Yale University. Class of 1842.

The Biblical repository and classical review, Volume 3 online

. (page 46 of 94)
Online LibraryYale University. Class of 1842The Biblical repository and classical review, Volume 3 → online text (page 46 of 94)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


of eighty or a hundred years with the movements of nature, the
aged naan entertains the same undiminished cmifidence in their
uniformity. So uniform* are her operations that we unhesitatingly
calculaite upon them. All men continue to believe that fire will
burn, and ice coel ; rivers flow, and the ocean bear ships upon its
bosouK And were her operations not thus uniform, what would
have been the result 1 The aged would have died with no more
advantage derived from their experience, than the infant of a week
old ; nor could we, from knowing the past, make any provision for
the future. How could the husbandman venture to sow his fields,
seeing he had as much reason to expect a hairvest of«ice and snow as
of gram. Such mnst have been the effect if man could not repose the
most impUeit confidence in the uniformity and regularity of nature*
Hence, perhaps, Gk>d allows the performance of miracles but sel-
dom, and at distant intervals ; lest he should diminish the confi-
dence which his creatures repose in>the uniformity of her operations*
<^ Thou hast established the earth and it abideth. They continue
this day according to thine ordinances ; for all (of them) are thy
servants.'?

Now if Grod is thus constant in the operations of nature ; if he
never disappoints that reasonable e^itpectation herein, which him*
self hath implanted within us ; I ask, will he disappoint the confi*
dence which we repose in his declarations — disappoint us without
any inducement for so doing ? Will he disappoint those who^labor
to serve him faithfully ; those whom he loves* $^ when he has all
nature obedient to his will ; and when it is just as easy for him to
fulfil his promises, as it could possibljjr be to break them ? Shall
we behold all things sure and settled in his works, and yet every-
thing unsettled ana indetermined in his revealed will % The very
idea is so monstrous that no sane mind could harbor it a moment.
For if he adheres to the principles established in creation, much
more will he adhere to everything that he has uttered. The
grounds of that confidence, therefore', which he has given us in
Uie constancy and uniformity of the operations of nature, and
which he never suffers to be disappointed, are even less strong
than that which we may exercise in relation^ to his promises. If
he will stand fast to his appointed ordinances in nature, much
more wilt he maintain hb own avowed and often repeated declara^
tions.

See here, follower of the Savior, the solidity of that ground oii
which you may rest your faith and confidence in Qod, notwith-
standing^all the mysterious and awful phenomena witnessed here.

Finalh^ ; the uncontrollable authority of Jesus Christ furnishes
also a (kUghtfu) ground of assurance. All power is his : corn-



Digitized by



Google



372 Orotmds of a Christianas Cof^ence [April,

pletely and entirely his. Would be then die for his people, and
yet fail to adopt all requisite measures to secure their ultimate sal-
vation, and to overcome \vhatever dangers and di£Sculties may
befiall them 1 He exercises perfect dominion over all creatures, and
over all events ; and by an Apostle he has assured us that all
things work together for the good of them that love God ; for them
who are the called according to his purpose. Whatever else we
cannot understand, this we can understand. Here we have solid
ground upon which to rest our hopes ; and reason for being joyful
even in sorrow. What ! would this all-powerful Redeemer permit
anything in the dark and mysterious events of this world to shut
us out of his love ? Never ! At his mercy-seat the child of God
will find an un&iling source of consolation. It is his hand that
administers all our chastisements ; and nothing can befall us but by
his permission. No mysterious trial or diflScuTty can meet us with-
out his will. Then there are express declarations on record, that
nothing shall tear the lambs of his purchase from the arms of their
Divine, shepherd. " They shall never perish, and none shall pluck
them out of my hands.'* See also Ps. 23 : 1, and 121 : 3, 4, and
Rom. 8 : 31-39. Now his power and authority are such that he
can fiiUy accomplish all these declarations.

Seeing then that the power of Jesus Christ is without limits, and
his authority uncontrolled, what has his Church to apprehend from
anything that can •befall it? What has the feeblest of all his flock to
fearl The terms accidents, fortune^ /ucA:, chance and casualty^ are
without meaning, as respects our state on earth— or if they have a
meaning, it can only be as names for the unknown operations of a
superintending Providence. Grod determines the direction of every
event. In his sight, that mass of confusion and disorder, which the
chaos of human affairs perpetually presents to our view, is all regu-
larity and order. He is superintending and directing all, and will
fulfil all his pleasure.

Where, then, is left any room for undue anxiety, or for immode-
rate care respecting events that occur or may occur in our earthly
course? This anxiety fills the heart with passions which annoy
and corrupt it ; and tend to alienate our affections from God, and
from the higher objects of virtue and religion. We mean not to
deny that something depends upon ourselves. The good man,
when devising his own way, and carrying out his plans, has his
appropriate place in an order of means which Providence employs
to bring about its designs, a part of which is his own ultimate hap-
piness. But it still depends upon an unseen hand, whether our
projects shall be overturned, or crowned with success. When you
have faithfully performed your duty, therefore, " take no thought
for the morrow.'' It is, with all its unfolded events, in the hands
of Grod ; and there we may entrust it with confidence and safety.

The most perfect science of human government cannot avoid.



Digitized by



Google



1847.] ifv l&e Divme AdminMrcUHm. 37S

oftentimes^ sacrificing individual interest to the general good. In
the Divine economy, however, this state of things has no existence^
God conducts his vast plans to perfection ; but never is the indivi-
dual interest of one virtuous being sacrificed to promote that end.
The ultimate general good is the ultimate good of every virtuous
individual of his innumerable family of intelligent and dependent
creatures. This is the perfection of government ; and this perfec-
tion exists in the Divine administration. It is precisely the system
unfolded to view in the Word of God. Rom. 8 : 38.

There is nothing, therefore, which should be permitted to shake
our confidence in the goodness and equity of God's moral govern-
ment. When we see nations overturning ; tyranny prevailing,
and the sacred cause of Poland and liberty trampled in the dust;
or when we see our own freedom tamely yielded by our degenerate
rulers into the hands of mobs and their ruffian leaders ; and our
blood-bought institutions threatened with subversion by the wily
emissaries of foreign despots; — orj on a smaller scale, when we
see infidelity prevailing; and the* church distracted through the
unhallowed passions of worldly spirits who have intruded within
her sacred enclosure; or see removed fVom our midst the most
needed and useful of our Savior's followers — shall these things dis-
may usi Shall we tremble for the ark of God, or doubt the ulti-
mate triumph of his cause on earth ? Never ! We will confide in
Thee, blessed Jesus : assured, that though *' clouds and darkness
are round about Thee, righteousness and judgment are the esta-
blishment of thy throne."

"Thus sustained and comforted, the child of God can flee to his
bosom when anxious, afflicted, or, oppressed. Here, the feeblest
of the flock will meet an equal welcome with the strongest ; and
shall not fail to find hope and comfort. Folk)wer of Jesus, be con-
tent there to abide : ^^ For the mountains shall depart, and the hills
be removed ; but my kindness shall not depart from thee ; neither
shall the covenant of m-y peace be removed, saith Jehovah, who
hath mercy upon thee." ^* When thou passest through the waters,
I will be with thee ; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow
thee : when thou walkest through the fire, thou sbalt not be burnt,
neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy
God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior."" Is. 64 : 10, and 43 : 2, 3.



Digitized by



Google



ARTICLE Vni.

EXPOSITION OF JOHN U : 4.
Traiulated from the Oeraun of Dk. W. F. Bbmbk, bj Prof. Wm. M. Bcthoum, aettjflbBrg, P«.

Considerable difficulty still attaches to those words of our Sa-
Tior : Ti ifiol Kal oo2, y^pat ; oibroi ?jxc» ^ &(^a fiov^ in which he refuses the
request indirectly made by Mary in the remark, ojyop 6vx Ixovai, In
the following hints we shall endeavor to show, that the granting of
Mary's requeert by our Lord, in the miracle of changing the water into
wime, is not contradictory of his previous refusal ; but that between the
two moments of refusal and tx>mpliance, something intervenes which
presents a sufficient motive for our Lord's change of conduct.

In the first place, it may be considered as decided, that Mary, when
directing the Savior's attention to the want of wine, desired and ex-
pected a miraculous supply from him. Bengel remarks upon the words,
oXvov 6vx Ix^vai — " She says, I wish you to retire, that tihie rest of the
company may do the same, before their poverty is exposed. Such
being Mary's idea, the answer of Jesus is not only not harsh, but fall
of affection." According to this, our Lord, in the words, oUmw ^c* ^
^iqa ftovj would merely say ; '^ the hour for doing what you suggest, t. a.
retiring, is not yet come. But the hour for aiding was come." This
explanation does not accord with the phrase 4 ^9** f^^ which Bengel
himself appears to have felt. It would be singular indeed, for our
Lord to express the idea, '^ I shall remain," by the words, ^^ Mine hour
10 not yet come." In John 7 : 6, to which an appeal may be made, the
phrase, d xoci^; 6 hfi6c^ results from the contrast with d xaigdg 6 iffihegog^
and even here, there is implied in the words, ^' My time is not yet
come," more than the mere refosal to go to Jerusalem ; they at the
same time answer the appeal, '^ Show thyself unto the world." As his
time to show himself unto the world was not yet come, so neither was
his time to travel publicly to Jerusalem yet come. And further, it
does not appear that our Lord's language would lose any of its harah-
ness, by supposing this to be Mary's meaning. The expression, IT
ifiol xal aoly y^vai f does not naturally harmonize with the construction
which Bengel puts upon it. But, finally, and this would of itself
decide the matter, the context is throughout opposed to this explana-
tion. Mary directs the servants to obey the Savior's orders ; she there-
fore evidently expects some sort of relief from him. But that she was,
as Bengel will have it, first brought by our Lord's answer to the idea,
that as he would not retire he would perform a miracle, can scarcely
be made to appear probable. In the same way does Mary's state of
feeling, as made known by her words to the servants, stand opposed to
Calvin's view, according to which her words, oIpop 6vx lj|fova», merely
exhibit her ^' anxious sympathy," whilst she neither expected nor re-



Digitized by



Google



1641] jtKposiiion(fJbhn2:4. 370

quested* a miracle, but merely desired '^ that he would address a pious
exhortation to the guests, ipiiiich would both prevent them becoming
weary, and relieve the bridegroom from the shame that he might other-
wise feel" [in consequence of the poverty of his entertainment] . Our
Lord's answer would be altogether inapplicable, or, at least, very ob-
scure, if this were Mary's meaning. This interpretation has evidently
arisen from apprehension of contradictin| the express declaration of
V. 2 : " This beginning of miracles." If Mary were supposed to expect
a miracle from the Savior, whilst such an expectation could have been
grounded only upon some miracle previously performed. Tholuck is of
the opinion that the difiGicultycan only be met by the assumption, ^' that
Jesus had previously performed miracles in the circle of his family,"
and that V. 11 refers to the commencement of public miracles; and
Olshausen presumes that the Lord must have given his mother some
intimation that he was about to display his miraculous powers upon this
occasion. How Olshausen arrived at this idea is incomprehensible to
us ; in fact it would be an extremely forced construction to assume that
Jesus had, in anticipation of the approaching want of wine, given
Mary to understand that he would supply it in a miraculous manner.
It is certainly possible that the Savior had, during his abode at Naza-
reth, given some proofs of his miraculous powers ; and supposing this to
have been the case, v. 11 must be understood as Tholuck suggests.
But not only do the canonical gospels give us no intimation of such
"miracles in the circle of his family," but the only information that
they give uS of this circle, is that Jesus was ^' sulbject unto his pa-
rents," and labored with his foster-father at his trade as a carpenter
(Luke 2 : 51, Mark 6 : 3); and this miracle of the humiliation of the Son of
God, who submitted to the law, seems rather to lead us to regard the
miracle at Cana, as in the strictest sense t^v dgx^v x<bv (rrjfiBAav (the be-
ginning of miracles). Notwithstanding this, we maintain that it is
more difficult to believe that Mary would not expect miracles and signs
from Jesus, than that she would. What ? Mary, who had praised the
Lord on account of this child, because, in spirit, she saw ihe deliverer of
Israel making his appearance in him ; Mary, who kept the words of the
shepherds and pondered them in her heart ; who had heard Simeon's
prophecy ; who had treasured in her soul the first words of Jesus of
which we^are informed, although she did not' fully comprehend them ;
and now looked at the holy and quiet walk of her son in the light of all
these prophecies and promises, and beheld him mighty in spirit, and full
of wisdom ; Mary, who had just seen the Lord go forth from his pater-
nal house, and present himself before the people as a divine teacher ;
is it possible that this Mary should not have expected the manifestation
of her son's glory, and not have believed him possessed of miraculous
powers } It might indeed be objected (and Olshausen has this objec-
tion in his mind), not in general to Mary's expectation, that Jesus
would manifest his glory through miracles, but to her expectation of
one in this particular case. This objection is connected with a view of
the miracle of changing the water into wine in which we do not partici-
pate. It is intimated that the Lord did not regard this occasion as the
most suitable for manifesting his glory (^^ less suitable, though not un-



Digitized by



Google



g/6 Es^positkm of Jbhm 2 : 4. [April,

gaitable, says Tholuok), and employed it only out of oomplaisMaoe to-
wards Mary ("as an adffeotionate son"). The connexion which this
view appears to have with our Lord's answer to Mary's request will be
met hereafter. The very doubtful disti&ction between less suitable and
unsuitable is unworthy of him who always did what was beatj as he did
that which he saw his Father do. That the change of water into wine
was a less suitable and becoming manifestation of the Lord's glory, than
his other miracles, can be asserted only by those who misapprehend the
true character of this miracle. Lilcke says, " The difficulty is that a
very unimportant occasion, a passing emergency in social Ufe, not to
say in a revel, which might have been relieved in some other way, serves
to the manifestation of his glory. The correspondence of a worthy occa-
8it)n seems wanting here." In order to remove this supposed singular-
ity, it is not enough, nor is it necessary to refer with Lticke, to the
miracle of the piece of money taken from the fish's mouth, nor to our
Savior walking upon the sea. Is there not revealed,, in the miracle be-
fore us, that condescending kindness which is so glorious in our Lord ;
that love which not only distributes bread to those who would other-
wise faint in the wilderness, but goes so far as to grant relief where
honor was in danger ? Jesus might, to be sure, have said, ' If they have
no wine, let them drink water V — but this he would not do ; he would
much rather encourage us to regard the fourth petition in his prayer,
broad enough to comprehend Luther's long exposition ; he would strength-
en our confidence to do as the Apostle says, namely — in '' all things to
make known our requests unto God with prayer and supplication"
(Phil. 4:6). Nor do we understand why Liicke so decidedly opposes
Olshausen's symbolical explanation of the miracle. It is true we also
regard it as rather bold to find in this a special contrast with the '^ Bap-
tist^s earnest call to repentance ;" but we have no hesitation in assum-
ing, that our Savior in the very outset, wished his kindness and good-
wul to men to be displayed by this wonder. And so if there was no-
thing objectionable in our Lord's peiPforming the miracle, neither was
there any impropriety in Mary's expecting it upon so common an oo-
casion. It is another question, whether Mary made her request in
a proper frame of mind.

Our Lord's answer : TC ifiol xal <Tot\ ^ivai ; compels us to assume that
Mary did not make her request in a proper frame of mind. She would
have been in such a frame if she had borne in mind, that the Lord's
miraculous power, even when displayed in ministering and compassion-
ate love, must still have the manifestation of its glory as its end and
aim. For this manifestation it became her quietly to wait, undisturbed
by carnal impatience. Now, whether it was, that she lost sight of the
divine object of the Savior's miraculous power, lowering it to thai
which was merely human, and the occasion of her appeal to it ; or
whether she wished impatiently to hasten the manifestation of her son's
glory, which she had long been expecting, she receives from the Lord,
who undoubtedly knew her feelings, a decided reproof in the words : ti
IfixA xai aotf yivai. ; The word y<>yai^ as has frequently been observed, haa
not indeed the harshness of our word '' troman," yet it is plain that
Hrf/^ would be entirely foreign to the passage brfore us, and even yi^f^*



Digitized by



Google



1847.] HgpontKmitf JbkHfi: 4. 877

intimates the position which our Lord took towwds his mother, whom
he did not know after the flesh (2 Cor. 6 : 16). The form of refusal :
tl ifiol xai aol — ^h) 'S-HO confines Mary to her proper sphere ; for it was

not between her and her son, but between God and his Son, that it was
to be determined when and how the Lord would manifest his glory.
The words contain a reproof similar to thpse to Peter : Oh g>Q0P6ts Td
Tov deovy all& rdi libp ifdQdmtor (Matt. 16 : 23). Thus are the follow-
ing words closely connected : oihtta ^ei ^ &Qa fwv. This is clearly eqxLiva-
lent to-^" The appointed time for manifesting my glory by a mirade
(v. 11) is not yet come ; desist, therefore, from your request, for my
Father has given me the power of working miracles only for the exhi-
bition of my glory." It* is too far-fetched, to understana by ^i &Qa fiovy
the hour of the Glorification of the Son by the Father, of entrance into
his glory after the suffering of death, and to give Mary's request this
m€Uning : ^^ It is now the time for thee to reveal thyself as the Lord
and king of Israel." But if the words of our Lord cannot be taken in
any other sense than that which has been given, the question arises,
how is it to be explained, that the Lord, as if in the same breath,
rejects and fulfils Mary's request ? It is answered, that Jesus had
expressed himself only in reference to that time ; when he turned to the
servants with the words, " Fill the water-pots with water," then it is
said, his hour was come ; when Mary presented her request, it had
' not yet come. Admit this ; yet without it is shown that something
transpired between these two moments, whereby the hour came, the
declaration cannot be freed from intolerable harshness, and will appear
like an evasion. The passage in John 7 : 3, etc., even if the reading
in V. 8 should be oibc rather than the explanatory duTroi, admits of no
comparison with that before us, for John removes the seeming contra-
diction of hv% dyft/Ja/yw with hvi^r^hj the additional statement (v. 10),
od g>apsQ(bg^ iiXV &s kp xqvnjfS ^ which words refer to the tpavk^uov of his
brethren, with which the Lord had refused to comply (oomp. LUcke in
loco).

According to our view, the key for the solution of the difficulty is
found in the conduct of Mary. The Lord had denied her request, with
^e distinct declaration that the appointed time for the manifestation
of his glory was not yet come. What does Mary now do ^ She says
to the servants, " Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it !" In this con-
duct wo filrst observe her humility. She willingly submits to the words
of the Lord's reproof ; she no longer proposes to interfere with her
oounsel or assistance in his work ; she will stand still and let him have
his own way. But Mary's faith is also manifested in those words.
She has found something in the Lord's answer to which her faith
adheres ; she believed that the hour which was not yet come, might,
yea, would soon come — she is so confident in this belief that she pre-
pares the servants for obedience to him. When the Lord saw her faith,
then his hour was come. The faith of the humbled Mary is the con-
necting link between the rejection and the granting of her request.
Her perverted, self-willed state of heart had hindered the manifestation
of the Lord's glory ; her submission and her reliance upon his good-
ness carried along with them the manifestation of his glory. The his-



Digitized by



Google



878 SapasUimqfJohm9:A. [April,

Aory of the CaiutamtiBh woman preflents a striking parallel. Here, as
there, we have the humbling, purifying refusal of the Lord ; here, too,
the same willing humiliation and faith, ^^ that clearly hears a yea,
where sounded simply nay," and, as it were, takes the Lord in his own
words [Lowth] ; and here, also, we haye the Lord's compliance, who
suffers himself to be oyercome by the yiolence of faith in his own people.
In the history of the nobleman's son also (John 4 : 47, etc.), Ihe Lord
manifests this willingnesss to be oyercome (sichdberwindenlassen).
Without Mary's faith the Lord's time would not haye come then ; and
it was this yery faith, that does not know, but trusts — as Luther says
— ^which the Lord would deyelope in her. It does not make against
our explanation, that John (y. 11) says, his disciples belieyed upon
him, whilst the point must rather be the strengthening of Mary's faith,
if she is to be made so prominent. That Mary's faith was stren^h^
ened by the manifestation of the Sayior's glory, is so clearly deriyed
from the narratiye, that an express statement to this effect would haye
been a superfluous appendage ; but that a salutary impression was
made upon the discipks, is mentioned by John as a part of his own
experience, and it would haye been a defect if he had not mentioned
this, especially upon the occasion of the first miracle that Jesus per-
formed. This is an intimation of the influence exerted upon the disd-
ples by the subsequent displays of Christ's power.

We do not, howeyer, mean to assert that the miracle was performed
exclusiyely or eyeu principally for Mary, when we say that it was occa-
sioned by her faith. The miracle from which flowed the salyation of
the whole world, was also receiyed through the medium of Mary's faith.
In this way we think that the difficulty inyolyed in the passage which
we haye been considering may be most simply sqlyed. uisteaa of the
unseemly assumption, that the Lord did anything as the son of Mary«
which, as the Son of God, he did not consider proper to do, and instead
of the indefinite assertion, that when the Lord - performed the mirade,
the appointed time for ihe manifestation of his glory was come, it
results from our simple exposition, that Ihe Lc»rd granted to humble
faith, what he denied to the fleshly miiM.



Digitized by



Google



ARTICLE IX.



Digitized by



Google



380 OrUical Notices. [April,

3. RsUfry of the Discovery and SeUlemeiU of the VaUey of (he Mississippi^ bp Spai%
FVance did Qreai Britain^ and the subsequent Occupation^ SeUUment^ and Exten-



Online LibraryYale University. Class of 1842The Biblical repository and classical review, Volume 3 → online text (page 46 of 94)