Page images
PDF
EPUB

they were “made nigh.” Their confidence was now neither in themselves, nor in any of the rites and ceremonies of a splendid but temporary economy. Indeed that economy was already abolished when the apostle, as an ambassador for Christ, went to Ephesus. His message was a simple one-to tell them of Christ, to shew them his sacrifice, and to proclaim it as the only atonement for the soul.

Thus by the sacrifice of the Son of God, every other inferior sacrifice has been swallowed up.—“ Not all the blood of beasts,” slain on Jewish altars, could atone for one sin, or purify from internal defilement the conscience of the sinner. But the sacrifice of Christ is abundantly adequate. It has redeemed and raised to heaven the converted Ephesians, and many others out of different “nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues !" All that have already joined the triumphant church “ have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb !It is in that purified and ransomed condition that “they are now before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in his temple !! Their song is that of gratitude,-their anthem is praise! Now as a sacrifice uniformly reminds us of blood, so the sacrifice of Christ reminds us of the richness and the value of his blood! Or does a sacrifice remind us of sufferings ?- The sacrifice of Jesus reminds us that his blood was mingled with his sufferings! He suffered in his soul as well as in his body. “My soul,said he, “is exceeding sorrowful even unto death!” After all, this was only preparatory to his actual sacrifice on the cross. And when stretched upon it, he felt as if something more was pursuing him than the vengeance of his murderers! The withdrawment of His Father's countenance was more than an army against him ; and the positive infliction of Divine wrath was that which pierced him to the heart! Think of the sword awaking against the man that was Jehovah's fellow! Think of the doings of that sword! Never before was it burnished so bright.-And never since has it inflicted such wounds ! “ But he was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by his stripes we are healed.” In this

way

like the Ephesians weare “made nigh.” It is all by the blood of Christ. And “happy are the people who are in such a case-yea happy is that people whose God is their Saviour.

The conclusion of the whole will be this—that if any inferior method could have been devised, by which sinners could have acceptably approached unto God, it would have been adopted. But we see again in the case of the Ephesians, that the way mentioned in the text is the only way: and the argument for this tends additionally to strengthen the doctrine contained in the preceding discourse, that this blood of Christ is the only blood that will satisfy as an atonement for the soul. If " made nigh" unto God, it is by the blood of Christ. If reconciled unto Him, we are found in the condition of those who are « in Christ Jesus.”-If no longer dark, it is because we are light in the Lord;" or if now the possessors of a hope, we have received it as the triuniph of « His resurrection from the dead."

SERMON IV.

THE SYMPATHY OF CHRIST AT THE GRAVE OF LAZARUS.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

It may now be pleasing and profitable to consider for a little the subject of the Saviour's humanity. Every reader of the new testament may be supposed familiar with the names of Martha and Mary, and equally so with that of their brother Lazarus. It was to the house of Martha and Mary that Jesus sometimes retired, after the duties of the day, on those occasions when his labours were contiguous to their residence. We may easily suppose that these seasons would be hallowing and beneficial to all the inmates of the house. The personage, who consented to enter, though in the form of humanity, was nevertheless the Lord of life and glory! And so we find on the part of these individuals themselves a growing attachment to Jesus Christ, which ultimately ripened into the purest and most exalted friendship. It is true there was a diversity of disposition in the family-as diversity, less or more, will often be found in a family—but there was a centre at the same time where all their feelings met, and where they were as one in love for Christ. Nor was their love unrequited, for “ Jesus,” we are told, “ loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” The chapter before us gives an account of the sickness of Lazarus, and subsequently of his death.

66 Now a certain man was sick named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.” In the midst of this sickness, the two sisters, concerned for the recovery of their brother, sent a message unto Christ, acquainting him with the circumstance. There is a touching simplicity in the manner in which the announcement was conveyed to the Saviour. All that was uttered by the messenger was this, “ Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” Nothing more, in fact, was necessary to be said. The sisters were assured of the Redeemer's sympathy. He who came into the world in the likeness of humanity, feltfor the sufferings of humanity. The design of his coming was to relieve those sufferings, or to give comfort and support under them. Even for this

purpose the compassionate Nazarene suffered himself. He was

a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" so true is it that he took upon him “our sorrows.” He never looked upon distress of any kind without attempting to relieve it, and therefore, for the benefit of our fallen world, every stretch of his omnipotent power was put forth, every miracle was displayed, every encouragement was addressed. Such was the character, and such the feeling of Him, to whom at this time, Martha and Mary sent on behalf of their brother. This, however, as the sequel of the history informs us, did not prevent the sickness of Lazarus from terminating in death. I do not mean to say that death could not have been prevented, but simply that it was not

66

prevented ; no doubt that the subsequent miracle of resurrection from the dead might appear the more illustrious, and the more decidedly redound to the glory of God. This indeed was what Jesus Christ himself intimated when the sickness of Lazarus was announced to Him. 66 This sick ness,” said he, “is not unto death”-not unto final death, “ but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” Passing from this time down to the period recorded in the text, we find Jesus at the grave of his friend, and even weeping there like any other child of humanity! At first sight it might seem as if he were equally feeble and powerless. There is something in this circumstance, to which we cannot apply the term compassion, as if that were adequate to teach us all that was involved in the circumstance.-No-it is too faint-it does not go far enough for our purpose. It is merely the stretch of language, not the stretch of what we are to see in the weeping and sympathy of Christ. We are accustomed to sorrow, because of our distresses; and without any unnecessary harshness, it may be said that we deserve to sorrow, inasınuch as we have deserved to suffer. But the weeping before us at this time was the weeping of one, who needed not to weep. It was the tear of an eye which could look upon creation, and the radiance of the sun-and away from these to the more distant glories, and the more overwhelming brightness of Paradise undismayed ;-it was the lamentation and the sympathy of one, descending to the feebleness of a child; who nevertheless had hung out, by the simple fiat of his power, every star and every world that roll in the immensity of space; and who at the birth of the universe, and after dispersing the darkness of chaos, bade beauty and harmony pervade his productions ! But

« PreviousContinue »