LAZARUS, THE ENTOMBED MAN.
We have come to the fourth chapter of the history of this remarkable man and we have seen Lazarus, the sick man, Lazarus, the dead man, Lazarus, the bound man, and now we have before us Lazarus, the entombed man. Just think of it – sick, dead, bound and buried – a type of the lost and ruined sinner. Lazarus, the sick man, is a type of the child that is born with the carnal mind in its heart. Lazarus, the dead man, is a type of the child when it comes to the years of accountability and chooses sin and dies and becomes dead in trespasses and in sins. Lazarus, the bound man, is a type of the child when it goes into a life of sin and is bound by its habits and the devil leads him captive at his will; and now, Lazarus, in the tomb, is the type of every sinner when he gives up all hope as you have seen them. Oh my, I have seen sinners by the thousands give up all hope and go into the tomb of despondency, and, spiritually speaking, they were as much in the tomb spiritually as Lazarus was physically. All hope was gone and at a glance you could see that they had gone into the tomb of despair; and if a lowly Nazarene doesn’t come by and call them out they will stay there forever and forever. The land is loaded down with men and women who used to have hope and the devil has swept them off their feet so often that today they are in the tomb of despair and every hope has fled, every friend is dead; they have an empty purse, and aching head, and an empty stomach, with no Christ, no God, no salvation, and no hope of heaven. Where are they today? Oh, my friend, you can answer in the tomb of despair. Look at them and hear their sad wail as they march through this world without one ray of hope, homeless, friendless, and penniless, without one ray of sunshine over their door.
You remember when Lazarus went into the tomb Mary and Martha lost all hope, and when Jesus appeared on the scene their hopes were as completely buried as Lazarus was, and there are millions to-day with every hope in the tomb. The burial has already taken place, and despondency has settled down over them and they are ready to-day to take their own lives. They are doing it by the tens of thousands. Why do they do such a thing? somebody may ask. Because they have given up all hope, and when hope goes there is nothing to build on. But, somebody may ask, why don’t they get up and get a move on them? Well, just simply because a dead man can’t get up, a blind man can’t see, a dead man can’t hear, a bound man can’t walk, the man in the tomb is a hopeless man, and so we can just make up our mind that if a Christ doesn’t come along, Lazarus will never get out of the tomb, and the sinner will never awake out of his dead state of guilt and condemnation. I have known some men to be converted and start off well and run for a while and then the devil would sweep them off their feet. In a few months they would get reclaimed and make a fresh start and run pretty well for a while and finally backslide again; the next time it was several years before you could get them to make another start but their friends would plead with them and pray for them and by and by they wold make another start and run for a while, and to their surprise they find the same old enemy in their heart; as they struggle with it they almost give up hope and finally go to their pastor and consult with him and ask him if they can be delivered from that awful uprising in their breast. He tells them that they cannot; that he, himself, has the same kind of struggles that they have; that there is no remedy and, that if they will be faithful till death the Lord will give them a crown of life.
While they fight the beast on the inside the devil laughs at them and tells them that they had just as well give it up at once and be done with it forever, and about this time he comes up to the fellow and tells him he had just as well take a dram, for he can’t hold out anyhow and the poor fellow yields to the tempter and gets on another big drunk. When he sobers up and sees his condition he gives up all hope and goes down into the tomb of despair, and he is as much in the tomb as Lazarus was. He was sick, he died; he was bound, he went into the tomb of despair, and there he will stay until some outside power calls him out.
Again I have met people, by the tens of thousands, who, at one time hoped to be well off some day and they have fought poverty and low wages and high prices and their hardships bravely, and each year they have run behind a little and maybe could not pay their bills; they would almost give up all hope, but they would take fresh courage and buckle down to it a little harder and think that they would come out ahead next year. Sure, but to their surprise the next year they were further behind than they were the year before, and finally they gave up all hope of ever owning a home of their own, and they have settled down to the idea of living in a little rented cabin all the days of their lives. To-day their names are legion that have given up all hope of ever being anything but a cheap day laborer. Their wives are half dressed, their children are uneducated, and they are American white slaves and their hopes are in the tomb. Their prospects in life are as completely buried as Lazarus was.
Again, I have seen people who were on their beds of affliction and for weeks and months and maybe for years they were in great hopes of some day being well; they fought pain and suffering with a brave heart. In the face of afflictions they would see themselves well and out in the fields, in the woods, on the creeks, and on the mountains, as they used to be. They hear of a great medicine that is supposed to cure all diseases that are known to the human family, and of course they send for it and take it according to directions. To their sad surprise they get no relief, and then they hear of something else that cures all of the human ills. They send for that and take it in great hopes of soon being well again, but find no relief whatever, and after a while hope, that blessed hope the stay of life, takes its everlasting flight, and today they are on their beds by the tens of thousands and they never expect to get off of that ded (sic) until they go into their box. All hopes have gone into the tomb and they are as completely entombed as Lazarus was. No more of this world’s pleasure for that man; no more days out in the beautiful sunshine; no more days to sit out on the porch and feel the soft wind play on his withered cheek; no more days to spend at the house of God; that poor man is bound by the cords of afflictions and he is in the tomb of despair. Every hope has left the country where that man lives. Yonder he lies on his couch, helpless and hopeless, so far as his world is concerned, and he may be friendless and homeless and penniless also. Thousands of them are, and they lie in the hospital up and down the land by the thousands. How sad!