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ought not to have been. "Give place," added Christ; retire, make way, that I may see her." "She is not dead, but sleepeth." She was not dead so as to be irrecoverably lost to this world; her state, who was so soon to awake, might, even more naturally than in usual cases of death, be compared to a sleep. On this the mourners and others, knowing that she was really dead, in the usual sense of the expression, "laughed him to scorn," were so rude and inconsiderate as to deride him; yet this unseemly conduct served as a confirmation of the reality of the miracle, and of its being an actual resurrection from the dead. Then our Lord having "put them all out"—that is, all those who, having derided him, showed themselves to be unworthy to witness such a sight-“ taketh," as we are told by Mark, "the father and the mother of the damsel, and them," that is, the three disciples that were with him, "and entereth in where the damsel was lying." "And he took her by the hand, and called, saying," in Syriac, “ Talitha, Cumi; which is, being interpreted," "Maid, arise." Without prayer, and in his own name, he gave the command; and the command being accompanied with his almighty power, was instantly obeyed. So, the call of the word to souls dead in sin, accompanied by his divine grace, becomes effectual; and so, at the last day, all the dead who are in their graves shall hear his voice, and come forth. "Her spirit came again." This form of expression is justly considered corroborative of the idea of souls living and acting in a state of separation from the body, and of their being again united to the body at the resurrection. Not only did her spirit come again, but “she arose straightway;" she was restored, not only to life, but to health, so as to be able to rise and walk. And, in further proof of her complete restoration, and also to show that though her life had been restored miraculously, it was to be sustained in the ordinary way, "he commanded to give her meat." No wonder that "her parents," and all present, were astonished." We may be sure, too, that her parents were filled with exceeding great joy. The report of such a miracle would, doubtless, get abroad; but, as his hour was not yet come, Jesus was studious to avoid furnishing his enemies prematurely with a handle against him; and, therefore, "he charged" those who were present "that they should tell no man what was done."
And now, let the history of this miracle remind us that
all families are exposed to domestic trouble. Let none forget that into their tabernacle, in which nought but health is now seen, wasting disease may soon enter; and that there the sound of rejoicing may soon be changed into the voice of them that weep. An affectionate family is like the
human body; "if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it." None can tell how soon they may be called to suffer heavily in this way; none have any security but that the nearest and dearest connection may soon be laid on the bed of sickness and of death. How much, then, does it concern all the members of every family, who are arrived at the age of accountableness, to be living in the faith of the gospel, and in the discharge of relative duty; so that, if a separation should take place, there may be good hope with regard to those who depart, and no bitter remorse on account of habitually neglected duty in those who remain!
This passage will be felt to be applicable, in a very exact and peculiarly affecting manner, to those parents who have one only daughter, and she arrived at some such interesting age as was that of Jairus' daughter. Such parents may have, as it were, their life bound up in the life of their child, and may be ready to say of her, in reference to coming years, "This same shall comfort us." But let them see to it that their affection be an enlightened, Christian affection, including a practical regard to the spiritual welfare of their daughter, and that their expectations from her be accompanied with a proper sense of the insufficiency and uncertainty of all created comforts, lest they find, when too late, that they have been leaning on a weak and brittle reed, which, in breaking, pierces them to the heart.
But not to pursue so close a parallel as this any further, we may say more generally that this history suggests much instruction to parents, in regard both to the sickness, and to the death, of advanced children. As it is right, when their children are dangerously ill, that they should feel a strong desire for the preservation of their life, let them here learn that, while they are to use proper natural means, they should call in the aid of divine power and grace. In the exercise of private and family prayer, they should fall down at Jesus' feet, and beseech him to come into their house. They should beseech him to come, in the exercise of his ordinary providential power, to recover the sick; and they should beseech him to come, in the enlightening, pardoning, sanctifying, and comforting influences of his grace, as to all
the members of the family, so especially to the afflicted object of their solicitude. If they proceed in this way, restoration to health, if it come (and this is the way in which it is most likely to come), will come as a blessing to all concerned; and, on the supposition of a fatal issue, their prayers for Christ's presence, and his gracious visit, will not be in vain; for they will be the means of enabling the dying to die in peace, and of forming the survivors to right views, and the proper improvement of the painful bereavement.
We say, too, that there is here much instruction to parents when they are bereaved of children. It cannot be but that nature must feel, and feel keenly, on such occasions; and it cannot have been the intention of Him who himself wept at the grave of Lazarus, entirely to prohibit the feeling and expression of grief in others; but it ought to be observed, that he decidedly disapproves of his people abandoning themselves to excessively noisy, or guilty, inconsolable grief. Such grief is known to be characteristic of heathens; but it is unworthy of Christians; and it has been, in fact, very much checked by the prevalence of Christian principles and hopes. Christians who are overwhelmed in this way, are indeed to be pitied; but they may justly consider themselves to be thus gently reproved by their Lord, "Why make ye this ado, and weep?" In all ordinary cases, death, when it comes, should be felt as settling the question of relative anxiety; it shows plainly what is the will of God; and they ought all to beware of indulging a feeling, or uttering an expression, of rebellion. The matter is then determined; and it is for believers to submit, saying, "The will of the Lord be done."- "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." David said, "While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
Besides, extravagant grief is altogether unworthy of those who believe the doctrines, and entertain the hopes, of a glorious resurrection, and a blessed immortality. Of all who die in the Lord, it may still be said, in the sense our Saviour intended, that the are not dead, but sleep. They are not, indeed, to be restored immediately; but, we have only to look forward to the morning of the resurrection, to see them
awaking, even as to their bodies, to renewed life, and endless felicity. And what a consolation is this! In the words of Paul to the Thessalonians-" I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others, who have no hope. For if believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."- "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." How great, in this view, the consolation of the Christian!
Faithfulness, however, requires the statement that none can scripturally partake of this consolation, but those who, through Christ, are in a state of acceptance with God, and conscientiously exerting themselves for the salvation of their relatives. With regard to those who either plainly die in sin, or even die without having given any evidence of grace; —it is a most delicate point to speak of them at all,—and in most cases of the kind, probably the less that is said the better. But this we may say without hesitation, that, in every light in which we can possibly regard the death of ourselves, or of our friends, there may be seen the strongest reason for our seeking to become possessed of the privileges and character, that we may die the death, of the righteous, ourselves; and also for our doing every thing we can, by advice, example, and prayer, to make our friends such as, in the prospect of their death, the enlightened Christian would wish them to be. If we would avoid the most distressing reflections, and enjoy the best consolations, when those whom we love leave the world before us; and if we would save those whom we love, and are to leave behind us, the most painful apprehensions, and enable them, on rational and scriptural principles, to think of us with pleasure when we are gone; let us all be wise in time. Let us thankfully avail ourselves of the pardoning and sanctifying grace provided for us in the gospel; let us encourage each other in the way of life; and let us seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, in the way of a patient continuance in welldoing.
LUKE XI. 1–9.
"Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. 3. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, nor money; neither have two coats apiece. 4. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. 5. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them. 6. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. 7. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; 8. And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets had risen again. 9. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but whom is this of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him."
OUR Lord had now, for a considerable time, been diligently employed in going about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the kingdom of God, and healing all diseases among the people. He could not, however, in his human nature, be in more places than one, at a time; so that his personal exertions were necessarily limited: he, therefore, formed the gracious design to institute means for the still more extensive and more rapid diffusion of the gospel. We learn, from the corresponding part of the history, as given by Matthew,* that "when Jesus saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he to his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few: pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." It is a promising sign that the Lord intends some signal mercy to his Church, when he stirs up believers to pray for it: and so it proved here. In fact, Christ had already certain men in training for the important work of public teachers, namely, the twelve. They had been called to discipleship in the early part of his ministry; and we have
* Matt. ix. 36.