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whilst we are struck with the wonders of creation, and are ready to adore the displays of his power, his own personal appearance in the world in the form of a man is the inost wonderful of all !
66 Great is the mystery of godliness-God was manifest in the flesh!" Why did he thus appear before us ? Or why do we find him weeping at the grave-side ? It was to show the nature and extent of his sympathy. It was to shew us, from the circumstances connected with the history of Lazarus, that we have still a merciful and faithful High Priest, who is passed into the heavens for his people, and touched with a feeling of their infirmities. The circumstance may further teach us, that though we are not forbidden to sorrow for the dead--we are certainly taught to moderate our sorrow. It is religion, balmy as the breath of summer, that alone can tranquilize the mind; and the blessed assurance that those 6 who die in the Lord” are gone to be with the Lord, draws from our heart the holy aspiration-May my end be as triumphant, and my spirit as happy! Let us here notice for our edification and comfort
I. The nature of the Saviour's feelings at this time, as indicated by his tears ; and
II. The exhibition of character which the circumstance affords.
I. The nature of the Saviour's feelings at this time, as indicated by his tears. This will form an important, and at the same time interesting inquiry, as tending to unfold the sympathy of the Redeemer's nature; and to shew us the interest he took in all that concerned the children of men. In noticing the character of these feelings, or what amounts to the same, the character of the tears which he shed, we seem disposed, from the subject before us, to regard them as affectionate, sorrowful, and at the same time joyful.
1. His tears on this occasion were the tears of affection. We are ready to inquire indeed, what could make them savor of affection? What was there in any carthly being to call forth the friendship and the affection of one so infinitely superior ? Angels are not fitting society for one so exalted, and no particle of whose happiness was ever suspended on the pleasure of the creature. Now whilst all this was true, it was equally true at the same time, that he who is infinitely higher than the angels, possessed no ordinary affection for men ! The general proof of this affection was seen in his condescending to appear in our world,--the particular illustration of it in those, whom he condescended to call his friends. Of these latter Lazarus
“And Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” This, it is true, does not explain to us what there was, in either of these individuals, to attractor engage the affections of the Son of God. In speaking on this point, we have only to say that there was nothing in Lazarus, any inore than in others by nature to engage this love on the part of Christ. It might be that his natural dispositions were amiable and meek, but until he felt the regenerating grace of God in his heart, he was at war with God in his heart. He could not have stood before the Divine holiness. The law of God was not the law of his life, neither could he have assented to its uncompromising demands. We are therefore to conclude, that when we are told of Lazarus being loved by Christ, he was loved by him more for what his own grace had made him. Was he not a child of God by that grace? In his life-time he was such a child ; and now it was over the grave of such that Jesus shed the tear of affection. The sisters of Lazarus appear to have been aware of the love of the Redeemer for their brother; and hence when they went to inform Him that their relative was indisposed, the announcement was to this effect, “ Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” The Jews also who had met to comfort the sisters after the death of their brother, were witnesses of the same thing; for in the immediately subsequent context, this was their exclamation, “Behold how he loved him!” It was not however till the Saviour began to weep, as stated in the words before us, that this exclamation was uttered ; as if to intimate their own deep sense not only of the Saviour's affection for a friend, but the high and holy nature of that affection for
was now no more. Jesus was passionately alive to every feeling of the tenderest friendship. This was conspicuous in every part of his history, and in every one of his interviews with his chosen disciples. So the simple cottage at Bethany, where the once happy family resided, had often been a witness to that friendship, which threw a hallowing shade around the scenes of the Redeemer's presence, and which taught the family in his absence to imitate his example. But at this time, how changed was the cheerfulness of their home! Two only of that family stood before him, and they wept for their brother who was dead. They remembered the happy moments they had spent with him when living; and he who knew what had been their happiness, sympathized with them in their bereavement. In doing so, he likewise gave proof of his own affection for Lazarus, so that he who was their friend was once his friend. We are much indebted to the Jews moreover, for the notice they took of the Saviour's weeping-They spoke to the purpose when they
said, “Behold how he loved him!” This affection was displayed at a proper time, and in a proper place. The time was one of weeping, and when every other sympathizing heart was under the influence of its own proper affection, every feeling of friendship brought into exercise, and when nature's voice bespoke nature's love. The place where this affection was displayed was the place, where hypocrisy ought never to be exhibited or indulged. I cannot paint to you
the scenes which surrounded them at this time, as they stood beside the sepulchre. One thing I may be permitted to tell you,—that here the fairest landscape of nature's creation, if the eye could have gazed upon it, was thrown into shade—the heart was out of tune to be charmed with its beauties. It was here the locality of solitude—but yet it had a voice—it was the deep hollow moan of the grave, and becoming deeper and deeper as the grave of one who fell in his prime, and proclaiming the lesson of the uncertainty of life! Who could have stood there without being reminded of the place of a skull, and the repose of the dead 2 He, who a little while before was full of health and happiness, was now a tenant of the tomb; and, but for the interposition of the Son of God, must have reposed there, till the morning when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised, amid the radiance and the splendours of the judgment-seat! But how pleasing it is to turn again from this to the facts and the circumstances of the
He who is to be the Judge of all is he, who at that time was the friend of Lazarus; and though he wept over his
grave, his tears were but a stronger proof of his affection! The Saviour, by his look upon it, hallowed the spot, and by his infinite condescension has encouraged his followers to hope for his sympathy. And therefore let us not quit
this part of our subject, without stating the affection of Jesus for every one of his friends. Think not believers that Lazarus got it all. There was much lavished upon him, but there is still enough and to spare for you. Every heart that bleeds-every sigh that you heave meets with a response in the bosom of Him, who was Immanuel, God with us !” In secret, and when sorrowing over our distresses and when no other
upon us, the friend of Lazarus is near ; or when others, in the kindness of their hearts, seek to shew us their affection, and the proofs of their friendship, the sympathy of Jesus is the deepest we can meet with. I say not, that now that he is in heaven, he literally sheds a tear ; but he remembers what he did shed, and for whom he shed them. No soul who sincerely seeks Him, but shall feel his affection. In the house, or by the way, our spiritual friend meets with us; or when standing where there are only sepulchres at our feet, and looking in for the last time upon our kindred dust, he remembers that he stood by the grave-side,-first to shed his own tears, and then to dry up ours by the proofs of his affection.
2. Were not these tears on the same occasion indicative of the feelings of sorrow? We might indeed be ready to wonder what could make the Son of God sorrowful. He was not now entering upon his own sufferings, which afterwards wrung from his afflicted soul the cry of anguish and of deep distress! Yet still we think, that on the present occasion, the tears of the Saviour were tears of sorrow. We might suppose that he, who could so easily look back upon the primitive condition of our world, “when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy,”—when every thing bloomed fair and happy in paradise, unpolluted by sin, and uncursed by death,—that he, who