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fluence such a meditation is likely to produce.
We see how the tears of our Lord must have affected the spectators, by the words of the text, “ Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” The tender sympathy manifested by our Saviour was so much in accordance with the feelings of their own hearts, that they could not keep silence ; but as if they desired that all who were present should mark his benignant spirit, they exclaimed, “ Behold how he loved him!” “ Look, ye who are standing around this affectionate friend ; look at his tears. Let this manifestation of his love sink deep into your hearts.” It is probable that the spectators, who thus expressed their feelings, were those who are thus noticed at the fortyfifth verse :
“ Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.” For the favourable opinion this sympathy had produced, speaking after the manner of men, led them more readily to receive the striking proof, the raising Lazarus from the dead afforded, of our Lord's being indeed the Messiah.
The whole of the company were not however affected in the same manner. Some of them said, Could not this man-or this one, as the original is, not giving our blessed Lord any respectful title, as Nicodemus had done, but speaking of the Son of God as an ordinary person ;-could not this man, who it is reported has opened the eyes of the blind, seeing that he is so sorrowful for Lazarus, were he indeed the Messiah-could not he have come and healed his sickness, and thus prevented his death ? thus reflecting upon our Lord, both for his neglect of his friend, and for his inability to render him any effectual service.
That this was the harsh spirit in which these words were spoken, may be collected from the forty-sixth verse, in which St. John notices the conduct of those who did not believe on our Lord. He writes, “But SOME of THEM” (the very expression he uses in this thirty-seventh verse) “ went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done."
Such were the different effects produced on the spectators by the tears of our Lordsome admired him, others found fault with him.
Did we extend our thoughts no further than to these impressions, we might learn a useful lesson. For we might see, that whilst prejudice closes the heart against the finer feelings of sympathy and compassion, the exercise of these feelings may, by the tender mercy of God, lead to most beneficial consequences ; may not only remove previous prepossessions, but, by Divine grace, be instrumental to promote true faith in our blessed Saviour. I notice this more especially for the sake of the younger part of my congregation.
It is, my dear young friends, among the very painful proofs of the present low state of principle, that even the crimes of their fellow-men become, to some persons, the subject of jocose merriment. In detailing the proceedings of our courts of justice, instead of warning the young against the dreadful consequences of a sinful course, it is no uncommon thing so to dwell upon some ludicrous circumstances connected with the appearance of the parties, or the manner of their giving their evidence, as to make these criminal offences rather matters of amusement, than proofs of those out-breakings of the evil of the heart, which should be
perused with sorrow and disgust. Let me guard you against becoming familiar with such details.
We meet indeed in the world with some rude and unmannerly persons, who are disposed to turn into ridicule these tender feelings noticed by St. John; but upon this we may depend, that there are few more certain marks of a benevolent spirit, and of a mind of a superior order, than sympathy with the sorrows of others. It was the very mind of our blessed Saviour; He, “who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, shrunk from sin as from serpent; whilst, as we have seen, his tender sympathy with the mourners brought forth those words from many :
“ Behold how he loved him!” If, therefore, we only regarded these different feelings of the spectators, this part of the narrative would, as I have mentioned, convey to us a very profitable lesson. But whilst we leave those who slighted our Lord in the obscurity in which St. John places them, may we not use the words of those compassionate mourners for one of the most delightful purposes, namely, to refresh ourselves with the remembrance of the love of Christ ? “Behold,” they said, “ how he loved him !” They were occupied with that which they deemed a striking testimony of his love to his friend. But have we not far—yea, very, very far, greater proofs of his love to our sinful race? And is it not lawful, yea, is it not our high and blessed privilege, to improve every opportunity to dwell upon this love? Was it not the practice of this evangelist ? Do we not find him, for instance in his Epistle, thus inviting us to meditate upon the love of God. “Behold, what matter of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God !"