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terns of a sufficient size, out of which they were wont io draw water for every man's use. The servants filled them to the brim, and, as they were commanded, drew out, and presented to the governor of the feast, who knew not of it, till the miracle became public : for while the guests wondered at the management of this feast in keeping the best wine till the last, * it being the custom of the Jews to give their guests the strongest and richest wines at first, it
grew apparent that he who was the Lord of the creatures, which have all a capacity of receiving the impression of what forms he pleases to imprint, could give new natures, and produce new qualities in any subject in which he thinks proper to glorify his Son.
This was the beginning of miracles which Jesus did in Cana of Galilee; by which he was pleased to grace a nuptial solemnity, and thus bear a testimony to the honor of the marriage state, and at the same time afford a glorious evidence of the presence of his divinity, and accordingly his disciples believed on him more stedfastly than before, as the fact was so certain and so remarkable.
Immediately after this miracle, Jesus went down to Capernaum, and abode there a few days; but the great feast of the passover being at band, he went up to Jerusalem, where the first public act that he performed, was one of holy zeal in behalf of the honour of God and his temple : for divers merchants and exchangers of money made that sacred place a mere market and bank, and brought beasts thither to be sold for sacrifice against the great paschal solemnity, just approaching. At the sight of which the blessed Jesus, being moved with zeal and indignation, made a whip of cords, and drove the beasts out of the temple, overthrew the bankers' tables, * and commanded them that sold doves to take them from thence. His holy zeal was heightened at the profanation of the edifice, which was peculiarly set apart for God's service. " Take these things hence,” said he, “and make not my Father's house a house of merchandize, for it shall be called a house of prayer to all nations.” This action appearing to some persons like the religious bigotry of the zealots among the Jews, if it were not attested by something extraordinary, they thought might be abused into an excess of liberty; and therefore they required a sign of him, to shew by what authority he did these things. But he gratified their curiosity only by foretelling the resurrection of his body after three days' death, which he expressed in the metaphor of the temple ; " Destroy this temple, and I will build it up in three days.” But he spake of the temple of his body, and they understood him of the temple at Jerusalem ; and it was never rightly construed till it was accomplished; for after he was risen from the dead, his disciples recollected that he had formerly spoken this to them. This miracle may justly be considered as one of the most remarkable performed by our Lord; it discovers his power no less than his zeal, for how extraordinary was it, that a number of interested persons should at once submit to the dictates of a man unknown, and unarmed with any temporal or ccclesiastical authority! Surely it must be ascribed to the effect of a supernatural impression on their minds !
* Last. Johnx. 7, says, “ When men have well drunk." There is no reason to suppose that the guests of this feast had drank to excess, even if it be allowed that it is an allusion to the too frequent custom of doing so at feasts. It is almost blasphemous to suppose that our Holy Saviour would display his glory" by miraculously furnishing the company with the means of keeping up a drunken revel.
ť Remarkable. By this miracle a favour was conferred on the newly married couple, as a considerable expence was saved, and an ample equivalent given for the additional charge of entertaining so many of his disciples.
Christians, at all times, should remember that “God is a Spirit,” and accepts of no other worship than that which is spiritual. Too often, however, crowds of vain and worldly thoughts intrude themselves, like those buyers and sellers, into our minds, while we are in the house of God. Let us then call to mind this miracle, and consider the Saviour as still saying, “ Take these things hence.”
* Tubles. The Greek word Trapeza, table, here is that from which those that dealt in returning money, or in bills of exchange, and made advantage or gain by so doing, are called Trapezitæ ordinarily among authors. But here the Trapezitæ seems to signify that sort of men, who (as merchants among us) return money for others to some other place, by which they received some advantage themselves. Hence it was that the Israclites being obliged by the law to come up to Jerusalem (how far soever they dwelt from it) and there to sacrifice and to offer the half shekel for the use of the temple, Exod. xxx. 13, (which by reason of the length of their journey, sometimes they could not do) these Trapezitze set up their tables in the very temple, that so they might traffic with all that had need of them, in like manner as others brought oxen, and sheep, and doves, to sell there to those who had not brought their sacrifices with them.
At this public convention of the Jewish nation in Je. rusalem, Jesus performed many miracles, giving sight to the blind, and feet to the lame, declaring himself to be the Messiah, and persuading many to be his disciples ; among whom was Nicodemus, a doctor of the law, and one of the'Jewish Sanhedrim, who fearing to come openly in the day time, came by night to Jesus, acknowledging himself to be convinced by the miracles which he had seen: for he admitted that no man could perform those miracles, unless God were with him ; which plainly testified that he was sent by God to teach and instruct mankind. *
When Jesus perceived his inclination and understand. ing to be so far advanced, he began to instruct him in the great doctrine of regeneration, observing, that every production is of the same nature and condition with its parent ; from fesh comes flesh and corruption ; from the Spirit comes spirit, and life, and immortality; and nothing could from a principle of nature arrive to a supernatural end; and therefore the only door to enter into the king. dom of God, was by regeneration, or that influence of the Holy Spirit on the heart, whereby an inward change is effected, and the man becomes “ a new creature ;” and of which change, baptism by water is the instituted symbol. Without this change or renewal of mind, a person remains in a state of alienation from God, and therefore can have no part in the Messiah's kingdom of grace; for that being a kingdom of righteousness, those only who are changed into the divine likeness, can relish its holy and spiritual precepts. Neither can an unrenewed person enter into the kingdom o glory, being unfit to maintain any communion with God, or relish the enjoyments of that sacred state.
* Mankind. This unspeakably precious gift our blessed Saviour assured Nicodemus was the effect of God the Father's infinite love, who sent his only begotten Son into the world ; that they who believe on him should not perish, but inherit eternal life.
This was 'strange philosophy to Nicodemus; who at. tending only to the sound, not to the sense of our Saviour's words, asked him how a man advanced in years can be born again ?* But Jesus bid him not to wonder, for this was not the work of human reason, but the operation of God's Spirit. For the Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and is as the wind, certain and obvious in the effects, but secret in the principle and manner of production; and there. fore this doctrine was not to be taken according to the pro
• Born again. “We are aware, that much pains is taken, not to deny our Lord's assertion, for that is express, but by subtilty and refinement to explain away its meaning.“ To be born again," it is said, is only a strong eastern meta. phor, which implies a renunciation of some errors, whether Jewish or Pagan, and a profession of Christianity. Let us try this interprétation by other passages. " Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world,” 1 John, ver. 4. And can such a conquest be ascribed to every one, who is called a Christian? We have continual and lamentable proof to the contrary. Equally absurd is the notion, that baptism constitutes regeneration. This, indeed, is the outward symbol of it ; the water, which is applied to the body, fitly representing the operation of the Spirit in cleansing and purifying the soul. But“ whosoever is born of God sinneth not,” 1 John, ver. 18. And is this to be affirmed of every baptized person ? Alas! how different is the case !
" It is said, then, that “ to be born again” is to reform the life, and pay an ex. act regard to the duties of morality. This we grant, is highly expedient and necessary, and is an effect which will flow from regeneration, but it may be produced without it. For do not many“ make the outside clean, whose inward part is full of wickedness!” Luke xi. 39. But the change, of which we speak, origi, nates within, and is properly a renovation of the heart, in which corrupt and carnal affections are subdued, and holy and spiritual desires and tempers are implant. ed. It is, therefore, “ a new creation,” so that the man is, as it were, made over again, not as to his body, which suffers no alteration, but as to the dispositions o: the mind : the depravity of his nature is rectified. The language is metaphorical, we allow; and who ever denied it? But some meaning was intended to be conveyed in the figure ; and certain modern explanations have subtilized it into nothing. If Jesus designed only to inculcate an external reformation of conduct, and a regularity of morals, he used a most dark and intricate manner of expression, which perplexes rather than instructs. On this interpretation the metaphor is absurd, and all the solemnity of our Lord's address is mere trifling; for he has rendered that obscure, which in plain words would have been easily understood. Had this been the sense, Nicodemus would not have wondered ; nor would Jesus have spoken of it as a mysterious doctrine."
portions of natural principles or experiments of sense; but to the declarations of heaven.
Our Lord then* proceeds in his discourse, assuring him that there are yet higher things for him to apprehend and believe; for this, in respect of some other mysteries of his gospel, was but as earth in comparison of heaven. Then he informed him of his descent from heaven, foretels his death and ascension, and the blessing of redemption, which he came to procure for mankind : he preaches the love of the Father, the mission of the Son, the rewards of faith, and the glories of eternity; he upbraids the unbelieving and impenitent, and declares the differences of a holy and corrupt conscience ; the shame and fears of the one, and the confidence and serenity of the other.
From Jerusalem the holy Jesus went into the country of Judea, attended by many disciples who were convinced of his divine mission by the evidence of his miracles: and there he tarried with them and baptized; at which time John also was baptizing in Ænon, near to Salem, a place chosen by him as commodious to that purpose by reason of the pools or rivulets of water. But John's disciples hearing that Jesus baptized, came to inform him, that the person to whom he bare witness, received proselytes with the same ceremony of baptism as himself, and that there was a great number of persons who resorted to him. In answer to whom John says; I can do no more than I have commission from God to do, and that commission doth not equal me to him; and therefore you cannot but remcmber, that I always said of myself, I am not the Messiah, but only his herald. John therefore acquitting himself thus in public by renewing his former testimony of Christ, that he was the Messiah, foretels that his own mi. nistry was near a close ; that the Messiah should daily increaset in splendor, but that he should proportionably decrease, for Christ came from above, and was above all; and that the sum of his doctrine was that which he had heard and seen from the Father, whom God had sent to that purpose ; to whom God had set his seal, that he
• See John iii. to ver. 22.