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There were few or none of Jairus's character who publicly owned him for the Christ. His application to him must be very offensive to his brethren; and therefore we may be assured, he had no prospect of help for his daughter any other way but this.
Moreover, the manner in which he comes to Jesus, shows an uncommon concern and earnestness. While Jesus is speaking in public, he comes and falls down at his feet, and "besought him greatly-I pray thee come and lay thy hands on her."
The expressions he uses concerning his daughter, represent her to be in the utmost extremity; so that she must be near expiring when he left her.
Upon his earnest entreaty "Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples," Matthew: and much "people followed him and thronged him," Mark and from St. Luke it appears, that a "multitude thronged and pressed him." From all the three evangelists, who relate this matter, it is plain, that when Jairus came to Jesus, much people was round about him. The request of Jairus, so noted a person, to come and heal his daughter, would also doubtless increase the number of people that were before gathered together about him. It was impossible for Jesus, surrounded by so great a crowd, to go in great haste to Jairus's house.
Moreover all these three evangelists are agreed, that as Jesus was going along, there came behind him a woman who had an infirmity of twelve years standing, who touched the hem of his garment and was made whole. St. Matthew assures us also, that Jesus had then some discourse with this woman: St. Mark and St. Luke, that Jesus perceiving virtue to have gone out of him, stood still, looked round him, asked who touched him. The disciples then express their wonder that he should ask such a question. The woman tells her case at length before him and all the people; and Jesus bids her go away in peace. This affair took up considerable time; and if Jairus's daughter lay dying when he left her, she may be supposed to be worse by this time, if not quite dead.
And accordingly, we are assured by Mark and Luke, "that while he yet spake" with this woman, there came one or more persons from Jairus's house, saying, "Thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the Master any farther?" This person came from Jairus's house, and very probably had been dispatched away by some of those who attended on the young woman. Would any of his servants or friends come with such a melancholy story to Jairus, that his daughter had died while he was abroad, if they had not known for certain that she was dead?
By all these things we know, that Jairus's daughter died of sickness that made gradual advances; not of a sudden fit, or fright, or any thing like it. She lay dying when Jairus left the house. Some persons come to him, and tell him that she was dead, and dissuade him from troubling the Master any farther: whereas, if she had only had something like a fit, it had been most unreasonable to dissuade Jairus from troubling Jesus any farther.
Let us go on: when Jesus came into the ruler's house, he saw "the minstrels and the people making a noise," Matthew: "He seeth the tumult and them that wept greatly," Mark: "And all wept and bewailed her," Luke. Here were friends, and public hired musicians, weeping and bewailing the young woman. They knew therefore that she was dead; she had been dead some time, or else these minstrels had not begun their lamentations.
Jesus says: "Give place for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth." Whereupon, say all the three evangelists, "They laughed him to scorn." So sure were these persons that she was dead and not in a sleep; as they understood Jesus to say.
Jesus put forth out of the house these public mourners, and other strangers. When the disciples and all the people saw these minstrels come out, they had farther evidence hereby of the death of the young woman.
Jesus having removed all strangers, that the house might be quiet, enters into the room where the young woman lay, taking with him the parents, "the father and mother of the maiden, and three of his own disciples;" a sufficient number of persons to attest any fact; yet not so inany, but that they might all have a clear and distinct view of the thing: the properest persons of any to be admitted; the father and the mother, as best knowing the young woman's case, the most unwilling of any to admit a deceit, and to take another person, a stranger who had not died, instead of their own daughter; three of his own disciples, who were to be witnesses of his works, and who could not have been persuaded to undertake the difficult work of preaching the gospel after their Master's removal without good proof of his divine mission; who might also assure tho other disciples of this thing from their own sight.
These five persons Jesus took along with him; and now the three disciples saw the dead corpse of the young woman, whom her parents and friends knew to be dead before.
And he took her by the hand, and said, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway, and walked." Upon Jesus's taking hold of her hand, and bidding her arise, she immediately arose. It was therefore evidently the effect of that power that accompanied his word. She also walked, so that life and strength were at once conveyed. He also "commanded to give her meat." And then all who ministered food to her, and saw her eat, were witnesses of her perfect recovery.
They who were present were convinced it was a miracle. "Her parents were astonished,” says St. Mark: "And they were astonished with a great astonishment," says St. Luke, meaning, it is likely, the three disciples as well as the parents. Lastly, St. Matthew says, "The fame hereof went abroad into all that land." So that whether the parents, and the three disciples present, were silent, according to Christ's direction, or not, the thing was known; many were persuaded of the miracle, and spoke of it. And indeed, the circumstances of her death were so public, that all who saw her alive again, though they were not in the room at the time she was raised, must know the miracle.
The three disciples present at this transaction were afterwards the most forward and courageous of any in declaring Jesus to be the Son of God, in the midst of dangers; whereas they must have been the most backward of all men in giving him this character, if they had perceived this affair to be any thing but a real miracle.
The next story is that of the widow of Nain's son. "Jesus went into a city called Nain, and many of his disciples went with him," Luke vii. 11; that is, of his followers, beside the twelve, and much other people. "Now when he came nigh unto the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out." This meeting of the corpse must have been casual, without any concerted design between Jesus and any people of Nain. For our Lord's life, during the course of his ministry, was very public. This event happened in a very noted part of it. He had but the day before cured the Centurion's servant at Capernaum. At this instant there were many of his disciples and other people 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 had been 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
"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 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 pretended 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 token 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 say 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. "Jesus-cometh 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 grave-clothes: and his face was bound 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 farther. 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 to-gether 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 inquired 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, where 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 be-fore 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 and lay thy hand upon her.—And Jesus arose and followed him," Matt. ix. 18.
Jesus is always ready, never unwilling or unprepared for the performance of any good work: but immediately hearkens to the call, and proceeds without delay from good and useful discourse to great and useful works.
Not only the disciples, but those also that were hearing him, go along with him: "And muck people followed him, and thronged him," Mark v. 24. As he is going, a woman in the crowd, who had a long and grievous infirmity, secretly touches him and is healed. Jesus, perceiving that virtue had gone out of him," instead of omitting the notice hereof, and hasting along to Jairus's house, lest the case should become too desperate and beyond his reach; but knowing that all things were in his power, stops, turns him about, and asks, "Who touched me?
How sedate is his temper! He is not exalted with the thought of the honour done him by a ruler of a synagogue, who had earnestly besought him to heal his daughter. He is not in any haste to proceed to his house, lest the opportunity of showing his power in the family of a ruler in Israel should be lost: but stands still, inquires who touched him; hears the poor woman tell her case, and confirms her cure, by bidding her "go in peace."
Jesus was now going to Jairus's house, whose daughter was by this time dead. And there was no way left for him to help this ruler; and perform his request, of laying his hand on his daughter, that she might live, without raising her up from the dead. As he is going to this surprising awful action of giving life to the dead, virtue issues forth from him through his garment, and heals a long and obstinate disease. How great is Jesus here! How transporting the idea the mind forms of him!
When he came to the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and "others" making a noise, he said unto them: Give place, for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth," Matt. ix. 28. What modesty! what humility!" They laughed him to scorn," supposing him to speak of natural sleep. Yet he corrects not their mistake. Nothing can draw out from him any word that has the appearance of boast or vanity.
I shall by and by give a like instance of modesty in St. John's history of the miracle of Lazarus. He who reads such passages as these in these evangelists, the one originally of so sordid an employment as that of a publican, the other an illiterate fisherman, may be assured, they did not invent, but that they drew some real character: there not being, I believe, another such example of modesty to be found in any author ancient or modern; how well soever skilled in historical facts, or however renowned for greatness of genius and fruitfulness of fancy. The humble modesty is equal to the miracle. Such things as these do they write, in the coolest terms, the plainest manner. They subjoin not a fulsome, or any other set encomium. They have not added a passionate exclamation, or so much as a hint of special observation. But the attentive reader, when he pauses and reflects, finds his heart glowing with an ardent affection and zeal for him of whom they write. Nor can he help being transported with the thought of the unparalleled unaffected honesty and simplicity of the evangelists.
"But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid How simple! and yet how truly great is this narration of St. Matthew!
I cannot leave this story, till I have observed the wondrous propriety of our Lord's action throughout the whole of this affair; which was so public, so diversified with incidents, and so various in its circumstances. So soon as Jairus comes to him, he goes along with him, in order to perform the useful work he had desired' of him. As he is going, a woman is healed by a secret touch of his garment. He asks, "Who touched me?" The disciples tell him, that was a strange question. Still our Lord insists upon it, that somebody had touched him. He then looks round him, but points out no person: is only silent, till the woman comes, and