snuff, which continues choked with its own inoisture, that sends up unwholesome and odious fumes. O Sa. viour, thou wouldst yield to death, thou wouldst not yield to corruption: ere the fourth day, thou wert risen again. I cannot but receive many deadly foils; but oh, do thou raise me up again, ere I shall pass the degrees of rottenness in my sins and trespasses.
They, that laid their hands to the stone, doubtless held now still awhile; and looked one while on Christ, another while upon .Martha, to hear what issue of resolution would follow upon so important an objection: when they find a light touch of taxation to Martha, Said not I to thee, that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God? That holy woman had before professed her belief, as Christ had professed his great intentions; both were now forgotten : and now our Saviour is fain to revive, both her memory and faith ; Said not I to thee? The best of all saints are subject to fits of unbelief and oblivion ; the only remedy whereof must be the inculcation of God's merciful promises of their relief and supportation. O God, if thou hast said it, I dare believe; I dare cast my soul upon the belief of every word of thine. Faithful art thou, which hast promised, who wilt also do it.
In spite of all the unjust discouragements of nature, we must obey Christ's command. Whatever Martha suggests, they remove the stone; and may now see and smell him dead, whom they shall soon see revived. The scent of the corpse is not so unpleasing to them, as the perfume of their obedience is sweet to Christ. And now, when all impediments are removed, and all hearts ready for the work, our Saviour addresses to the miracle.
His eyes begin; they are lift up to heaven. It was the malicious mis-suggestion of his enemies, that he looked down to Beelzebub: the beholders shall now see, whence he expects and derives his power; and shall by him learn, whence to expect and hope for all success. The heart and the eye must go together. He, that would have ought to do with God, must be sequestered and lifted up from earth.
His tongue seconds his eye; Father. Nothing more stuck in the stomach of the Jews, than that Christ called himself the Son of God : this was imputed to him for a blasphemy, worthy of stones How seasonably is this word spoken in the hearing of these Jews, in whose sight he will be presently approved so! How can ye now, () ye cavillers, except at that title, which ye shall see irrefragably justified? Well may he call God Father, that can raise the dead out of the grave. In vain shall ye snarl at the style, when ye are convinced of the effect.
I hear of no prayer, but a thanks for hearing. While thou saidst nothing, O Saviour, how doth thy Father hear thee? Wa it not with thy Father and thee, as it was with thee and Moses ? Thou saidst, Let me alone Moses, when he spake not. Thy will was thy prayer. Words express our hearts to men ; thoughts, to God. Well didst thou know, out of the selfsameness of thy will with thy Father's, that, if thou didst but think in thy heart that Lazarus should rise, he was now raised. It was not for thee to pray vocally and audibly, lest those captious hearers should say, thou didst all by entreaty, nothing by power. Thy thanks overtake thy desires; ours require time and distance: our thanks: arise from the echo of our prayers resounding from heaven to our hearts; thou, because thou art at once in earth and heaven, and knowest the grant to be of equal paces with the request, most justly thankest in praying.
Now ye cavilling Jews are thinking straight, “ Is there such distance betwixt the Father and the Son ? Is it so rare a thing, for the Son to be heard, that he pours out his thanks for it, as a blessing unusual? Do ye not now see, that he, who made your heart, knows it, and anticipates your fond thoughts with the same breath? I knew, that thou hearest ine always; but I said this for their sakes, that they might believe.
Merciful Saviour, how can we enough admire thy goodness, who makest our belief the scope and drift of thy doctrine and actions! Alas! what wert thou the better, if they believed thee sent from God ? what wert thou the worse, if they believed it not ? Thy perfection, and glory, stands not upon the slippery terms of our approbation or dislike; but is real in thyself, and that infinite, without possibility of our increase or diminution. We, we only, are they, that have either the gain or loss, in thy receipt or rejection; yet so dost thou affect our belief, as if it were more thine advantage than ours.
O Saviour, while thou spakest to thy Father, thou liftedst up thine eyes : now thou art to speak unto dead Lazarus, thou liftedst up thy voice, and criedst aloud, Lazarus, come forth. Was it, that the strength of the voice might answer to the strength of the affec. tion? since we faintly require, what we care not to obtain ; and vehemently utter, what we earnestly desire. Was it, that the greatness of the voice might answer to the greatness of the work? Was it, that the hearers might be witnesses of what words were used in so miraculous an act ; no magical incantations, but authoritative and Divine commands? Was it, to signify that Lazarus's soul was called from far ? the speech must be loud, that shall be beard in another world. Was it, in relation to the estate of the body of Lazarus, whom thou hadst reported to sleep ; since those, that are in a deep and dead sleep cannot be awaked without a loud call? Or, was it, in a representation of that loud voice of the last trumpet, which shall sound into all graves, and raise all flesh from their dust. Even so still, Lord, when thou wouldst raise a soul from the death of sin and grave of corruption, no easy voice will serve. Thy strongest commands, thy loudest denunciations of judgments, the shrillest and sweetest promulgations of thy mercies, are but enough.
How familiar a word is this, Lazarus, come forth! no other, than he was wont to use, while they lived together. Neither doth he say, “ Lazarus, revive;" but, as if he supposed him already living, Lazarus, come forth: to let them know, that those, who are dead to us, are to and with him alive; yea in a more entire and feeling society, than while they carried their clay about them. Why do I fear that separation, which shall more unite me to my Saviour? · Neither was the word more familiar, than commanding; Lazarus, come forth. Here is no suit to his father, no adjuration to the deceased, but a flat and absolute injunction, Come forth. O Saviour, that is the voice, that I shall once hear sounding into the bottom of my grave, and raising me up out of my dust : that is the voice, that shall pierce the rocks, and divide the mountains, and fetch up the dead out of the lowest deeps. Thy word made all; thy word shall repair all. Hence, all ye diffident fears; he, whom I trust, is Omnipotent.
It was the Jewish fashion, to inwrap the corpse in linen, to tie the hands and feet, and to cover the face of the dead. The Fall of man, besides weakness, brought shame upon him : ever since, even while he lives, the whole body is covered ; but the face, because some sparks of that extinct majesty remain there, is wont to
In death, all those poor remainders being gone and leaving deformity and ghastliness in the room of them, the face is covered also.
There lies Lazarus, bound in double fetters. One Almighty word hath loosed both; and now, He, that was bound, came forth. He, whose power could not be hindered by the chains of death, cannot be hindered by linen bonds. He, that gave life, gave motion, gave direction. He, that guided the soul of Lazarus into the body, guided the body of Lazarus without his eyes, mored the feet without the full liberty of his regular paces. No doubt, the same power slackened those swathing-bands of death, that the feet might have some little scope to move, though not with that freedom that followed after.
Thou didst not only, O Saviour, raise the body of Lazarus, but the faith of the beholders. They cannot deny him dead, whom they saw rising. They see the signs of death, with the proofs of life. Those very swathes convinced him to be the man, that was raised. Thy less miracle confirms the greater : both confirm the faith of the beholders.
O clear and irrefragable example of our resuscitation ! Say now, ye shameless Sadducees, with what face can ye deny the resurrection of the body, when ye see Lazarus, after four-days' death, rising up out of his grave? And if Lazarus did thus start up at the bleating of this Lamb of God, that was now every day preparing for the slaughter-house; how shall the dead be roused up out of
be left open.