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THE FIRST APPEARANCE.
THE FIRST APPEARANCE. but we have no hope that he is our Saviour, and as we look into our hearts, we find no comfort, nothing but "an aching void," and we say sadly, “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where to find him.” We find in our hearts an empty sepulchre, not a risen Saviour.
Let us then go to Mary weeping at the grave, and try to comfort ber. She feels that if she had loved her Saviour as she ought, she would not thus have lost him. She is forsaken because she has no part in this atoning Saviour. Would we not say to her, “ Would you weep thus, O Mary, if you did not love? Would you mourn thus an absent Lord, if you had no delight in his presence? Are not your tears a proof of your love ?"
The reasoning we feel would be correct in her case; and is it less correct in your case, O drooping disciple? You too are mourning an absent Saviour, and not only mourning but seeking him. You have not remained at your home in the city, but have gone forth, rising early and seeking him, where he is likely to be found. You have sought him as you went to the mercy-seat, to the word, to the house of God, and to the Lord's table, saying, “Oh, that I knew where I might find him !" But would you thus long for him, if you had no love for him ? Would you thus desire his presence, if you had no delight in him? May he not be, is he not near you, though your eyes, all blinded
as they are with tears, cannot see him? Is he not even now gently saying, “ Why weepest thou? whom seekest thou ?”.
Your error is probably the same with Mary's. There is genuine love, and genuine faith, but you are looking for an evidence on which to rest your hope, that you have no right to expect. Mary was sad, because she looked for something more than the simple assurance of Christ, that he would rise again. She did not receive Christ's words in their simplicity. She obeyed him, believed him, loved him, and sought him, but did not rest simply on his promise. And is it not so with you, O mourner ? You are striving to obey, believe, love, and seek Christ, but you are looking for something more than the simple word of his promise as the ground of your personal hope. You are looking into your dark and cold heart to find some great work there, some great voice, some great light or power within, instead of simply believing the word of promise. You are looking to see the angel descend and roll away the hard and heavy stone that rests on this flinty sepulchre, and see the dead come forth before your eyes, and hear him announce to you that Christ is formed within you the hope of glory. This is the cause of your sorrow. You have forgotten the word of promise on which you are to hope. “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” “Believe, and
thou shalt be saved.” You have been seeking for something more than the word of Christ as your ground of hope, some inward working, some new revelation to you individually, which would be a virtual dishonour of the written word, and hence you are sad. Only believe. Look away from the empty grave of your heart to Christ, and gaze and listen, and look and love, and ere you are aware, you will find yourself rejoicing in his presence and a sense of his love, and your soul as the chariots of Amminadib.
If you desire a test of your heart, you have it in the words of Jesus and Mary. There were but two words spoken, but they were full of meaning. They were names, and as such embodied the very essential relations of the persons named. Jesus addressed her with the tender, familiar name by which she was known to him as a disciple. There was no elaborate reasoning, no new truth, only that one word of gentle expostulation and tender reproach. Mary! "Do you not know me? Do you not remember the words of my promise ?” It was by simply hearing the voice of Jesus, though it uttered no new truth, that the heart of Mary leaped in responsive love, and cried, “Rabboni, my Master.” Here is the test of discipleship, and faith. You may say "Immanuel, Jesus, Saviour," may love to think of Christ as the Redeemer from suffering, but do you also say "Master," and love to
obey his commandments? Do you take him as your Master, your King, and try to keep all his precepts? If so, be of good comfort, for he calleth thee. If your heart is ever ready to say Rabboni, is now saying it by a holy and willing obedience to all his commands, he is near you though you see him not; and you have only to turn away from the empty grave, to look away from your cold and dark heart, and you shall find as you look backward and upward, that it is his voice that says to you, “ Why weepest thou ? whom seekest thou ?" Then look to Jesus and listen to Jesus, o mourner, if you would rejoice. Look upward, not downward, outward, not inward, to the work of Jesus, his finished righteousness in heaven, and not to the work of the Spirit yet unfinished in your heart on earth ; and then and thus only your tossing heart shall find rest.
2. Natural grief may also find some consolation from this scene at the sepulchre. Mary had lost her dearest earthly friend, and felt that she was alone, and that earth had lost a portion of its light to her weeping eyes. She was a bereaved mourner,
Here also, she can have many to sympathize with her. You also are a bereaved mourner. That sweet infantile face that once was so bright with smiles is now cold and still in the coffin, and the clods of the valley are resting on that little
form that you have so often strained to your heart. Or you have seen the grave close on the silent remains of one who has walked life's pilgrimage with you for many a day, and whose removal leaves you stricken, widowed, lonely, with an unutterable desolation.'
But if you are not weeping without hope, there stands near you at the grave, another form that says in reproachful tenderness, “Why weepest thou ?" And if in the anguish of an unsubdued grief, your heart would say with Mary, "Give me back my dead, tell me where you have laid him that I may come and take him away," the same reproving, though gentle call comes to you. Mary! "Was it not I who took away? Did I not take the little lamb to a greener pasture and a brighter sky than any to be found below ? Did I not take the partner of your earthly joys away, that you might be a partner in heavenly joys? And can you not submit to it humbly, when I have done it ?” As soon as a loving heart can hear this voice, its response will be, Rabboni! “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.” “The Lord gave and the Lord bath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” “Nevertheless not my will, O God, but thine be done."
So is it with every form of earthly sorrow. To the wreck of hopes, the loss of property, the coldness of friends, all that usually darkens life,