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SERMON III.

THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE

EPIPHANY.

ON THE HAPPINESS OF A RELIGIOUS LIFE.

come.

GOSPEL. St. John, ii. v. 1-11. At that time, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him, They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her, Woman, what is it to me and to thee? my hour is not yet

His mother saith to the waiters, Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures a piece. Jesus saith to them, Fill the water-pots with water; and they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them, Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast; and they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water, the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him, Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drank, 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 his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

The Gospel of this Sunday, exhibits to us our blessed Saviour in the cheerful character of a guest at a wedding feast, to which, with his disciples, he had been invited, and which was also honored with the presence of his Virgin Mother. “ And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus also, and his disciples, were invited to the marriage.” During the entertainment, a circumstance occurred, which gave occasion to our blessed Saviour to display in his conduct that happy union of dignity and condescension, which is so graceful in persons of exalted rank, and has so powerful a tendency to render them objects of veneration and regard. The occurrence to which I allude, was the representation made to him by his Virgin Mother of the want of wine ; nor should we be surprised at her solicitude on that account, for wine, when used with temperance, must be allowed to contribute to the innocent festivity of the convivial board; and, as the Psalmist informs us, was graciously imparted to man by his munificent Creator, “to exhilarate his heart.” “ And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him, they have no wine." To this representation, Jesus returned the following reply. “Woman, what is it to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come.” If this reply appear to any one somewhat harsh, particularly as it was made by a son to his mother, and that mother too, as Mary unquestionably was, the paragon of her sex, let him consider attentively, not only the words employed by the blessed Virgin, but the view also with which she utterred them. The words used by the holy Virgin, were these, “they have no wine.” The view, however, with which she

uttered them, was unquestionably this : that Jesus would, by the exercise of his supernatural power, supply the deficiency. Now, although the object which she had in contemplation, must certainly be confessed to have been of a laudable description, yet it is no disparagement to her to say, that she may have been mistaken in the measure to which she had recourse for the attainment of it. For by applying to Jesus to perform a miracle in order to furnish the guests with wine, which her representation of the failure of that article most assuredly implied, she may have been considered, perhaps, to have unwittingly interfered with him in the discharge of his ministerial functions; and it may have been to indicate the impropriety of such interference on her part, that Jesus addressed her in the language of the sacred text; “ Woman what is it to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.” Nor let it be imagined that the appellation of woman with which he accosted her, had anything in it contemptuous or disrespectful. For we learn from the Gospel of St. John, that he also made use of the same term, on an occasion when he gave her the most expressive proof of his filial piety and affection. The occasion to which I refer, was, that when beholding her standing near the cross, on which he was himself suspended, he recommended her so feelingly to the care and protection of the disciple whom he loved. Woman, behold thy son.” That the feelings of the blessed Virgin herself were not in

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the slightest degree wounded by the mode of speech in which Jesus addressed her, that she was not even without expectation that the petition implied by her representation, would be ultimately successful, is pretty evident, from the directions which she gave to the waiters, to comply scrupulously with all his injunctions. “ His mother saith to the waiters, whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.” Nor was she disappointed. For Jesus having asserted with becoming dignity the high and independent character of Son of God, with which he was invested, proceeded to manifest the sweet, amiable, and affectionate disposition of the Son of Mary, by accomplishing the object of her benevolent suggestion. For this purpose, he availed himself of a number of stone water-pots which were at hand, from which the Jews were accustomed to wash themselves before they entered upon their meals. These he ordered to be filled with water, and a sample of their contents to be then poured out, and taken to the steward of the feast. “Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them, fill the water-pots with water; and they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them, draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast : and they carried it."* In the whole of this

* And here, I think it not improper, as one instance among many others, of the evidence derived from the most proceeding, there was no public manifestation of supernatural power. The waiters indeed, who had drawn the water, and who now perceived it converted into wine, could not be ignorant, that somehow or other a miracle had been performed. Whether they acted under an injunction of secrecy is unknown; but certain it is, that the chief steward of the feast had no knowledge whatsoever of the change which had been operated ; since taking it for granted, that the wine which was now forthcoming, had been reserved by the bridegroom for the close of the entertainment; and finding it to be of a much superior quality, he rallied him on account of his preposterous conduct, in not producing it at an earlier period, when the palates of the guests were so much better qualified to appreciate its excellence. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and minute circumstances in support of the truth of the Evangelical history, to lay before you the brief account which has been recently published by a very respectable traveller, of what he himself beheld on the very spot which was the theatre of the transaction recorded in this day's gospel. “ The ruins of a church, says Dr. Clarke, are shewn in this place, which is said to have been erected over the spot where the marriage feast of Cana was held. It is worthy of remark, that walking among these ruins, we saw large massy stone water-pots, answering the description given of the ancient vessels of the country, not preserved and exhibited as relics, but lying about disregarded by the present inhabitants, with whose original use they were unacquainted. From their appearance, and the number of them, it was quite evident, that a practice of keeping water in large stone pots, each holding from eighteen to twenty-seven gallons, was once common in the country." (CLARKE's Travels, Tom. II. p. 445.)

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