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may bury my dead out of my sight:” but even this affectionate sister, who had earnestly desired our Lord's assistance in his sickness, is now unwilling to behold him.
These are humiliating views of manviews which may tend to check our pride, and therefore they are salutary views; but they are more especially so, as they tend to increase our faith, and enkindle our love to our blessed Saviour.
In visiting a cemetery, we may frequently observe different flowers, which the tender affection of the mourners has planted over the sepulchres of their departed friends.
But it is “the Rose of Sharon ” alone, that can sweeten the grave. The fragrance of that flower, or rather His power, of whom the Rose of Sharon is an emblem, can cause “this corruptible to put on incorruption, and this mortal to put on immortality.” Meditating upon this part of our Lord's character, we may say, as one has said,
Why should we tremble to convey
Their bodies to the tomb?
And left a sweet perfume.
of all his saints He blest,
But with their dying head ?"
But let us proceed to the answer given by our Lord to this suggestion of Martha : “ Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” Here, in language of mild rebuke, he reproved Martha for her desponding unbelief, in thus hesitating to comply with his command to take away the stone: “ Said I not unto thee, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” Our Lord had sent a message to that effect, when he declared : “ This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. He confirmed this by His promise: “ Thy brother shall rise again ;”—a promise which was fully established by that sublime declaration : “ I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall
This declaration had at first so strengthened Martha's faith as to enable her to make that good confession: “ Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Now, however, as the sight of the grave, and the stone that lay upon it, bring to her remembrance the death and burial of her beloved brother, her unbelieving fears return: she thinks only of the change his body had undergone, instead of attending to the promise of the Saviour. He, however, would not permit these fears to prevail, and therefore, with his accustomed mildness, and yet with majestic dignity, He inquires, “ Said I not unto thee, If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God ?” As much as to say, Should not my word suffice? Is it not enough that I have declared : “ Thy brother shall rise again : 1, who am myself the resurrection and the life.”
The more attentively you study this narrative, the more you will see the great importance attached to faith.
That it was to the intent that they might believe that our Lord declared to his disciples, that he was glad that he was not in Bethany when Lazarus died ; that he was not satisfied with giving to Martha that sublime description to which reference has been just made ; but he put this searching question to her, “ Believest thou this?" And so here again making every thing to turn upon her faith : “Said I not unto thee, If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God ?"
Nor is this stress limited to this narrative ; but if you diligently examine this gospel, you will discover that in almost every chapter there is something spoken in praise of faith or believing
Wherefore, some may ask, is this great stress? What is it that gives to faith so high a place in the plan of salvation which God has revealed to us in the Gospel ?
It would not be possible, drawing to the close of our discourse, to assign the reasons for this at length ; but these words of our Lord exhibit so much the importance of
believing, that I cannot but spend a few moments upon it. For if you notice the season at which our Lord spoke these words now under consideration, you will see that it was when he was standing between the living and the dead. On one side were the spectators who had accompanied him to the grave; and, on the other, the sepulchre in which Lazarus was buried, having a stone laid upon it. At such a moment every word that passed his lips had a peculiar emphasis.
Let me then mention these as some of the causes which make living faith so important. By living faith, I mean simply taking God at his word, or resting the soul upon the record that he has given of his Son. One reason wherefore so much importance is attached to faith, is, that faith is “ the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. That is, it gives to the soul such a subsistence to the invisible things of God, that they have the same influence upon the mind and heart, as those things possess which are actually present.
Thus the revelation that is made of God