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MARRIAGE IN CANA.
JOHN II. And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee ; and the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.
His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six water-pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast; and they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, (and knew not whence it was, but the servants which drew the water knew,) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine ; and when men have well drunk, 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 forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him. After this, he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples, and they continued there not many days.
Benevolent Saviour! pleased to behold the innocent pleasures of the bridal circle, pleased to lend the sanction of thy presence to the holy tie which unites two kindred hearts ! how has thy religion been misunderstood! True happiness and true piety are inseparable. The relations of social life, the affections of parent and child, of brothers and sisters, of friendship, of wedded love, all the gentler emotions, as they tend to develope what is amiable in us, tend to make us love and serve God better; and the love and the service of him lend a richer charm to the endearment of social intercourse. Friendship and affection are holy things. The truly religious heart must have room for these heavenly guests; and where these are, there, in greater or less strength, but ever unextinguished, is the principle of Religion. If there is a blessing, for which we ought to be grateful to God, it is for our friends. How desolate would life be without them! How kind is that heavenly Friend who hath granted them to us, and who beholds with an approving smile, the union of heart with heart among his happy children.
TO THE COMMENCEMENT OF JESUS' PUBLIC MINISTRY
CONVERSATION WITH NICODEMUS.
JOHN II. 13, AND III. And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money, sitting : and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep and the oxen ; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables ; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence : make not my Father's house a house of merchandize.
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to him by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God : for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can
a man be born when he is old ? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marve not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth : so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things ? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things ? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven.
Sects may differ in their speculative views of regeneration, but they agree far more nearly than many among their disputants imagine. Man, when left without religious impressions, is weak in character, subject to the influence of every passion ; with all his hopes and fears engaged within the narrow limits of this life; selfish; not applying himself with any steadiness of purpose to his own improvement; living merely for the external world. The good seed of religion is sown in his mind, takes root and thrives there. The frailty of his character is changed to strength, and temptations formerly yielded to, are now resisted. The circle of his attention is no longer limited to earth, and to a short term of life here below; it embraces heaven, and ex
pands into eternity. Instead of living for himself alone, he now feels himself the brother and friend of mankind, and the child of God. The improvement of his own character becomes the chief object of his life; he lives in an internal, a spiritual world, conversant with things invisible. Has not such a man acquired a new life? Has he not indeed been “ born again ?" Thus may it appear, at the final day, that we have been “ born of God!”
Sad is this narrow span,
This grant of fleeting years ;
And finishes in tears.
But, Father! thou hast given
A hope of rest on high ;
Children of thee, we own
A new and heavenly birth;
Though sojourners of earth.
Born of thy Spirit, Lord,
Thy Spirit may we share;
And place thine image there.
Teach us to walk aright
On earth, as serving thee;
Thine to eternity.