صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

adopt the extended and noble view of benevolence which this parable opens up. Let us regard every man as our neighbour, and as entitled to our sympathy and assistance, who is in any way brought near to us, and within the reach of our observation or knowledge. Let us not confine our love to a select few, whose ideas and habits are so much our own, that our love to them is only "self-love reflected." Let us never imagine that distinctions of nation or sect, or politics or customs, are to be allowed to shut up our bowels of compassion. Let not even the existence of enmity on the part of any, prove an exception to the rule. In the words of Christ: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.' And, when we have adopted this rule in theory, let us be on our guard against the various excuses which, when calls on our compassion actually present themselves, harden us against them, and cause us, as it were, to pass by on the other side. If we cannot meet every demand, let us not fail, in what appears to us to be the most judicious and effectual way, to do our utmost to alleviate the various bodily and spiritual distresses of our fellow-creatures.

As to the illustration which goes on the idea that, in this parable, our Lord intended by the robbed and wounded Jew to represent fallen man, and by the good Samaritan himself-all judicious interpreters justly exclaim against it as erroneous. At the same time, without supposing that this is the primary intention, we may illustrate and enforce this particular duty of benevolence as it is here taught, by the example of Christ, just as we are accustomed to illustrate and enforce many other duties by that example. In a much more pitiable condition than that of this poor man on the highway, lies the sinner who is robbed of his Maker's image and of all good, cruelly wounded by Satan, dead in trespasses and sins, and ready to die eternally: and far more kind than the good Samaritan is Jesus Christ, who, forgetting the enmity the sinner bears to him, has compassion on him, pours into his wounds the balm of his own blood, takes on him the whole expense of his cure, and provides everything necessary for his safety and comfort. While we admire every striking instance of compassion in a fellowcreature, let us far more admire this matchless grace of th

VOL. II.

Redeemer. Let us mark how nobly he exemplifies his own precept, and let his love be the pattern of ours.

In conclusion, then, my friends, let us, by all this, be admonished and encouraged to yield our hearts to all the kindliness of Christian sympathy, and our hands to all the activity of Christian charity. If it be still inquired, What is love to our neighbour?—It is love to every human being, flowing from love to God. It is the inward workings, and the external outgoings, of the renewed affections towards man. It is to give to the poor, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and the prisoners, to protect helpless infancy, to bear the burden of the aged, to instruct the ignorant, to warn the careless, to encourage the pious, and to comfort those who mourn. It is to rejoice with them that rejoice, and to weep with them that weep. In short, it is, in connexion with the glory of God, to live chiefly for the benefit of others. Such is that love which is delightful in its exercise, blessed in its effects, pure, unbounded, heaven-born, everlasting. Love is the greatest of the Christian graces. "Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." Faith is the root, and hope is the blossom; but charity, or love, is the fruit. Faith and hope are like two months in spring, charity is the long-dayed summer. Faith and hope are stars of the morning, charity is the full-blazing sun. Faith and hope fail at last, but "charity never faileth." Faith and hope are two wings, every feather of which sparkles like burnished gold and diamonds-they are the two wings which raise us to heaven; but there we must drop them. Faith and hope are two faithful companions, who guide and comfort us in our way through the wilderness, and who will attend us to the very gates of paradise; but there we shall bid them adieu. Faith will be lost in sight, and hope in enjoyment; but love will enter in with us through the gate into the heavenly city, and continue to engage and bless us throughout the endless ages of eternity. Now therefore, let us studiously cherish this first of graces: and may the Holy Spirit teach us to "love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves."

LECTURE LV.

LUKE X. 38-42.

"Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village; and a certain woman, named Martha, received him into her house. 39. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; 42. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Ir is now proposed, in a dependence on divine strength, to consider the history and the general meaning of this passage; to expand the view which it gives of the salvation of the soul as the one thing needful, and the good part which shall not be taken away; and to conclude with some improvement of the whole.

Let us, in the first place, consider the history and general meaning of this passage.

"Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village; and a certain woman, named Martha, received him into her house." In one of the journeys which our Lord took in the gracious work of his ministry, accompanied by his disciples, he entered into a certain village. We are sure that the village was Bethany, for we read in the beginning of the 11th chapter of John, that Lazarus, who was sick, was "of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha." This village was situated fifteen furlongs, or nearly two miles, to the east of Jerusalem. The house into which Jesus was received was called Martha's house, probably because she being the eldest, or perhaps a widow, it was more properly her house than that of Mary or of Lazarus. The Son of God, though the Creator and Lord of all, for our sakes became poor, and condescended to be indebted, if we may so speak, to the benevolence of his own creatures. On this occasion, Martha manifested commendable hospitality in receiving into her house, not only Jesus

himself, but, as we may gather from his usual habits, at least the twelve disciples also, who were now his constant attendants. So Christians in general should, according to their ability, exercise hospitality. If they are ready almost to envy Martha the pleasure and honour of having Christ and his apostles for her guests, let them not neglect to avail themselves of those gracious spiritual visits of which he speaks, when he says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me;" and let them be also disposed to welcome his people for his sake. But there was even danger to these disciples in receiving Jesus into their house, now that he was denounced by the rulers; this pious family, therefore, now manifested a holy boldness worthy of perpetual imitation. Let us never be afraid, or ashamed, to acknowledge Christ and his people.

No sooner had Christ entered into the house, than he began to instruct those who were in it in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God-a lesson to us to study to improve our seasons of social intercourse for our spiritual edification. Martha's sister, Mary, being exceedingly desirous to profit by the opportunity, and to miss nothing of what Jesus was saying, remained close by him: she "sat at his feet and heard his word." According to the usual custom in the East, the teacher seems to have sat on a chair, or elevated seat, while his scholars were seated on the floor, or on mats; in this position, they were lower than he, and might literally be said to sit at his feet. Hence, the expression to have sat at the feet, or to have been brought up at the feet, of any one, signified having been his scholar. Thus, Paul says, in Acts xxii. 3, that he was "brought up" in Jerusalem, "at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers." Whether this attitude was always preserved by the Jewish scholars, or not,* there can be no doubt that Mary now sat at Jesus'

* Vitringa (De Synag. lib. i.) produces various authorities from Jewish writers to show that the scholars of the rabbins stood before them, and thence argues that to be brought up at their feet did not express a particular attitude, but intimated, more generally, the being educated near them, or with them, or under them. He seems to have succeeded in proving that their scholars sometimes stood; but he does not prove that they always stood. There are opposing Jewish authorities in favour of the sitting, or rather, squatting posture: and, whatever, according to the ordinary process of language, may have been the general way of employing the phrase at last, his reasoning is not sufficient to overthrow the commonly received opinion that the origin of the phrase is to be found in the attitude which it literally expresses.-This

feet, as an humble and most attached disciple. Let us imitate her example, in this respect; that is, let us figuratively sit at Christ's feet, by listening to his word with deep composure, close attention, docility, submission, and affection.

"But Martha was cumbered about much serving." Being extremely solicitous to furnish a great entertainment for Jesus and those who were with him, she was "cumbered," literally distracted,*-drawn different ways-perplexed and harassed—having so many things to attend to, that she was at a loss to which to turn first. Now, we must neither go to the extreme of supposing Martha, from any thing that is here said, to have been a careless, or worldly person, nor must we look on her as altogether free of blame on this occasion. We have abundant evidence that Martha was a true believer. When we look to the 11th chapter of John, we find it said that "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus:" and we find her giving plain proof of her faith in Jesus, and conducting herself in a manner superior to Mary; for, while Mary sat still in the house, "Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him, and said, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." And when he put the question to her if she believed, she said, "Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who should come into the world." After that, Mary also came out, and fell down at Jesus' feet, weeping. In short, on that very trying occasion, while both the sisters conducted themselves well, they discovered a diversity of temper: Martha had much faith and much good feeling, joined with great activity and strength of mind; Mary gave was the very attitude of Socrates and his disciples, during the hours of instruction, as represented by Plato in his Phædo: 'ErUxov yag καθημενος ἐν δεξιᾳ αὐτοῦ ἐπι χαμαιζήλου τινος, ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ πολλῷ ὑψηλοτερου

yw. As illustrative of this, Buxtorf says that, in giving an advice to any one to become a disciple of their rabbins, the Jews used to say, "Pulveriza te pulvere pedum sapientum-Bedust thyself with the dust of the feet of the wise men." See also Deut. xxiii. 3, and Luke viii. 35.

*

Περιεσπατο. Epictetus tells the man who is professing to study the improvement of his mind, and yet very much taken up with external things, that he shall neither possess the one nor the other, being distracted, or divided, between both, Ουτε τουτο ἕξεις δυτ ̓ ἐκεῖνα, περισuporsga.-Dissert. iv. 10. As the apostle expresses it, 1 Cor. vii. 35, we should "attend upon the Lord without distraction," ἀπερισπάστως·

πωμένος

« السابقةمتابعة »