« AnteriorContinua »
lieve, thou shouldst see the glory of God?' as if he had said, “ Martha! what did I say to thee? You forget who stands at the grave; and what he declared to you, when he told you, that, if you would trust him, you should see the glory and power of God shine forth in the resurrection of the dead."
This history will suggest to us some profitable remarks.
1. We may here see the special BENEFIT OF SANCTIFIED AFFLICTION.
There is an evil disposition in the heart, to depart from the living God. Creatures entice the heart, and call it away, as though they could do for us, what God alone can do. He therefore sends trials and afflictions, to stop us in our wanderings : then we vex, and fret, and think we do well to be
angry. We are apt to regard these trials as sent to strip us of our happiness ; but God has other designs. When he sends an affliction, he would bring us and himself nearer together: he would show us that there must be a time to thrust away worldly cares ; a time to approach and say to him, “Lord ! I am weary of the world. I would not live alway. The desire of my eyes is taken away at a stroke. I see plainly that every earthly comfort must go. I must go myself: and now, Lord, what wait I for? Truly my hope is even in thee! In thee is comfort. Vain is the help of man."
Martha was anxious about earthly things; Christ reproved her. One thing only is needful : here he again reproves her, and rouses her mind to feel the necessity of looking out for a better comforter than this world or its connections. How do facts, as well as the Word of God, speak the beggary of human nature! Whatever is dear to us, whatever is indeed valuable and excellent here, we must see to be dying and vanishing from us, in order to our enjoying it aright! Afflictions, when God sends them in mercy, appeal to conscience : See how poor the world is! See how
precious Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, is ! Though your friends and comforts die, yet he, that believeth in him, shall never die! See how your comforts hang on a breath!” There is infinitely more wisdom acquired under one sanctified afflictive dispensation,-infinitely more wisdom in the house of mourning, -than can be acquired under a thousand lectures, though spoken by the tongues of men or angels, when we are at ease and quiet.
Are any of you, at this time, called to sit in the school of affliction ? beg of God to give you to see his meaning in this dispensation, and to bestow on you the grand blessing designed therein.
II. Let us CONTRAST THE VANITY OF MAN WITH THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD.
These are strikingly contrasted in the text. While - all flesh is
grass, and all the goodliness of man as the flower of the field;' and while the grass withereth and the flower fadeth,' and we must soon be made deeply to feel that it is so : yet we may learn from the text the sufficiency of Christ to relieve, help, and comfort in all possible cases.
Jesus reproved Martha : Said I not unto thee : that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God ?-Thy brother shall rise again: ] know," says she, that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection and the Life: he, that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.' As if he had said, “ The more you see of the misery and mortality of human nature, the more you should look to the Light of Life, the abundant grace of the Son of God, who has come down from heaven, and now speaks to your heart."
In order to this, it pleases God to lead things to extremities, that his people may experience his power. Martha said, 'Lord, by this time he stinketh ; for he
hath been dead four days. What can now be done ? He seems to say, “ Any thing can be done, if I undertake to do it. It is your extremity. You call this a critical, a hopeless case: I call it my opportunity, the time to demonstrate the greatness of my power, the time to lay a ground and a solid foundation for my servants' belief, that, with God, nothing is impossible.”
Brethren! we never reason so soundly, as when we reason thus : _6 What has God said ? What does he command us to do? On what does he tell me to place my expectation ? And what is my duty at this time? Shall I tell him, that my friend is past recovery? Shall I tell him, that he has been four days dead ? He says, Take away the stone. Let that suffice. I will take it away." The centurion reasoned thus; and had more becoming sentiments than Martha, when he said, "Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. My servant is dying: I ask thee not to come under my roof: I ask thee but to speak the word : for “I am a man in authority, and have soldiers under me: and I say to one, Do this, and he doeth it: and to another, Do that, and he doeth it. Do thou thus speak the word; and, as thou sendest sickness, speak the word and thou shalt also send health."
They, who placed the most childlike confidence in the Son of God, were most commended of him. Let us, therefore, learn never to make objections to what God has taught us to do; for nothing can be brought to him without hope. Let us learn, that, in order to gain the blessing, the exercise of his power, we must honour him by depending on him: Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God ? Put honour, first, on him, by depending on his power: then we shall see its operation. Let'us thus honour God. Let us meet him in prayer, seek his blessing, consult him in every difficulty, and never talk of possibilities and impossi
bilities, as if he could do this for us, but not that. It is our weakness thus to talk concerning him.
III. We may learn HOW WE ARE TO HO. NOUR CHRIST.
We are to do this, by resting on his word. 'Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God ?' that is, “I taught thee where the matter turns; as to thy help, thy comfort, and my glory. I taught thee to leave it in my hand. If thou honourest the Promiser, thou shalt see the fulfilment of the Promise.
Christ refers to his own word. There is a necessity for this. There is a necessity for the truth being repeated continually. Every Christian has need to be reminded, that he is called on to trust God's word. Is it not enough that he has spoken? Is there not firm ground to stand on in his word? What he says ought always to calm and satisfy us. Man is ever looking round: What do my senses say? What does the ordinary course of things suggest? What are my expectations ? What do my friends tell me?” But Christ turns away from these miserable Commentators: Said I not unto thee?'
This Blessed Book, the Bible, to which we are so often referred, and which we are charged to search, repeats the reports of our God and Saviour to our hearts. It does not militate against this statement, that the expressions are general; for how were it possible for every man's particular necessities to have a particular revelation ? If it is general, that may suffice. The enthusiast wants a dream : the thoughtless trifler throws open his Bible, and takes at random the first passage which he meets; and so deludes himself: but the serious reader of Scripture comes to it as to God's word; considers its general instructions, encouragements, and assurances; then considers how far these are applicable to his own case. Well were it, indeed, for us, if we could honour the
Saviour as we would honour a valuable friend. If a great man offer us his friendship, we say, “Such a nobleman gives his word to assist me when in distress ; and, when a particular case arises, I shall take it to him.” There is not a person in the congregation, who would not rejoice and comfort himself in such a friend. How much more should we do this when God has sent us his word, and has set his seal to it, that, by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us!'
In the history before us, God speaks generally to the heart. Christ does not say, in this case, “I will remove the stone :” for they could do that: But, as to raising thy brother, that you cannot do, because it is the work of God; that I will do."
Be on your guard, Brethren, against all enthusiastic personal revelations. It is our duty to take this word; to rest on its general assurances, and in particular cases, to take it to God, and pray that he would fulfil it in our particular instance. Were our Lord to return to earth, and to treat us with the particular friendship and familiarity with which he treated Lazarus, and we were to put a variety of anxious and curious questions to him, we may conclude that he would only reply, “Said I not enough to thee on the subject? It was a full and satisfactory promise that I made thee;—Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee."
Let us learn, then, to think honourably of God and of his word.
IV. We remark, once more, that, while THE EXERCISE OF FAITH IS DIFFICULT, IT IS MOST HIGHLY HONOURED.
To walk by faith, and not by sight, is the most painful of all duties : yet it is that particular walk, and the exercise of that particular grace, on which God puts most distinguished honour. “Said I not,