תמונות בעמוד

defiance, to go up to Jerusalem at the feast of tabernacles, and there make an open display of his miraculous powers, this was his reply,: “My time is not yet come-Go ye up unto this feast : I go not up unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come;' intimating that all his movements and operations were regulated to a moment, and therefore could neither be hurried forward nor retarded. When he did go up to Jerusalem, and taught openly in the temple, though his plainness and fidelity gave much offence, it is remarked that “no man laid hands on him ; for his hour was not yet come:" that is, the hour of his apprehension, trial and condemnation. When the devout Greeks who had come to worship in the temple, desired an interview with him, Jesus said to his disciples; “ The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified ;' meaning the dawn of the gospel day upon the Gentile word. But while he rejoiced in spirit, as he contemplated that auspicious hour, he saw it leading to another and a darker hour, the hour of suffering and death. The prospect spreads a transient cloud over the serenity of his mind, and he said: “Now is my soul troubled : and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour." Thus far the man of sinless infirmity. But the cloud passes away, serenity is restored and the hour of sorrow is lost in contemplating the glory that should follow, the accomplishment of his heavenly Father's purpose of mercy in the redemption of a lost world : “but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.” When his « time was full come” that he should glorify God by his death, with heavenly composure “ Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father the hour is come ; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.” Thus 'every step of the Redeemer's progress was weighed, measured, established by an antecedent counsel incapable of being overthrown or of failing.

His mother, though reproved, is not wholly discou


raged. She perceives that whatsoever he did must be done at his own time and in his own way, and therefore enjoins the servants carefully to attend to whatever he should say unto them.

The ablutions, at this period, practised among the Jews, were carried to an absurd and superstitious ex

The law had indeed prescribed certain washings, which nature herself points out as conducive to health, cleanliness and comfort ; but tradition had multiplied these without end; they had acquired an authority paramount to that of law, and the primary duties of life were sunk in an affected attention to external purity. “The Pharisees,” says St. Mark, " and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash they eat not. And many other things there be which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.” This drew upon them a severe censure from the lips of Jesus Christ. He charges them with the vilest hypocrisy, in “ teaching for doctrine the commandments of men." “ says he,“ laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups : and many other such like things ye do." “ Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” He then produces as an instance, their open and avowed violation of the fifth precept of the decalogue, engraven by nature on the heart of man, and proclaimed from Sinai by the mouth of God. The unnatural child had but by a vow to devote his substance to a pretendedly sacred purpose, in order to be for ever released from all obligation to assist aged or decayed parents. Thus a punctilious attention to washing the body, could be reconciled to a deliberate purpose of hardening the heart. These copious and frequent ablutions, account for the large provision of water made for the marriage feast. “There


were set six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three furkins apiece." To pretend to ascertain the quantity, by the names of ancient measurement, would be nugatory and absurd. If the thing could be done, what profit would arise from it? Is it not well known that all the wisdom of the British legislature, though frequently exerted, has hitherto been unable to establish a standard of weights and measures for the southern division of this little island ? The precise quantity is left in intentional obscurity, by the use of the indefinite expression two or three, it is sufficient for us to know that the supply was very considerable. The expenditure of water, at this advanced period of the feast, must have been great. Jesus determined to make those partially exhausted vessels the medium of his intended miracle. To have replenished the empty wine vessels might excite suspicion of collusion ; but into watercisterns for purifying, wine never entered, and therefore no doubt could arise. He, then, who could have transformed the bottom of a dry cistern into a fountain of water, or of wine, at his pleasure, commands the servants to “fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim."

The miracle is already performed. By an unseen, unperceived energy; without a word spoken, without

gesture; by a simple act of the will, plain water is instantaneously converted into wine of the finest quality. What dignified simplicity! what unaffected majesty! A fact so very extraordinary is narrated with no more pomp of language than the most common process of nature. He now desires the attendants, hitherto the only witnesses of this wonderful change, to draw off some of the wine, and bear it to the governor of the feast, at the moment when the deficiency began to be felt. Thus every supply which comes immediately from the hand of Providence is at once seasonable, salutary, and excellent in its kind. What comes through the channel of men like ourselves must of necessity have a mixture of their impurity and imperfection.

With us the master of the house is also the governor of the feast. It is his concern to see that his friends be properly accommodated and supplied. But among the Jews an officer of this description was appointed to preside, whether elected by the company, named by the bridegroom, or constituted by public authority, whose business it was to pronounce a benediction on what was provided, and who, when the cup was blessed, first drank of it himself, and then passed it round the table. In compliance with this custom, Jesus directed the first-fruits of this miracle to be carried to him to pass judgment. He instantly perceives the difference, though ignorant of the process; and in surprise addresses himself to the bridegroom, whose it was to prepare the entertainment, and to defray the expense, in these words : “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse : but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” Though this too may not perfectly coincide with modern manners, it exhibits a picture of the common practice in that country and in that age; and it led to a discovery of the whole mystery, and Jesus stood confessed the Son of God, the Lord of universal nature, the searcher of hearts, the ruler of elements, the friend and brother of mankind. “ This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him."

Many and useful are the practical reflections which flow from this subject. Permit me to suggest some of them.

1. The religion of Jesus Christ embraces the whole circle of duty. Duties are of various orders and importance. Some are essential and indispensible, others are agreeable and ornamental ; as in a well-constructed

edifice there are parts absolutely necessary to its existence, and there are parts which might be removed indeed without affecting the solidity and durableness of the fabric, but the removal would greatly impair its elegance and beauty. So in the scale of morals there are the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith; and there are obligations of an inferiour order; though highly important in the commerce of human life; such as gentleness, courtesy, affability, sympathy. Of both ranks of duty our blessed Lord set the happiest example. He mixed with mankind, he

partook of their griefs and their joys, he sat down at their tables, he assisted at their nuptial festivity, he indulged in the mutual endearments of friendship, he paid attention to little children, took them to his arms and blessed them. Disciple of Jesus, go thou and do likewise. Ili does it become thee to be stately, and distant, and rę. served and ungracious, when he was so meek and candescending. There are certain austere christians who will on no occasion, and on no account, descend from the pinnacle of their dignity, and who render religion disgusting to others by the harshness of their manners, and a severe, morose, ungainly deportment. This they cannot have learned of Christ, nor at his old school. Will they vouchsafe to take a lesson from the apostle Paul, who undertood his own real dignity as well as any man? “ Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.” And I beg leave to add, from him : wise in your own conceits."

2. Jesus himself was all purity and perfection, but the mother of Jesus was şubject to culpable infirmity. She incurred censure oftener than once, and therefore is not to be looked up to as a perfect model, much less to receive the adoration which is due to deity alone. It is one of the most humiliating views of human understanding, to behold it so far degraded as to think of approaching the great intercessor and friend of mankind through the intercession of another.

" There is one VOL. IV.

2 F

- Be not

« הקודםהמשך »