THE CONSOLATIONS OP CHRIST ADAPTED TO THE STATE AND CHARACTER OF
BY THE REV. ROBERT S. CANDLISH, D.D., EDINBURGH.
John xi.21. - Then said Martha unto Jesus - Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." - v. 32. - 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."
"IT is better," says the wise man, "to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning: but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth." And if this be true generally of the effect which should be produced by familiarizing the heart with the devout contemplation of death,and of the grief which death occasions, it must be so especially when we have Jesus as our companion. Often, during our Lord's visits to Jerusalem, we find him gladly retreating in the evenings, after the toils and trials of his daily ministry in the Temple, to the quiet village of Bethany, and the peaceful abode of Lazarus, and there reposing amid the holy endearments of a congenial family circle. Now we are about to visit with him this house as the house of mourning, and to observe how he is received there, and how his presence cheers the gloom.
1. The sisters, both of them, greet him with the same pathetic salutation, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died ;" and this might seem to indicate an entire similarity in their sorrow.
2. But if we look a little closer, we see a striking difference of demeanour, corresponding to the great general difference of their characters.
3. And this difference is marked in our Lord's different treatment of them. I: From this study we shall learn - lst, How much sameness there is in grief; 2d, How much variety; 3d, How much compass in the consolation of Christ, as capable of being adapted to all varieties of grief, to grief of every mould and of every mood. We speak chiefly throughout of the grief of Christians; for we think we may assume that, notwithstanding their great contrast in respect of natural temperament, the two sisters were partakers of the same grace. Sm. 12. - No. 12. I. It is remarkable that two persons so different in their turn of mind, so apt to view things in different lights, and to be affected by them with different feelings, should both utter the same words, on first meeting the Lord Jesus - " Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." It shows how natural such a reflection is in such a season - how truly the heart, when deeply moved, is the same in all - and how much all grief is alike. The sisters, however otherwise dissimilar, were united in their affection for their departed brother, and in their grateful reliance on that Friend "who loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." They had sat and watched together beside their brother's bed of sickness. They joined together in sending unto Jesus, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." In their distress they both thought of the same remedy, and applied to the same physician. It was a joint petition that they despatched, and they did not doubt that it would prevail. Together they waited anxiously for his coming. They reckoned the very earliest moment when he could arrive; and as they looked on their brother s languid eye, and saw him sinking every hour and wasting away, ah! they thought how soon their benefactor might appear, and all might yet be well. But moments and hours rolled on, and no Saviour came.
Wearisome days and nights were appointed to them. Often did they look out and listen; often did they fancy that they heard the expected sound, and the well-known accents of kindness seemed to fall upon their ears. But still he came not. Ah! what were their anxious thoughts, their earnest communings, their fond prayers, that life might be prolonged at least for a little longer, to give one other chance, one other opportunity, for the interposition of Him who was mighty to save even from the gates of death;. and how were their own hearts sickened, as they whispered co the sick man a faint hope, which now they could scarcely themselves believe. Still the time rolls slowly on. The last ray of expectation is extinguished; the dreaded hour is come; it is over; their brother has fallen asleep; Lazarus is dead.
And now four days are past and gone since he has been laid in the silent tomb. The first violence of grief is giving place to the more calm, but far more bitter pain of a desolate and dreary sadness, the prolonged sense of bereavement which recollection brings along with it, and which everything around serves to aggravate and embitter. The house of mourning, after the usual temporary excitement, is still, - it is the melancholy stillness of the calm darkly brooding over the wrecks of the recent storm, - and amid the real kindness of sympathising friends, and the formal attentions of officious strangers, the sisters, as each familiar object recalls the past, are soothing, or suppressing, as best they may, those bitter feelings which their own hearts alone can know; when suddenly they are told that Jesus is at hand. He is home at last but he is home too late.
Still his coming at all is a comfort; he is welcome as their own and their brother s friend; he is welcome as their Lord. They never doubt his friendship ; they question not his willingness, or his power, to do them good. But still, as they meet him, they cannot but look back on the few day that are gone ;and as all their anxieties and alarms, their longing hopes and cruel disappointments, rush again upon their minds, they are constrained to give utterance to the crowded emotions of their hearts in the irrepressible exclamation, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." It is the voice of nature that speaks in these words - the voice of our common nature mingling its vain regrets with the resignation of sincere and simple faith.
1. There is the feeling that the event might have been otherwise. "If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." We know not what it was that detained thee, what prevented thee from coming: perhaps our message did not reach thee in time, or some casual circmstance hindered thee. Had this sickness happened but a little sooner, when thou wast in Jerusalem at the feast or had we taken alarm soon enough, so as to send for thee before our brother was so ill; or had our messenger been more expeditious, and used more despatch; or had we been able but to lengthen out by our care, our brother's sickness for a single week; had we not been so unfortunate in the occurrence of this evil just when it did occur; or had we but used more diligence, and taken more precaution - then thou mightst have been here, and if thou hadst been here, our brother had not died. Ah, is it not thus that the heart speaks under every trying dispensation ? Is it not thus that an excited imagination whispers to the forlorn soul? Which of you has ever met with any affliction - which of you has ever lost any dear friend, without cherishing some such delusion as this. If such or such a measure had been adopted; if such or such an accident had not happened; if it had not been for this unaccountable oversight, or that unforeseen and unavoidable mischance, so grievous a calamity would not have befallen me; my brother would not have died.
Alas! and is not this altogether a sad delusion, proceeding upon a very limited view of the power and the providence of God your Saviour! How did these sisters know that if Jesus had been there, their brother would not have died? How could they tell whether he might not have ends to serve, which would have required that, even though he had been there, he should yet have permitted him to die? And were they not aware that, though he was not there, yet, if he had so chosen and so ordered it, their brother would not have died? Had they not heard of his being able at the distance of many a long mile, to effect an immediate and complete cure? Did they not believe that he had but to speak, and it would he done; he had but to say the word, and, however far off he was, his friend and their brother would be healed? Ah! they had forgotten who it was to whom they made this most touching and pathetic appeal; that he was one who, though not outwardly present, could have restored their brother, if it had been consistent with his wise and holy will; and who even if he had been present, might yet have seen fit, for the best ends, to permit him to die. And are not these the very truths concerning him which you in your distress are tempted to forget, when you dwell so much on secondary circumstances and causes, instead of at once and immediately recognising his will as supreme? You are overtaken by misfortune; you are overwhelmed in the depths of sorrow. You ascribe your suffering to what seems to be its direct occasion, whether it be your own neglect of some precaution which you might have taken, had you thought of it in time, or the fault of others with whose skill or diligence your dearest hopes were inseparably connected, or something perhaps in the course of events over which neither you nor they could have any control. You fix upon the very date, the very scene, when and where your brother's doom seems to have been sealed; and you think that, if you had but suspected what was about to be the issue, or if the help which now you see would have been available had then been within your reach-.if you had been warned in time, or had taken the warning, or had been able to employ the most effectual means of escape, you might not now have been left disconsolate to mourn; your brother might still have been spared to cheer you with his smiles, to share with you all your cares.
Dear brethren, is not this idea, however natural, is it not, in reality, the very folly of unbelief - the dream of a soul forgetting that the Lord reigneth? What it comes to is this, that you conceive of him as limited by events which he himself ordains - as the slave of his own laws? You think that if such or such an obstacle had not intervened, this calamity would not have happened. But, notwithstanding that obstacle, might he not, if he had seen fit, have found means to avert the calamity? And are you sure that, even if that obstacle had been removed, he might not have seen fit still to suffer the calamity to befal you? If thou hadst been here, say the sisters, our brother had not died. Nay, he might have answered, I might have been here, if it had seemed good to me; but though I was not here, I might have kept thy brother alive; and though I had been here, I might have allowed him to die. 0, look beyond second causes to Him who is the first cause of all things. Believe and be sure that the circumstances which you regret as the occasion of your misfortune are but the appointed means of bringing about what he determines, and what, without them equally well as with them, he might accomplish. If evil come upon you, if your brother die, is it not because this or that accident prevented relief; it is not because He was not there in time, but because it was his will. 0, be still and know that he is God.
2. There may be in this address of the two sisters somewhat of the feeling, that the event should have been otherwise. There is at least an intimation that they had expected that, the event tvould have been otherwise. "If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died," - and why wert thou not here? We sent unto thee - -we sent a special message - a special prayer - and surely- thou mightst have been persuaded to come. Ah! why didst thou linger for two whole days after tidings of our threatened loss reached thee? Why didst thou not make haste to help us? We could not believe that thou wouldst have treated us thus. Thou wast not unmindful of us before. Thou didst regard us as friends. Thou didst bless our house with thy presence. Thou didst make it thy home - thou didst choose us before thine own kinsmen. Thou didst select our brother as the object of thine especial affection. And we thought that it had been enough to touch thy heart simply to send, to thee, saying "He whom thou lovedst is sick," - that thou vho didst but to hear of his illess to rush at once to his relief.. - -True, we had no right to dictate to thee,. -and now we have no right to complain. - But we cannot help feeling that if thou -hadst been here, our brother had not died, and surely thou mightst have been here. It was not so very great a favour that was asked of thee; and was he not worthy for whom thou shouldst do this. He loved thee, - he trusted in thee, and. thou mightest have come, if not to preserve his life, at least to soothe and satisfy his, dying hours. He looked for thee, and thou didst not appear. To the very last he waited for thee, and thou didst hide thyself.. He missed thee, and he was not comforted. Such are the instinctive complaints of nature, in a season of sore trial, of bitter bereavement. Thus does the wounded soul rise against the stroke that pierces. it, and turn round upon the hand that smites it. 0, it is hard often for flesh and blood to believe in regard to any crushing load of woe, that it is God who directly and immediately ordains it. It is far harder to believe, that in ordaining it, he does not do wrong. Simply, to be still, and know that it is God, is no easy exercise of resignation. To be sure that He doeth right, that He doeth well, is even more difficult still. You fancy that if He had really been here, it would. have happened otherwise, your brother would not have died. And you feel as if you thought that he should have been here, - that it should have happened otherwise - that your brother should not have died. And, you can give, perhaps, many reasons why he should not.
You can point out many ends which might have been served had he been spared, - O how faithful and successful he might have been, - how noble a course he might have run. He was just prepared for entering into active life; he was just newly fitted for the service of God in the world; and it does seem strange and unaccountable, that at the very time when his life seemed to have become most valuable - when his character was ripening for increased usefulness, and when the mere word of the Great Physician would have brought him back from the gates of death, he should yet have been left to die. Ah, but remember that He may have many purposes in view with which you may be unacquainted, which indeed you could not as yet comprehend. Only wait patiently for a little, and you will see that "this sickness is not" really "unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby." Would that thoy hadst been here; - thou surely mightst have been here, is the natural language of the mourner to his Lord. Nay, says the Lord himself to his own disciples, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe." A hard saying this, - who can always bear it? But consider who it is that speaks. It is your friend, your Saviour, who might have been here, and might have caused that your brother should not die; and may you not be sure, that if it had been for his glory, and for your good, - he would have been here, and would have caused that your brother should not have died? He might have ordered this matter otherwise, you say, and you almost think that he ought to have ordered it otherwise.
But may you not believe that had it been right and good, he would have done so, and that if he has not, it must be for the best of reasons? What these may be you cannot tell. He may have need of your brother's services elsewhere. He may intend to make his death the occasion of showing forth his glory, and blessing your soul. Only be patient, and hope unto the end. What he doeth you may not know now, but ye shall know hereafter. Meantime, as you are tempted to fancy that he might have interfered - nay, that he should have interfered, - to prevent the calamity under which you suffer, may not that very feeling, on second thoughts, suggest the conviction, that if he has not so interfered, it must be because he intends to make to you some gracious discovery of himself, and to confer upon you some special benefit? Be not hasty, then, to judge, but rest in the assurance that all things shall work together for your good. And though he may seem to stand aloof when you would most desire, and seem most to need his interposition - yet when he does come, be sure that you welcome and receive him gladly - as did the mourning sisters. For,
3. There is apparent in the address of the sisters, a sincere, though melancholy satisfaction in meeting with Jesus at last. He had not come so soon as they expected. He had not come at the very time - in the very way - for the very purpose, that they could have liked - still when he did come, at whatsoever time, and for whatsoever purpose, he is welcome. He is come too late to do them that particular favour which they solicited. Still he is come fer good, and gratefully do they receive him "Lord, if thou hadst been here sooner, our brother had not died." But thou art here now; and it is enough. True, our brother is dead - and if it had been possible, we would have had it otherwise. We thought that thou wouldst have come - we wondered that thou didst not come - for a time, perhaps, we entertained some doubtful and hard thoughts of thee as if surely thou mightst have come. But now that thou hast come, we are satisfied. We are sure that had it been possible, consistently with the high ends of thy ministry, and with our own real interest, thou wouldst have been here. We see that thou lovest and carest for us, and though thou didst not at once grant our request precisely as we desired, yet not the less on that account do we take thy visit kindly. Thou art still our best friend, our gracious Lord. We know that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. At thy feet we will still lie down. That thou hast come at all, at our solicitation, a great condescension. That thou hast come in such an hour of trouble, is a peculiarly seasonable act of friendship. 0 happy will it be for you, brethren, if in like circumstances you are enabled to feel as these sisters felt, and to meet your Saviour's gracious advances as they did. In the hour of blighted prospects, and disappointed hopes, when the evil which you deprecated has befallen you, you may think that consolation comes too late. Like Rachel, you may weep, and refuse to be comforted, - like Jonah, when your gourd withers, you may almost say that you do well to be angry. You may turn away when your Saviour draws near; you may sit disconsolate when he calls. It he had come fbr the purpose of averting the calamity, if he had been here sooner, and had interposed his power, it had been well, for then my brother had not died. But the calamity has overtaken me, - my brother is dead; and what avails it that He is here now?
Ah! beware of such impatience, such natural irritability of grief. Reject not the Saviour's visit of sympathy now, because he did not come to you exactly as you in your ignorance would have had him come, and do for you exactly what you would have had him do. It is enough that he is with you now, to speak comfortably to you - to bind up your broken -heart- to fill the aching void in your affections, and be to you instead of all that you have lost. True, if he had been here before, your brother might not have died, and your brother now is dead. But he is here none the less .
But the sisters differed in their sorrow, as they did generally in their features of character, an& their manner of thinking and acting in the ordinary affairs of life. They were persons of very different tempers and dispositions, and this difference is uniformly and strikingly brought out in their treatment of the Lord Jesus. Both looked up to him with reverence; both regarded him with full confidence and tender affection; and both were equally earnest, and eager in testifying their esteem and love. But each in doing so followed the bent of her own peculiar turn of mind. Martha was distinguished by activity in the despatch of business. She seems to have possessed great quickness, and alertness, and energy, and a certain practical ability, and good sense; and thus she was well fitted for going through any work to be done, and always awake to the common calls and the common cares of the ordinary domestic routine of life. Mary again was evidently characterized by more depth of thoughts more devotedness and sensibility of feeling. She was more easily engrossed in any affecting scene, or any spiritual theme; more alive at any time to one single profound impression, and apt to be abstracted from other concerns. Hence we find it remarked, when our Lord formerly was received in their house, that, while Mary sat at his feet, and heard his word, Martha was cumbered with much serving.
She was assiduous, and even officious, in her hospitable attempts to provide for the accommodation of her guest; and if Jesus had come to be ministered unto, he would have been most pleased with Martha's attention to all his wants. But, as he came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, he found most delight in her sister Mary, who, with the meekness of a disciple, and, the earnestness of a spiritually awakened soul, listened to, the, gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And, as their way of testifying regard to the Lord Jesus in prosperity was different, so also was their demeanour towards him in adversity. Martha first received information of his approach (ver, 20), either because to her, as the mistress of the house, the message was brought,. or, because, going about the house, she was in the way of hearing intelligence, She rose -in haste, -impatient to meet the Lord, and to He is here who is better than a thousand brothers, - he who have the Words of eternal life ; who, when flesh and heart faint, will be the strength of your heart and your portion for ever. Such might be the feelings common to the two sisters, - such are the feelings of nature mingled with grace, common to all sanctified grief - as indicated in the affecting address,. "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died." Render to him the offices of courtesy and respect. She is ready to be up and doing; she can turn at once from the conversation in which her friends from Jerusalem have been seeking to interest her, and disengage her mind for active exertion.
Mary again is more absorbed in her grief; her sorrow is of a deeper and more desponding character. This the Jews remarked when they said of her, as they saw her at last rise hastily and go out, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. They had not said this of Martha,when she went forth. She might be bent on other errands. Mary could go only to weep. And at first her feelings so overpower her as to prevent her from going at all. The sudden arrival of her brother's friend is a shock too great for her; it tears the wound open afresh, and recals bitter thoughts. She is plunged by the tidings into a fresh burst of sorrow.
Thus in different circumstances, the same natural temper may be either an advantage or a snare. Martha was never so much occupied in the emotion of one scene or subject, as not to be quite ready for the call to another. This was a disadvantage to her when she was so hurried, that she could not withdraw herself from household cares to wait upon the word of life. It is an advantage to her now, that she can, easily shake off her depression, and hasten of her own accord to meet her Lord. The same profound feeling, again, which made Mary the most attentive listener before, made her the most helpless sufferer now, and disposed her almost to nurse her grief, until Jesus, her Comforter, sent specially and emphatically to rouse her (ver. 28). And when the two sisters meet Jesus, the difference is equally characteristic. Martha's grief is not so overwhelming as to prevent her utterance. She is calm, and cool, and collected enough to enter into argument. She can give expression to her convictions and her hopes. She can tell that her faith is not shaken even by so severe a disappointment. Having hinted what might seem to imply a doubt (verse 21), she is in haste to explain her meaning, and to give assurance of her undiminished confidence; and then as the conversation goes on, she is sufficiently self-possessed to make a formal declaration of her faith in Jesus as the author of eternal life. Not so her sister Mary. She indeed, when at last she is emboldened by her Master's kind message, goes forth to meet him, and her reverence, her devotion, her faith, are not less than those of Martha. But her heart is too full for many words Her emotions, when she sees the Lord, she cannot utter. The passion of her soul she cannot command. She can but cast herself down weeping, before him, and say, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." - She adds not a word more. She lies prostrate and silent at his feet. - Such are the different aspects which sorrow wears in minds of different stamps, -and of different degrees of strength and of sensibility. Grief whatever may be its aspect, it finds in Jesus, the Saviour, one who can speak to it a word in season. For,
III. His treatment of the two sisters, in his first meeting with them, was exactly suited to their respective tempers, and their different kinds of grief. Martha's distress was of such a nature that it admitted of discussion and discourse. - She was disposed to converse, and to find relief in conversation. - Jesus accordingly adapted his treatment to her case. He spoke to her, and led her to speak to him. - He talked with her on the subject most intereating and most seasonable, on the resurrection of the body and the life of the soul. Martha had declared her unshaken trust in him as still having power to obtain from God all that he might ask. (ver. 22.) And a wild idea, perhaps, crossed her mind, that it might not even yet be too late, that the evil might, even now, be repaired. If so, it was but the fancy of a moment, the dreamy notion that sometimes haunts the desolate breast, when it strives in vain to realise the loss which it has sustained. A single sad thought brings back the recollection, to which she afterwards, in her characteristic spirit of attention to such details, adverts, that he has been now four days in tbe tomb, and corruption must be doing its horrid work upon his body. (ver. ~9.) When, therefore, she hears her Lord s promise, "Thy brother shall rise again," she applies it to his share in the general resurrection at. the Last Day. Jesus explains himself more fully. He speaks not of a resurrection merely, but of a resurrection in Him, not of life only, but of life in Him. "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die. Believest thou this?"
This is the only true comfort in respect of the future state. He is the only true Comforter, who can speak, not merely of the immortality of the soul, and of the resurrection of the body, but of himself as the life of the immortal soul, and the quickener of the risen body, the first begotten from the dead; the first fruits of them that sleep. Ah, what consolation is it that thy brother lives and will rise again! He lives in ME. He will rise with ME. And what is the life which I sustain? It is the very life which I impart now, - life before God - the life of a soul pardoned, justified, reconciled to God, renewed, and sanctified for ever. And what is the resurrection which I give? Resurrection to glory - when these vile bodies shall be fashioned like unto my glorious body. It is my own life that I impart to the believer now, and continue to him beyond, the grave: it is of my own resurrection that I make him a partaker hereafter, when I come again.
These words alone shed light on the dark tomb of a lost brother, and the darker sorrow of a sister's heart. Yes; and though Martha understands not fully all that is intended by the assurance, "I am the resurrection and the life," she is relieved by having laid on her Divine friend the burden of her soul, and imparted her sorrows and her hopes to one who can so graciously commune with her concerning them all. And it is, therefore, with somewhat of a lightened heart, that she declares her entire acquiescence in his power, and her perfect trust in his goodness (ver. 27.) -" Yea, Lord; I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who should come into the world." - When Mary, on the other hand, draws near in the anguish of silent woe, Jesus is differently affected, and his sympathy is shown in a different way. He is much more profoundy moved. He does not reply to her in words, for her own words were few. Grief has choked her utterance, and overmastered her soul. But the sight of one so dear to him, lying in such helpless anguish at his feet, is an appeal to him far stronger than any supplication, and his own responsive sigh is an answer groaned in spirit, and was troubled. And when he had asked - of the more comforting than any promise. When he saw her weeping, by the bystanders," Where have ye laid him " and received the reply, "Come and see," like Joseph, he could not refrain himself - Jesus wept. 0 most blessed mourner, with whose tears thy Saviour mingles his own! 0, sympathy most unparalleled! To each of the two mourners the Lord addressed the very consolation that was most congenial. To Martha he gave exceeding great and precious assurances, in words such as never man spake. To Mary he communicated the groanings of his spirit, in language more expressive to the heart than all spoken words. - With Martha, Jesus discoursed and reasoned. With Mary, Jesus wept. - 0 what a friend is this! What a brother; yea, and far more than a brother; and how confidently may you come to him, ye Christian mourners, in every season of trial. For, surely, he will give you the very cordial, the very refreshment of which you stand in need. He is a patient hearer if you have anything to say to him; and he will speak to you as you are able to bear it. Your complaints, your regrets, your expostulations, your very remonstrances almost, and upbraidings, may all be expressed to him. He will pity. He will comfort. His Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance what Christ has said suitable to your case. He will recall to you the Saviour's gracious words of eternal life, and suggest to you considerations fitted to dissipate your gloom, and put new song in your mouth. And even if you cannot collect your thoughts, and order your words aright - if you are dumb with silence when your sorrow is stirred, if you feel your heart is hot within you - oh remember, that with these very groanings which cannot be uttered, the Spirit maketh intercession for you. And they are not hid from him, who, when he saw Mary weeping, groaned and was troubled, and wept. Oh, there is enough of all varied consolation in this blessed book, which all throughout testifies of Jesus. For the sorrow that seeks vent in words, and desires by words also to be soothed, there is the Saviour's open ear - there are the Saviour lips into which grace was poured. For the grief that is dumb and silent, there are the Saviour's tears. We have set before you, brethren, two characters.
We have seen how they appeared in the ordinary scenes of life, and how they manifested themselves in the chamber of sickness - in the house of mourning. On their comparative excellencies and defects respectively, we pronounce no judgment, farther than what may be gathered incidentally from the narrative, as the judgment of the Lord himself. But we would say to you, in conclusion, of Mary's fervency of spirit as compared with Martha's diligence in business, - this ye ought to cherish, but not to leave the other undone. There is a tendency to regard religion as consisting chiefly in services rendered to the Lord Jesus, and attention and observance paid to him; in ministering busily, if not to his person, yet to his cause and the affairs of his kingdom. And there is a danger, in days especially when much is to be done, of substituting a certain bustling activity, arid liberality, and zeal in the work of the Lord, for deep and devoted piety in waiting upon his word. Never forget, then, that Mary chose the better part. What Jesus chiefly wants is to see you rather sitting at his feet, than cumbered about much serving, rather that you should ask and receive frcm him, than that you should make a merit of rendering much service to him. But beware of supposing that there is any inconsistency or incompatibility between these two habits of mind. The tempers of the two sisters may be united and blended. Be it your study and your prayer that they may be so in you. Be you as fervent in spirit as Mary was - as diligent in business as Martha was. Choose the privilege of waiting upon the Word of the -Lord - yet, neglect not the Work of the Lord. - Be active, be energetic, be liberal, and abound more and more in that work. -Seize every opportunity, answer every call of usefu]ness, - wbile, at the same time, you cultivate the holy taste for meditative retirement, divine fellowship, and heavenly rest ; - even as He did, who went about doing good, and of whom also it is written, that he spent the night in prayer. Then may you entertain the confident hope, that, in seasons of affliction, yours will be the blessedness of uniting both the portions of consolation which the sisters separately received. Jesus will speak to you as he did to Martha. Jesus will weep with you as he did with Mary.
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