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sidered as representatives of two important classes of the sex, neither of which alone would meet the wants of society, and standing as, in a sense, complements to each other.
Among the qualities that were common to the two sisters, we easily discern that of intelligence. They were, both of them, women of mind; and were, doubtless, respectable for their general acquirements and information. They were well read in the Jewish Scriptures, and their circumstances of competence, and the position they appear to have held in society, indicate that, in respect to intellectual attainments, they were inferior to few of their sex in the circles where they moved. Martha's interesting colloquies with Christ just previous to her brother's resurrection, clearly evince her intelligence, regarded as a Jewess. She had studied and digested the doctrines and teachings of the Jewish Scriptures, while her views had received ample enlargement and elevation from her intercourse with the great Teacher. Equally discernible, though in a different way, is the intelligence of Mary. She, as well as Martha, had given attention to sacred thingshad been conversant with the Scripture prophecies, and seemed even more intent than her sister upon learning of Him who was meek and lowly in heart, and who yet knew all things. On one occasion, at least, Mary's extraordinary diligence in hearing the instructions of Christ, was esteemed by her sister as interfering with those domestic interests and duties in which they were accustomed cordially to participate.
Again, these sisters cherished a common faith. They were both believers in the ancient Scriptures, and both of them most cordially welcomed Christ as the promised Messiah. Martha did but speak the deep sentiment of herself and her sister when she uttered to Christ that distinct and beautiful confession, saying, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” With such a confession as this, their whole conduct was delightfully harmonious. They never appeared to doubt, for a moment, that Jesus was the Christ, the Saviour of the world. As such they received him and his companions to their cheerful hospitalities;-as such they sat at his feet, and heard his words and beckoned him to come to them in trouble,—and leaned upon his power, as upon no merely human help,--and saw in him fully and literally revealed the resurrection and the life.
Thus they possessed a common piety. Both of them feared and loved God, and were ardently attached to him whom they firmly believed to be the great and promised Messiah. Their love to Christ, it is true, went out under different modes of manifestation ; yet was it, perhaps, equal in strength and constancy in those two hearts, and if with unequal speed, yet with equal certainty, would they have embraced the stake for the sake of Him whom their souls loved.
A common hospitality was also theirs. Equally rejoiced were they to receive Christ and his apostles within their mansion at Bethany. Their smiles of joy were harmonious, as they embraced the privilege of ministering to their necessities. Nothing in the eye of Martha was too good-no domestic service was too great, if it were for the comfort of her illustrious guest, and his favored disciples. So felt also the gentle Mary. Her hospitality was equal to Martha's, though modified at times, in its manifestations, by other preponderating sentiments hereafter to be noticed. If Martha flew to spread plenteously her table, Mary rejoiced in her sister's zeal, though that zeal might, now and then, reproach her own apparent deficiency or neglect. Their varying movements in the presence of their guests meant not that within those two noble hearts there dwelt not a harmony of cordiality, but they indicated a difference rather with which those hearts cherished other views, and other motives of conduct. Both were alike hospitable--one, from another and a lofty influence, was less attentive to the conduct which hospitality might suggest.
But passing from these and other instances of resemblance, it is time to notice those very obvious points of distinction and difference between these interesting sisters.
Thus Martha was marked by more than ordinary activity both of body and mind. She was quick of perception-vivid and strong in her views of external propriety--and of great promptness in action. Her eye, ever active and direct, appreciated with a glance the outward, the visible, the decorous. She lacked not a strong mind and a good heart,-yet she was, at the same time, solicitous that all arrangements with which she was concerned should be orderly and becoming. We may easily guess that her house, in all its apartments and furniture, was well-ordered, neat, and inviting. There was a tendency in her to be disturbed at the sight of anything deranged or untasteful. She loved to hear the words of Christ; yet she loved again to minister to his wants-to provide every physical comfort, and was careful to omit no attentions of this sort that her nice discernment saw to be becoming, or her means allowed her to furnish. In contemplating her, we fail not to be strongly reminded of the wise man's masterly portraiture of the virtuous woman, whose price is far above rubies : looked well to the ways of her household, and ate not the bread of idleness."
Mary, on the other hand, was more thoughtful than she was energetic and animated. She was meditative rather than active. The outward and the noisy had less attractions for her, and commanded less of her attention and care. If she might converse with the Lord Jesus, and listen to his heavenly wisdom, all else seemed to her as comparatively of no account. She could easily forget the little activities due to order, and even
to hospitality, while she would lose herself amid the charms of sacred and holy visions. In her raptures with the divine, she tended to forget the human. Tasting the meat that endureth to everlasting life, it almost escaped her thoughts that even the food that perishes is for a time necessary. Her eye on the part which shall never be taken away, she seemed exposed to utter disregard of that action which, though immediately directed to temporal consequences, was yet as capable of being performed to the glory of God, as even those exercises that are of a more spiritual and more elevated order.
Martha, again, was forward ;-yet not in that sense which is deemed indecorous and offensive. She was forward to speak ; and if, at times, her words were hasty, yet were they in general judicious as well as pleasing. She was forward to move; yet hers were the movements of benevolence and generous sentiment. Her hands longed to be occupied with some affectionate acts, such as might conduce to the comfort and happiness of worthy ones. In her graceful forwardness, she could not do enough for her Saviour and his followers. Her step was as elastic as it was joyous; her movements were as sprightly as they were efficient, whenever she might administer to the necessities of those who were despised and rejected by many, even of her own friends and associates. Martha was forward; yet was it a forwardness with which we could not dispense in