« הקודםהמשך »
REFLECTIONS. We have here the first of Christ's public miracles, which we find was not wrought till about his thirtieth year. How much sooner could he have glorified himself, and amazed the world by the display of his Divine power ? But he waited his Father's call, and the delay added at length to the lustre of his works.
It was performed to grace a nuptial solemnity : and who doth not see that it was in effect a testimony borne to the honour and purity of that happy state on which so much of the .comfort of the present generation, and the existence of the future, regularly depends ? How happy were these guests while Jesus was among them! and how condescending did he appear in making one on the occasion ! His social and obliging temper should sweeten ours, and be a lesson to his followers that they avoid every thing sour and morose, and do not censure others for innocent liberties at proper seasons of festivity and joy.
If his mother met with so just a rebuke for attempting to direct his administrations in the days of his flesh, how absurd is it for any to address her as if she had a right to command him on the throne of his glory? And how indecent for us to direct his supreme wisdom as to the time and manner in which he shall appear for us in any of the exigencies of life. Her submission and faith manifesteil on this occasion are truly amiable : and with this we have surely reason to ad. mire the benignity and generosity of Christ in this miracle before us; who consulted the pleasure and entertainment as well as the necessity of his followers; and by this abundant supply amply repaid any extraordinary expense which he might have occasioned to the family.
How easily could he, who thus turned water into wine, have transformed every entertainment of a common table into the greatest delicacies, and have regaled himself daily with royal dainties? But, far superior to such animal gratifications, he chose the severities of a much plainer life. Blessed Jesus! who can say whether thou art greater in what thou didst, or in what thou didst not do? May none of us thy followers be too intent on indulging our taste, or any of our other senses; but, pursuing those intellectual and devotional pleasures which were thy meat and thy drink on earth, may we wait for that good wine which thou reservest for thy people to the last, and for those richer dainties with which thou wilt feast those who shall drink it with thee in thy Father's kingdom! (Matt. xxvi. 29.)
Jesus keeps the passover at Jerusalem and clears the tempte.
12 A FTER Jesus had attendtil this marriage, he and his mother,
1 and his brethren, and his disciples, went down to Capernaum, 13 and they continued there not many days. And the passover of 14 the Jews drew near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he
found in the outer court of the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves,* and money-changerst sitting at their tables. 15 And having made a whip of small cords, he drove them all out of
the temple, and the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the mo16 ney of the exchangers, and overturned the tables. And he said
to them that sold doves, Take these things away from hence, 17 and do not make my Father's house an house of traffic. And his
disciples remembered that it was written of David, “ The zeal of
thine house hath eaten me up.” 18 The Jews therefore (whose grand council sat in a chamber of
the temple) answered and said unto him, What sign dost thou
shew us, seeing that thou dost these things, to prove thy divine 19 commission ? Jesus answered and said unto them, Demolish this 20 temple, and I will raise it up again in three days. The Jews then
said, This temple hath been six and forty years building, and wilt 21 thou raise it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of 12 his own body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his
disciples remembered that he had said this to them; and they
believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken." 23 Now when he was at the passover in Jerusalem on the feast
day, many, seeing the miracles which he wrought, believed in him. 24 But Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew them 25 all, and had no need that any one should testify of any man, for he
knew what was in man; and consequently that there was no room for him to expect them to be faithful to him.
REFLECTIONS. How powerful is the love of this world, when it could engage even the priests and the Pharisees to let out the temple itself for a marketplace! though a professed zeal for the honour of it made so great a part of the righteousness of which they boasted before God. But our Lord beheld the scene with just indignation ; as that displeasure is indeed just which arises from a sense of dishonour done to God, and contempt poured on the institutions of his worship. Happy shall we be in the warmest emotions of zeal which do not transport us beyond the rules of prudence and love, and make us forget those stations in life which require the same principles to shew themselves in widely different effects!
Methinks the state of the temple, when these traders had erected their seats and their stalls in it, and turned the courts of God's house into a market, is too just an emblem of the state of our hearts, when we appear in the sanctuary distracted with worldly cares to the neglect of that one thing needful which then demands our most attentive regards. Would to God that in this sense our Father's house were not often made a house of merchandise ! Let us pray that Jesus, by his good Spirit, would assert it to himself, and drive out those intruders
* Under a pretence of accommodating the worshippers with sacrifices. Jose phus says, no less than 256,500 victims were offered at one passover.
† Persons who changed foreign coin into current, and larger pieces into small.
which break in upon our truest enjoyments, in proportion to that degiee in which they intrench on our devotion!
After a thousand proofs of his Divine mission, the Jews were wicked and desperate enough, with sacrilegious hands to destroy the temple of Christ's body : but let us be thankful for the undoubted evidence we have that, as an everlasting monument of his power and truth, he raised it again in three days! Happy will it be for us if we cordially believe a gospel so gloriously attested; but most vain will that belief be which doth not penetrate and influence the heart. Let us remember that we have to do with him that formed our nature, and is most intimately acquainted with all its recesses. He knows what is in man : may he see nothing in us which shall not be thoroughly agreeable to the profession we make of being his faithful disciples!
To conclude ; let us learn from the caution which Jesus used, not' rashly to put ourselves and our usefulness into the power of others; but to study a wise and happy medium between that universal prejudice and suspicion which, while it wrongs the best and the most worthy characters, would deprive us of all the pleasures of an intimate friendship, and that undistinguishing easiness and openness of temper which might make us the property of every hypocritical pretender to kindness and respect.
SECTION XXV. Our Lord's conference with Nicodemus on Regeneration. John üi.
THERE was a man of the Pharisees whose name was Nico
demus, a magistrate of the Jews, who wishing to be informi ed of Christ's doctrine, made him a visit ; but lest offence should be . 2 taken, he came to Jesus by night; and said unto him, Rabbi, we
know that thou art a teacher from God : for none can do these 3 miracles which. thou dost unless God be with him. Jesus an
swered and said unto him, Verily verily I say unto thee, unless a 4 man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicode:: mus says unto him, How can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily verily I say unto thee, Unless a man be
.born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of 6 God: that which is born of the flesh is only flesh; and that which hy is born of the Spirit is spirit. Wonder not therefore that I saiet 8 unto thec, You must be born again. The wind bloweth where it
will, and thou hearest the sound thereof, yet thou canst not tell
whence it cometh and whither it goeth : so it is with every one 9 that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto 10 him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unio
him, Art thou a teacher in Israel, and cost thou not know these things?
REFLECPIONS. He that hath cars to hear, let him hear with attention what the blessed Redeemer said on this great occasion. It is surely a matter of
universal concern : for who would not desire to enter into the kingdom of God ? to be an acceptable member of Christ's church now, and an heir of glory beyond the grave ? - But how is this blessing to be expected and secured? Thus saith the Lord himself, Unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Let us remember therefore that it is not enough that a new name be given us, or that a new profession be assumed ; it is not enough that we are descended from the most pious ancestors, that we have been externally devoted to God by the early seal of his covenant, or that we openly have made a solemn and express profession of our own faith and obedience, and have been born of-baptismal water in our riper years! There must be a new nature implanted, a new creation formed, in our souls by the almighty energy of the eternal Spirit, or it had been better for us that we had never been born at all.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and as we all proceed from a corrupt original, we do not more evidently bear the image of the earthly Adam in the infirmities of a mortal body than in the de, generacy of a corrupted mind. Oh, let us earnestly intreat that, being born of the sanctifying influences of the Spirit, we may bear the image of the heavenly ! And to these influences let us with all humility and thankfulness be ready to yield up our souls, as remembering that they are of a free and sovereign nature, like the wind that bloweth where it will, and does not stay for the command of the children of men,
Let none of us indulge a vain and useless curiosity with respect to the manner of the Spirit's operations; or. wonder that we meet with some things that are secret and unknown in matters of a spiritual nature, when we see daily there are so many things unknown in the common appearances of the natural world, and indeed so few that we can perfectly understand, May the pride of a falsely pretended reason be subdued to the authority of faith! And more especially, may such as are teachers in Israel, or who are designed for that important office, take their instructions with all humility from this teacher sent from God! For it must surely be not only their calamity, but that too of the church in general, if its guides continue ignorant of those sublime and spiritual truths which Christ came down from heaven to reveal, or are so biassed by the carnal reasonings of a depraved mind as to be indisposed and backward to receive them,
Our Lord opens to Nicodemus the design of his coming, and the necessity
of faith in him, John iii. 11-21.
II ITERILY verily I say unto thee, we speak what we know,
V and testify that which we have seen, and ye receive not our 12 testimony. If I have told you earthly things* and ye believe not, 13 how would you believe if I should tell you heavenly things ?t And
* Things that may be illustrated by earthly objects, (or things transacted here on earth.].
| Heb. vi, 1, 2. Ps. ciij. 11. Isa. lv, 9.
no one has ascended up to heaven to search into the secret counsels
of God,* unless he who is descended from heaven, [even] the 14 Son of man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the brazen
serpent on a pole in the wilderness, so also must the Son of man be 15 lifted up on a cross, that whoever believeth on him may not perish, 16 but may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he
gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believeth on him may 17 not perish but may have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son
into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be 18 saved by him. He that believeth on him shall not be condemned;
but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath 19 not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Now
this is the great condemnation, that light is come into the world,
and men liave loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds 20 were evil. For every one who doeth evil hateth the light, and 21 cometh not to the light, lest his actions should be reproved. But
he that practises truth comes to the light, that his actions may be made manifest that they are wrought in God,t agreeably to his nature and will, and in consequence of union of soul with him.
REFLECTIONS. How happy is it for us that, since none of the children of men ever ascended up into heaven to learn the mysteries of divine knowJedge there, the only begotten Son of God has been pleased to come down from thence that he might instruct us! He spake what he knew, and testified what he had seen: Oh, that men were so wise as to receive his testimony, be the discoveries ever so new or the doctrines ever so sublime ! Let us with peculiar pleasure attend unto that abstract of the gospel which he exhibited in this profitable and comprehensive discourse with Nicodemus. It presents to our view Christ and him crucified. It opens the treasures of divine beneficence and compassion, and shews us the Father of mercies so loving a world, which he might justly have abhorred and destroyed, as to give his only begotten Son to be a ransom for it.
Let us behold him lifted up on the cross as the great attractive to whom all were to be drawn ! In him shall we find the divine cure for our souls, infected as they are with the poison of sin, if we behold him not merely with a curious but a believing eye. Whatever our wounds be, if in the exercise of faith we look to him, we shall not die of them ; but it is owing to our own obstinacy and impenitence if we yet perish.
He might justly have appeared in a different form, for the condemnation of sinners, rather than their salvation. The Son of God might have come into an apostate world armed with thunderbolts of flamipg vengeance, to punish the violation of his Father's law; but his hands are filled with eternal blessings. As we love our own souls, let us apply to him in time for this salvation, Let us dread the ag
* Deut. xxx. 12. Rom. X. 12. Prov. XXX. 4.
† This discourse appears to have made a deep and lasting impression, See chi vii. 50. xix. 39.