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that state of which he spake to Thomas, when he said, “ Thomas, because thou hast seen me thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” This comfort may be increased by this further consideration, that in the trials the Lord brings upon his people he designs not only their own individual benefit, but through them to bless many. It was by the sickness and death of Lazarus, not only that he and his sisters Martha and Mary were to be brought more clearly to see the glory of our Lord ; but it was in this way that the faith of his immediate disciples, and, as we afterwards find, that the Jews who came to comfort Martha and Mary concerning their brother, were to be brought to believe on our Lord : the sickness and death of one of the Lord's family being thus made a blessing
· If, then, you are brought into the fire of tribulation-yea,
you are permitted to continue in the furnace-take this comfort, that the Lord appoints the same lot for you that he selected for those he most honoured. He
thus treated Lazarus and Mary and Martha ; he thus dealt also with St. Paul. These are the words of this eminent Apostle : “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort: who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”
These dealings of God with his people have led to that saying in the Church : “ It is prayer, meditation, and temptation, which make a minister.” Be not then cast down or discouraged, but hear the words our Lord spoke to his disciples : “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe: nevertheless, let us go unto him."
When our Lord had spoken these words, then said Thomas, which is called Didymus,
or the Twin, unto his fellow-disciples, “ Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Some have thought that this referred to the death of Lazarus, and was the language of despair, that, now that they were called to go near to the place where the enemies of Christ had lately taken up stones to stone him, and to the very spot where their friend had died, there no hope left. Therefore he says, in utter hopelessness, “ Let us go and die with him." But these words seem rather to refer to our Lord. The language of Thomas is very like that of Peter, when he said, that though all men should deny Him, he would never deny Him. It was the language of strong natural affection, unsupported by divine grace. Thomas saw that his Master was determined to go again to Judea ; and having but weak faith, and many apprehensions, but withal a strong attachment to his Lord, he says to his fellowdisciples, “Let us also go, that we may
die with him.” But time forbids my entering further into this part of the narrative. I only add, therefore, in conclusion, that what
ever there was in this saying of Thomas, of mere human resolution, let us learn how vain such resolutions are: for this very disciple, so far from dying with his Lord, was among the number of those who afterwards forsook him and fled. On the other hand, whatever there was of genuine love, let us, should we be called to suffer for him, beseech the Lord to give us grace to comply with this charge; or rather to imitate the Apostle Paul, who thus addressed his friends, when they would deter him in his course : “ What mean ye to weep and to break my heart; for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus."
JOHN xi. 17-23.
“ Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain
in the grave four days ulready. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off : and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him : but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise
“ Man's extremity is God's opportunity." From the days of Abraham to the present time the word of the Patriarch has been ful
In the mount the Lord shall be