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SERMON XI.

OUR SAVIOUR'S FIRST MIRACLE IN

CANA OF GALILEE.

John ii. 11.

“ This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of

Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.”

The miracle of which these words form the concluding observation is, as indeed are all the other wonderful and mighty acts of our Saviour, worthy our best attention; and by a careful consideration of the narrative we shall, with God's blessing, happily arrive at a right understanding of those principles of benevolence and cheerfulness which belong to the Gospel of Christ, and the practice of which is not

OUR SAVIOUR'S FIRST MIRACLE, &c. 159

inconsistent with that self-denial and discipline of the heart and affections, which they must cultivate who would be“ Christ's disciples indeed.”

In the miracle wrought at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, we are well instructed, my brethren, that the religion of Jesus Christ, that faith in him, that obedience to his precepts, involve not of necessity any unnatural austerities, any mere bodily mortifications; as if such outward acts could of themselves supply the want of inward purity, the absence of that vigilance over ourselves, whereby the soul is nurtured in righteousness and true holiness.

It were manifestly a fearful act of blasphemy to impute sin in any way unto Christ, or that he could in the smallest degree countenance it in others, or lend his divine and miraculous aid on any occasion wherein the glory of God and the good of man were not to be immediately, and ultimately also, promoted.

We venture, therefore, at once to say, that the festal meeting at Cana in Galilee, which the blessed Jesus honoured with his presence, was not contrary to the high and holy purpose for which he had come into the world, and had condescended to be “ made in the likeness of men.” The evangelist expressly tells us that by this remarkable display of divine power, Jesus “ manifested forth his glory," and the immediate and blessed effect was, that “ his disciples believed on him.” Their faith was confirmed. They beheld in him power, and good will to attend unto, and to satisfy all the reasonable wants of frail mortality.

Is it not then a subject of the deepest regret that men should so often and so wantonly convert to an ill use the bounteous gifts of a gracious and beneficent Providence, that they should turn a blessing into a curse, and allow that, which was given unto them “ for their wealth " and pleasure, to “ be unto them an occasion of falling.". This it is that we shall do well to remember, as often as we read the account of the miracle of water turned into wine at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee. We should do well constantly to bear in mind that it is the abuse, the perversion, of God's good gifts to man which is condemned, and so peremptorily forbidden, in the Bible, and not the moderate and lawful enjoyment of them. On this point we may read, and with immediate reference to the miracle under consideration, the words of the writer of the book of Ecclesiasticus, who says, “ Wine measurably drunk and in season bringeth gladness of the heart, and cheerfulness of the mind; but wine drunken with excess maketh bitterness of mind, with brawling and quarrelling.” And is not this latter description a too sad and too true picture, my brethren, of what so frequently occurs among yourselves ; and wherein ye so often give melancholy proof

1 Psalm lxix. 23.

of

your own weakness, and folly, and infatuation, suffering yourselves to be tempted to your own hurt, and thereby involving yourselves in sad disgrace, and in much trouble ? Unfortunately you are not, you will not be, content to enjoy yourselves in moderation. Too

of you hasten to, and snatch at the wine-cup, fully determined to drink to the uttermost of your strength, nay, even beyond your strength: and soon do ye present yourselves a lamentable spectacle of filthy intoxication, disgusting and loathsome in the extreme. The vice of drunkenness, the passion to indulge in strong liquors, is indeed too glaringly prevalent among certain classes of men not to demand the severest censure, not to excite much pity in the charitable breast for the madness of those who thus, deaf to every kind counsel, and spurning at every wholesome restraint, do voluntarily degrade themselves to a level with the very hog that walloweth in the inire. The evils, indeed, of

many

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