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retains the wonted sweetness: it is the continuance under death, that is thus offensive. Neither is it otherwise in our spiritual condition: the longer we lie under our sin, the more rotten and corrupt we are. He, who upon the fresh commission of his sin recovers himself by a speedy repentance, yields no ill scent to the nostrils of the Almighty. The candle, that is presently blown in again, offends not: it is the snuff, which continues choked with its own moisture, that sends up unwholesome and odious fumes. O Saviour, thou wouldst yield to death, thou wouldst not yield to corruption; ere the fourth day, thou wert risen again. I cannot but receive many deadly foils; but oh, do thou raise me up again, ere I shall pass the degrees of rottenness in my sins and trespasses.
They, that laid their hands to the stone, doubtless held now still awhile; and looked one while on Christ, another while upon Martha, to hear what issue of resolution would follow upon so important an objection: when they find a light touch of taxation to Martha, Said not I to thee, that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God? That holy woman had before professed her belief, as Christ had professed his great intentions; both were now forgotten and now our Saviour is fain to revive, both her memory and faith; Said not I to thee? The best of all saints are subject to fits of unbelief and oblivion; the only remedy whereof must be the inculcation of God's merciful promises of their relief and supportation. O God, if thou hast said it, I dare believe; I dare cast my soul upon the belief of every word of thine. Faithful art thou, which hast promised, who wilt also do it.
In spite of all the unjust discouragements of nature, we must obey Christ's command. Whatever Martha suggests, they remove the stone; and may now see and smell him dead, whom they shall soon see revived. The scent of the corpse is not so unpleasing to them, as the perfume of their obedience is sweet to Christ. And now, when all impediments are removed, and all hearts ready for the work, our Saviour addresses to the miracle.
His eyes begin; they are lift up to heaven. It was the malicious mis-suggestion of his enemies, that he looked down to Beelzebub the beholders shall now see, whence he expects and derives his power; and shall by him learn, whence to expect and hope for all success. The heart and the eye must go together. He, that would have ought to do with God, must be sequestered and lifted up from earth.
His tongue seconds his eye; Father. Nothing more stuck in the stomach of the Jews, than that Christ called himself the Son of God: this was imputed to him for a blasphemy, worthy of stones. How seasonably is this word spoken in the hearing of these Jews, in whose sight he will be presently approved so!
How can ye now, O ye cavillers, except at that title, which shall see irrefragably justified? Well may he call God Father, that can raise the dead out of the grave. In vain shall ye snarl at the style, when ye are convinced of the effect.
I hear of no prayer, but a thanks for hearing. While thou saidst nothing, O Saviour, how doth thy Father hear thee? Was it not with thy Father and thee, as it was with thee and Moses? Thou saidst, Let me alone Moses, when he spake not. Thy will was thy prayer. Words express our hearts to men ; thoughts, to God. Well didst thou know, out of the selfsameness of thy will with thy Father's, that, if thou didst but think in thy heart that Lazarus should rise, he was now raised. It was not for thee to pray vocally and audibly, least those captious hearers should say, thou didst all by entreaty, nothing by power. Thy thanks overtake thy desires; ours require time and distance our thanks arise from the echo of our prayers resounding from heaven to our hearts; thou, because thou art at once in earth and heaven, and knowest the grant to be of equal paces with the request, most justly thankest in praying.
Now ye cavilling Jews are thinking straight, "Is there such distance betwixt the Father and the Son? Is it so rare a thing, for the Son to be heard, that he pours out his thanks for it, as a blessing unusual? Do ye not now see, that he, who made your heart, knows it, and anticipates your fond thoughts with the same breath? I knew that thou hearest me always; butI said this for their sakes, that they might believe.
Merciful Saviour, how can we enough admire thy goodness, who makest our belief the scope and drift of thy doctrine and actions! Alas! what wert thou the better, if they believed thee sent from God? what wert thou the worse, if they believed it not? Thy perfection, and glory, stands not upon the slippery terms of our approbation or dislike; but is real in thyself, and that infinite, without possibility of our increase or diminution. We, we only, are they, that have either the gain or loss, in thy receipt or rejection; yet so dost thou affect our belief, as if it were more thine advantage than ours.
O Saviour, while thou spakest to thy Father, thou liftedst up thine eyes now thou art to speak unto dead Lazarus, thou liftedst up thy voice, and criedst aloud, Lazarus, come forth. Was it, that the strength of the voice might answer to the strength of the affection? since we faintly require, what we care not to obtain; and vehemently utter, what we earnestly desire. Was it, that the greatness of the voice might answer to the greatness of the work? Was it, that the hearers might be witnesses of what words were used in so miraculous an act; no magical incantations, but authoritative and Divine commands? Was it, to signify that Lazarus's soul was called from afar? the speech must be loud, that shall be heard in another world. Was
it, in relation to the estate of the body of Lazarus, whom thou hadst reported to sleep; since those, that are in a deep and dead sleep, cannot be awaked without a loud call? Or, was it, in a representation of that loud voice of the last trumpet, which shall sound into all graves, and raise all flesh from their dust. Even so still, Lord, when thou wouldst raise a soul from the death of sin and grave of corruption, no easy voice will serve. Thy strongest commands, thy loudest denunciations of judgments, the shrillest and sweetest promulgations of thy mercies, are but enough.
How familiar a word is this, Lazarus, come forth! no other, than he was wont to use, while they lived together. Neither doth he say, "Lazarus, revive;" but, as if he supposed him already living, Lazarus, come forth to let them know, that those, who are dead to us, are to and with him alive; yea in a more entire and feeling society, than while they carried their clay about them. Why do I fear that separation, which shall more unite me to my Saviour?
Neither was the word more familiar, than commanding; Lazarus, come forth. Here is no suit to his Father, no adjuration to the deceased, but a flat and absolute injunction, Come forth. O Saviour, that is the voice, that I shall once hear sounding into the bottom of my grave, and raising me up out of my dust that is the voice, that shall pierce the rocks, and divide the mountains, and fetch up the dead out of the lowest deeps. Thy word made all; thy word shall repair all. Hence, all ye diffident fears; he, whom I trust, is Omnipotent.
It was the Jewish fashion, to inwrap the corpse in linen, to tie the hands and feet, and to cover the face of the dead. The Fall of man, besides weakness, brought shame upon him: ever since, even while he lives, the whole body is covered; but the face, because some sparks of that extinct majesty remain there, is wont to be left open. In death, all those poor remainders being gone and leaving deformity and ghastliness in the room of them, the face is covered also.
There lies Lazarus, bound in double fetters. One Almighty word hath loosed both; and now, He, that was bound, came forth. He, whose power could not be hindered by the chains of death, cannot be hindered by linen bonds. He, that gave life, gave motion, gave direction. He, that guided the soul of Lazarus into the body, guided the body of Lazarus without his eyes, moved the feet without the full liberty of his regular paces. No doubt, the same power slackened those swathing-bands of death, that the feet might have some little scope to move, though not
with that freedom that followed after.
Thou didst not only, O Saviour, raise the body of Lazarus, but the faith of the beholders. They cannot deny him dead, whom they saw rising. They see the signs of death, with the
very swathes convinced him to be the Thy less miracle confirms the greater:
proofs of life. Those
O clear and irrefragable example of our resuscitation! Say now, ye shameless Sadducees, with what face can ye deny the resurrection of the body, when ye see Lazarus, after four days' death, rising up out of his grave? And if Lazarus did thus start up at the bleating of this Lamb of God, that was now every day preparing for the slaughter-house; how shall the dead be raised up out of their graves, by the roaring of that glorious and immortal Lion, whose voice shall shake the powers of heaven, and move the very foundations of the earth!
With what strange amazedness, do we think, that Martha and Mary, the Jews and the disciples, looked to see Lazarus come forth in his winding-sheet, shackled with his linen fetters, and walk towards them! Doubtless, fear and horror strove in them, whether should be for the time more predominant. We love our friends dearly; but to see them again after their known death, and that in the very robes of the grave, must needs set up the hair in a kind of uncouth rigour.
And now, though it had been most easy for him, that brake the adamantine fetters of death, to have broke in pieces those linen ligaments, wherewith his raised Lazarus was encumbered; yet he will not do it but by their hands. He, that said, Remove the stone, said, Loose Lazarus. He will not have us expect his immediate help in that, we can do for ourselves. It is both a laziness and a presumptuous tempting of God, to look for an extraordinary aud supernatural help from God, where he hath enabled us with common aid.
What strange salutations do we think there were, betwixt Lazarus and Christ that had raised him; betwixt Lazarus and his sisters and neighbours and friends! what amazed looks! what unusual compliments! For Lazarus was himself at once: here was no leisure of degrees to reduce him to his wonted perfection; neither did he stay to rub his eyes, and stretch his benumbed limbs, nor take time to put off that dead sleep wherewith he had been seized; but, instantly, he is both alive, and fresh, and vigorous: if they do but let him go, he walks so as if he had ailed nothing; and receives and gives mutual gratulations. I leave them, entertaining each other with glad embraces, with discourses of reciprocal admiration, with praises and adorations of that God and Saviour that had fetched him into life.
CONTEMPLATION XXV.-CHRIST'S PROCESSION TO THE TEMPLE.
NEVER did our Saviour take so much state upon him, as now, that he was going towards his Passion: other journeys he measured on foot, without noise or train; this, with a princely equipage and loud acclamation. Wherein yet, O Saviour, whether shall I more wonder at thy Majesty, or thine Humility: that Divine Majesty, which lay hid under so humble appearance; or that sincere Humility, which veiled so great a glory?
Thou, O Lord, whose chariots are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels, wouldst make choice of the silliest of beasts to carry thee, in thy last and Royal Progress. How well is thy birth suited with thy triumph! Even that very ass, whereon thou rodest, was prophesied of; neither couldst thou have made up those vatical predictions, without this conveyance. O glorious and yet homely pomp!
Thou wouldst not lose aught of thy right; thou, that wast a King, wouldst be proclaimed so: but, that it might appear thy kingdom was not of this world, thou, that couldst have commanded all worldly magnificence, thoughtest fit to abandon it.
Instead of the kings of the earth, who, reigning by thee, might have been employed in thine attendance, the people are thy heralds. Their homely garments are thy footcloth and carpets; their green boughs, the strewings of thy way. Those palms, which were wont to be borne in the hands of them that triumph, are strewed under the feet of thy beast. It was thy greatness and honour, to contemn those glories, which worldly hearts were wont to admire.
Justly did thy followers hold the best ornaments of the earth worthy of no better, than thy treading upon; neither could they ever account their garments so rich, as when they had been trampled upon by thy carriage. How happily, did they think their backs disrobed for thy way! How gladly, did they spend their breath in acclaiming thee! Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he, that cometh in the name of the Lord. Where now are the great masters of the synagogue, that had enacted the ejection of whosoever should confess Jesus to be the Christ? Lo here bold and undaunted clients of the Messiah, that dare proclaim him in the public road, in the open streets. In vain shall the impotent enemies of Christ hope to suppress his glory: as soon shall they with their hand hide the face of the sun from shining to the world, as withhold the beams of his Divine truth from the eyes of men by their envious opposition. In spite of all Jewish malignity, his kingdon is confessed, applauded, blessed.