صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

A. M. 4034, thou come hither to torment us before the time?"] But we forbear to prosecute this &c. or 5439. subject farther *, interesting as it is, and proceed to the next objection, which relates to our Saviour's behaviour at the marriage-feast.

Ann. Dom. 30, &c.

Vulg. Ær. 28.

Our Blessed Saviour, indeed, was a person of so grave and serious a deportment, that whatever instances we find of his pity and compassion to mankind, of his grieving and being troubled, and even weeping upon some occasions, we can meet with none of his laughing, nor any token of a mirth or joy extraordinary, in the whole history of his life: But we must not from hence infer, that he was of a stiff and precise temper, or in any degree an enemy to such forms of civility, or social usages, as were then in practice. If therefore we may be allowed to suppose (what seems indeed highly probable) that this marriage at Cana was between persons of his own kindred and acquaintance, and that by the very rules of celebrating such festivals among the Jews, all excess and intemperance was excluded, then will it follow, that it could be no disparagement to our Saviour's character to accept of the invitation that was made him, and to be present at such a meeting.

Among us indeed (especially among the vulgar sort), there are sometimes, on these occasions, liberties taken that are not so justifiable; but among the Jews, there was always the greatest decency and sobriety imaginable observed in the celebration of their marriages. (a) To this purpose a governor of the feast (as some say of the sacerdotal race) was always chosen, whose office it was to have the superintendency of the dishes and wine, and to oblige the guests to observe all the decorums that religion required *2; and not only so, but other persons, at this time, were likewise appointed to break glass vessels, as a common signal, to give the company notice, that they had already drunk enough, and were not permitted to run to excess. Under this regulation, it is scarce imaginable that the guests, at a Jewish marriage, could be guilty of any intemperance, and least of all at this in Galilee, where our Saviour's presence and observation,, the gravity of his behaviour, and the seasonableness of his discourse, may well be presumed to heighten the decorum, and to keep all the company under a proper restraint.

What therefore the governor of the feast says to the bridegroom, (b) in relation to the water that was turned into wine, is to be understood only as a general representation of a custom usual at other festivals, which was to bring the best wine at first, and towards the conclusion that which was worse; which custom (as the governor tells him) was not observed here; for the difference between this entertainment and others is, that "thou hast kept the good wine until now." (c) So that when men have well drunk, is only a circumstance thrown in to illustrate the comparison, or describe the latter end of a feast, and has no manner of reference to the condition of the company then pre, sent. But allowing the words öтar μduct to be a description of the condition that the company were then in, yet it will by no means follow, that they had proceeded to any intemperance, because the words are equally capable of an innocent as well as a vicious meaning. (d) Mever indeed, in its primitive signification, means no more than drinking after the sacrifice; and as there is nothing in the etymology that determines this to be

* The reader will find it fully discussed by Dr Mead in his Medica Sacra, with Mr Farmer in his Dissertation on the Gospel possessions, on the one side of the question; and by Warburton in his twenty. seventh Sermon, and in the ninth book of the Divine Legation, &c. on the other. Dr Hales likewise has some judicious observations on the subject in the se. cond volume of his Analysis, &c.

(a) Lewis's Antiquities of the Hebrew Republic,

vol. iii.

**[This practice was not peculiar to the Jews. It seems to have been the custom amongst the ancients

of various nations, to choose a king or master of each marriage feast, to order how much each guest should drink, and whose orders all the company were obliged to obey. Among the Romans he was chosen by the throwing of dice, upon the sides of which were en graven or painted the images of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, Venus, and Diana, and he who threw up Venus was made king or governor. Vide Hor. lib. i. Od. 4. and lib. ii. Od. 7. Ed. in usum Delph.] (b) John ii. 10.

(c) Dr Pearce's Vindication of our Saviour's Mira cles, part iii. (d) Ibid.

Gospels to

Luke vi. 1.

done to excess, or beyond the proper bounds of joy in a festival; so there are several From the beinstances in Scripture, wherein it was certainly done according to the rules of sobriety ginning of the and moderation. Thus (to mention one out of many) in the LXX's version of Genesis, Matth. ix. 8. where it is said, that (a)" Joseph's brethren drank and were merry with him," the words Mark ii. 23. are quebvodnour μer autou, and yet no one can imagine, but that, in their present circumstances, thinking no other than that he was the governor of Egypt, and being apprehensive that he had no good design against them, they were too much upon their guard, and solicitous about their own safety, to give any way to intemperance in his presence: And if the expression here, and in (b) several other passages, may be taken in a virtuous sense, we cannot but conclude (unless we can suppose that St John designed to expose his master's behaviour upon this occasion), that he intended we should understand him in the most favourable acceptation *.

We indeed, in our translation, say, that the water-pots, wherein the wine was created, (c) contained two or three firkins a-piece; but some, who have looked more nicely into pns, or measure, here spoken of, (d) have brought it so low as to make the whole six pots hold no more than about fourteen or fifteen gallons of our English measure. But not to descend so low, we will suppose at present, that the quantity of wine made by our Saviour at this feast was as large as our translation represents it; yet, whoever considers the nature of Jewish marriages, how they were celebrated with feasting and rejoicings, not only on the day of solemnity (as it is with us), but for six or seven days after, and that at these feasts, not only all their relations, and neighbours, and acquaintance, were invited, but that it was well taken likewise, if any others (though not invited) would come to partake of the entertainment, and bear a share in the joy. Whoever considers this, I say, cannot but imagine, that a very large quantity of wine must needs be requisite at such a time, since it was to be a supply, not for that day only, but for all the succeeding days until the time of the feasting was expired. Nay, even supposing farther, that our Lord, upon this occasion, did not confine himself to a precise quantity, proportionate to the company, or period of the festival, and (what is more (e) that some of the company might abuse his liberality by their intemperance (which is a concession not to be gathered from the text), yet he cannot therefore be charged with administering to their excess by making such an ample provision, any more than we can charge the Providence of God with being instrumental to all the gluttony and drunkenness which is committed in the world, merely because he affords that meat and drink which men of inordinate appetites abuse to excess. The truth is, as it is an high commendation of Providence that it crowns us with plenty, (whatever use we make of it), and bestows upon us all things richly to enjoy ; so was it not unbecoming a person, invested with a Divine commission, to give, on this occasion, an eminent instance of his flowing liberality, and, by his generous provision for the family, to leave a grateful memorial of his benevolent regard to two persons that

(a) Chap. xliii. 34.

(b) Vid. Whitby's Annot. in locum.

[The probability is, that the expression under consideration relates not at all to excess, nor indeed to drinking at any other feast than that which was kept at a marriage. The Abbi Mariti, speaking of the age of the wives of Cyprus, says,-" It is certain, that at the birth of a son or daughter, the father causes a jar filled with wine to be buried in the earth, having first taken the precaution to seal it hermetically; and in this manner it is kept till the child's marriage. It is then placed on the table before the bride and bridegroom, and is distributed among their relations, and the other guests invited to the wedding." If such a custom prevailed formerly, and prevailed among the

Jews, it is evident that the wine first drunk at a mar-
riage feast must have been the best, as nothing but
wine of a very superior quality could have been pre-
served from the birth of a child to his or her marriage,
even at the early age at which marriages were made
in Judea. The probability therefore is, that the go-
vernor of the feast meant nothing more than to ex-
press his surprise at the bridegroom's having deviated,
as he supposed, from the common practice of present-
ing, the jar of old and superior wine at first. See
Burder's Orient. Customs.]

(c) John ii. 6.

(d) Vid. Cumberland of Weights and Measures.
(e) Whitby's Annot, in locum,

A. M. 4034, very likely were his relations, and had just entered into the honourable state of matrimony.

&c. or 139.

Ann. Dom.

30, &c.

Vulg. Ær 98


Since therefore our Lord answered, in so free and plentiful a manner, his mother's request at last, there seems to be something in their supposition, who, from the propriety (a) of the Greek expression, think that his mother spake to him before the wine was out, but when it grew so low that she plainly perceived there would not be enough for the company; and therefore our Saviour's reply to her will very justly bear this sense. Tí quoi xai ooì;" What is it to you or me? i. e the care of providing wine upon this occasion does not properly belong to you or me; but admitted it did, my hour is not yet come. It is too soon as yet to set about it; because it is highly fitting that the necessity of that supernatural supply which I intend them should be a little more felt, in order to recommend the benefit itself, and to give the manner of attaining it a power of making a deeper impression on their minds.'

[ocr errors]

This seems to be no unnatural construction of the words, and removes all the seeming harshness of our Saviour's answer, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" We mistake the matter however very much, if we think that the word yor, which we render woman, was any title of disrespect or indifference, (as it seems to be in our translation), since it is frequently used by the best authors when the highest marks of esteem are intended. The polite Xenophon himself puts it in the mouth of one of his Persian chiefs, when he was addressing himself to a captive lady, and comforting her under her unfortunate circumstances; and certainly a time there was that our Lord called his mother by this appellation, when he was far from being harsh or undutiful to her, even when he was hanging on the cross, and tenderly recommending both his mother to the care of his beloved apostle, and that apostle to his mother's love and affection, (b) "Woman, behold thy son." So little does our Saviour's conduct, in this whole transaction, deserve these horrid and impious censures which of late have been thrown upon it!

Whatever some modern Jews and infidels may allege against the abuse (as they pretend) which the writers of the New Testament have put upon the prophecies of the Old, by applying them to a wrong sense; (c) no man need be told that an attempt of this nature had been as impertinent, the affront to man's reason as insolent, and the event as fruitless, nay, as fatal to their cause, had they imposed a false or even controverted sense upon the predictions confessedly relating to the Messiah, as it would have been had they urged such predictions as were not acknowledged to belong to him at all. The truth is, if the Jews understood the prophecies relating to the Messiah in one sense, and the apostles, in their address to them, applied them in another, we cannot see how they could ever have made one proselyte, being in the same condition with what St Paul describes, when he tells us, that (d) " he who speaketh in an unknown tongue (and why not he that speaketh in an unknown meaning?) speaketh to the air, and becometh a barbarian to him that heareth but understandeth him not." So that every Jew, converted to the Christian faith, is an implicit proof of the apostles applying the ancient prophecies in a sense that was then current and familiar to them. That the famous prophecy in Isaiah (e) is thus applied by St Matthew (ƒ), to prove that Christ was born of an immaculate virgin, we took occasion, in our answer to the fourth of these objections, to shew. The remaining allegation is, that the name of the person, of whom the prophet speaks, was to be Immanuel; whereas the name of that Son of Mary, of whom St Matthew speaks, by God's express command was Jesus, and therefore the words of the prophet are misapplied by the evangelist.

(α) εστερήσαντος οἴνου, ver. 3.

Boyle's Lectures, Sermon viii.
(1) Chap. i. 23.

(b) John xix. 25. 27.
(d) 1 Cor. xiv. 2.

(c) Stanhope's Sermons at (e) Chap. vii. 14.

ginning of the

Matth. ix. 8.

Mark ii. 23.
Luke vi 1.

Now nothing is more common in Scripture than by the calling or naming of a per- From the be son or thing, not to mean that the person or thing would be commonly distinguished by Gospels to that name, but only that it should have such properties and qualities in it as that name did denote; or, in other words, that it should really be what the full sense of that name imported. Thus, of the city of Jerusalem it is foretold by the prophet, (a) that it should" be called the city of righteousness," when it really was to be such a city; for in the foregoing words it is promised, "that God would restore her judges as at the first, and her counsellors as at the beginning" And in like manner, though it be declared by this prophet (b), that the wonderful child, which God promised to the house of David, should be called Immanuel, yet if he was but what that name properly imports, "God with us," in a most eminent and peculiar manner, it is not to be doubted but that the prophecy received its full completion in the person of our Saviour Christ.

For besides God's universal presence, there is a presence of favour and distinction, whereby he is said to be, in a more peculiar manner, with those whom he loves and blesses above others. And in this regard the child here spoken of is justly called Immanuel, because (as St Paul speaks) (c)" God was in him reconciling the world to himself," for his sake and sufferings," not imputing their trespasses unto them;" so that by him (d)" they who were some time afar off are made nigh, have access to the Father, (e) are accepted in the Beloved,” and become, of enemies and strangers, friends and children, insomuch that God vouchsafes to dwell in them, and to be one of them. And as God unites us to himself by grace, so did he, in this child, condescend, by an ineffable generation, to unite our substance and nature to himself, "to be perfect God and perfect man, (f) that so he might be the first born among many brethren, and redeem the children from death, who are partakers of flesh and blood, by himself taking part of the same." Let it not then be any more objected that the child in the prophecy could not be called Immanuel, whom we confess to have been called Jesus; for he is therefore our Immanuel, because our Jesus; therefore most eminently, most literally, "God with us," because, by so miraculous an union, a "Saviour of his people from their sins."

It may seem perhaps surprising to some, that St Matthew should so frequently introduce his citations with a " This was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet." But whoever considers the idiom of the Hebrew tongue, cannot but know that the phrase, answering to the expressions, "that it might be fulfilled,' means no more than that "hereby was verified," or that "this event answered to the prediction," or the like. Nay, the Jews were accustomed to say, that a passage of Scripture was then fulfilled when any thing happened that was applicable to it; and therefore it is no wonder that St Matthew, who himself was a Jew, and very probably wrote his Gospel in the Hebrew tongue for the benefit of his countrymen, should naturally fall into their style and manner of expression.

Now, whoever considers the state of the Jews in Egypt, their bondage, and danger of utter extinction, by reason of the decree which passed for the destruction of all their male children (had not the Providence of God prevented the execution of it), will soon perceive the cause why Egypt is made in Scripture the common figure and emblem of extreme danger and imminent death; and why a deliverance out of Egypt should be applied to every great act of preservation where there seemed to be no visible means of escape; insomuch, that whenever any instance of such a watchful and protecting Providence happened, it was an usual and proverbial speech among the Jews (who were wont then, as they are still, to apply sentences out of Holy Writ to the common occurrences of life) to say, in Scripture phrase, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son," or " he hath

(a) Isaiah i. 26. (e) Ibid. Chap. i. 6.


(b) Ibid. Chap. vii. 14.
(f) Rom. viii. 29.

(c) 2 Cor. v. 19. Heb. ii. 14.

(d) Eph. ii. 13. 18.

&c. or 5439.

Ant. Chris. Ann. Dom 30. &c.

[ocr errors]

A. M. 4034, called him out of Egypt,” i. e. he hath rescued him from the jaws of death, or from the like danger that the Israelites were in when he brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm." Since Joseph then was ordered to flee to Vulg. Er. 28. Egypt, and to tarry there until Herod was dead, for this reason, because "Herod sought the young child's life;" this distinguishing preservation of Jesus, by means of his retreat till the danger was over, will justify the evangelist (even though it had been any other country, as well as Egypt, whereunto he retired) in applying to him the proverbial saying upon that occasion, (a) “ Out of Egypt (i. e. out of manifest danger) have I called my son."

[ocr errors]


The deportation of the ten tribes from their native country into a foreign land, there to die or live in slavery, was so grievous a calamity, that the prophet Jeremiah (b) (by way of prosopopoeia) introduces Rachel, the favourite wife of Jacob, that great progenitor of the Israelites, making bitter lamentation for their loss, and refusing all consolation, because there were no hopes of their recovery. And the murder of so many innocent babes at Bethlehem, by the bloody decree of Herod, was an event so dolorous to their tender parents, that the evangelist, when he came to relate it, thought he might justly (by way of accommodation) apply the words of the prophet, and, in the name of all the miserable mothers that had lost their children, make Rachel upon this occasion (and as a farther accomplishment of the prophecy) return to her weeping again. The rather, because Rachel, having been long dead before the captivity, may, with equal propriety, by the evangelist, as she is by the prophet, be introduced weeping; the rather, because she was (c) so fond a lover of children, that she is fitly enough brought in here in the room of the tender mothers who wept for the loss of theirs; and the rather, because the slaughter of the Bethlehemites might be called that of her children, because among them (d) was the place of her sepulchre, after that she had lost her life in the bitter pangs of child-birth.

There is no prophet, we own, wherein it is expressly said that the Messiah should be called a Nazarene; (e) but the observation of St Jerom, in his comment upon this place, is not amiss, viz. that when St Matthew (f)" mentions the word prophets in the plural number, (whereas in other places he had always cited some particular prophet), he thereby shews that he did not take the words from the prophets but only the sense." Since then the title of Nazarene, both Jews and other enemies of Christianity, have always, by way of contempt, given to our Blessed Saviour, because he was supposed to come out of that very city, from whence it was thought impossible that (g) any good thing should come;" and since most of the prophets speak of Christ as a person that was to be reputed vile and abject, (h) "a stranger to his brethern, and even an alien to his mother's sons, (i) despised and rejected of men, despised and esteemed not," here is the plain sense of the words," he shall be a Nazarene :" (k) and the angel, by God's appointment, no doubt, sent him to this contemptible place, that he might thence have a name of infamy and contempt put upon him, according to the frequent intimation by the prophets.

[ocr errors]

(7) The word we render wise men, in its original, signifies magicians, which however now it bespeaks not so good a character, was nevertheless heretofore a name of very innocent and honourable signification. The studious and inquisitive, whose business and profession led them to search into nature its most abstruse causes and effects, and more particularly into the motions and dispositions of the heavenly bodies, were distinguished by this title: and in what profound veneration and respect they were held, appears from the most important matters, both sacred and civil, being committed to

[blocks in formation]
« السابقةمتابعة »