« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins a piece. Jesus saith unto them, fill the water. po's with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants which drew the water knew) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doch set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse : but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and inanitested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.—John ii. 1–11
It requires no common degree of wisdom and the wonderful success with which it to make the transition from various situations should be crowned. We have seen him with one to another, with dignity and propriety. complacency receiving his disciples on their The gravity and seriousness of deportinent return from a progress of preaching and healthat suits the temple do not suddenly melt ing, and of casting out devils; and rejoicing away into the familiarity and ease of private in spirit, as he contemplated the sudden and life. Men are called to act various parts, utter destruction of Satan's kingdom, and, but often lack the skill to discriminate be- on its ruins, the universal and everlasting estween character and character. At other tablishment of his own. We are now to betimes the scene changes too rapidly, and the hold him exhibiting a different kind of evihabit of the public personage is scarcely laid dence, but calculated to produce the same aside, when the spirit of it is likewise shifted, effect, that is, a full conviction that Jesus and the man discovers that he is merely an Christ was the Son of God, and the Saviour actor. Ditference of behaviour may undoubt- of the world, namely, the display of miracu. edly be assumed with change of place and lous powers, to support the truth of the docof company, without incurring the imputa- trines which he taught. This “ Nicodemus, tion of hypocrisy: but there is a radical a ruler of the Jews,” felt and admitted. character which the honest man never lays “Rabbi,” says he, “ we know that thou art a aside, whatever be the season, whatever the teacher come from God: for no man can do situation. He cannot indeed be gay and se- these miracles that thou doest, except God be rious at the same moment: but in the house with him." As on the two great commandof mourning he may be sad without sinking ments, love to God and love to man, “hang into depression, and in the house of feasting all the law and the prophets," so on these he may be cheerful without rising into levi- two unmoveable pillars rest the whole fabric ty. He can “ rejoice with them that rejoice, of Christianity. The fulfilling of prediction, and weep with them that weep," without is a demonstration of the foreknowledge of losing the firmness of his mind, or betraying Deity, "declaring the end from the begininconsistency of spirit and temper. In truth, ning, and from ancient times the things that if you would be useful to men, you must ac- are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall commodate yourself, where the rights of stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” and conscience do not interfere, to their circum- of his truth and faithfulness in bringing it stances, and to the laws of decency and to pass, to an iota, to a tittle: the working prudence.
of miracles evinces the presence and conBut where, alas! shall we find the man currence of almighty power, which is able who is continually on his guard, who in every to support and to suspend, to control and alter situation possesses his soul, and governs his the laws of nature, by a word, by an “I spirit, and keeps the door of his lips? In will." If the spirit and native tendency of vain we look for such a one among men of the gospel be taken into the account, we shall like passions with ourselves. But it is not find it to possess every character of Divinity for want of a perfect pattern, in the person that the heart of man could desire, or reaof him who in all places, at all seasons, and son demand, or imagination figure. in every situation approved himself the Son The period, and the place, and the occaof God and the friend of men. Let this mind sion of Christ's first public miracle are all be in you which also was in Christ Jesus. specified. It was the third day after the He hath left us an example that we should noted conversation that passed between follow his steps. Blessed Lord, we will fol. Christ and Nathanael, which is recorded in low thee whithersoever thou goest.
the conclusion of the preceding chapter. We have attended the great Teacher sent There Jesus gave proof not merely of supefrom God to the synagogue at Nazareth, and rior sagacity, but of a knowledge that dishave heard him fulfilling the duties of that cerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. gracious office by reading and opening up the Nathanael, with all his guileless integrity, Scriptures, and thus producing one species laboured under the common prejudice of the of evidence to the truth of his divine mission, day, and had the vulgar proverb in his mouth, the accomplishment of ancient, well known, "Can there any good thing come out of Naand acknowledged prophecies concerning zareth ?" He soon received conviction that himself, his person, his consecration to the there could, and that too the best of all great work which he should come to execute, things; for while he was yet speaking to
Philip, Christ himself drew nigh to meet will transmit her nannu to the latest pos them, and instantly, in the hearing of Na. terity. thanael, pronounced a character of him The occasion was a marriage solemnity. which the searcher of hearts only could have It is an institution of Heaven, nearly as old unfolded; “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in as the creation: it was first celebrated in Pawhom is no guile." Nathanael, justly con- radise; God himself formed the union, prescious of inward rectitude, finds himself at sided over and witnessed the contract, and once reproved and detected. His sarcasm pronounced the nuptial benediction. This respecting Nazareth not retorted but disarm- stamps a purity, a dignity, a permanency on ed, by receiving in return the honourable the ordinance, which man is bound highly to appellation of "an Israelite indeed,” was a respect. The great Interpreter and Restorer keen reproof :o an ingenuous mind; and to of the Law, accordingly, puts honour upon find himself minutely known to a stranger, the institution by his presence and countemust have inspired high respect for that nance, and by contributing to the comfort of stranger, not unmixed with awe. With as- the assembly convened on this happy occatonishment he exclaims, “Whence knowest sion, by the charms of his conversation, and thou me?" The answer completely displays by a seasonable supply of one ingredient in the character of the Nazarene: “ Before that a feast: and he afterwards vindicated the Philip called thee, when thou wast under the primitive sanctity of marriage from the irrefig-tree, I saw thee.” Here is an eye which gularity and impurity which the hardness of at once penetrates into the heart, and marks the human heart had constrained even a Mominute, external contingent circumstances ses to permit, at least to connive at. “Have even to the species of plant under the shadow ye not read, that he which made them at the of which Nathanael, at a certain moment, beginning, made them male and female ; and happened to repose. The “ Israelite indeed” said, for this cause shall a man leave father now resigns his prejudices and dismisses his and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and doubts; wonder changes into veneration, they twain shall be one flesh ? Wherefore “Nathanael answered, and saith unto him, they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the therefore, God hath joined together, let no King of Israel:" and thus another respect- man put asunder." able disciple is added to the school of Christ. John the Baptist incurred the imputation
Let not this be considered as foreign to the of being possessed with a devil, because he subject of the present Lecture. Nathanael was a man of more austere manners, and of was, of course, one of the invited guests to a more sequestered mode of living; because celebrate the marriage at Cana of Galilee. he came neither eating bread nor drinking He was there, within three days, to behold wine." His divine Master, more gentle in another species of demonstration of his Mas- deportment, more affable, accessible, and ter's divinity, that he might bear witness to condescending, because he mixed with sociit. And it was fit that a man so candid and ety, because he “came eating and drinking," upright should be furnished with every kind is by the self-same persons represented as “a of evidence, which could remove prejudice gluttonous man, and a wine bibber, a friend or subdue infidelity. He is not indeed here- of publicans and sinners." Where there is after mentioned in the gospel history, but it a disposition to censure, no purity nor pruseems highly probable that a person of his dence can escape. Nothing can please the description, was specially called to take peevish children in the market-place. If an active part in propagating the truth as it their fellows excite them to dance by the is in Jesus. Some commentators have sup- sound of the pipe, they are disposed to look posed him to be the same with Bartholomew, grave und mourn: if their companions are in one of the twelve.
a serious mood, it is with them a time to The place, where the miracle exhibited dance. You cannot tell where to find them. the glory of the Redeemer, was “Cana of It is not, at the same time, a mark of wisdom Galilee,” perhaps to distinguish it from an to brave the opinion of the world; but wo be other city of that name in Celosyria, mention to that man whose conduct has no better reed by Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities. It gulator than either popular opinion, or the dewas situated in that part of the Holy Land, cisions of a self-constituted censor. Christ which in the partition under Joshua, fell by has by example taught his disciples to seek, lot to the tribe of Asher; and stood on a river and to take opportunities of being useful, of the same name, which flowed through whatever construction may be put upon it by part of the inheritance of the tribe of malignant observers. Ephraim, into the Great Sea. It was hither “ The mother of Jesus was there," appato a mere name, or a speck which might ca- rently, as one of the family, who took an insually catch the eye as it wandered over the terest in the credit of her relations, and to map of Palestine ; but Cana now acquired a assist in attending to the comfort and accomcelebrity which makes her to rank with the modation of the guests; for we find her proudest of capitals, from an event which watching over the expenditure of the pro
vision, and devising the means of supply uses the word in speaking to his mother. when it should fail. But Jesus and his dis. On an occasion still more tender and interestciples were among the persons specially in- ing, when sovereign love was in its triumph, vited. As the aim of the evangelist is simply and dictated every expression; when his to detail the circumstances relating to the cross was surrounded by some of the persons miracle, every thing foreign to this is sup- who witnessed the miracle of Cana of Galilee; pressed. This remark is applicable to the this conversation took place: " When Jesus, sacred writers in genera.. They present the therefore, saw his mother, and the disciple leading object in its strongest features, leave standing by whom he loved, he saith unto it to make its native impression, and pass his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then from it without exclaiming, winout parade, saith he to the disciple, behold thy mother ! without a commentary. On the other hand, And from that hour that disciple took her where minuteness of description and enume- unto his own home.” Here was the dying ration is necessary or of importance, all is effusion of filial affection : “ Woman, behold examined with a microscopic eye, and beau- thy son. ties disclose themselves to closeness of in * What have I to do with thee." This vestigation which the careless glance had has an air of severity, and probably was inoverlooked.
tended to check encroachment. There is a Whether the company had proved more point beyond which parental authority itself numerous than was expected, or whether a must not presume to go. At the age of provision too scanty had been made, but in twelve, excess of maternal solicitude rethe middle of the banquet wine failed. ceived a mild rebuke: “How is it that ye Things which are in themselves, and as far sought me ? wist ye not that I must be about as man is concerned, merely contingent, are my Father's business ?" Nevertheless “he predisposed and produced by a special in- went down with them” from the temple, terposition of divine Providence, to fulfil “and came to Nazareth, and was subject some valuable purpose. This little awk- unto them.” But to the man of thirty even wardness of domestic arrangement furnished a mother must not presume to dictate, or so occasion for a grand display of almighty much as insinuate. The words of the origipower. The deficiency was observed by the nal have by some been differently translated; mother of Jesus, who communicated it to and Jesus is made to say, in reply to his him as simply a remark of her own. But mother's observation, “they have no wine.” did not the communication partake of the What is t:iat to me and thee?” What nature of request, of expectation, of sugges-docs it concern us whether there be wine or tion? “They have no wine.” Is not this not? Such a question is little in the spirit saying, can nothing be done to save the of Christ, who took a condescending and an credit of the family? They will suffer in affectionate interest in all the infirmities and the estimation of their friends, as too parsi- distresses incident to humanity, and to whom monious at a season of festivity like the pre- nothing could be indifferent which tended to sent. Canst thou find no supply? There promote the comfort of others; and the sequel must, undoubtedly, have been something of plainly shows, that he actually cherished fensive in her meaning or mode of expres- those kind affections, and expressed them in sion, for she meets with a reproof. And the a manner peculiar to himself. It is more mildest censure from such lips is a mark of natural adopt our cominon version, condispleasure. As to Nathanael before, so to sistent as it is with the same sense of the Mary now he gives proof that he could read phrase in a variety of other passages. “The in lie heart, what had not yet fallen from devils coming out of the tombs exceeding the tongue : “ Jesus saith unto her, Woman, fierce,” in the country of the Gergesenes, what have I to do with thee ? mine hour is exclaim, " What have we to do with thee, not yet come." “Woman :" we are not to Jesus, thou Son of God ?" Meaning evidentestimate the spirit and import of this term of ly; "We are afraid of thee; let us alone; address by the refirement of our modern we desire no acquaintance with thee; art ideas and manners. A British female of thou come hither to torment us before the very middling rank would consider herself time ?". The seventy interpreters translate as very highly insulted to be thus abruptly the Hebrew idiom in the same phraseology accosted by an equal, from an inferior it and spirit, in a great many passages. Thus would be intolerable, and even in a superior Jephthah addressed the king of Ammon, it would be resented. But it was the ap “What hast thou to do with me?" saying pellation by which princes addressed them- plainly, “I wish no intercourse; we can have selves to ladies of the highest rank, and nothing in common; wherefore should we which even slaves employed in speaking to go to war together ?" And thus, not to their mistresses, for it marks respect, not multiply instances, David said to Abisha, familiarity. And we have a demonstration, when he proposed to go over, and, in cold in the present case, that it could imply no- blood, to cut off Shimei's head, “What have thung liarsh or unkind, for it is Jesus who. I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah?” “]
like not your spirit; I want no such triumph ; | auspicious hour, he saw it leading to another let God's will be done: you are taking his and a darker hour, the hour of suffering and work out of his hand, and are deciding hasti- death. The prospect spreads a transient ly when you ought to wait patiently." This cloud over the serenity of his mind, and he is entirely in the spirit of the passage before said: “Now is my soul troubled : and what us.
“ Woman, what have I to do with thee ?" shall I say? Father, save me from this “ Intrude not; prescribe not; I know what hour.” Thus far the man of sinless infirmity is fit for me to do; all my movements are But the cloud passes away, serenity is re. already settled.” In this view all is of a stored, and the hour of sorrow is lost in conpiece; all breathes the spirit of meekness; templating the glory that should follow. the there is the majesty of Deity, and there is accomplishment of his heavenly Father's the united firmness and mildness of the purpose of mercy, in the redemption of a lost
world: “but for this cause came I unto this If there be any thing like sternness in the hour. Father, glorify thy name.” When question, " What have I to do with thee?" his “time was full come" that he should it is sunk in the solemn asseveration concern- glorify God by his death, with heavenly coming himself: “mine hour is not yet come.' posure
“ Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, The hour of a man's birth, of his baptism, of Father the hour is come; glorify thy Son, his majority, of his marriage, of his death, is that thy Son also may glorify thee.” Thus an epoch of singular importance both to him- every step of the Redeemer's progress was self and others. We measure time, we know weighed, measured, established by an anteceits value, and we trifle with it. With an dent counsel incapable of being overthrown experience of its necessary lapse, and with or of failing. the certain knowledge that no moment can His mother, though reproved, is not wholly be responsible for the debt of its predecessor, discouraged. She perceives that whatsoever having enough to do with itself, the thought he did must be done at his own time and in less sons of men will be drawing on a day his own way, and therefore enjoins the serwhich they are never to see, and they sport vants carefully to attend to whatever he with borrowed property as if it were their should say unto them.
The wise man, in the face of this The ablutions, at this period, practised reckoning of folly and madness, states the among the Jews, were carried to an absurd just account of the expenditure and use of and superstitious excess. The law had intime: “ There is season, and a time to deed prescribed certain washings, which naevery purpose under the heaven.” But we turc herself points out as conducive to health, look up to Him who is wiser than the wisest, cleanliness, and comfort; but tradition had that we may learn to measure time, to un- multiplied these without end; they had acderstand the value of a day, and to improve quired an authority paramount to that of law, the flying hour, which is gone before we are and the primary duties of life were sunk sensible that it has come,
in an affected attention to external purity. “ Mine hour is not yet come.” It is an "The Pharisees," says St. Mark, “and all expression applied to various events of the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, Christ's life and ministry. When his un- eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. believing brethren urged him, by way of And when they come from the market, exdefiance, to go up to Jerusalem at the feast cept they wash they eat not. And many of tabernacles, and there make an open dis- other things there be which they have replay of his miraculous powers, this was his ceived to hold, as the washing of cups, and reply: " My time is not yet come-Go ye up pots, brasen vessels, and of tables." This unto this feast: I go not up unto this feast; drew upon them a severe censure from the for my time is not yet full come;" intimating lips of Jesus Christ. He charges them with that all his movements and operations were the vilest hypocrisy, in " teaching for docregulated to a moment, and therefore could trines the commandments of men. * For," neither be hurried forward nor retarded. says he, “laying aside the commandment When he did go up to Jerusalem, and taught of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the openly in the temple, though his plainness washing of pots and cups: and many other and fidelity gave much offence, it is remark- such like things ye do."
“ Full well ye reed that “no man laid hands on him; for his ject the commandment of God, that ye may hour was not yet come:” that is, the hour of keep your own tradition.” He then produces, his apprehension, trial, and condemnation. as an instance, their open and avowed violaWhen the devout Greeks who had come to tion of the fifth precept of the decalogue, worship in the temple, desired an interview engraven by nature on the heart of man, and with him, Jesus said to his disciples; “ The proclaimed from Sinai by the mouth of God. hour is come that the Son of man should be The unnatural child had but by a vow to deglorified;" meaning the dawn of the gospel vote his substance to a pretendedly sacred day upon the Gentile world. But while he purposc, in order to be for ever released from rejoiced in spirit, as he contemplated that all obligation to assist aged or decayed ja
rents. Thus a punctilious attention to wash- / first drank of it himself, and then passed it ing the body could be reconciled to a de- round the table. In compliance with this liberate purpose of hardening the heart. custom, Jesus directed the first-fruits of this These copious and frequent ablutions ac- miracle to be carried to him to pass judge count for the large provision of water made ment. He instantly perceives the difference, for the marriage teast. “ There were set six though ignorant of the process; and in surwater-pots of stone, after the manner of the prise addresses himself to the bridegroom, purifying of the Jews, containing two or whose it was to prepare the entertainment, three firkins a piece.” To pretend to ascer- and to defray the expense,
these words; tain the quantity, by the names of ancient “Every man at the beginning doth set forth measurement, wonid be nugatory and absurd. good wine; and when men have well drunk, If the thing could be done, what profit would then that which is worse: but thou hast kept arise from it? Is it not well known that all the good wine until now." Though this too the wisdom of the British legislature, though may not perfectly coincide with modern frequently exerted, has hitherto been unable manners, it exhibits a picture of the common to establish a standard of weights and mea- practice in that country and in that age; and sures for the southern division of this lit- it led to a discovery of the whole mystery, tle island ? The precise quantity is left in and Jesus stood confessed the Son of God, intentional obscurity, by the use of the in- the Lord of universal nature, the searcher definite expression two or three, it is suf- of hearts, the ruler of elements, the friend ficient for us to know that the supply was and brother of mankind. • This beginning very considerable.
The expenditure of wa- of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, ter, at this advanced period of the feast, must and manifested forth his glory; and his dishave been great. Jesus determined to make ciples believed on him." those partially exhausted vessels the medium Many and useful are the practical reflecof his intended miracle. To have replenished tions which flow from this subject. Permit the empty wine vessels might excite sus me to suggest some of them. picion of collusion; but into water-cisterns 1. The religion of Jesus Christ embraces for purifying, wine never entered, and there- the whole circle of duty. Duties are of vafore no doubt could arise. He, then, who rious orders and importance. Some are escould have transformed the bottom of a dry sentialand indispensable, others are agreeable cistern into a fountain of water, or of wine, and ornamental; as in a well-constructed at his pleasure, commands the servants to edifice there are parts absolutely necessary “ fill the water-pots with water. And they to its existence, and there are parts which filled them up to the brim.”
might be removed indeed without affecting The miracle is already performed. By an the solidity and durableness of the fabric, unseen, unperceived energy; without a word but the removal would greatly impair its spoken, without a gesture, by a simple act elegance and beauty. So in the scale of of the will, plain water is instantaneously morals there are the weightier matters of the converted into wine of the finest quality. law, judgment, mercy, and faith; and there What dignified simplicity! what unaitected are obligations of an inferior order; though majesty! A fact so very extraordinary is highly important in the commerce of human narrated with no more pomp of language life; such as gentleness, courtesy, affability, than the most common process of nature. sympathy. Of both ranks of duty our blessed He now desires the attendants, hitherto the Lord set the happiest example. He mixed only witnesses of this wonderful change, to with mankind, he partook of their griefs and draw off some of the wine, and bear it to the their joys, he sat down at their tables, he asgovernor of the feast, at the moment when sisted at their nuptial festivity, he indulged the deficiency began to be felt. Thus every in the mutual endearments of friendship, he supply which comes immediately from the paid attention to little children, took them to hand of Providence is at once seasonable, his arms and blessed them. Disciple of Jesus, salutary, and excellent in its kind. What go thou and do likewise. Ill does it become comes through the channel of men like our- thee to be stately, and distant, and reserved, selves must of necessity have a mixture of and ungracious, when he was so meek and their impurity and imperfection.
condescending. There are certain austere With us the master of the house is also Christians who will on no occasion, and on no the governor of the feast. It is his concern account, descend from the pinnacle of their to see that his friends be properly accom- dignity, and who render religion disgusting modated and supplied. But among the Jews to others by the harshness of their manners. an officer of this description was appointed aryd a severe, morose, ungainly deportment. to preside, whether elected by the company, This they cannot have learned of Christ, nor named by the bridegroom, or constituted by at his old school. Will they vouchsafe to public authority, whose business it was to take a lesson from the apostle Paul, who unpronounce a benediction on what was pro- derstood his own real dignity as well as any vided, and who, when the cup was blessed, | man? "Mind not high things, but conde