« PreviousContinue »
that virtue, above all others, which our Redeemer and our Judge has selected as the peculiar object of his approbation, and as the representative of all the other evangelical virtues, must be peculiarly dangerous, and render us peculiarly unfit to appear at the last day before the great tribunal of Christ.
How soon we may be summoned there no one can tell. The final dissolution of this earthly system may be at a great distance; but, what is the same thing to every moral and religious purpose, death may be very near. It is at least, even to the youngest of us, uncertain, and in whatever state it overtakes us, in that state will judgment find us; for there is no repentance in the grave; and as we die, so shall we stand before our AlmightyJudge. "Take heed therefore to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come upon all them that
that dwell on the face of the earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man *.”
*Luke, xxi. 34, 35, 36.
WE are now approaching the last
sad scene of our Saviour's life, which commences with the 26th chapter, and continues in a progressive accumulation of one missery upon another to the end of St. Matthew's Gospel.
The 26th chapter, which will be the subject of the present Lecture, begins with informing us that two days before the great Feast of the Passover, the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, assembled together unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty and kill him.
Whilst they were thus employed, Jesus himself
himself was in Bethany (a small village near Jerusalem) at the house of a person called Simon, whom he had cured of a leprosy; and here an incident took place which marks at once the manners of the country and the times, and places in a striking point of view the different characters of the several persons concerned in it.
As Jesus was sitting at meat in the house above mentioned, "there came unto him a woman, having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? for this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you, but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world,
there also shall this which this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her."
There are in this little story several circumstances that deserve our notice.
The first is, that the act here mentioned, of pouring the ointment on the head of Jesus, though it may appear strange to us, yet was perfectly conformable to the customs of ancient times, not only in Asia, but in the more polished parts of Europe. Chaplets of flowers and odoriferous unguents are mentioned by several classic authors as in use at the festive entertainments both of the Greeks and Romans; and particularly among the Jews, the custom of anointing the head seems to have been almost as common a practice as that of washing the face. For they are mentioned together by our Lord in his direction to his disciples on the subject of fasting: "But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which seeth in secret *."
* Matt, vi. 17, 18.