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And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called ain ; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. ow, when he came nigh to the gates of the pity, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a Widow ; and much people nf the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier : and tlu-y 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 this mother. And there came a fear on all : and the}' glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen among : and, That God had visited his people." — Luke vii. 11-16,
This is one of the most striking and affecting miracles wrought by our Lord in the course of his ministry on earth. Along with the healing of the centurion's servant wrought on the preceding day, it formed a glorious attestation of the doctrine he had recently at great length preached in the audience of the people. Both of the mighty miracles, indeed, related at the commencement of this chapter, present a very good specimen of that kind of proof which the Son of Man, who spake as never man spake, invariably attached to his doctrine. Our blessed Lord, as is well known, went about not only teaching and preaching with an authority manifestly divine, but working all manner of signs and wonders ; and thus he exhibited his love to man both by words of purest instruction and by deeds of divine benevolence. While he enlightened the dark soul, he healed and strengthened the weak and afflicted body. At one and the same time he poured forth, as from an exhaustless fountain, the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and by his almighty power subjected to hh will all the elements of nature, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and raising the dead. But his doctrines and his miracles are not to be considered merely as different modes of shewing his love to the children of men, different channels of conveyance for the riches of his grace ; they have an important relation to each other, which it is very necessary to examine and understand. The leading purpose of his miracles was to confirm his doctrines — to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that he was a teacher come from God, and taught indeed the things of God. " The works that I do,'' he himself says, " bear witness
192 FREE CHURCH PULPIT. of me." (John v. 36.) His doctrines, on the other hand, cast a strong and vivid light upon his miracles, and show them to be characteristic of the divine nature, and full of spiritual meaning. The miracles attest the divinity of the doctrines, and the doctrines are frequently found typified or contained in the miracles. Each, taken singly, bears the impress of a heavenly origin, and might speak to every heart with a
voice of divine power ; but both together form one harmonious and resistless testimony to the divine commission, the almighty power, and overflowing mercy of the Saviour. In accordance with his usual practice of confirming heavenly truth by mighty deeds, our Lord follows up the discourse he had just delivered in the hearing of the multitude by two great miracle? — one wrought at Caj>ernauni, immediately on his finishing all his sayings, and the other the next day at ain. He had hitherto confined his miraculous power almost entirely to the healing of diseases and the relieving of infirmities, and it is possible that this raising of the widow's son at ain was the first instance of his giving life to the dead. From the beginning to the close of his career, his miracles seem to rise in grandeur and importance : his divine power is, in a manner, displayed in manifestations more and more sublime, from the day when he changed water into wine at Cana of Galilee, to that memorable morning when he shook from him the iron bands of death, and burst the gloomy portals of the tomb. Up to this period he had healed many painful and inveterate diseases ; he had rebuked fevers, cast out devils, cured the sick of the palsy, gave sight to the blind, made the lame to walk, and the dumb to speak. But now he exhibits a still more illustrious display of his Godhead, and stands still more gloriously confessed as the Creator and Lord of all, by summoning back the departed spirit, by recalling the breath of life into the dead, unconscious frame. Verses 11 and 12. " And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called ain, and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. ow when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow : and much people of the city was with her." Having healed the centurion's servant at Capernaum, our Lord, who went about continually doing good, the very next clay proceeded to a city called ain, doubtless still further to display his glory and his goodness. This city of ain was not far distant from Capernaum, and was situated in the province of Galilee, about two miles to the south of Tabor, the mount of transfiguration. Hither did Jesus, attended by a multitude of disciples and much people, direct his steps. He knew what had happened there ; he knew the bitter anguish of one widowed heait, and
REV. JAMES DODDS. 193 be went on an erran J of mercy and love. The crowd which surrounded him had lately heard the word of life, which flowed from his lips with an abundant fulness, and revealed the mysteries and duties of the king-
dom of God ; they had seen displayed the ample treasures of divine knowledge ; and now they were to be favoured with an affecting but most sublime exhibition of divine power ; they were to see the words of life confirmed by a life-giving deed. Jesus, with the crowd of his followers, now approached the gates of the city, when, behold ! another and very different crowd met him — a crowd of mourners bearing a lifeless body to the grave. They were carrying a dead man out of the city to the place of burial. In eastern countries, even at this day as at that time, the burial places are without the city walls, and lying apart from the din and bustle of human life, in the stillness and solitude of a more sequestered scene, bear the appropriate name of Cities of the Dead. The dead, then, have to be borne forth from the city of the living, and consigned to their last restingplace in the fields. To such an abode was the funeral throng carrying one youthful body when the sorrowful procession met the eye of the Saviour, and the wailings of uncontrolled emotion reached his pitying ear. Many, perhaps most, of the inhabitants of the city constituted that melancholy throng ; they were discharging those last sad duties of humanity which man can never, without proving untrue to his nature, refuse to his fellow man. They were consigning to his narrow bed a brother, a youthful brother ; and there was enough, doubtless, in all the circumstances of his death and burial, to raise in their hearts an unusual flood of sorrow, and make the tears of compassion abundantly flow. That was a woeful and weeping multitude which yielded to the feelings of the sad occasion, and saw in the early departure of a fellow creature, a warning to prepare for their own. But there was one in that multitude, the sorrow of whose heart far exceeded theirs, and could find no utterance in speech, the agony of whose bereavement might well have melted the stoniest heart, and whose whole soul was dissolved with bitterest tears of desolation and woe. It was a widow bereft of her only son ; now doubly a widow, seeing she had lost him who was her solace and her joy, the honour of her old age, the sole support of her declining years. He had died before his time, in the flower and promise of his youthful life, just entering on the labours of manhood, and about to become more than ever the stay of his desolate mother. He followed not her to the grave, but she was following him — the parent burying the youthful child, and not the son, as is most natural to our minds, burying the aged parent. Every sign and circumstance of woe were here, all that strikes the tenderest cords of our humanity, and makes us pity the forXo. 121. — Lkct. 14. vol. in.
194 FREE CHURCH PULPIT.
lorn condition of a fellow-creature. Here surely was one of the saddest of those scenes of distress and separation which abound in this valley of tears, and which, at all seasons, set death before our eyes, and lacerate the deepest feelings of our nature. That widow has much people around her to soothe her in her sorrow, and sympathize with her under such a bereavement ; but she refuses to be comforted; like Rachel weeping for her children, she lamenteth for her only one, and weepeth because he is not. Can her comforters give back the dead ? Can they give the warm colouring of life and health to the pale cheeks, or restore their living lustre to the eyes now closed in the cold slumbers of death ? Ah no ! they have lifted up her dead son, and are carrying him away ; confessing their inability to save, they are bearing the lifeless body to the tomb. But lo ! there cometh one who hath power to comfort that poor widow, and to dry her tears ; the Lord of life and death, who can make diseases fly before his touch, and even the remorseless grave yield back its dead. He is the lowly Saviour of the world, the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, who can feel her bereavement, and take pity upon her infirmities, who, wherever he goes, spreads around his path the effulgence of divine mercy and love. He hath come to remove the darkness of her sorrow, and restore to her him who was the joy of her heart, and the desire of her eyes ; he hath come to show the fulness of his Divine power, and the depth of his Divine compassion ; he hath come a blessed messenger of joy and consolation, to gladden the heart of one widow, and to hold out to all those who, in after time, shall he widows indeed, an everlasting promise of comfort and support. And how often hath the same compassionate Saviour, since first he came to the widow of ain, come to the widowed heart and given peace — come to those who have mourned over their youthful dead, and brought profound consolation — come to those that have wept under the shadow of death, spoken to them with the voice of comfort, and dried all their tears away ? For he is ever ready to meet, in the city or in the field, in the secret chamber or in the crowded gate, those who mourn in the anguish of their spirits, and of men can not be comforted. Let one spirit be bruised, he is ready to heal it ; let but one wound be made, he is willing tenderly to bind it up ; let the inward disease rage with its utmost fury, he is able to drive it back, and substitute for the agonies and pains of our corrupt nature, the health, the vigour, and all the unutterable joys of a spiritual life. O, then, if Christ the Saviour is thus ever at our side, ready to heal our sorrows, to bind up our wounds, and to give us soundness in the midst of corruption and decay ; if he is thus always willing to meet us in our distress, to deliver our souls from death, our eyes from tears,
REV. JAMES DODDS. 195
and our feet from falling, it is surely our first and imperative duty to arise and meet him, to stretch forth our hands to him in the extremity of our woe, to raise to him our streaming eyes, and come unto him with all our sorrows. Shall we he guilty of such dark ingratitude, such desperate infatuation, as to turn sullenly away from him who is our greatest friend, who alone can effectually comfort and save us, and who, in the midst of death can give us life ? Language cannot describe the folly and awful depravity of him who would repulse the compassionate and life-giving Saviour, and despise, thoughtlessly, or even bitterly despise, his voice of comfort, his healing power, and all his offered mercies. But yet such a character is met with every day. ay, are there not many more of those around us who reject than who embrace the Saviour — men whom no sorrows can soften, no calamities subdue — who, despising the gift of life, and putting away from them the comfort of the Lord, willingly and hopelessly become the victims of despair, and perish in the darkness of their sins. So desperately wicked, so hardened and depraved is the heart of man ! Verse 13, "And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not." Before she came to Jesus, perhaps even before she saw him, before any intercession by the attendant mourners could be made on her behalf, out of the multitude of his tender mercies, he took compassion upon her. He bent upon that poor widow an eye of pity, before she could look to him with an eye of prayer. He saw her affliction, and determined to relieve her out of it all. ow would he exert his divine power in one mighty miracle of love. He prepares her for the fulness of joy that is to follow, and says to her in a voice of tenderness, in one short but thrilling exclamation of pity, " Weep not." In these words, hope, joy, and consolation are contained. They tell the weeping mother that she shall again embrace her living son. " Weep not, daughter of desolation — dry thy tears — thy son shall live. This is not a time for sadness ; the dead shall arise, — the lost shall be found, and herein shall my heavenly Father be glorified. The work that I now shall do, will be a work bearing witness to the glory of God, and a merciful work unto thee; therefore weep not." Such is the strain of that consolation which the Saviour gave, and straightway proceeded to support and justify. ow, as he said unto the widow, so says he unto all believing mourners — " weep not." " Mourn not over your dead like those who have no hope. They may be upon their bier — they may be lying in the grave — but shall they not one day arise ? Shall they not again become alive, and walk in newness of immortal life, and be clothed with glory, and never more be taken away from your eyes ?" These are the words which the Saviour addresses to all who meet
196 FREE CHURCH PULPIT. him by the way, who have faith in his great name, and are melted t<x obedience ; who look to him whom their sins have pierced ; who mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son ; and are in bitterness, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. When they are in sorrow, when the darkness of the shadow of death lieth heavily upon their homes, and they weep over one son or daughter, one friend or brother departed, Jesus is at hand, ready to deliver them — ready, with a voice that never fails, to still the tempest of sorrow, and bring a calm over the troubled soul, ever ready to say, " weep not." Verses 14, 15. " 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." Jesus, advancing to perform the great miracle, touched the bier whereon the dead was laid, and thereby signified to those who bare it to stand still and witness what he was about to do. He thus gave them an opportunity of showing their faith ; for faith was what he usually insisted on when about to exercise his divine power. They so far did show their faith, by halting on their way with their melancholy burden ; they saw the mighty Jesus of azareth stand before them, a man approved of God, and doing all manner of signs and wonders; and they, doubtless, believed that relief of some kind or other was at hand. He had comforted the living mother, and might now gloriously justify that comfort by raising the dead son. A divine majesty, an overpowering yet benignant glance of mercy, a gesture betokening authority and command, all showed themselves in him who stood before them, and awed them into obedienee and silent expectation. And now the Saviour put forth his omnipotence — " Young man, I say unto thee, arise." Wondrous and ineffable union of power and mercy ! Glorious display of the attributes and feelings of him who is at once God and man — who is God manifest in the flesh, possessing the supreme perfections of the divine, with all the sinless infirmities of the human nature! " J say unto thee, arise." In his own name, by his own authority ; not in the name and by the authority of another and higher being — for higher there is none — he bids the dead arise ; he summons back the departed soul, and commands it to reinhabit its tenement of clay. His disciples wrought their miracles in the name of their master ; but he, the Lord of heaven and earth, the author and the giver of life, in whose hands are now the keys of hell and of death, needs no authority to work his mighty wonders ; for in him all authority reposes. This almighty Saviour utters the word of power, Arise ! when lo ! " he that was dead sat up, and began to speak." The pale, breathless body, resuming life at the dread command, suddenly grows warm, stirs upon
REV. JAMES DODDS. 197 the bier, and arises. Once more its eyes beam with the intelligence, and its lips move with the speech, of a living man. The lamented youth recovers from his sleep of death ; the lost, the dead is restored. " And he delivered him to his mother." This touching incident, so simply related, and in itself so naturally affecting, was wanting to complete this unrivalled picture of divine compassion and condescension. The Saviour personally, and with tender care, delivers to the mourning mother her reanimated son ; he entrusts the joyful office to no other hands, but affectionately discharges it with his own. And see we not here an emblem and a pledge of what the same compassionate Saviour will perform at the judgment day ? Have we not here a blessed assurance that then, then at last, he will restore to many a rejoicing mother her long- lost child; that, putting forth his wondrous power, he shall summon from the tomb, and its long forgotten dust, alike the child and the parent, restoring both to the light and joy of an eternal youth, and carrying them to that glorious land where death and separation shall be utterly unknown. What, then, though now the solemn bier relentlessly carries away, and the grave refuses to give back, the youthful dead ? What though the early flower, withered and cut down before its time, blossoms not again in this valley of tears, but moulders to dust in the tomb ? There cometh yet an eternal resurrection spring, when that flower shall renew its youth, and be clad in immortal beauty ; when, at the sound of the trump of God, the dead shall arise, and, through the power of him who has, for the faithful, vanquished death and purchased life, many long-divided friends shall meet again in joy, and many a happy mother shall receive back from the hands of the Lord her living and undying son. Verse 16. " And there came a fear on all : and they glorified God, saying, that a great prophet is risen up among us ; and, that God had visited his people." It was indeed a dread and amazing spectacle which all the multitude beheld ; a stretched and stiffened corpse bursting its funeral cerements, sitting up in an erect posture, and restored to the faculty of speech. o visible, laborious means were employed to recall it to life ; a word had been spoken by Jesus of azareth, who had met the sad procession on the way, and immediately the awful sight presented itself of the dead becoming alive. A solemn reverential fear then fell upon their spirits ; they were conscious of the presence and the mighty power of God, and they gave utterance to their feelings in the language of adoration. " They glorified God, saying, that a great Prophet is risen up among us; and that God hath visited his people." They gave to God all the glory of the marvellous work, and believed that from him was come the mighty one who had wrought it ; that a great and
198 FREE CHURCH PULPIT. long-desired prophet had arisen among them, that in him God had at last visited his people. Those among that throng who truly waited for the consolation of Israel, for the great prophet, like unto Moses, who was to arise, and whom they were to hear, doubtless embraced the Saviour and received his doctrine into their hearts. That Saviour, teaching such heavenly doctrines, and working such transcendent miracles, was to them, indeed, the great Messiah that was to come ; and accordingly, in glorifying God, they proclaimed their new conviction, and declared the ancient promises fulfilled. The miracle they had witnessed would therefore be to them as life from the dead, the means of quickening their dead souls, and bringing them alive unto Christ. They saw in it a- resistless evidence of him whom their souls had long desired to see, and in whom God, when the fulness of time was come, had visited his people — visited them with a deliverance from their spiritual yoke, with the grace of his pardoning mercy, and the abundant riches of his precious consolation. And should we not tremble and rejoice to behold the great works of the Lord, the mighty deeds in which he causeth his marvellous grace and almighty power to be known ? Should we not at all times be ready to exclaim, " God hath visited his people ?." Surely the hand of the Lord is not now stayed, nor his mercy withheld from the children of men, that wondrous deliverances and overpowering miracles of grace are unknown among us. When may it not be believingly and exultingly said, that God hath visited his people ? When cloth he cease to watch over and defend them ; to console them in affliction, and sustain them in danger ; to supply them with the riches of his grace, and load them with the varied treasures of his bounty ? At all seasons, by night, by day, at morn and eve, he visits them in power, and he visits them in mercy ; and ever glorious, wonderful, and full of compassion, are the works of his almighty hand. Yes, God hath visited his people ; for a great Prophet hath risen up among us ; and for the sake of that great Prophet he visits his people still, defending them from all their enemies, and loading them with spritual benefits. And who is that great prophet ? Even he who restored her dead son to the widow of ain, and by whose mighty power all the dead shall one day rise. Then let us glorify God in him ; let us give thanks unto God for his unspeakable gift, and whatever triumphs of grace — whatever miracles of goodness — whatever exhibitions of power we witness or experience, let us, with reverence and godly fear, honour and obey that great prophet, through whom alone we expect and shall one day inherit all things.
We conclude with a passing allusion to one or two consolitary doctrines, deducible from this interesting narrative. And, firstly, Is not
REV. JAMES DODDS. 199 this miraculous restoration of the dead, to the functions and all the enjoyments of life, a lively and atfecting emblem of the reanimation of the dead soul? Yes, the same irresistible power that summoned the widow's son out of the world of spirits, can infuse the light and joy of spiritual life into the dark, the dead, the disordered, soul of man. We err if we regard not our Saviour's miracles as types or instructive figures of spiritual things. They not only displayed his divine power, and fulfilled the purposes of his ever active benevolence, and thereby proved him to be come from the Father — the long promised Messiah — the only Saviour of the world, but they also exhibited to the enlightened eye, as in lively pictures, the offices he had to perform, with the joys and privileges of his spiritual kingdom. When he cleansed the leper, he typically signified his power to cleanse the leprosy of sin. When he gave sight to the blind, he shewed that he also gave the light of knowledge to the eyes of the understanding. In his feeding the multitude with the bread that perisheth, we see an emblem of his feeding the hungry with the imperishable bread of life ! In his casting out devils, have we not a pledge that he can and will destroy the power and the works of the devil ? And in his raising the dead to life, have we not as certain a pledge that he hath power to animate and quicken the dead soul ? All his miracles, surely, were something more than miracles — something more than mere displays of divine benevolence and power ; they were types of spiritual things — embodiments of heavenly doctrine full of rich instruction, as well as indicative of mercy and love. This method of viewing the miracles of our Lord will be found to give them a new interest, a nobler beauty, and a deeper meaning in our eyes ; while it leaves their utility and power as evidences untouched, it renders them nearly as instructive as parables themselves. In what more striking manner could the Saviour have manifested his power and his purpose to give spiritual life to the dead soul of man, than by raising the body from its last repose, by saying, with life-giving voice, " Lazarus, come forth ?'' or " Young man, arise." If his awful voice was indeed the voice of God when it commanded the pale, and stiffened, and decaying body, to arise from the midst of its corruption, and walk forth in all the power and activity of life, surely it is no less divine, and even much more surprisingly glorious when it says to the soul that is dead in trespasses and sins, "Arise," when it sendeth a new tide of spiritual life over its dark and turbulent waters, and from the dull chaos summons into glorious existence all the wonders and beauties of a new creation. Almighty and wonder-working Saviour, great was thy power, and
greater still thy compassion and love, when thou didst restore her dead son to the desolate widow of Xain ! but how shall we fittingly praise
200 FREE CHURCH PULPIT. and adore thine ineffable goodness and grace in bringing the soul from death unto life — in making the heart that loveth the world love God — in creating anew the sinner lying dead in his trespasses and sins ! Do thou meet us by the way, and rouse us from our death-like sleep ! utter thy word of power, and send forth thy life-giving Spirit into our lifeless frames ; raise us from the bier of spiritual death ; say unto us, " Arise !" Animate our whole frames ; make our cold hearts beat with the pulse of a new life, and throb with the emotions of a new love towards thee. Restore our souls again, and may we live to glorify God in thee, to honour thee as the great prophet arisen among us, to feel and adoringly to acknowledge that, in our case, in raising us from the death of sin, God hath visited his people. Secondly, Is not this miracle a pledge and a sign of the general resurrection ? Cannot He who raised the widow's son to life raise up us also at the last day ? Will not He come at the end of the world and achieve that mighty work, of which this lesser is so manifest a token ? In this raising of the dead, he stands confessed the Lord of Life who can quicken whomsoever he will. Dear to our souls will be this pledge of a future resurrection, if we are already raised from death into a newness of life, for it will also be a pledge of life-eternal. If our souls are quickened and made alive here, the resurrection of our bodies from the grave will be the fulness of our joy ; for after the judgment believers go away into heaven, and are for ever with the Lord. But if we are not raised to newness of life in this world, we cannot be raised to eternal life in the next ; but we shall be raised to eternal death, to all the darkness and despair of everlasting woe. then, let us shake off our deadly slumber ; let us strive in prayer and in holy exertion, till the bands of our spiritual death are completely broken ; let us meet the Saviour by the way, weeping over our sins, and casting ourselves at his feet, that he, of his infinite power and love, may raise us up to new life here, and to unfading glory hereafter.
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