Page images
PDF
EPUB

upon the Spirit Almighty and All-benevolent, and was of course not disappointed.

Blessed are they whose faith in Christ's power and mercy is unlimited, and who always and joyfully realize that he is able to save to the uttermost!

Pari of Bethany. Passing out of St. Stephen's gate, in the eastern wall of the city of Jerusalem, crossing the brook Cedron, and passing near the garden of Gethsemane, then turning, and, with the brook on your right, following its southerly course a little space, and presently circling eastward up Mount Olivet, and crossing a double ridge, you descend into a deep and narrow vale, about two miles from the city you have just left. Here is Bethany,—SO famous in the evangelical narrative, and wreathing with its name associations-some, beautiful as the walks of angels—others, awful as the voices from the spirit world. Here was one of the favorite resting-places where the Saviour of the world resorted for refreshment and repose, and here were mansions where He was often welcomed who came to be for salvation to the ends of the earth.

It was in one of these happy homes where bloomed in modest beauty Mary of Bethany-one of the purest and loveliest characters of the Holy Scriptures, and answering, almost without exception, the true idea of female exellence. Martha was her sister, and Lazarus her brother, while the parents of the three were probably no longer among the living. Several circumstances seem to bespeak the more than ordinary respectability of this interesting family. That they were above want, is a likely inference from their frequent and generous hospitalities toward Christ and his companions, as also from the expensive anointing, by Mary, at the feast of Simon ;-while their respectability, as well as wealth, is an idea harmonious with the attention and sympathy exhibited to the sisters in the visits of condolence from Jerusalem after the death of their brother. *

There belongs, however, to Mary a character infinitely more valuable than what might arise from worldly riches and reputation. Her earliest appearance in the inspired narrative is one of exceeding interest. She is listening with profound attention and reverence to the great Teacher who has condescended to honor her residence with his presence, and speak to that circle, of matters the most interesting to them in the universe. Mary especially drinks in the words of life.

All things else appear to lose their hold upon her attention and affections. The outward world has lost its attractions, and loved associates are, for the time, neglected and forgotten. Even the domestic arrangements are esteemed of no importance in comparison of the words that flow, as spirit and life, to her soul. She forgets her customary share of the household duties, while the more careful Martha is left to serve alone. She has found meat to eat such as the world knows not of. A scene of enchantment has opened before her vision, and she would fain gaze upon it forever. To tear herself away from the Redeemer's feet, and cease to listen to his voice, is as if passing from the charms of the heavenly paradise to roam amid the rough hills and ravines around her earthly abode. A glimpse of the immortal life is affecting deeply the heart of Mary. What is the world to her," its pomp, its pleasure, and its nonsense all ?” What is there here save emptiness? On what shall she lay her hand, and say, “ See, this is abiding and permanent?” Whither shall she run, and entering, exclaim, "Lo, this is my fortress and my strong tower ?" In what fragrant and peaceful bowers shall she recline, and, reposing there, sing, "Here be my rest forever ?" On what peaceful shore shall she stand, and, amid the thrilling of unutterable happiness, whisper to herself, “Here glides the river of the water of life?” On what countenance of entrancing loveliness shall she look, whose spiritual beauty, and whose smiles divine, shall still enrapture, when the stars shall have long since set behind the shadows of eternity ? "Mary, come to my help, that I serve not alone!" "Martha, entreat me not to leave His feet, from whose lips are flowing the words of eternal life!"

* Dr. Olin.

Master, bid her that she help me!!!

Martha, Martha ! thou art troubled about many things. One thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall never be taken away from her.”

But sadness came at length, and entered the once pleasant mansion of Martha and Mary. Their dear and only brother was sick, and it was a sickness unto death. As he declined from day to day, and all human help and wisdom proved abortive, it was natural that they should think of the great Physician who had healed so many of their sicknesses. He was away beyond the Jordan; yet a messenger is suddenly despatched with the intelligence that the one whom he loved was sick. Jesus delays his visit, and for the present withholds his power, and the brother beloved is left to die. Four days after his burial, Christ and his disciples arrived in the vicinity, and Martha hastens to meet him. The more quiet Mary waits, at the house, the Saviour's coming, or tarries till she is bidden to approach his presence. She comes with the same salutation which Martha used, deeply expressive at once of their faith and their sorrow.

Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died !” Thus spake Mary, as, low at his sacred feet, she wept in her bitterness. Here ceased her words, but more eloquent still was the agony of her grief. The Lord was silent. She especially was dear to Christ, and as he saw the intensity of her mourning, his own spirit groaned and wept.

Great and awful was the transaction of that day at the grave of Lazarus. There stood the twelve. They had often seen the brother of Martha and Mary, and had been partakers of his cheerful hospitalities. “Our friend Lazarus," were the pleasant words by which the Lord had spoken of him when they heard of his illness. There stood also the visitors from Jerusalem, who had come to Bethany, that day, on a visit of condolence and sympathy. And there were the two sisterstheir hearts swollen with grief too great to be comforted. Lastly, there stood the weeping Son of God—weeping with them that wept-mingling his sacred tears with those of the bereaved. And there, at the same time, He stood girded with omnipotence, while, as he spake, the reverberations of that voice rolled through paradise. The time had come when the dead heard the voice of the Son of God and lived. A slight tumult is heard, for a moment, from within that dark and noisome cavern, while without, all eyes have ceased to weep, and are gazing with trembling amazement toward the aperture. He is coming, -Heaven pity us! The vestments of death are upon him, and his swathed face is pale and thin; but his eyes are open, and the fire of life is again there. “Loose him, and let him go !"

After that, Mary could never for a moment forget the great Deliverer. She loved him before, and was never happier than when sitting at his feet, and hearing his word. But now, added to al

« PreviousContinue »