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HAT Religion is a concern of infinite importance to mankind, every one will acknowledge who admits that there really is such a thing. And yet alas! there are few only who have a deep operative abiding sense of this impreffed upon their hearts. To excite therefore your attention to

this one


grand concern, and by the grace of God to perfuade you to a vigorous and perfevering pursuit of it, is the object of this difcourfe. Nor can, methinks, any one among us turn a deaf ear to this argument, while he duly reflects, that it is not only the most interesting which was ever propofed to his attention, but that it ftands thus diftinguished in our text, by the decifive fentence of the Son of God himself.

What led our Saviour to discourse on this fubject, is particularly mentioned in the preceding verses. Entering it seems into a certain village, he was invited to the house of a woman named Martha, who had a fifter called Mary. This village it is highly probable was Bethany, a place not far from Jerufalem; and, thefe, two women, the fame of whom the Evangelift John fpeaks, and whofe brother Lazarus had been raised from the dead. They appear both of them to have been the friends of Jefus and of religion; though in the courfe of the story the preference in regard of piety, is manifeftly given to Mary above Martha.

As to Mary, the fat at the feet of Jefus, and heard his word1. Her attention was almoft

wholly taken up with the things of God; fo

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that the gladly embraced every opportunity of hearing our Saviour's doctrine, and profiting by his inftructions. But as to Martha, fhe was cumbered about much ferving *. Indeed her much ferving was the effect of her hofpitality, and an expreffion of her love to Chrift, and was therefore in thefe views of it highly commendable. But her active and impetuous temper had hurried her into too great anxiety about worldly things, and fo was likely to prove hurtful to her beft interefts. Yea one ill effect of it remarkably appeared, in the indecent fretfulnefs fhe betrayed on the present occafion. For in the midft of her bufy care to provide for our Saviour's entertainment, obferving her fifter wholly taken up with his company and conversation, she petulantly complains of her inattention to the affairs of the family, and prays that she might be difmiffed to affift her therein. To which our Lord

immediately makes answer in the verfe preceding the text; "Martha, Martha, thou "art careful and troubled about many things. "The anxiety you exprefs upon this oc"cafion is unbecoming and finful. How "fond foever you may be of fhewing me refpect, yet there is a mixture of vanity

• VOL. I.

* John xi. 40.


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"with your hospitality, and of worldly"mindedness with your care and industry. "You are too busy about these matters. "The affairs of your family though they



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ought to be prudently attended to, yet "fhould not shut out the grand concern of "God and religion. This is the one thing needful. Be perfuaded therefore to trans"fer your needlefs anxieties from these many trifling matters, to that which is "of indispensable importance. There is a neceffity of one thing'. And instead of "cenfuring your fifter Mary as if she were "too religious, rather confider her con"duct as a proper pattern for your imitation; for the bath chofen that good part, "which shall not be taken be taken away from "ber."


And now, methinks, little pains need be taken to prove, that this reproof of our Saviour's is of more general use than in the particular instance before us, and that he himself so designed it. Difmiffing therefore any farther concern with Martha, let us confider this most important and falutary admonition as addreffed immediately to ourfelves. There is a strong propenfity in each of us to an undue folicitude about the affairs of

1 ΕμΘ δέ ἐσι χρέια.


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