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pence have been given to the poor as the genuine consequence of this act of devotion? The odour of her ointment filled the house; but the odour of her love has filled the world, and multiplied its fragrance by spreading its inspiration.

Had she, indeed, in humble imitation of her Lord's beneficence, sold the spikenard and given the produce to the poor, she would doubtless have done that which would have been acceptable to Him; but she would not have satisfied the instincts and urgencies of her own heart. To do good to others for His sake, would seem a very different thing in her eyes from doing homage to Himself, when she had such an opportunity of rendering it. And it is to Himself personally, to Himself, her great and heavenly Benefactor, the unction of whose ineffable wisdom and grace had filled her soul with gladness, that the instinct of her new heart impels her. She reasons not about consequences; she can enter into no cold calculations of comparative utility; she thinks only of Him; she can think only of Him while He is there, and she can do Him reverence; and to Him, therefore, she goes, with the costliest offering in her power, and pours out upon His head the precious spikenard—say, rather, pours out upon Him her heart, her heart all melted with its own fervors.

And in this light our Lord Himself regarded her conduct. "Why trouble ye the woman," He said, tenderly shielding her from the censoriousness of the disciples. More positive and immediate good she might perhaps have done had she thought and reasoned as you think and reason; but could she have more feelingly testified her gratitude and devotion? Why disturb her with your ungenerous objections, when evidently "she hath done what she could" for the emphatic expression of her love and reverence ? Even were she mistaken in offering me such a tribute of affection, it were an error which you might indulgently regard. But it is far from being an error. In thus simply obeying what you consider a thoughtless and extravagant impulse, "she hath wrought a good work upon me. For the poor," upon whom think her solicitude more wisely bestowed," the poor ye


have always with you," and to their necessities you can always minister, "but me ye have not alway." My absence you will soon be called to lament; and, indeed, the time of my departure is so near at hand, that I may almost look upon myself as already dead; and upon this act of hers, in pouring the ointment on my body, as the anointing of it for my burial. Ah! There is more, far more, in such a genuine, earnest act of love, however unnecessary and extravagant it may seem, than you have any conception of; and “verily, I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world," and throughout the whole world it shall be preached, "there shall also this, which this woman hath done"-this simple, touching act of devotion to me—be everlastingly spoken of in its touching connexion with my sufferings and death.

"In that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial." Not, however, that our Lord meant that she was aware of His approaching death, and that she acted thus in ceremonial preparation of His body for interment but only that in effect it was such a preparation, and in the event would be seen to be so. It would be going too far to understand our Lord's language in this strict and literal sense. Some, it is true, there are, who put this construction upon it, and represent her as deliberately acting with this specific intention. "Yes," says a divine of deserved celebrity, "this day is already in the reckoning of Mary's faith, the day of His burial. Her grief anticipates the hour of mourning. She sees the sacrifice already offered; the victim lies before her; she sees it already pierced, bleeding, dead! She pays to this Jesus, yet living and speaking to her, the funereal honours which she had reserved for His lifeless remains. So lively is her faith; so much has her grief outstripped time; so deeply has she entered into the thought and purpose of Jesus Christ.”* But surely, this is going too far. This is allowing the imagination to run away with the judgment. It is falling into the very common error * Vinet, in his discourse on "Le Vase de Parfums."

of attributing to the disciples a clearness of intelligence, and an amount of knowledge, which, at this period, they were very far from possessing. Love, no doubt, is apprehensive and farsighted. The heart often sees much further than the head. But nothing is more clear than, that, notwithstanding our Lord's express and repeated declarations that He was to suffer and to die, and to rise from the dead the third day, His disciples did not understand Him. None of them were able to receive these sayings. True, His language was sufficiently intelligible; but how-if He was really to be crucified and slain how was He to be the Redeemer of Israel? In their view the two things were totally incompatible; and that He could really mean what He said, seemed to them, therefore, impossible. In this respect there was nothing to distinguish Mary from the rest. His apprehension and death came upon them all alike with a sudden and overwhelming surprise, fatal to every hope they had cherished respecting Him. It was not, then, in the anticipation of faith that she acted as she did it was not because she was aware that His hour was almost come; but simply because she loved, and was zealous to do all she could to do Him honor. It was her love, eagerly embracing an opportunity of expressing itself, and thus unconsciously doing a far more beautiful thing than she had any thought of doing. "She did it for my burial."And from this it is, as it strikes me, that our Lord's vindication of her derives its peculiar force and instructiveness. There was a certain solemn propriety in the act, totally unintentional on her part: but because it was done with the simple desire to do Him honor, He graciously accredits her with the whole of it. There was a goodness and a beauty in the deed which she herself had never designed; but because of the sanctity of the motive from which she acted, He accepts it just as if she had been aware of all that was to happen to Him, and had anointed his body in distinct anticipation of His burial. And upon precisely the same principle does He represent Himself as acting in the day of judgment. "Then shall the King say unto them on his


right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me!" They had no thought that they were ministering to Him, when ministering to the wants and sorrows of the afflicted; but because of the love to Him by which they were actuated, He accredits them with a beneficence they never designed, and astonishes them by discovering the mighty amount of goodness that may be involved in one simple act of genuine Christian love; and how far, how infinitely far it reaches, even from earth to heaven, from the prisoner in his dungeon, up to Christ upon His throne!

"In that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial." Such, then, is the gracious principle upon which He acts towards every one that loves Him. And what stronger encouragement could He possibly have given us to the exercise of Christian love and beneficence? Let but the thing be done heartily and earnestly from simple love to Him, and He graciously accredits the doer of it, not merely with the good which was designed to be its immediate effect, but with all the beneficent results that follow in the long train of its consequences. A good work wrought for Christ does not die away in the doing of it. It lives on. It lives on in its influence on other minds. It lives on in every good thought and feeling, and desire, which directly, or indirectly, may be the means of exciting. It lives on from generation to generation, with unspent energy and with immortal life;


and the doer of it lives in it, acting still, and like Abel, "being dead, yet speaketh." And thus Mary is pouring out her ointment still, in constant endless stream; and ever, as it still flows on, it wins for her the Master's blessing. "She did it for my burial;" and so, to the very last result, He will accredit her with all !

Ah, and it is an awful consideration, that the like immortality attaches to the evil that we do. Even though it should not corrupt others, it makes the doer worse. It tends to strengthen and inveterate his depravity. But sin begets sin; and that too with a power incalculably prolific. "Dead works," as the apostle calls them, from the result in which they naturally issue, are instinct with terrible, with inextinguishable life life that works by multiplying death. words, evil deeds, evil example, have all their own necessary and pernicious influences; and in these influences the man himself lives on a posthumous life, acting where he is not, acting ages after death, and in the eye of God connected with them even to their very last results: connected with them, aye, and inculpated in them too. A terrible consideration for every man! A terrible thought, but an incontrovertible truth. Just as in a good work wrought upon Christ, or for Christ, there is involved an amount of beneficence absolutely immeasurable, and known only to Him who sees it all; so in the doings of an evil man, in the disastrous efficacy of his example and influence, there is an amount of criminality which eternity alone can declare, but in the whole of which he is implicated; and not more certainly in the evil which he has consciously committed, than in that of which he has been unintentionally the cause. How many a man ought this consideration to bring to a pause! How many a man ought it to prostrate at the foot of the Cross, to lay hold there of the means which God has mercifully provided for the expiation of our guilt, and to seek there that new heart, and that right spirit, which will lead him to labor as zealously for Christ, as he has hitherto lived recklessly against Him.

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