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surely grow in proportion to our acquaintance with him. If Divine grace hath discovered him to us, and taught us to repose the confidence of our souls upon him, let us, like Andrew in the passage before us, be concerned to make him known to others; and especially to lead our nearest relatives and our most intimate friends into that acquaintance with him which is so absolutely necessary to their eternal happiness!
Let the condescending readiness with which our blessed Redeemer accepted and even invited the visit of these two disciples, engage every preacher of righteousness most willingly to give his private as well as his public labours and his time (valuable as that treasure is) to the service of those who are seriously affected with the concerns of their souls, and are inquiring after the way to salvation. We are sufficiently honoured, if, by any means, and by all, we may be instrumental in promoting that cause which employed the daily labours of God's incarnate Son, and at length cost him his very blood!
JOHN 1. 43-51.
THE day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say
unto you, Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
How cautiously should we guard against popular prejudices, which possessed so honest a heart as that of Nathanael, and led him to suspect that the blessed Jesus himself was an impostor, and that no good could be expected from him because he had been brought up at Nazareth! But his integrity prevailed over that foolish bias, and laid him open to the conviction of evidence, which a candid inquirer will always be glad to admit, even when it brings the most unexpected discovery.
How amiable is the character here given of Nathanael! An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile! May the attainment of so excellent a character, and a resemblance to him in it, be the daily aim and emulation of all who have the honour to be called into the Israel of God!
A constant intercourse with God in secret devotion will be a happy expression of one branch of this sincerity, and an effectual means of promoting the rest. Let it therefore be our care that the eye of him that seeth in secret may often behold us in religious retirement, pouring out our souls before God, and humbly consecrating them to his service. The day will come when those scenes of duty which were most cautiously concealed shall be commemorated with public honour; and when he who now discerns them, and is a constant witness to the most private exercises of the closet, will reward them openly. (Matt. vi. 6.)
Happy were those who saw the miracles performed by the Son of man while he was here on earth! and happy those favourite spirits of heaven which were ascending and descending as ministers of his to do his pleasure! But in some degree yet happier are they who, having not seen, have believed; John XX. 29. As their faith is peculiarly acceptable, it shall ere long be turned into sight. They shall behold much greater things than ever were seen below, and more extraordinary manifestations of his glory than they can now conceive; and, being brought with all his people to surround his throne, shall join in those nobler services which attendant angels render him above.
JOHN II. 1-11.
AND the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus was called and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six water-pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 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 feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, and when men bave well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
We have here the first of Christ's public miracles, which we find was not wrought till about his thirtieth year. How much sooner could he have glorified himself, and amazed the world by the display of his Divine power! But he waited his Father's call, and the delay added at length to the lustre of his works.
It was performed to grace a nuptial solemnity: and who doth not see that it was, in effect, a testimony borne to the honour and purity of that happy state on which so much of the comfort of the present generation and the existence of the future regularly depend?
How happy were these guests while Jesus was among them! and how condescending did he appear in making one on the
occasion! His social and obliging temper should sweeten ours, and be a lesson to his followers that they avoid every thing sour and morose, and do not censure others for innocent liberties at proper seasons of festivity and joy.
If his mother met with so just a rebuke for attempting to direct his administrations in the days of his flesh, how absurd is it for any to address her as if she had a right to command him on the throne of his glory! And how indecent for us to direct his supreme wisdom as to the time and manner in which he shall appear for us in any of the exigencies of life!
Her submission and faith manifested on this occasion are truly amiable and with this we have surely reasons to admire the benignity and generosity of Christ in this miracle before us; who consulted the pleasure and entertainment as well as the necessity of his followers; and by this abundant supply amply repaid any extraordinary expence which he might have occasioned to the family.
How easily could he, who thus turned water into wine, have transformed every entertainment of a common table into the greatest delicacies, and have regaled himself daily with royal dainties! But, far superior to such animal gratifications, he chose the severities of a much plainer life. Blessed Jesus! who can say whether thou art greater in what thou didst or in what thou didst not do? May none of us thy followers be too intent on indulging our taste or any of our other senses; but, pursuing those intellectual and devotional pleasures which were thy meat and thy drink on earth, may we wait for that good wine which thou reservest for thy people to the last, and for those richer dainties with which thou wilt feast those who shall drink it with thee in thy Father's kingdom! (Matt. xxvi. 29.)
JOHN II. 12-25.
AFTER this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples, and they continued there not many days. And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem: And found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money, sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and said
unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence, make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered, and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 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.
How powerful is the love of this world, when it could engage even the priests and the Pharisees to let out the temple itself for a market-place! though a professed zeal for the honour of it made so great a part of the righteousness of which they boasted before God. But our Lord beheld the scene with just indignation; as that displeasure is indeed just, which arises from a sense of dishonour done to God and contempt poured on the institutions of his worship. Happy shall we be in the warmest emotions of zeal which do not transport us beyond the rules of prudence and love, and make us forget those stations in life which require the same principles to shew themselves in widely different effects!
Methinks the state of the temple, when these traders had erected their seats and their stalls in it, and turned the courts of God's house into a market, is too just an emblem of the state of our hearts when we appear in the sanctuary distracted with worldly cares to the neglect of that one thing needful, which then demands our most attentive regards. Would to God that in this sense our Father's house were not often made a house of merchandise! Let us pray that Jesus, by his good Spirit, would assert it to himself, and drive out those intruders which break in upon our truest enjoyments, in proportion to that degree in which they intrench on our devotion!