« AnteriorContinuar »
and the heart of the widow dances for joy. The arches of heaven resound with hallelujahs and praise, and the song of triumph over death bursts forth from the redeemed ones above; and is echoed back by the church militant whenever any of the spiritually dead are quickened, and walk in newness of life.
The Two Sisters; or, the One Thing
LUKE X., 42.
When Queen Elizabeth wished to repress the rising power of any of her nobility, who might, in any way, be likely to annoy her, she would send them an intimation of her intention to pay them a royal visit at a certain time. The splendour and costs consequent on the entertainment of royalty were, in those days, almost more than the means of the richest nobleman could comfortably meet; and the consequence was that some were not at all ambitious to be honoured with a second visit. However, some of these honoured ones having to mortgage large portions of their estate, their power and influence became crippled, and thus the Queen gained her point.
It was very different when the Sovereign of Heaven and Earth went to the house of Martha. He did not go thither with the wish to impoverish, but to enrich; it was not to cow, but to inspire with holy boldness. Martha, in her anxiety to entertain the Saviour, seems to have lost sight of the nature of His character and mission. He, as the Great Teacher, called at her house for the purpose of instructing the two sisters in the vital principles of His religion; and she ought to have followed the course pursued by her sister Mary, and to have been
more solicitous about divine instruction, and less careful about the nature and extent of the entertainment she wished to give on the occasion of the Saviour's visit.
The fare of Jesus was always of the simplest kind, perhaps, never exceeding one course at a meal. Simplicity has more to do with comfort than variety; and, doubtless, this was one part of the lesson that Christ wished to teach Martha. But His great desire evidently was to fix the attention of Martha on those weightier concerns of eternal importance which were the delight of Mary to listen to, as she sat at Jesus' feet. The two sisters, on this occasion, were absorbed by opposite considerations; the one by an anxious desire to minister to the temporal comfort of Christ, and the other by a deep solicitude to profit by the Saviour's visit. The rebuke given to Martha was gentle and admonitory: the commendation of Mary was well-timed and salutary. We are not to suppose that it was the habit of Martha to be regardless of the teaching and words of Christ, nor that Mary had no care or anxiety about entertaining Him. No, far otherwise. He or she who learns of Christ, imbibes the spirit of Christ, and is careful to entertain the servants of the Saviour. No matter about the cut of the coat or the shape of the hat, or what distinguishing name they may bear.
It has been well remarked that, "if religion be anything, it must be everything." That which concerns the entire range of our being, which is the foundation and source of our good, whether present or future; which,
Zacchæus: or: The Man who climbed up into a Sycamore Tree to see Jesus.
Zacchæus was one of those detested characters with whom the Jews would not associate, and for whom they could not afford a complacent look or kind word; and, judging from the ordinary expressions of human nature, this feeling is not a matter of surprise.
He was chief among the publicans; that is, he was a receiver-general, or farmer of the taxes of the Roman government. Many or most of these tax-collectors were guilty of the vilest acts of rapacity and extortion; and they, without remorse, violated the laws of nations, acting without the slightest regard to principle, and moral rectitude,
Being accustomed to scenes of misery and wretchedness, they could unmovedly witness the distress and destitution of the widow and the fatherless, and boast of being the occasion of widespread misery.
The piercing cries of the infant, hanging on the breast of its disconsolate mother, whose source of nourishment was dried up, and of the orphan who was early thrown upon the wide and selfish world without a protector, or even sympathising friend and adviser, instead of exciting within them benevolent emotions, only served to move them to fresh acts of fiendish cruelty. Thus did many become rich with the spoils of the poor and destitute.
Although this might be the general character of the Roman tax gatherers, it would be very uncharitable and wrong in us to condemn them all. At any rate, I think we may fairly conclude that Zaccheus was one honourable exception. That person must be bad indeed who has no redeeming quality. The faults of others afford no palliation or extenuation for our own. To be uncharitable in our thoughts and conclusions is as much a transgression of the divine law, as to be openly profane. From what source certain fastidious persons derive their ideas and conceptions of the niceties of distinctions which they make between different sins, I know not. Certain, I am, that the Bible does not warrant such It is so-called little sins, which, in the moral soil, act like the wire worms in the natural soil. Sin is no trifle. A simple elementary substance is perfectly inoperative, alone. So it is in morals.
* Many of the subtle hair dividers of the present day make the most ridiculous distinctions about right and wrong, vulgar and polite, &c. By some, all smokers are consigned to perdition; others allow the use of meerschaums and cigars, but condemn short clay pipes, except used by persons of some standing in life. With some, it is decidedly wrong to smoke out of doors, but not in-doors. Others condemn the use of drinks altogether; while some consider the taking of beer to be vulgar, but to drink Port, Sherry, or Spirits is polite. Some say you may take your glass at home, or a private party; but to do so at an inn is decidedly coarse and vulgar—if not sinful.
Another class of persons think it a breach of divine and human laws to knock a person down in the street and rob him, but not