Obrazy na stronie

and miraculous manner. There could be but little danger that any of the guests would abuse this gift. Receiving the wine in this miraculous manner, they would regard it as in some sense sacred, and would use it with a profound respect for him; blessing God for his goodness in sending the Messiah, and expressing their gratitude to this Messiah for sitting with them at the same table.

Thus Jesus performed his first public miracle at a marriage feast. His unsullied holiness was never mingled with misanthropy, but always blended with the gentlest condescension; and his religion permits us innocent enjoyment. Who can view the conduct of our Redeemer without being enamoured with his character; without being convinced that we have the kindest of masters, and the most exalted of models ? « No affected singularities, no supercilious moroseness, no frivolous ostentations of seemingly highi, but really fruitless performances; nothing that might deter a timorous or discourage an humble disciple, is observable in his practice. But on the contrary his conversation is full of condescension and sweetness, of meekness and candour; calculated to allure all mankind to approach him, and rejoice in an intercourse with him. He did not seclude himself in the retirement of a cloister, or the obscurity of a wilderness, but conversed freely and indifferent. ly with all men :"* honouring their tables with his presence, complying with the innocent practices that custom authorized; and giving his instructions in the streets, in the temple, in private houses, in a manner the most mild, and gentle, and interesting. Behold your model, Christians! Imitate it, if you would

* Barrow,

indeed resemble Jesus, and render his religion lovely in the eyes of men.

From Cana, says the Evangelist, “ he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples.” The brethren of our Lord are several times mentioned by the Evangelists. In the language of the Jews this term is applied to any near connexion, as is evident from numerous passages both of the Old and New Testament, which you must recollect. In conformity with this mode of speaking, the sacred writers call the kindred of the blessed Virgin the brethren and sisters of her only Son. As Mary was a virgin when she conceived, and after she brought forth our Saviour, so did she continue in the same state and condition, and was commended by our Saviour to his beloved disciple, as the mother only now of an adopted son.*

From Capernaum, Jesus went up to Jerusalem, to be present at the passover. Arrived there, he went immediately to the temple, and “ found those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money;" i. e. the people who gave the Jews from foreign countries current money of Judea instead of the money of the country from which they came. There were two things criminal in this commerce : 1. It was carried on in a sacred place, which should have been destined only to the service of God: the temple was converted into a public market. And 2. Much fraud and injustice was practised. This we may conclude from the words of our Saviour, when a little before his death he was obliged a second time to use a similar act of severity: “ It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer,

[blocks in formation]

but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The Lord, indignant at this profanation of the temple, drove them out, with the sheep and oxen, and overturned the seats of the money changers, and commanded the doves to be taken out. It is the beautiful character of Jesus, that he was never irritated at the outrages committed on himself. He suffered them, or repelled them, with a mildness and patience which showed that he was truly the Lamb of God. But when God his Father is outraged, his zeal is inflamed, his indignation is excited. And even then he does not dart forth the thunders which he holds in his hands; he only reproves, censures, and corrects.

Pride and interest were equally offended by the action of the Saviour. Nevertheless, no resistance was made to him. Perhaps the persons who had been in fault were daunted by that air of majesty and holiness which rendered the Saviour terrible when inspired by a sacred indignation ; perhaps they were restrained by the energy of his miraculous power on their minds.

His disciples beholding him, and attributing his conduct to that fervent concern for the purity of God's house with which David was animated, applied to him immediately that declaration of the Psalms, “ The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. The rulers of the Jews immediately inquire of Jesus by what authority he had undertaken to purify the temple. They taught that none but God, or a prophet, was authorized to oppose a practice tolerated by the sanhedrim and priests; and that no one could be acknowledged a prophet except from working miracles, or uttering predictions, which were justified by the event. Christ had yet wrought no miracle in the presence of those who spoke to him, and they therefore inquire, “ what sign showest thou, seeing thou dost these things ?" But since a miracle was not needed to authorize the Saviour to correct what was evidently wrong, he would perform none. He however announced to them one which should happen afterwards. Pointing to his body, he said, " Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews, however, supposing that he spoke of the temple in which they stood, replied, “ Forty and six years was this temple building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?” A moment's reflection must have convinced them that Jesus, who had just shown such an interest in the preservation and sanctity of the house of God, did not refer to it; but to that temple in which dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily

My brethren, let us imitate the zeal of our Lord, in opposing with all our strength every thing inconsistent with the reverence due to God; but let our zeal be enlightened, prudent, attended by meekness and charity. Let us beware, lest under pretence of acting for the glory of God and the interest of religion, we act from selfish views or from hatred to our brethren. The vilest passions have often been decked with the name of zeal; but a true zeal must always be accompanied, directed, and supported by an ardent love for God, for man, for truth, and for virtue. Such was the zeal by which our Lord was animated, and which he requires of his followers.

Jesus remained at Jerusalem during the whole of the passover, and wrought many miracles. Numbers 6 believed in his name; but Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man." He knew that, notwithstanding their present belief and professions, they would not continue attached to him, but would abandon him. We see in these persons, that men might be witnesses of the miracles of Jesus, and regard him as sent from God, and yet not be his faithful disciples. - In like manner now we may have a speculative belief in the gospel, may profess it, and yet be far from the kingdom of God. The mind may be convinced, whilst the heart is unchanged. Since our Lord knoweth what is in man, of what importance is it to have our mind and heart exempt from sin! We cannot impose upon him by deceitful appearances. Let us then be really and inwardly what we seem externally. Blessed are the

pure heart, for they shall see God."


« PoprzedniaDalej »