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pressed his satisfaction at this indication of her love and gratitude. " And Jesus said, Let her alone, why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with
you always ; and whensoever ye will, ye may do them good; but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could : she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily, I say unto you, wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of, for a memorial of her.”
Here we see in the first place, how our Saviour defended the woman, and reproved and exposed those who had blamed her, “ Let her alone, why trouble ye her ? Why do ye find fault with the woman?
Her Conduct does not deserve your censure. • It is not chargeable, as you view and repre• sent it, with waste and extravagance. It springs from faith and love.
The gift · which she has bestowed on me, is a gift well bestowed; a talent well employed. As to the poor, for whom you profess so great a regard, you may relieve them at all times, and at any time, if you are disposed "to be charitable to them. But the present ' is a particular occasion. It is an opportu
nity of honouring me which will not probably occur again. The way in which this woman has testified her feelings in my
favour, shews how deep and strong they
are: and she is not to be blamed for this ' extraordinary expression of her affection for
If you will not imitate her Conduct, ? at least desist from censuring it. Attend · faithfully to your own common duties, nor ? blame her for complying with the dictates < of her conscience, though the way be even « new and uncommon.'
Let us notice also in the second place, that Jesus not only defended the woman, but even praised and commended her. He caled the work which she had done a good work. Nay, He said, as we see in the text, “ She hath done what she could.” He was pleased to consider her in this instance, as having acted according to the best of her means and abilities in his service and to his glory. In fact, He was graciously pleased to put a construction upon her conduct, which
probably had never entered into her own mind. “ She is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying." Instead of putting her action in the worst point of view, as her objectors had done, he placed it in the best light. He ascribed to it a meaning and an importance far beyond her intentions: and concluded with saying, in a very emphatic manner, that wheresoever His Gospel should be preached, this incident should be recorded 6 for a memorial of her :" not merely in vindication of her Conduct, but to her praise, and in proof of His approbation. Such was the Treatment which she received from Jesus.
From this statement and explanation of the incident here related, I shall now proceed,
II. To draw from it some instructive Inferences.
1. Then we may hence infer that those works which Jesus Christ accounts to be
good,” are such as spring from faith in, and love to him. Such was evidently the case with the woman in the text. These were the motives by which she was prompted to do the work which she had done..
Why had she come into the house where Jesus was, with this alabaster box of precious ointment? Why had she poured it on His head in preference to that of any other person in the company? Why had she thus singled Him out as the special object of her respect and veneration ? Because she believed Him to be a person very different from all the rest who were present, very different from every other person in the world. She had doubtless seen his miracles, and had heard his preaching, and was persuaded, that as no man could do such works unless. God was with him, so his words were the words of eternal life. Hence it was, that on this occasion she selected Him out in so remarkable a manner, and testified
her peculiar sentiments respecting Him. Her act was an act of faith in Christ.
It was also an act of love to Him. In this transaction she testified not only her peculiar sentiments respecting Christ, but also her peculiar affection towards him. She shewed not only what she thought of Him, but how she loved Him. The box was a box of ointment of spikenard, very precious, which might have been sold for more than three hundred
pence; yet precious as it was, she did not deem it too valuable to be freely bestowed on Christ, and to be wholly expended in his service. It might probably be the most . valuable thing which she possessed in the world; yet for His sake she was willing to part with it all, so that she might the more clearly testify her high regard for Jesus, and her deep obligations to Him. Her act was an act of love to Christ.
Hence it was accounted by Him a good work. And in like manner, every act, which springs from the same motives, is equally so accounted by Him. Every action which proceeds from faith in Christ, and from love to Him, is a good work; a work pleasing and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ; an offering of a sweet-smelling savour in His sight. Whatsoever He sees to be done from the operation of these principles in the heart, He regards as good fruit, evidencing a justi
fied state, and honourable to Him. The actual amount, the intrinsic worth of an action thus performed, of a gift thus bestowed, makes no difference in His estimation of its value. A cup of cold water given to a disciple, because he is a disciple, or a mite thrown into the treasury from faith and love, are equally valuable in His eyes with the richest offerings and most splendid services: while, on the other hand, the most costly gifts and sacrifices, where these principles are wanting in the heart, are of no worth in His eyes, but are rejected by Him with abhorrence.“ Man looketh at the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh at the heart.” He looketh at the motives of our conduct. He searcheth and trieth the hearts and reins. He weigheth the actions of men ; and that one quality which, above every other, stamps them with real value in His sight, is the principle from which they spring. Is there faith in the heart? and does that faith work by love? These are the questions which must decide whether an action be good or not. In the work which we are doing, does the love of Christ constrain us ? Are we doing it from gratitude to Him, from a desire to please and serve Him ? Then it is a good work, one of those “good works,”
" unto which Christians have been called and are created anew; which they should be careful