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bold subincusation; Lord, dost thou not care? How ready is our weakness, upon every slight discontentment, to quarrel with our best friend, yea with our good God; and, the more we are put to it, to think ourselves the more neglected, and to challenge God for our neglect! Do we groan on the bed of our sickness; and, languishing in pain, complain of long hours and weary sides? straight we think, “Lord, dost thou not care that we suffer? Doth God's poor Church go to wreck, while the ploughers ploughing on her back, make long furrows ? “ Lord, dost thou not care ?" But know thou, O thou feeble and distrustful soul, the more thou doest, the more thou sufferest, the more thou art cared for: neither is God ever so tender over his Church, as when it is most exercised. Every pang and stitch and gird is first felt of him, that sends it. O God, thou knowest our works, and our labour, and our patience: we may be ignorant and diffident; thou canst not but be gracious.

It could not but trouble devout Mary, to hear her sister's impatient complaint; a complaint of herself to Christ, with such vehemence of passion, as if there had been such strangeness betwixt the two sisters, that the one would do nothing for the other, without an external compulsion from a superior. How can she choose but think, “ If I have offended, why was I not secretly taxed for it, in a sisterly familiarity? What if there have been some little omission ? must the whole house ring of it, before my Lord and all his disciples? Is this carriage beseeming a sister? Is my devotion worthy of a quarrel ? Lord, dost thou not care that I am injuriously censured? Yet I hear not a word of reply, from that modest mouth. O holy Mary, I admire thy patient silence. Thy sister blames thee for thy piety; the disciples, afterwards, blame thee for thy bounty and cost : not a word falls from thee, in a just vindication of thine honour and innocence; but, in an humble taciturnity, thou leavest thine answer to thy Saviour. How should we learn of thee, when we are complained of for well-doing, to seal up our lips, and to expect our righting from above !

And how sure, how ready art thou, O Saviour, to speak in the cause of the dumb ? Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things ; but one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen the better part. What needed Mary to speak for herself when she had such an Advocate ?

Doubtless, Martha was, as it were, divided from herself with the multiplicity of her careful thoughts: our Saviour therefore doubles her name in his compellation that, in such distraction, he may

both find and fix her heart. The good woman made full account, that Christ would have sent away her sister with a check, and herself with thanks ; but now her hopes fail her; and though she be not directly

reproved, yet she hears her sister more approved than she ; Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.

Our Saviour received courtesy from her, in her diligent and costly entertainment; yet he would not blanch her error, and smooth her up in a weak misprision. No obligations may so enthral us, as that our tongues should not be free to reprove faults, where we find them. They are base and servile spirits, that will have their tongue tied to their teeth.

This glance towards a reproof implies an opposition of the condition of the two sisters. Themselves were not more near in nature, than their present humour and estate differed.

One is opposed to many; necessary, to superfluous; solicitude, to quietness: Thou art careful and troubled about many things ; one thing is necessary. How far then may our care reach to these earthly things ? On the one side, O Saviour, thou hast charged us to take no thought what to eat, drink, put on; on the other, thy chosen vessel hath told us, that he, that provides not for his family hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. We may, we must care for many things; so that our care be for good, and well: for good, both in kind and measure ; well, so as our care be free from distraction, from distrust : from distraction, that it hinder us not from the necessary duties of our general calling ; from distrust, that we misdoubt not God's Providence, while we employ our own. We cannot care for thee, unless we thus care for ourselves, for ours.

Alas! how much care do I see every where, but how few Marthas? Her care was for her Saviour's entertaininent; ours, for ourselves. One finds perplexities in his estate, which he desires to extricate ; another beats his brains for the raising of his house : one busies his thoughts about the doubtful condition, as he thinks, of the times, and casts in his anxious head the imaginary events of all things, opposing his hopes to his fears; another studies how to avoid the cross blows of an adversary. Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and troubled about many things. Foolish men ! why do we set our hearts upon the rack, and need not? Why will we endure to bend under that burden, which more able shoulders have offered to undertake for our

ease ? Thou hast bidden us, O God, to cast our cares upon thee, with promise to care for us. We do gladly unload ourselves upon thee. Oh let our care be to depend on thee, as thine is to provide for us.

Whether Martha be pitied or taxed for her sedulity, I am sure Mary is praised for her devotion. One thing is necessary ; not by way of negation, as if nothing were necessary but this ; but by way of comparison, as that nothing is so necessary as this. Earthly occasions must vail to spiritual. Of those three main grounds of all our actions, necessity, convenience, pleasure, each transcends other; convenience carries it away from plea

sure, necessity from convenience, and one degree of necessity from another. The degrees are according to the conditions of the things necessary. The condition of these earthly necessaries is, that without them we cannot live temporally; the condition of the spiritual, that without them we cannot live eternally. So much difference then as there is betwixt temporary and eternal, so much there must needs be betwixt the necessity of these bodily actions and those spiritual: both are necessary in their kinds ; neither must here be an opposition, but a subordination. The body and soul must be friends, not rivals: we may not so ply the Christian, that we neglect the man.

Oh the vanity of those men, who, neglecting that one thing necessary, affect many things superfluous ! Nothing is needless with worldly minds, but this one, which is only necessary, the care of their souls. How justly do they lose that they cared not for, while they over-care for that, which is neither worthy nor possible to be kept !

Neither is Mary's business more allowed than herself : She hath chosen the good part. It was not forced upon her, but taken up by her election. Martha might have sat still, as well as she: she might have stirred about, as well as Martha. Mary's will made this choice, not without the inclination of Him, who both

gave this will and commends it. That will was before renewed; no marvel if it chose the good: though this were not in a case of good and evil, but of good and better. We have still this holy freedom, through the inoperation of him, that hath freed us. Happy are we, if we can improve this liberty to the best advantage of our souls.

The stability or perpetuity of good adds much to the praise of it. Martha's part was soon gone; the thank and use of a little outward hospitality cannot long last : but Mary's shall not be taken away from her. The act of her hearing was transient; the fruit permanent: she now hears that, which shall stick by her for ever.

What couldst thou hear, O holy Mary, from those Sacred Lips, which we hear not still? That heavenly doctrine is never but the same; not more subject to change, than the Author of it. It is not impossible, that the exercise of the Gospel should be taken from us; but the benefit and virtue of it is as inseparable from our souls, as their being. In the hardest times, that shall stick closest to us; and till death, in death, after death, shall make us happy.

CONTEMPLATION XVIII.--THE BEGGAR THAT

WAS BORN BLIND, CURED.

JOHN IX.

The man was born blind. This cure requires not art, but power ; a power no less than Infinite and Divine. Nature presupposeth a matter, though formless ; art looks for matter formed to our hands : God stands not upon either. Where there was not an eye to be healed, what could an oculist do? It is only a God, that can create. Such are we, O God, to all spiritual things : we want not sight, but eyes : it must be thou only, that canst make us capable of illumination.

The blind man sat begging. Those, that have eyes and hands and feet of their own, may be able to help themselves : those, that want these helps, must be beholden to the eyes, hands, feet of others. The impotent are cast upon our mercy: happy are we, if we can lend limbs and senses to the needy. Affected beggary is odious: that, which is of God's making, justly challengeth relief.

Where should this blind man sit begging, but near the Temple ? At one gate sits a cripple, a blind man at another. Well might these miserable souls suppose, that piety and charity dwelt close together : the two tables were both of one quarry. Then are we best disposed to mercy towards our brethren, when we have either craved or acknowledged God's mercy towards ourselves. If we go thither to beg of God, how can we deny mites, when we hope for talents ? Never did Jesus move one foot, but to purpose.

He passed by; but so, as that his virtue staid : so did he pass by, that his eye was fixed. The blind man could not see him ; he sees the

His goodness prevents us, and yields better supplies to our wants. He saw compassionately; not shutting his eyes, not turning them aside, but bending them upon that dark and disconsolate object. That, which was said of the sun, is much more true of him, that made it, Nothing is hid from his light; but of all other things, miseries, especially of his own, are most intentively eyed of him. Could we be miserable unseen, we had reason to be heartless. O Saviour, why should we not imitate thee, in this merciful improvement of our senses? Woe be to those eyes, that care only to gaze upon their own beauty, bravery, wealth ; not abiding to glance upon the sores of Lazarus, the sorrows of Joseph, the dungeon of Jeremy, the blind beggar at the gate of the Temple.

The disciples see the blind man too, but with different eyes : our Saviour, for pity and cure; they, for expostulation; Master, who did sin ? this man or his parents, that he is born blind?

born blind? I like well, that whatsoever doubt troubled them, they straight vent it

blind man.

into the ear of their Master. O Saviour, while thou art in heaven, thy school is upon earth. Wherefore serve thy priests' lips but to preserve knowledge? What use is there of the tongue of the learned, but to speak a word in season? Thou teachest us still; and still we doubt, and ask, and learn.

In one short question, I find two truths and two falsehoods ; the truths implied, the falsehoods expressed. It is true, that, commonly, man's suffering is for sin ; that we may justly, and do often, suffer even for the sins of our parents: it is false, that there is no other reason of our suffering, but sin ; that a man could sin actually before he was, or was before his being, or could beforehand suffer for his after-sins. In all likelihood, that absurd conceit of the transmigration of souls possessed the very disciples. How easily, and how far, may the best be miscarried with a common error! We are not thankful for our own illumination, if we do not look, with charity and pity, upon the gross mis-opinions of our brethren.

Our Saviour sees, and yet will wink at, so foul a misprision of his disciples. I hear neither chiding nor conviction. He, that could have enlightened their minds, as he did the world, at once, will do it by due leisure ; and only contents himself here with a mild solution; Neither this man, nor his parents. We learn nothing of thee, O Saviour, if not meekness. What a sweet temper should be in our carriage, towards the weaknesses of others' judgment! How should we instruct them without bitterness ; and, without violence of passion, expect the meet seasons of their better information ! The tender mother, or nurse, doth not rate her little one, for that he goes not well ; but gives him her hand, that he may go better. It is the spirit of lenity, that must restore and confirm the lapsed.

The answer is direct and punctual; neither the sin of the man nor of his parents bereaved him of his eyes : there was a higher cause of this privation ; that glory, that God meant to win unto himself, by redressing it. The parents had sinned in themselves; the man had sinned in his first parents : it is not the guilt of either, that is guilty of this blindness. All God's afflictive acts are not punishments : some are for the benefit of the creature, whether for probation, or prevention, or reformation ; all are for the praise, whether of his Divine power, or justice, or mercy,

It was fit so great a work should be ushered in with a preface. A sudden and abrupt appearance would not have beseemed so glorious a demonstration of Omnipotence. The way is made ; our Saviour addresses himself to the miracle : a miracle, not more in the thing done, than in the form of doing it.

The matter used was clay. Could there be a meaner? could there be aught more unfit?' O Saviour, how oft hadst thou cured blindnesses by thy word alone ! how oft by thy touch! How easily couldst thou have done so here! Was this to show thy

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