« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
They do not, it is true, like the open enemies of Christ, like unbelievers and apostates, say in so many words, "We will not have this man to reign over us ;" nor do they mean any such thing. They expect Him to return; they acknowledge Him to be their king; they even hope to be received by Him. But they forget that it is not enough to say unto Him, "Lord, Lord, whilst they do not the things which he says." His word they do not read, or, if they read, they do not obey it. His sacraments they never observe, or if they do observe them, it is only in the outward form. They do not discern the Lord's body in the one; they forget the vows and privileges of the other. Religion, in short, is a thing which they seem to profess, but really they have it not. Or, it is laid
Or, it is laid up in a napkin,
so that, when the lord returns, all they will have to show is the one pound. But, God is not mocked: whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. When the king returned and called his servants, "the first came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well thou good servant; because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise unto him, Be thou also over five cities." So exact is the divine judgment. Though all reward is infinitely above our best services, and the rewards of heaven such as are beyond all comparison with our conduct; still there will be a proportion observed, and degrees of happiness or misery awarded in the next world, according as men are faithful and negligent in this; and the reward, though not for our works, will yet, through the grace and wisdom of
Christ, be according to them. Though faithful in a very little, we may look for a great reward; and the more faithful we are, the greater it will assuredly be.
But all, as we have said, are not faithful. One servant came with his pound laid up unused, unimproved, in a napkin. He said, though it was utterly false, that his master was hard and austere, one that took to himself the profit of others' labours.
E. But, Mamma, nobody could really say that of Christ.
M. Alas! there are those who thus blaspheme his religion they would tell you that it is an unjust, and harsh, and gloomy thing. But do not believe them. Even had it been so, the servant ought to have allowed his lord's money to improve; he ought not to have hindered its increase by letting it lie in a napkin. By such neglect he lost even the single pound it was taken away, and given to him that had ten pounds. What an encouragement to abound in good works! What a warning against sloth and indolence in the great work of our salvation! It is not enough to be called servants of Christ, we must be so.
The parable ends with the fate of the nobleman's enemies. "Bring them hither and slay them before me," was the awful sentence pronounced upon them. The opposers of Christ and His Gospel may now be bold and high-minded; but, alas! for them when He shall appear. How shall they bear to see the Son of God coming in His glory with all His holy angels? How shall they stand when the King shall say, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels?" Oh! Edward, let us not approach the tents of the ungodly: let us have nothing
to do with the slothful servant. May Christ give us grace to be faithful unto death, that, when He shall appear, we may receive that crown of life, which He has promised to those that love Him!
See Matt. xx. 17-34. Mark x. 32-52.
FORTY-FOURTH SUNDAY EVENING.
CHRIST AT BETHANY ANOINTED BY MARY.
M. We learn from the Gospel of St. Luke that after delivering the parable of the nobleman, our Lord went on, ascending towards Jerusalem, and came again to Bethany, where Lazarus had been raised from the dead. But a short time before, He had removed, you know, from that place, that He might be at a greater distance from Jerusalem; and I dare say you perfectly recollect the reason He had for doing so.
E. Because from the very day that Christ had performed that wonderful miracle, the chief priests and Pharisees had taken counsel together to put Him to death.
M. For Bethany, being only two miles from Jerusalem, where the chief priests resided, if He had remained there, He must have been exposed to great danger. But the time was now drawing nigh, when Jesus would, of His own accord, offer up His life as a ransom for many. It wanted now but six days of the passover. This was the fourth passover during our Lord's ministry; the last that He should keep on earth: it was that passover when the true Paschal Lamb was to be offered up, the Lamb of God which
Now He no longer
taketh away the sin of the world. tried to hide Himself from the malice of His enemies, although they had actually given commandment that, if any knew where He were, he should show it, that they might take Him. He now came openly to
Bethany, and was there received at supper in the house of one Simon.
E. Was that the Simon, Mamma, the Pharisee, I mean, with whom He once dined before.
M. No; we are told that it was Simon the Leper, who had now the honour of entertaining our Lord, and he had drawn together to meet Him several of those who loved Him very much. There was Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead, sitting with Him at the table; and the sisters of Lazarus were also present: both as usual employed in doing honour to their Lord, though again in various ways according to their several characters. Martha was still attending to the comfort of our Saviour, waiting herself upon Him; whilst Mary's love was shown in a very different manner. There was the same difference, as you may remember, between them on a former occasion, when
Mary had left
Martha complained to our Lord that her to serve alone, having chosen in fact the still better part of sitting at His feet to hear the words of eternal life. And still we find Mary at the feet of Jesus, listening no doubt again to His heavenly conversation, but giving on this occasion still further proofs of her devoted piety. She now anoints those sacred feet with ointment of spikenard, exceeding precious, which she had brought in an alabaster box for that very purpose.
This ointment was of a very costly kind, prepared
from a plant growing in the Indies, and brought at a great expense from that distant country. There it grows in large tufts like grass, and so great is its fragrance, that, when it is trodden upon or otherwise bruised, the air is filled with the odour of it. Amongst the antients it was greatly prized: indeed it was so valuable that as much of it as could be contained in a small box of precious stone, was considered, it is said, equal in value to a large vessel of wine.
We see, therefore, what respect was mingled with Mary's love. Jesus had treated her and her family as friends; but she could not forget that, in her condescending Saviour, she beheld her Lord and her King; and greatly did she delight in paying to Him such outward honours, as could by any means come within her reach. Behold her then pouring this richly fragrant oil upon the head of Jesus, and anointing with it His feet; and as if that were all too little, employing her own hair in the blessed office; for "she wiped his feet with her hair." So delightful was it to her affectionate heart, to show how she honoured Him who had raised her brother from the dead, and whom she had learnt to look to, for herself also, as the resurrection and the life.
When Mary had thus freely bestowed the precious perfume on the person of her adored Saviour, the whole house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
E. How pleased all those who loved Jesus must have been !
M. Yes, and as the whole party had met together for the very purpose of doing honour to our Lord, one would have thought that they would, all of them, have been delighted at this mark of pious affection