William Stevenson.

A conference upon the miracles of our Blessed Savior : wherein all the objections against them proposed in Mr. Woolston's six Discourses, and several other greater difficulties, are fully stated and considered ... online

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tempied with better Wine than they had at firft.
N. I know not what plainer Signs of an
orderly Feaft, and fober Guefts, can be expected
than there are in this Cafe. A fober Perfon is
appointed Ruler of the Feaft, A number ofvery
grave and temperate Perfons are invited to it.
And the chief Gueft^who on. all occafions fhow'd
himfelf remarkably abftemious, fupply'd the
want of Wine by miraculoufly producing a fuf-
ficient Quantity. What can reafonably be
inferr'd from all thefe Appearances , but that
the Guefts, as well as the Bridegroom, were in-
tirely fober ?

M. Wou'd

Our S A v i o u R'J Miracle f. 1 <j 7

M. Wou'd any grave, ferious, and divine SECT. IV.
Perfon as you fuppofe Jefus to have been,
have voiichfafed his Prefence at an extravagant
and voluptuous Wedding ; where fuch Levitys,
Diverfions and Excefles were indulged, (among
the Jews, as well as in other Nations,) as were
not fit to be feen, much lefs countenanced by
the Saint you wou'd make of him.

N. There is nothing in the account St.
John gives us of this Wedding that can lead
you to think it was in the leaft extravagant or
voluptuous. On the contrary I have menti-
oned feveral Circumftances that rather inti-
mate the regularity and temperance of all
that were prefent. Tho' at Marriages, as well
as other Feafts, excefs and revelling are often
encouraged, and too freely pradtis'd ; it is un-
reafonable, and contrary to dayly Experience,
to fuppofe that there are Diforders and Intem-
perance committed at every Marriage-Feaft,
or friendly Entertainment. A wife Man will
no more be furpriz'd, or uneafy, at the harmlefs
Levitys, or innocent Diver/ions, that are ufed
on fuch publick Occafions j than he will en-
courage Excejfes of any kind. And left thofe
who are of a fowr, morofe and unfociable
Difpofition fhou'd have concluded from the
ferious, diftant, and referved Deportment of
JefuS) that he was an Enemy to fober Chear-
fulnefs and Good-humour ; it was highly fit
and expedient that he fhou'd, by his Pre-
fence at a Marriage-Feaft, mow his Difciples,
that upon proper occafions he approved and
readily encouraged innocent Mirth, Hofpitali-
ty, Friendfhip, an obliging Temper, and
every prudent way they cou'd take to mow
all due Refpedt, good Will and hearty Affeftion


i <j 8 A Conference upon

SFCT.IV. towards thofe they lived and converfed

*- x "v^->' with.

Dire. 4 . P . M. If Jefasy his Mother, and his Difciples
had no; been merry Folks in themfelves,
they wou'd have declin'd the Invitation of
the Bridegroom : nay, if they had not been
boon Companions and of comical Converfa-
tion, there had been no room at a Wedding
for them.

N. Seeing fuch grave and ferious Perfons
were invited to the Marriage, and accepted
of the Civility -, this is a fufficient Proof
that the Bridegroom and his Guefts were
more grave and fober than ordinary ; elfe
Jefus and his Friends wou'd not have been
invited. It cou'd not be expected that they
wou'd, by their Prefence, give the leaft En-
couragement to any fort of Excefs, or Dif-
order : they muft rather have check' t the
Mirth, and fpoilt the Sport, of fuch riotous
and diiTolute Revellers as you reprefent the
Guefts at Cana to have been.

Dire. 4. p. M. You may fancy what you pleafe of

3 1 ' Jefus' and his Mother's Saintihip, but the very

Text of the Story implys they were Lovers
of Good-fellow fhip ; or he had never upon
her Intimation turn'd fo large a quantity of
Water into Wine, after all or moft of the
Company were far gone with it.

N. I Ihowed you before that the Rabbi
miftook, and mifapply'd, the term jwe$vo9-<ri ;
and that there cou'd be no parallel intended be-
twixt the Cuftom at other Feafts, and the
Bridegroom's ConclucT: in this , there being a
manifeft difference taken notice of, by the
Ruler of the Feaft.

M. Is

Our SAVIOUR'* Miracles. \^g

M. Is not the unexpected want of Wine SECT. TV.
a plain token that the Guefts had drank too

N. The want of Wine might have been
occafion'd by their having more Company
than they expeded ; rather than by any Excefs
in drinking.

M. It is very unlikely that more Ihou'd
come to the Wedding than the Bridegroom
invited. And as he knew the Number of
his Guefts -, it is probable he made a plentiful
Provifion for them.

N. The Prefence of Jefus might draw
much Company to the Place. For befides
his Difciples, he always had many Followers
and Attendants, who came to hear his Doc-
trine: and thefe often pafl under the Name of
his Difdples. Wherever he went, we find
Multitudes crouding about him. And if this
happen'd in fome degree at Cana ; it is eafy
to account for the want of Wine at the Marri-
age'Feaft. For we maybe furethat the follow-
ers of Jefus wou'd be hofpitably received. And
if the poorer fort likewife tafted of the Bride-
groom's Bounty on this occafion ; the Wine
he provided might eafily fail.

M. Suppofmg that many poor People came
there for a Refrefhment , and that an unex-
pected number of Strangers followed Jefus ;
why muft they all be treated with Wine?
other Liquor might have ferved them well

N. Wou'd you have had the Bridegroom
treat them with Water ? Wine was the com-
mon drink of the Country i and the only Liquor
ufed at Entertainments. He cou'd not offer
the meaneft Stranger any thing elfe at his


i6o A Conference ufcn

SECT. IV. Wedding-Feaft. Now fmce Jefus by being
V*OfN*' prefent at it, probably drew a number of
People after him, which occafion'd the want
of Wine ; he might on that account be
the more willing to fupply them with fuch
a quantity as the prefent occafion requi-

DIE. 4. p. M. You cannot think there cou'd be

39 ' cccafion for twelve or eighteen Firkins of

Wine ; which is the quantity St. John fpeaks

of. This was enough to intoxicate the

whole Town ofCana.

N. The Syrian meafure which St. John
probably meant by JWST^TJJ?, held not quite a
Gallon ; fo that the whole fix Water-pots ufed
at theFeaft cou'd not contain above feventeen
Gallons at moft ; and perhaps only eleven, or
twelve. For feeing St. John does not tell us
exprefsly whether each Water-pot held three
Gallons, or only two ; we have as much
reafon to fuppofe they held the leffer quan-
tity, as the greater. But if we take the Me-
dium which is two Gallons and a half; then
the whole quantity of Wine, that Jefus mi-
raculoufly made of Water, did not exceed fif-
teen Gallons. Now fuppofing that moft of
the Guefts had drank fo plentifully as to need
no more : and that this quantity was chiefly
to be diftributed among the Followers of Jefus,
and the Poor that attended the Feaft; if there
were but about a hundred of them in all (which is
a very moderate Computation, confidering
what Multitudes always followed him ;) each
of them cou'd have had but little more than
a Pint, which you will own to be a very
fiber Refrelhment. So that this Miracle,
which you inveigh againft fo bitterly, fecms


Our SAVIOUR'/ Miracles. 161

really to have been the firft inftance of that SECT.I
Charity and Beneficence to a needy Multi-
tude, which Jefus fhowed on other occafions.

M. You are got again to your Suppoiitions
arid Conjectures ; St. John fays nothing of any-
Poor ; or of a number of People that followed
Jefus : and yet you fuppofe no lefs than a
hundred there ; merely to take-off the excef-
five quantity of Wine that Jefus furnifh't for
thofe who had drank enough, at leaft, before.

N. I only fuppofe that there were feveral
Poor at a Marriage-Feall : and that foma
of the Multitude that ufually followed Jefus
were likewife there. This Suppofition is in-
tirely agreeable to Reafon, Cuftom, and Ex-
perience; Whereas your Suppofitions are con-
trary to the known Character of Jefus and
his Difciples ; and to \hzjhort Account that
St. John gives us of the Marriage-Feafh
When Fads are briefly related, without the
particular Circumftances that attended them,
we muft judge of the Nature and Defign of
fuch Facls, according to the Account given
of them : and we muft fuppofe the unknown
Circumftances of them to have been fuch as
are agreeable to thofe that are related ; and
to the Character and Condud: of the Perfons
concern'd. St. John tells us that when the
Wine at the Marriage-Feaft was all ufed^
Jefus turn'd about fifteen Gallons of Water
into good Wine. The Queftion now is with
what view, and for whofe ufe he did this :
whether to make a Company of Sots quite drunk ;
or to give a neceffary and moderate Rcfreih-
ment to fuch a needy Multitude as we find
in the Gofpels attended him wherever he
\vent. Seeing the Evangdift is intirely filent
M upon

1 6 2 A Conference up on

f.c-r.IV. upon this Point, we ought certainly to con-
-"v^ elude the defign of the Miracle to be fuch as
was confiftent with the Character of Jefus,
and his general Conduct on other occafions.
Now we no-where find that he ever encourag'd
Excefs : but, on the contrary, he appears not
only temperate, but abftemious in the ufe of
lawful Pleafures. And as he himfelf al-
ways practifed, fo he recommended to his
Difciples, every thing that is righteous
and good. Therefore, feeing on other oc-
cafions, he fhow'd the greatelt Tendernefs and
Companion to the Multitudes that attended
on him i and fometimes relieved their Ne-
cefiitys miraculoufly , we have good Reafon
to fuppofe that the Wine he made at Cana
was defign'd, not to promote Riot and In-
temperance, as your Friend abfurdly imagins,
but to give a feafonable refrefhment to the
thirfty Multitude that followed him.

T. There can be no Reafon to think that
any Multitude followed him already. His turn-
ing Water into Wine was the firft Miracle
he wrought. He had not as yet enter'd upon
his pubUck Miniftry ; and cou'd not be known
enough to have many Followers.

N+ Tho' this was his firil -publick Miracle ;
it is likely he had wrought other Miracles of
a more private nature before this ; to awaken
People's Attention ; and to confirm the re-
peated Teftimonys that John the Baftift had
given to Jefus^ as being the MeJJiah. How-
ever, this Teflimony alone, from fuch an
eminent Perfon as John, cou'd not but fpread
j<*. ;. 15-, the Fame ofjefus every where. The Baptift
19, 25, 3- declared that he was only the fore runner of
the Me/iah who was foon to appear among


Our S A v I o u R'J Miracles: 1 6 $

them. ' And when Jefus came to Bethabara^Jobn SECT. IV.
declared Him to be the Perfon he fpoke of;
the true Meffiab, or the Son of GW ; and
pointed him out perfonally to others. Upon
which fome of John's Difciples forfook
their Friends and Imployments, and follow'd
Jefus. We have Reafon therefore to think
that feveral People might follow him for
Inftruction, when he was at Cana -, tho* not
fuch great numbers as flock't after him
from all Quarters, after that the fame of his
Miracles, made him more known every-where.
M. Seeing St. John is fo full and copious
on fome other Subjects ; particularly in his
long-winded Story about the Woman of Sa-
maria ; it is likely that if the want of Wine
at the Marriage, had been occafion'd by un-
expected Company of any fort, he wou'd have
given us fome hint of fuch an important Cir-
cumftance, for his Mailer's Credit ; and to pre-
vent the Sufpicion of his encouraging Excefs.
N. It is much eafyer to relate Facts concife-
ly, than Difcourfes. St. John is as fuccinct in
his Account of fome of Cbrift's other Mira-
cles, as of his turning Water into Wine. And
it is likely he had not fo much of the Spirit of
Prophecy as to forefee that, in future Ages, a
Sect wou'd arife, that fhou'd exceed the Sad"
ducees, in Scepticifm ; and the Pbarifees, in
Malice and Bigotry ; and put the rribft fpite-
ful, unjuit, and abfurd Conitru&ion upon the
Words and Actions of the moft prudent,
righteous, and beneficent Perfon thatevcr lived.
Butfuppofmg that none of the ufual Followers
of Jefus, nor any Poor, came to the Mar-
riage-Feaft, (nor even to the Houfe,) but thofe
only who were invited , (which is one of the
unlikelyeft Suppofitions that can be made;)
M 2 yet

1 6 4 -^ Conference upon

SECT. IV. yet many other Accidents might occafion the

VxVN*' want of Wine, however fober the Guefts
might have been. The Bridegroom perhaps
made too (lender Provifion for the Feaft.
He might have been difappointed of the
fupply he depended on : Or, the Wine he had
might happen to be fpoil't. The Marriage-
Feafl was probably kept a whole Week, ac-
cording to the Jeivijh Cuftom : and Jefus
might not come till the third Day. ; as the

job. u. i. - Evangelift's Words intimate plainly enough.
Now either of thefe Cafes will account for
the real want of Wine, without fuppofmg it
to have been wafted by Intemperance. And
the quantity that Jefus fupply'd, cou'd not
be too great, confidering the Number of
the Guefts ; and that the Solemnity was per-
haps to laft three or four Days longer.

M. According to y our-own lowComputation,
fifteen Gallons muft have been a Bottle a-
piece for fixty People, after they had all
drank enough before. And if the jUgT^-njV
held three Gallons as fome learned Criticks
fuppofe ; then every Perfon mult have had
about three Quarts for his mare.

N. There might hare been many more
Guefts at the Marriage than fixty : but we

see job. ii. cannot reckon fewer. For, Jefus, his Relations,
and his Difciples, who were but fome of the
Guefts occafionally invited, muft have made
a confiderable Part of that number. As
far as we can judge from the few Circumftances
that St. John mentions concerning this Mar-
riage ; fuch as, a Ruler of the Feaft , the
Servants that attended ; and the fix Water-
pots of Stone that were placed (perhaps in
different Rooms,) for warning of Pots, Cups,


Our S A v i o U RV Miracles.

&c\ the Bridegroom muft have been a Per-
Ton of Wealth and Diftinction, who celebrated
his Nuptials with great folemnity. Now
if a Provifion of Wine was to be made for
feveral Days, the largeft quantity you can
reckon the Water-pots to have held, cou'd
fcarce be too much. But fmce the JUST^TW
was probably a Syrian meafure that held
fomewhat lefs than a Gallon ; the fifteen
Gallons that the fix Water-pots contain'd
cou'd not be more than enough for the Day
when Jefus was prefent. There cou'd be
but little left after Supper ; and no danger
of Excefs, if all the Wine had been ufed.
But we cannot fuppofe that Jefus wou'd pro-
duce the precife quantity of Wine that might
be wanted, and no more. An abundant Pro-
vifion was more fuitable to his Goodnefs, and
his beneficent Power. When he muhiply'd
the Loaves and Fiihes, we find there were
twelve Baskets full of Fragments left, after
all the Company were filled. So when he
turn'ci the Water into Wine, he might chufe
to make more than was immediately wanted.
The report of this Miracle muft foon have
fpread about. And it was proper to fatisfy
the Curiofity of thofe who were afterwards
defirous to tafte of the wonderful Wine ;
becaufe it wou'd make the Miracle more pub-
lick and unqueftionable. The fPits of Cana
might fancy that the Wedding-Guefts were all
flit ; that they had loft their Tafte ; and
cou'd not diftinguifh betwixt Wim^ and
an artificial fort of Punch. But when thefe
wary Scepticks heard that fome of the mira-
culous Wine was left, and might perhaps
tafte of it themfclves, and be forced to ac-
M 3 knowledge

i 6 6 A Conference upon

SECT. TV. knowledge that it was really good WINE,
*-orw as the Guefts reported it to be , this muft
have put an end to their Cavils ; and have
convinced every one of Cbrift's divine Power.
Accordingly we find the effect of this Mira-
cle was, that by this Manifeftation of his
* Glory, (or miraculous Power) his Difciples,
or Followers, believed on him the more firm-

M. There is no Reafon to think that the

Wedding-Guefts wou'd leave any of the
good Wine for the conviction of Unbelievers.
No doubt they drank the Founder's Health
heartily ; and being encouraged by his good
Company, they faw the fix W T ater-pots fairly
empty ed before they went off.

.JV". Suppofing it had been fo ; all this
might be done without the leaft Excefs.
For having a Pattern of Sobriety and Abfle-
mioufne-fs before their Eyes, for whom they
cou'd not but have the moft awful regard ;
there cou'd be no danger of any Intemperance
while he was among them.

pifc. 4- P- M. If Jefus had been fo very fober as
you represent him, he had never fpoke fo
wafpifhly and fnappimly to his Mother, fay-
ing, Woman, what have 1 to do with thee ?
mine Hour is not yet come.

N. The Forms of addrefs, in fpeaking
to People, vary much in different Ages, and
Countrys. It wou'd look very rude and dif-
refpectful now 9 if any Son fhou'd fay to his
Mother, Woman -But in antient Times it
was otherwife. Then, People were generally

in this Place, John ii. II. and in ch.
ri. 40. and ch. xvii. 22. fignifys the Power of work-
ing Miracles.

Our S A v I o u R V Miracles. . 167

lefs formal ; and more fincere. Titles of SECT. IV.
Refpect were feldom ufed : among the meaner ^^T^J
fort they wou'd have been improper. In the
beft ?-':Ient Authors, the Term ywon is ufcd
on the tendered occafions, towards Per-
fonsofDiftinction, as well as others-, where no
difrefpect cou'd be defign'd by it. Why then
might not Jeftts ufe it to his Mother, (who
was of a mean Condition) when he reprov'dher
for a Fault ? He ufed the very fame Appel-
lation to thofe whom he || comforted, or -f com- ( j otl . Xx ., r .
mended. He ufed it to Mary herfelf, when * g Matt - *v.
upon the Crofs he gave her the moft diftin-
guifhing Mark of his filial Care, Refpect,
and Love ; by recommending her to the
Friendmip and Protection of his beloved
Difciple. WO MAN, (faid he) behold thy Son -, Job. *i x .
meaning St. John: and to him he faid, be-**'* 7 '
hold thy Mother : upon which the Apoftle
took her to his-own home. There is no
Reafon to find fault with the reply that
Jffus made to his Mother. He only faid rt

EjWcJ %.&} CQ\ yvvat j ovTrca \}KM y ugot {AX j which

mou'd be thus render'd ; Woman, what have
I to do with thee [now ?] Is not my time yet
come [to be mafter of my own Actions?]
This feems to be our Saviour's true mean-
ing. And if we confider the fuperiour and
divine Character he bore, astheMeffiab, or
the Son of God : and how ralh and unbecom-
ing it was in his Mother to take upon her,
now after his entering upon his Miniftry, to
direct or advife him as to the nature, or proper
time of his Actions, whether common, or mi-
raculous ; we cannot but think he gave her
a very gentle reproof for the indecent free-
dom fhe took. He cou'd not fay lefs, when
M 4 he

1 6 S A Conference up on

SKCT.IV. he meant to reprefs her forwardnefs for the
l-'Or^-' future ; and to vindicate his Authority and
Independence. As for the Words themfelves,
they have nothing in them that looks ill-na-
tured, furly, or wafpijh : and they might be
fpoken in a very mild and refpeclful manner.
.Indeed it is not fo much from the Words
themfelves, as from the accent and manner
in which they are utter'd, that we conclude
an exprefiion to be feevijo, pafiionate, or
wafpi/b. The fevereft Things may be faid
in a calm and decent way : and words that
are feemingiy kind and refpeclful may be
pronounc'd fnappi/bUy, or with a foeering
Aire, or Accent. Now there is no Reafon
to doubt, but our Saviour's mild reproof
was given in the gentleft and moft becoming

Dif c . 4 . p. M. Your modern Commentators are fadly
puzzled to make tolerable Sence of thefe
broken and abrupt Expreflions of Jefus ;
Woman, v:l:uii -.-^-"je I to do with tbee : mine
Hour is not yet cqtne. It is fuch a witlefs Sen-
tence as no Man in his fober. Senfes cou'd
have utter'd.

N. I dare fay you like the common Tranf-
lation of Cbrift's Words the better, becaufe
you think it makes them appear abrupt and
. witlefs. But certainly the more difficult and
obfcure the common Interpretation is, it is
the lefs likely to be true. Gregory Nyfen
had Reafon to fupply- a Point of Interroga-
tion here -, and to explain the Words as I
did before. This removes all Obfcurity ; and
makes Jefets's Aniwer to his Mother intirely
pertinent. It is true fhe only faid to him,
they have no Wine: but he knew by Her


Our SAVIOUR'/ Miracles. 169

way of fpeaking to him on other occafions, SECT. IV.
that Ihe meant thefe few Words as a requeft, ^VNJ
or intimation to him, to fupply fome miracu-
loufly : therefore he reply 'd, Woman ', what
bave I to do with thee [now?] Is not the
time yet come for me to be Mailer of my
own Conducl ? Tho* Mary underftood this
gentle reprimand to be a Caution againft her
intermeddling with his Actions for the future;
Ihe knew her prefent requeft was fo reafon-
able, that he wou'd comply with it, as foon
he found it a proper time. Therefore Ihe
defired the Servants to be ready to do what-
ever Jefus fhou'd require. In fine, there is
no greater Obfcurity in Marfs Words, and
his Anfwer to her, than we dayly obferve
in the difcourfe of intimate Friends ; who
often ufe, (and readily underftand) fuch dark
Hints, Intimations, and Replys, as to others
feem quite fencelefs and unintelligible.

M. You may wreft and wiredraw Jefus' s Dire. 4. p.
Words how you pleafe : but the Rabbi 3V
has hit-off the difficulty better than Nyjfen^
and all your Commentators, Antient, or
Modern. Jefus did not care to break Com-
pany fo foon as he imagined his Mother
wou'd have had him ; and therefore he told
her that bis Hour was not yet come to depart.
This Sence of the Words is plain, obvious
and natural: while your Interpretations are
all forced, and perplex't.

N. Nothing can be more eafy and na-
tural than that Conftruction ofCbrtft's Words
which I mention'd. The Sequel of the Story,
(and particularly what Mary faid to the
Servants) fhows plainly enough that her Words
to Jefus imply'd a requeit, or defire that


1 7 o A Conference upon

SECT. IV. he wou'd miraculoufly provide fome Wine
V ~"V^-' for the Feaft. His Anfwer to this is intirely
proper and pertinent. For, tho' he defign'd
to comply with her reafonable Expectation at
prefent ; he check' t her forwardnefs in the
Affair , and caution' d her againft meddling
with his Conduct for the future -, either by
way of Requeit, Advice, or Intimation of any
kind : feeing the time was now certainly come
for him to act independently of her, and to be
intirely Mafter of his-own Actions. Her in-
terpofing her Advice either as to the Na-
ture, Time, or Manner of his Miracles, or
his ordinary Conduct, feem'd to call his
Prudence in qi^eftion ; and to leffen his Cha-
racter : and therefore he was obliged to re-
buke her for her Indifcretion, and officious
Care. As for your Friend's bantering Inter-
pretation of this Paffage, all I need to fay
to it is, that it feems inconfiilent with the
Gravity and Wifdom of Jefus-, and the Dig-
nity of his Character : it makes St. John's
Account of this Tranfaction more broken
and unconnected than any other Conftruction
that ever was put upon the Words. And if it
were fuppofed to be true, it cou'd not in
the leaft affect the Credit of the Miracle ;
or be any Objection againit the Truth, or
the Greatnefs of it.

M. If Jefi>,s and his Friends flayed as long

Kfc. 4. p. as the reft of the Company-, however fober

56 and ferious they might have been, it is hard

to conceive them lefs than Spectators, and

even encouragers of Intemperance in others :

elfe Jefus after their more than fufficient

p drinking for the Satisfaction of Nature, had

never tyrn'd Water into Wine ; if he had


Our SAVIOUR'/ Miracles. 171

not had a mind (and took pleafure too) to SECT. TV.
fee the Company merry.

N. This is the fame Objection we had be-
fore , only in other Words. I need not
repeat the anfwer I gave to it. Since Jefus
fhowed himfelf intirely wife and good, and
cou'd not poflibly take Pleafure in any kind
of Vice, nor do any thing to encourage Ex-
cefs ; his fupplying Wine for the Feaft, by
a Miracle, is an evident Proof that it was
really wanted. And we may conclude both
from the quantity of Wine that was made,
and the occafion of it, that Jefus obferved and
knew the Guefts were fo fober, and well-dif-
pos'd, that they wou'd not abufe his Good-
nefs ; nor Riot upon his Bounty.

M. He cou'd not be fure of that : and
therefore it was quite wrong in him to lay
any Temptation in their way. This made him
anfwerable for all the Excefs that his new-
made Wine might draw them into.

N. If he had forefeen that fome of the
Company wou'd drink more than their mare

Online LibraryWilliam StevensonA conference upon the miracles of our Blessed Savior : wherein all the objections against them proposed in Mr. Woolston's six Discourses, and several other greater difficulties, are fully stated and considered ... → online text (page 13 of 31)