Page images

Julian Pe


Christ obtains his first Disciples from John.

JOHN i. 35-51.

35 Again, the next day after', John stood, and two of Bethabara. riod, 4730. his disciples;

Vulgar Era,


36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him,

7 On the day following, John calls the attention of his disciples to Jesus; and, as if he would remind them of the preceding conversation, he again gives his testimony to the office of Christ, in the same words, "Behold the Lamb of God;" and immediately these two disciples become the followers of Christ. In this circumstance also, is another evident propriety through the ordinance of an overruling Providence. No persons could be so fitly chosen by God, to be the first disciples of Christ, as those who had previously been followers of his great forerunner. By this event our Lord at once united the Mosaical and Christian dispensations. The disciples of John, who now began to attend him, were witnesses before all Israel, of the testimony of John, whom all acknowledged to be a prophet. Wherever he went, Christ was now, or was soon to be, accompanied by those who were enabled to confirm his Messiahship, by the declaration of the last prophet of the old dispensation. This event also enabled his disciples to preach more decisively to the people the great truths which they received from John; that repentance was the beginning and foundation of faith; and that all who would depend upon the Lamb of God as the atoning sacrifice for mankind, must be brought to him by the ministry of repentance.

Andrew was the first who followed Christ, and the Evangelist St. John is supposed to have been the other. St. Peter was brought to Christ by Andrew his brother. It does not however appear, from the narrative, that they certainly forsook their occupations at this time, for we read, v. 39. that they abode with him only that night; and in the next section, which is placed according to the order of St. John's narrative, we find that his disciples were at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and we hear of no other disciples but these, and Philip and Nathaniel, whom Christ met on his setting out to go into Galilee, we may conclude they attended him to that place, and then resumed their occupations, while Christ continued at Capernaum, Nathaniel is supposed to have been chosen a disciple under the name of Bartholomew, in the same way as Peter received the name of Jona, or Cephas; as throughout the whole of the evangelical writings he is always coupled with Philip, and (in John xxi. 2.) he is named with other disciples who were all Apostles.

Julian Pe- Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where Bethabara. riod, 4739. dwellest thou?

Vulgar Æra, 26.

39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day : for it was about the tenth hour.

40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, The Christ.

42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jona : thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation,

A stone®.

43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Gali- In the road lee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

45 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.

46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

48 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.

Peter, like Nathaniel, received a title, which while it alluded to his own name, described also his future dignity, in being selected to preach the Gospel to the Gentile world. Christ had come to call the Gentiles to God, and he proves, by his address to St. Peter, that this great object of his mission was always before him. The members of the Church of Rome imagine that this name, given to St. Peter, proves that he was appointed head of the Universal Church, whose seat was to be at Rome. A solid foundation for this notion, however, cannot even be laid, before some stubborn facts are removed, which are utterly inconsistent with this opinion. These are the parity among the Apostles-the total absence of evidence that the Church, even in that early age, submitted in any one instance to St. Peter-the election of St. James to the episcopal office at Jerusalem-the manner in which St. Paul addressed St. Peter, and the uncertainty, indeed, whether St. Peter was even ever at Rome, the seat of his supposed dignity.Vide Barrow's Enquiry whether St. Peter was ever at Rome. This is a posthumous work, and had not received the last correction of its author. It contains, however, a valuable collection of materials on this subject. The brief Introduction to the work also, by Archbishop Tillotson, to whom Dr. Barrow, when dying, entrusted his manuscripts, deserves attention.

to Galilee.

[blocks in formation]


49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, In the road thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. to Galilee.

50 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.

51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man".

Julian Pe


Marriage at Cana, in Galilee 10.

JOHN ii. 1-11.

[ocr errors]

1 And the third day" there was a marriage in Cana Cana, in riod, 4740. of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: Vulgar Æra,


9 For some very curious remarks on this passage, see King's Morsels of Criticism. The singular theory of the universe, and its government, proposed by this author, will interest, even when it does not convince, all who engage themselves in these studies. Mr. King rejects the usual interpretation of this passage, and, after endeavouring to prove that the prophecy of our Lord was not fulfilled during the lifetime of Nathaniel; he concludes" that this wonderful prophecy was a promise to Philip and Nathanael, and through them to all mankind; that the time should certainly come, when they should see a free communication between our heaven, (that is, as he supposes, the sun,) and the earth; and the angels of God descending, and ascending, and conversing with men."-King's Morsels of Criticism, vol. i. 8vo. p. 320.

10 The remainder of the events in this chapter, to the imprisonment of John, are harmonized in the same order by Whiston, Lightfoot, Michaelis, Doddridge, and Newcome. Pilkington inserts before that event the baptism and temptation of Christ; a difference which has already been considered.

"The third day means, either the third day from Christ's coming into Galilee, John i. 43.—or the third day from the conference with Nathanael-or the third day from his disciples first following him-or the third from the commencement of the mariage feast, which usually lasted seven days.

The obscure life of Christ till he was thirty years of age, had obliterated, in a great measure, the impression produced upon the people by the circumstances which had attended his advent. The Jews, who were prepossessed with very lofty notions of the splendour of the Messiah's person and kingdom, were too happy to lose the remembrance of all these wonderful occurrences, when they beheld the humble and unpretending life of Jesus of Nazareth. But the time had now arrived for our Lord's manifestation of himself to the world. The voice from heaven had proclaimed him the Son of God-his great forerunner had acknowledged him as such, and an act of Omniscience had convinced, and drawn to him a disciple. The hour was now at hand, when a more public testimony of his Messiahship was to be given, in the revival of miracles. Galilee was the place predicted, and appointed (Isaiah ix. 1, 2. See also the Jewish traditions on



Julian Pe- 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the Carn, in riod, 4740. marriage. Vulgar Era,


this subject in Schoetgen) for the first display of the power and
majesty of the Messiah: and we accordingly find that his first
miracle was wrought in Cana of Galilee. Lightfoot has endea-
voured to prove, from the hints which are given in various parts
of the Gospels, concerning the family and kindred of our Lord's
mother, and particularly from this account of the festival, and of
the manner in which she is represented as possessing more in-
fluence and authority than was usual for a mere guest, that this
marriage took place at the house of Mary, the sister of the
mother of Jesus, and wife of Cleophas, (who was the same as
Alpheus) and that the bride was of that family. I cannot but
think it highly probable, that our blessed Saviour wrought this
his first miracle in the presence of all his assembled family and
connections, to confirm their faith before he entered upon his
public ministry. The object of the miracle must be judged by
its effect. The disciples whom he had taken from John, saw
and believed.

It may be worthy of observation, however, that the Evangelist
St. John, who has written the account of the event in his cha
racter of historian, is asserted to have been himself the bride-
groom. Dr. A. Clarke, in his Preface to the Gospel of St.
John, is of this opinion. Lampe (a), in his Prolegomena to his
laborious work on St. John's Gospel, asserts the contrary, on
the authorities of Ignatius, Tertullian, Augustine, Epiphanius,
and Jerome.

The best explanation I have met of this transaction, is that
which is given by Rosenmuller (in loc.) from Chrysostom (b),
who supposes that the mother and brethren of our Lord were
impatient that he should perform some splendid action, and
manifest himself to the world, that they might obtain some de-
gree of honour through him. His mother, probably, intimated
by some tone, voice, or manner, her desire that he should per-
form some of those wonderful miracles which he had sometimes
wrought, (as many conjecture,) for the relief of the domestic
poverty of his family. It does not seems unworthy of our
Lord's character, says Rosenmuller, in loc. that he should have
given this consolation to his mother and friends. The idea is
suggested by the strong hope expressed by the Virgin Mary on
this occasion. But, as there is no other support for this opi-
nion, it may be accounted for, from the conviction his mother
entertained of his divine mission, and from the anxiety she
would naturally feel, that her son should manifest himself as
the promised Messiah. In reply to the insinuation, our Lord,
instantly understanding her wishes, checks the half-uttered re-
quest, by giving her to understand that she was not to direct
him in the exercise of his divine powers; and that the period
which her affection anticipated bad not yet arrived. The words
"Mine hour is not yet come," are supposed to signify that his
public demonstration of himself was not to commence till John
was imprisoned. Rosenmuller and Kuinoel in loc. quote from
Dion Cassius, lib. 51. the expression of Augustus to Cleopatra,
to shew that the words of ver. 4. are not to be understood in an
unkind or harsh sense---θάρσει ὦ γύναι, καὶ θυμὸν ἐχε ἀγαθόν.
That the word yuvai was used also as a title of honour among
the more ancient Greeks, appears from its use by Eschylus.

Ω βαθυζώνων ἄνασσα Περσίδων ὑπερτάτη
Μῆτερ ἡ Ξέρξου γεραιὰ, χαῖρε Δαρέιε γύναι.
Eschyl. Persæ, line 155.

Julian Pe

8 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus Cana, in riod, 4740. saith unto him, They have no wine. Vulgar Era,


Βασίλεια γύναι, πρέσβυς Πέρσαις.

Eschyl. Persæ, 622.

The general opinion, however, of the ancient fathers was, that our Lord used the language of reproof to his mother, as guilty of some indiscretion or precipitancy in thus speaking; as desiring ἀκαὶρως τὶ ζητεῖν, καὶ ἐγκόπτειν τὶ τῶν πνευματικῶν, says Chrysostom, as quoted by Whitby. Lampe, in his Commentary on St. John, maintains also this latter opinion, vol. i. p. 504. He supposes that our Lord used the Syriac term я, instead of

, which is the more honourable appellation. It seems most probable that reproof was intended, and it was clothed in the language of affection, kindness, and respect.

We have now arrived at the first miracle of our Lord mentioned in the New Testament. It will be remembered, that all the writers of the books of the New Testament addressed themselves in the first instance to the Jews; and one object of these notes, is to point out to the sons of Israel, in this their last captivity, the internal evidence, as it gradually arises before us, that the founder of the Christian Church was the predicted Messiah of the Jews, it may be worth our while to draw some comparison between the miracles recorded in the Old and those related in the New Testament. I think it can easily be made to appear that they are both supported by evidence of the same nature; and consequently, that if the former are received, the latter, on the same grounds, are not to be rejected.

As I make no reference here to those who require arguments to overthrow the paradoxical opinion of Mr. Hume; "that no human testimony can prove a miracle, I shall not stop to consider this or any other speculative idiotcy of modern infidelity. We may be contented with observing that "a miracle is an event, which is contrary to experience, and the established constitution, or course of things, effected by power more than human." This regular course of things is generally known by the term the Laws of Nature; the word nature being used as if it was intended to express some occult quality, which is in itself independant of a creating, or preserving Providence. In this sense of the word there is no such thing as nature. Nature, as Cowper has beautifully observed, is but a name for an effect, whose cause is God-and the uniform routine of circumstances in animal and vegetable life in creation, &c. which we daily see, or experience, and on which we may always calculate, does not proceed from any innate principle of life and motion in the inert masses of which the visible universe is composed, but from the immediate and continued agency of that Omnipotence which first created and gave them existence, and appointed the laws that now govern them. The various results of this will of Omnipotence may, in one sense, as they are more than human power could effect, be called constant, but unregarded miracles; while the deviations from the uniform results thus commanded are only unusual, and therefore more regarded miracles. In both instances the same active superintendance of an invisible agent is always discoverable. He who ordained the regularity of the universe, and appointed the powers and properties of its beings, can suspend the ordinary laws which govern this lower world. The credibility of the one class of uniform miracles depends upon the testimony of the senses and daily observation: the credibility of the unusual miracles depends upon the evidence of the senses of those who behold them. If the miracles


« PreviousContinue »