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have spared their mirth, if they had considered that the words of the governor of the feast, before quoted, do not imply that any of the company were intoxicated, bur only that it was the custom at such feasts, to bring the best wine first. Besides, our self-conceited and impudent cavillers, might have given themselves time to consider, that, though the Jewish marriage-feasts lasted seven days, our Lord did not order all this wine, which he miraculously produced, to be drank at that solemnity: nor is there one circumstance in the account of this feast, which gives the least intimation that any of the company were intoxicated; and it must be supposed, that, when they had discovered the miracle, they would have so much reverence for the divinity of the person of our Lord, as would prevent them from making such bad use of his wine, especially in his presence. Nor can it be inferred, from the quantity of wine which our Lord thus miraculously produced, that he would connive at intemperance, and furnish the means of excess: it rather ought to be concluded, that, by this miracle, he intended to make a seasonable and valuable present to his friends,. which might serve for their use, when the solemnity of the feast was over. And, it may further be observed, that by converting so large a quantity of water into wine, our Lord prevented all objections that might have been raised against the miracle being true; for a small quantity of wine might have been easily procured to carry on the deception, when so large a quantity could not: so that, if it be admitted that these water-pots were ever so large, there can be no objection raised against the design of the miracle; nor can it be charged with giving indulgence to intemperance, any more than the plenty which the all-bountiful Creator showers upon the vineyard and the field: so that, notwithstanding the objections and cavils which may arise from false wisdom, this first miracle of our Lord appears to be, in every respect worthy. of God, and beneficial to man.
The passover, an annual feast of the Jews, kept in commemoration of their preservation, when the Egyptian first-born were slain by a stroke from heaven, being at hand, and our Lord designing to be present at the feast, he departed from Cana, and taking Capernaum in his way, he went to Jerusalem. He no sooner arrived at the chief city of the Jews, but he went to the temple, and probably it being the eve of the feast, he found the sacred apartments full of traders, moneychangers, and merchants, who sold such things as would be wanted at the ensuing festival. The holy JESUS was filled with indignation, to see the holy place thus prophaned; and immediately applied himself to correct the abuse: accordingly, he made a small whip, or scourge, and assuming the air and fervency of the ancient prophets, he drove this mercenary train out of the temple; awed by his majestic all-commanding appearance, they ran before him in a tumult: the oxen and sheep affrighted, fled, and the owners after them, overthrowing the tables of the money-changers, and pouring out their money upon the ground, none daring to make resistance: the sellers of doves he also urged to depart, commanding them all for the future, to take care how they made the temple of God an house of merchandize. The Jews perceiving a promiscuous throng of people and cattle driving out of the temple in the utmost astonishment and terror, and afterwards finding that JESUS had put them all into this hurry and confusion, by commanding them to depart from the temple, and had drove them before him; they probably summoned a council, and demanded of him in form, by what authority he did this; at the same time, requiring him to give them a sign, which should prove that he did it by a divine commission. Our Lord, on this occasion, only referred them to the miracle of his own resurrection, Destroy, said he, this body, and I will raise it up in three days. The rulers of the Jews, mistaking his meaning, concluded bis words had reference to the noble and magnificent temple built by Herod, and
were very much surprised at the assertion; Forty anil six years, said they, was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But though this answer of our Lord confounded the great men amongst the Jews; the disciples of JESUS remembered a passage in the Psalms, which was clearly applicable to this part of our Redeemer's conduct, The zeal of thine house has eaten me up. And as this prediction of our Lord was delivered in the style of the ancient prophets, whose prophecies were sometimes not understood till they were fulfilled; this saying of their mas ter came fresh into their minds, after his resurrection and confirmed them in their belief of the truth.
Though the blessed JESUS refused to work any miracles in the presence of the rulers of the Jews, and strove not to make himself known to the great and mighty in Jerusalem; yet, at this time, he wrought several wonderful works amongst the common people, and, by exerting the mighty power invested in him, confirmed the truth of the doctrines he taught, and proved that he was a teacher sent from God, and that great person so long expected to be the Redeemer of Israel.
Our Lord continued performing several wonders amongst the common people, during the time of the passover, and many of them believed on him; for they were fully convinced of his divine mission, by the miracles which they saw him perform. But JESUS knowing the secrets of men's hearts, and not wanting any information concerning them, he was able to form a just conception of the nature of this belief; and knew how unlikely it was to stand the day of trial, on account of the weakness and fickleness of mankind. In consequence of this knowledge, he did not think it proper to run the hazard of the inconstancy of the multitude, or trust himself too much in their hands: for this reason, he avoided conversing too freely with them, or making more full and clear discoveries of his
divinity, and the end of his coming into the world; for he knew how likely it was, that great numbers should desert his cause, when he came to be publicly opposed to the great Sanhedrim, by the Scribes and Pharisees, the chief priests and elders, and all the great men of the nation.
But the wonder and astonishment excited by the miracles which JESUS had performed, were not confined to the common people: the wide spreading report had reached the ears of Nicodemus, a man of great eminence amongst the Jews; he was one of the great Sanhedrim, and in great honour and esteem at Jerusalem. He had heard the account of the miracles which JESUS had wrought, and he believed it, and being a person of an ingenious, inquisitive mind, he wanted to be further informed.
It is to be supposed, that he was not ignorant of the general expectation of the Jewish kingdom, respecting the appearance of the Messiah: and he ardently wished to see the accomplishment of the an cient prophecics, in the appearance of that great person. And, as the general opinion was, that the Messiah, when he came, would set up a temporal kingdom, and exalt the Jewish nation over all the kingdoms on the earth, it is to be supposed that the great men amongst the Jews, as well as the common people, strongly desired the approach of this happy event.
Nicodemus was convinced by the miracles which JESUS performed, so wonderful in their nature, so salutary in their effects, so worthy the character of the Son of God, so kind and advantageous to man, so happily adapted to the confirmation of the doctrines he taught, so perfectly agreeable to the attributes of God, and conformable to the predictions of the ancient prophets concerning the Messiah, that these mighty works must proceed from a divine original, and that no power less than Omnipotence could pro
duce them. But very likely some considerable scruples might arise in the mind of this ruler in Israel, when he considered the obscurity of the birth, and the meanness of the appearance of the person who performed these wonderful works. This, in every respect, being so contrary to that magnificence and grandeur in which the Jewish nation expected the Messiah, to appear, might cause great scruples to arise in the mind of Nicodemus, and fill his soul with perplexity and doubt: but he being a person of judgment and discernment, as well as probity and honour, would not suffer his prejudices to prevent him from fairly and impartially inquiring after truth, in an affair of such importance, and therefore determined to have an interview with JESUS himself. He did not think it advisable to wait on our Lord in public; for he thought he might be reproached by the rulers and great men amongst the Jews, and therefore concluded to make this visit in private; and that it might be the more so, he chose to make it in the night.
He accosted our Redeemer with a confession of his conviction of the truth and reality of the miracles he had performed; and that they could not be produced by inchantment, or any infernal assistance; but the nature of them proved them to be produced by the mighty power of God, and confirmed the doctrines JESUS taught to be divine: Rabbi, said he, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do those miracles that thou dost, except God be with him. It does not by this salutation appear, that Nicodemus was convinced that JESUS was the Messiah; that was the point which he wanted to be more fully demonstrated, and hoped, by this interview, to receive some satisfac tion concerning it. Our Lord did not think prope to satisfy the scruples of this ruler of Israel concerning this, but took the opportunity to instruct him in a matter of greater importance, and lead him into au acquaintance with the nature of his religion: in order to this, he began with introducing the first great doc