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disciple, sits at his feet, and hears his word. Who can count the value of the lessons she then received ? It is probable that the instruction our Lord then imparted, led to her application to him in her affliction, and to the performance of that miracle of mercy, the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
In the present low estimate of the means of grace, we have little power to judge of the benefits which may be derived from a single season of drawing near to our Lord. One day of close communion with Him may, grace,
be the means of imparting to us blessings which we shall never lose. Oh, that this morning He who condescended to speak to Mary would speak to us; would give to us clearer and more scriptural views of the glories of his person, and of the riches of his
grace. We are told, that whilst she was thus profiting by our Lord's condescending visit, Martha, doubtless with a desire to honour our Lord, although it was with mistaken zeal, “was cumbered about much serving ;” carrying her hospitality to a needless length.
For it was not for mere feasting that our Lord, or even his disciples, partook of a social entertainment.
It was, that whilst the body was strengthened with food convenient for it, the soul might receive divine refreshment—that spiritual nourishment of which the Church speaks, when she says, “Thy love is better than wine :" “ His name is as ointment poured forth,”
This over anxiety of Martha in serving, agitated her spirit. With a degree of warmth she said to our Lord, “Carest thou not that my
sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.”
Our Divine Master, however, who was always ready to encourage his humble followers, meekly said unto her, “ Martha, Martha,” repeating her name as if to make
his words more impressive;-“Martha, Marv tha, thou art careful and troubled about
many things : but one thing is needful : and Mary hath chosen that good part which, shall not be taken away from her.”
Few words spoken by our blessed Lord
contain more important instruction. It is obvious that “the one thing needful,” and “ the good part,” are the same; that the expression only is varied, the reality is but one. For making the subject more clear, there are two or three different questions which it will be well to answer.
The first question is, WHAT ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY THIS GOOD PART? Here, without occupying your time with mentioning what it is not, I would say that the one thing needful, or the good part, is, UNION WITH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, or such an interest in Him as may, by divine grace, give a personal and individual right to participate in all that he is, that he has done, that he is doing, and that he will yet do, for his beloved people. In proof of this, allow me to refer you to the contrast produced by this possession of the one thing needful. Take, for instance, the secoud chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians: there we have the circumstances of those who are without Christ placed before us. The Apostle thus writes: “Wherefore remember that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” This was their former state, before they had received the truth. They were “strangers to the covenants of promise," or to those covenants of grace and redemption in which the Lord freely engages to grant to all who “take hold of the covenant” the rich blessings which it contains ; namely, pardon, acceptance, adoption, present peace, and future glory. To these they were all strangers, for they are all “yea and amen in Christ Jesus.” They were also "without hope,” that is to say, without any solid ground upon which the soul can look to the favour of God. For of delusive hopes there are many; but as to real substantial hope, without Christ, there is none.
But mark the contrast which is produced by union with Him, or the possession of an interest in the Saviour : “ Ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the Apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone." Apply this striking contrast, made by being destitute or being united to the Saviour, to different circumstances, and you will see that this possession is the one thing needful, the good part indeed. Take it, for instance, as a transgressor. What is it that blots out sin? It is the blood of Jesus, and this alone ; for “ without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin ;' “but the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses from all sin." _How needful then to have this blood; this is the good part, to have this sprinkled upon your consciences, removing both the guilt and defilement of sin. Or take it as a weak and fallen creature, having no sufficient strength of your own to resist temptation or overcome evi]. How needful to have an interest in Him “in whom all fulness dwells," and from “whose fulness you may receive grace for grace!” Or take it as a person exposed to ten thousand calamities, needing the