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HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
LECTURE XVI. '
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 purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins a piece. 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 have well drank, 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.-JOHN xi. 1.-11.
T requires no common degree of wisdom to make the transition from various situations one to another, with dignity and propriety. The gravity and serious.
ness of deportment that suits the temple do not suddenly melt away into the familiarity and ease of private life. Men are called to act various parts, but often lack the skill to discriminate between character and character. At other times the scene changes too rapidly, and the habit of the public personage is scarcely laid aside, when the spirit of it is likewise shifted, and the man discovers that he is merely an actor. Difference of behaviour may undoubtedly be assumed with change of place and of company, without incurring the imputation of hypocrisy but there is a radical character which the honest man never lays aside, whatever be the season, whatever the situation. He cannot indeed be gay and serious at the same moment but in the house of mourning he may be sad without sinking into depression, and in the house of feasting he may be cheerful without rising into levity. He can " rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep," without losing the firmness of his mind, or betraying inconsistency of spirit and temper. In truth, if you would be useful to men, you must accommodate yourself, where the rights of conscience do not interfere, to their circumstances, and to the laws of decency and prudence.
But where, alas! shall we find the man who is continually on his guard, who in every situation possesses his soul, and governs his spirit, and keeps the door of his lips? In vain we look for such a one among men of like passions with ourselves. But it is not for want of a perfect pattern, in the person of him who in all places, at all seasons, and in every situation, approved himself the Son of God and the friend of men. Let this mind be in you, which also was in Christ Jesus. He hath left us an example that we should follow his steps. Blessed lord, we will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
We have attended the great Teacher sent from God tothe synagogue at Nazareth, and have heard him
fulfilling the duties of that gracious office, by reading and opening up the Scriptures, and thus producing one species of evidence to the truth of his divine mission, the accomplishment of ancient, well known, and acknowledged prophecies concerning himself, his person, his consecration to the great work which he should come to execute, and the wonderful success with which it should be crowned. We have seen him with complacency receiving his disciples on their return from a progress of preaching and healing, and of casting out devils; and rejoicing in spirit, as he contemplated the sudden and utter destruction of Satan's kingdom, and on its ruins, the universal and everlasting establishment of his own. We are now to behold him exhibiting a different kind of evidence, but calculated to produce the same effect, that, is, a full conviction that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, namely, the display of miraculous powers, to support the truth of the doctrines which he taught. This "Nicodemus a ruler of the Jews," felt and admitted. Rabbi," says he, he, "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:" As on the two great commandments, love to God and love to man, "hang all the law and the prophets," so on these two unmoveable pillars, rest the whole fabric of christianity. The fulfilling of prediction, is a demonstration of the foreknowledge of Deity, "declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure;" and of his truth and faithfulness in bringing it to pass, to an iota, to a tittle: and the working of miracles evinces the presence and concurrence of almighty power, which is able to support and to suspend, to control and alter the laws of nature, by a word, by an "I will." If the spirit and native tendency of the gospel be taken into the account, we shall
find it to possess every character of divinity that the heart of man could desire, or reason demand, or imagination figure.
The period, and the place, and the occasion of Christ's first public miracle, are all specified. It was the third day after the noted conversation that passed between Christ and Nathanael, which is recorded in the conclusion of the preceding chapter. There Jesus gave proof, not merely of superior sagacity, but of a knowledge that discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Nathanael, with all his guileless integrity, laboured under the common prejudice of the day, and had the vulgar proverb in his mouth," Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" He soon received conviction that there could, and that too the best of all things; for while he was yet speaking to Philip, Christ himself drew nigh to meet them, and instantly, in the hearing of Nathanael, pronounced a character of him which the searcher of hearts only could have unfolded: "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." Nathanael, justly conscious of inward rectitude, finds himself at once reproved and detected. His sarcasm respecting Nazareth not retorted, but disarmed by receiving in return the honourable appellation of "an Israelite indeed," was a keen reproof to an inge nuous mind; and to find himself minutely known to a stranger, must have inspired high respect for that stranger, not unmixed with awe. With astonishment he exclaims, "Whence knowest thou me ?" The answer completely displays the character of the Nazarene : "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee." Here is an eye which at once penetrates into the heart, and marks minute, external contingent circumstances, even to the species of plant under the shadow of which Nathanael, at a certain moment, happened to repose. The Israelite indeed" now resigns his prejudices and dismisses his doubts; wonder changes into veneration, Nathanael
answered, and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel;" and thus another respectable disciple is added to the school of Christ.
Let not this be considered as foreign to the subject of the present lecture. Nathanael was, of course, one of the invited guests to celebrate the marriage at Cana of Galilee. He was there, within three days, to behold another species of demonstration of his master's divinity, that he might bear witness to it. And it was fit that a man so candid and upright should be furnished with every kind of evidence, which could remove prejudice or subdue infidelity. He is not indeed hereafter mentioned in the gospel history, but it seems highly probable that a person of his description, was speedily called to take an active part in propaga. ting the truth as it is in Jesus. Some commentators have supposed him to be the same with Bartholomew, one of the twelve.
The place, where the miracle exhibited the glory of the Redeemer, was "Cana of Galilee," perhaps to distinguish it from another city of that name in Celosyria, mentioned by Josephus in his Jewish antiquities. It was situated in that part of the Holy Land, which in the partition under Joshua, fell by lot to the tribe of Asher; and stood on a river of the same name, which flowed through part of the inheritance of the tribe of Ephraim, into the Great Sea. It was hitherto a mere name, or a speck which might casually catch the eye as it wandered over the map of Palestine; but Cana now acquired a celebrity which makes her to rank with the proudest of capitols, from an event which will transmit her name to the latest posterity.
The occasion was a marriage solemnity. It is an institution of heaven nearly as old as the creation: it was first celebrated in Paradise: God himself formed the union, presided over and witnessed the contract,