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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 and she had a sister, called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet and heard his word; 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. And Jesus answered, and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.-Luke x. 38. to 42.

BIOGRAPHY is a species of history peculiarly interesting and useful. And in this the bible excels. The sacred writers describe to the very life. They fear no displeasure; they conceal no imperfection; they spare no censure.

And while they discover their impartiality, they equally prove their wisdom and prudence. This appears from the examples they delineate. What are philosophers, politicians, heroes, to the generality of mankind? They may excite wonder, but they cannot produce imitation. They may indulge curiosity, but they cannot furnish motives, encouragements, cautions. But here we are led into private life; we comtemplate ordinary scenes; we see goodness in our own relations and circumstances; we behold blemishes which we are to shun, excellencies which we are to pursue, advantages which we are to acquire,


Thus, the scripture becomes not a glaring comet, but "a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path.” Pass we to the narrative before us.-But previous to our advancing some general reflections from the whole passage, it will be necessary to take notice of the characters here mentioned: and to see wherein the one was to be censured, and the other to be commended.

Perhaps it is needless to premise that both these females were good women. It is expressly said, that Jesus loved Martha, as well as Mary. And we are informed that when our Saviour was coming to Bethany, after the death of Lazarus" Martha, as soon as she "heard that Jésus was coming, went and met him; but "Mary sat still in the house." These two sisters did not differ in their religious character, as Jacob and Esau; Saul and David; Peter and Judas-but only one of them was less influenced by her principles in this instance than the other for our Lord does not condeinn her general conduct, but her present action; and even this not absolutely, but comparatively. Some things may be said in commendation of Martha, and others in extenuation.

She discovered a noble freedom from the fear of man -she received him into her house when it was well known that he was pursued by the heads of the Jewish nation. His entrance could not be hid; he had many with him.-She also discovered her kindness and hospitality in her concern to provide for our Lord and his disciples, and in deeming nothing too good for them.— I like also her attention to the affairs of her own household though she was a woman of some consequence, she does not deem it beneath her to attend even to the economy of the table-yea, even to serve with her own hands when an emergency required. An affectation of state and delicacy in the mistress of a family, has occasioned disorders, wastes, and embarrassments, which have frequently ended in the ruin of many houses.

The mother of Lemuel in characterising a wife even for a prince in those days-tells him among other things

....that "she riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth "meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens "....that she looketh well to the ways of her household, "and eateth not the bread of idleness !!!

Some things also may be said in her excuse.-She was the mistress of the house, and it was her province to provide. This appears to have been a sudden occurrence; many come in unawares; and perhaps she was unfurnished....this would naturally create hurry, confusion, uneasiness. But after all that can be said, in justification of Martha, our Saviour reproves her. She was therefore blame-worthy: for his judgment is always according to truth. He could read the state of the mind; he could weigh motives; he could distinguish circumstances.

And from what he has mentioned, we may conclude that there was in her a considerable share of domestic vanity. I advert to that vanity which makes religion exclaim over thoughtless profusion why is this waste? Are there no charities to sustain ? Are there no hungry wretches to feed? No naked to clothe? I advert to that vanity which descends lower than pride, in dress of furniture; which commonly attends wealth newly acquired, and adheres to vulgar minds incapable of discerning that simplicity is essential to elegance. A vanity whose empire is as large as the table; a vanity which collects all its praise from sordid appetite; a vanity which while it entertains the body of a visitor, generally starves the mind.

The Shunanuite discovered much more good sense than Martha, on a similar occasion. She wished to entertain Elisha; but she considered character: she would not even suppose that a prophet of the Lord required splendor or luxury; she therefore said unto her husband: "behold now, I perceive that this is an holy "man of God which passeth by us continually. Let us "make a little chamber I pray thee on the wall; and "let us set for him there a bed and a table, and a stool, "and a candlestick: and it shall be when he cometh to

"us, that he shall turn in thither." But Martha, instead of a plain repast, was cumbered about much serving; and was all anxiety to furnish an entertainment, which while it was rendered unnecessary by the plainness and piety of the visitants, allowed her no degree of leisure, and engrossed all her time and attention. Thus she deprived herself of an opportunity to hear our Saviour's discourse. This she should have prized. He was no ordinary teacher: his stay was not likely to be of long continuance; she knew not when the blessing would come again in her way.

This was not all. She rudely breaks in upon the devotion of the company; interrupts our Lord's discourse : condemns her sister as idle; and tries to involve our Saviour in the quarrel. "Lord, dost thou not care that "my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her there"fore that she help me." Here we seeill humour, fretfulness, snappishness; she is troubled about many things; and in her heat, her temper boils over, and scalds othI pity Martha's servants. It is easy to guess how they would be found fault with, when their mistress could go and scold in the presence of the twelve apostles, and the Son of God.


But behold Mary. All reverence, all attention, all composure, feeding on the doctrine of eternal life...She sat at his feet-She wisely and zealously improved the opportunity given her for the good of her soul-"this is "my summer, my harvest let me redeem the time."

It must have distressed Mary to hear her sister so passionately complain of her: and many a one in her circumstances would have replied, "why could she not "have called me aside, and have spoken to me alone? "Why expose me before the whole house? If I have "not been so attentive to other things-surely the oc"casion will plead some excuse." But not a word of this nature. The calm silence of this good woman seems to say, "I leave my defence to him; he is near "that justifieth me." Nor was she mistaken. He more than vindicates:-he applauds her preference:

and tells Martha that he will not comply with her de mand, to send Mary to her assistance, but will suffer her to remain listening at his feet, and still enjoying the privilege she had chosen. It is the meaning of his declaration, when he said: "Martha, Martha, thou "art careful and troubled about many things: but one "thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good "part, which shall not be taken from her."

But what is here said of a particular instance of pious disposition, will apply to religion at large. To render this passage of scripture therefore more generally useful, let me call upon you in the

First place, to consider the diligence of the Saviour in the improvement of time. He goes about doing good. His lips drop as the honey comb. He always pays for his entertainment. In the parlour as well as the temple he furnishes admonition and council. No sooner does he enter this house, than we find him teaching.

Let us be followers of him as dear children. Min isters should not be backward to speak, unless before large and public assemblies: the apostles, like their Saviour, not only taught publicly, but from house to house. Christians should labor to be useful wherever they are. Every place, every company should be the better for them. They should render friendly, and even ordinary visits, edifying. Religion is not to be confined to the church, or the sabbath. It is not to be a dress which you may assume, or lay aside at your pleasure it is a nature; a life. It is to keep us in the fear of the Lord all the day long: to enter business with us; to attend us in all our common actions; and to teach us that " whether we eat or drink, or whatev ❝er else we do, we should do it to the glory of God." Hence we are commanded to "comfort one another; "to exhort one another; to provoke one another to "love; and to good works, and so much the more as "we see the day approaching." But alas ! who does not stand reproved and condemned? "Are we not

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