Obrazy na stronie

power. But the wisdom, infinitely superior to that of man, acted differently. The treasure was committed to earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power might be seen to be of God.



No. XVI.


LUKE vii. 11-17.

Soon after the apostles had received their commission and instructions, Jesus went to Nain, a city of the tribe of Issachar, about two miles from Mount Tabor. In this visit he was accompanied by a crowd of disciples, and of other persons, who were collected through various motives. The Jews were always accustomed to bury their dead without the precincts of the city. As Jesus entered Nain, he met a funeral procession, the principal mourner in which engaged his attention and sympathy. She was a mother, following her son to the grave. Parents, from whose reluctant bosoms those children, whom

you loved as yourselves, have been torn, judge of her grief! It was a son arrived at mature age. He had safely passed through the dangers of infancy, of



childhood, and of youth; there appeared a long interval between him and old age; and the mother, no doubt, now that he was about to engage in the scenes of active life, blessed God for his providential care of her child, trusted he would safely pass over this interval, and expected to reap the rich harvest of her anxieties, her cares, and her labours, in the duty, the affection, the virtues, and the reputation of her dear son. Alas! instead of realizing these fond anticipations, she beholds this son struggling with death, she sees him straining his closing eye upon her, she hears his expiring groan. Who can tell her agonies? Judge of them by those which David felt, when he poured forth his lamentations, and cried, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Could not, however, this poor mother find consolation from the caresses of her other children, from the recollection of their attachment, from the view of their virtues, and from the hopes that she entertained respecting them? This was an only son. In him all her maternal love was concentrated; in him all her hopes and joys must live or die. There is no other child, towards whom the current of her affections may be turned; no other pillar to support her blasted hopes. Still, may she not mingle her tears with those of her husband; may not the afflicted parents, by uniting, mitigate their sorrows? She is a widow. She already has wept over the tomb of her husband. The wounds of her soul that were inflicted by his separation, are re-opened, as she goes to unite with his ashes those of his son; as she follows to the same grave the only pledge of their love.

Such was the affecting situation of this mourner. She supposed that the rest of her life would be spent in misery and tears, and that she was about to entomb with her son every prospect of earthly bliss. Ah, Christians! how often, when we are ready to sink in despair, does the God of mercy appear to sustain us! How often, when we see the inefficacy of all human comforters, does his own hand wipe away our tears! Mourn not, bereaved mother, as “ those without hope.” The compassionate Saviour beholds thee; he pities and will relieve thee. Jesus generally performed his miraculous cures at the request of others. You have seen intercession made for the daughter of Jairus, by her father; for the centurion's servant, by his friends; for the paralytic, by his neighbours. But who supplicates the Redeemer in behalf of this widow ? Her afflictions.

Her afflictions. She is silent; but the sorrows of her heart plead with prevailing eloquence. He had compassion on her ;" and his compassion, unlike to that of mortals, is never confined to impotent wishes, to ineffectual condolences. He said unto her, Weep not.How vain would have been such an address from any other person! From him it was a cordial to her fainting spirit, and an assurance that he would convert her mourning into joy. He stopped the procession, and touched the bier, on which (according to the custom of the Jews at that time) the body was laid on a small bed, covered with a winding-sheet. With that authority which belonged to him as the Lord of life and death, having power to quicken whom he will, he said,

Young man, arise.” In an instant, his soul re-animated his body, and he was restored to life and health. How beautifully do the most attractive benignity and the most engaging tenderness mingle with the Saviour's acts

of almighty power! After this display of his omnipotence, he immediately, instead of showing him to the multitude around, to excite their applauses, with the sympathizing kindness of a friend, “ took him, and," with his own hands, “ delivered him to his mother." What a flood of powerful emotions rushed upon

her heart! How was she agitated with wonder, gratitude, and joy! “Nature impelled the re-united relatives to fly to each other's arms, and indulge in mutual endearments. Grace and thankfulness urged them first to prostrate themselves at the feet of Jesus, to bless and adore their Benefactor. Perhaps, fixed in silent astonishment, they remained looking alternately at each other, and at the meekly-majestic Saviour. Here the Scripture is silent. We are told, however, what was the effect produced upon the spectator. There came a fear on all.That reverential awe, which is produced by any signal manifestation of the divine presence, pervaded the whole multitude; and “ they glorified Godfor this great prophet,” and for again “ visiting his people,” after suspending all miraculous interpositions for more than eight hundred years.

This history is full of the most valuable instructions.

1. It teaches us the superiority of Christ over the greatest ancient prophets. Elijah also raised to life the son of a widow; but how differently did he act from Jesus! In her anguish she complains to the prophet, that he appears to have come into her house only to slay her child. Elijah, touched with this expostulation, and with her complaint, took the child into his chamber, stretched himself three times over it, supplicated God to restore it, and obtained its restoration in answer to prayer. Elisha, in raising the son of the Shunamite, acted in nearly the same manner. Neither of these prophets spoke to the dead, and authoritatively commanded him to rise. This is peculiar to the Lord; and it evidently shows, that he has an authority infinitely superior to that of the greatest prophets. He acts as the only Son of God; the prophets, as his servants.

2. This history presents us with a striking example of the compassion of Jesus. What numberless displays of this virtue do we behold in him, as we advance in his life! In his person, how beautifully is the tenderness of humanity combined with the power of heaven! We constantly behold him, who is to be our Judge, invested with all the amiable sensibilities of our nature. Compassion was the characteristic virtue of his life. It brought him down from heaven; it caused him constantly to “ go about doing good.” He indulged his feelings from no narrow views; he looked not round for spectators to admire him; he performed not a friendly office, in hopes of a greater in return. No: he chose the helpless and the distressed as the objects of his favour. Misery was not to him a motive of neglect, but a recommendation. It never appeared before him without moving him. If we follow him among those who have lost their friends, we behold his heart always filled with compassion; we always see him mingling tear with tear. If we attend him into scenes of want, we perceive him exerting his divine power in its behalf; if into the habitation of misery, we hear him pouring consolation into the bosom of the afflicted. Who is not moved at the contemplation of such a character? Who does not desire such a friend? Who that calls himself a Christian, does not feel impelled to imitate this illustrious pattern ?

« PoprzedniaDalej »