John 11:17
When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already spent four days in the tomb.
Sermons
Good in Apparent EvilB. Thomas John 11:15, 21
A Near Benefit not UnderstoodG. J. Browne, M. A.John 11:17-27
BelievingN. L. Frotheringham.John 11:17-27
Christ LivesLamartine.John 11:17-27
Christ the Resurrection and the LifeE. L. Hull, B. A.John 11:17-27
Christ the Resurrection and the LifeJohn Thomson, D. D.John 11:17-27
Christ the Resurrection and the LifeW. M. Punshon, LL. D.John 11:17-27
Christ the Resurrection and the LifeW. G. Blaikie, D. D.John 11:17-27
Christ, Both Resurrection and LifeE. L. Hull, B. A.John 11:17-27
Christ's Help is Sure, If DelayedJ. Trapp.John 11:17-27
Christ's Treatment of DeathT. T. Munger.John 11:17-27
Contingent Events and ProvidenceA. P. Peabody, D. D.John 11:17-27
Death AvoidedBp. Westcott., D. Thomas, D. D.John 11:17-27
Death Defeated by PrayerJohn 11:17-27
Earthly Relationship not Destroyed by DeathD. J. Vaughan, M. A.John 11:17-27
Faith, not Understanding, Brings Us the BlessingJ. Trapp.John 11:17-27
Funeral SermonJ. Judson.John 11:17-27
Grace Imagined LessJ. Culross, D. D.John 11:17-27
IfBoston HomiliesJohn 11:17-27
Jesus and MarthaD. Thomas, D. D.John 11:17-27
Life EverlastingArchdeacon Manning.John 11:17-27
Martha and JesusC. H. Spurgeon.John 11:17-27
Martha Meeting ChristBp. Ryle.John 11:17-27
Martha's CreedM. Henry., C. E. Luthardt, D. D.John 11:17-27
Natural Analogies of the ResurrectionJ. Wilson.John 11:17-27
Oriental ConsolersS. S. TimesJohn 11:17-27
Our Treatment of the PromisesC. H. Spurgeon.John 11:17-27
Restoration Better Titan PreventionJ. Matthews.John 11:17-27
Salvation, not from Suffering, But by ItBp. Huntington.John 11:17-27
The Believer CatechizedC. H. Spurgeon.John 11:17-27
The Consolation of the TextJ. Culross, D. D., New Handbook of Illustrations.John 11:17-27
The Consolations of Christ Adapted to She State and Character of His PeopleR. S. Candlish, D. D.John 11:17-27
The Identity of the Earthly and the Heavenly LifeA. P. Peabody, D. D.John 11:17-27
The Imperfection of Spiritual QualitiesJ. Donne, D. D.John 11:17-27
The Interview with MarthaT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 11:17-27
The JourneyJ. Culross.John 11:17-27
The Master AdvocateJ. Trapp.John 11:17-27
The Mystery of the ResurrectionSir T. Browne.John 11:17-27
The Philosophy of Christian HopeDean Perowne., C. H. Spurgeon.John 11:17-27
The Power of God to Prevent DeathN. Emmons, D. D.John 11:17-27
The ResurrectionArchdeacon Manning.John 11:17-27
The Resurrection and the LifeJ. Parsons.John 11:17-27
Notice -

I. THAT ALL THE MOVEMENTS OF CHRIST ON EARTH HAD AN IMMEDIATE REGARD TO OTHERS.

1. His life on earth was purely vicarious. "For your sakes." Not only his death was vicarious, but his life was equally so. Not only he died for others, but he lived for them as well. His vicarious death was only the natural outcome of his vicarious life. All his movements, his actions, his miracles, his teaching and utterances, the fact and sum of his life, were for others - for mankind generally and for his disciples particularly. "For your sakes."

2. His life on earth was purely self-sacrificing. "For your sakes." He sacrificed every personal feeling, convenience, and consideration for the advantage of others. Had he consulted his own personal feelings - feelings of the tenderest affection and the sincerest friendship - friendship for the dying and the living - nothing would have kept him away from the death-bed of his beloved friend at Bethany; but these tenderest feelings of personal friendship he sacrificed for the sake of others. For their sakes he was not there. This was the great and grand principle of his whole life.

3. The vicariousness and self-sacrifice of his life were to him the sources of the greatest pleasure. "I am glad," etc. He found his highest joy in doing good to his fellow-men, and the greatest delight of his life was spending it for the advantage of others. In benefiting them even his own pain was turned into pleasure, his sorrow into joy, and the greatest self-sacrifice afforded him the greatest satisfaction.

4. His life on earth was one of untiring activity. Nevertheless, let us go unto him. His time for sorrow and joy was very limited. His was to act.

(1) His activity was ever timely. He would ever act in his own time; but his time was always right. Some thought he was too late; but if he went, even to a grave, it was not too late.

(2) His activity was often wonderful in its aim, but ever successful. "Let us go unto him." Lazarus was dead, and his soul in the spirit world; but he was not too far for Jesus to reach him - he was at home there. To human view Lazarus was a prisoner of death, and it was a bold march to go to him through the territories of the king of terrors; but, bold as it was, Jesus undertook it successfully.

(3) His activity was ever inviting and inspiring. "Let us go." The disciples could not go as far as the Master, but let them go as far as they are able. If they can only see, weep, and witness, let them do what they can; he will do the rest. They were inspired to go.

(4) His activity was ever helpful, in consoling, teaching, and quickening.

II. THAT ALL THE MOVEMENTS OF CHRIST ON EARTH HAD A SPECIAL REGARD TO THE GREATEST GOOD OF OTHERS. "To the intent that ye may believe."

1. Whatever he did was done with a definite purpose. "To the intent." He had one great and special aim through life. In every movement and act and utterance of his there was a definite purpose, and he kept this ever in view. It was the inspiration and guide of his movements. In all his various and busy activities there was not a single random shot; but he ever took a definite aim, on which his whole being centered. This is one of the secrets of his ultimate success.

2. Whatever he did was done for the best and highest purpose. In relation to his own mission and the salvation of the world. "That ye may believe." This implies:

(1) That although his disciples had faith, yet it was weak. It was incomplete. This was only to be expected. They were as yet but babes in Christ, and their faith was young and tender. Their wings had net fully grown, and could not soar very high - not high enough as yet to reach and fully rest on the Savior.

(2) That it was capable of, and required growth and confirmation. Genuine faith, however weak and small, will grow by trial, by experience, by a fuller manifestation of its object, and cries out for this. Its growth is certain but gradual.

(3) That the growth and confirmation of their faith involved their greatest good. This alone could bring them into closer union with Christ and with the Father, and open to them the door of the spiritual kingdom, and fully present to their view the grand but real visions of the spiritual empire, and Jesus as the King in his beauty. This was the only true foundation of their character, and the only hope and sure means of its future perfection.

3. Whatever he did was done in the best way to effect the highest purpose. His absence from Bethany served the interest of faith far better than his presence would have done. This implies:

(1) That the death of Lazarus could scarcely take place in the immediate presence of Jesus. This is implied in what Jesus said to his disciples, and in what the sisters said to Jesus. We have no account that death ever took place in his presence. Even at a distance the prayer of faith was sufficient to call forth his triumphant power against it. When he met the "king of terrors" on the highway with a lad, a stranger to Jesus, in his prison-van, he had to give him back to his mother at once: how much more would this be the case with regard to a sick friend! Death could hardly perform his work in the very presence of life. However, Jesus could hardly trust himself, and was glad that he was not there.

(2) That the restoration of Lazarus from death was more beneficial to faith than his preservation from it would have been.

(3) That it was the highest aim of Christ to serve the interest of faith in the most efficient way. He did not expect it to live and thrive on nothing, but furnished it with the strongest proofs, and with the most nourishing diet. He not only produces faith, but supports it. His general aim was to produce faith where it was not, but especially to perfect it where it was. His aim was concentration of influence - the perfection of the few faithful ones, and through them the perfection of the many. "That ye may believe."

4. The confirmation of faith in the disciples produced in Jesus the greatest joy.

(1) This was the joy of a favorable opportunity of doing the greatest good. Such opportunities are rare. Jesus availed himself of it with delight. Faith was struggling in the gloom of a friend's death. But this furnished Jesus with a special opportunity to display his Divine power in the grand miracle of life.

(2) The joy of foreseen success. He foresaw the success of his last great miracle, which involved the success of his life, and through the wail of grief rolled the sweetest strains of music to his soul. What joy is like that of the joy of success in the chief aim of life?

III. WHAT PRODUCES REGRET AND SORROW IN US OFTEN PRODUCES GLADNESS IN JESUS. His absence caused sorrow to the sisters, but joy to him. The same event producing different feelings in different persons, as illustrated in Jesus and the sisters, and why?

1. Jesus could see the intention of his absence; the sisters could not,

2. Jesus could see the ultimate result of his absence; they could not. Jesus could see the restoration of his friend, the display of Divine power, the triumph of faith, and the glory of God. This produced in him gladness. The sisters could not see this, and they were sad.

3. Jesus could see the gain of faith by the death of Lazarus to be immeasurably greater than the loss of the family. They could not see this as yet.

(1) Their loss was only personal, limited to a few. The gain of faith was universal.

(2) Their loss was only physical and social. The gain of faith was spiritual and Divine. Social feelings are nothing to the ecstasies of faith.

(3) Their loss was only temporary, for a short time. The gain of faith was eternal.

(4) Their loss was made up with interest; but the loss of faith for the want of the miracle, who could repair? He was the prepared object of the miracle, and the only one of the family not to begrudge the sacrifice. His death was the occasion of life to faith, and doubtless shared the joy of Jesus at its triumph, and was the willing sacrifice to its life.

LESSONS.

1. When the claims of personal feelings come in collision with those of public good, the former are to give way at any cost, and give way with joy.

2. In the strange dealings of Providence we should try to learn the Divine intention; that is our good.

3. This is difficult, if not impossible, often to realize. Therefore let us trust and wall.

4. In the light of results all will be plain and joyful. Jesus was glad in Peraea, while the sisters were sad in Bethany; but at the resurrection they could join with Jesus in the song of triumph and the anthem of life. "All is well that ends well." - B.T.







When Jesus came.
He usually reserves His hand for a dead lift. When our faith begins to flag, and hang the wing when our strength is gone, and we have given up all for lost, "Now will I arise," saith the Lord, "now will I be exalted, now will I lift up Myself" (Isaiah 33:10).

(J. Trapp.)

Leaving His retreat beyond Jordan, Jesus calmly makes His way to the village of Bethany. We shall find it shown in the issue that, as regards the manifestation of the glory of God, the leading of the disciples into higher faith, and the discipline and blessing of the sisters, the Lord's arrival is neither too early nor too late; but that it is as when separate trains move along separate lines of railway, "timed" to meet by a certain hour, at a certain junction, there to be combined. The distance to Bethany was a long day's journey. Whether He made the journey in a single day we have no means of knowing. The earliest part of it would lie along some fertile glen of Gilead, and would be pursued amid "morning songs" from every side. Crossing the Jordan at a neighbouring ford, the next part of the journey would lie in the rich plain of Jericho, beautiful as a great pleasure ground, with bosks and groves of aromatic shrubs. Then He would pursue the wild dreary road that goes up from Jericho to Jerusalem, lying through a desolate rocky district, often winding along the edge of cliffs and frightful precipices, one of the wildest and gloomiest roads in the land. As He approaches Bethany, the dust of travel whitening His sandals, and as weary, it may be, as when He came to Jacob's well at noon, He is told that Lazarus has already been four days in the grave.

(J. Culross.)

Many of the Jews had come...to console them.
S. S. Times.
According to the ancient Jewish ritual, those who came to condole with the mourners had to return with them from the grave to the house, there to station themselves in a circle around the mourners, repeating prayers, and offering consolation. The rule was that this circle of consolers should consist of not less than ten persons; but it usually consisted of many more. In token of grief, the couches upon which the mourners and the consolers sat were lowered so as to come nearer to the ground, or else all sat upon the ground. The consolers remained with the mourners during the days of mourning; but there was a certain defence from this publicity in the fact that the consoler had no right to speak until the mourner spoke; and the mourner had the privilege further of indicating, by nodding, that he was now comforted and that the consolers need not continue to sit around him any longer.

(S. S. Times.)

I. MARTHA'S REGRETFUL LAMENTATION; or faith struggling with imperfect knowledge (ver. 21). The language neither of reproach nor complaint, but.

1. Of deep sorrow that Christ had not been present, at least, before the end came.

2. Of sincere faith, since she believed that had He been present, He would have healed him, or entreated God on his behalf.

3. Of imperfect knowledge —(1) Allied to superstition in thinking Christ's presence needful (cf. chap. John 4:47).(2) Akin to over confidence in asserting that Lazarus would have lived had Christ not been absent.

II. MARTHA'S CONFIDENT PERSUASION; or faith rising into ardent hope (ver. 22).

1. Faith's firm assurance. That Christ's access to the Father on behalf of men is —

(1)Immediate, at any moment.

(2)Direct, by simply asking.

(3)Unlimited, "all things."

(4)Efficacious, certain to prevail.

2. Faith's joyous expectation. That nothing will prove too great.

(1)For Christ's love to devise, or —

(2)Christ's power to execute on behalf of His people (Ephesians 3:20-21) — hence that a resurrection is neither impossible nor absurd.

III. MARTHA'S DESPONDING ADMISSION; or faith relapsing into doubt (ver. 24).

1. Her disappointment. She had expected Christ to speak about an immediate restoration of her dead brother, whereas He only seemed to hint at a far away resurrection (ver. 23).

2. Her concession. She acknowledges, notwithstanding, such a resurrection, and consequently Lazarus's continued existence.

IV. MARTHA'S SUBLIME CONFESSION; or faith soaring into lofty adoration (ver. 27). That which lifted her beyond the atmosphere of doubt was Christ's exposition of the doctrine (vers. 25, 26), in which were set forth —

1. That the resurrection was not an event to be thought of as distinct from the life, but as a manifestation of the life.

2. That the resurrection and the life, as thus explained, have their primal source in Himself, in whom is life (chap. John 1:4), and from whom all true life in the soul proceeds.

3. That the resurrection, and the life from which it springs, are secured to men by their union to Him through faith.

4. That in the experience of the believer there is —

(1)A resurrection of the soul from sin.

(2)A living in the Spirit.

(3)A transformation of death so that the believer may be said to "never die."

(4)A complete abolition of death by the resurrection of the body.Lessons —

1. Christ's presence with the soul is the certain destruction of death.

2. Christ's intercession for His people is better understood now than it was then (Hebrews 7:25).

3. The resurrection, as explained by Christ, a perennial source of comfort for the bereaved and dying.

4. The only just verdict that can be pronounced on Jesus is that of "Son of God."

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

I. THE SOCIAL SADNESS OF DEATH. The death of Lazarus had spread a dark shadow over the hearts of not a few. Besides the sisters the neighbours were affected (ver. 19). The God of Love has implanted in human hearts a mighty tie of sympathy, and the groan of one will vibrate on the heart chords of many. The more love a man has in him the larger the amount of vicarious suffering that he will endure in this world of grief. Hence He who had more love in Him than all the race besides became a "man of sorrows" to carry ours. To suffer for others by sympathy is not only natural, but Christly. We are commanded to "bear one another's burdens."

II. THE EXTRAORDINARY CLAIM OF CHRIST (vers. 25, 26). These words, which flow so naturally from Christ, would have been blasphemy from any other. They imply —

1. That death is a great evil — not as a mere dissolution of soul and body, which is natural, but as the consequence of sin, and so having a dreadful moral significance and terror — a "sting," giving it virus and agony. There are —(1) Its physical sufferings. Had there been no sin there would have been no pain.(2) Its grievous disappointments. Rut for sin man would have had no broken purposes.(3) Its social disruptions.(4) Its moral forebodings. Without these death might be hailed as a blessing — these make it a curse.

2. That from this evil Christ is the great Deliverer.(1) Christ is life — original, absolute, "I am He that liveth," etc.(2) He is resuscitating life — not only creating the new, but raising the old. Understanding death as the curse of sin, Christ is the Resurrection in that —

(a)He delivers men from sin.

(b)He has abolished death.

3. That from this evil He delivers on the condition of trust in Him, not in doctrines about Him, etc.

III. THE NOBLE CONFESSION OF FAITH (ver. 27).

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. MARTHA IS A TYPE OF ANXIOUS BELIEVERS. They believe truly, but not with such confidence as to lay aside their care.

1. She set a practical bound to the Saviour's words: "Of course there will be a resurrection, and Lazarus will rise with the rest." We limit the words of the Holy One. Of course they mean so much, but we cannot allow that they mean more.

2. She laid the words of Jesus on the shelf, as things so trite and sure that they were of small practical importance. When you believe a truth, but neglect it, it is the same as not believing. Some never question a doctrine, that is not their temptation; they accept the gospel as true, but never expect to see its promises carried out.

3. She set the promise in the remote distance. This is a common folly. Telescopes are meant to bring objects near to the eye, but some look through the mental telescope at the wrong end. Do not refuse the present blessing and say, "My Lord delayeth His coming."

4. She made the promise unreal and impersonal, mixing Lazarus with the rest of the dead. We take the promises and say, "That is true to all God's people." If so, it is true to us; but we miss that point. There is such a thing as speaking of the promises in a magnificent style, and yet being in deep spiritual poverty: as if a man should boast of the wealth of England while he has not a penny. If you are a child of God, all things are yours and you may help yourself.

II. HOW JESUS DEALT WITH MARTHA.

1. He did not grow angry with her and say, "I am ashamed of you that you should have such low thoughts of Me." She thought that she was honouring Jesus by her acknowledgment of His special power with God. And in similar cases it ill becomes a servant to lose patience where the Master shows so much.

2. With gentle spirit Jesus proceeds to teach her more of the things concerning Himself. This is the true way to cure despondency. "I am," not "I can get the Resurrection." God's people want to know more of Jesus. Some of them know more than enough of themselves, and they will break their hearts if they go on reading much longer in that black letter book. Poor Martha was looking up into the sky for life, or down into the deeps for resurrection, when the Resurrection and the Life was by.Learn —

1. To construe the promises in their largest sense.

2. To look to the Promiser, and not to the difficulties which surround the accomplishment of the promise.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Martha went...but Mary sat still.
Martha's "met" is a perfect tense; Mary's "sat" is an imperfect. It is impossible not to see the characteristic temperament of each sister coming out here, and doubtless it is written for our learning. Martha — active, stirring, busy, demonstrative — cannot wait, but runs impulsively to meet Jesus. Mary — quiet, gentle, pensive, meditative, contemplative, meek — sits passively at home. Yet I venture to think that of the two sisters, Martha here appears to most advantage. There is such a thing as being so crushed and stunned by our affliction that we do not adorn our profession under it. Is there not something of this in Mary's conduct throughout this chapter? There is a time to stir, as well as to sit still; and here, by not stirring, Mary certainly missed hearing our Lord's glorious declaration about Himself. I would not be mistaken in saying this. Both these holy women were true disciples; yet if Mary showed more grace on a former occasion than Martha, I think Martha here showed more than Mary. Let us never forget that there are differences of temperament among believers, and let us make due allowance for others if they are not quite like ourselves. There are believers who are quiet, passive, silent, and meditative; and believers who are active, stirring, and demonstrative. The well. ordered Church must find room, place, and work for all. We need Marys as well as Marthas, and Marthas as well as Marys.

(Bp. Ryle.)

Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died
Boston Homilies.
"Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." How natural it all is! "If Thou hadst been here." Prone is the human heart to utter just such words as these. "Much virtue in an if," says the poet. But there is also much torture in it. Had this been done or that, had such and such precautions been taken, had the doctor been sent for a little sooner, had certain remedies been tried which were learned of too late, had we not moved into that house, the result might have been different. So we go over the whole miserable catalogue of peradventures and possibilities with much bitterness of spirit. That is the tendency and the temptation. But it should never be done. That "if'' has no business in our bosom. It is a stinging serpent that should be ruthlessly cast out. There is no if. Nothing ever simply happens so. Chance is the god of atheism, and will minister no comfort in the time of trouble. Banish him. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth, and all things come of Him. Our ignorance is as much a part of the Divine plan as our knowledge. He does not mean us to know all things.

(Boston Homilies.)

God made the first marriage — of the body and soul in creation, and man the first divorce — of the body and soul through sin. God allows no such second marriages as are implied in the transmigration of souls into other bodies. And because God has made this band of marriage indissoluble but by death, as far as man is immortal, his divorce is only separation. Body and soul shall come together again at the Resurrection. To establish the assurance of this God raised Lazarus and others here. Note from the text —

I. THAT THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS WORLD PERFECT.

1. In the best things.(1) Knowledge. What thing do we know perfectly? One philosopher thinks he has dived at the bottom when he says he knows nothing but this, that he knows nothing; and yet another thinks he has expressed more knowledge by saying that he knows not so much as that.(2) Faith. This imperfection is seen in the apostle's prayer for an increase of faith (Luke 17:5); in Christ's upbraidings (Matthew 6:30; Matthew 8:26); in Paul's congratulations and prayer for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3); in the expressions "rich in faith," "abound in faith," "measure of faith." Deceive not yourselves, then, that if you have faith you need no more.(3) That our hope is not perfect we see from James 4:3. We cannot hope constantly because we do not pray aright; and to make a prayer a right prayer there must go so many circumstances as that the best man may suspect his best prayer. Whereas, ordinarily, a fly, the opening of a door, a memory of yesterday, a fear of tomorrow, a noise in the ear, a fancy in the brain, destroy prayer.(4) There is nothing perfect in our charity. There is no work so good as that we can look to God for thanks for it; none but has so much ill mingled with it that we need not bespeak God's mercy.

2. How this weakness appears in the action in the text. Lest we should attribute it only to weak persons, note that Martha as well as Mary comes also in the same voice of infirmity (ver. 32). Look upon —(1) Their faith. We cannot say as much as they did to any college of physicians; but the weakness of their faith lies in this, that they said so much and no more to Christ; and regard even that power to be derived from God and not inherent (ver. 22). Again, they relied so much upon His corporal presence. It was this that Christ diverted Mary from after His resurrection (John 20:16). "Touch Me not — send thy thoughts whither I am going." Peter had another holy distemper upon this personal presence, "Depart from Me" (Luke 5:8). The sisters longed for Him, and Peter to be delivered from Him, both out of weakness and error, as do they who attribute too much or too little to Christ's presence in ordinances. To imprison Christ in opere operato, to conclude that where that action is done Christ must necessarily be is to err weakly with these sisters; but to banish Christ from those holy actions is to err with Peter.(2) So in their hope and their manner of expressing it. For they did not go; they sent — unlike Nicodemus, who came in person for his sick soul, and the centurion for his sick servant, and Jairus and the woman with the issue. That is not enough; we must bring Christ and our necessities nearer together. Then they made no request, but left an intimation to work on Christ; but I must not wrap up my necessities in general terms, but descend to particulars. As God is an accessible God He is open to receive thy smallest petitions, and as He is an inexhaustible God He cannot be pressed too much. Pray personally, rely not upon dead or living saints, and pray frequently and earnestly.(3) In their charity even towards their dead brother. To lament a dead friend is natural; but inordinate lamentation implies a worse state in him that is gone; and if we believe him in heaven to wish him here is uncharitable.

3. Yet for all these imperfections Christ doth not refuse or chide, but cherishes their piety. There is no form of building stronger than an arch, and yet an arch has declinations which even a flat roof has not. So our devotions do not the less bear up upright in the sight of God, because they have some declinations towards natural affections. All these infirmities of theirs multiply this consolation, that though God look upon the inscription, He looks upon the metal too; though He look that His image should be preserved in us, He looks in what earthen vessels this image is put by His own hand.

II. As in spiritual things there is nothing perfect, SO IN TEMPORAL THERE IS NOTHING PERMANENT.

1. The earth itself is in motion.

2. Consider the greatest bodies upon it — monarchies which one would think destiny might stare at and not shake; and the smallest bodies, the hairs of our head, which one would think destiny would hardly observe; and yet destiny or, to speak as a Christian, God, is no more troubled to make a monarchy ruinous than a hair grey; nay, nothing needs be done, the one will ruin and the other turn grey of itself.

3. In the elements there is no acquiescence, but a transmutation into one another; air condensed becomes water, and air rarefied becomes fire.

4. It is so in the conditions of men: a merchant condensed, packed up in a great estate, becomes a lord; and a merchant rarefied by a riotous son evaporates into nothing. And if there were anything permanent in the world, set we gain nothing, because we cannot stay with it.

5. The world is a great volume, and man its index. Even man's body is an illustration of all nature. Even in its highest estates, as the temple of the Holy Ghost, it must perish. Conclusion: But as in spiritual things there is no perfectness, and yet God accepts our religious services, so, notwithstanding that all temporal things, God's noblest piece included, decays, yet God affords this body a resurrection. The Gentiles describe the sad state of death as one everlasting night; but to a Christian it is the day of death and the day of resurrection. And looking at this we may invert the text and say, "Because Thou wast here our brother is not dead." For Christ is with the Christian in life, death, and the resurrection.

(J. Donne, D. D.)

I. THE LOWEST VIEW OF LIFE looks out upon it only as a hostelry, where every guest is to seize on so many of the good things exposed as the laws allow. This selfish hunt will take different directions according to the ruling appetite. But the characteristic mark on it all is that it disowns God. This system not only fails to provide for the chief internal necessity — viz., a religion; it fails to meet the external fact of suffering. That is a test of all philosophies and theories of life. It is useless to leave it out of the calculation; it forces its way back into every lot. Life does not become a problem till we taste of its bitterness. Whenever pain, bereavement, etc., come, that comfort-seeking, epicurean plan of living collapses, and the least that the man can then do is to fly to Zeno's porch and borrow some crumbs of frigid dignity that fall from the stoics table.

II. ASCEND A STEP HIGHER. Here we find God to be acknowledged, but more through fear than devout submission. Providence had returned to the world from which unbelief had rejected Him; but the confession, "Thy will be done," is not so full as to include the giving up of the dearest idols, and there is the suspicion that here and there some sparrow or more precious thing may fall without the Father's notice. This state is met by suffering, the touchstone; how does it behave itself? Well, but not best. Soberly but not serenely. Some selfish preferences linger to mar the beauty of resignation — to keep back part of the souls trust, and so disturb the perfect peace of believing. There is the beginning of faith — too much to be thrown away, not enough to live by. This is precisely where Martha stands. There is a mixture of the strength and weakness of faith, perhaps of faith and superstition. She believed in the power and love of Jesus — that was her true faith — but she believed that it must operate in prolonging her brother's life, and was limited to His physical presence. That was the falsity and weakness of her faith. Jesus corrects it with, "Whosoever [anywhere] believeth on Me shall never die."

III. Out of that state into A HIGHER ONE STILL Christ wishes to lift her and us. Where a holy soul will be felt to be of more value than any freedom from pain; when sympathy with Christ is valued more than having a human friend at our side. Saved by suffering, not from it, is the law of life revealed in Christ. Character depends on inward strength, but this strength has two conditions: it is increased only by being put forth, and tested only by resistance. So the spiritual character must enter into conflict, and stand in comparison with something formidable enough to be a standard of its power.

1. The ordinary conditions of a prosperous fortune furnishes no such standard. The favoured moral constitutions which ripen into sainthood under perpetual comfort are rare exceptions. Suffering in some form must put faith to the proof and purify it; what form God, who knows best, must determine. The sisters must see Lazarus die, Matthew must forsake all to follow the Master. How many of us take up Martha's plaint instead of, "Lord in these chastenings of friendly love Thou hast been here — Thy will be done." And Christ shows three times over that the design here was that the disciples, the sisters, and the people, might believe.

2. In another class of moral experiences the principle has a direct application — in those who long. more earnestly for rest than faithful submission. They have heard that there is joy in believing, and so believe for the sake of the joy, and this, though a nobler thirst than that of the senses, is tainted with selfishness and wanting in faith. Then, again, the mercenary tendency to offer to God your good works as a price for purchasing self-complacency needs to be watched. It defeats its own end. Faith never comes that way: it comes swiftest when you seek it as an end least. Seek purity, harmony with God, and peace in God's good time will come. Stillness is our needed sacrifice. Baffled and broken the soul must often be ere its immortal strength comes. Not from but by this suffering we shall be saved.

3. We may embrace all those instances in which we doubt whether some care was not omitted whereby the fatal blow might have been warded off When shall we learn that God takes the past into His secure keeping, and that even out of sorrows that we might have prevented, a spiritual benefit may be now drawn greater than their prevention. Vain cry, "Lord, if Thou hadst," etc. But to receive and bless Him in whatever robes of darkness, when He comes. Conclusion:

1. Suffering is disciplinary.

2. If our desires reach only after exemption from it, they are but half faithless.

3. The true conquest and peace of faith, as well as the solution of the mystery of sorrow, lie in our willingness to suffer, so far as it may bring us to the society of our Lord.

(Bp. Huntington.)

I. GOD IS ABLE TO PREVENT ANY PERSON DYING SO SOON AS HE DOES DIE. He preserved the lives of men much longer in former ages: but He could have prevented Methuselah dying at 969 had He pleased. He is able to preserve men from sickness, the common cause of death — and He does so often for seventy, eighty, or ninety years. And if men become sick He can raise them as He did Hezekiah. So with accidents, another cause of death.

II. GOD NEVER DOES PREVENT MEN DYING AS SOON AS THEY DO DIE. He might have prevented Lazarus dying, yet He did not. And this holds in all cases; and no power can move Him when He chooses that any shall die. This we see in David's prayer for his little infant, in those of pious parents for theirs, and in those of the Church for good and useful men.

III. WHY GOD DOES NOT PREVENT PERSONS DYING AS SOON AS THEY DO DIE. Because —

1. He knows that their appointed time to die is come. "Is there not an appointed time," etc.

2. He sees it best for them to die then. He knows what will be the consequence of living, and takes them away from the evil to come.

3. He knows that it will be the-best for the survivors. Many have done more good by dying than they would by living. — How often has the death of a child resulted in the conversion of the parents! This was the reason of the death of Lazarus.

4. He has a supreme regard for His own glory. He displays a wisdom, goodness and sovereignty which surpasses that of all His intelligent creatures.Improvement. If God can preserve human life or cut it short as He pleases, then —

1. It is proper to pray for the sick as long as the least spark of life remains. Neither young nor old ought to give up the hope of living; and God has wrought wonders in answer to prayer.

2. We ought never to pray for the preservation of life unconditionally. We ought to rejoice that we are in God's hands, who knows best. So Christ prayed conditionally in view of His tremendous sufferings — "Not My will."

3. All ought to carry about with them a sense that they are dying creatures. They know not what a day or an hour may bring forth. "Lord make me to know mine end."

4. Death commonly comes unexpected. We are ready to remember that God can preserve our lives as long as He pleases, but forget that He has an appointed time, and that time always comes suddenly.

5. None can enjoy life without becoming truly religious. Then whatever comes we shall be ready for the joy of our Lord.

6. Mourners have always reason to exercise unreserved submission to his bereaving hand.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

I. MARTHA SAW NOT THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE DEATH AND BLESSEDNESS OF CHRIST'S SERVANTS. She had largely in her thought the Jewish idea of death as the disturber of fellowship. Truer to have said, "Thou hast been here and my brother has lived." Christ's influence goes to make men feel that they are citizens of heaven. The whole meaning of our life is in the future; death is the portal to that perfection.

1. We feel in our hearts that there is an inseparable connection between faith and knowledge. The relation is not complete here. We must die to know the right coordination of the two.

2. Aspiration and perfection are not equal here. In eternity demand and satisfaction are one.

3. How sundered are love and happiness here, where love and sorrow are fellows. In heaven measureless love will yield limitless gladness.

4. Power and opportunity are frequently divided. In heaven power and environment will be matched. We must die to realize the true correlation of our being with the spiritual universe.

III. SHE DID NOT SEE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CHRIST'S DELAY AND THE GOOD OF ALL CONCERNED. Jesus was absent not that Lazarus might die, but that he might die in faith without sight. Christ might have checked the disease in Person, but His delay furthered the purposes of His love.

1. To educate their trust.

2. To prepare them for the actual work about to be wrought.

3. To reveal His glory more fully.

4. To make the deepest impression on the unbelieving.

III. SHE DID NOT SEE AS WE DO NOW THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THEIR SUFFERING AND THE MYSTERY OF THE CROSS. John shows us how the miracle was a distinct link in the chain of events that led to the death of Jesus.

1. They suffered because Christ was to suffer. As some on-rushing star sets up perturbations in other worlds that come within the range of its influence, so this great process of God in sacrifice draws into its vortex the lives of men.

2. They suffered because Christ must suffer, "Ought not Christ to suffer these things?" Ought not His disciples to share in the community of His sorrows? This is the explanation of pain and conflict. To see the relation between our pain and Christ's Cross is to be qualified to meet and conquer it. The fellowship of such suffering carries in its heart even now the sharing of His glory.

(J. Matthews.)

I. THERE IS A CLOSE ANALOGY BETWEEN THE FEELING HERE EXPRESSED AND THAT EXPERIENCED BY MOST BEREAVED PERSONS. How few afflictions which are not made doubly afflictive by an if. If our friend had done this instead of that — if we had only foreseen. These thoughts make perfect resignation impossible. They come in between us and God, and bewilder in a maze of second causes which no man can thread or find repose in.

II. IF THERE IS ROOM FOR THESE REFLECTIONS IN ANY, THERE IS ROOM FOR THEM IN EVERY CASE. Take any instance of death, except by constitutional decay, and you can always fix upon some circumstance which seemed the turning point. Only let danger be foreseen, and, humanly speaking, in nine cases out of ten deaths would be prevented. If a man knew he was going to catch a fever or meet with an accident, how he would avoid the dangerous localities. Calamities flow immediately from the shortness of human foresight. Could ocean storms be calculated or shifting currents mapped, there would be no shipwrecks. Here Divine Providence overrules and moves in ways higher than ours. To say, therefore, "Had it been thus my brother or child had not died is, to complain of the ordinance of Divine Wisdom by which man is kept ignorant of the future.

III. THIS PRINCIPLE APPLIES EQUALLY TO THE HAPPY PORTIONS OF OUR LIFE. Recovery, preservation, prosperity, depend equally on contingencies, which, when we look back, we see might have been otherwise. A choice which has led to the most fortunate issues was determined, not by foresight of the end, but by the most casual circumstances. Thus there is room for the if in our joys which we cannot number.

IV. THE NECESSARY LIMITS OF HUMAN FORESIGHT INDICATE THE POINT ON WHICH WE CHIEFLY NEED TO PRACTICE CHRISTIAN SUBMISSION. Our ignorance is part of the Divine plan, and is essential to happiness. You murmur that you could not see a particular calamity so as to have prevented it: but then you would have to see all. This would make you a secondary providence in your own circle, and impose a weight of care which Omnipotence alone could sustain for a single day.

V. THE CONDITION OF MORTAL LIFE IS SUMMED UP IN TWO WORDS — MAN'S DUTY AND GOD'S PROVIDENCE. In the hour of bereavement the question as to our faithfulness in the relation suspended will and ought to come up. When you can answer it to your satisfaction you have no ground for uneasiness. You did what you could. You had not Divine foresight: do not then torment yourself, because you were not in God's stead. Do your duty, and in the majority of instances it will lead to the outward results you desire. Obey nature's laws, and health will be the rule, disease the exception. But with all your care there is another system: that of Divine Providence, which has no law but eternal love. The decree has gone forth — "Ye shall have tribulation," and we need the discipline as pilgrims to detach us from the attractions by the wayside, and to fix our affections on things above. When God sees that we need this, vain are our anxieties and precautions. All that remains is to say, "It is the Lord; let Him do what seemest to Him good."

(A. P. Peabody, D. D.)

(text and ver. 32): —

I. HOW MUCH SAMENESS THERE IS IN GRIEF. It is remarkable that two persons so different in turn of mind and feeling should both utter the same words. It shows how the heart when deeply moved is the same in all. The sisters were united in their affection to Lazarus and in their reliance on Jesus. Together they watched, sent for Christ, waited anxiously for His coming, fell into the dreary sadness which follows the first violence of grief, then greet Jesus as He comes too late in the same way. It is the voice of nature mingling its vain regrets with the resignation of simple faith.

1. There is the feeling that it might have been otherwise. We know not what detained Thee, perhaps we did not send, or the messenger did not reach Thee in time. Oh that the sickness had happened when Thou was in Jerusalem! Is it not thus that the heart speaks under every trying dispensation? If some measure had been adopted, or such an accident not happened, my brother had not died. However natural, is this not the very folly of unbelief conceiving Christ as limited by events which He Himself ordains? Nay, He might have answered, I might have been there; and though not I might have kept him alive, or being there might have let him die. Whatever comes is not accident, but His will. Be still and know that He is God.

2. That it should have been otherwise. We sent a special message, why linger and not make haste to help us — an instinctive complaint in a season of bereavement. It is hard to believe that God ordains it and does no wrong. You can give many reasons. How serviceable that valuable life might have been to God and man. But remember God has many purposes with which you are unacquainted. Wait patiently and you will see that it was for His glory. It may be that He had need of His services elsewhere.

3. That it was sincere, if melancholy, satisfaction in meeting with Jesus at last. He had not come at the time, in the way, for the purpose they expected, and too late for their purpose, but still He had come for good, and they gratefully receive Him. Happy if you so meet the Saviour's advances. Like Rachel, you may refuse to be comforted, and like Jonah, when your gourd withers, you may be angry, and turn away when Christ comes. Beware of such moods. It is enough if He is with you to fill the aching void in your affections, and be to you instead of what you have lost — better than a thousand brothers.

II. HOW MUCH VARIETY THERE IS IN GRIEF. The sisters differed in their sorrow as they did generally. Both regarded Christ with confidence and affection, but Martha showed it by active and Mary by quiet devotion. So now, when Martha received intimation of Christ's approach, she rose in haste impatient to meet Him; but Mary remained in the house absorbed in her grief; and when she went forth they said, "she goeth to the grave," etc., as though she, unlike Martha, could do nothing else.

1. Thus in different circumstances the same temper may be an advantage or a snare. Mary was never so occupied with an emotion of one subject as not to be ready for the call to another. This was a disadvantage when she was so hurried with this and that household care as to have no time to wait on the word of life: but it was an advantage now that she could shake off her depression and hasten to meet Christ. The same profound feeling, however, which made Mary an attentive listener made her the most helpless sufferer until Jesus sent specially to rouse her (ver. 28).

2. In the meeting the difference is equally characteristic. Martha is calm and collected enough to enter into argument, and at length is sufficiently self-possessed to make a formal declaration of her faith. Not so Mary — her heart is too full for many words, she cannot command the passion of her soul. She can but cast herself down weeping, and say (ver. 32).

III. HOW MUCH COMPASS THERE IS IN THE CONSOLATION OF CHRIST, ADAPTED TO GRIEF OF EVERY MOULD AND MOOD.

1. Martha's distress admitted of discussion and discourse. Jesus spoke to her and led her to speak to Him, and though she understands Him not fully she is relieved by having laid on her Divine Friend the burden of her soul, and with her lightened heart she declares her entire acquiescence in Him (ver. 27).

2. Mary is differently affected and His sympathy is shown in a different way. He is much more profoundly moved. He does not reply in words, for her own were so few. Grief has choked her, and His own responsive sigh is more comforting than any promise. Jesus wept. Blessed mourner with whose tears thy Saviour mingles His own. With Martha Jesus reasoned: with Mary Jesus wept.

3. How confidently every Christian mourner can come to Him. He will give you the very cordial you need. He is a patient hearer if you have anything to say, and He will speak as you are able to hear it, and if you cannot collect your thoughts, and your heart is hot within you-remember that with these groanings which cannot be uttered the Spirit maketh intercession for you.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

Whatsoever thou wilt ask of God.
This is our comfort, that Christ is all in all with the Father, and may have what He will of Him. What need we of any other "master of requests" than Christ. If David will hear Joab for Absalom, and Herod Blastus for the Tyrians, what may not we hope?

(J. Trapp.)

At a certain time Luther received an express, stating that his bosom friend and co-worker in the reformation, Philip Melancthon, was lying at the point of death; upon which information he immediately set out upon the journey of some hundred and fifty miles, to visit him, and upon his arrival, he actually found all the distinctive features of death; such as the glazed eye, the cold clammy sweat, and insensible lethargy, upon him. Upon witnessing these sure indications of a speedy dissolution, as he mournfully bent over him, he exclaimed with great emotion, "Oh, how awful is the change wrought upon the visage of my dear brother!" On hearing this voice, to the astonishment of all present, Melancthon opened his eyes, and looking up into Luther's face, remarked, "Oh, Luther, is this you? Why don't you let me depart in peace?" Upon which Luther replied, "Oh no, Philip, we cannot spare you yet." Luther then turned away from the bed, and fell upon his knees, with his face towards the window, and began to wrestle with God in prayer, and to plead with great fervency, for more than an hour, the many proofs recorded in Scripture of His being a prayer hearing and prayer answering God; and also how much he stood in need of the services of Melancthon, in furthering that cause, in which the honour and glory of God's great name, and the eternal welfare of unnumbered millions of immortal souls, were so deeply interested; and that God should not deny him this one request, to restore him the aid of his well-tried brother Melancthon. He then rose up from prayer, and went to the bedside again, and took Melancthon by the hand. Upon which Melancthon again remarked, "Oh, dear Luther, why don't you let me depart in peace?" To which Luther again answered, "No, no, Philip, we cannot possibly spare you from the field of labour yet." Luther then requested the nurse to go and make him a dish of soup, according to his instructions. Which being prepared, was brought to Luther, who requested his friend Melancthon to eat of it. Melancthon again asked him, "Oh, Luther, why will you not let me go home, and be at rest?" To which Luther replied as before, "Philip, we cannot spare you yet." Melancthon then exhibited a disinclination to partake of the nourishment prepared for him. Upon which Luther remarked, "Philip, eat, or I will excommunicate you." Melancthon then partook of the food prepared, and immediately grew better, and was speedily restored to his wonted health and strength again, and laboured for years afterwards with his coadjutors in the blessed cause of the reformation. Upon Luther's arrival at home, he narrated to his beloved wife Catherine the above circumstances, and added, "God gave me my brother Melancthon back in direct answer to prayer;" and added further, with patriarchal simplicity, "God on a former occasion gave me, also, you back, Kata, in answer to my prayer."

Thy brother shall rise again.
There was that in the tie of blood which death was powerless to alter. Many an aching heart would find comfort, if it were assured of this. Have we lost them forever as ours, those loved ones — lost all the claim upon their special answering love, which those old earthly names, "brother," "sister," and the like, gave us? Is the Communion of Saints one monotonous dead level of spiritual relationship? Or are the ties of earth — whether ties of blood, or ties of friendship, or ties of love — not abolished, but transfigured, in that mysterious world beyond death? On the warrant of these words of Jesus! dare to believe that they will be glorified, not destroyed; that that, which more than anything else makes earth bright and worth having, will be at least one of the lesser luminaries of heaven. Nay, even if we had no such words of Jesus as these, I could never bring myself to believe that God would so mock us, as to give us these relationships and bid us be faithful to them, only to tear our hearts in pieces with grief — grief which must necessarily be intense in proportion to our fidelity to them — when the cruel hour of death arrives to dissolve them. It is sad enough that they should be even suspended, through "ignorance of a common tongue" — their destruction would be intolerable to us. As the seed is transformed into the plant — as the natural body is transfigured into the spiritual body — so will the earthly relationship be glorified into its heavenly counterpart.

(D. J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Let us survey —

I. THE LIFE OF THE DEPARTED. Note —

1. His affection as a relative.

2. His attachment as a friend.

3. His grace as a Christian.

4. His fidelity as a minister.

II. THE DEATH OF THE DEPARTED. It was —

1. Unexpected.

2. Tranquil.

3. Gainful to Him. He has —

(1)Full vision of Christ — of those around the throne.

(2)Full image.

(3)Full enjoyment.

4. Loss to you — as relative, friend, Christian, minister.

III. HIS RESURRECTION.

1. To an immortal life.

2. In a superior state.

3. For the noblest purposes. This resurrection is —

(1)Possible.

(2)Reasonable.

(3)Certain.

(4)Desirable —

(a)To see his bereaved kindred.

(b)To meet his sorrowing friends.

(c)To present his beloved people.

(d)To enjoy his incarnate God.

(J. Judson.)

"Thy brother" — the very being that had died — the same in feeling, mind, sentiment. This is the Christian idea of immortality. The next life is an unbroken continuation of this as regards —

I. OUR PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE. Why should this be closed by the opening of the soul's prison gates? So far from this it hardly admits of doubt that the direction which the mind has assumed in the obscurity and distractions of the world will determine its favourite course when for darkness there shall be light, and for hindrances helps, in the case of, e.g., the philosopher, the scientist, the historian.

II. OUR AESTHETIC NATURE. No attribute of the Creator is more richly manifested than His love of beauty. For all refined tastes He has furnished nutriment with the same bounty as that with which He has provided for our lower needs. We trace God none the less in the beauty that flows from human hands. Man, in the pride of his art, and at the zenith of his power is the copyist of the Creator; and if I can be glad and worshipful in the presence of the copies, how much more in the better life shall I be sensible of their archetypes. And when St. John lays all nature under contribution, and piles splendour upon splendour to shadow forth the glories of the new Jerusalem, I know the very power of painting those gorgeous forms is an authentic prophecy of more of beauty in heaven than heart has conceived.

III. OUR CAPACITY FOR FRIENDSHIP. This capacity for transcends its earthly uses, and our power of enjoying it here. The most tender home love only intensifies and enlarges the power of loving. With this proclivity to form attachments we are saddened, not only by the death-thinned ranks of our friends, but by the multitude of the living who win our dear regard and then seldom come within our reach — friends of our travels, e.g., and friends in distant cities. Why are we made capable of loves so strong, and yet so evanescent? To lay up treasures for the heavenly life, providing friends that shall be ours forever. There will be in heaven time enough and room enough for all.

(A. P. Peabody, D. D.)

I know he shall rise again in the resurrection.
The grace was so great that Martha does what we all often do — imagines it less: as when you slip a sovereign into a boy's hand on his birthday, and he imagines it a shilling, having no thought of a gift so great.

(J. Culross, D. D.)

This passage of the history may remind us of somewhat similar in the conversation with the woman of Samaria at Jacob's well. Neither does Martha here, nor that woman, understand the nearness of the benefit. In each case, half despondingly, they put it off. Yet to the one, speaking only of a distant future, and saying, "I know that Messias cometh: when He is come He will tell us all things;" the Lord suddenly rejoins, "I that speak unto thee am He." And so here to the other, who can think of nothing nearer, nothing better, than the remote general resurrection, the Lord likewise rejoins, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." Each has but the vague, inoperative idea of the final good: He speaks to each of an even present blessing.

(G. J. Browne, M. A.)

We do with the promises often as a poor old couple did with a precious document, which might have cheered their old age had they used it according to its real value. A gentleman stepping into a poor woman's house saw framed and glazed upon the wall a French note for a thousand francs. He said to the old folks, "How came you by this?" They informed him that a poor French soldier had been taken in by them and nursed until he died, and he had given them that little picture when he was dying as a memorial of him. They thought it such a pretty souvenir that they had framed it, and there it was adorning the cottage wall. They were greatly surprised when they were told that it was worth a sum which would be quite a little fortune for them if they would but turn it into money. Are we not equally unpractical with far more precious things? Have you not certain of the words of your great Lord framed and glazed in your hearts, and do you not say to yourselves, "They are so sweet and precious"? and yet you have never turned them into actual blessing — never used them in the hour of need. You have done as Martha did when she took the words, "Thy brother shall rise again," and put round about them this handsome frame, "in the resurrection at the last day." Oh that we had grace to turn God's bullion of gospel into current coin, and use them as our present spending money.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I am the Resurrection and the Life.
All the titles of our Lord are names of power. They express His nature, perfection, or prerogatives; what they declare He is. They are shadows of a Divine substance. He who is Very Life raised Himself from the dead: "I am the Resurrection." On the first day of the week His glorious soul returned to His pure flesh, and His manhood, whole and perfect, through the power of His Godhead, arose of His own will. He came back the very same, and yet the same no more. The dishonour of His holy passion had passed away, but its tokens still were there. And as in body, so in soul. Death had no more dominion over Him, yet He was full of sympathy, learned by dying. All the depths of His human experience were in Him still. "He learned obedience by the things which he suffered;" and the ineffable mystery of His three and thirty years of sorrow rose with Him from the grave. Wherefore this Divine name, as it reveals the power of His own resurrection, so it is the pledge of ours. It is a pledge to us of many joys; but chiefly of three Divine gifts.

1. The first is a perfect newness of body and soul. This very body shall be deathless and glorious as the body of His glory when He arose from the dead. And so, too, of the soul. It shall be still more glorious, even as the spirit is above the flesh. The more we know of ourselves, the more incredible, if I may so speak of a very blessedness, this promise seems. To be without sin, what else is heaven? And can it ever be that we who brought sin with our life blood into the world — who have fallen and soiled ourselves through and through with wilful evil — that we shall be one day clean as the light, and white as the driven snow? Yet this is His pledge to us.

2. Another gift pledged to us is the perfect restoration of all His brethren in His kingdom (John 17:24; John 14:2, 3). We shall be "with Him." We shall behold Him as He is; He will behold us as we are: He in the perfect sameness of His person; we in ours. What, then, means this unbelieving Christian world, when it asks, Shall we then recognize each other? Will not they all know Him as He them, and all know each other as He knows each? The law of perfect recognition is inseparable from the law of perfect identity. Our individual consciousness must be eternal. We should not be what we are to ourselves, if we were not so to others. The kingdom of God in glory is the perfection of His kingdom in grace, in which every several soul here tried, chastened, and purified, shall be there blessed, crowned and sainted — the same in person, changed only to perfection. And more than this. The perfect restitution which shall be in the kingdom of the resurrection will bring back, not only perfect mutual recognition, but the restoration of all pure and consecrated bonds.

3. This title pledges to us an immortal kingdom. The Resurrection has given back to us an inheritance in the paradise of God, where there shall be a new heaven and a new earth, of which the first creation, even in its perfection, was only an imperfect shadow. In that true paradise there shall be no seasons nor vicissitudes, no sweat of the face nor hard toil for bread. An everlasting noontide shall be there; an endless spring in the newness of unfading joy, a perpetual autumn in the ripeness of its gifts. There shall be "the tree of life bearing twelve manner of fruits"; all joy and all delight for every capacity of man; reward for every toil, and health for every wound, after the manifold trial of every soul, in the Israel of God.

(Archdeacon Manning.)

After the resurrection comes life everlasting. "I am the Life"! This life and the life to come are not two, but one and the same. Death is not the ending of one, and resurrection the beginning of another, but through all there runs one imperishable life. A river which plunges into the earth, is buried for awhile, and then bursts forth more mightily and in a fuller tide, is not two, but one continuous stream. The light of today and the light of tomorrow are not two, but one living splendour. Night is but a veil between the light and us. So with life and death. The life of the soul is immortal, an image of God's own eternity. It lives on in sleep; it lives on through death; it lives even more abundantly, and with fuller and mightier energy.

2. Another great law here revealed is, that as we die, so we shall rise; as there is no new beginning of our life, so there is no new beginning of our character. We shall all carry with us into the eternal world the very self which we have here stamped and moulded, or distorted and branded — the renewed image of God, or the image of the evil one. Our life from first to last teaches us this lesson; it is one continuous whole, gathering up itself through all its course, and perpetuating its earliest features in its latest self: the child is in the boy, the boy is in the man; the man is himself forever.

3. The resurrection will make each one perfect in his own several characters. Nay, even at death it shall be unfolded into a new measure of fulness. Our character is our will; for what we will, we are. Our will contains our whole intention; it sums up our spiritual nature; it contains what we call the tendency of our character: for the will gives the bias to the right or to the left; as we will, so we incline. Now this tendency, both for good and evil, is here imperfect; but it will be there fulfilled. Here it is hindered; the wicked are restrained by truth and grace, by laws and punishments, by fear and shame, by interest and the world; the good are hindered by sin and temptation, by their own infirmities and faults. But there all restraints shall be taken away, and all aids shall be supplied. It is both an awful and consoling thought. What sinners are now in measure, they shall then be in its fulness. So likewise with the faithful: what they have striven to be, they shall be made. God's grace shall perfect what they had here desired.Lessons —

1. How dangerous is the least sin we do! Every act confirms some old tendency, or develops a new one.

2. How precious is every means of grace.

(Archdeacon Manning.)

I. THE CHARACTER. "I am the Resurrection," etc. Christ is this.

1. As it is by Him that the doctrines of the resurrection and eternal life are revealed. None had a knowledge of the Resurrection, and there were only confused notions of immortality before Christ came. He taught these truths with the greatest clearness, and illustrated and proved them by raising others, and mostly by His own resurrection. This act of His was to extend His influence over the world and to the end of time.

2. As He has the power by which they are bestowed. Martha admitted the general fact; but Christ goes on to affirm that by His own power He could raise her dead brother when and how He pleased, when Martha came to the conclusion that He was the Messiah. In this assertion we see the supreme dignity of Christ. "As the Father raiseth up," etc. The miracles at Nain of Jarius' daughter, and here at the last day, prove Christ to be the Master of Eternity, King of kings, and Lord of lords.

II. THE PROMISE.

1. The characters to whom it is comprehensively directed. "He that believeth," etc.(1) The necessity of faith. It is the turning point in your immortality. Those who do not believe have no title to this and the other promises which make eternal life to depend upon faith.(2) What have we to believe? Christ, in all the essential points of His character — Divinity, atonement, etc.

2. The particular application of the promise to the circumstances of those to whom it is addressed.(1) "Though he were dead." He who has believed, but is now in the grave, shall be restored to life. "I, who am the Resurrection," etc., will not allow him to remain in that narrow house forever. Death itself shall die. We mourn not as those who are without hope.(2) "Whosoever liveth." He first goes and gives hope to the dead, and then He says of the living believer, "he shall never die." What is death? The consequence of sin? The sins of the believer are pardoned. The effect of a curse? The curse from the believer is removed. The stroke is not in vengeance, but in love.

III. THE APPEAL. "Believest thou this?" Christ is desirous of bringing the whole to bear on personal experience. What is your answer? If we do believe this —

1. We shall not mourn improperly for those who have gone, but have comfort concerning our departed friends.

2. It will be our principal security in the event of our own departure.

3. It will give the hope of a happy reunion on the day of final restoration.

4. The rejection of this testimony will be a cause of condemnation and eternal despair.

(J. Parsons.)

1. Christ's greatest utterance on death was spoken on the first occasion on which its dark question had come closely to His own soul. Elsewhere He had gone to meet it; here it had come to meet Him in that inner circle of friendship, and had gained complete possession.

2. The two mighty questions — What is death? Can it rend the friendships of life? — confronted the Redeemer; and the miracle was His answer. It showed that there was in Him a life which death had no power to destroy, and that death had not sundered Lazarus from Jesus or his sisters. It had made the ties of affection stronger than before, and had not quenched one faculty of his being.

I. OUR LIFE IN CHRIST IS A BATTLE; THROUGH DEATH IT RISES INTO A VICTORY. We carry within us our perpetual foe, and a thousand outward forces tend to quench the love of Christ within. This struggle is with death, for sin is death. The act of dying is but the outward and visible sign of this constant struggle. But in this last scene the apparent victim is conqueror; the life-long fight is finished, and the victory won. The life Christ gives demands a resurrection for its completion, and a resurrection in Christ makes death the fulness of life in victory.

II. OUR LIFE IN CHRIST IS A HOPE; BY DEATH IT RISES INTO ITS CONSUMMATION. The Christian's hope is to see Christ, and be with Him, and like Him. From the earliest dawn of the new life that desire is kindled; and it deepens until it colours every aspiration, and finds its whole heaven in "absent from the body," etc. To the first disciples the storms that swept over the lake had often been things of terror; but after Christ has calmed them every storm would seem holy with the memory of His presence. The desert hath oft seemed a strange, unfriendly region; but after Christ had fed the multitudes there, it would be sacred with the memory of the Saviour's pity. Mount Tabor had long looked stern, but the memory of Christ's unveiled glory there transformed it into a temple. And so it has ever been. The felt presence of Jesus has transfigured earth's gloomiest places, poured a light into prisons, diffused peace through the cruel tortures of the rack, filled the martyr's soul with the dawn of paradise. Where Christ is is heaven. But this hope demands a resurrection. Here our visions are transient and partial; and until the veil of the body be rent, we shall not see Jesus as He is.

III. OUR LIFE IN CHRIST IS A SPIRITUAL FELLOWSHIP: BY DEATH IT BECOMES PERFECT AND ETERNAL. No man can be constrained by the love of Christ without feeling that henceforth he is bound by new and holy ties to "the whole family in heaven and earth." It was just the depth and power of that fellowship which, in the first disciples, startled the world as a new thing. The world might crush the men, but it could not touch the fellowship; it might try to break up their union with fire and sword, but, as apostle and martyr passed away, the brethren who remained said only that they had gone to the earlier home, and were now waiting in the Father's house the reunion. And in these days the fellowship of spiritual life is as real and powerful, and demands a resurrection. Death seems the great divider. No friendship here is perfect, no sympathy complete, no love ever reaches the fulness of which it dreams. The constant longing for complete communion is the soul's great outcry for the resurrection day. And here again Christ, who is the life of our fellowship, gives us the pledge of its rising. In restoring Lazarus to his home, He showed that the ties that bind a brother to a sister are, when spiritual, among the things which shall rise again. In His words of farewell, He promises a Father's house where we shall meet again; and in the forty days He showed that our communion shall rise from death, having lost nothing but its infirmity, and clothed in a beauty and a blessedness which we must die to know. The hands for whose "vanished touch" we wept in agony shall be clasped again; the voices that grew still shall be heard again, only purified from the notes of sorrow and resonant with the praises of the Lamb.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

The "Resurrection" of the body; the "Life" of the soul.

I. CHRIST AS PROPHET, BY HIS TEACHING AND MIRACLES, HAS REVEALED RESURRECTION AND LIFE. Many have stood beside an open grave and felt obliged to ask the question, Shall we ever see our friend again? Nature can give no satisfying answer, and reason can only form conjectures and suggest probabilities. But amid the silence of nature and the helplessness of reason, a voice has spoken and a light was shone from heaven, for Christ has "brought life and immortality to light." The great fact He clearly revealed in words — "The hour is coming," etc. — and in His works of raising. No one ever died in the presence of the Prince of Life, and no dead body ever remained dead when He approached it.

II. CHRIST AS PRIEST HAS REDEEMED HIS PEOPLE FROM SIN AND PURCHASED FOR THEM ETERNAL LIFE. The only cause of death is sin. That has exposed us to Divine wrath, and brought upon us the sentence of death. "The wages of sin is death;" and those wages must be paid. But Christ has paid them by the shedding of His precious blood. The strength of sin is the law. and the law has been completely satisfied by the sacrifice of Calvary. In proof that His satisfaction was perfect, Christ rose. God sent His angel to roll away the stone, and set our Surety free. Believing in Christ, our sins are taken from us and reckoned to His account. And if sin be taken away, all is taken away that can make death terrible. Death now comes to a believer, not as an executioner of the broken law, but as the messenger of heavenly peace. "Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me," etc.

III. CHRIST AS KING GIVES HIS PEOPLE THE VICTORY OVER DEATH AND BRINGS THEM AT LAST INTO THE ACTUAL POSSESSION OF ETERNAL LIFE. His own victory over the grave is a proof and pledge of ours. As our representative, He encountered the king of terrors in his own dark domain; and though He continued under the power of death for a time, yet He saw no corruption, and came forth a Conqueror. In this victory we are destined to share by living union to Him; and therefore, in our coming conflict, we can say, "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory," etc. And the reason of it is, not only because He died and rose, but also because He is alive for evermore; and not only alive, but invested with all power in heaven and earth. "He must reign," etc.; and therefore "death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed," like the rest.

(John Thomson, D. D.)

I. THE RESURRECTION. Note —

1. The authority with which these words are spoken. "I am," not "I will be," the instrument at some future time, but the thing itself. Surely no creature could speak thus. He speaks just as a king would speak to whom it never occurred that anyone should doubt of his royalty, or that he needed to vaunt of his power. The words assume a supreme and essential power over life and death. His was the original gift of life; His the right to dissolve its organisation, and to confer it again; and, therefore, He only could be the opener of the world of graves. This is the exclusive prerogative of Godhead. Man's power is mighty, but it steps short of this. He can from a fossil bone construct a massive elephant, and, with Promethean ambition, he can shape its features faultlessly, and by clockwork or galvanism simulate life; but he cannot breathe the living fire. "Am I God," said the frightened king, "to kill and to make alive?" The resurrection is a marvel and a mystery till we bring in the thought of God. "Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God," etc.

2. But not only do the words affirm Christ's divinity, but that through Him only resurrection came to man.(1) Resurrection implies death, and death was not among the original arrangements of the universe. It came in after the "very good" had been pronounced. There must needs be, therefore, some provision to counteract its effects, and to restore the forfeited heritage of immortality to man. This has been secured by the vicarious atonement of Jesus. He bore the penalty on the cross, and, through death, destroyed Him who had the power of death. Christ is the Resurrection, therefore its Source and Spring, Author and Finisher. When He emerged from the tomb, He brought life and immortality with Him. The pearls of the deep sea, awaiting the plunge of the diver, the treasures before lying in the dark mine, were by Him seized and brought up to the light of day.(2) But we must not limit the import of our term, and exclude the idea of a spiritual resurrection — not only a raised body, but a soul bursting from the tomb of its corruption, and blooming into newness of life. It is remarkable that, although all men inherit immortality, the future of the wicked is never dignified with the name of life. Everlasting contempt and destruction are the terms which Scripture uses. "They shall not see life." A sinner breathes in physical, thinks in intellectual, feels in emotional, but is destitute of spiritual life. But the Christian becomes, by faith in Christ, "dead unto sin, but alive unto God" — "passes from death into life."

II. THE LIFE. Christ is "the true God and Eternal Life," and His culminating promise is "even eternal life." What is this?

1. Conscious life. In all ages men have bewildered themselves by speculations as to the mode of their future existence. Some have taken refuge in dark materialism; others have held to transmigration of souls. Their inability to conceive of the spirit existing apart from the body was at the root of it all; and modern theorizers, perplexed by the same, have endeavoured to get out of it by teaching that the soul shall sleep till the body shall rise. But I am not disposed to give grim death an advantage over the Diviner part of man. If for ages He can paralyse the soul, then Christ has gained only a partial triumph. When Paul had "a desire to depart," etc., was it "for better" that his mighty mind should cease its thinking, his heart be still, and his energies be powerless for a long cycle of years? Far better a protracted existence on earth. He knew full well that the moment he was released he would be in conscious enjoyment of Christ. The paradise of believers is like the heaven it adjoins, undeluged with a wave of woe. The dungeon of the impenitent is like the hell which it approximates, unvisited with one ray of hope. There is no human soul from the days of Adam that is not alive today.

2. Social life. Heaven is not a solitude; it is a peopled city, in which there are no strangers, no homeless, no poor. "It is not good for man to be alone" means something deeper than the family tie: it is an essential want which the Creator in His highest wisdom has impressed on the noblest of His works. The idea of sociality is comprehensive of the idea of the fulness of life. That is not life where the hermit drags out a solitary existence. All kinds of life tend to companionship, from the buzzing insect cloud up to man. Not only, therefore, did Christ pray that those who had been given Him should be with Him, but they are to come to "the general assembly of the firstborn," etc. Take comfort, then, your dear ones are only lost to present sight.

(W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)

1. The terms are not synonymous. When Christ says "I am the Life," He claims an attribute of God. None but God is "the Life," and can impart it. "I am the Resurrection" implies that He can keep life when given, and restore it after it is lost. These powers measure the difference between the finite and the infinite. Of the myriad of insects that flutter in the sunshine, or that the microscope reveals in a drop of water, where is the man that with all his art can create so much as one? Much more hopeless to work in the atmosphere of the grave.

2. Note that Christ does not say "I produce," or "I confer." The text is a member of a magnificent series of "I am's," and the quality claimed is not anything that can be separated from Christ; it is not what He has, but what He is. The sun does not need to go anywhere for light, nor the ocean for water. "As the Father hath life in Himself," etc.

I. Christ as THE RESURRECTION, or the restorer of lost life of every kind, not merely of the body.

1. Of the life forfeited by transgression. "The wages of sin is death."(1) It is a dismal thing to know this. It is as if a person, feeling breathless at times, were on describing his symptoms to be told by a physician that he was suffering from heart disease.(2) It is more terrible to know that it ought to be so, that he deserves

2. Can anything be more bitter than when through meanness a man deserves the social reproach he gets? Yes; the consciousness of loathsomeness in the sight of God.(3) But the "gift of God is eternal life," etc. United to Christ by faith we get the blessing as He bore the curse. You may say that such deliverance is only partial, that it is a worse thing to deserve death than to suffer it. A substitute may deliver us from death, but not from the disgrace of having deserved it. Granted; but God will never remind the pardoned sinner of his sin, and it will not diminish the cordiality of his reception in heaven. He will be covered with Christ's righteousness.

2. Of a life of purity, order, and holy beauty. Can it be necessary to prove that such a resurrection is needed? May we not find in a little child something to condemn us? And the first effect of our receiving Christ is to become as little children, having their purity without their weakness, their simplicity without their ignorance, their trust without their forgetfulness. Or have you not been shamed in reading the life of some saintly man or woman. We cannot of ourselves soar to these heights; but Jesus, the fountain of goodness, has come to restore this life too. But why confine ourselves to human excellence? To know what it is to live study the life of Jesus. "Fairer than the children of men." This life may be ours. "I live, yet not I," etc. "When Christ who is our life," etc.

3. Of holy fellowship with God. We have left our Father's house and lost all liking for it. But there can be no happiness for us in the "far off" country. This life is not to be regained by thinking reverently of God, or poring over other men's love to Him in hope of getting into the same current. In welcoming Christ, and in that only, can I say, "O Lord, Thou art my God."

II. Christ as THE LIFE. It is His office to continue what He restores, "Whosoever liveth," etc.

1. If Jesus simply gave you life, and then left you to sink or swim, there can be no doubt what the issue would be. "The life that we now live in the flesh" must be "by the faith of the Son of God."

2. He will watch and guard your faith, as He did Simon's, that it fail not.

3. Beyond the grave the gift assumes a new character of glory, worthy of Him from whom it comes. The soul is made perfect in holiness, and the body will be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body. It is no longer a struggling but a steady life, like that of a plant which has at last found its proper soil and congenial atmosphere. When you think of eternal life think of —

(1)The home of the soul and body.

(2)The intellect ever advancing in clearness and mastery.

(3)The emotions now in perfect order, growing perpetually in strength and sensibility.

(4)A love forever deepening its roots and enlarging its compass.

(5)The best fellowships yielding forever new harvests of enjoyment. Think of all this. And you have but the dimmest shadow of what "eye hath not seen," etc.

III. IF ALL THIS BE TRUE, IS IT NOT STRANGE THAT CHRIST IS NOT MORE WIDELY WELCOMED? What do men prize so much as life? "All that a man hath," etc. But for what life? For his animal life — the mere link between body and soul? What a strange thing that the higher you go in the scale of life the less do men care for it! And when you reach the highest life the indifference becomes aversion. "Ye will not come unto Me," etc.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

There is a glorious harmony in the words "Resurrection and Life." Either of them alone would be insufficient, combined they are divinely satisfying. If Christ had said only, "I am the Resurrection," without promising to bestow a new spiritual life, He would have told us merely of misery. To rise again into the life we have now, with its struggle, and care, and failure — to repeat it age after age — what were this but perpetual conflict and everlasting unrest? Or if He had said merely, "I am the Life," without saying "I am the Resurrection," we should still be of all men most miserable. For if He had given us new spiritual life in the love of God, without raising us after death, we should have been haunted with grand hopes and infinite aspirations that were destined never to be fulfilled. Christ combines the two, and therefore He tells us, There is in me a life which, by dying, rises to its perfection; and therefore death is no more death, but resurrection to the fulness of life.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

How shall the dead arise is no question of my faith; to believe only possibilities is not faith but mere philosophy. Many things are true in divinity which are neither inducible by reason or confirmable by sense, and many things in philosophy confirmable by sense yet not inducible by reason.

(Sir T. Browne.)

In New Sharon, in the state of Michigan, a child of great promise sickened and died. The little one, all beautiful, robed for the grave, was laid in its coffin, and in its little hand was placed a bouquet of flowers — the central flower of which was an unopened bud of the "Rose of Sharon." On the morning for burial the coffin lid was removed for the sorrowing weepers to take their farewell look at the peaceful dead; when, lo! that bud had become a full-blown rose, while grasped in the dead child's hand. That beautiful flower seemed to say, Weep not for the spirit that is gone, in heaven it now appears, and is "forever with the Lord."

(J. Wilson.)

One of the women encountered the vanquished army returning to Medina. "Where is my father?" asked she of the soldiers. "He is slain," was the reply. "And my husband?" "Slain also." "And my son?" "Slain, with them," said they. "But Mahomet?" "He is here alive," replied the warriors. "Very well," said she, apostrophising the prophet; "since thou livest still, all our misfortunes are as nothing."

(Lamartine.)

I. THE BASIS OF THIS HOPE. How shall man be quite sure of a life beyond this?

1. By the resurrection of Christ. Christian hope differs from all other in that it rests neither upon any instinct of the heart, any inference from reason, or any promise sent from heaven, but upon a person. One is set before us who, born into the world, and living our chequered human life, has achieved victory over death. It is conceivable that this is not sufficient to assure us of our resurrection. We might argue that it is an exceptional distinction merited by a perfect character. And if Christ were only man the argument would have force. But His incarnation gives its proper significance to His resurrection. He is not a unit of the race singled out for favour, but one who, as equal with the Father, has power and right to take up the manhood into God. He took our nature, and therefore in all He does and is our nature has a share, that He might redeem, purify, exalt it. He did not merely reverse the sentence of death by an arbitrary annulling of it, but by the actual victory of life over death in the same nature which had become subject unto death. He thus became "a quickening Spirit."

2. By the communication of the life of Christ to all who believe in Him.(1) Jesus is the Resurrection because He is the Life, and He imparts that life to us. "Because I live," etc. There is a sense in which the resurrection is begun here, because the germ of it is found in every renewed nature. A power has been put forth on man which must issue in His glorification. The resurrection, though sometimes described as a gift, is also to be regarded as the necessary development of the work of grace (John 5:26; John 6:57). Of the two-fold life of the Spirit here and the body hereafter, Christ is the source (John 10:17), and by communion with Him only is it sustained (John 6:51-54). That which is spiritual is in its very nature eternal. Death is but as the episode of a sleep. So essential is the connection between the life eternal and the resurrection that there are only two places in the New Testament in which the resurrection of the wicked is mentioned (chap. John 5:29; Acts 24:15).(2) Sometimes the same truth is associated with the indwelling in our hearts of a Divine Person (Colossians 1:27; Romans 8:11). The resurrection follows from such inhabitation; those bodies, in which He has vouchsafed to make His tabernacle, are not destined to be left in corruption. If Christ sent the Holy Ghost to make our bodies His temple, then that Divine Visitant sheds His sanctifying influences upon the whole man. Every member of the body, eye, ear, hand, foot, all have been consecrated to God's service. One part of our nature is not left to curse and barrenness whilst the dew of heaven falls richly on the other.

II. SUCH A HOPE, CONSISTENT IN ITSELF AND SATISFYING THE DEEPEST NEEDS OF OUR NATURE, ESSENTIALLY DIFFERS FROM AND TRANSCENDS ALL PRE-CHRISTIAN HOPE.

1. What was the hope of the wisest pagan philosophers? At most a bare hope of continuance after death. But Christ gives us now the life that cannot die in the body that the body may be consecrated to God. Our souls and bodies are His, filled and pervaded with His life, and can never, therefore, perish.

2. What was the hope of the Jew? Kindling with ecstasy it rose above time and death, and laid its hand upon God with the conviction that He who was the Life of His children would be their portion forever. But the Jew had still the horror of death unvanquished, of the grave from which none had ever returned. The Christian is partaker of the Life of God which in human flesh overcame death, and therefore has the sure pledge that he will overcome.

III. THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF THE RESURRECTION COMMENDS ITSELF AS IN HARMONY WITH THE FACTS OF OUR NATURE. All experience shows how close is the union between soul and body. So far as observation extends, the material organism is destroyed by death, and yet as by an imperious necessity it enters into all our conceptions of another life: we would not be "unclothed but clothed upon." Does not all thought become action only through the instrumentality of the body? and does not the body express the beauty or ugliness of the unseen dweller within? How often, even after the soul has fled, there remains on the cold features of the corpse the living impress of that soul, as if it disputed the empire of death? It is almost as if the body were waiting for the return of its tenant?

IV. THE SPECULATIVE DIFFICULTIES WHICH BESET THE DOCTRINE. "How are the dead raised up," etc. The particles of which the body is composed may be scattered, and enter into the formation of plants, animals, men. How can each particle be disentangled and brought together again? We put no limits on the power of God. But such a process is as unnecessary as improbable. The same body may be raised though no single particle of the present body be found in it. What is necessary to the identity of the body? Not the identity of its material particles. These are in a state of perpetual flux. The body of our childhood is not the body of our youth, etc., and yet it is the same body in patriarch and infant. The only thing that we need to be assured is that the principle of identity, which governs the formation of the body in this life, shall govern it at the Resurrection. What, then, is this thing that remains ever the same, which never perishes in all the changes of the material organism? It escapes all. our investigations; we only see its manifestations; but that it is a reality all observation goes to show: and if, through all the changes of the body during this life, this principle continues in force, why may it not survive the shock of death? Why may not the same body, which was sown a natural body, be raised a spiritual body? There is everything in the analogies of nature to confirm it.

(Dean Perowne.)

Though He were dead. — View the text —

I. AS A STREAM OF COMFORT TO MARTHA AND OTHER BEREAVED PERSONS.

1. The presence of Jesus means life and resurrection. But what comfort is Christ's spiritual presence to us? He will not raise our loved ones? I answer that Jesus is able at this moment to do so. But do you wish it? Yes. Now, consider. Surely you are not so cruel as to wish the glorified back to care and pain. Lazarus could return and fill his place again, but not one in ten thousand could do so. I had rather that Christ should keep the keys of death than I. It would be too dreadful a privilege to be empowered to rob heaven of the perfect merely to give pleasure to the imperfect. Jesus would raise them now if He knew it to be right.

2. When Jesus comes the dead shall live, and living believers shall not die, we shall all be changed.

3. Even now Christ's dead are alive. They appear to die, but they are not in the grave, but with the Lord. "God is not the God of the dead," etc.

4. Even now His living do not die. There is a difference between the death of the godly and the ungodly. To the latter it comes as a penal infliction, to the former a summons to his Father's palace. Death is ours, and follows life in the list of our possessions as an equal favour.

II. AS A GREAT DEEP OF COMFORT FOR ALL BELIEVERS.

1. Christ is the Life of His people. We are dead by nature, but regeneration is the result of contact with Christ; "We are begotten again unto living hope by His resurrection." He is not only the Resurrection to begin with, but the Life to go on with. Anything beyond the circle of Christ is death.

2. Faith is the only channel by which we can draw from Jesus our life. "He that believeth in Me," not he that loves, serves or imitates Me. You want to conduct the electric fluid, and so you have to find a metal which will not create any action of its own: if it did so it would disturb the current. Now, faith is an empty handed receiver and communicator; it is nothing apart from that on which it relies, and therefore it is suitable to be a conductor for grace.

3. To the reception of Christ by faith there is no limit — "Whosoever," however wrong, weak, unfeeling, hopeless.

4. The believer shall never die.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. It is only from great inspired natures that we get such contradictory words as these. In one breath Christ says that if a man dies and believes in Him, he shall live; and in the next breath He says that whosoever lives and believes in Him shall not die. Yet every docile reader feels that it contains a truth too subtle to be grasped with words. When the strata of rocks are twisted and upturned, the miner looks for gold, deeming that in the convulsions that so disposed them, a vein of precious metal may have been thrown up from the lower deep.

2. In order to get at their meaning, we must keep in mind that Christ was drawing comfort for these afflicted friends, not from the old sources, but Himself. Martha has expressed her faith in the common doctrine, but Christ passes over it as though it had little power to console. It is a far off event and hardly touches the present fact of death. So little power had it that Martha did not think of it till led to it by Christ's question. God's love may wait patient through ages, because ages are nothing to Him, but human love is impatient, because it is under finite conditions. Our children, that we could hardly bear out of our sight, die, and it is small comfort that ages hence they and we shall live again; and so, instead of dwelling on that, we cling to the form and mementos spared by death, and keep alive the past instead of making alive the present. Christ strove to give more substantial comfort.

I. His first purpose was TO GET THEIR MINDS AWAY FROM DEATH. There is but one natural fact to which Christ showed antipathy. He set the whole weight of His thought and speech against what was known as death. There is a fine significance in His indisposition to use the word. He said that the daughter of Jairus was asleep, and said the same about Lazarus till the dulness of the disciples forced Him to use the ordinary word. The early believers, fully taught by the resurrection of Christ, caught at once the remembered hints, and said that Stephen "fell asleep." So St. Paul many times over, and St. Peter, and the Christians in the Catacombs. If Christ had done nothing more than give this word, He would have been the greatest of benefactors. To that which seems the worst thing He has given the best name, and the name is true. Amongst the profoundest words of Shakespeare are those in which he speaks of sleep as "great Nature's second course." In a profounder sense the sleep of death ushers in the "second course" of nature, even the life that shall never know death nor sleep.

II. His next purpose is TO GET THEM TO IDENTIFY HIMSELF WITH THE RESURRECTION. Martha has spoken of a general resurrection — not necessarily a spiritual fact — a mere matter of destiny. Christ draws it near, vitalizes it, puts it into the category of faith, and connects it with Himself. Faith in Him works away from death towards life. To believe in a person is to be like him. Christ is Life, and could not be holden of death; faith in Him works towards the same freedom. The assimilating power of faith is a recognized principle. We meet men in whose faces we see imprinted avarice, lust, or conceit. They have so long thought and felt under the power of those qualities that they are made over into their image. The Hindu who worships Brahma, sleeping in the stars in immovable calm, gets to wear a fixed impression. So Christ brings men to believe in Him in order to become like Him, and if like Him, then one with Him, sharers of His nature and destiny, and if one with Him then His life is theirs. And yet the fact and process of death remain. Yes, man needs for his supreme development to undergo the supreme experience, which is death. But in Christ this is to die to some purpose, to lay down life to take it again. It is of unspeakable moment that the whole matter of Christian believing and living is summed up as life — existence in the perfect fulfilment and enjoyment of all relations. We transport the matter into some future world; Christ puts it into the hour that now is. And so life is the single theme of Christ. We can so conceive one as so one with Christ as to have little sense of yesterday and tomorrow, to care little for one world above another, to heed death as little as sleep, because filled with the life of God. It is towards this high state that Christ conducts us, sowing in our hearts day by day the seed of eternal life — truth, and love, and purity.

III. THE SUBJECT LEAVES US WITH TWO LEADING EXPRESSIONS.

1. Comfort in view of the change called death. Christ does not strive to annihilate Martha's grief, but to infuse it with another spirit. As Jesus wept, so we would not have love shed one tear less; but there are tears too bitter for human eyes — tears of despair; and there are tears which reflect heaven's light and promise as they fall — tears of hope. Christ takes away from death its sting by taking away the sin of which it is the shadow. Aside from this we may approach death as sleep, a grateful ordinance of nature, not dreading it, not longing for it, but accepting it as God's good way — a step in life.

2. A new sense of the value of faith in Christ. It is no small thing to be delivered from false views of death. Consider the hopeless views of the heathen, and the vague hope of the Jews. There is no certainty till we come to Christ, and no deliverance from fear except through faith in Him.

(T. T. Munger.)

It makes the "lych gate" through which the dead enter the churchyard as the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, "a glorious arch of hope and triumph."

(J. Culross, D. D.)A soldier who was wounded at Inkerman managed to crawl away from the place where he fell, and ultimately reached his tent. When he was found he was on his face. Beneath him was the sacred volume, and on its open page his hand rested. When his hand was lifted it was found to be glued by his life's blood to the book. The letters of the page were printed on his hand and read, "I am the Resurrection and the Life," etc. It was with this verse still inscribed on his hand that he was laid in a soldier's grave.

(New Handbook of Illustrations.)

Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. — This saying points to mysteries which have occupied the thoughts of Eastern and also of Western philosophers, as the famous verses of Euripides show: "Who knoweth if to live be truly death, and death be reckoned life by those below?" and indicates a higher form of "corporate" life, such as St. Paul expresses by the phrase, "in Christ" (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4). Part of the thought is expressed in a saying in the Talmud, "What has man to do that he may live? Let him die. "What has man to do that he may die? Let him live." The last words of Edward the Confessor offer a closer parallel. "Weep not, I shall not die but live; and as I leave the land of the dying I trust to see the blessings of the Lord in the land of the living."

(Bp. Westcott.)

Death avoided: — If we truly believe in Christ —

I. THE HEALTHY ACTIVITY OF OUR SPIRITUAL POWERS WILL NEVER CEASE. Life is worthless without activity, and activity without health is misery. By faith in Christ the perceptive, reflective, imaginative, recollective, anticipative faculties will work harmoniously forever.

II. NOTHING VALUABLE IN OUR SPIRITUAL ACQUISITIONS EVER BE LOST. Life without ideas, emotions, memories, habits, is a blank, and with these, if they are not of a virtuous character, it is despicable and wretched. But when they are holy life is blessed. Faith in Christ secures their permanence and perfection. "Our works follow us." We cannot labour in vain in the Lord.

III. ALL THE SOURCES OF TRUE PLEASURE WILL CONTINUE FOREVER: intellectual study, etc.; social — friendship, usefulness, etc.; religious — communion with God, worship. Faith in Christ, then, not in propositions concerning Him, but in Him as the loving Son of God and Saviour, is a condition of happy immortality.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Believeth thou this?
! — The earnest and compassionate look cast upon Martha is the look cast upon us as we are asked this question. Who in his reflective moods does not acknowledge the importance whether the answer is yes or no? Who does not want to be established in solid convictions. But there is a difficulty at the very entrance of the subject. What is it to believe? and how? But this is no real difficulty to practical men. To believe in a proposition is to be persuaded of its truth. It admits of degrees. It may shine like the sun in clear assurance, or be overcast with the wet atmosphere of thought; but still it is the light we are appointed to walk by. We are every day believing what we cannot prove. Our text lays no injunction, but simply asks a question: "Believest thou?" We ought to know whether we do or not.

I. WE HAVE FAITH IN SOME OF ITS LOWER DEGREES AT LEAST, and every degree is precious. We believe in something of the truth revealed in the Bible, too inadequately perhaps, and with reason to cry out, "Help Thou my unbelief"; or else we are utter sceptics. Which is it?

II. EVERY DEGREE TOWARDS THE HIGHEST AND FULLEST ASSURANCE IS PRECIOUS. This is certainly true so far as the comfort and peace of the mind are concerned, and what can be more important?

1. That it should be nourished with Divine truths.

2. Confirmed with spiritual assurances.

3. Near healing words of heavenly compassion.

4. Be protected against the agitations of doubt and dread.

III. IT IS SURPRISING, THEREFORE, THAT IT SHOULD BE SAID THAT IT IS OF LITTLE CONSEQUENCE WHAT A MAN BELIEVES PROVIDED HE CONDUCTS HIMSELF WELL. A principal point is overlooked, the need of the soul to be cheered and kept in the harmony of its own thoughts. One may be a very dutiful man, and yet a very restless and despairing one.

IV. ONE'S BELIEF MUST HAVE SOME INFLUENCE ON CONDUCT. His convictions must be a part of the basis of his character, if not of the very character itself. Human beliefs are of grave moment, and determine the behaviour, and faith in Christ from the first has been the means of changing sinful hearts. But I must look at the need of the troubled mind and heart to find satisfaction and rest. Who can allow himself to be indifferent or unassured when the highest realities are to be treasured up in reverent acknowledgment or else slighted and mistrusted.

V. TAKE THE DIRECT QUESTION OF OUR LORD. "Believest thou that whosoever hath a living faith in Me shall never die?" AND MARTHA'S RESPONSE, "I believe that Thou art He who should come into the world." She stopped there. With a like consciousness of ignorance and weakness we may place ourselves at the feet of the great Teacher.

1. There is a Father, wiser than you can comprehend, better than you deserve, just, merciful, forgiving — believest thou this?

2. There is a heavenly providence — the Father's care — believest thou this?

3. There is a better abode for the soul — the Father's house.

4. There is sure retribution.Finally: If we should be urged with questions too difficult let us prepare ourselves in Martha's spirit. I believe in every doctrine and promise, so far as it is made plain to me, of the Saviour that was gent into the world.

(N. L. Frotheringham.)

When believers are sorrowful they may be sure that a consolation is provided exactly adapted to their cases. For every lock God has made He has provided a key. I doubt not that for every disease there is a remedy in God's laboratory if we could but find it, and if we Christians are borne down by excessive sorrow it arises from a defect in our faith. This defect sometimes arises from —

1. Slender knowledge. There is a promise that meets your case, and you know nothing of its efficacy because you have never read or understood it.

2. Want of appreciation of the person of Christ. This was the case with Martha. If Jesus were better known our burdens would be lightened. Submit then to a heart-searching inquiry. Believest thou —

I. THIS PARTICULAR DOCTRINE? You have faith in the Scriptures in general. Now the point is to take each separate doctrine, and look over it in detail, and then say with heart and conscience, "I believe this." Martha had already expressed her faith in certain great truths — in the Saviour's power to heal the sick, in the efficacy of His prayer, and in the certainty of the resurrection — but all these were very general, and Christ set before her a specific fact, and said, "Believest thou this?" Let us do the same with the election of grace, justification by faith, union with Christ, etc. This inquiry wen managed and pressed home will enlarge the range and strengthen the grasp of faith and enrich the soul.

II. THIS DISTINCT DOCTRINE? There is great cloudiness about the faith of many, arising largely from its second-hand character. We believe not because we have personally grasped a truth, but because somebody else believes it. Instead of the hazy notion of the resurrection which Martha held in common with others, Christ challenged her faith on a crisp, definite teaching about Himself. Christian doctrines, the atonement, e.g., are robbed of half their delight if indistinctly stated. Read Isaiah 53, and then say to yourself, "Believest thou this?"

III. THIS DIFFICULT TRUTH. Certain truths are hard to grasp. There are points about them which stagger faith till faith rises to her true character. What Christ preached to Martha seemed contrary to experience. But when we become Christians and once accept an incarnate God, no difficulty need trouble us. Everything is simple in the presence of that profound mystery. Believing then in the Incarnation, what difficulty should there be in believing "when thou passest through the fire," etc.?

IV. THIS TRUTH AS IT STANDS CONNECTED WITH CHRIST. Martha believed there would be a resurrection, but Jesus says, "I am," etc. It is one thing to believe a doctrine, and another to believe it as embodied in the person of Christ. There the comfort lies. Martha was called upon to believe in Christ's personal power, His present power, and the union of His people with Him.

V. THIS TRUTH WHICH IS APPLICABLE TO THYSELF NOW. This was where Martha fell short. We sometimes receive great truths, but are staggered by lesser truths, because the great truth has no present practical bearing, whereas the lesser one has. You believe that Christ's blood can wash away all sin, do you believe that it cleanses yours? You believe that all things work together for good, do you believe that your present affliction does?

VI. THIS PRACTICAL TRUTH. "Martha said she believed it, but ver. 39 did not prove it. Coleridge says: "Truths, of all ethers, the most awful and mysterious, and at the same time of universal interest, are too often considered as so true that they lose all the power of truth, and lie bedridden in the dormitory of the soul, side by side with the most despised and exploded errors." Why are people "better than their creed"? For the same reason that others are worse than their creed, because their creed is asleep. There is a house on fire — you believe it, but you don't stir until you know it is your own. We believe that God hears prayer, but, nothing surprises us more than when He answers it.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

He saith not, "Understandest thou this?" "For the mysteries of religion," saith Rupertus, "are much better understood by believing than believed by understanding."

(J. Trapp.)

I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God.
I. The GUIDE of her faith, the WORD of Christ.

II. The GROUND of her faith, the AUTHORITY of Christ.

III. The MATTER of her faith, that Jesus was —

1. The Christ.

2. The Son of God.

3. The One who should come.

(M. Henry.)All that can be believed and known of Jesus is included in this threefold statement, which looks towards three possible sides: to the history of salvation, to the fellowship of salvation, and to the need and hope of salvation. We might say that the first names the theme of St. Matthew's Gospel, the third the theme of St. Luke's, and the second the theme of St. John's. And that which in the higher combination of the scattered points is the theme of the fourth Gospel, is in direct generality and unity the theme also of the second.

(C. E. Luthardt, D. D.)

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