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you prize the Lord's words, and make a sacrifice, as Mary did, to hear and study them? She risked the appearance of neglecting her guests ; she encountered the rebuke of a sister who was dear to her, that she might listen to the words of eternal life. Do you act likewise? Are
also ready to spend what is precious to you in doing honour to your Saviour? This Mary did. She “ took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair.” 3
- This ointment might have been sold for much ;” but she valued him more than all. And it is useful to inquire of ourselves, what we are willing to part with for Christ's sake : that is, to relieve his people, to promote his religion, to make his salvation more widely known, can we consent to expend what might otherwise increase our comforts, or gratify vanity, or minister to luxury?
By such sentiments and such practice we may be enabled to secure the love of Christ, as Mary and Martha did. He comes to such, and makes his abode with them. " Whosoever hears the word of God and keeps it, the same is his brother, and sister, and mother.”
And now observe the blessedness of this. All these faithful disciples, as in their ordinary life they have a certain guide to direct them, so in their calamities and difficulties they have a resource to which they confidently turn. Lazarus
3 John xii. 3.
was seized with illness. Therefore his sisters sent unto Jesus saying, Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick. It was a comfort to them, that they had one to whom they might communicate their distress. But that might be done to a fellow-creature. Here
He was one who could not only comfort, but relieve and save.
Neither was it necessary to tell the want, in order that it might be known. Though our heavenly Father expects us to disclose our requests in prayer and supplication, he knows what we have need of before we ask him. So Jesus knew the state of Lazarus. The fact and the event were already present to his mind. No sooner was the message brought to him, than he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Not a circumstance happens to one of his flock, but he sees the whole ; its beginning and its end; its present and its future consequences. If only that can be truly said, which was said here, he whom thou lovest ;-if he who is in trouble, in pain, in peril, is one whom Jesus loves :—then we may be sure that the rest follows ; this sorrow is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Still there is an appointed time, and that be yet. When Jesus had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same house where he was. This is a very instructive fact; and shows how unpromising an aspect things may bear which are intended to have a joyful termination.
There are reasons, doubtless, why God for a while withholds his aid : reasons why he permits sorrow to be long felt, and pain to be long endured : reasons why the mind which is devoted to him, is allowed to remain under a cloud : reasons why he suffers temptations to continue urgent, and disquiet the soul. These reasons we can sometimes perceive and be comforted by them ; but often they are concealed from us : as in the present case it was impossible to understand, why Jesus should remain two days in the place where he was, after the intelligence had reached him that Lazarus, whom he loved, was on the bed of death. So that the sister, in her anguish, exclaimed, on his arrival, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” David had much experience of this, and has left us the result : saying, “I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? Yet the Lord will command his loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of
life. Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my
4 Ps. xlii.
JESUS RESOLVES ON GOING TO THE HOUSE OF
John xi. 7-16.
7. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again.
8. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee ; and goest thou thither again?
9. Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
The disciples are here answered in a kind of parable. They remonstrated, as it was natural they should, at what appeared to them his rashness in returning to that district, where the Jews not two months before had sought his life; and they understood not yet, that no man could take that life from him, till he should be pleased to lay it down of himself. But he reminded them of a higher consideration than that of personal safetythe consideration of duty. Are there not twelve hours in the day? Is there not a certain time allotted to man on earth, and in that time a certain duty to be performed ? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. Whoever is found in the way of duty, is safe, and need fear no enemy, no opposition. He has a light to guide him, by which all mankind ought to be directed, the light of God's will : he has also a light to cheer him, the light of God's countenance. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. If
any one neglects the counsel of God, and follows the counsel of the world, or the devices of his own heart, he stumbleth: there is no light in him, but that which leads to deceive, and ends in disappointment, or in ruin.
This sets an important thought before us. Are there not twelve hours in the day? Is there not a span of life assigned to man? And has he not in those twelve short hours a vast work to perform? Has he not a soul to save? Has he not an evil nature to subdue, and a holy nature to acquire? “ This I say, brethren, the time is short.” Are we using it for its proper purpose
? Or, why stand we here all the day idle ?” The night cometh when no man can work.
Another point is to be noticed. There is a light of the world, in which if a man walk, he stumbleth not. But if he walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. Christ “is come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in him should not abide in darkness.”1
.”1 By 1 John xii. 46.