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a short time only, on account of the approach of the festival of the passover, to celebrate which he repaired to Jerusalem. We may, therefore, fix the commencement of Christ's preaching at the sixteenth year of Ti. berius. This is the only system the gospel presents. He celebrated the passover three times before his death; and the common opinion is, that his preaching lasted three years, or until the nineteenth year of the same emperor.
The rumours excited by the baptism and preaching of John, and the testimonies he bore in behalf of Christ, having died away on the imprisonment and punishment of the forerunner, and flight of the Messiah, the latter resumed courage, and thought that, with the assistance of his disciples, he ought to make a new attempt. Too well known or disparaged at Nazareth, and slighted by his kinsfolk, who, on all occasions, seemed to know what to think of him, Jesus quitted that ungrateful city on purpose to establish himself, as we have remarked, at Capernaum, in the sixteenth year of Tiberius. It was there that he betook himself to preaching his new system to some poor fishermen, and other low people. He soon found, however, that his mission was too circumscribed in that place : but to acquire same eclat, he judged it necessary to perform a miracle, that is to say, in the language of the Jews, some trick capable of exciting the wonderment of the vulgar. An opportunity occurred for this: some inhabitants of Cana, a small village of Galilee Superior, at the distance of about fifteen leagues from Capernaum, invited Jesus and his mother to a wedding. The married persons were poor, though St. John, who alone relates this story, gives them a steward ; yet he tells us, that their wine failed at the moment the guests were half intoxicated, or gay, and that the pitchers were found empty. On this Mary, who knew the power or the dexterity of her son, spoke to lim : They have no wine, said she, in an insinuating tone; Jesus answered her very roughly, and in a manner which evidently denoted a man warmed with wine: Woman, what have I to do with thee? It may however be supposed, that Christ had not totally lost the use of his reason, as he still possessed presence of mind to transmute water into wine, so that the miraculous wine was even found better than the natural wine they had drank at first.
This first miracle of Jesus was performed in presence of a great number of witnesses, already half drunk; but the text does not inform us, whether they were equally astonished the day following, when the fumes of the wine were dissipated. Perhaps, indeed, this miracle was witnessed by the steward alone, with whom it is not impossible Jesus had secret intelligence. The incredulous, less easily persuaded than the poor balf-intoxicated villagers, do not observe in this transmutation of water into wine, a motive for being convinced of the divine power of Jesus. They remark, that in the operation, he employed water in order to make his wine; a circumstance which may give room to suspect, that he made only a composition, of which he, like many others, might have the secret.*
* A supernatural event, in order to be believed, requires much stronger proofs than a fact no way contradictory to probability. It is easy to believe, on the testimony of Philostrates, that Appollonius existed, because his existence has nothing in it contrary to reason ; but I will not believe Philostrates, when he tells me that Appollonius performed miracles. I believe that Jesus Christ died; but I do not believe that he rose from the dead.-Boulanger.
in fact, no more power necessary to create wine, and fill the pitchers without putting water into them, than to make an actual transmutation of water into wine. At least, by acting in this manner, he would have removed the suspicion of having made only a mixture.
In whatever manner the miracle may have been performed, it appears to have made some impression on those who saw it, or who heard it related. It is certain Jesus profited by it to extend his mission even to the capital of Judea ; only giving time for his miracle to spread, in order to produce its effect. In expectation of this, he withdrew with his mother, brothers, and disciples, to Capernaum, where he remained till the festival of the passover (the time of which was near) should collect at Jerusalem a multitude of people, before whom he flattered himself with being able to open rate a great number of marvels,
JOURNEY OF CHRIST TO JERUSALEM-THE SELLERS
DRIVEN OUT OF THE TEMPLE-CONFERENCE
THE noise of the miracle at Cana having reached Jerusalem, by means of those who repaired to that city from Galilee, Jesus went there himself, accompanied by some of his disciples; but of the number of the latter we are ignorant. It was, as has been mentioned, the time of the passover, and consequently, a moment when almost the whole nation were assembled in the capital. Such an occasion was doubtless favourable for working miracles. St. John accordingly affirms that Jesus performed a great number, without, however, detailing any of them. Several of the witnesses of Christ's power believed in him, according to our historian ; but he did not place much confidence in them. The reason given for this is, “ Because he knew all men, and needed not that any should tes. tify of man; for he knew what was in man."*-In short, he knew every thing, except the means of giving to those who saw his miracles the dispositions ho desired.
* St. John ii. 24 and 25,
But, how reconcile faith in the wonders performed by Jesus, in these new converts, with the bad dispositions they were known to possess ? If he knew the state of mind of these witnesses of his miracles, why perform them with certain loss? In this there is a want of just inference in the writer, which must not, however, be imputed to Jesus. It is perhaps better not to refer to St. John in this matter, than to believe that his sagacious master would perform miracles without design, or for the sole pleasure of working them.
In the same journey to Jerusalem, Christ performed an exploit which is as great as a miracle, and evinces a very powerfularm. According to an ancient usage, mer. chants had established themselves, especially during the solemn festivals, under the porticos which environed the temple. They furnished victims and offerings to the devout, which they were to present to the Lord, in order to accoinplish the ordinances of the law; and, for the accommodation of the Jews who repaired thither from different countries, and for their own interest, the priests had permitted the money changers to fix their offices in this place. Jesus, who on every occasion shewed himself but little favourable to the clergy, was shocked at this usage, which, far from being criminal, tended to facilitate the accomplishment of the Mosaical law. He made a scourge of ropes, and, displaying a vigorous arm on those merchants, drove them into the streets, frightened their cattle, and overturned the counters, without any, in their astonishment, being able to oppose his enterprise. It may be conjectured, the people had no reason to be displeased with the disturbance, and that they profited by the money and effects which Jesus overturned in the paroxysm of his zeal. No doubt his disciples did not