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of our blessed Lord, to feed the flock of Christ, and to draw others into his fold. May it be thus found. May the Holy Spirit graciously condescend to bless his word. May the opening of this narrative, of the restoration of Lazarus from the grave, be instrumental to “quicken the dead in trespasses and sins;" to comfort the mourner, to encourage the tempted, and to build
the lively Christian in his most holy faith.
There are some preliminary observations which I desire to offer, before I enter upon the history itself. The first is upon THE PARTICULAR PLACE in which this narrative stands in the Gospel of St. John. This Evan. gelist, who did not write his Gospel for several years after the three others, had, as he declares,* this special object in view, “Many other signs truly did Jesus, which are not written in this book; but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” This was his special object, to shew that Jesus was
* See John xx. 30, 31.
the Son of God; and that, resting upon him as this glorious personage, we might enjoy a life of peace on earth, and of never ending bliss hereafter. With this design he commences his Gospel in this sublime strain : “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him : and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life ; and the life was the light of men.” Then he adds, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the onlybegotten of the Father), full of
and truth.” His Gospel proceeds in the same
Before, however, he came to that part of his history in which he was to record our Lord's death as a sacrifice for our sins, this blessed truth is brought forth with the clearness of the meridian sun, both by the words and the works of our Saviour. In the ninth chapter, for instance, St. John records the wonderful miracle wrought by our blessed Lord, of giving sight to one born blind ; and then my hand.
his revealing himself to him as the Son of God. In the tenth chapter he sets before us that beautiful discourse in which our Lord calls himself the good Shepherd; first say. ing, that he gives his life for the sheep, and then making this blessed declaration : “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life ; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My Father, which
is greater than all ; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." Here, in peculiarly striking language,
he makes himself known as the Son of God; for he says, “I and my Father are one :" distinct persons, indeed, in the Godhead; but, like a father and a son, one in nature, one in essence-“ the true God and eternal life.” So plain was his meaning in this sublime declaration, that the unbelieving Jews at once took up stones to stone him : and when asked the reason of their doing this, the said, “ Because that thou being a makest thyself God.”
escaped out of their hands,” and went into a place beyond Jordan, where John first baptized—where many believed on him. It is at this interesting point of his history that this narrative of the restoration of Lazarus is placed—that all who have eyes to see, may, when they are called to Calvary, be convinced of this blessed truth, that he who bore our sins in his own body on the tree, is indeed the Son of God. I would wish
you particularly to attend to this in your meditation upon this history. It is a very just remark, that we shall generally profit most by the writings of an author when we enter into his design.
Now the general design of this inspired Evangelist in the whole of his Gospel, and his especial object in this particular history, being “that the Son of God may beglorified," as we accord with him, we are likely to receive most practical benefit. Let me, then, recommend
you, at your entrance upon this narrative, to raise your minds or rather to entreat, that He, who " alone can enable you to say that Jesus is the Lord,"* would raise your minds—to this sublime truth ; that he who appeared as a babe in Bethlehem, who went about having no where to lay his head, and who finally suffered the accursed death of the cross, was indeed the eternal Son of God, the Lord Emmanuel—God in our nature, “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Oh what a stupendous view does it give us of his love! that He “ who was in the bosom of the Father” from all eternity, surrounded by unnumbered myriads of angels, every one of whom delighted to do him honour—that he for our salvation should thus condescend ! We need not be surprised that zealous Martha, when he entered her house, should be anxious to serve him ; nor that devout Mary should desire “ to sit at his feet, and to hear his word.” All that will surprise us is the coldness of our own hearts, that we should so frequently hear of his name, and yet have so little of this fervent affection. Oh that the holy Spirit would now kindle the flame, that we might enter into
* 1 Cor. xii. 3.