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OF OUR BLESSED
LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST.
Of the first Manifestation of Jesus, by the Testimony
of St. John, and a Miracle.
1. AFTER that the Baptist, by a sign from heaven, was confirmed in spirit and understanding that Jesus was the Messias, he immediately published to the Jews what God had manifested to him: and first to the priests and Levites sent in legation from the Sanhedrim, he professed indefinitely, in answer to their question, that himself was 'not the Christ,'' nor Elias, nor that prophet' whom they, by a special tradition, did expect to be revealed, they knew not when. And concerning himself definitely he said nothing, but that he was 'the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.” “He it was who was then amongst them,"3 but not known;' a
I John, i. 20, 21.
? Ibid, verse 23.
3 Ibid, verse 26.
person of great dignity, to whom the Baptist was ‘not worthy' to do the office of the lowest ministry;' “who coming after John was preferred far before him ;'? who was to increase,' and the Baptist was to decrease ;'' who did baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.'
2. This was the character of his personal prerogatives : but as yet no demonstration was made of his person, till after the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Jesus : and then, whenever the Baptist saw Jesus, he points him out with his finger, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world : this is he's Then he shows him to Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, with the same designation, and to another disciple with him; who both followed Jesus, and abode with him all night.'' Andrew brings his brother Simon with him, and then Christ changes his name from Simon to Peter, or Cephas, which signifies a stone. Then Jesus himself finds out Philip of Bethsaida, and bade him follow him; and Philip finds out Nathanael, and calls him to see. Thus, persons bred in a dark cell, upon their first ascent up to the chambers of light, all run staring upon the beauties of the sun, and call the partners of their darkness to communicate in their new and stranger revelation.
3. When Nathanael was come to Jesus, Christ saw his heart, and gave him a testimony to be truly honest, and full of holy simplicity, “a true Israelite without guile.' And Nathanael, being overjoyed that he had found the Messias, believing out of love, and loving by reason of his joy, and no suspicion, took that for a proof and verification of his person, which was very insufficient to confirm a doubt, or ratify a probability. But so we believe a story which we love, taking probabilities for demonstrations, and casual accidents for probabilities, and any thing that creates vehement presumptions; in which cases our guides are not our knowing faculties, but our affections, and if they be holy, God guides them into the right persuasions; as he does little birds to make rare nests, though they understand not the mystery of operation, nor the design and purpose of the action.
1 John, i. 27. ? Ibid, verse 15, 27, 30. 3 Ibid, iii. 30.
* Matt. iii. 11. John, i. 29, 36. 6 Ibid, verse 37, 39.
4. But Jesus took his will and forwardness of affections in so good part, that he promised him greater things : and this gave occasion to the first prophecy which was made by Jesus. For · Jesus said unto him, because I said I saw thee under the figtree, believest thou ? Thou shalt see greater things than these.' And then he prophesied that he should see ' heaven open, and the angel of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” But, being a doctor of the law, Christ chose him not at all to the college of apostles.
5. Much about the same time, there happened to be a marriage in Cana of Galilee, in the vicinage of his dwelling, where John the Evangelist is by some supposed to have been the bridegroom : (but of this there is no certainty :) and thither Jesus being with his mother invited, he went to do civility to the persons espoused, and to do honour to the holy rite of marriage. The persons then married, were but of indifferent fortunes, richer in
'S. Aug. tra, xvii. c. i. in Joan.
love of neighbours than in the fulness of rich possessions; they had more company than wine. For the master of the feast (whom, according to the order and piety of the nation, they chose from the order of priests to be the president of the feast, by the reverence of his person to restrain all inordination, by his discretion to govern and order the circumstances, by his religious knowledge to direct the solemnities of marriage, and to retain all the persons and actions in the bounds of prudence and modesty) complained to the bridegroom, that the guests wanted wine.
6. As soon as the holy virgin-mother had notice of the want, out of charity, that uses to be employed in supplying even the minutest and smallest articles of necessity, as well as the clamorous importunity of extremities and great indigencies, she complained to her son, by an indefinite address; not desiring him to make supply, for she knew not how he should; but either, out of an habitual commiseration, she complained without hoping for remedy; or else she looked on him who was the fountain of holiness and of plenty, as expecting a derivation from him either of discourses or miracles. But Jesus answered her, · Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.' By this answer, intending no denial to the purpose of his mother's intimation, to whom he always bore a religious and pious reverence; but to signify, that he was not yet entered into his period and years of miracles : and when he did, it must be not for respect of kindred or civil relations, but as it is a derivation of power from above, so it must be in pursuit of that service and design, which he had received in charge together with his power.
7. And so his mother understood him, giving express charge to the ministers to do whatsoever he commanded. Jesus therefore bade them ‘fill the water-pots, which stood there for the use of frequent washings, which the Jews did use in all public meetings, for fear of touching pollutions, or contracting legal impurities; which they did with a curiousness next to superstition, washing the very beds and tables used at their feasts. The ministers · filled them to the brim,' and, as they were commanded, ‘drew out, and bare unto the governor of the feast;' who knew not of it, till the miracle grew public, and, like light, showed itself. For while they wondered at the economy of that feast, in keeping the best wine till the last, it grew apparent that he who was the Lord of the creatures, who in their first seeds have an obediential capacity to receive the impresses of what forms be pleases to imprint, could give new natures, and produce new qualities in that subject in which he chooses to glorify his Son.
8. “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee.' For all those miracles which are reported to be done by Christ in his infancy, and interval of his younger years, are apocryphal and spurious, feigned by trifling understandings, (who think to serve God with a well-meant lie,) and promoted by the credulity of such persons in whose hearts easiness, folly, and credulity are bound up and tied fast with silken thread, and easy softnesses of religious affections, not made severe by the rigours of wisdom and experience. This first miracle manifested his glory, and ‘his disciples believed in him.'