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The GOSPEL for the Sixteenth Sunday after
St. Luke vii, 11-17. And it came to pass the day after, that Jesus went
, into a City call’d Nain, and many of his Disciples went with him, and much People : and when he came nigh unto the City, behold there was a dead Man carry’d out, &c.
HIS Gospel for the Day gives us a Relation of a certain Miracle wrought by our Saviour upon a
dead Man, whom he rais’d to Life again, in the view of many Witnesses. Where the Evangelift, in relating of it, takes notice,
Firft, Of the Circumstance of Time when it was done, in these words, It came to pass the day after; that is, the day after his healing the Centurion's Servant, which was done the day before, as the foregoing part of the Chapter declares: where we read of a Centurion or Officer of the Roman Band, that had a Servant whom he dearly loy'd who being very sick and ready to die, when he heard of Jesus, came 'himself, as St. Matthew relates it, or as St. Luke here, sent some of the Elders of the Jews, beseeching him to come and heal his Servant : which is in effect all one, for what a Man does by another, is reckon'd as done by himself. These besought him instantly, saying, he was worthy for whom he should do this, for the good Offices he had done for their Church and Națion. Jesus going to him, was met by the way with this Message ; Lord, trouble not thy self, for I am not worthy that thou mouldit enter under my Roof, but say the word only, and thy Servant shall be heal'd: believing him to have the same power over Diseases, that he had over his Soldiers, which was only to
give give the Word of Command, and it would be presently done. Christ perceiving his Faith, marvelld and commended it, saying, He had not found so great Faith, no not in Ifrael. Whereupon they that were sent, returning to the House, found the Servant whole that had been fick. And then follow these words, And it came to pass the day after, that Jesus went into a City callid Nain. Which leads us,
Secondly, From the Circumstance of Time to that of Place, where this Miracle of raising the dead Man was perform'd: it was in the City of Nain, a City in Galilee famous for little else than the Presence of our Saviour, and this Miracle there wrought by him ; and 'twas enough to make any Place remarkable in those days, where Christ or his Apostles did any of their wonderful Works. When Christ went to this City, 'tis said that many of his Disciples went with him, and much People. His Disciples attended him of course, and the Fame of his great Works drew many more after him, who were all Spectators and Eye-witnesses of his Miracles: for they were not done in a corner, where Men may be easily impos'd upon, but in the face of the Sun, and in the sight of great Multitudes. Accordingly this was done here before much People, to fatisfy them in the Truth of the Fact, and to confirm their Faith in him. From the Place and Perfons present, pass we,
Thirdly, To the Occasion or Motive of Christ's working this Miracle ; and that was, his seeing some carrying a dead Man to his Grave, the Mother and others following the Corps with Weeping and fad Lanientation. This is held forth in the next words; Nom when he came nigh to the Gate of the City, behold there was a dead Man carry'd out, the only Son of his Mother, and he was a Widow; and much People of the City was with her. This dead Man was carry'd out of the City, according to the Custom of those days, which was to carry and bury dead Corps out of the City, to preserve the Inhabitants from the noisom Air and Scent of dead Carcases.
The dead Person that was carry'd out, was the only Son of his Mother; which you know is a matter of great Grief and Sorrow, especially to the tender Bowels of a Mother. The Loss of a Child, even where there are more left, is commonly attended with Tears and great Lamentation :
Nature it self suggests this to Parents, to be Tensibly touch'd and affected with the Death of a Child, having thereby lost a Limb or Part of themselves ; but the Loss of an only Child is far more grievous and afflicting, being in effect the Loss of all.
Moreover, to enhance the Sorrow, 'tis added, And me was a Widow. It seems she had lost her Husband before, and that was follow'd here with the Loss of her only Son which was enough to overwhelm her with Grief, and to drown her in Tears of Sorrow.
Again, 'tis said, And much People of the City was with her; partly to comfort her in her great Affliction, which is an Office of great Charity, to relieve the Spirits of the Afflicted under their deep Mourning and Sadness, and to bear off some of the Burden, by lamenting and mourning with theni; and partly likewise to attend the Funeral, and to accompany the deceas'd Party to the Grave, his Bed of Rest; which is an Act of Piety and great Civility, generally practis'd in all civiliz'd Places and Countries, which is done partly out of respect to the Dead, and partly as a Warning and Example to the Living, to let them know that they must all shortly follow him to the same place. But to proceed,
When our Lord Sam her in so much Sorrow and Sadness, bemoaning her desolate and disconfolate Condition, bedewing her Face with Tears, and filling the Air with Sighs and Outcries for the loss of her dear and only Child; 'tis said, be had compassion on her. His Bowels yearn’d towards her, which shew'd it felf in pitying her fad and mournful State, and speaking kindly and comfortably to her. Where his Carriage towards her teaches us to have compassion one of another in like cases, to sympathize in each others Afz flictions, and to administer Comfort and Cordials suitable to all Mens Distresses. This we find our Saviour did on all occafions: He wept over Jerusalem, when he saw them obstinately refusing all the offers of their Peace and Wel. fare. He wept at the beholding the extreme Grief and Tears of Mary and Martha, for the Death of their Brother Lazarus. And here he shew'd great Pity and Compassion at the distressed Condition of this afflicted Widow. St. Paul wills us to weep with them that weep, as well as to rejoice with them that rejoice; and to bear a share, as in the Joys, fo in the Sorrows of one another. Rom. 12.
But our Saviour's Compaffion did not vent it felf in Tears only, but discover'd it self in kind Words, and kinder Actions: He said unto her, weep not; that is, cease lamenting the Loss of thy Son, and be of good cheer: He that hath taken him from thee, is able to restore him, or give thee another. Therefore wipe away thy Tears, and
ke comfort; immoderate Grief may hurt thy self, but cannot recal thy Son : if thou put thy Faith and Trust in God, he will either repair thy Loss in the same kind, or recompense it with greater Gain. From such comfortable Speeches, he proceeded to more cheering and reviving Aco tions: which will lead us,
Fourthly, To the Miracle it self, and the Manner of his performing it; which, as the next words declare, was on this wife : As they were carrying this dead Man out of the City to the place of his Burial, our Saviour being then nigh to the Gate of the City, came to them, and touch'd the Bier; the Bearers the mean time standing still
. And while his Hand was on the Bier, he utter'd these words, saying, Toung Man, I say unto thee, Arise. Upon which, he that was dead immediately sate up, and began to speak; and he deliver'd him to his mother. Where we may observe,
Ift, The Manner or Means used in effetting this Miracle. It was by a Touch of the Bier, and a Word of his Mouth; Means no way proportion’d to such an End, if they were not feconded by a Divine Power, that is able to do all things. 'Tis all one to Omnipotence, to work by any or no means; all things, whether living or dead, upon or un der the Earth, readily obey his Call, and come forth at his Word of Command: if he say the Word, the Effect must and will come to pass, for nothing can hinder the Influence of his Power, or resist his Will.
2dly, We may observe here the Certainty of this Miracle. That the dead Man came to Life again, was evident by the vital Actions perform'd by him, for he sate up, and began to speak; things out of the power of a dead Carcase: and all this in the light of a great Multitude, who were then doing the last Office of carrying and waiting on him to his Grave.
3dly, We may observe the Kindness of our Saviour to the mournful Mother, in these words; And be deliver'd him to his Mother. With what Joy the receiv'd him at hiş hands, is a matter better to be imagin’d than exprefs'd :
how her Heart leap'd for joy, when she saw him sit up, and with what pleasing and greedy Attention she hearken'á únto him when he began to speak; how her Passions were mov'd and heighten'd, no Tongue can utter; and what Exultation of Spirit she felt within her, is out of the reach of words to declare. The Death of her Son had almost brought her to Death's door, and his coming to Life again, put in a manner a new Life into her ; she that was before overwhelm'd with Grief, now became transported with Joy , and our Saviour's Compassion for her former Trou
ģ ble, was no doubt turn’d into a Sympathy of Rejoicing with her.
This is, in brief, the Miracle here recorded in the Gospel for this Day, together with the niany remarkable Circumstances that attended it.
But what were the Effects that follow'd after it? Why that the next words declare. As,
Ift, There came a Fear on them all. 2dly, They all glorify'd God.
3dly, They all faid, that a new Prophet was risen up among them, and that God had visited his people. And,
Lastly, That this Rumour went of him throughout all Judea, and the Regions round about.
ift,' 'Tis said that a Fear came on them all. But why fo ? One would think rather, that Love should have seiz'd them all
upon the sight of so much Goodness ; and such a Love too, as should have cast out Fear, and filld them with all manner of Joy and Rejoicing.
True, the Goodness of his Works no doubt poffefs'd them with a great Love of his Person, but the Greatness of his Works struck them with no small Awe and Dread of his Power. They were surpriz'd with Wonder at what they faw, and were fill'd with Astonishment at his great and marvellous Works. This effect we find the Miracles of Christ generally had upon the Minds of the People, to seize them with Amazement and Terror. Upon his curing the deaf and dumb Man, 'tis said the People were beyond measure aftoniss’d, Mark 7. 37. and here, that Fear came upon them all; i.e. they were taken with a sudden Affrightment at that Divine Power, that was able to do such strange and wonderful Works.
But yet, zdly, their Fear was not so great, as to hinder their Devotion ; for the next Words tell us, that they glo