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with him. There could not have been any agreement transacted between him and any at Nain so privately but it must have been known.
The dead man carried out was the "only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and much people of the city was with her." As sure as persons do not carry men forth to burial till they are dead, so sure are we that this was a dead corpse. The person was not one who had no friends to take care of him. He was the only son of a widow, therefore her only support, her husband being dead.
"There were much people of the city with her," her neighbours. Could she have concerted a fraud for carrying out her only child, if he had been alive! It is observable, that there were " much people of the city with her," which is no unusual thing at the funeral of a person who leaves behind him so fond a relation as a widow-mother. But had there been any fraud, it is very unlikely that she should have carried out her son with much company of that place. She would have contrived some pretence to excuse their company at this time. Or rather, she would have said nothing of the matter to any one, but carried him out privately to burial as dead, without any previous notice.This" much people of the city" with the mother, ruins all objections that can be raised.
If it be said: it might be the contrivance of the young man, a subtle youth, without the knowledge of his mother: I answer, that is impossible. If he had been abroad in a strange country, he might have contrived such a thing with his comrades; but it is impossible he should transact such a matter in his mother's house without her knowledge. Would a widow let her only son be carried to burial out of her own house, without knowing whether he was dead or not?
"And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not." Jesus, before he had seen the corpse, without asking any questions, knowing the power he had of raising the dead to life, bid her forbear weeping; thereby intimating in a modest way, that she should soon see her son, whose death was the cause of her sorrow, restored to life.
"And he came and touched the bier, (and they that bare him stood still,) and he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise; and he that was dead sat up, and began to speak: and he delivered him to his mother." Presently, upon the voice of Jesus commanding him to arise, he sat up, and began to speak. The tokens of life, strength and vigour,
appeared immediately upon the command of Jesus. His life was manifestly known hereby to be the effect of the power accompanying the word of Jesus.
This was reckoned a miracle by the numerous company present, before whom it was publicly done: and they reported it to others, for it follows: "And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great Prophet is risen up among us, and that God hath visited his people. And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about."
We will now take a view of the last story of this kind. "Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and Martha-Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold he whom thou lovest is sick." Hereby we learn, that Lazarus did not die suddenly: that he was not taken off by a fit, but by a sickness which made gradual advances. His sisters sent to Jesus, "He whom thou lovest is sick;" supposing that out of his affection for Lazarus, he would come to Bethany; and hoping also that he might possibly get thither before he was dead. That Lazarus was dangerously sick, is evident not only from the substance of the message, but from their sending a messenger so far, and also from their not coming either of them to Christ. It is also hence apparent, that there could be no fraud and contrivance. The matter is not secretly transacted between Lazarus, his sisters, and Jesus, but here is a messenger employed. Moreover, if they had had any thought of such a great design in hand, as making a pretence of raising up Lazarus, though not dead, some one of these sisters would have come herself. Nothing but real sickness could have kept the sisters at home, and from coming to Jesus. The thought of making a pretence of so great a miracle as raising a dead man to life would certainly have obliged one of the nearest relations to come in person to him, who was to have the honour of so mighty a work.
Jesus staid some time in the place where he was, after the receiving a message of Lazarus's sickness. He receives no more messages; a sign there was no longer any need of his coming, and that Lazarus was recovered; or else that he was in such a state, that his friends had no longer hopes of any benefit from Jesus.
But at length Jesus resolves to go into Judea, and sets out with his disciples for Bethany, though it was nigh to Jerusalem, where the Jews had lately sought his life; a sure sign of the consciousness of his innocence and integrity. Had it been thought necessary to concert a pre
tended miracle between Jesus and these persons: Lazarus might have come to the country beyond Jordan, and a death and a resurrection might have been contrived there. None would have chosen Bethany for the scene of a pretended miracle at this time; so near the fiercest enemies, so near the great council of the Jews. If a miracle had been contrived at Bethany, it would not have been upon an inhabitant of the place, a well known person, but some stranger purposely arrived there by accident, but who should have no occasion to come thither again. What reward, what sum of money could be sufficient to induce a well known person, inhabitant of Bethany, so near Jerusalem, to enter into a combination with Jesus, to be the person on whom an imposture of this kind should be acted?
"Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.-And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house." Hence it is evident, that Lazarus's death and burial were public things. Moreover these sisters did not go to Jesus: Martha does not go, till she hears Jesus is near the house; and Mary stays still at home; all arguments of true sorrow, and that there was no contrivance.
"Then saith Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." How natural expressions of sorrow and concern! Did this person, who spoke these words, know her brother was alive still, and only feigned to be dead? Impossible. "But I know, that even now whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." More words, that demonstrate they were not in any concerted design of feigning a miracle. After some more discourse between her and Jesus, she went her way, and "called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come and calleth for thee."
"As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily, and went out, followed her; saying, She goeth unto the grave, to weep there." Mary's grief was real, in the opinion of all these persons, who might, one would think, have known it to be counterfeit, if it had been so.
"Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." She had
no more thought of seeing her brother raised presently by Jesus, than her sister Martha had.
"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled." Here are in this joint weeping of Mary and her friends the tokens of a deep sorrow, arising from the death of Lazarus, and a despair of ever seeing him again, before the resurrection at the last day. Their grief so far exceeded the bounds it ought to have done, when Jesus, who had already given such demonstrations of his power, was with them, that he "groaned in spirit, and was troubled."
Ver. 34. "And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see." Jesus himself first makes the proposal of going toward the sepulchre by asking the question; "where they had laid him." There appear no where any intimations that they had hopes of seeing Lazarus alive again.
They go toward the sepulchre, ver. 38. to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh for he has been dead four days." Need I here remark, that these are the words of one, who knew her brother was dead? She expresses herein such a want of all hopes of seeing her brother alive again, that Jesus reproves her, and says: "Said I not unto thee, That if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?"
Now with what deliberation, and with what solemnity of address to the Father does Jesus proceed to this great work, that the minds of all the company might be attentive, and observe!
Ver. 41-44. "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lift up his eyes and said, Father, I thank thee, that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go."
There is no occasion for remarks here: he who was dead came out with burial clothes upon him, with all the tokens of a corpse buried by his friends; so bound, that in a natural course he was not able to move; and he was ordered
to be unloosed by others, not being able to help himself; that all might see the tokens of life, strength and vigour, by the actions of walking.
Is there any reason to doubt after this view of this relation, whether this was a real miracle; and whether they who were present must not be sure it was so, and report it as such, as John has done?
But we will proceed a little further. All present are represented as persuaded of it. For "many of the Jews, which came to Mary and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him:" that is, believed him to be the Messias. "But some of them," being wicked, malicious men, "went to the pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done." And the pharisees considering the greatness of this work, and that such things as these would tend to bring" all men," great numbers of people, to believe on him," from that day forth they took counsel together to put him to death," ver. 53.
That this thing was no imposture, but a real miracle, appears finally from hence; that not long after this, (by which time the pharisees might have enquired into the matter, and got evidence of the imposture, if any could be had,) Jesus comes publicly to Jerusalem, enters into the temple, teaches there boldly from day to day, spends several days at Jerusalem, and in the neighbourhood, at Bethany itself, the place of this action; and lives all this time in the most public, open manner at the near approach of one of the Jewish principal festivals, when there was a general resort thither from all parts. He celebrates moreover this great feast with his disciples in Jerusalem. And supper being over, he goes into a garden, an usual place of retirement, with his disciples: whither the officers of the high priest come to apprehend him, to whom he voluntarily surrenders himself. Whereupon he is examined and tried before the council, and before Pilate, but not one imposture of any kind is proved or charged upon him.
I MIGHT conclude here, but I am willing to add a few observations on the propriety and beauty of our Lord's action, and of the evangelists' relations.
St. Matthew informs us, that when the ruler came to Jesus, he was discoursing to the people. "While Jesus spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler to him-saying, My daughter is even now dead, but come