« PreviousContinue »
that has fallen within the duties of fluctuating, faith of the sister of any bishop since the earlier ages of Lazarus; the malicious curiosity and Christianity, he employed himself, contemptuous incredulity of our wherever he came, not only in the Lord's enemies; above all, the softpeculiar functions of his office, but ness blended with resolution which in the duties of an ordinary pastor. appears in the human nature of the He had thus become known to all Redeemer himself; are painted in his clergy and to all his people, in beautiful relief. Nothing can be the plains and mountains of Hin. more inartificial than the opening dostan, in the wilder tracts of verses. Lazarus had never been Central India, in the stations of mentioned before by St. John, nor Guzerat, the Deckan, and the west- does his name occur in the other ern coast, in the hills and valleys of Evangelists; yet it appears only Ceylon, and in these southern pro- accidentally, and in a parenthesis, vinces, the scene of his latest la. that he was the brother of Martha bours, and henceforth of his dear- and Mary: the circumstance is est memory
mentioned in the manner of a writer “In the course of these journeys,” whose mind is occupied with matter continues Mr. Robinson, "and in more grave and interesting. all his other labours, his heart was Again : when the message of the most earnestly and intently fixed, sisters had reached our Saviour, and not only on the government of the he had remarked to his disciples existing church, but on the extension that this sickness was “not unto of Christ's kingdom in these strong. death,” what could appear more proholds of Heathen and Mohammedan
bable than that he should immedi. superstition. He delighted to con- ately have obeyed the summons, sider himself as the chief missionary
and saved the life of his friend? of India ; a character implied, in And this probability would rather be his judgment, in the nature of his increased by the remark of the Evanepiscopal office itself; and, while gelist which follows, “ Now Jesus he felt it to be his bounden duty to loved Martha, and her sister, and confine his pecuniary aid and direct Lazarus." After this observation, influence to the establishments of we are prepared to hear that he that church whose orders and mi- hastened without delay to the house nistry he received as Apostolical, of affliction : yet the case proved yet most sincerely did he rejoice in otherwise. We are immediately told, the successful labours of all Christian that "he abode two days in the societies, of whatever denomination, same place where he was." This in the field of India."
certainly might appear, at first sight, (To be concluded.)
rather contradictory; yet the sacred writer is in no haste to remove any disadvantageous impression. In
verse 11, indeed, our Lord refers to PECULIARITY OF THE GOSPEL the resurrection of Lazarus, but in NARRATIVES.
a figurative manner, which was un
intelligible to his disciples. In ver. Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. 15 also he intimates that his absence
from the scene might be profitable The eleventh chapter of St. John's to them ; but without specifying any Gospel is scarcely more valuable reason: and even when the Refor the Divine consolation which it deemer tels Martha that her brother comprises, than for the light which should rise again, be employed it throws upon the characters of the language capable of a more general persons introduced in the Gospel meaning. A writer conscious of narrative. The simplicity of the deceit would have ascribed no words disciples; the sincere, yet weak and to Jesus which might be liable to Christ. OBSERV. No. 345.
misrepresentation; or, at least, he ing our Saviour, her first remark re. would have taken care to explain lated to the point which we might every obscurity: he would either expect to be uppermost in her mind: have made no mention of his Mas- “ Lord, if thou hadst been here my ter's attachment to Lazarus and his brother had not died.” The words family, or he would probably have which follow, while they demonstrate thus expressed himself: • Now, that increase of her faith which I though Jesus had a real affection have noticed, discover a scruple to for the brother and sisters, and fully petition in plain terms for so amaz. intended to relieve their distress, ing an act of power and mercy as his yet he judged that greater good restoration to life. Thus, when Christ would result from the resurrection answered “ Thy brother shall rise than from the cure of his friend: he again,” she could not be persuaded therefore remained two days where that he spoke of his immediate resurhe was. Yet the Evangelist uses rection. Either her courage faltered, no such language. Deeply im- or the idea was too transporting to pressed with the importance of his be indulged : she therefore answermain subject, and anxious to trea. ed, “ I know that he shall rise again sure up every word and action of in the resurrection at the last day ;' his Divine Master ; entertaining no probably hoping that Christ would doubts of their truth and excellence, speedily clear up her remaining and therefore seeking no apologies doubts. But our Lord, perceiving for them; he narrates the particulars her to waver, resolved, for the wholein the order in which they occurred some exercise of her Christian feel. to his memory. The mention of ings, to give her an answer, sufficient Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, natu. indeed to encourage the confidence rally brought to his mind the affec. of faith, but not to dispel every tion of Christ towards them; and fear of the carnal mind. He tells he then proceeds to a relation of her, that the resurrection itself would facts, without stopping to explain a be the immediate effect of his power; seeming discrepancy, which is not that all who were in the grave would entirely removed until he arrives at hear his voice; and that, most of all, the sequel of his story.
believers would experience a comWhen on his way to the grave of plete victory over death.
The naLazarus, the Redeemer was met by tural inference from this language Martha. It might appear, to a cur- was, that he at all times possessed sory reader, that Mary, who during this power, and that he would not a former visit had so affectionately fail to exert it in their present nehung upon his words, would have cessity, especially towards the obbeen the first to greet him. But ject of his affection. These would her character was probably soft and have been the natural suggestions retiring : absorbed in grief, she was of a simple and unhesitating faith; unable to attend to the tidings which but that of Martha was still opwere brought of the arrival of Jesus. pressed by the weakness of the But the same activity of mind which flesh. She confesses Jesus, indeed, had prompted the hospitality of to be the Christ, but she has not Martha towards our Lord, now led courage sufficient to apply this beher to go eagerly forth to receive lief to her present condition, and him. Her views of Gospel truth the object nearest her heart. She were at first worldly and contracted, perceives, however, that the truest but further intercourse had imparted consolation was to be looked for to them more elevation and spiritu- from Christ : she is therefore anxious ality: her faith had become greatly that her sister Mary should be a strengthened, though there were sharer in it; but she invites not our still sometimes moments of weak- Lord to the house, partly from a ness and despondency. Upon meet reluctance that the Jews who were
there should witness the interview, power of Christ, and her own lately and partly, perhaps, from a linger- awakened hopes, were forgotten in ing hope that he was then on his this hour of darkness. Perhaps her way to the tomb, where, at least, remark (ver. 39) may appear little something remarkable would take consistent with her former alacrity ; place.
but it should be remembered, that Martha's address to her sister, a disposition wavering between the “ The Master is come, and calleth extremes of confidence and despon. for thee," is highly natural, though dency is far from uncommon, though the name of Mary is not mentioned a writer of fiction, who had much at in the preceding dialogue: in the stake, would scarcely have ventured fulness of her heart she forgets this on this seeming contrariety. The trifling omission, or the Evangelist answer of our Lord, in the next might not deem it material to detail verse, contains at once a gentle rethe whole conversation. When Mary buke for her want of faith, and an meets our Lord, her repetition of the announcement of the illustrious mi. sentiment expressed by Martha is racle which was approaching; the exactly what we have reason to ex- expression, however, which he uses, pect; it was the thought uppermost is rather a paraphrase of his sentiin the minds of both-a thought ments (expressed in verses 23, 25, which they had doubtless expressed 26) than a verbal citation. Throughto one another. The sympathy of out the whole of this narrative the our Lord, when he beheld the grief characters of truth are so conspicuof the sisters, may perhaps be sure ous that “he who runs may read ” prising to some readers: the cer. them. It is distinguished by an air tainty that Lazarus would soon be of unsuspecting and unpretending restored to them, might appear to simplicity which is almost without preclude sorrow : but weeping is example. It bears the stamp of a commonly contagious; it is not to writer conscious that he is a Divinely be measured by rules, and may be appointed witness of eternal and the effect of any vivid emotion. The saving truths ;- truths for which he objection suggested by our Saviour's was thankful to be thought worthy to grief to the unbelieving Jews, that suffer ; truths which he was enabled He who had given sight to the to proclaim with the tongue and the blind could have saved Lazarus, pen of inspiration ;--singly intent would have been natural in any ig- upon imparting them to the souls of norant persons, but much more in men; careless of the little graces and men prepared to put the worst con. arts of composition ; careless of apstruction on all his words and ac- pearances; forgetful of himself-in tions : yet the Evangelist takes no a word, insensible to all the motives pains to answer it, but leaves his and feelings by which the men of readers to collect an explanation this world are commonly induced to from the fourth and fifteenth verses become authors. of the chapter.
In the chapter just discussed I no. Arrived at the sepulchre, Jesus ticed two instances of objections to orders the stone to be taken away our Lord's conduct, alleged by his from its mouth. Vestiges of doubt friends as well as enemies, which the in the mind of Martha are then Evangelist has unscrupulously reconspicuous. Her earthly feelings corded, leaving his readers to collect are shocked at the idea of unclosing an answer from the context. The the tomb after her brother had been twelfth chapter of the same Gospel buried four days. She knew, that, in affords an equally striking example the course of nature, the lapse of of the same fearless confidence in that period, in the climate of Judea, the stability of his Master's cause. would make the exposure of the Jesus had been telling the people body improper and disgusting. The that he must shortly be “ lifted up from the earth.” They readily un- them, yet they believed not on derstood the phrase of his suffering him.' death, and immediately seized the But why, it may be asked, has opportunity to introduce a specious not the Evangelist taken pains to objection. “We have heard,” they reply to an insinuation which, to said, “out of the Law, that Christ the minds of the ignorant or preabideth for ever, and how sayest judiced, might have a formidable thou the Son of man must be lifted appearance ? If we suppose them up?" Their first remark was cer- to be other than inspired writers of tainly just; for numerous passages the truth, this may indeed be diffifrom the Scriptures of the Old Tes- cult to explain. Mere adventurers tament (here called by one compre- would scarcely have introduced such hensive term “ the Law") speak of an objection; or, if they did venture the eternity of the Messiah's king upon it, would have been in haste dom: but they chose to forget to crush it by a triumphant refutathat these Scriptures never an- tion. They would scarcely have lost nounced a kingdom eternal upon the opportunity of contriving such a earth ; and that the prophets Isaiah, discourse as would at once annihiDaniel, and Zechariah, had plainly late the charge, and magnify the declared that Christ must suffer cause of which they were advocates. death. Hence they might have But if they were (as the Christian seen, that because “ Christ abideth believes) teachers sent from God, for ever," it by no means followed this omission is far from surpristhat he might not “be lifted up:” ing. It is no more than might be nay, that, as the prophets had de- expected in unlearned persons, unscribed him under both characters accustomed to composition, but en--that of a triumphant prince, and a abled by a Divine impulse to give “ man of sorrows"-he could not, a clear and simple narrative of the unless he appeared in both, fulfil things they had heard and seen. their predictions. Although, in this Moreover, there could be no just stage of the Gospel dispensation, reason why this sceptical argument they might possibly have found should weigh, even in the minds of some difficulty in reconciling the the most ignorant, against the comtwo descriptions, yet could they bined evidence of prophecy and minot with any justice deny that both racle; and a very moderate portion were highly consistent with those of knowledge and attention, might, Scriptures to which they made their with the utmost ease, detect the appeal. All this the Jews might fallacy.
A. R. C. have seen, but they were resolved to shut their eyes upon the light : their remark, therefore, expressed not the doubt of ignorance ; it was rather FAMILY SERMONS—No.CCLXXI.* the cavil of malice and unbelief. In this case, therefore, as in several Romans v. 2.-By whom also we others, a sufficient reason was af- have access by faith into this forded to justify Christ in his refusal
grace wherein we stand. to meet their objection. His reply, To know God effectually, we must however conclusive, would but have know him as our Friend and Father : enflamed their enmity. Even a
all other manifestations of him are teacher who had not, like our Lord, but preparatory to this. We may a perfect knowledge of the heart, perceive the traces of his power in might easily have predicted that creation ; we may even read of the neither argument nor eloquence fulness of his compassion in Christ could convince them ; since (as the Evangelist remarks) “ though be
See Review of the Rev. T. Griffith's had done so many miracles before Sermons.
Jesus; but what will this avail us, the unrelenting sinner attempt to if we cannot say, in humble faith, fee from God. And this, let me « This God is our God ?"-if we warn you, is that silent, inward enter not into personal enjoyment testimony of your guilt and danger, of his favour, nor realize his pre- which speaks more strongly than a sence in our hearts ?
thousand sermons, of reproach and But how can this blessed con- condemnation ; which is not to be summation be attained ? How shall escaped from, as outward warning we gain that Spirit from on high by is, but cleaves to your very soul, which alone God communes with and will at last be heard. Oh that man? There has been a separation you would hear it now in the between us and Him, by reason of accepted time—in the day of salour sinfulness; there has been dis- vation !—now, before it be too late! pleasure upon his part, and distaste, For, Does a man awake to some nay, enmity, on ours. Who shall perception of his alienated state ? reconcile this difference? Who shall does he pause, and wait in inward remove from our minds the dread of meditation, till even the very echoes God's displeasure, and the disincli- of the din and hum without have nation for his presence? Who shall died away; and there comes slowly mediate between us and God ? Who upward, from the depths of his spirit, shall introduce us to his favour, and that still, small voice which would reconcile us to him as our Father ? instruct him what he is, and what
Let me pause a moment here, he should be ?-does he recollect to and ask, Are these the questions of whom he is amenable ?-does he your hearts ? for on this will depend consider the authority that God has the interest and efficacy of what we over him ? the demands that he have yet to say. Too many, alas ! has upon him, and the impossibility would rather turn from such in- of answering or escaping them ?quiries, and indulge their day-dream does he cry, with David, “Whither of security, than wake to topics shall I go from thy Spirit ; or whither whose first aspect must disturb the shall I Aee from thy presence ?"mind. In our self-willedness and then there comes upon him, with sin, we think not of access and intro- an awful force, the questions that I duction to the presence of our God; have proposed: How shall I meet we altogether shrink from him: him ? meet him as my Friend, since we would not seek his face; we meet we must ? return to him as a would rather flee to the remotest penitent? gain access to his grace corner of creation to escape his and favour? I feel that there has look. As little as the ungrateful been disunion between us ; I dis. man desires to behold him whom cover that union is essential to my he has injured, or the debtor to welfare, nay, my life; but where meet his creditor, or the felon to be shall I find a right to seek his face, confronted with his judge, or the and whence shall I gain a heart to rebel to approach his prince; so use that right? little does the impenitent sinner These questions relate to desire to see his God. Nay, even present and eternal happiness. Oh, as the prodigal took his journey may they rise in every heart may into a far country, that he might they be detained there till they follow his devices untroubled by gather strength! Then shall we the consciousness of a father's eye; prize the answers of our text: and as Adam and Eve hid them. By Christ we gain admission to selves from the presence of the Lord the Father's favour ; amidst the trees of the garden, and And, by faith we realize this thereby betrayed in action that blessed privilege in our hearts. sense of guilt which in words they First : By Christ we gain admis. endeavoured to deny; even so does sion to the Father's favour.