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THE LIFE AND DEATH
BEGINNING AT THE TIME OF HIS FIRST MIRACLE, UNTIL THE SECOND
YEAR OF HIS PREACHING:
Of the first Manifestation of Jesus, by the Testimony of
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,” but “not known," a 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 b, and the Baptist was to decrease, who did “ baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”
a John, i. 15, 20, 21, 23, 26, 27, 30.
b John, iii. 30.
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 d.” 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 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 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.
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 fig-tree, believest thou ? Thou shalt see greater things than these :” and then he prophesied, that he should see “heaven open, and the angels 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 f.
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 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 president of the feasts, 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 minutes and smallest articles of necessity, as well as the clamorous importunity of extremities and great indigences, 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 babitual commiseration, she complained without hoping for remedy, or else she looked on him, who was a 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
S. Aug. tra. xvii. c. 1. in Joan.
& Hujusmodi fuerunt modesta illa Sertorii convivia quæ descripsit Plutarchus. -Gaudent. Brixian. tra. 9.
Δείπνα πολλήν έχοντα αιδώ και κόσμον» ουδε οράν τι τών αιχρών όυτε ακούειν υπομένοντος αλλά και τους συνόντας ευτάκτοις και ανυβρίστοις παιδείαις χρήσθαι και φιλοφροσύ- . ναις εθίζοντος. . Plut. in Sertor.
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 he 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.”
Ad SECTION X.
Considerations touching the Vocation of five Disciples, and of
the first Miracle of Jesus, done at Cana, in Galilee.
1. As soon as ever John the Baptist was taught, by the descent of the Holy Spirit, that this was Jesus, he instantly preaches him to all that came near him. For the Holy Ghost was his commission and instruction; and now he was a minister evangelical, and taught all those that have the honour to be servants in so sacred employment, that they must not go till they be sent, nor speak till they be instructed, nor yet hold their peace when their commission is signed by the consignation of the Spirit in ordinary ministry. For “ all power and all wisdom is from above,” and in spiritual ministrations is a direct emanation from the Holy Spirit : that as no man is fit to speak the mysteries of godliness, be his person never so holy, unless he derive wisdom in order to such ministries; so, be he never so instructed by the assistance of art or infused knowledge, yet, unless he also have derived power as well as skill, authority as well as knowledge, from the same Spirit, he is not enabled to minister in public in ordinary ministrations. The Baptist was sent by a prime designation, “ to prepare
way to Jesus,” and was instructed by the same Spirit, which had sanctified or consecrated him in his mother's womb to this holy purpose. .
2. When the Baptist had showed Jesus to Andrew and another disciple, they immediately followed him, with the distances and fears of the first approach, and the infirmities of new converts; but Jesus seeing them follow their first light, invited them to see the Sun : for God loves to cherish infants in grace; and having sown the immortal seed in their hearts, if it takes root downwards, and springs out into the verdure of a leaf, he still waters it with the gentle rain of the Holy Spirit, in graces and new assistances, till it brings forth the fruits of a holy conversation. And God, who knows that infants have need of pleasant, and gentle, and frequent nutriment, hath given to them this comfort, that himself will take care of their
first beginnings, and improve them to the strength