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JOHN II. 1-11.
AND the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus was called and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six water-pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew ;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, and when men bave well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
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 depend?
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 manifested on this occasion are truly amiable: and with this we have surely reasons to admire 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 expence 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.)
JOHN II. 12-25.
AFTER this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples, and they continued there not many days. And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem: And found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money, sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, 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. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered, and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
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 market-place! 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 which break in upon our truest enjoyments, in proportion to that degree 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 monu. ment 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.
JOHN iii. 1-26.
THERE was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest
the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
He that hath ears 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 degeneracy of a corrupt 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