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• 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 fcast called the bridegroom,'—called, that is, to him,' and with something of a festive exclamation, not unsuitable to the season, exclaimed: • Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse : 2 but thou hast kept the good wine until now.' Many interpreters have been very anxious to rescue the word, which we have rendered • well drunk,' from implying aught of excess ;3 lest it might appear that we had here one of those unseemly revels (temulenta convivia Cyprian calls them) which too often disgraced a marriage, 4 — with all the difficulties, of Christ's sanctioning with his presence so great an abuse of God's gifts, and, stranger still, ministering by his divine power to a yet further excess. But there is no need thus anxiously to deal with the word.5 We may be quite sure there was no such excess here; for to this the Lord would as little have given allowance by his presence,
vinum conversum est opere Domini, sic et quod nubes fundunt, in vinum convertitur ejusdem opere Domini. Illud autem non miramur, quia omni anno fit: assiduitate amisit admirationem. And again (Serm. cxxiii. 3): Quæ aqua erat, vinum factum viderunt homines et obstupuerunt. Quid aliud fit de pluviâ per radicem vitis? Ipse illa fecit, ipse ista ; illa ut pascaris, ista ut mireris. So also De Gen. ad Litt. vi. 13. Chrysostom (Ηom. xxii. In Joh.): Δεικνύς ότι αυτός έστιν ο εν ταις αμπέλοις το ύδωρ μεταβάλλων, και τον υετόν δια της ρίζης εις οίνων τρόπων», όπερ εν τω φυτό δια πολλού χρόνου γίνεται, τουτο αθρόον εν τω γάμω ειργάσατο. Cf. Gregory the Great, Moral. vi. 15; and Theodoret, Ilær. Fab. Comp. l. 5, who calls it iyrópyntov oivov.
Maldonatus : Non quod ad se venire jusserit, quod minime fuisset urbanum, sed quod recumbentem appellans interrogaverit, quid optimum vinum in finem reservâsset.
2 Pliny (H. N. xiv. 14) denounces the meanness of some, qui convivis alia quam sibimet ipsis ministrant, aut procedente mensá subjiciunt.
3 Cf. Gen. xliii. 33, LXX, where the same word occurs.
makes not merely the guests, but the ruler of the feast himself to have 'well drunk' indeed. The Lord not merely made wine, but, he adds (De Gen. ad Litt. vi. 13), tale vinum, quod ebrius etiam conviva laudaret.
as He would have helped it forward by a special wonder-work of his own, The ruler of the feast' does but refer to a common practice, and at the same time notice the motive, namely, that men's palates after a while are blunted, and their power of discerning between good and bad is diminished; and thus an inferior wine passes with them then, which would not have past current with them before. There is no special reference to the guests present, but only to the corrupt customs and fashions too common in the world ;'-—and none would find one, who'were not eager to mar, if by any means they could, the image of a perfect Holiness, which offends and rebukes them.
Of a piece with this is their miserable objection, to whom the miracle is incredible, seeing that, even if the Lord did not minister to an excess already commenced, still by the creation of 'so large and perilous a quantity of wine' (for the quantity was enormous?), He would have put temptation in men's way. With the same justice every good gift of God which is open to any possible abuse, every plenteous return of the field, every large abundance of the vineyard, might be accused of being a temptation put in men's way; and so in some sort it is (cf. Luke xii. 16), a proving of men's temperance and moderation in the midst of abundance. For man is not to be perfected by exemption from
1 Bengel well: Simpliciter recensetur oratio architriclini et consuetudo etiam Judæorum ; ebrietas non approbatur.
* The Attic hetontnis ( = Báðos = 72 &&07a1=72 sextarii) contains 8 gallons 7-365 pints, imperial measure ; so that each of these six vessels, containing two or three metprtai apiece, did in round numbers hold some twenty gallons or more.
3 Calvin: Nostro vitio fit, si ejus benignitas irritamentum est luxuriæ; quin potius hæc temperantiæ nostræ vera est probatio, si in media affluentiâ parci tamen et moderati sumus: cf. Suicer, Thes. S. v. οίνος. It is instructive to notice the ascetic tone which Strauss takes (Leben Jesu, vol. ii. p. 229), when speaking of this ‘Luxuswunder,' as he terms it, contrasted with that which he assumes when he desires to depreciate the character of John the Baptist : but truly he is of that generation that call Jesus a wine-bibber, and say that John has a devil; with whom that which is godlike can in no form find favour. Some of Woolston's vilest
temptation, but rather by victory in temptation; and the only temperance which has any value at all, which indeed deserves the name, is one which has its source not in the scanty supply, but in the strong self-restraint. That this gift should be large, was what we might have looked for. He, a King, gave as became a king. No niggard giver in the ordinary bounties of his kingdom of nature (Ps. lxv. 9-13), neither was He a niggard giver now, when He brought those common gifts into the kingdom of his grace, and made them directly to serve Him there (cf. Luke v. 6, 7).
But the governor of the feast, who was only meaning to describe a trivial practice and a sordid economy of this world, gave utterance to a far larger and deeper thought than he meant. Such at least may be most fitly superinduced upon his words; no less than the whole difference between the manner and order of Christ's giving and the world's. The world does indeed give its best and choicest, its good wine, first, but has only meaner and poorer substitutes at the last. “When men have well drunk,' when their spiritual palate is blunted, when they have lost the discernment between moral good and evil, then it .palms on them that which it would not have dared to offer at the first,-coarser pleasures, viler enjoyments, the drink of a more deadly wine. Those who worship the world must confess at last that it is best represented by that great image which Nebuchadnezzar beheld in his dream (Dan. ii. 31); the head showing as fine gold, but the material growing ever baser, till it finishes with the iron and clay at the last.
“To be a prodigal's favourite, then, worse lot!
A miser's pensioner,' this is the portion of its votaries. But it is otherwise with the guests of Christ, the heavenly bridegroom. He ever reserves for them whom He has bidden, the good wine'
ribaldry (Fourth Discourse on the Miracles of our Saviour, p. 23 sqq.) is spent upon this theme.
unto the last. In the words of the most eloquent of our divines, 'The world presents us with fair language, promising hopes, convenient fortunes, pompous honours, and these are the outside of the bowl; but when it is swallowed, these dissolve in an instant, and there remains bitterness and the malignity of coloquintida. Every sin smiles in the first address, and carries light in the face, and honey in the lip; but when we “have well drunk," then comes “ that which is worse," a whip with six strings, fears and terrors of conscience, and shame and displeasure, and a caitiff disposition, and diffidence in the day of death. But when after the manner of purifying of the Christians, we fill our waterpots with water, watering our couch with our tears, and moistening our cheeks with the perpetual distillations of repentance, then Christ turns our water into wine, first penitents and then communicants — first waters of sorrow and then the wine of the chalice; . . for Jesus keeps the best wine to the last, not only because of the direct reservations of the highest joys till the nearer approaches of glory, but also because our relishes are higher after a long fruition than at the first essays, such being the nature of grace, that it
1 Thus H. de Sto Victore (De Arc. Mor. i. 1): Omnis namque homo, id est, carnalis primum vinum bonum ponit, quia in suâ delectatione falsam quandam dulcedinem sentit; sed postquam furor mali desiderii mentem inebriaverit, tunc quod deterius est propinat, quia spina conscientiæ superveniens mentem, quam prius falso delectabat, graviter cruciat. Sed Sponsus noster postremo vinum bonum porrigit, dum mentem, quam sui dulcedine amoris replere disponit, quâdam prius tribulationum compunctione amaricari sinit, ut post gustum amaritudinis avidius bibatur suavissimum poculum caritatis. Corn. a Lapide : Hic est typus fallaciæ mundi, qui initio res speciosas oculis objicit, deinde sub iis deteriores et viles inducit, itaque sui amatores decipit et illudit. An unknown author (Bernardi Opp. vol. ii. p. 513): In futurâ enim vitâ aqua omnis laboris et actionis terrenæ in vinum divinæ contemplationis commutabitur, implebunturque omnes hydriæ usque ad summum. Omnes enim implebuntur in bonis domûs Domini, cum illæ desiderabiles nuptiæ Sponsi et sponsæ celebrabuntur: bibeturque in summâ lætitiâ omnium clamantium Domino et dicentium; Tu bonum vinum servâsti usque adhuc. I know not from whence this line comes,
Ille merum tarde, dat tamen ille merum; but it evidently belongs to this miracle.
increases in relish as it does in fruition, every part of grace being rew duty and new reward.'1
• This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Gulilee,'—even there where it was prophesied long before that the people which sat in darkness should see a great light (Isai. ix. I; Matt. iv. 14-16). The Evangelist expressly, and, it would seem, pointedly, excludes from historic credit the miracles of the Infancy, which are found in such rank abundance in nearly all the apocryphal Gospels; for, of course, he does not mean that this was the first miracle which Jesus wrought in Cana, but that this miracle in Cana was the first which He wrought;' and the Church has ever regarded these words as decisive on this point. The statement is important, and connects itself with one main purpose of St. John in his Gospel, namely, to repel and remove all unreal notions concerning the person of his Lord-notions which nothing would have helped more to uphold than those merely phantastic and capricious miracles, favourites, therefore, with all manner of docetic heretics, -- which are ascribed to his infancy.
Of none less than the Son could it be affirmed that He “manifested forth his glory;' for 'glory' (Sóţa) here being no creaturely attribute but a divine, comprehended and involved in the idea of the Logos as the absolute Light, every
1 Jeremy Taylor, Life of Christ. Worthy to stand beside this, and unfolding the same thought, is that exquisite poem in The Christian Year, upon the second Sunday after Epiphany, suggested by this miracle, the Gospel of that day; while Plato (Rep. x. 613) supplies a grand heathen parallel, and, so to speak, a noble commentary on these words thus understood.
2 Thus Tertullian (De Bapt. 9) calls it, prima rudimenta potestatis suæ; and this day has been sometimes called, dies natalis virtutum Domini.
3 Thus see Epiphanius (Hær. li. 20), from whom we gather that some Catholics were inclined to admit these miracles of the Infancy, as affording an argument against the Cerinthians, and a proof that it was not at his Baptism first that the Christ was united to the man Jesus. And Euthymius (in loc.): ιστόρησεν αυτο [ο Ιωάννης], χρησιμεύουν εις το μη πιστεύειν τοις λεγομένοις παιδικούς θαύμασι του Χριστού. . Cf. Chrysostom, Hom. xvi., XX., xxii, in Joh. ; and Thilo, Cod. Apocr. p. lxxxiv, eqq.