Everlasting love of God, and Mary's good choice/Mary's Good Choice

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Mary's Good Choice.




Luke x. 42.

Mary hath chosen that good part, which
ſhall not be taken away from her.

As Chriſt did ſhew himself loving to Lazarus and his ſister, in that he raised Lazarus from the death of the body, and then from the deeth of the ſoul: So did his ſisters here ſhew their thankful minds unto Chriſt again; the one by receiving him into her house, and the other by entertaining of him into her heart. As he was God, he was entertained by Mary; and as he was man, he was received of Martha. They both desired to entertain our Saviour, as Jacob and Esau desired to please their aged father, Gen. xxvii. But Mary made choice of the better part, and was preferred before her ſister, as Jacob ſped ſooneſt of moſt dainty venison, and prevented his brother of the blessing: And although the cares of Martha, in her entertaining of Christ, be not to be misliked of, yet Mary's diligence in hearing Christ's doctrine, is of purpose preferred to Martha's care; to declare unto us, that it is much better with Mary to ſtudy in the word, and first to ſeek the kingdom of God, Matth. vi. 35. than with Martha, to labour in the world, and to neglect that heavenly kingdom. And yet notwithstanding ſuch is the corruption of this rusty age, that our greatest care is to provide for this present life, as did that rich man, Luke xii. that enlarged his barns, wherein to put ſtore for many years; but we never, or very late, do provide for that life to come, like to that other man that never had thought of heaven till he was tormented in hell! Luke xvi.

In John xi. 5. Christ is ſaid to love this family; and here he is ſaid to come unto them: for whom he loveth, he cannot but visit, like the friends of Job, chap. ii. that came to comfort him in his adversity—Yea, and the greateer love that Christ bears unto any, the oftener he doth resort unto them; yea, he will come and dwell with them, John xiv. 25. Like Jacob, that came down into Egypt, to his beloved ſon Joseph, and dwelt in Goshen, Gen. xlvii. But Christ is yet more kind than Jacob was, for he came not till he came of his own accord to his beloved family. Jesus doth always prevent us with his manifold blessings. Before he was desired, he came into the world; he called his apostles, before they came unto him; and before he was invited, he came into this poor house.—O happy house, that entertained such a guuſt! and thrice happy inhabitants, to whom such a guest would vouchsafe to come! When he came unto the ſwiniſh Gadarenes, they desired him to depart out of their coasts; preferring their ſwine before their Saviour, Luke viii. But this godly family gladly received him into their house; preferred their God before their gold, and their ſouls' health before their worldly wealth. They received him into their houses, who had not a house of his own to put his head into, Matth. viii. 16. Wherein their hospitality is commended, and ſhall most certainly be rewarded at that most dreadful day! Matth. xxv. For with these, and ſuch-like works of mercy, the Lord ſhall answer the ſentence of judgement, which is to be denounced againſt the wicked, that never exercised these works of mercy.

Let us therefore learn by their example to be harbourers, and given to hospitality, which is ſo often commended to us in the Scriptures, and ſhall be ſo richly rewarded at the last day. These godly fathers, Abraham and Lot, entertained angels in their houses, in the habit of ſtrangers, Gen. xviii. xix. So we may daily entertain Christ Jesus, in the habit of a poor man, of a blind man, of a lame man; and whatsoever is done to any of those that are his members, he doth account thereof as it were done to himself.

Now, as this virtue of hospitality is commendable in all ſorts of persons, ſo it is our ſpecial concern, and more especially commended unto ministers, who are expressly commanded by the Apostle Paul, among other things, to be given to hospitality, 1 Tim. iii. 2. Unto the Levites, in the time of the law, the Lord appointed cities of refuge, Numb. xxxv. to ſignify thereby, that the minister's house ſhould be the poor man's harbour, and his ſtore their treasury. But the true ministers in these our days, have no cities of refuge for others, because they have none for themselves; they have not to relieve the wants of others, for they have not to relieve their own necessities.

Now, when Martha had once entertained Christ, as he was man, into her house, Mary began to entertain him, as he was God, into her heart; ſhe ſat at his feet, to hear his preaching. For no ſooner came Christ into the house, but he took occasion to teach and instruct the family; and instead of bodily food, which they bestowed on him, he bestowed upon them the food of the ſoul. Thus doth Christ always ſhew himself a thankful guest: For into whatsoever house he entereth in, he leaveth better things behind him than he findeth: He loves not to be in Zaccheus' debt for his dinner, for instead thereof he bringeth ſalvation to his house: Neither does he here leave his ſupper unpaid; for instead thereof he bestowed on them a heavenly ſermon.—This ſhould be the exercise of all faithful ministers, when they are invited to a great feast; that, as they are called the ſalt of the earth, (Matth. v. 18.) to make meat savoury and well ſeasoned, and to preſerve them from putrefaction; ſo the miniſters and pastors ſhould ſeason the table with ſome godly conferences and communications, to minister grace unto the hearers, Eph. iv. 29.

Both these ſisters were godly women, and both earnest favourers of Jesus Christ; and yet in the manner of their devotions, there is ſuch a difference, that the worldly affections of the one, may, in ſome ſort, be misliked, in respet of the godly exércise and practice of the other. Martha is ſore incumbered with much ſerving, when a little ſervice had been ſufficient; but Mary is attentive to hear the word of God, which never can be heard ſufficiently. Mary ſitteth, to hear the word, Matth. v. as Christ (illegible text)seth to ſit, when he preached the word, Luke iv. to declare unto unto us, that the word is to be preached and heard with a quiet mind.—In a ſtill night, every voice is heard; and when the body is quiet, the mind most commonly is quiet also. But Martha is troubled with other affairs, and therefore unfit to hear the word, as is the ground that is covered with ſtones, or overgrown with weeds and thorns, which is indeed unfit to receive the ſeed, or to yield any fruit to him that tilleth it, Matth. xiii. 20. As often, therefore, as we come to hear the word of God, we must not come with distracted minds, we must not trouble ourselves with the cares of this life, which, as our Saviour faith, are but thorns, to choak the word, and to make it unfruitful, Luke viii. 4. For, as Moses was unfit to talk with God, till he had put off his ſhoes, Exod. iii. and the blind man unfit to come to Christ, until he had thrown away his cloak, Mark x. ſo we must think ourselves unfit to hear the word of God, and unapt for every heavenly exercise, till we have put off our ſhoes, that is, all our worldly cogitations and affections; and till we have cast away our cloaks, that is, all letts and impediments, which may hinder us in profiting in our professions. When our minds are quiet, we are fit to deal with heavenly matters; therefore the Doctors conferred fitting in the temple; and God he delighteth to deal with us, when we are most private. He appeared to Abraham, ſitting in the door of his tent, Gen. xviii. The Holy Ghoſt, he came down upon the apostles, and filled all the house where they were ſitting. The Eunuch, ſitting in his chariot, was called and converted, by the preaching of Philip, Acts viii. 37.

Mary ſat at Jesus' feet, yet ſat ſhe not ſleeping, as many ſit at the preacher's feet; but ſhe ſat at Christ's feet, and heard his words; as Paul was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and was perfectly instructed in the law of his fathers, Acts xxii. Her humility is commendable, in that ſhe ſat at Jesus' feet; to declare to us, that the word is to be heard with all humility. Her diligence and earnestness appeareth, in that ſhe would not depart and help her ſiſter; to ſignify, that the hearing of the word muſt be preferred before worldly business. Her diligence and humility may ſerve to condemn our negligence and contempt of Chriſt and his word; we do not ſit at Chriſt's feet, nay, we ſet Chriſt at our feet, when we are ſo careless in hearing of the word; we are as ſlow to come to the church, as the raven was to come to the ark of Noah, Gen. viii. and as loath are we to ſpend any time in the ſervice of God, as Pharaoh was loath to let the Israelites go to ſerve the Lord. If a commodity were to be ſeen, out of which ſome profit or worldly gain may arise, how careful would we be to procure it? What pains would we take to get it? Absalom was no more deſirable of a kingdom, than are the rich men of our time desirable of golden gain; but if it be a matter of cost and trouble unto them, if they cannot hear the word preached, without ſome hindrance to their worldly business, and ſome extraordinary charge to their purse, then, like to the Gadarenes, Luke viii. they are content to take their leave of Christ and his word, and would rather leave the heavenly pearl, than part with their worldly ſelf, Matth. xii. 49.

Thus, in Christ, we have a pattern of a good pastor; and in Mary, the pattern of a good hearer. Let ministers learn by his example, to take all occasions to preach the word; to be instant in ſeaſon and out of ſeaſon, 2 Tim. iv. 2. And let Christians learn by her example, first to ſeek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, Mat.vi. And then to provide for things of this life. While Mary was careful for the food of the ſoul. Martha was curious to provide food to the body: her greatest care was to entertain Christ, and to make him good cheer, to testify her thankful mind unto him, that had done ſo great things for them: he had raised her brother Lazarus from death to life, therefore he was worthy to be well entertained. If Elias deserved to be well dealt withal, at the hand of his mistess, whose ſin he had restored to life, (illegible text) Kings xvii. or Elisha deserved ſuch entertainment, for her ſon's reviving, I Kings (illegible text)v. then ſurely our Saviour Christ was much more welcome hither, ſeeing he had raised Lazarus out of his grave, where he had lain by the ſpace of four days before, John xi. It was well done, therefore, of Martha to ſhew her thankful mind to Christ; but it was not well done at that time, to fhew herself thankful in that manner; for it was then time to hear the word, because at that time Christ preached the word; it was not a convenient time for her to ſpend on other affairs, and to neglect the greatest affair, even the means of her own ſalvation. It was not unlawful for Martha to labour, no more than it was unlawful for Peter to sleep; but, when Christ was preaching, it was then no time for her to busy herself in ſerving, no more than it was for Peter to ſleep, whenas Christ did ſo earnestly will him to watch and pray, Matth. xxv.

When Christ preached out of Simon's ſhip to the people that ſtood upon the ſhore Luke v. it was no time then for Peter to play the fiſherman, but when Christ had left ſpeaking, and commanded him to launch out into the deep, then was it time for him to let down his net. There is a time wherein we ought to labour in our vocation and a time wherein we ought to hear the word of God; and as we may not utterly neglect our lawful calling to follow ſermons, ſo muſt we not bestow the Sabbath, which is consecrated to the ſervice of God, in following the works of our vacation. "All things have their appointed time," faith the wise man; and "every thing is ſeemly in his convenient ſeaſon," Eccl. iii. but when things are done preposterously, and out of order, then followeth confusion.

Now, let us ſee how Mary is excused and commended for her godly care: One thing is necessary, faith our Saviour. And what is that one thing? Even to hear the word preached, which is the power of God unto ſalvation, to every one that believeth. Rom. i. 16. A man may better want all things, than that one needful thing; and yet we desire all things, and we neglect that one thing which is ſo needful. This one thing hath Mary chosen, and therefore hath chosen the better part: Martha's part is good, because it provideth for this present life; but Mary's part is better, because it leadeth unto eternal life. It is good to be occupied about our calling, to get our living: but it is better to be occupied in hearing the word, which is able to ſave our ſouls.

Chriſt loves Martha for hospitality, as Isaac loved Esau for his venison; and Christ loved Mary for her care and diligence in hearing his word, as Rebecca loved Jacob for the hearkening to her voice, Gen. xxv. As a nurse, that having her breasts full of milk, doth love the child that ſucks it from her, even ſo the Lord Jesus Christ, when he hath his breast full of heavenly milk, is glad when he hath children to ſuck the ſame. Let us therefore, as the apostle willeth us, "Lay aside all maliciousness, guile and dissimalation; all envy and ill-ſpeaking; and, as new-born babes, desire the ſincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby, to perfect men in Christ Jesus," 1 Pet. ii. 1. Let us breathe after the fountain of living water, which ſpringeth up into everlasting ufe, John iv. 14.

Now, forasmuch as many things are ſo troublesome, and one thing is ſo very needful, let us ever be ſeeking that needful thing, which we muſt learn by hearing of the word of God whereby faith, without which it is impossible to please God, Heb. xi. 9. may be begotten and nourished in the hearts of men, Rom. x. 17. As for all other things, whether they be honours, promotions, pleasures, or whatsoever else, they ſerve only for the maintenance of this present life, they are but ſhort, and also very ſubject to mutability: But the word of God is the food of the ſoul, the bread of life, that immortal ſeed, which bringeth forth fruit unto eternal life, 1 Pet. i. 13.—Let the word of God be precious to us, because it is ſo permanent; for heaven and earth ſhall pass away, Luke xxi. 23. but the word of God endureth for ever, 1 Pet, i. 25. If we make choice of any other thing besides, it must be taken from us, or we must be taken from it; but if we make choice of this one thing, it ſhall never be taken from us, neither in this life, nor the life to come. The Lord grant, that we be not only hearers, but doers of the word, James i. 22. Amen.


This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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