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recalled to her mind, and likewise that she might not be pointed out to the fury of the populace, who were animated with rage, not only against Jesus, but also against all that were dear to him.
“ Woman, behold thy son: behold thy mother." What a beautiful example! what a powerful enforcement of filial affection! The Son of God forgets not that he is the son of Mary; but employs the last moments of his life in providing for her future support and comfort. As if this duty had not been made sufficiently sacred by the forcible impressions of nature, by the holy commands of the law, Jesus adds to these motives the most tender one of his dying example.
Children, of whatever age, in whatever condition you may be, will you ever violate a duty thus powerfully imposed upon you? Your Saviour was infinitely elevated above Mary by his divine nature; he had unspeakably ennobled her by condescending to be born of her; he had more than discharged the debt he owed her by the benefits he had conferred upon her; he was now in the struggles of death, when he might have been excused from attending to her concerns : yet notwithstanding all these circumstances, he is tenderly regardful of her interests. And can you, who are of the same nature with your parents, who owe them more than you ever repay by the labours of a whole life, can you fail to imitate this example of your Lord ? Cherish and comfort them in their years of infirmity and weakness. Let your virtues and your attention inspire them with joy. When they die, pay your tears to their memory; respect and love them still. Or if a premature death should tear you from their embraces, and their circum
stances should requirė it, say in your last moments to this relative, to this friend, “ Behold your mother."
The conduct of Jesus affords us another instruction: it teaches us in what manner we ought to meet death. There are few who in their last hours exhibit that conduct which becometh a Christian, or is conformable to the example which our Saviour here presents to us. Some, entirely occupied by the world, cannot detach their affections from it, and we make useless efforts to turn their thoughts towards eternity. Others, flying to an opposite extreme, believe that they commit a sacrilege if they give the least thought to temporal concerns: they require, but often too late, to hear only of God and religion. “ The approach of death,” says one who was in the habit of attending the beds of the dying, “ excites in some men turbulent emotions, which resemble frenzy more than zeal. They heap sentences of scripture upon sentences of scripture, and prayer upon prayer; and because they have not soon enough remembered their last moment, they are now so wholly occupied with it that they can see, hear, understand nothing else.” Both these extremes are faulty. We must live piously, and then die as we have lived. But what is a pious life? It is a life in which the interest of our salvation occupies the principal part, but not so as to exclude an honest and prudent care of our temporal interests. It is the same with a pious death. When the believer sees that he must quit the world, he should wisely divide the precious moments which remain to him, and whilst he gives a part to religion, should occupy a part in consoling his weeping friends, and in giving the final adieu and last impressive advice to those whom he loves. He may, nay he ought to make those provisions for his
family that justice and charity require. In doing so, he finishes the task which providence assigned him ; and God will as much accept those moments as though they had been spent in prayers and supplications. It is not till after Jesus has provided for Mary, that he cries, “ It is finished;" that he turns his eyes to God, and exclaims, “ Father, into thy hands 1 commend
my spirit.” “ And he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son; and to the disciple, Behold thy mother.” Thus does the Saviour at all times provide for the wants of his friends. When one pleasure is removed, he sends another to supply its place: when we appear to be left desolate and forsaken, he raises up friends and benefactors. Mary is deprived of Jesus, but she finds in John a son. Tell me, ye needy and afflicted Christians, has not your Master frequently dealt thus with you? When every thing has appeared gloomy and disconsolate, when there appeared for you no means of support, no sources of pleasure, has not your Lord raised up some John to relieve your wants and cheer your sorrows ? Confidently then rely upon your Saviour at all times, and he will not leave you comfortless. If upon the cross he still could think upon his friends, much more, now that he is in heaven, inaccessible to pain and possessed of all power, will he regard your griefs. Though your prospects may be dark and discouraging, they are not more so than were those of Mary. Do not then despond. He can bring relief to you by a thousand means of which you cannot conceive. And he will in the gloomiest season interpose for your
deliverance. Why then are ye cast down, O our souls, and why are ye disquieted within us ? Hope in
God;" hope also in Jesus who tenderly sympathizes in all our pains.
4. John delayed not to comply with the injunction of the Saviour. “ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” Thus should we always obey the commandments of Jesus without hesitation, with an holy joy. Had St. John had the spirit of modern Christians, he would have urged many pleas to prevent his compliance. He would have urged his own indigence, the necessity of first taking care of himself, and a thousand other circumstances, equally common and equally futile. But John knew no reserves.
The moment the command of his Lord was clear and express, he set himself to obey it. Christians, the same command which Jesus gave fo John from the cross, he gives to us from heaven. His mother according to the flesh is not, it is true, upon the earth; but he has among us a mother, brothers, sisters, equally dear to him. Recollect his own declaration : “ Then said one unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak to thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother, and who are my
brethren? And he stretched forth his hands towards his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my
Father which is in heaven, the same is my mother, and sister, and brother.” Will you then imitate the conduct of John, and like him become the disciple that Jesus loves ? Go and provide for those needy persons whom you may relieve ; dry the tears of the afflicted and disconsolate; cheer and animate that dejected believer; succour the fatherless and the widow. These unhappy objects now represent the mother of Jesus. Cherish and assist them from a principle of love to Christ, and the recompense that St. John received, shall be yours also. Cherish and assist them, and then when the world shall vanish from your dying eyes, Jesus “ shall take you
to his own home,” to his á Father's house, in which are many mansions." There you shall dwell with him in fulness of joy through the ceaseless ages of eternity.
This confidence of Jesus in his disciple, and this obedience of the disciple to the words of Jesus, afford a decisive argument in favour of the divine mission of Jesus Christ. The Saviour without hesitation commits to John what he had most dear upon earth; nay, he appears to speak to him even from the cross with his accustomed authority, “ Behold thy mother.” But if the Son of Mary had been an impostor, who had abused the credulity of the people, and who had imposed on his own disciples, how would he have dared at the moment when his ini. quity was about to be manifested, to commit his mother to the most abused of his disciples ? Would not this have been to expose this mother to the most humiliating situation? What reason had Jesus to expect this proof of zeal from his disciple ? Could he flatter himself that he would still be his dupe, if I may dare thus to express myself? Oh! assuredly Jesus, when he gave this order, knew that he should evidence his right to give it by a glorious resurrection: he did not fear to commit into the hands of John his mother according to the flesh, since he knew that in less than three days all the importance of this legacy would be seen. I repeat it then, if Jesus had not been the Messiah, the Son of God, he would never have committed his mother to a disciple, who the more he had loved his Master would the more detest him, if he discovered that he had been unworthily deceived by him.