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Yet more, had she been aided by the counsel and supportation of a loving yoke-fellow, this burden might have seemed less intolerable. A good husband may make amends for the loss of a son; had the root been left to her entire, she might better have spared the branch ; now both are cut up; all the stay of her life is gone, and she seems abandoned to a perfect misery. And now, when she gave up herself for a forlorn mourner, past all capacity of redress, the God of comfort meets her, pities her, relieves her. Here was no solicitor but his own compassion. In other occasions he was sought and sued to. The centurion comes to him for a servant, the ruler for a son, Jairus for a daughter, the neighbours for the paralytic: here he seeks up the patient, and offers the cure unrequested. While we have to do with the Father of mercies, our afflictions are the most powerful suitors. No tears, no prayers can move him so much as his own commiseration. O God, none of our secret sorrows can be either hid from thine eyes or kept from thine heart; and when we are past all our hopes, all possibilities of help, then art thou nearest to us for deliverance.
Here was a conspiration of all parts to mercy; the heart had compassion, the mouth said, “Weep not ;" the feet went to the bier, the hand touched the coffin, the power of the Deity raised the dead. What the heart felt was secret to itself; the tongue therefore expresses it in words of comfort, “Weep not." Alas! what are words to so strong and just passions ? to bid her not to weep, that had lost her only son, was to persuade her to be miserable, and not feel it; to feel, and not regard it; to regard, and yet to smother it. Concealment doth not remedy, but aggravate sorrow. That, with the counsel of not weeping therefore, she might see cause of not weeping, his hand seconds his tongue. He arrests the coffin, and frees the prisoner ; "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." The Lord of life and death speaks with command.
No finite power could have said so without presumption, or with success. That is the voice that shall one day call upon our vanished bodies from those elements into which they are resolved, and raise them out of their dust. Neither sea, nor death, nor hell, can offer to detain their dead, when he charges them to be delivered. Incredulous nature ; what, dost thou shrink at the possibility of a resurrection, when the God of nature undertakes it! It is no more hard for that Almighty word, which gave being unto all things,
“ Let them be repaired,” than “ Let them be I do not see our Saviour stretching himself upon the dead corpse, as Elijah and Elisha, upon the sons of the Shunammite and Sareptan, nor kneeling down and praying by the bier, as Peter did to Dorcas: but I hear him so speaking to the dead, as if he were alive; and so speaking to the dead, that by the word he makes them alive; “I say unto thee, Arise." Death hath no power to bid that man lie still whom the Son of God bids arise. Immediately he that was dead sat up: so at the sound of the last trumpet, by the
power of the same voice, we shall arise out of the dust and stand up glorious; “This mortal shall put on immortality, this corruptible incorruption.” This body shall not be buried, but sown, and at our day shall therefore spring up with a plentiful increase of glory. How comfortless, how desperate should be our lying down, if it were not for this assurance of rising ! And now, behold, lest our weak faith should stagger at the assent of so great a difficulty, he hath already, by what he hath done, given us tastes of what he will do. The Power, that can raise one man, can raise a thousand, a million, a world: no power can raise one man, but that which is infinite, and that which is infinite admits of no limitation. Under the Old Testament God raised one by Elijah, another by Elisha living, a third by Elisha dead : by the hand of the Mediator of the New Testament, he raised here the son of the widow,
the daughter of Jairus, Lazarus; and, in attendance of his own resurrection, he made a gaol-delivery of holy prisoners at Jerusalem. He raises the daughter of Jairus from her bed, this widow's son from his coffin ; Lazarus from his grave, the dead saints of Jerusalem from their rottenness; that it might appear no degree of death can hinder the efficacy of his overruling command. He that keeps the keys of death can not only make way for himself through the common hall and outer-rooms, but through the inwardest and most reserved closets of darkness.
Methinks I see this young man, who was thus miraculously awaked from his deadly sleep, wiping and rubbing those eyes that had been shut up in death, and descending from the bier, wrapping his windingsheet about his loins, casting himself down in a passionate thankfulness at the feet of his Almighty Restorer, adoring that divine power which had commanded his soul back again to her forsaken lodging ; and though I hear not what he said, yet, I dare say, they were words of praise and wonder, which his returned soul first uttered. It was the mother whom our Saviour pitied in this act, not the son ; who, now, forced from his quiet rest, must twice pass through the gates of death. As for her sake therefore he was raised, so to her hands was he delivered, that she might acknowledge that soul given to her, not to the possessor. Who cannot feel the amazement and ecstacy of joy that was in this revived mother, when her son now salutes her from out of another world, and both receives and gives gratulations of his new life! how suddenly were all the tears of that mournful train dried up with a joyful astonishment! how soon is. that funeral banquet turned into a new birth-day feast! what striving was here to salute the late carcass of their returned neighbour! what awful and admiring looks were cast upon that Lord of life, who, seeming homely, was approved omnipotent! how gladly did every tongue celebrate both the work and
the Author! “A great prophet is raised up amongst us, and God hath visited his people.” A prophet was the highest name they could find for him, whom they saw like themselves in shape, above themselves in power. They were not yet acquainted with God manifested in the flesh. This miracle might well have assured them of more than a prophet; but he, that raised the dead man from the bier, would not suddenly raise these dead hearts from the grave of infidelity. They shall see reason enough to know, that the Prophet, who was raised up to them, was the God that now visited them, and at last should do as much for them, as he had done for the young man, raise them from death to life, from dust to glory.
THE RULER'S SON CURED. The bounty of God so exceedeth man’s, that there is a contrariety in the exercise of it; we shut our hands, because we opened them ; God therefore opens his, , because he hath opened them. God's mercies are as comfortable in their issue as in themselves. Seldom ever do blessings go alone; where our Saviour supplied the bridegroom's wine, there he heals the ruler's son. He had not, in all these coasts of Galilee, done any miracle, but here. "To him that hath shall be given.
We do not find Christ oft attended with nobility; here he is. It was some great peer, or some noted courtier, that was now a suitor to him for his dying son. Earthly greatness is no defence against afflictions. We men forbear the mighty; disease and death know no faces of lords or monarchs; could these be bribed, they would be too rich. Why should we grudge not to be privileged, when we see there is no spare of the greatest ?
This noble ruler listens after Christ's return into Galilee. The most eminent amongst men will be glad sick;
to hearken after Christ in their necessity. Happy was it for him that his son was he had not else been acquainted with his Saviour; his soul had continued sick of ignorance and unbelief. Why else doth our good God send us pain, losses, opposition, but that he may be sought' to? Are we afflicted ? whither should we go but to Cana to see Christ? whither but to the Cana of heaven, where our water of sorrow is turned to the wine of gladness, to that omnipotent Physician who healeth all our infirmities; that we may once say, “It is good for me that I was afflicted ?”
It was about a day's journey from Capernaum to Cana; thence hither did this courtier come for the cure of his son's fever. What pains even the greatest can be content to take for bodily health! no way is long, no labour tedious to the desirous. Our souls are sick of a spiritual fever, labouring under the cold fit of infidelity, and the hot fit of self-love, and we sit still at home, and see them languish unto death.
This ruler was neither faithless nor faithful: had he been quite faithless, he had not taken such pains to come to Christ; had he been faithful, he had not made this suit to Christ when he was come; down and heal my son, ere he die.”
“Come down," as if Christ could not have cured him absent ; ere he die," as if that power could not have raised him being dead. How much difference was here betwixt the centurion and the ruler! That came for his servant; this for his son. This son was not more above the servant, than the faith which sued for the servant surpassed that which sued for the son. The one can say,
“Master, come not under my roof, for I am not worthy; only speak the word, and my
servant shall be whole.” The other can say, Master, either come under my roof, or my son cannot be whole. “Heal my son,” had been a good suit, for Christ is the only physician for all diseases ; but, Come down and heal him," was to teach God how to work.