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about preaching the gospel. 2. The nature of the place which Christ at this time preached in: it was a poor village; Bethany, as some think. Christ did not only take care of populous cities, and great towns, but private villages and obscure places enjoyed also the blessing of his ministry. Our Saviour's example herein is instructive to his ministers, not to atfect great auditories, and to preach only in populous cities, but to scatter the seed of the word in country villages, where are like precious souls to be taken care of, and provided for; as Christ was sent himself, so he sends his ministers to preach the gospel to the poor. Observe, 3. The party that entertained him in the village: Martha received him into her house. Martha is named, because she was probably the owner of the house. Though Christ had no house of his own, yet he had as many as he pleased at his command; for wherever he had an heart, he was sure to have an house: Martha received him into her house.
39 And she bad a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
Observe, 1. Both these sisters were holy and devout women, both had an honour and reverence for Christ, and both are forward to entertain him; these were sisters by grace as well as by nature; yea they both for a time attended upon Christ's preaching. Mary (also) sat at Jesus' feet, implying, that Martha sat there too, tilt household occasions called her away. O how happy is that family, where all parties are agreed to receive and entertain the Lord Jesus Christ! Observe, 2. No sooner is Christ entered into Martha's house, but he falls a preaching; whilst they provide bodily food for him, he prepares spiritual bread for them. O that in our place and measure we might all imitate Christ in this: can we come into any house or company, and find nothing to say or do for Uod? Observe, 3. The holy and humble deportment of Mary upon this occasion: She sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his -words. When Christ was speaking, Mary was hearing, and little things could not take her off. Lord ! how carefully should we take the present opportunity for our souls, to hear and learn of thee, as Mary did. She was not sure of another opportunity, therefore hears humbly, attentively, and affectionately, as if it were her last hearing season.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? hid her therefore that she help me.
Observe here, 1. Martha's behaviour: She was cumbered about much serving; that is, much taken up with providing for the entertainment of Christ and his friends; all which considered in itself was no miscarriage, but a token of Martha's endeared respect to her best Friend. A person that sincerely loves Christ, as Martha did, thinks he can never show enough of respect unto him. Martha having such a guest to honour her bouse, puts forth herself all she can, yea, more than she was able, to give him entertainment: She was cumbered about much serving. Observe, 2. Martha's complaint to Christ concerning her sister's not joining with her in the won that lay so hard upon her: Lord, doit thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone .* bid her therefore that she help me: as if Martha had said, Is it a fit thing that both thyself, and all this company, should be unprovided for? or is it reasonable that the whole burden should lie upon me, whilst Mary sits still, and does not touch the least household business with one of her fingers? Lord, what infirmity and weakness intermixes and mingles with the virtues and graces of the best of thy servants, especially when they give way to their distempered passions! This good woman at this time did not attend upon Christ's preaching herself, out interrupts him with a frivolous complaint about her sister: Bid her that she help me. But why did not Martha speak to her sister herself, and whisper in her ear, and acquaint her how she wanted her help, but makes her moan to Christ? Ans. Ts like she thought her sister was so tied by the ear with those adamantine chains of Christ's heavenly doctrine, that until Chri* was silent she had no power to stir; doubtless she believed that Mary would not move unless Christ spake to her so to da Observe, 3. That all this while Mary speaks not one word for herself: no doubt it troubled her, good woman, to hear her sista complain of her to Christ, and find hersdf blamed for her piety, and implicitly condemned for laying hold upon such a sweet opportunity of hearing the beloved of her soul, whose lips dropt as the boney-comb, however, she speaks not a word in her own vindication, but leaves her answer to her Saviour. Learn thence, That when we are complained of tor well-doing, it is our duty, and may it be our prudence, to seal up our lips in silence, and to expect our vindication from above. Mary says nothing, but Christ speaks for her in the next verses.
41 And Jesus answered and said anto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
. As if Christ had said, Martha, Martha, I well know that thou doest all this in love to roe, and it is no more than what is thy duty in its proper season; but thou hadst now an opportunity to hear my word, which thou canst not have every day, and it would have pleased me better, to whom it is meat and drink to feed souls, if I had seen thee sitting with thy dear sister at my feet, and yielding an attentive regard to my holy doctrine, than to find thee performing a necessary civility to my person. Thou hast not made a bad choice, but Mary has made a better; she has laid all aside to attend upon my ministry, and the fruit of it will continue with her to all eternity: It is that good part which shall never be taken array from her. Note here, 1. The unexpectedness of our Saviour's answer to Martha, how contrary it was to her expectation: she thought that her sister should have been sent away with a check, and herself with thanks, but she is quite mistaken: for all her good cheer that she had provided for Christ, he spares not to tell her of her fault: Martha, Martha, thou art troubled about many things. Learn hence, That no obligations to any particular persons should so enthral us, but that our tongues should be at liberty to reprove the faults of our best friends, wherever we find them. Martha, though a pious and good woman, though a friendly and kind woman, though a woman greatly beloved by Christ, yet is she reproved by Christ. Note, 2. The reproof given to Martha: Thou art troubled about many things: where Christ condemns not her hospitality, but her solicitude and superfluity, her distraction and perplexity. O how prone are we to exceed in things lawful and necessary, and to go beyond our bounds
in them: when we are satisfied in the matter, we are prone to exceed in the measure. Martha's entertainment of Christ was a noble service, but she was too anxious and solicitous about it; she was cumbered, she was careful, she was troubled. Note, 3. Our Saviour's admonition: But one thing is needful: that is, there is one thing which ought first and principally to be regarded by us, and is of the greatest concernment to us; namely, the business of religion, and the care of our souls' salvation. Learn hence, That the care of religion, and our souls' salvation, is the one thing necessary, and that which every man is concerned in the first place, and above all other things, to regard and mind. Note, 4. Our Saviour's justification of Mary's choice: Mary hath chosen that good part; " Non tu malaui, sed ilia meliorem." Christ did not tell Martha "she had chosen a bad part, but her sister had chosen the better. Martha's entertainment of Christ was good, but Mary's attendance upon Christ's ministry was better, and more pleasing unto Christ. Christ was better pleased to see Mary in the chapel, than Martha in the kitchen; though he doth not condemn the one, yet he extols the other; Mary had chosen the good part. Learn hence, That religion and the service of God must be the matter of our election and choice; we must choose the^good part, and it being once chosen by us, it shall never be taken away from us: One thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall never be taken away from her.
A ND it came to pass, that as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
The learned Mr. Mead upon this place apprehends, that it was the custom of the Jewish doctors to deliver some certain form of prayer to their disciples to use, at least that John Baptist had done so to his disciples; thereupon our Saviour's disciples besought him, that he also would give them in like manner some form of his own composing, that they might pray with their Master's spirit, as John's disciples did with his. Accordingly our Saviour gives them here a form of his own, and commands them when they pray to use it . Indeed he had given them this prayer about a year and a half before, in his sermon upon the mount, Matt . vi. 9. After this manner pray ye: where it is probable that the disciples looked upon it only as a pattern of prayer, and not as a form; for had they thought that Christ had given them a form of prayer before, they had not asked him for one now: therefore, says Christ, When ye pray, say. Certainly this gives us to understand that our Saviour intended and commanded it for a set form of prayer unto his church. Learn hence, That the Lord's prayer is both a pattern and platform according to which all our prayers ought to be framed; and also an exact form of prayer, which ought to be used by us in our addresses to the throne of grace: After this manner pray ye, says St . Matthew; When ye pray, say, says St. Luke.
2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say,
Observe here, the favour which Christ does us in prescrihing a form of prayer to us; a great favour no doubt, though the world grows weary of it: we know not, alas! what to ask, but he himself teaches us, and frames our supplication for us, that it may bo accepted. Should a king's son draw a petition for a poor subject, to be put up to his father, what a ground of hope would there be, that whatever is desired would be obtained! if any of us then think meanly of our Lord's prayer, O how meanly may he think of us , and of our prayers!
—Our Father which art in heaven: Hallowed be thy name: Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread: 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us: And lead us not into temptation ; but deliver us from evil.
The sense and signification of this best of prayers is this: 'O thou our Father in Je
* sus Christ! who remainest in thy throne « in heaven, and ait there perpetually
* praised and perfectly obeyed by glorious - angels and glorified saints; grant that thy « name may be glorified, thy throne ac« knowledged, and thy holy will obeyed 'here on earth below by us thy sons and
* servants, as readily, as cheerfully, and sin. « cerely, and in some degree of proportion to 'what is done in heaven above. And be'cause, by reason of the frailty of our na'tures, we cannot subsist without the com"forts and supports of life, we crave our
* daily bread at thy bountiful hand; even « such a proportion of the good things of 'this life as thy wisdom shall be couveni
* ent for us. And knowing that thy holi
* ness and justice doth oblige thee to pn'nish sin and sinners, we plead with thee, 'for the sake of thy Son's satisfaction, to for'give us our daily trespasses; for it is our 'desire and endeavour, heartily to forgive 'those that have offended us. And seeiiig
* this wicked world wherein we live is so 'full of snares and temptations of all sorts, "we pray that by the power of thy grace, 'and the concurrence of our own careful en'deavours, we may be kept from Satan's 'temptations, from the world's allurements, 'and from our own evil inclinations; and 'be preserved unblamable to thine ever
* lasting kingdom: and in testimony of our
* desires and assurance to be heard, we say,
* Amen, so be it, so let it be; even so, 'O Lord, let it be for ever.' Learn, 1. That God a the Father of all his people: as a Father he knows all his children, be loves them and takes care of them: as his children, it is our duty to honour him, to obey him, to imitate him, to cast our care upon him, and to long for the enjoyment of him. 2. From the word our, learn, That it is our duty to pray for others, as well as for ourselves ; - we cannot pray acceptably for ourselves, if we pray only for ourselves. 3. That the hallowing, honouring, and sanctifying of God's name, as it is the first thing we are to pray for, so it ought to be preferred before all other things whatsoever: we pray for it before we pray for our own salvation; we say, Hallowed be thy name, before we say, Forgive us our debts. 4 Learn, That sins are debts, and sinners are indebted to divine justice. Sin is an infinite debt, a multiplied debt, aa inexcusable debt, and if not discharged by our surety, we must lie in prison to all eternity, for non-payment of this debt. 5. That God has made our forgiveness of others the condition of his forgiving us: the word as, is not a note of equality, but of similitude; we cannot equal God in forgiving, but we must imitate him. 6. No sooner is sin pardoned, but Satan will be busy with his temptation: Forgive as our sins, and lead us not into temptation. 7. That it is a greater mercy to be delivered from the evil of temptation, than from temptations to evil. Trie evil of temptations is the evil of sin, but temptation to evil is at most but the evil of punishment. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; suffer us not to be led into temptation, or, if so, leave us not when we are tempted.
5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 1 say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
The design of our blessed Saviour in these, and the following verses, is to excite and stir up his disciples to fervency, importunity, and constancy, in the duty of prayer, and to this purpose he makes use of a double argument, the one of a friend, and the other of a father. 1. He lays before them the parable of a friend, coming to his friend at midnight, and by his importunity obtaining that of him which otherwise he must have gone without. From whence our Lord leaves us to infer, that if an impudent and bold beggar can obtain so much from a man, what cannot an humble, earnest, and daily petitioner obtain from God) What friend so faithful and helpful to his dearest friend, as God is to us his children? From the whole note, 1. That a man must be brought into a state of friendship and reconciliation with God, if he hopes his prayers shall be accepted. 2. That when any of the friends of God are in necessities and straits, he allows them the liberty at all hours to call upon him, and pray unto him: at midnight as well as at mid-day, God's ear is open to his praying friends. 3. That Almighty God takes pleasure in being urged in prayer by the holy importunity of his friends: never is he better pleased, than when his people, with holy Jacob, wrestle wit b him, and will
not let him go tilt he hath blessed them. 4. That such holy and humble importunity shall not only obtain what we desired, but more than we expected: only three loaves were desired here, but because of importunity he had as many as he needed; more is given in the concession, than was desired in the supplication. The original word here rendered importunity, signifies impudence, according to that saying among the Jews, The impudent man overcomes the modest and the bashful; how much more God, who is goodness itself?
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; anil he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Our Saviour here goes on to urge us to importunity and constancy in prayer; he hids us ask, seek, and knock, and assures us we shall be accepted, heard, and answered. Here note, 1. That man is a poor indigent creature, full of wants, but unable to supply them. 2. As man is an indigent and insufficient creature, so God is an allsufficient good, able to supply the wants, and to relieve the necessities, of his creatures. 3. 1'hat Almighty God stands ready to supply all our wants, not temporal only, but spiritual also, affording his grace, and the assistance of his Holy Spirit, to them that ask it. 4. If therefore we want the grace of God, and the assistance of his Holy Spirit, it is our own fault, and not God's; it is cither for want of seeking, or for want of earnestness in asking; for our Saviour expressly assures us, that God denies it to none; but evert/ one that askcth receiveth.
11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a- scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know howto give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heaveni; Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
The second parable which our Saviour makes use of, is that of a father to his children ; Christ represents the care and kindness of God towards us by the affections which earthly parents bear to their natural children, who though they be many times evil themselves, yet are not wont to deny their children necessary good things, when they dutifully and decently beg them at their hands: If ye being evil—how much more shall your heavenly Father give hit Holy Spirit; that is, the continual presence and influence of his Holy Spirit to all the purposes of guidance and direction, of grace and assistance, of comfort and support, in our christian course. Learn hence, That the presence and assistance of God's Holy Spirit, to enable us to do what God requires, shall never be wanting to those that desire it, and endeavour after it. But we must always remember that the assistance of God's Holy Spirit, though it be offered and tendered to us, yet it is not forced upon us ; for if we beg the Holy Spirit and his assistance, but refuse to make use of it; or if we cry to him for his help to mortify our lusts, but do not put forth our own endeavours; we forfeit the divine assistance, and God will certainly withdraw his Holy Spirit from us.
14 And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. 15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. 16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation: and a house divided against a house, falleth. 18 If Satan also be divided against himself, bow shall his kingdom stand ? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. 19 And if 1 by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. 20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
A relation is here given of a famous miracle wrought by our Saviour in casting
a devil out of a possessed man. It i a dumb devil, because of the effect upon the poor possessed person in restraining the use of his tongue. Learn here, 1. That among the many calamities which sin has rendered human nature liable and obnoxious to, this is one, to be bodily possessed by Satan. 2. That one demonstration of Christ's divine power, and a convictive evidence of his being truly and really God, was his casting out devils by the word of his power. Observe, 3. What a sad and contrary effect this miracle had upon the wicked Pharisees, through their own blindness, obstinacy, and malice: instead of magnifying his divine power, they maliciously accuse him for holding a correspondence with the devil, and acting by a power derived from him; as if Satan should lend our Saviour a power against himself, and that for the destruction of his own kingdom. Lord! how dangerous is a wilful opposition against the truth! It provokes the Almighty to deliver persons up to the most unreasonable infidelity, and obstinate obduracy. Observe, 4. Our Saviour knowing their thoughts, makes a just apology for himself, by showing how improbable and unlikely, how unreasonable and absurd, it is once to imagine or suppose that Satan should cast out himself, and any ways seek to oppose or destroy his own kingdom: Now, if I have received (says Christ) my power from Satan, for casting out of Satan, then is the devil like a family divided within itself, and divided like a kingdom against itself, which can never stand, but must be brought to destruction. Observe, lastly, Our Saviour tells the Pharisees, that they might with as much reason attribute all other miracles to the power of the devil, as those wrought by himself; for there were attain Jews among them that cast oat devils in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; now our Saviour asks them by what power these their children cast them out? They acknowledged that what they did was by the power of God, and there was no cause but their malice, why they should not acknowledge that what he did was by the same power; If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? But if I with the finger of God cast them out, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you: that is, the long expected kingdom of the Messias is certainly come, and I having wrought fhese miracles by my own power, is a demonstrative proof that I am the promised ."