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A. M. 4034, thou come hither to torment us before the time?”] But we forbear to prosecute this
*::::::::: subject farther *, interesting as it is, and proceed to the next objection, which relates
go, so to our Saviour's behaviour at the marriage-feast. Vulg. Ær. 28. Our Blessed Saviour, indeed, was a person of so grave and serious a deportment, that
whatever instances we find of his pity and compassion to mankind, of his grieving and
* The reader will find it fully discussed by Dr Mead in his Medica Sacra, with Mr Farmer in his I)issertation on the Gospel possessions, on the one side of the question; and by Warburton in his twentyseventh Sermon, and in the ninth book of the Divine Legation, &c. on the other. Dr Hales likewise has some judicious observations on the subject in the second volume of his Analysis, &c.
(a) Lewis's Antiquities of the Hebrew Republic, vol. iii.
** [This practice was not peculiar to the Jews. It seems to have been the custom amongst the ancients
of various nations, to choose a king or master of each
done to excess, or beyond the proper bounds of joy in a festival; so there are several
and acquaintance, were invited, but that it was well taken likewise, if any others
(though not invited) would come to partake of the entertainment, and bear a share in the joy. Whoever considers this, I say, cannot but imagine, that a very large quantity of wine must needs be requisite at such a time, since it was to be a supply, not for that day only, but for all the succeeding days until the time of the feasting was expired.
Nay, even supposing farther, that our Lord, upon this occasion, did not confine himself to a precise quantity, proportionate to the company, or period of the festival, and (what is more (e) that some of the company might abuse his liberality by their intemperance (which is a concession not to be gathered from the text), yet he cannot therefore be charged with administering to their excess by making such an ample provision, any more than we can charge the Providence of God with being instrumental to all the gluttony and drunkenness which is committed in the world, merely because he af. fords that meat and drink which men of inordinate appetites abuse to excess. The truth is, as it is an high commendation of Providence that it crowns us with plenty, (whatever use we make of it), and bestows upon us all things richly to enjoy; so was it not unbecoming a person, invested with a Divine commission, to give, on this occasion, an eminent instance of his flowing liberality, and, by his generous provision for the family, to leave a grateful memorial of his benevolent regard to two persons that
(a) Chap. xliii. 34.
(b) Vid. Whitby's Annot. in locum.
"[The probability is, that the expression under consideration relates not at all to excess, nor indeed to drinking at any other feast than that which was kept at a marriage. The Abbi Mariti, speaking of the age of the wives of Cyprus, says, “It is certain, that at the birth of a son or daughter, the father causes a jar filled with wine to be buried in the earth, having first taken the precaution to seal it hermetically; and in this manner it is kept till the child's marriage. It is then placed on the table before the bride and bridegroom, and is distributed among their relations, and the other guests invited to the wedding.” If such a custom prevailed formerly, and prevailed among the
Jews, it is evident that the wine first drunk at a mar-
(c) John ii. 6.
(d) Vid. Cumberland of Weights and Measures,
(e) Whitby's Annot, in locum,
From the beginning of the Gospels to Matth. ix. 8. Mark ii. 23. Luke vi. 1.
A. M. o: very likely were his relations, and had just entered into the honourable state of ma&c. or "o trimony. A. * §: therefore our Lord answered, in so free and plentiful a manner, his mother's Vuls, or * request at last, there seems to be something in their supposition, who, from the pro—priety (a) of the Greek expression, think that his mother spake to him before the wine was out, but when it grew so low that she plainly perceived there would not be enough for the company; and therefore our Saviour's reply to her will very justly bear this sense. To aci zai goi; “What is it to you or me? i. e. the care of providing wine upon this occasion does not properly belong to you or me; but admitted it did, my hour is not yet come. It is too soon as yet to set about it; because it is highly fitting that the necessity of that supernatural supply which I intend them should be a little more felt, in order to recommend the benefit itself, and to give the manner of attaining it a power of making a deeper impression on their minds.” This seems to be no unnatural construction of the words, and removes all the seeming harshness of our Saviour's answer, “Woman, what have I to do with thee ?” We mistake the matter however very much, if we think that the word yuri, which we render woman, was any title of disrespect or indifference, (as it seems to be in our translation), since it is frequently used by the best authors when the highest marks of esteem are intended. The polite Xenophon himself puts it in the mouth of one of his Persian chiefs, when he was addressing himself to a captive lady, and comforting her under her unfortunate circumstances; and certainly a time there was that our Lord called his mother by this appellation, when he was far from being harsh or undutiful to her, even when he was hanging on the cross, and tenderly recommending both his mother to the care of his beloved apostle, and that apostle to his mother's love and affection, (b) “Woman, behold thy son.” So little does our Saviour's conduct, in this whole transaction, deserve these horrid and impious censures which of late have been thrown upon it ! "whoever some modern Jews and infidels may allege against the abuse (as they pretend) which the writers of the New Testament have put upon the prophecies of the Old, by applying them to a wrong sense; (c) no man need be told that an attempt of this nature had been as impertinent, the affront to man's reason as insolent, and the event as fruitless, nay, as fatal to their cause, had they imposed a false or even controverted sense upon the predictions confessedly relating to the Messiah, as it would have been had they urged such predictions as were not acknowledged to belong to him at all. The truth is, if the Jews understood the prophecies relating to the Messiah in one sense, and the apostles, in their address to them, applied them in another, we cannot see how they could ever have made one proselyte, being in the same condition with what St Paul describes, when he tells us, that (d) “he who speaketh in an unknown tongue (and why not he that speaketh in an unknown meaning?) speaketh to the air, and becometh a barbarian to him that heareth but understandeth him not.” So that every Jew, converted to the Christian faith, is an implicit proof of the apostles applying the ancient prophecies in a sense that was then current and familiar to them. That the famous prophecy in Isaiah (e) is thus applied by St Matthew (f), to prove that Christ was born of an immaculate virgin, we took occasion, in our answer to the fourth of these objections, to shew. The remaining allegation is, that the name of the person, of whom the prophet speaks, was to be Immanuel; whereas the name of that Son of Mary, of whom St Matthew speaks, by God's express command was Jesus, and therefore the words of the prophet are misapplied by the evangelist.
(a) &rrigoravre; show, ver, 3. (b) John xix. 25, 27. (c) Stanhope’s Sermons at Boyle's Lectures, Sermon viii, (d) I Cor. xiv. 2. (e) Chap. vii. 14. (f) Chap. i. 23.
Now nothing is more common in Scripture than by the calling or naming of a per- From the bo.
son or thing, not to mean that the person or thing would be commonly distinguished by
that name, but only that it should have such properties and qualities in it as that name Matth. ix. 8.
did denote; or, in other words, that it should really be what the full sense of that name
imported. Thus, of the city of Jerusalem it is foretold by the prophet, (a) that it =
should “be called the city of righteousness,” when it really was to be such a city; for
(a) Isaiah i. 26. (b) Ibid. Chap. vii. 14. (c) 2 Cor. v. 19. (d) Eph. ii. 13. 18. (e) Ibid. Chap. i. 6. (f) Rom. viii. 29. Heb. ii. 14.
A. M.40% called him out of Egypt," i.e. he hath rescued him from the jaws of death, or from the *::::::::: like danger that the Israelites were in when he brought them out of Egypt with a Ann, Dom “mighty hand and a stretched-out arm.” Since Joseph then was ordered to flee to vo. ss. Egypt, and to tarry there until Herod was dead, for this reason, because “Herod — sought the young child's life;” this distinguishing preservation of Jesus, by means of his retreat till the danger was over, will justify the evangelist (even though it had been any other country, as well as Egypt, whereunto he retired) in applying to him the proverbial saying upon that occasion, (a) “Out of Egypt (i.e. out of manifest danger) have I called my son.” The deportation of the ten tribes from their native country into a foreign land, there to die or live in slavery, was so grievous a calamity, that the prophet Jeremiah (b) (by way of prosopopoeia) introduces Rachel, the favourite wife of Jacob, that great progenitor of the Israelites, making bitter lamentation for their loss, and refusing all consolation, because there were no hopes of their recovery. And the murder of so many innocent babes at Bethlehem, by the bloody decree of Herod, was an event so dolorous to their tender parents, that the evangelist, when he came to relate it, thought he might justly (by way of accommodation) apply the words of the prophet, and, in the name of all the miserable mothers that had lost their children, make Rachel upon this occasion (and as a farther accomplishment of the prophecy) return to her weeping again. The rather, because Rachel, having been long dead before the captivity, may, with equal propriety, by the evangelist, as she is by the prophet, be introduced weeping; the rather, because she was (c) so fond a lover of children, that she is fitly enough brought in here in the room of the tender mothers who wept for the loss of theirs; and the rather, because the slaughter of the Bethlehemites might be called that of her children, because among them (d) was the place of her sepulchre, after that she had lost her life in the bitter pangs of child-birth. There is no prophet, we own, wherein it is expressly said that the Messiah should be called a Nazarene; (e) but the observation of St Jerom, in his comment upon this place, is not amiss, viz. that when St Matthew (f) “ mentions the word prophets in the plural number, (whereas in other places he had always cited some particular prophet), he thereby shews that he did not take the words from the prophets but only the sense.” Since then the title of Nazarene, both Jews and other enemies of Christianity, have always, by way of contempt, given to our Blessed Saviour, because he was supposed to come out of that very city, from whence it was thought impossible that (g) * any good thing should come ;” and since most of the prophets speak of Christ as a person that was to be reputed vile and abject, (h) “a stranger to his brethern, and even an alien to his mother's sons, (i) despised and rejected of men, despised and esteemed not,” here is the plain sense of the words, “he shall be a Nazarene:” (k) and the angel, by God's appointment, no doubt, sent him to this contemptible place, that he might thence have a name of infamy and contempt put upon him, according to the frequent intimation by the prophets. (l) The word we render wise men, in its original, signifies magicians, which however now it bespeaks not so good a character, was nevertheless heretofore a name of very innocent and honourable signification. The studious and inquisitive, whose business and profession led them to search into nature its most abstruse causes and effects, and more particularly into the motions and dispositions of the heavenly bodies, were distinguished by this title: and in what profound veneration and respect they were held, appears from the most important matters, both sacred and civil, being committed to
a) Matth. ii. 15. (b) Chap. xxxi. 15. (c) Gen. xxx. 1. (d) Ibid. xxxv. 19.
(l) Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. i.