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Evan Roberts Quote : Christian Books : Section II. Particulars

A Vindication Of Three Of Our Blessed Saviours Miracles by Nathaniel Lardner

Section II. Particulars

We will now go over the particulars of the relation of each miracle, from which it will appear, that these persons had been dead, and were raised to life by Jesus.

Jairus, ruler of a synagogue, came to Jesus and worshipped him; or as Mark, and Luke, fell down at his feet, saying, My daughter is even now dead, or, at the point of death, but come and lay thy hand upon her and she shall live.

It is not reasonable to suppose, that a ruler of a synagogue would come to Jesus, and ask him to heal his daughter in so earnest a manner, and with such signs of high esteem and respect, and that before great numbers of people, unless his daughter's case was desperate, and past all hopes of remedy in an ordinary way. It was dishonourable to pay any respect to Jesus. There were few or none of Jairus's character who publickly owned. him for the Christ. His application to him must be very offensive to his brethren. And therefore we may be assured, he had no prospect of help for his daughter any other way but this.

Moreover, the manner, in which he comes to Jesus, shews an uncommon concern and earnestness. While Jesus is speaking in public, he comes and falls down at his feet, and besought him greatly -- I pray thee come and lay thy hands on her.

The expressions he uses concerning his daughter represent her to be in the utmost extremity; so that she must be near expiring when he left her.

Upon his earnest entreaty Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples, Matth. and much people followed him and thronged him, Mark. and from St. Luke it appears, that a multitude thronged and pressed him. From all the three Evangelists, who relate this matter, it is plain, that when Jairus came to Jesus, much people was round about him. The request of Jairus, so noted a person, to come and heal his daughter, would also doubtless increase the number of people that were before gathered together about him. It was impossible for Jesus surrounded by so great a crowd to go in great hast to Jairus's house.

Moreover all these three Evangelists are agreed, that as Jesus was going along, there came behind him a woman who had an infirmity of twelve years standing, who touched the hem of his garment and was made whole. St. Matthew assures us also, that Jesus had then some discourse with this woman: St. Mark and St. Luke, that Jesus perceiving virtue to have gone out of him, stood still, looked round him, asked who touched him. The disciples then express their wonder that he should ask such a question. The woman tells her case at length before him and all the people; and Jesus bids her go away in peace, This affair took up considerable time; and Jairus's daughter lay dying when he left her, she may be supposed to be worse by this time, if not quite dead.

And accordingly, we are assured by Mark and Luke, that while he yet spake with this woman, there came one or more persons from Jairus's house, .Thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the Master any further? This person came from Jairus's house, and very probably had been dispatched away by some of those who attended on the young woman. Would any of his servants or friends come with such a melancholy story to Jairus, that his daughter had died while he was abroad, if they had not known for certain, that she was dead?

By all there things we know, that Jairus's daughter died of sickness that made gradual advances; not of a sudden fit, or fright, or any thing like it. She lay dying, when Jairus left the house. Some persons come to him, and tell him, that she was dead, and disswade him from troubling the Master any farther; whereas, if she had only had something like a fit, it had been most unreasonable to disswade Jairus from troubling:Jesus any farther.

Let us go on: When Jesus came into the ruler's house, he saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, Matth: he seeth the tumult and them that wept greatly, Mark: And all wept and bewailed her, Luke. Here were friends and public hired musicians, weeping and bewailing the young woman. They knew therefore that she was dead; she had been dead some time, or else these minstrels had not begun their lamentations.

Jesus says: Give place, for the maid is not dead but sleepeth. Whereupon, say all the three Evangelists, they laughed him to scorn. So sure were these persons that she was dead, and not in a sleep; as they understood Jesus to say.

Jesus puts forth out of the house these public mourners, and other strangers. When the disciples and all the people saw these minstrels come out, they had farther evidence hereby of the death of the young woman.

Jesus having removed all strangers, that the house might be quiet, enters into the room where the young woman lay, taking with him the parents, the father and mother, of the maiden, and three of his own disciples; a sufficient number of persons to attest any fact; yet not so many, but that they might all have a clear and distinct view of the thing: the properest persons of any to be admitted; the father and the mother, as best knowing the young woman's case, the most unwilling of any to admit a deceit, and to take another person, a stranger who had not died instead of their own daughter; three of his own disciples, who were to be witnesses of his works, and who could not have been perswaded to undertake the difficult work of preaching the gospel after their Matter's removal without good proof of his divine mission; who might also assure the other disciples of this thing from their own sight.

These five persons Jesus took along with him; and now the three disciples saw the dead corps of the young woman, whom her parents and friends knew to be dead before.

And he took her by the hand, and said, maid arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway, and walked. Upon Jesus;s taking hold of her hand, and bidding her arise, she immediately arose.It was therefore evidently the effect of that power that accompanied his word. She also walked, so that life and strength were at once conveyed. He also commanded to give her meat. And then all who ministred food to her, and saw her eat, were witnesses of her perfect recovery.

They who were present were convinced it was a miracle. Her parents were astonished, says St. Mark; And they were astonished with a great astonishment, says St. Luke, meaning, it is likely, the three disciples as well as the parents. Lastly, St. Matthew says, The fame hereof went abroad into all that land. So that whether the parents, and the three disciples present, were silent, according to Christ's direction, or not, the thing was known; many were perswaded of the miracle, and spoke of it. And indeed, the circumstances of her death were so public, that all who saw her alive again, though they were not in the room at the time the was raised, must know the miracle.

The three disciples present at this transaction were afterwards the most forward and couragious of any in declaring Jesus to be the Son of God, in the midst of dangers; whereas they must have been the most backward of all men in giving him this character, if they had perceived this affair to be any thing but a real miracle.

The next story is that of the widow of Naim's son. Jesus went into a city called Naim, and many ,of his disciples went with him, that is, of his followers, beside the twelve, and much other people. Now when he came nigh unto the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out. This meeting of the corpse must have been casual, without any concerted design between Jesus and any people of Naim. For our Lord's life, during the course of his ministry, was very public. This event happened in a very noted part of it. He had but the day before cured the centurion's servant at Capernaum. At this instant there were many of his disciples and other people with him. There could not have been any agreement transacted between him and any at Naim so privately but it must have been known.

The dead man carried out was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. As sure as persons do not carry men forth to burial till they are dead, so sure are we that this was a dead corpse. The person was not one who had no friends to take care of him. He was the only son of a widow, therefore her only support, her husband being dead.

There were much people of the city with her, her neighbours. Could she have concerted a fraud for carrying out her only child, if he had been alive! It is observable, that there were much people of the city with her, which, is no unusual thing at the funeral of a person who leaves behind him so fond a relation as a widow-mother. But had here been any fraud, it is very unlikely that she should have carried out her son with much company of that place. She would have contrived some pretense to excuse their company at this time. Or rather, The would have said nothing of the matter to any one, but carried him out privately to burial as dead, without any previous notice. This, much people of the city with the mother ruins all objections that can be raised.

If it be said: It might be the contrivance of the young man, a subtle youth, without the knowledge of his mother: I answer, that is impossible. If he had been abroad a strange country, he might have contrived such a thing with his comrades: But it is impossible, he should transact such a matter in his mother's house without her knowledge. Would a widow let her only son be carried to burial out of her own house, without knowing whether he was dead or not!

And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. Jesus, before he had seen the corpse, without asking any questions, knowing the power he had of raising the dead to life, bid her forbear weeping; thereby intimating in a modest way, that she should soon see her son, whose death was the cause of her sorrow, restored to life.

And he came and touched the bier, (and they that bare him stood still) and he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak: and he delivered him to his mother. Presently upon the voice of Jesus, commanding him to arise, he sat up, and began to speak. The tokens of life, strength and vigour, appeared immediately upon the command of Jesus. His life was manifestly known hereby to be the effect of the power accompanying the word of Jesus.

This was reckoned a miracle by the numerous company present, before whom it was publickly done; and they reported it to others, for it follows: And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, that a great Prophet is risen up among us, and that God hath visited his people: And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about.

We will now take a view of the last story of this kind. .Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and Martha. -- Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold he whom thou lovest, is sick, Hereby we learn, that Lazarus did not die suddenly; that he was not taken off by a fit, but by a sickness which made gradual advances. His sisters send to Jesus, He whom thou lovest, is sick; supposing that out of his affection for Lazarus, he would come to Bethany; and hoping also that he might possibly get thither before he was dead. That Lazarus was dangerously sick, is evident not only from the substance of the message, but from their sending a messenger so far, and also from their not coming, either of them, to Christ. It is also hence apparent, that there could be no fraud and contrivance. The matter is not secretly transacted between Lazarus, his sisters, and Jesus, but here is a messenger employed. Moreover; if they had had any thought of such a great design ia hand, as making a pretence of raising up Lazarus, though not dead, some one of these sisters would have come herself. Nothing but real sickness could have kept the sisters at home, and from coming to Jesus. The thought of making a pretence so great a miracle as raising a dead man to life would certainly have obliged one of the nearest relations to come in person to him, who was to do so mighty a work.

Jesus staid some time in the place where he was, after the receiving a message of Lazarus's sickness. He receives no more messages; a sign there was no longer any need of his coming, and that Lazarus was recovered; or else that he was in such a state, that his friends had no longer hopes of any benefit from Jesus.

But at length Jesus resolves to go into Judea, and sets out with his disciples for Bethanie, though it was nigh to Jerusalem , where the Jews had lately sought his life: A sure sign of the consciousness of his innocence and integrity. Had it been thought necessary to concert a pretended miracle between Jesus and these persons; Lazarus inight have come to the country beyond Jordan, and a death and resurrection might have been contrived there. None would have chosen Bethanie for the scene of a pretended miracle at this time; so near the fiercest enemies, so near the great council of the Jews. If a miracle had been contrived at Bethanie, it would not have been upon an inhabitant of the place, a well known person, but some stranger purposely arrived there by accident, but who should have no occasion to come thither again. What reward! what sum of money could be sufficient to induce a well-known person, inhabitant of Bethanie, so near Jerusalem, to enter into a combination with Jesus, to be the person, on whom an imposture of this kind should be acted?

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. -- 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. Hence it is evident, that Lazarus's death and burial were public things. Moreover, these sisters did not go to Jesus: Martha does not go, till the hears Jesus is near the house; and Mary stays still at home; all arguments of true sorrow, and that there was no contrivance.

Then saith Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. How natural expressions of sorrow and concern? Did this person, who spoke these words, know her brother was alive still, and only feigned to be dead? Impossible. But I know, that even now whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. More words, that demonstrate, they were not in any concerted design of feigning a miracle. After some more discourse between her and Jesus, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying the Master is come and calleth for thee.

As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily, and went out, followed her; saying, she goeth unto the grave, to weep there. Mary's grief was real, in the opinion of all these persons; who might, one would think, have known it to be counterfeit, if it was so.

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. She had no more thought of seeing her brother raised presently by Jesus, than her sister Martha had,

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. Here are in this joint weeping of Mary and her friends the. tokens of a deep sorrow, arising from the death of Lazarus, and a despair of ever seeing him again, before the resurrection at the last day. Their grief so far exceeded the bounds it ought to have done, when Jesus, who had already given such demonstrations of his power, was with them, that he groaned in spirit and was troubled.

Ver 34. And said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus himself first makes the proposal of going toward the sepulchre by asking the question; where they had laid him. There appear no where any intimations that they had hopes of seeing Lazarus alive again.

They go toward the sepulchre, ver.38. Jesus -- cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord by this time he stinketh: for he has been dead four days. Need I here remark, that these are the words of one, who knew her brother was dead? She expresses herein such a want of all hopes of seeing her brother alive again, that Jesus reproves her, and says: Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God.

Now with what deliberation and with what solemnity of address to the Father, does Jesus proceed to this great work, that the minds of all the company might be attentive, and observe?

Ver.41, 42, 43. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lift up his eyes and said, Father, I thank thee, that thou hast heard me. And I know that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

There is no occasion for remarks here: He who was dead came out with burial clothes upon him, with all the tokens of a corpse buried by his friends; so bound, that in a natural course he was not able to move; and he was ordered to be unloosed by others, not being able to help himself; that all might see the tokens of life, strength and vigour, by the actions of walking.

Is there any reason to doubt after this view of this relation, whether this was a real miracle; and whether they who were present must not be sure it was so, and report it as such, as John has done?

But we will proceed a little farther. All present are represented as perswaded of it. For many of the Jews, which came to Mary and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him: that is, believed him to be the Messias. But some of them, being wicked malicious men, went to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. And the Pharisses considering the greatness of this work, and that such things as these would tend to bring all men, great numbers of people to believe on him, from that day forth, took counsel together to put him to death, ver.53.

That this thing was no imposture, but a teal miracle, appears finally from hence; that not long after this, by which time the Pharisses might have enquired into the matter, and got evidence of the imposture, if any could be had Jesus comes publickly to Jerusalem, enters into the temple, teaches there boldly from day to day, spends several days at Jerusalem, and in the neighbourhood, at Bethanie itself the place of this action; and lives all this time in the most public open manner, at the near approach of one of the Jewish principal festivals, when there was a general resort thither from all parts. He celebrates moreover this great feast with his disciples in Jerusalem. And supper being over, he goes into a garden, an usual place of retirement with his disciples: Whither the officers of the high priest come to apprehend him, to whom he voluntarily surrenders himself. Whereupon he is examined and tried before the council, and before Pilate, but not one imposture of any kind is proved or charged upon him.

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