« AnteriorContinuar »
sideration to temporal benefits, but still was not totally indifferent to "that good part," which our Lord asserted, should endure for ever—and which he wisely and affectionately admonished her sister to think of more. Martha was careful, but her mind was troubled; and this is vexation of spirit. A very little reflection indeed will convince us that many of the troubles which arise in this world, come from neglecting the one thing needful. But let us who are of the day, writes St. Paul, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet the hope of salvation. How often we hear men say, "Religion is very well in its place. It is right on the sabbath. It is a good thing in trouble or sickness; and a better thing in death." But woe to that man who thinks so!— Religion must be an every-day concern,—yea, an hourly concern; its spirit must actuate us in all our works, in all our duties, in company and in solitude, in our chamber, and in the world, in our business, in our pleasures, in our sorrows, in our families: if not, we are none of Christ's, "our house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death."
If you are trusting to the world for strength which you can only procure of God; if you imagine that you can live and prosper without a daily attention to the high vocation whereunto you are called, you are eternally sinning. It may seem to you now, as you are, a little matter; but hereafter it will be a very great one. You may say, "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? but remember, you have a soul to save, or else to perish; you have much to learn, and much to practise in order to carry out fully the example which Jesus Christ has left us to follow. And the knowledge that only "he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever," should lead us to "set our affections on things above, and not on things on the earth." Stand in awe and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord. What will increase Religion amongst us? what will make man the better in this life, and produce a good ripe fruit for him in the world to come? The praise of the Lord, and the fear of his name! This will not only increase the Church of Christ militant, but the glories of the eternal inheritance. Who then will so follow the steps of his Lord (setting at the same time an example and inducement for others to do the like) the good and holy precepts of the Lord?—which led Peter into the sea to follow Christ; a woman in the house of Simon the leper to pour an alabaster box of very precious ointment on his head;— which led Mary the sister of Martha to learn as well as to follow the ways of the Lord at the feet of Jesus. And if we desire to know them also, if we with all our prayers, fasting, religion, selfdenial, and repentance do not enjoy the holy feeling, and inward secret which real christians derive from paying especial regard to "the one thing needful," and which we must realize, or else our faith is imperfect, let us take an example from her who was not cumbered like her sister with the world, but adorned in the knowledge of her God. And if we are at a loss to know how to do this amidst the cares and troubles of this life, retire into thy chamber, and there worship thy God in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Pray for the blessed influences of the Holy Spirit to convince you of sin, to lead you in the right path, to open your eyes and your heart—to regenerate you, and to raise you from spiritual death to spiritual life. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?" (Jer. xiii. 23rd verse.) in like manner your conversion from beginning to end must be assisted (1 Peter, i. 23.) not by baptism only, but by the word preached, and by the blessed efficacy of Christ's blood and atonement you will be brought from darkness unto light, from satan unto God; and resting your faith in the merits of his death, not only he justified, but saved. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." (Acts xvi. 31.)
By thoughtfulness and carefulness, by diligently searching the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, and devoting a portion of your time to religion exclusively, (wisely called "the one thing needful,") anon you will become acquainted with that inward and real happiness emanating only therefrom, and which is so much hid by the glaring business of the world. And without we feel it, we are in sin—we are perhaps in depths of sin, that repentance and time only can root out, unless "the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit," we are not "the children of God;" and if we are not the children of God, whose are we? The servants of sin, the children of the wicked one. "He that is not with me, says our Lord, is against me." "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John. iii. 8.)
Are there any to be found with Martha's character at the present time? Are there none like Martha, "cumbered" by vain things— tinsel ornaments;—who prefer the flesh-pots of Egypt, the pride of life, and the all-powerful grasping of riches, rather than to hearken unto the voice of the Lord—than to observe his statutes, and keep his laws?
On the other side,—Are there any like Mary faithfully serving their Lord, unlike the man who puts his hand to the plough, and looks back, for he is not fit for the kingdom of God? Are there any like Mary diligently attending to "the one thing needful, " that they may be found worthy at Christ's second coming? heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; that suffering with him, we may be also glorified together? For mortal life is the seed-time of immortality, and the fruits of the spirit from within us will be as visible as the works of the flesh; and both will bear their fruit at the harvest of the Lord. Then he that hath sown to his flesh,—who like Martha was "cumbered" about in worldly business—or desiring to heap up riches which cannot follow us to the grave, and so neglecting "the one thing needful," will receive his condemnation. And by the same hand, he that hath sown to the Spirit and Righteousness, and like Mary, ever eager in the service of his Father in heaven, will receive his blessing with eternal life: for such shall He accept at the judgment day: poor in this world's goods, but •ich in Christ; for "the fashion of this world passeth away!"
"Oh be thy wealth, an upright heart;
Thy strength, the sufferer's stay;
Which cannot fade away.
Thy zeal for Christ, a quenchless fire;
Thy friends, the men of peace;
When earthly changes cease."
Chelmsford, A. M. W.
14th Aug. 1845.
Is it better for a Young Person on entering Life to meet with Prosperity or Adversity?
"It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth."
3rd chap. Lamentations, 27th verse.
This question certainly if it were one of choice would occupy not a moment's reflection. Prosperity is, and would be, the desire of all; not the Young only, but every individual. And that it should be so is only natural to our depraved and fallen nature.— With all there is implanted a thirst for obtaining wealth, and a wish to enjoy it to the ne plus ultra. And although the desire is great, yet it more frequently happens it is never realized, and if it does come,—like a bright summer's day, a cloud overspreads the meridian of fortune, and all is lost. It does not appear to me at all inconsistent that on entering life, the desire for, and the endeavours after prosperity are so great; since all are brought up from infancy with the impression that wealth is all-powerful, and that in a great measure it will promote happiness. The result of this idea is plainly seen in after life;—look at the toil, the anxiety and the pains-taking there is for gain, which sometimes accumulates immensely,— and a man thus fortunate, is envied by the world—is looked upon with deference and respect, and the pride of the poor man is humbled when he sees the prosperity of his neighbour, for there is an old adage, "Poverty and Pride go together." Some, however,— hold money in still higher repute, and look upon it as the all-sufficient instrument on earth. I admit that in a great measure it will assist in rendering a being happy, but no further, as it is generally tinctured with adversity in some degree, according to circumstances. What induces men to spend so much of their precious time— early to rise, and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness, but the craving after prosperity, which as far as regards earthly concerns is greatly aided by wealth. I do not disapprove of a mod