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HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And chere was a certain
nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum, when he heard that Jesus was come out of Judez into Galilee he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down and heal his so: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way, thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spuben unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, 'Yesterday, at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Jades into Galilee. John iv. 46–54.
The most serious businesses of human life | into one focal point, in the person of Jesus make but a sorry figure when they come to Christ. “ To him give all the prophets wit be recorded. Interesting to the individual, ness;” “ all the promises of God in him are and for the moment, they awaken no general yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of concern, and become to the parties them- God;"—“the nations of them which are selves, when the moment is past, "trifles saved walk in his light, and the kings of the light as air." The avidity with which fresh earth do bring their glory and honour into it." journals are read, is a perfect contrast to the In the busiest and most active life there indifference with which they are treated on are long and frequent intervals of repose the second or the third day. Let a man sit Much must be allowed to human infimity, down to write the history of his own life; both of body and mind; the spirit may be let him be the busiest and most important of willing, but the flesh is weak. One life personages, and what has he got to relate ? alone displays an incessant progress in doing A meayre account of the miles he travelled, good; no word idly spoken, no moment usof the bargains he drove, of the spectacles he profitably spent, no step unnecessarily taken. beheld, of the viands which covered his The night itself is made a season of dero table, and of the guests who surrounded it. tion, the hour of social refreshment becomes Into this little measure shrink the achieve- an occasion of communicating useful knowments of the great, the splendour, pomp, and ledge, a walk into the corn-fields or by the pride of kings, as well as the short and “ sim- shore of the sea, a journey from city to city, ple annals of the poor.” When the pageant an ascent into the mountain, all are sacrd has passed by, it is as a vision of the night, to one commanding object, the glory of God it vanishes into air, it leaves no track behind. and the good of mankind, the instruction of In vain is the monumental column reared. the ignorant, the pardon of the guilty, the The hand of time erases the inscription, relief of the miserable. shakes the fabric, crumbles it into dust. In The solemnities of the passover being vain does history promise to save from obli- finished, Jesus, according to the wisdom vion, and to confer immortality. The author, which directed all his proceedings, thouzit his work, his subject, the very language in it proper to retire from Jerusalem, and to which he wrote, all perish.
return into Galilee. The road lay through Nevertheless there are illustrious excep- Samaria. The inhabitants of that country, tions. There have been persons whose names though descended from the same stock with are dear to every succeeding generation, and the Jews, and once members together with who shall be had in everlasting remem- them of the commonwealth of Israel, were brance; who were engaged in pursuits of now cordially hated and despised by them. endless utility, and producing events which But they possessed the same “ lively oracles shall never spend their force. And there is of God,” they looked for the same Messiah a record which survives the lapse of ages, i promised to their common fathers, and they the ravages of barbarism, the revolutions of gladly received the word when it came unto empire, and which shall outlive the dissolu- them. The great Prophet whom they ertion of worlds. There we contemplate the pected takes this opportunity of paying them deathless glory of the venerable benefactors a visit; they acknowledge him, and believe of mankind, who “ being dead, yet speak," on his name. Having continued with them who were and are the light of the world. two days, sowing the precious seed exAll those scattered rays of light are collected pounding from Moses and all the prophets,
in all the Scriptures, the things concerning | received him, having seen all the things that himself, and thus extending the boundaries he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also of the kingdom of God, he pursued his jour- went unto the feast.” The report which they ney to Galilee, and returned “ to Cana, where made at home, of his mighty works, as well he made the water wine.” Beside his gene- as of his condescension and benevolence, ral and leading object, to preach the .gospel had reached the ears of the great, and exof the kingdom, he might intend, by re-visit- cited attention. We fondly listen to what ing that city, to express the affection of a promises ease; we grasp the very shadows kind relation to the new-married pair who of probability, and frequently make experiresided there, to strengthen their union by ments with little hope of success. All that his benediction, by his counsel, by partici- medical skill could effect had, in this case pating in their domestic cares and comforts, undoubtedly been attempted, but attempted and to confirm them and the other inhabit- in vain. It is one, and not the least of the ants of the place in the faith which they had evils attendant on poverty, to know of a reprofessed.
medy without the means of procuring it. It was so ordered of Providence that at The rich have at least this consolation in exthe time of his return a distinguished family tremity, that every thing was done which in the neighbouring town of Capernaum was influence could command or money purchase. visited with a sore affliction. "There was But the nobleman of Capernaum is not to be a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at taxed with credulity for believing the report Capernaum.” The word translated noble- concerning Christ, or for building upon it the man signifies courtier, one employed near hope of a cure which medicine had been unthe person, or in the service of a king. able to effect. Instead of sending for him, Herod was but a delegated and limited sove- as in the case of ordinary physicians," he reign: “Tetrarch of Galilee,” that is go- went to him." The distance between Cavernor, under the Roman emperor, of the pernaum and Cana was about a day's jourfourth part of a province. But he was per- fney, as we may gather from verse 52. He mitted to assume the title and state of king, was met on his way homeward, rejoicing in because it swelled the pride of the imperial the belief of the power and grace of Christ, despot to lord it over many subordinate and the day after he had received the assurance: dependant thrones. Capernaum being with " Yesterday,” said the servants, “at the in the limits of Herod's government, he no seventh hour the fever left him.” Here then doubt occasionally resided in that city, and there we have nobility descending from its stateprobably at this time held his court; and liness, waving ceremony, assuming the form the nobleman in question might either offi- of a supplicant. Was it thereby degraded ! cially or from affection be in attendance No, to follow the honest impulse of nature, upon his master. But the vicinity of a court, to submit to the obligations of propriety and and the rank of nobility, are no security decorum, to employ fair means to obtain a against the inroads of disease and death, for desirable end, is no degradation, even to a they too are tainted with sin. The danger prince. Vice alone degrades, and exposes a of losing a child excites a thousand anxieties man to shame, and lowers his dignity in the in the bosom of a parent, whatever be the eyes of God, and of his fellow-creatures. station or condition. There are innumera Calamity brings down the loftiness of the ble circumstances which level all distinc- human spirit. We have a noted instance of tions. The honourable feelings of humanity this in the history of Ben-hadad the king of are of this description, parental and filial af- Syria. In the pride of his heart, in girding fection, with the kindred charities of the hu- on his harness, in the confidence of superiorman heart, sympathy with the distressed, and ity, he sends this insulting message to the a desire to assist and relieve them: these king of Israel; “Thus saith Ben-hadad, thy constitute a dignity, a nobility which God silver and thy gold is mine, thy wives also alone can bestow, and which the air of a and thy children, even the goodliest are court tends rather to blight than to cherish. mine." Unmollified by submission, he asThis good man however has not sunk the sumes a still haughtier tone, and proceeds to father in the courtier. Anxiety about the take by violence what had been quietly yieldlife of his child suspends the pride of rank, ed to him. But brought to himself by a total the duties of office, the etiquette of nobility. defeat of his formidable army, he lowers his “ When he heard that Jesus was come out tone and humbles himself to the man whom of Judea into Galilee he went unto him, and he had insulted : servants with sackcloth girbesought him that he would come down and ded on their loins, and ropes upon their heads, heal his son: for he was at the point of " came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy death."
servant Ben-hadad saith, I pray thee, let me “ A city that is set on a hill cannot be live," a confirmation of the truth of the wise hid.” The fame of Jesus was now spread man's observation : “Pride goeth before deover the whole land. When he came back struction : and an haughty spirit before a from Jerusalem to Galilee, “the Galileans fall." We would not be thought to insinu
ate that pride is an inseparable concomitant, one of the twelve, who, after all the signs of greatness, or insolence of a prosperous and wonders of which he had been a spectacondition. But the flattery of inferiors, and tor, resisted the clearest testimony; " Except the constant means of self-gratification, act- I shall see in his hands the print of the sails, ing habitually on a principle radically cor- and put my finger into the print of the nails
, rupt, have, without doubt, a very dangerous and thrust my hand into his side, I will not tendency to mislead the understanding, and believe.” The nobleman of Capernaum bad to corrupt the heart: adversity dispels the probably expressed himself in similar ters, illusion, and tells a man feelingly what he and thereby incurred this reproof of his is is. But for the indisposition of his son, the credulity, which seemed to convey a denia father might have remained a slave to the of his suit. world, and died a martyr to the pride of life, Parental affection perseveres in following and a stranger to the Saviour of mankind. up his request. He tacitly admits the juisBlessed is that dispensation, be it ever so se tice of Christ's censure, but waves discussia, vere, which loosens a man from the things and in the anguish of his soul renews his of time, which empties him of self, which supplication to him, to whom misery nerer leads him to God.
applied in vain : “Sir, come down ere my The faith of this nobleman, as in every child die.” Where the heart is deeply it case, was blended with much infirmity. He terested, the “words are few," but o bow reposed confidence in the goodness of Christ, forcible! The feelings of a parent are seen in the power of Christ to heal the sick; but with approbation by the friend of mankind, he weakly imagined that this power could who knows what is in man, and to whom operate only on the spot. Under this impres- nothing that affects humanity can be a matsion he travels from Capernaum to Cana in ter of indifference. “ Jesus saith unto him, hope of being able to persuade Jesus to ac- Go thy way: thy son liveth.” That word, company him to the former city, and stand that one little word, has in a moment, in the over the patient, and rebuke the fever, and twinkling of an eye, reached Capemam, kas restore him to health: "he besought him, expelled a mortal distemper, has reliered a that he would come down, and heal his son, wretched father from a pressure under which for he was at the point of death.” He urges he was sinking, and has inspired him with a the importance of despatch, lest death should confidence never more to be shaken. He interpose and extinguish hope for ever; for receives his son as one alive from the dead; his faith carried him no farther than to the he learns to correct his false ideas of the brink of the grave, and there gave up all power of Christ, and to submit implicity to for lost. It was meet that one who thought, his decisions. “And the man believed the who felt, who acted so well, should be word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and taught to think, to feel, to act better. he went his way." It was meet he should be taught not to dic The sequel unfolds an amiable, interesting, tate to divine sovereignty, but to adore, and and instructive view of domestic lite. When submit to it; taught to enlarge his ideas of the master left his home to go in quest of rethe power and grace of the Redeemer, as ex- lief to his child, the servants of the family, tending to universal space, and to every pos- some of them actually slaves, entering into sible state of things. This seems to be the their lord's feelings, tend the sick bed of the only rational interpretation which can be gi- young man with all the attention and soliciven of the apparent coldness of the reception tude, of humble friends, not with the eye-sergiven him by our Lord. Instead of his usual vice of mercenary or compelled drudges promptitude to fly to the relief of distress, They observe every symptom of the disorder, the importunate and solicitous father meets, they watch over every motion of the patient, from the lips of Christ, with a seemingly un- they outrun his wants and wishes, they tremgracious reflection which had nearly chilled ble for the issue, they mark with transport his heart. “ Then said Jesus unto him, Ex- the moment of convalescence, and, to spare cept ye see signs and wonders ye will not the tender parent every unnecessary pang believe.” In his progress through Samaria of painful apprehension, instead of waiting Christ had found greater faith than in Judea. for his return, they send off a depatation of The Samaritans exacted no sign, expressed their namber, the instant that the fever came no suspicion, insisted on no condition. “Many to a crisis, to announce the welcome tidings more believed because of his own word, and to their beloved master. What honour does said unto the woman, Now we believe, not this reflect on all the parties! Human life because of thy saying: for we have heard consists of a reciprocation of kind affections, him ourselves, and know that this is indeed expressions, and actions, or their contraries. the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” But In vain does the unfeeling, insolent, tyranhis countrymen of Galilee, though they had nical despot expect dutiful, cheerful, cordial been witnesses of his miracles, were • slow attachment and submission from domestics of heart to believe.” They demand further and dependants. By failure in his own duty, evidence, and in the true spirit of Thomas, he has set them the example of harshness
want of sympathy, and disrespect. The in- it was in this case. And here was a display ferior almost always takes the tone from his of another divine attribute, time as well as superior. If you see obsequious, faithful, di- space subdued to the will of him who filleth ligent servants, or attentive dutiful, affection- all space; whose existence was before time ate children, rest assured that the master and began to flow, and runneth through the mistress of the family, that the parents of the whole extent of its duration; with whom a children are wise, gentle, and good. Most fa- thousand years are as one day, and one day milies in the metropolis, especially those of as a thousand years; who measureth the high rank, are uncomfortable, because mutual lapse of moments and of ages by a standard attachment subsists not between the rulers unalterable as the ordinances of heaven, and and the ruled. It is a mere intercourse of by a standard still more intelligible, sensible, accommodation and interest, in which nei- interesting, and endearing, uninterrupted, ther the heart nor conscience hath any part. unwearied acts of loving kindness and tenThe paltry consideration of a month's wages der mercy, settles the account on either side. In the It would be ungenerous and unjust to asremoter parts of the kingdom, the relation of cribe the nobleman's minuteness of inquiry master and servant is a tacit compact of un- to doubt, or slowness of belief, for the history limited duration. The servant is adopted expressly saith, “the man believed the word into the family, and looks up to the heads of that Jesus had spoken unto him, and went it with filial respect, gratitude, and confidence. his way,” confiding entirely in the truth and No separate interest, no divided or contra- faithfulness of that word, long before the dictory views and pursuits disturb domestic evidence of it met him on the road. But tranquillity. The family of this nobleman that Jesus in whom he trusted graciously, was not far from the kingdom of God, for gave him this confirmation of his faith, that the spirit of love was its governing principle, he might feel the solidity of the rock on and God is love. “And as he was now going which all his hope rested. Faith is faith, down his servants met him, and told him, though but as a grain of mustard-seed; for saying, thy son liveth. Then inquired he of that grain contains an immortal germ, pregthem the hour when he began to amend. nant with all the beauty and richness of a And they said unto him, yesterday at the future harvest. The apostles themselves seventh hour the fever left him."
were sometimes weak, at other times strong One of our highest mental pleasures con- in the faith : sensible of this, they prayed sists in comparing object with object, in or- unto the Lord that he would " increase” it. der to discover coincidence, similitude, dif- The principle is sound, it is vital; it may ference, or contrast. This pleasure must have lie dormant, it may suffer depression, but it been enjoyed in singular purity on this joy- cannot expire. “ So the father knew that it ful occasion. The distance of the two cities was at the same hour in the which Jesus was well known. It employed a whole day, said unto him, thy son liveth; and himself beand the exertions of a man of rank and for- lieved, and his whole house." tune, furnished with all the means of expe The miracles of Christ always look farther ditious travelling, and under the stimulus of than to their immediate object. Application paternal affection, to go from Capernaum to is made for the removal of a bodily infirmity; Cana. How pleasant was it to compare that the diseases of the mind are at the same time distance, and the usual rate of journeying, reached by the healing power of the Rewith the inconceivably rapid transition of deemer, and the spectators are made sensible the word of Christ! what a contrast! Here of a divine energy. The blind man comes then was a demonstration of the controlling in hope of having his sight restored, he goes power of Christ over space; it was not need-away seeing, and with the unspeakably ful that he should go up or come down, that greater blessing, the eyes of his understandhe should be on the same spot with the ob- ing are opened. Behold that helpless paraject of his beneficence, for the purpose of ef- lytic, “ borne of four,” stretched motionless fecting a cure. The divine attribute of om- on his couch. At the word of Christ he renipresence was accordingly displayed. The covers strength, arises, takes up his bed, goes measurements of time are equally well- forth before them all, and departs to his house, known and understood; and there was a pe- not only with a body every whit whole, but culiarly powerful motive on both sides to with a soul relieved from the dreadful presmark the precise moment. Here an oppor-sure of the guilt of sin: “Jesus said unto the tunity was afforded of instituting a second sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven comparison, and lo, what a coincidence be- thee." Mark these ten lepers, outcasts from tween the time of the father's observation society, loathsome to themselves, an abomiand that of the servants, that is, when Jesus nation to others, labouring under a malady spake the word to the one, and when the which medicine could not reach; they stand others perceived a sensible change to the afar off, they lift up their voices, they cry for better, in their young master's health! If mercy. As they went, at the command of ever the relation of cause and effect existed, Christ, to show themselves to the priests,
they were cleansed, To nine of the ten it of heaven moves. The enterprizes of man proved a mere temporary relief, a corporal exhibit the noise and bustle of preparation, purgation; the fatal leprosy of sin remained and violence of exertion, and lo, they corne to defile the conscience. To the tenth, a to nothing; they commence in a blaze, and stranger, a Samaritan, it proved at once the presently issue in smoke. The designs of cure of bodily disease, and of mental pollu- the Most High have, from imperceptible betion; "and one of them, when he saw that he ginnings, made a silent, unnoticed progress, was healed, turned back, and with a loud and have acquired strength irresistible before voice glorified God, and fell down on his face attention was excited ; they issue from a dark at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a cloud, and advance with growing lustre ento Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, the perfect day. What more common than were there not ten cleansed ? but where are sickness in a numerous family? Uniform the nine? There are not found that returned health, not occasional disease, is the wonder. to give glory to God, save this stranger. And The malady of a beloved child spreads a sable he said unto him, arise, go thy way; thy faith veil over an honourable house; it threatens hath made thee whole."
to embitter the future days of survivors; the Illustrious to the same purpose is the history hand of death is lifted up to strike the deciof the miracle under review. The nearer sive blow. It is a critical moment. The and more immediate object is a sick child at Lord gives the word. The child lives, the Capernaum, restored instantaneously from parent believes, the whole house is converted threatening indisposition to perfect sound- unto the Lord, an impression favourable to
But consider how many momentous Christianity is made on the public mind, the circumstances are involved in that one object. dominion of grace is extended, and the kingThe father was a person of the very first dom of glory opens to view. From such a distinction, connected with the higher hidden source, inaccessible as that of the Nile, powers of this world, at the head of a numer-i issues the majestic river, destined to adorn ous and well-ordered household, a man of and fertilize distant regions and the nations urbanity, understanding, and address. Con- which inhabit them. This day salvation verted himself to the faith of the gospel, be- came to the house of that nobleman. It wore hold him disposed to employ the whole weight a lowering aspect, but it brightened as it of his influence, of his authority, of his exam- went. ple, in promoting the cause which he himself 2. Mark the impartial regards of the great had from conviction embraced. Incalculable Lord of all to his creatures of every order and is the effect which one man of character, condition. With some men there is a strong talents, and virtue may produce in a court, a prejudice in favour of nobility and affluence, city, a kingdom, a world. No one can be as if they implied greatness, generosity, ca. solitary either good or wicked. The conta-pacity. Others are actuated by a prejudice gion whether of virtue or vice is quickly equally violent and unreasonable against caught and communicated, with this differ- them. Wisdom says, look to the man, and ence, that in the one case there is a repulsive not to his circumstances. Goodness is the faculty that guards the system against the object of commendation and esteem, whether admission of the gracious principle, and in the high or the low, the rich or the poor; which therefore needs to be corrected; and vice is odious whatever be the condition whereas in the other there is a predisposition of life. A righteous judge considereth the to absorb the poison, which it requires no cause, not the rank and character of the common skill and attention to prevent. What- parties. And lest there should be an improper ever might be the more remote, or more ex- bias to the side of poverty, as there sometimes tensive influence of this good man's faith and is to the side of wealth, the law very wisely piety, the evangelist in forms us that it em-throws in this caution : “ Neither shalt thou braced at least the whole of his own family: countenance a poor man in his cause.". Our "and himself believed and his whole house.” Lord sets the example of this impartiality. Here was another province, by a strong hand Nobility could be no recommendation to his rent from the empire of Satan, and added to favour, neither was it any bar in the way. the kingdom of the Messiah; “ for he must | The distress, the importunity, the parental reign till he hath put all his enemies under affection of the man moved his compassion, his feet."
the current of which could not be impeded We conclude with a few practical reflec- by the consideration of his being a courtier. tions suggested by this portion of our blessed It is a melancholy reflection, “ that not many Lord's history.
wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, 1. Events, to our apprehension, casual, or- not many noble are called;" but it is pleasing dinary, merely things of course, are, in the to reflect that the rule is not absolute and purpose of the Eternal Mind, order, connex- universal. The history of the Christian ion, mutual dependence. Our eyes are too church and the state of the world at this day, feeble to discern how delicately fine the exhibit many glorious instances of the trihinges are on which the mighty machinery I umph of divine grace over the fascination of