« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
alive to Him. Why then should we fear that separation which is to unite us to our Saviour? Lazarus, come forth!" "That is the voice that we shall one day hear sounding in the bottom of our graves, and raising us out of the dust! That is the voice that shall pierce the rocks, and divide the mountains, and fetch up the dead out of the lowest depths." May we hear that voice with joy! Lazarus heard it "and came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes; and Jesus said unto them, Loose him, and let him go."
E. What must Mary and Martha, and what must Lazarus have felt!
M. Far more each one of them than we can imagine. It would be impossible for us to understand their feelings; unless, like them, we had laid what we loved in the grave, and had it suddenly restored to us again; unless, like Lazarus, we had felt what it was to put off this mortal body, and then at the command of Christ to come back to it again. The Evangelist does not attempt to describe the various emotions that must have filled the hearts of these three highly favoured servants of our Lord. He tells the extraordinary tale, and leaves it, in salutary silence, to work its own effect on our minds, And shall it not, by God's grace, influence those minds? Shall it not lead us to think seriously of that time when we too must lie down in the grave? it not help us to believe in that Saviour, whose voice shall one day too wake us, as He now awoke Lazarus? Shall we not remember with joy that He is the resurrection and the life, not only to Lazarus but to all that believe in Him? Yes, He will raise these bodies of ours, not indeed after four days, but after hundreds
it may be thousands, or even millions, of years. No lapse of time can make the thing impossible to Christ. He will raise us, not to return again to this world of trouble, and sin, and death, but, if we really believe in Him, and live now as His disciples, to enjoy life everlasting; not in a corruptible body like that of Lazarus, but one incorruptible and glorious, springing from the buried body like a beautiful plant from a homely seed, which, like the body, is buried and decays, before it rises again to a new life under a far more noble form.
Thus, my child, the history of the resurrection of Lazarus should lead us to think of and prepare for that more wonderful and glorious and happy resurrection, which awaits the true followers of Christ in the world to come. Lazarus rose to die again, and meanwhile to suffer, perhaps to sin; but those who are counted worthy of the final resurrection, shall neither suffer, nor sin, nor die any more, but live for ever, advancing continually in perfection and bliss. Such, Edward, was one of our Saviour's last, and one of His greatest miracles.
E. It is altogether a delightful history, dear Mamma; and I hope it will do me good. Was the resurrection of Lazarus the means of leading a great many more people to Christ?
M. We read that many did believe in Him in consequence; but on some, I am sorry to say, the effect was quite different. They went immediately to our Saviour's chief enemies the Pharisees, to teil them what Jesus had done. And when they heard of this wonderful miracle, which they knew would be likely to have a great effect upon the people, they
were much alarmed, and gathered together a council, to consider what could best be done. For they were afraid lest the people should receive Jesus as their Messiah, and set Him up as king; and they thought this might provoke the Romans to come and destroy their city and their temple. So they considered from this day forward how they might put Jesus to death; little thinking that by so doing they were hurrying on themselves those very evils which they feared, and bringing down upon their city, their temple, and their nation, the vengeance which God permitted the Romans to execute upon them, for this very crime. So infatuated were the Jewish rulers; so perverse the use they made of this glorious miracle; so determined were they to shut their eyes to the brightest evidence. Their conduct appears to us almost incredible. We can scarcely imagine such obstinate unbelief; such daring rejection of the truth. But when once men try to shut their eyes against the light, they do not know how far they may go, how deeply they may plunge in darkness. If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead. What a solemn warning is their example! let us be careful to profit by it, as well as by the record of this great miracle.
E. Let me have one look, dear Mamma, at Bethany before I go; it will always now be a favourite spot the map.
with me upon
See John x. 22.-xi. 53.
THIRTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY EVENING.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN.
M. You heard, my dear child, of the effect which the raising of Lazarus produced upon the minds of the chief priests and Pharisees, and how they laid plans in consequence to put Jesus to death. But some months passed away before they were able to accomplish their wicked purpose. Meanwhile, to avoid public notice in Judea, our Lord retired for a time with His disciples to a city called Ephraim; from which He afterwards proceeded to Capernaum. But you must not suppose that He in any degree gave up the great work in which He was engaged. No; He continued to pursue His heavenly labours to the last; and that the Gospel might be spread more and more, on every side, He now appointed seventy other ministers, besides the Apostles, and sent them forth to prepare His way before Him in all the towns and places of Galilee, to which He was now about to pay His last visit.
E. Were these seventy men to be preachers of the Gospel, Mamma?
M. Yes; our Lord commanded them to say to all who received them, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." To those also who received them not they were to deliver the same message; for the kingdom of God was come to them also, in power, if not in mercy. Christ, you know, must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet. Come His kingdom will. We daily pray that it may come. may it come to us in mercy! May we be willing
subjects of Christ! May His blessed kingdom be set up in our hearts; that kingdom which is righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost! may it throw down every thing that opposes itself to God, and reign and rule supreme! So shall we escape those awful woes which Christ pronounces on the disobedient.
The seventy disciples went, at the bidding of Christ, upon their great errand; and they returned again full of joy at the success which He had given them. They had beheld with wonder the power of His name; for when the name of Jesus was spoken by these lowly men, the very devils submitted to their authority. Very precious to the Church were these wonderful endowments of the first preachers of the Gospel; but to the individuals who possessed them they were not without danger they might lead them to think more of these extraordinary outward gifts, than of those graces of the Gospel which have their seat in the hidden man of the heart. The power of working miracles was only given for a time, but those blessed fruits of the spirit, faith, hope, and charity, were to abide in the Church for ever; and even we may partake of them. The miraculous gifts which Christ bestowed on His disciples are, you know, long since withdrawn from us but the "more excellent way" still remains, open even to babes. Our Lord moderated the joy of His disciples at the gift of miracles, saying unto them, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." And then the blessed Jesus rejoiced within Himself at the thought that the kingdom of heaven was now opened to the lowest and the least, who were comparatively but as babes in the world. Only there