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divines affirm, was uniformly shewn by Jesus towards But it must proceed from a very ig
his parents. norant interpretation of the word Woman, to infer that our Lord, by the use of it to his mother, was deficient in filial respect and submission. though that appellation now carries an aspect of coarseness and vulgarity, yet, in ancient times, it was applied to females the most illustrious in rank and descent, as may be proved in an hundred instances from the Greek writers. There is something, therefore, more plausible in the way which many apologize for Jesus calling his mother, Woman, when they say, that he thus addressed her, in order that she might remember certain passages which must impress her with sentiments of the highest reverence towards him, on account of his miraculous birth: yet those who offer this explanation, do surely forget that our Saviour used the same expression in recommending his mother on
* The classical reader will remember, that Antenor addresses Helen by the appellation of yum; and that in Xenophon's Cyropæd. (Lib. v. p. 317, Edit. Hutch.) a Persian chief, when trying to console a captive of the highest rank, under her unfortunate circumstances, says, apos, ¿ yuvai,—take courage, woman. In like manner, as Wetslein observes, Dion. Cass. in Hist. Rom. p. 351, makes the Emperor Augustus say to Cleopatra, Θαρσει, ὦ γυναι, και Θυμον έχε άγαθον,-take courage, woman, and have a good heart.-In imitation of the Greeks, Horace calls Livia, Mulier,-Carm. iii. p. 14, 15.
the cross, with the utmost filial tenderness, to the care of his favourite disciple," Woman, behold thy son."
"And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-cloths, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, loose him, and let him go." John xi. 44.
AMID the many strokes which have been aimed against the invincible shield of Christianity, we are not surprised that those who have attempted to bring the historical part of it into discredit, should put this insulting question upon the resurrection of Lazarus: How could a man come out of his grave, who was bound hand and foot? That accurate and intelligent traveller, Maundrell*, will, perhaps assist us, in a great measure, to illustrate this very important question. From him we learn, that the Jews did not, in general, make use of coffins in burying their dead, but placed the bodies in niches, cut into the sides of caves or rooms, hewn out of rocks. We are not, therefore, to understand St. John as saying, that Lazarus
* See Description of the Sepulchre of the Kings, in his Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 76, 77.
walked out of the sepulchre, but that, extended on his back in a niche, he raised himself in a sitting posture, and then putting his legs over the edge of his niche or cell, slid down, and stood upright on the 'floor. Now it is very clear, that this might be easily effected, notwithstanding his arms were pinioned, as it were, to his body, and his legs fastened together with the shroud and rollers*. The order, therefore, which Jesus gave, for him to be unbound, very naturally followed the performance of this stupendous miracle+.
"And when he had thus said, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost."—John xx. 22.
THESE words at the first glance have perplexed some, into whose minds the awful truths of the Gospel have deeply sunk. Our Lord, it is well known, al
* In consequence of the difficulty of supposing that the body of Lazarus was so involved, that he could not readily come forth from the tomb, some commentators have imagined it to be more probable, that the body was only slightly wrapped in a large linen cloth, tied at the hands and feet. -See Ellsley's Annotations on the Four Gospels, Vol. ii. p. 474.
+ The Evangelist, observes Lightfoot, seems so particular in mentioning the grave cloths wherewith Lazarus was bound hand and foot, as also the napkin that had covered his face, on purpose to hint to us a second miracle in this great miracle.—Vol, ii. p. 583.
ways speaks of the Holy Ghost as not being to come till he should have risen from the dead, and be exalted to the right hand of the Father. Yet, some days before that great event had taken place, he says to his disciples, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." This apparent difficulty may be thus reconciled. It is very evident, in the first place, that Christ was to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost upon his disciples, not in the character of a prophet, but as the eternal Sovereign of the Church. The reason, therefore, of his saying, in the present tense, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," must be taken in the prophetic style, as a thing they should soon receive, as certainly as he breathed upon them*. In the same manner as he says," This is my body, which is broken for you-This is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you-Now is the Son of man glorified."
* Confirming, says Bishop Pearce, by this outward act, (his breathing on them,) the promise which he had made that they should receive it; as they soon afterwards did. See Acts, chap. ii. v. 2, 3.-John, chap. vii. v. 39.—This does not mean the actual imparting of the Holy Ghost, but a solemn promise confirmed by breathing on them, expressive of a sacred spirit or breath, To TVEUμa, to fit them for the reception at a proper time.-Ellsley's Annotations on the Four Gospels, vol. ïï. p. 535, 536.
We have now briefly touched upon those injunctions and actions of our Lord, to which such, whose hearts and minds are under the influence of prepossession and prejudice against the Scriptures, and such, whose religious doubts may be said to proceed from want of information, have equally raised objections. The true christian, however, will not look upon the New Testament with less reverence, because he cannot understand all its contents; he knows that his life is a life of faith as well as of practice: to believe only, then, that which is inducible to his reason, he is aware is not truth, but mere philosophy: he, therefore, deems it as foolish, as it is presumptuous, to disbelieve what he cannot account for*; being perfectly satisfied, that what materially concerns him to know, is so obvious and express, that it can be equally understood by the lowest as by the highest capacities; namely, that by the intervention of Jesus Christ, he and all mankind will obtain eternal happiness, if they love and obey him.
It is indeed a capital error, in the study of Holy Scripture, not to take the revealed word to be the rule of our implicit belief. And to those who will not give their assent to any doctrines but what they can perfectly comprehend, we may say with the same propriety as St. Austin did to the Manichæans, Aperte discite non vos credere Christi evangelio, nam qui in evangelio quod vultis creditis, vobis potius quam evangelio creditis.-Gontra Faust. Lib. xvii. cap. 3.