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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 judgcount 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 tirkins a piece.” To pretend to ascer- and to defray the expense, in these words; tain the quantity, by the names of ancient "Every man at the beginning doth set forth measurement, would 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 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 unaffected 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. Il 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 and 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, I man? “Mind not high things, but conde
scend to men of low estate.” And I beg nature changes, it becomes a deadly poison. leave to add, from him: “Be not wise in Satisfy thyself with knowing its good, and your own conceits."
venture not to make trial of its evil. Did 2. Jesus himself was all purity and per- Jesus convert water into wine that he might fection, but the mother of Jesus was subject minister fuel to excess? The thought is to culpable infirmity. She incurred censure impious. As well might a bountiful Provioftener than once, and therefore is not to be dence be charged with the gluttony, the looked up to as a perfect model, much less drunkenness, and all the other sensual lusts to receive the adoration which is due to in which men indulge themselves, because Deity alone. It is one of the most humi- it “gives us rain from heaven and fruittui liating views of human understanding, to seasons, filling our hearts with food and giacbehold it so far degraded as to think of ap- ness.” The miracle of Cana of Galilee, as proaching the great intercessor and friend all those which our Lord wrought, was a of mankind, through the intercession of an- miracle of goodness; it provided a supply of other. “There is one God,” saith the Scrip- a necessary of life, to a family in moderate ture, and one Mediator between God and circumstances, and which lasted them, I men, the man Christ Jesus." No, says po- doubt not, for many days: it was the repaypery, you must have a mediatrix between ment of a debt of friendship and hospitality, you and that Mediator; nay, one armed with in a manner peculiar to himself; and it was authority to control and command him. The a manifestation of his glory in the eyes of mind turns away with horror from the blas- his disciples, who had far other thoughis phemous suggestion. The rights of parents than that of abusing their Master's bounty; have a boundary, both as to extent and dura-“ they believed on him." tion, the authority of God knows no limit, 4. We have said that this and all our and never can expire. When his voice is Saviour's other miracles were miracles of heard, that of nature must be suppressed. goodness: we now add, they were all disThe duties of the public character must ab- interested. He here gave proof of sore sorb the feelings of the private individual. reignty uncontrollable. It was exercised to We may warrantably lay before our compas- supply the temporal wants of a few, and :0 sionate Redeemer our most secret thoughts, minister to the everlasting consolation of and pour out our hearts before him in prayer myriads. But “Christ pleased not himself" and supplication, in perfect submission to his What might not his power have commandwill; but we must not presume either to ed, of all that is exquisite on the earth, in prescribe to his providence, or to arraign his the air, through the paths of the sea? But conduct. He doeth all things wisely and though an hungered, he will not command well.
stones to be made bread for his own use; if 3. Every creature of God is good, and he miraculously multiply a few loaves and nothing to be refused, if it be received fishes, it is to feed a starving, fainting multiwith thanksgiving: for “it is sanctified by tude. If he makes the sea tributary, it is at the word of God and prayer.” Whether one time to compensate the painful labour of therefore God supplies the good things of life poor men, who had “ toiled all night and in the ordinary course of nature, or by a spe- taken nothing," at another, to prevent of cial interposition of his almighty power, they fence by paying his tribute money. Fish are liberally bestowed, they are the bounty broiled on a fire of coals, and a morsel of of a Father, to be used, to be enjoyed. When bread, are the simple fare on which he and God placed our grand progenitor in the ter- his disciples dine, even "after that he was restrial paradise, the parental grant was risen from the dead.” “ Foxes have holes, and large: "Of every tree of the garden thou birds of the air have nests; but the Son of mayest freely eat;" but with one single man hath not where to lay his head.” “They reservation : But of the tree of the know- that wear soft clothing are in king's houses;" ledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of His clothing was not worth dividing among it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou a few of the basest of mankind: His raiment, shalt surely die.” We are still on the same his lodging, his fare were all of a piece. Ani footing, in a world which has indeed ceased is the servant greater than his Lord! TO to be a paradise, but which, nevertheless, is the poor the Gospel is preached, and to the still abundantly stored with every thing poor the example is set, the example of connecessary, convenient, and comfortable for tentment with a low condition, of meek subman. The grant is still as liberal: The mission to hardship, of superiority to the good of the land is before you:” take, thou vanities and luxuries of this world, of selfmayest freely eat, freely drink. But, mark government, and self-denial. His modern the reservation, still indispensable as ever, disciples have been accused of love of ease eat, drink, in moderation, to the support and and indulgence, of fondness for dainties ard refreshment of the body, not its depression delicacies, of aiming at power and pretra and derangement. To a certain bound this nence. If the imputation be just, it is to be is cordial, salutary, nutritive: beyond, its lamented: and Christians of every rans and
denomination are concerned, as far as in mind that he is bound by the law and by the them lies, to do it away. If it be ill-found-practice of his divine Master, not only to ed, it must be borne, as part of the reproach abstain from all evil, but from all appearance of Christ; and his disciple must bear in of evil.
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house : and Simon's wife's mother was ta.
ken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose, and ministered unto them. Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came ont of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Cnrist the Son of God. And he, rebuking them, suffered them not to speak : for they knew that he was Christ. And when it was day he departed, and went into a desert place; and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also; for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.-LUKE iv. 38–44.
The religion of the Gospel is adapted to , tance, admiring, venerating what we cannot every possible condition of life, for it is find out unto perfection, and which we are adapted to the nature of man, who, with the still more incapable of imitating. But in variation of a few circumstances, is the same what he said and did as a man, we behold a universally, and in every age. There is the pattern most amiably simple, most powerfuldifference of colour and speech, the difference ly impressive, most consummately perfect. of climate and soil, the difference of high and In vain do we look any where else for that low, of rich and poor; but still it is man, steadiness and uniformity of character which with all his excellencies and imperfections, alone can merit the distinction of being prowith all his capability of degradation and of posed as an example. Whom else can we improvement, with all his propensities to with safety follow in every thing? In the evil and to good. Christianity takes him up most perfect of mere men, while there is as he is, and undertakes to make him what much to respect and to commend, there is he ought to be. “Can the Ethiopian change ever a something to blame and to regret; his colour, or the leopard his spots ?" No, some fault of temper, some inconsiderateness replies nature, I gave that colour, I painted of expression, some inconsistency of conduct. those spots ; but I cannot undo my own work. But in our divine Master all is estimable, He that is black must, for me, continue black uniform, and consistent. He presents one still, that which is spotted must be spotted and the same character in solitude and in sostill. But the grace of the Gospel unfolds a ciety, in the synagogue and in domestic remystery which it is beyond the reach of na- tirement, at a marriage feast and before the ture to solve. It transforms that which was tribunal; displaying a native dignity undeas scarlet into the whiteness of snow, what based by an infusion of insolence, condewas red like crimson into the colour of wool. scension pure from servility, fortitude with"Can these dry bones live?". Yes, at the out ferociousness, sensibility without affectword, and by the spirit of the Lord. ation, the sublimity of devotion with the
Miracles like these the Spirit of Christ is perfect case of friendship. exhibiting every day. Do we not sce: O that In the last Lecture we attended this friend the spectacle were more common! Do we of mankind to the celebration of a marriage not see loftiness of station united to lowliness solemnity, and beheld bim partaking of the of mind; a hard lot to a contented spirit; the pure delights of friendly and domestic interfulness of this world to the exceeding riches course, mingling with his kindred, and with of the grace of God?
the disciples whom he had chosen; and while When the Son of God came for the salva- | he miraculously ministered to their wants, as tion of a lost world, " verily he took not on the great Ruler and Lord of nature, we obhim the nature of angels.' But more won- serve him, as bone of their bone, and flesh of derful still! he united the divine nature to their flesh, sympathizing in their joys, adoptthe human, and thereby became at once an ing their solicitudes, their wants, and expectobject of supreme adoration, and a familiar ations, and joining in their conversation. instructer. What he said and did as the Thus he tacitly and obliquely reproves that Lord, “ wise in heart and mighty in strength,” hauglity reserve, that unbending stateliness, we must ever contemplate at an awful dis- that ungracious distance from men which
frequently attempts to pass for superior wis- | must close. There is a season of retirement dom, sanctity, and importance. We pretend and repose as there is of labour and exertion, not to arrange the several events of our The duties of private friendship, of domestic Lord's history in the exact order of time. devotion, the rights of hospitality, the care The evangelists display them in an energetic of the body, put in their several claims, simplicity far beyond the reach of art. There which must be answered. Christ accord is in the word of God, if it be lawful to say ingly “ arose out of the synagogue, and enso, a majestic irregularity that transcends tered into Simon's house." The aceommothe control of rule; just as the surface of dations of a poor fisherman's hovel, on the our globe, with its mountains and valleys, shore of the lake of Gennessaret, could not its precipices and plains, its rivers and oceans, be very elegant. The fare provided by a defies the application of the straight line hard-working plebeian, doomed frequently to and of the compasses; and as the face of the toil all night long, without taking any thing, starry heavens present to the eye a mag: could not be very luxurious or delicate. But nificent assemblage of worlds scattered when a man gives you the shelter of his sol about by a hand that rejects all measure- however mean, and a place at his board, horment by any standard but its own. Science ever homely, he does all that a prince can has indeed contrived artificial combinations do; and the difference is a paltry circunand arrangements both of the heavenly bo- stance or two, beneath the consideration of a dies, and of Scripture truths, but their native rational being. glory and magnitude are not reducible to But the house of Peter was, at this time, systems of human invention. It may be plea- not only the abode of penury, but likewise sant, and far from unprofitable, to ascertain the house of moaming, for “Simon's wife's dates, to unravel the chain; but it is surely mother was taken with a great fever." The of secondary inoment. The actions and events sabbath had not been to her a day of rest, but themselves, and the evidence that they ex- of agitation and pain; and the distress of a isted, are the great concern of the Christian sick-bed might probably be aggravated by world; but above all, the practical influence reflecting on absence from the bouse of of those great truths on the hearts, the con- prayer, and from the comforts of the public sciences, and the lives of men.
worship of God. The value and importance Precluded from opportunities of being emi- of objects vary strangely, in our estimation, nently useful at Nazareth, through the envy as they are viewed through the medium of and unbelief of his townsmen, Jesus with health, or of sickness, of pain, or ease. The draws from that city, not in anger but in sor-illasion of the world disappears, when the row, though a most cruel, ungrateful, and fever in the blood forms in the distempered atrocious attempt upon his life had been imagination, whirling orbs of perturbation, made by its unworthy inhabitants; and he and perplexity, and despair; or when, in cold proceeds to prosecute his labours of love at blood, conscience darts an anxious look into Capernaum, a city situated on the sea of Ga- the world of spirits. Very different is the lilee. From this place, it would appear, he aspect of the sabbath in the eye, and the was called to the adjacent town of Cana, to hour, of thoughtless dissipation, and when the celebration of the marriage; and that the son of dissipation is stretched on a bed solemnity being ended, he returns to Caper- of languishing. Then he “snuffed at it, and maum accompanied by the disciples whom he said, Behold, what a weariness is it! When had already chosen. Here we find this will the new moon be gone, that we may sell Teacher sent from God still indefatigably corn, and the sabbath, that we may set forth pursuing the great object of his mission, and wheat ?" But how very different are the restill putting respect on the word and ordi- flections of “the days of darkness," of the nances of God. Behold him devoting the “ months of vanity," of the “wearisone day of sacred rest to useful purposes; em- nights,” appointed, when the sleepless peploying the leisure and retirement from tem- tient is constrained to cry out, " When shall poral concerns which it afforded, in execu- I arise and the night be gone." - What fruit ting the benevolent office of instructing the had I then in those things
, whereof I am now ignorant and guilty, in the way of life and ashamed, for the end of those things is death." salvation. We know from the general strain The visit of Jesus to Peter's family had of his public ministrations, and particularly more than one object in view. The friend from the portion of Scripture, which he re- of man retired to converse with men, the hearsed and applied in the synagogue at Na- master to instruct his disciples, the poor to zareth, that the things written concerning feed with the poor, the weary to repose with himself constituted the great burden of his the weary. The Son of God entered into the preaching : Scripture the source, Christ Je- house to manifest bis glory, to display his sus the subject, the sabbath the season, the power, to exercise his benevolence in the synagogue the scene. “Never man spake miraculous relief of distress. Thus araply like this man."
does he repay every token of affection beBut the services of an earthly sanctuary Istowed on himself, or on one of the least of
his brethren. Distress awakens sympathy: standing by her bed-side. He anoints the The children of the family cannot think of blind man's eyes with clay, and sends him to sitting down to eat bread, while the mother wash in the pool of Siloam; he cries with a of it lay in extremity. Filial tenderness had loud voice over the grave of his departed undoubtedly exerted itself to the uttermost. friend, “ Lazarus, come forth.” All demonThe poor scrip of the Galilean had, perhaps, strates the underived and independent, as been drained in purchasing medicine and well as the almighty power of God, whose cordial for his afflicted mother-in-law: though will is the sole and the supreme law, as to the this be none of the least of the evils which time, the manner, and the matter of the work. attend poverty, to behold the person whom There is a wonderful vivacity in the unwe love perish for want of advice and medi- affected conciseness and simplicity of the cine, for want of a cordial beyond the reach narration. He stood, he spake, he prevailed. of our means. As a last resource they lay "He rebuked the fever.” Disease is here her case before Jesus: " and they besought personified, as susceptible of reprehension, him for her.” Did he need to be importuned? and of voluntary subjection to authority, " and Was he difficult of access? Did his goodness it left her," as one who has encroached and flow reluctantly? No, but the intercourse intruded, and who feels and acknowledges ibetween heaven and earth, between the Crea- the power of a superior repelling and casting tor and the creature is the confidence, the him out. prayer of distress meeting the benignity, the The transitions of nature are gradual, slow, unremitting attention of the Father of mer- imperceptible in their progress. When the cies, who will be sought unto, that he may ocean is roused into fury by the raging wind, show himself gracious.
it continues in a state of agitation long after “ And he stood over her, and rebuked the the tempest has ceased to roar; but when fever, and it left her." The miracle of turn- Christ speaks the word, the effect is instaning water into wine was effected by a simple taneous and complete. “ He arose, and react of the will, without either gesture or buked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, speech, and the evidence of it rested, in part, be still. And the wind ceased, and there on the testimony of the servants who had was a great calm.” When the fever has filled the pots with water. Here we have spent its force, and the crisis of convalesboth gesture and speech, and the immediate cence has taken place, it leaves the patient and personal conviction of all who were in feeble and languid, and it frequently requires the house. In nothing is the sovercignty of a considerable length of time to restore both Deity more conspicuously displayed than in the body and the mind to the full exercise the manrer of his acting. It is so unlike of their several functions, but when Jesus human conjecture, that the pride of man is rebukes the fever, it not only in a moment apt to be offended that Providence did not departs, but the sufferer is at the same moobserve the mode which his sagacity had ment made perfectly whole: " And immediprescribed. Naaman the Syrian had settled, ately she arose, and ministered unto them." in his own mind, the whole process of the As in creation so in Providence, he speaks and cure of his own leprosy. “Behold, I thought, it is done, he gives commandment and it stands He will surely come out to me, and stand, fast. “ He is the Rock; his work is perfect” and call on the name of the Lord his God, The circumstance of her ministering to and strike his hand over the place, and re- her physician and the family, is striking and cover the leper.” Not one iota of his con- instructive. It teaches us the proper use of jecture was realized. The prophet did not prolonged life, of restored faculties. They come out, nor assume the supposed attitude, are to be devoted to the honour of God, and nor pronounce the supposed invocation, but to the service of our fellow-creatures. They “sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and were deeply affected by her danger, they wash in Jordan seven times:" and pride is looked in anxious expectation to the return hurrying him away in a rage, to think that of her health, and they besought the Lord the rivers of Damascus should be postponed for it; she employs that precious gift in conto the waters of Israel. Thus while pro- tributing her best endeavours to promote their phecy has been successively fulfilling, the ease and comfort. What debt is so sacred event so ill accorded with prevailing opinion as that of gratitude ? and what benefactor and expectation, that while the prediction has laid us under so many and such unspeakwas admitted, the accomplishment, however able obligations as He who gave us life, and coincident and exact, has been rejected. who sustains it, as He who died to redeem
This divine sovereignty our blessed Lord us? We have here a beautiful and interestexercises in performing all his mighty works. ing view of human life. Every relation has He wills water into wine. Now he rebukes its corresponding sphere of duty. The happithe disease, and now speaks to the patient. ness of domestic society consists not in the He heals the feverous son of the nobleman, interchange of great benefits, on signal occaat the distance of Cana from Capernaum, sions, but in the hourly reciprocation of the and the feverous mother of Simon's wife little offices of love, in kind looks, in kind