Page images

prevent their recourse to him; but no sooner do they discover a real desire to become his disciples, than he meets them with expressions of his kindness, admits them to a familiar intercourse with himself, and “ fills them with joy and peace in believing.”

Let us, then, make the application to ourselves, and alk, Are we « the called of Jesus Christ?" It is of little consequence, comparatively, by what particular means we have been affected; but are we indeed brought to the knowledge and love of his name? Do we poffefs that warmth of affection, that ardent zeal for him, which these young converts fhewed? Do we, like them, bear witness, “ We have found the Messiah?” And are we disposed to “ follow the Lamb, whithersoever he goeth?”

Soon after our Lord's arrival in Galilee, he and the few disciples, whom he had now attached to himself, were invited to a marriage; probably the marriage of a relation, fince his mother and some other of his kindred were there *. He was not inattentive to the calls of social life, nor wanting in any offices of refpect and kindness to those, with whom he was nearly connected. He condescended, therefore, to be prefent upon that occasion, and to partake of the entertainment. Our church has inferred from this circumstance, that “he adorned and beautified the holy estate of matrimony.” Doubtless, he testified his approba

tion of it: nor do his professed followers prove any : real fanctity in themselves, or promote his cause

among men, by despising that institution, which is declared to be honourable in all +.” The religion of Jesus does not require that moroseness and entire separation from society, into which some weak, but pious, persons have been led, through the fear of conforming to the world. They have made Chrif tianity appear with a very gloomy and forbidding af

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

pect, by representing the moft temperate convivial meetings as altogether profane, and on this ground refufu.g to mix with them. Our Lord's example teaches us, not indeed that we may at any time give into rioting and excess, or indulge a light and diffi pated fpirit, but that it may be right and expedient on certain occasions to use a greater freedom of conversation and intercourse with our friends, than our general habits or wishes may allow.

There was one circumstance, which added a pecu. liar lastre to this marriage, as it proved the means of displaying the miraculous power, and confirming the character, of Jesus. Probably, there was no amuence in the family, and, on account of this extraordinary guest, there might be a larger company, than had been expected; fo that there was not a sufficiency of wine. The mother of Jesus represented to him the defect, hoping, and perhaps intimating, that he might supply it by his own divine agency. She met with a rebuke, indeed, for seeming to direct him in any fupernatural operation, since, where the Godhead was to be exerted, he owed her no obedience, and could not be subjected to her control *. Yet, while he declared that the proper season for his interference was not arrived, it is plain from her injunctions to the servants, that he gave her cause to believe, her proposal would soon be complicd with.

Accordingly, at the time which he thought most suitable, he proceeded to work the very miracle, the had wished for, and suddenly converted a large quantity of water into wine of the most exquisite taste and quality. This astonishing effect was produced without the intervention of any visible means, merely by his own sovereign will, and before many witnesses. Such also was the superior excellency of the new wine, that it immediately excited the notice and admiration of the company.

* The answer of Jesus to his mother, “ WOMAN, what have I to do with thee?” to an English reader may convey the idea of harshness and disrespect. That it was meant as some kind of check or reprehenfion, is allowed; but the appellation of “woman" implied no

per regard; since in those times, and in the Greek lane address was usually made by fervants to their mirsubjects to a Queen,


want of



Our Lord's conduct on this occasion has been Thamefully misrepresented, as if he had exerted his divine power to promote the purposes of intemperance. I know not by what profane ridicule fome persons have aspersed the character of Jesus, as though he had been in reality, what his enemies of old insidiously described him, “a gluttonous man and a wine-bib ber *." They triumph in this little narrative, fupposing it to prove, what they could wish, that there is nothing criminal in sensual entertainments, protracted even to excess.

What will not human depravity pervert? It can turn that into poison, which was designed for falutary food. Accordingly, there are those, who have attempted to justify the most flagitious actions from the sacred writings. It almost moves one's indignation, that fo infamous a reproach should be cast upon the holy Jesus. Is it, then, conceived pollible, that he should not only remain in the company of drunkards, but work a miracle for the fake of lengthening out their merriment? What more blasphemous allertion could Satan himself advance? We have no reason to conclude, but that every thing in this meeting was conducted with the atmost decency and temperance, and that our Lord improved the opportunity for the spiritual instruction and edification of the guests. In his conversation on the most private occasions, can any instance be adduced, which can vindicate or encourage, we need not say a licentiousness of manners, but even a triling gaiety of mind? The lovers of pleasures will gain no advantage by appealing to his conduct, but only betray their own deformity upon a comparison of themselves with his perfect excellence.

* Luke vii. 34


The misrepresentation seems to have arisen from that address to the bridegroom'; “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hait kept the good wine until now.” This, however, describes merely what was usual at entertainments, and has not any necessary reference to that particular occafion; or, admitting that it had, it would not prove, that any of the company then assembled were in a state of intoxication. The word itself, rendered WELL DRUNK, does not always mean excess; as it i is applied by the best authors to cases, wherein temperance, was observed.

This miracle, like all the rest, which Jesus wrought, was designed to promote the most benevolent and useful purposes. That large increase of wine was a recompence to the master of the house for his kinda ness and hospitality, and might be considered as a token, that they, who receive Jesus and his disciples, shall not lose their reward. It was evidently calculated to display his high character in a more illustrious manner, than had been done before; for he then “manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him;" their faith was confirmed, and they were the more encouraged to forsake all and to follow him, when they saw with what ease he could“ supply all their need."

We do not forget, that he furnishes a better entertainment, and invites us to feast with him at his table, while he bestows spiritual blessings with a liberal hand.' He says, “ Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine, which I have mingled *.” The knowledge of his love will afford an inconceivably greater delight to the soul, than the most exquisitely

Prov. ix. 50


rich wine to a refined taste. In general too, he referves " the good wine" till the last: he communicates much happiness to his people from the first, but the end will be most glorious indeed. With respect, therefore, both to his providence and his grace, we rejoice in his all-sufficient care and power.

Soon afterwards he went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover, a festival of peculiar importance among the Jews, at which the attendance of all their males was required. This particular observance does not obtain with us; but are not we under indispenfable obligations to wait upon God in the public means which he hath appointed? Let us learn from Jerus, then, to pay an exaet and punctual regard to all the sacred ordinances.

Immediately upon his arrival at Jerusalem, he repaired to the temple, where a remarkable transaction occurred. Among other profanations of that holy -place, the outward court was grossly violated, probably through the covetousnefs of the priests; for an

open market was held in it, to the disturbance of devout worshippers. The service of God might be urged in excuse for it, as the people were here accommodated with their respective offerings. But Jesus felt a pious indignation at the shameful abuse, and set himself to reform it. " When he had made a fcourge of small cords, he drove out of the temple” the profane traders, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables ; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.” Such an interference of a person, who poflefled no buman authority, was fingular indeed! It amounted to no less than a full declaration of his prophetical character, and of his peculiar relation to God. In this view it will appear proper and consistent, like many of those significant actions of the old prophets, by which as the messenger

« PreviousContinue »