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thou Sovereign Disposer of all things ! As thou didst bring us into life without our knowledge, thou wilt shortly take us out of it, without consulting us. Let not that, our last hour, here find any of us in an unprepared state.
Thy ways also are unsearchable by us! Whence cometh it, that one is taken away and another left? that here thou cuttest man down, like a flower in the prime of his days, full of promising hopes of usefulness and of doing good? whilst thou sufferest another to live, and do wickedly, and corrupt others, even to extreme old age.
Cause this our darkness and ignorance to humble us, and bring us to look forward unto and to fit ourselves for that future world, where the secrets of thy providence will be opened to us, and we shall behold and know that thou art righteous in all thy ways, and that thy goodness is infinite and everlasting !
Finally, O heavenly Father! let these thoughts and considerations assist us to sit loose to this world, and even to our most virtuous, natural, and most innocent expectations, and satisfactions in it ; that, shouldst thou see it meet and fitting, by, a sudden stroke to deprive us of
them, in whom our earthly happiness is bound up, we may not be wholly cast down, but
may be brought to a kindly submission to thy fatherly discipline as best for us, though we see it not; and may find comfort in the hope of meeting again with all we have loved and valued here, in those mansions of endless felicity which thy bountiful goodness hath provided for us, and promised by Christ our Lord!
MATTH. xxvi. 6, 7.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of
Simon tbe leper, there came unto him a woman, having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it out on bis bead as he sat at meat.
Our Lord had now come up to Jerusalem for the last time to keep the passover. He did not, however, lodge in the city, though he spent the whole day from morning to evening in teaching in the temple; but retired to Bethany, an adjoining village, to have more opportunity of being alone with his disciples, and to keep out of the way of his enemies, who were bent upon taking away his life; till his hour was come, and his work was finished.
As he had the certain foreknowledge given to him, that within a very few days he was to suffer, some may think it extraordinary that he should find leisure or be disposed to be
at an entertainment, as he is here described, where there was a large number of persons ; though at other seasons he was never averse to mix with men at their social meetings, where he had a prospect of being of any
service to them in promoting the truth and their real happiness. But upon examination we shall see a propriety and decorum in it, as in every thing done by him; and that it was an instance of that friendly condescension and humanity which so remarkably distinguished his character.
The apostle John, who composed his history of his divine master after a perusal of the writings of the three other evangelists, and with a view to supply their omissions, has furnished us with such further particulars as we might be desirous to be informed of, over and above what Matthew has given us. He sàys, (xii. 1, 2.) “Then Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper, and Martha served ; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at table with him."
He was here, you see, in the midst of friends ; some of whom had received the