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and pronounced the nuptial benediction. This stamps a purity, a dignity, a permanency on the ordinance, which man is bound highly to respect. The great interpreter and restorer of the law, accordingly, puts honour upon the institution by his presence and countenance, and by contributing to the comfort of the assembly convened on this happy occasion, by the charms. of his conversation, and by a seasonable supply of one ingredient in a feast: and he afterwards vindicated the primitive sanctity of marriage from the irregularity and impurity which the hardness of the human heart had constrained even a Moses to permit, at least to connive at. "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female; and said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder."
John the Baptist incurred the imputation of being possessed with a devil, because he was a man of more austere manners, and of a more sequestered mode of living; because he "came neither eating bread nor drinking wine." His divine master, more gentle in deportment, more affable, accessible, and condescending, because he mixed with society, because he "came eating and drinking," is by the self-same persons represented as "a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." Where there is a disposition to censure, no purity nor prudence can escape. Nothing can please the peevish children in the market place. If their fellows excite them to dance by the sound of the pipe, they are disposed to look grave, and mourn; if their companions are in a serious mood, it is with them a time to dance. You cannot tell where to find them. It is not, at the same time, a mark of wisdom to brave the opinion of the world; but wo be to that man whose conduct has no
better regulator than either popular opinion, or the decisions of a self-constituted censor. Christ has by example taught his disciples to seek, and to take opportunities of being useful, whatever construction may be put upon it by malignant observers.
"The mother of Jesus was there," apparently, as one of the family, who took an interest in the credit of her relations, and to assist in attending to the comfort and accommodation of the guests; we find her watching over the expenditure of the provision, and devising the means of supply when it should fail. But Jesus and his disciples were among the persons specially invited. As the aim of the evangelist is simply to detail the circumstances relating to the miracle, every thing foreign to this is suppressed. This remark is applicable to the sacred writers in general. They present the leading object in its strongest features, leave it to make its native impression, and pass from it without exclaiming, without parade, without a commentary. On the other hand, where minuteness of description and enumeration is necessary, or of importance, all is examined with a microscopic eye, and beauties disclose themselves to closeness of investigation which the careless glance had overlooked.
Whether the company had proved more numerous than was expected, or whether a provision too scanty had been made, but in the middle of the banquet wine failed. Things which are in themselves, and as far as man is concerned, merely contingent, are predisposed and produced by a special interposition of divine Providence, to fulfil some valuable purpose. This little awkwardness of domestic arrangement furnished occasion for a grand display of almighty power. The deficiency was observed by the mother of Jesus, who communicated it to him as simply a remark of her own. But did not the communication partake of the nature of request, of expectation, of suggestion? VOL. IV. 2 E
They have no wine:" Is not this saying, can nothing be done to save the credit of the family? They will suffer in the estimation of their friends, as too parsimonious at a season of festivity like the present. Canst thou find no supply? There must, undoubtedly, have been something offensive in her meaning or mode of expression, for she meets with a reproof. And the mildest censure from such lips is a mark of displeaAs to Nathanael before, so to Mary now he gives proof that he could read in the heart, what had not yet fallen from the tongue : "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." "Woman:" we are not to estimate the spirit and import of this term of address by the refinement of our modern ideas and manners. A British female of very middling rank would consider herself as very highly insulted to be thus abruptly accosted by an equal, from an inferior it would be intolerable, and even in a superior it would be resented. But it was the appellation by which princes addressed themselves to ladies of the highest rank, and which even slaves employed in speaking to their mistresses, for it marks respect not familiarity. And we have a demonstration, in the present case, that it could imply nothing harsh or unkind, for it is Jesus who uses the word in speaking to his mother. On an occasion still more tender and interesting, when sovereign love was in its triumph, and dictated every expression ; when his cross was surrounded by some of the persons who witnessed the miracle of Cana of Galilee; this conversation took place: "When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." Here was the dying effusion of 'filial affection: "Woman, behold thy son.'
"What have I to do with thee." This is an air of severity, and probably was intended to check encroachment. There is a point beyond which parental authority itself must not presume to go. At the age of twelve, excess of maternal solicitude received a mild rebuke: How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business ?" Nevertheless "he went down with them" from the temple," and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them." But to the man of thirty even a mother must not presume to dictate, or so much as insinuate. The words of the original have by some been differently translated; and Jesus is made to say, in reply to his mother's observation, "they have no wine," "What is that to me and thee?" What does it concern us whether there be wine or not? Such a question is little in the spirit of Christ, who took a condescending and an affectionate interest in all the infirmities and distresses incident to humanity, and to whom nothing could be indifferent which tended to promote the comfort of others; and the sequel plainly shews, that he actually cherished those kind affections, and expressed them in a manner peculiar to himself. It is more natural to adopt our common version, consistent as it is with the same sense of the phrase in a va
riety of other passages. "The devils coming out of the tombs exceeding fierce," in the country of the Gergesenes, exclaim, "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?" Meaning evidently; "We are afraid of thee; let us alone; we desire no acquaintance with thee; art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" The seventy interpreters translate the Hebrew idiom in the same phraseology and spirit, in a great many passages. Thus Jephthah addressed the king of Ammon, "What hast thou to do with me?" saying plainly, "I wish no intercourse; we can have nothing in common; Wherefore should we go to war together?" And thus, not to multiply instances, Da
vid said to Abishai, when he proposed to go over and, in cold blood, to cut off Shimei's head, "What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeuriah?" "I like not your spirit; I want no such triumph; let God's will be done you are taking his work out of his hand, and are deciding hastily when you ought to wait patiently." This is entirely in the spirit of the passage before us. "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" "Intrude not; prescribe not; I know what is fit for me to do; all my movements are already settled." In this view all is of a piece; all breathes the spirit of meekness; there is the majesty of Deity, and there is the united firmness and mildness of the man.
If there be any thing like sternness in the question, "What have I to do with thee ?" it is sunk into the solemn asseveration concerning himself: "mine hour is not yet come." The hour of a man's birth, of his baptism, of his majority, of his marriage, of his death, is an epoch of singular importance both to himself and others. We measure time, we know its value, and we trifle with it. With an experience of its necessary lapse, and with the certain knowledge that no moment can be responsible for the debt of its predecessor, having enough to do with itself, the thoughtless sons of men will be drawing on a day which they are never to see, and they sport with borrowed property as if it were their own. The wise man, in the face of this reckoning of folly and madness, states the just account of the expenditure and use of time: "There is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." But we look up to Him who is wiser than the wisest, that we may learn to measure time, to understand the value of a day, and to improve the flying hour, which is gone before we are sensible that it has come.
"Mine hour is not yet come." It is an expression applied to various events of Christ's life and ministry. When his unbelieving brethren urged him, by way of