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It was usual with the Jews to bury their dead without the walls of their cities, which was a much more prudent method of disposing of them than what is adopted among Christians, who deposit the bodies of the dead in their towns, and even their places of public worship, where there is reason to fear that they may often prove injurious to the living. In the circumstances of this woman there was much to excite compassion: she was a widow, and in the death of her husband had lost her best protector and friend; to this calamity had just been added another equally severe, the loss of her only son, who, by his attention and kindness, might, in time, have supplied his father s place; so that after enjoying a very fair prospect, she was now left alone and friendless. These circumstances excited the compassion of her acquaintance, and induced a greater number of them than usual to attend the funeral; but .they affected the feeling mind of Jesus in a still higher degree: for they led him to perform a miracle to remove her distress, without being solicited; which was contrary to his usual practice. In general, he thought it prudent to perform miracles only for those who asked and importuned him to exert his power for this purpose; lest, by choosing the object himself, he might excite a suspicion that some kind of imposture was practised, and that some were selected in preference to others, because they afforded a better opportunity for carrying on such a design. In the present instance he thought proper to depart frOm this rule, from motives of compassion to a poor widow, and because, although the object was chosen by himself, yet, the miracle being performed in a great crowd of people, whom he met accidentally, carrying a young man to the grave, there could be no ground for suspicion.
13. And when the Lord saw her he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
As he was about to raise her son from the dead, he desires her to restrain her tears; since her mourning would so soon be turned into joy. This he knew would be the case, as soon as she saw her son restored to life, which could only be an interval of a few moments; yet such was the compassion of Jesus, that he wished to prevent her sorrowing one moment longer than was necessary.
14. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still; and he said, Young man, I say unto thee Arise.
15. And he that was dead sat up and began to speak:
His rising immediately at the command of Christ, and being so far recovered as to be able to speak, are plain proofs that bis restoration to life was miraculous, and not accomplished by natural means, which must have operated gradually and slowly.
And he delivered him to his mother.
This he did from motives of humanity, to remove the distress with which he saw her afflicted, and that he might himself communicate to her the joy and extacy which he knew would arise in the breast of a parent, upon seeing an only son restored to life.
16. And there came a fear on all; and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us, rather, "has been raised up among usand that God hath visited his people, or, rather', "regarded his people."
An awe of the Divine Being, who had on this occasion manifested his great power in so striking a manner, came upon the beholders, and they ascribed praise or glory to God, because he had kindly considered his people, in raising up a great prophet among them.— They justly denominate him a great prophet, because, without prostrating himself upon the dead body, or
praying overit, as other prophets had done, he by asingle word, m a manner unexampled, raised the young man to life. It never occurred to these people, nor is there any foundation for the supposition, that Jesus Christ was God, or a super-angelic being in a human body.— All that they infer from this extraordinary miracle is, . that Jesus was a great prophet, and they ascribe the praise of his extraordinary powers to the Divine Being, from whom, they supposed, he derived them.
17. And this rumour of him went forth throughout allJudaea,and throughout all the region round about.
This story of his having raised a dead man to life spread not only throughout Judaea, but throughout the countries which bordered upon it.
It may seem extraordinary, and by unbelievers it has been considered as an argument against the authenticity of this part of Luke's history, that an event so remarkable as that of raising this young man from the dead, should not be noticed by the evangelists Matthew and Mark. But our surprise will cease, it we consider that neither of them professes to give an account of every particular miracle which Jesus performed: on the contrary, it appears that they thought it sufficient to mention some of the miracles performed in any place, and passed over the rest in silence, or with a general account, without descending to particulars. Thus Matthew, in his eighth chapter, having set down the miraculous cures of a leper, of the centurion's servant, and of Peter's wife's mo*, ther, relates no more miracles particularly, but only says in general, "When the evening was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with daemons, and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick;" vni. 16. It is certain that Matthew knew of more instances of persons being raised from the dead, than the single one of Jairus's daughter, which is the only one which he has recorded: for he represents Christ as saying to the disciples of John, "Go and tell John, The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the dead are raised up." He says, the dead are raised up, in the plural number.
1. From the story which is here related, with so much simplicity, of Jesus' raising the widow's son from the dead, we may learn to admire and imitate the humanity of Christ. He is touched with compassion at
. the sufferings of a poor widow, who was bewailing the loss of an only son, and generously resolves to remove the cause of her distress, although he could have no prospect of deriving any other advantage from this action, than the satisfaction arising from the consciousness of having done good. Thus let us learn to relieve distress, and do good, where we hope for nothing again, by enlightening the ignorant, by comforting mourners, by procuring relief for the distressed, food and clothing for the poor, and by any other method which Providence may have put in our power. Nor let us always defer- our assistance till we are asked for it. Acts of. beneficence appear with double lustre in the eyes of God and man, when they are the voluntary offspring of the mind, and the natural dictate of the judgment and of the heart.
2. Let those who have lost valuable relatives by death, look forward with joy to the season of the general resurrection, of which the resurrection of this young man is but an imperfect image. Great was the surprise and joy of the spectators to see him, whom they were carrying to the grave, restored to life; but greater still was the joy of the mother, when she saw her son revive; when he that was lost was found; when he that was dead appeared alive again; yet this satisfaction was what she could not always hope to enjoy: the life which was now restored must be taken away; the mother must endure all the pangs of separation a second time, at her own death or that of her son: but not such will be the resurrection of the just. The friends and relatives who then meet, will be able to welcome each other into a new existence, not short and full of trouble, like the present life; but one that will never end; where the pains of dying and the pangs of separation will be known no more. This will indeed .be a happy meeting and a glorious day. When sorrowing, therefore, for those virtuous friends whom they have laid in the grave, let them recollect that they ought not to sorrow as those who are without hope. We may say to them, as Jesus said to this widow, who was so soon to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing her son again, Weep not. Weep not for friends whom you are so soon to see again; they are not dead, but sleep; they are gone to rest for a night only, and will awake again in the morning. Comfort yourselves, therefore, with these prospects.
3. The effect which this miracle had upon the immediate spectators, is such as it ought to have upon us. It should fill us with awe and reverence for the Supreme Being, who appears to be able thus to controul the powers of nature, who has kindly considered the wants of his creatures, and raised up for them a great prophet, proving his mission from heaven, by the most unquestionable and astonishing miracles.
Luke vii. 18—35. corresponds with Matt. xi. 9—11.
Luke vii. 36. to the end.
36, And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him; and he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.
This man, who seems to have been better inclined, and to have entertained a more favourable opinion of Jesus,