A MARIAGE FEAST.
IOH. 2. 1—12.
1. And the third day there was a Mariage in Cana of Galile; and the Mother of Iesus was there.
2. And both Iesus was called and his Disciples to the Mariage.
3. And when they wanted Wine, the Mother of Iesus said vnto him; They haue no Wine.
4. Iesus said vnto her; Woman, what haue I to doe with thee? mine houre is not yet come.
5. His Mother said vnto the Seruants; whatsoeuer he saith vnto you, do it.
6. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, after the Iewish manner of Purification, con∣teyning two or three firkins a-peece.
7 Iesus said vnto them; Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them vp to the brim.
8 And he said vnto them; Draw out now and beare vnto the Gouernor of the Feast. And they bare it.
9 When the Ruler of the Feast had tasted the Water that was made Wine, not knowing whence it was, (but the seruants that drew the water Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page 2 knew) the Gouernor of the Feast called the Bridgrome,
10. And said vnto him; Euery man at the beginning setteth forth good wine; and when men haue well drunke, then that that is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine till now.
11. This beginning of Miracles did Iesus in Cana of Galile; and manifested forth his glory: and his Disciples beleeued in him.
I Cannot handle euery thing in this Storie, which shall offer it selfe: But must only insist vpon those parts ther∣of, that may most directly concerne this present so∣lemnitie.
The maine scope & drift of this whole Narration seems to be this.* To shew, what an honourable estimation and account our blessed Sauiour Iesus Christ, doth make of the holy and honorable estate of Mariage, notwithstanding that himselfe was borne of a Virgin, and did him∣selfe in his owne person liue and die a Virgin.
This honourable estimation of his, is manifested, In his gracing and countenancing, the solemniza∣tion of this speciall Mariage, mentioned in this Storie.
Our Sauiour graceth and countenanceth it two manner of wayes.
- 1. By his presence and companie at the Feast.
- Page 3 2. By working a miracle at it, and that the first miracle that euer he wrought.
Of both these in order; omitting to speake any thing, of the matters that passe betweene Christ and his Mother, betweene Christs Mother and the Wayters, betweene Christ and the Wayters, and betweene the Gouernor of the Feast and the Bride∣groome. Because the Doctrine flowing from these particulars, is not so pertinent to this present Occasion.
But before that we descend into particulars, let vs first in the generall obserue from the maine scope and drift of this Storie, this instruction.
That the more that Sathan and his accursed Imps,* shall labour to disgrace and discountenance any sacred Ordinance of God; the more will God grace and honour the same.
The truth of this appeares in no one thing more, then in this matter of Mariage. It is wonderfull to consider, how the Diuell hath euer laboured to disgrace and put it out of countenance: How he hath made the day of ones Mariage, as ignomini∣ous and reprochfull, as if it were the day of ones publique penance or execution; what laughing and scoffing, what flearing, jering, and nodding the head is there, not onely of such as are yet single, but of those that are themselues maried persons; not only of profane swaggerers, and those of the damned crue (as they are called) but of those (many times) that haue the reputation of Ciuill honest men, yea of Professors of Religion. In so much, as if those that are to be knit togither in this sacred bond, were Page 4 to measure their estate by the mindes, words, and ordinarie behauiours of the Spectators, yea many times of those, who seeme to honor the Solemnitie with their presence and attendance: It were better for them to stand as long in a white sheet, or to be carted thorow the streets, then to present themselues into the Congregation to knit this holy and invio∣lable knot. For in that case lightly you should haue none but vnhappy boyes, and such persons as are naught themselues, to make signes of disgrace; good mindes vse to pitie them that are so publikely (though deseruedly) disgraced. But here, for the most part, all, good and bad, old and young, set themselues, though not with their hands, yet with their hearts, countenances, and words, to cast durt and puddle water in the faces of those that are to enter into this Calling, as if they were to enter into a Calling most sinfull, and shamefull, and most odi∣ous and vile both in the eyes of God and man.
This is indeed a hellish and damnable iniquitie; but behold yet a greater iniquitie then this: Sathan hath so wouen his owne impuritie, with the pure Ordinance of God, that a Mariage, is accounted no Mariage, if it be not solemnized with beastly and profane Songs, Sonnets, Ijggs, indited by some hel∣lish Spirit, and chaunted by those, that are the pub∣lique incendiaries of all filthy lusts; and these are ordinarily made in the scorne and derision of this Holy Estate, to delight and solace the Guests with∣all. But indeed they tend to no other end, but to despite and disgrace this worthy Ordinance of God, and to make it seeme in the eyes of men, Page 5 nothing else but a matter of obscenenesse and fil∣thinesse. So that if God himselfe had not had a spe∣ciall care, to vphold, to grace and countenance this Estate, by how much more Sathan laboureth to make it odious and vile, all the world long before this, had bin a very Stewes and Brothel-house. See then, the care that God hath to honour this ancient Ordinance of his; how (notwithstanding that Sa∣than hath euer done his vttermost to disgrace it, and make it vile) God subjecteth the whole world vnto it, not fooles onely, but wise, not poore, but the richest, not profane persons onely, but the holiest and the religiousest that euer were, not base persons, but Kings and Emperors: So that not onely all sorts and degrees of men, but in a manner euery man and woman in the world, he bringeth vnder this yoke; so that the whole world (to account of) is as it were, but a maried person: And this is so much the more to be wondred at, that the Diuell can make that so shamefull, which is so common. It is not so in sinnes, nor it would not be so in this, if it were not a speciall diuine Ordinance.
This should incourage vs,* with all alacritie and confident Spirits, to submit our selues to any of Gods Ordinances, and with so much the greater courage and heart, by how much the more contem∣ptible, & despised, they shall appeare to be amongst men. For the more that men do despite Gods Ordinances, the more will God honour the same, and those that with honest hearts shall vndergo the same. You may see Gen. 2. that the very first worke that God did, after the very first creation of man Page 6 and woman, was his marying of man to woman: and you see here, that one of the first Wonders that Christ wrought was in honour of a Mariage.
We come now to the first point, wherein Christ graceth and honoureth Mariage, and that is, by vouchsafing his presence at the solemnization of it, or at the Mariage Feast.
Wherein these two points are to be considered in order.
- 1. The inviting of Christ vnto the Mariage.
- 2. His comming vnto it, being invited.
From the first point let vs learne these Instructi∣ons in order.*
That the Mariage Feasts,* and Solemnities of Christians, ought so to be ordered, that nothing ought to be done or committed therein, that may not beseeme the presence of our Sauiour Christ.
Of this iudgement and affection were these Par∣ties, that at this time invited our Sauiour Christ, else they would neuer haue invited him. For far be it that we should thinke, (yea the Storie shewes the contrary) that these Persons called Christ to this Feast, to vex and greiue his Soule, with scurrile and ribald merriments, and with wanton and vnchast sports & delights; or that for reuerence of Christs presence, they excluded and laid aside any lawfull delights fitting such an Exercise; and therefore, though there was a solemne Feast at this Mariage, and though out of question the day was spent in delights and pleasures, (as is most meete for such matters) yet they were such delights and pleasures, as they durst call our Sauiour Christ vnto, yea and make him a partaker of.
Page 7 Fie therefore and a shame of such mirth as doth not beseeme the presence of Christ,* of such words, as beseeme not his eares, of such actions and exer∣cises as beseeme not his holy eyes; such mirth and pastime is not befitting any Solemnitie, much lesse so honorable a Solemnitie, as Mariage is or ought to be, which is a sacred knot, whereby two persons are inviolably knit togither by the hand of God. As therefore this day, many of you are called to feast and rejoyce with these Parties, that are to be vnited in a faithfull bond: So I beseech you, as you will answer it before the Lord, and looke for a blessing vpon these Parties, in loue of whom you are assem∣bled, that you would looke to your mirth, and see whether it be such, as in your Consciences you are perswaded, that Christ Iesus himselfe, if he were pre∣sent, would not be offended, but well pleased with it. Consider whether thy mirth and laughter be such, as Christ Iesus would be delighted therein with thee: For Christ our head, mourneth with those that mourne in him, and rejoceth with those that rejoyce in him: Otherwise assure thy selfe, that that plea∣sure of thine, with which Christ Iesus is displeased, shall be turned into paine; that that ioy of thine, wherein Christ doth not ioy with thee, shall be tur∣ned into sorrow; that laughter of thine, that is of∣fensiue to him, shall be turned into teares. There cannot be a greater wrong offred▪ to a man, then for any to make themselues merry with that, which shal greiue and vex him: How much more is it an hai∣nous wrong vnto God, when men shall be assem∣bled to solace & delight themselues in those things, Page 8 which doe anger and displease him. Especially at such a time, when he should be moued to bestow a blessing vpon the Parties married; and then, when we begg all joy and comfort for them at the hand of God. Verily, the monstrous profane abuses that ordinarily vse to be vpon such Occasions, are no doubt the speciall causes, of so many curses, that the Lord layeth vpon many that enter into this honou∣rable state, when the same shall in such vile manner be profaned and abused by them.
Secondly,* the example of these virtuous persons that were maried in Cana, and of them that made this Feast, is to be imitated of all true Christians, that haue giuen their names to Iesus Christ: they must call Christ Iesus to their Wedding, they must invite him to their Mariage Feast.
And great reason it is, that among others, nay aboue all other Guests, Christ Iesus should be one.
For 1.* If you that are to be maried be Christi∣ans, Christ Iesus is the greatest frend that you haue in the whole world, in heauen, or in earth: And nature and custome hath taught men this, to call their cheifest and best frends to their Weddings. So that inviting others and passing by him, it shewes that they make higher account of others then of him, and that (at the least) he is none of their dearest frends. And they are deadly enemies to Christ that take not him to be their dearest frend.
2.* As Christ is the dearest frend to euery true Christian, so is he the neerest neighbour: Thou needs not send far for him, he is deere alwayes, and Page 9 at hand to those that call vpon him: And it is the vse euer to invite our neerest neighbours, if they be our frends. Now the Diuell is his Inmate, who hath not Christ for his neerest neighbour.
3.* There is none hath more interest in the Bride and Bridegroome, then Christ Iesus. He first gaue them both to their Parents; He hath kept and pre∣serued them to this estate; He it is that hath giuen them their health, wealth, strength, beauty, & what∣soeuer is worthy or louely in them: He could take it away at his pleasure againe; yea he could in a moment take the Bride from the Bride-Grome, and on a sudden, and in the twinckling of an eye, turne all this preparation of joy into heauinesse and greife.
4.* All Christians, are the Sonnes and Daughters of God, and they are married in the house of God: Their Parents vpon earth are but Gods deputies. What a shame were it then to exclude Christ Iesus, and not to invite him?
5.* He sends all those things, wherewith thou solemnizest thy feast: they are all his presents. And wilt thou faile to invite him, that sendeth prouisions in so franckly and liberally to thee?
6.* Who is it but Christ Iesus, that can blesse any Mariage, and make it comfortable and joyfull to the Parties? Who but he can curse it, and make it an yron yoke to both the parties? Therefore great cause there is to invite him aboue all other.
But alas (it will be said) Christ is now in heauen, and will not come, though he should be invited; That for our parts wee would count our selues Page 10 happy, if he would vouchsafe to come to vs.
I answer, that though Christ Iesus be locally ab∣sent in regard of his bodie, yet in regard of his Spi∣rit he is present: and if mens hearts were set vp∣on him, as they ought to be; if they did but desire his presence, they should finde his presence, euen in as comfortable a manner, as if he should descend from the Right Hand of his Father, and in his bo∣die, goe with the Bridegrome and Bride to Church, and sit downe at the table with them.
You therefore that are interessed in this present Action,* where so many Guests are invited, examine your owne Soules and Consciences, whether you haue not forgotten the principall Guest: It were better that the day of thy Mariage had bin the day of thy Buriall, then that it should be said, Thou wast married, and Christ Iesus not remembred: And therefore if your Consciences smite you in this, see that before you goe out of this place you invite him: It is not too late; thou art now in his presence, lift vp thy heart and minde, and desire him, that he would be present, and that thou maist haue his blessed companie; and then you shall be sure of a blessed and joyfull issue.
Thirdly,* Christians that would haue Christ Iesus present, at their Feasts and Mariage-Solemnities, may learne hence, what persons they are to invite to keep Christ company. For in the Text it is specified of this Wedding, that the Mother of Christ was there, and the Disciples of Christ; all godly persons, all speciall frends vnto Christ. We say in the Prouerbe, Its merry when frends meet;Page 11 And we know by experience, that if men invite their speciall frend, they will haue a care what company they entertaine him withall. If it may be, they will take order that some that they know he loueth shall be invited to keepe him company, at least such as they thinke he doth not hate. Neither can a man doe his frend a greater wrong, then to invite him to feasting and merri∣ment, when togither with him, he inviteth such as will by all possible meanes disgrace & despite him.
Beloued,* Christ Iesus is the dearest frend thou hast in the world, what interest he hath to be a bid∣den Guest, to all Christian Mariages, I haue shewed before. There's none but will say, they haue called Christ Iesus to their Mariage, and do desire aboue all things, that he would bestow a blessing vpon them; you come to the Church in this solemne manner, to that very end and purpose to call him: But how doe Christians vse Christ Iesus at such times? Certainly men vsually prouide Christ such companions, as if they should rake hell for them. Such as set themselues, by blasphemie, ribaldrie, and all kinde of profanesse, to despite Christ Iesus, and to offer all indignities possible to Him and his Re∣ligion. Is it therefore any wonder, that Christ his own ordinance to some should proue a curse; when he himself, in the solemnization thereof, shall be in such a manner cursed and blasphemed, and when men at such times in steed of inviting the Mother of Christ and his Disciples, to keepe Christ com∣panie, shall bid Annas, and Caiphas, and Malchus, and other such like mates, whom they know will Page 12 set themselues to disgrace and scorne Iesus by all possible meanes.
In the second place it is to bee considered,* that Christ commeth to the Mariage Feast being called.
Whence in order, let vs obserue these Instru∣ctions.
First,* the wonderfull meeknesse and lowlinesse of Iesus Christ; that being called, would vouchsafe his presence, to countenance and grace the mariage of these two Persons, who as it seemes were but some poore couple, else they would in all likely∣hood haue forecast to haue had wine enough. It would be thought a folly worthy to be chronicled, if a Swineheard or a Shepheard, should presume to invite the King, and his Councell, to his wedding. All the Kingdome would be in a wonderment, if being so invited, they should come and grace his Mariage with their Presence and with Gifts. Is it not much more to be wondred at, that the King of Glory, the Eternall Sonne of God should descend so low, to grace with his high and holy presence, so base and lowly a Couple.
As Christ was,* so ought much more all his Mi∣nisters to be: Kings and Princes may and ought in such Cases to keep State; but it must not be so with the Ministers of Christ; They must be as Christ and his Apostles were,*All vnto all, that they may gaine some. Though they ought to rebuke Kings and Emperors when they are called vnto it, yet they ought also to subiect themselues to the mea∣nest and lowest of Gods people, and should not Page 13 thinke much to goe to the meetings of the meanest, if a Christian Soule should desire it.
Obserue secondly,* what a wonderfull grace and countenance herein Christ sheweth to this Ordi∣nance. Verily, if he had done no more, but this, to sit downe at the Table with them, to eat of their meats, and to drinke of their cups, it had bin a far greater honour, then if he had sent a Companie of Angels from heauen visibly to haue waited vpon and serued the Bridegroome and Bride, that same day. If the Antichristian Papist had but such a president, to grace their impure Votaries, their Monks, and their Nunns▪ if Christ had but gone in that manner, being invited, to a Monasterie, a Priorie, a Nunnery, or a Hermitage, it had bin enough to haue cried downe Mariage for euer, and to haue aduanced their loose single life infinitely aboue it.
This should teach vs to make the same vse of it for the magnifying of Mariage,* which they would haue made of it, if they had it for their counterfeit Virginitie; though its most probable, that the Pa∣pists would not haue shewed themselues so for∣ward for it, if they should haue perceiued that Christ had bin such a frend vnto it.
Note thirdly from hence,* that Christ Iesus is no enemie to honest mirth & delight, at such meetings and solemnities as this, but hath by his owne pre∣sence and precedent approued it. Though we doe not read in the Scripture, that Christ euer laughed, yet we neede not thinke that he was so rigide and austere, that he could indure no mirth and delight; Page 14 As though men in his Presence were in their silent dumps, and made dumbe shewes onely one to an∣other. Surely then would not Christ haue bin so often invited to Feasts as he was; or if he had, he would not haue frequented them so often: For the speciall vse of Feasts are for frends to rejoyce and make merry togither in; and therefore in the Holy Tongue haue their* name, from leaping and re∣joycing.
So that we see hence,* That there is a season and a time when Christians may rejoyce togither, yea and that in the presence and before the face of Christ Iesus himselfe; he sitting by, and looking on. Ser∣uants vse to be most merry amongst themselues, and the presence of Master and Mistris damps their mirth. But the Seruants of Christ may be as merry in his presence as behinde his backe. Yea they are more merry when he sits at table with them, then when he is absent.
I obserue this the rather, to crosse an illusion of Sathan, whereby he vsually perswades the merry Greekes of the world; That if they should once devote themselues to the Seruice of Iesus Christ, that then they must bid an euerlasting farewell to all mirth and delight; that then all their merry dayes are gone; that in the kingdome of Christ, there is nothing, but sighing and groning, and fasting and prayer. But see here the contrary: euen in the kingdome of Christ, and in his House, there is marrying and giuing in mariage, drinking of wine, feasting, and rejoycing euen in the very face of Christ. Nay its not possible, that any person vpon Page 15 earth, should joy as the seruants of Christ doe. Doe but consider the joy of a condemned person, when at the place of Execution he hath receiued a par∣don: Such is the joy of Christs seruants, especi∣ally then, when Christ comes vnto them. For before he vses to come, he suffers men to be as persons at the point of Execution, he brings them euen to the pit of Hell, to Hell mouth, and then when he comes to them, he brings a Pardon with him. Christs seruants indeed haue many greifes, and qualmes come ouer their heart; but it is then with them, as with women neere their time of bringing forth; they are in trauaile with some joy. Cleane contrary it is with wicked ones; who haue oft∣times many flashings of joy: but when they are in the height of it, they are then big-bellied, and ready to trauell of some sorrow: and their owne wofull experience makes them expect it. For its very vsuall with them in the extremitie of their mirth to say, I pray God I heare of no sorrow, I haue bin this day so merry. And good cause they haue so to feare, that cannot be merry, except the Diuell play the Musitian; that cannot sing, except the dittie be made in Hell. Let all our jolly Gallants and merry Companions therefore know, That the Children of God can be merry and pleasant, though they cannot cog, lie, sweare, swagger, talke lasciui∣ously, and filthily, &c. And they shall then be euer∣lastingly merry,* when the wicked that now seeme to be made of nothing else but mirth and pleasure, shall gnash their teeth and howle in Hell for euer and euer.Page 14 〈1 page duplicate〉 Page 15 〈1 page duplicate〉
Page 16 4ly.* Sith Christ is ready to come to our Mariages and Weddings; This should teach vs, to prouide for him, those dishes, that himselfe best loues, and that he vseth most to feed vpon. In which prouision, thou needst not to put euer the more in the Pot for him, or vpon the Spit, or in the Ouen. But the Table that thou art to spread to Christ must be in thy heart; see that thy heart stand syncerely affected vnto him; yea thou must dresse and prepare thy Soule for him.* For as the speciall meat that he pre∣pared for himselfe to feed vpon, was, his doing of his Fathers will; so the best dish that thou canst prepare for him, is, Thy obedience to his will.
Those therefore that call Christ to their lewdnes,* ribaldrie, blasphemie, &c. they call him to a banket of Carrian, or a worse matter then that; and offer him a bowle of vineger and gall to drinke.
The second meanes,* by which Christ dignifieth Mariage, is, by working a Miracle, yea the first Mi∣racle that euer he wrought, a Miracle whereby he turnes water into wine, yea into most excellent wine. I must in regard of Time, handle all these points togither confusedly.
1.* Hence obserue that Christ being called to the Mariage, cometh thither God as well as man; yea and graceth the Mariage with the manifestation of his Deity; so that those that haue this grace to call Christ Iesus to their Mariage, (and all such call him, as heartily call vpon him,) they shall feele his presence, yea and his diuine power in his presence; for Christ neuer comes being called, but he leaues behinde him some prints of his Godhead & divine power.
Page 17 And this may be a signe vnto thee;* That thou neuer didst heartily call Christ Iesus, vnto thy house, and vnto thy table, if thou hast had no sense and feeling of his diuine power, doing a greater worke and more powerfull within thy selfe, then is the tur∣ning of water into wine.
Secondly,* Obserue how Christ recompenceth those that are kind vnto him, how in their necessitie he worketh a Miracle to supply their want. So that they, that haue this grace, to invite Christ Iesus, and to call him to their Feasts, rather then they shall want any thing needfull for them, he will worke Miracles.
What greater incouragement can men haue then this, to make Christ Iesus alwayes their cheefest Guest? For then, rather then they shall die for hun∣ger or thirst, he will raine milke, and honie, and Quailes from Heauen, to feede and nourish them.
Thirdly,* In that Christ vpon present necessitie turnes Water into Wine, the present Feast requiring it; It teacheth vs, That Christs extraordinarie works are not for gazing and wonderment, but for speciall vse, according to the seuerall necessities of his Ser∣uants. They wanted wine, the soule and life of a Feast; and Christ by Miracle makes wine.
And first this againe,* should be a wonderfull in∣couragement, especially to persons entring into the state of Matrimonie, which seemeth to bring many necessities with it, to make speciall account of such a Guest, who will not onely supply their wants in generall, but their speciall wants, belon∣ging Page 18 to their speciall places. He that but in a matter of ceremonie and complement, turned water into wine, that there might be no dishonor to that Feast, where he was a Guest: Will he see any needfull thing wanting to them that marry in his feare?
Secondly,* this should comfort men against the ouer-much cares of this world, for Wife, and Chil∣dren. He that now turned water into wine, can turne stones into bread▪ lead into siluer, brasse into gold, & will do it rather then thou shouldest want, and if in his wisedome he did see it good for these he can also as, easily turne a bad Husband into a good, and a bad Wife into a good, a Poore man into a Rich, a Base man into a Noble, a Cottage into a Pallace &c. Make much therefore of Christ. For on the contrary side, exclude Christ out of your Feasts, and he will turne thy wine into water, if not in the glasse, or in thy mouth, yet in thy stomack; so that it shall do thy Spirits no more good, then if thou hadst drunke a cup of cold water.
Thirdly,* this should teach vs to imitate Christ. Doth he in this manner honour Mariage by a Mira∣cle? Surely, those persons that are maried, should honour him with the like-Miracle. They should en∣deuour also to turne water into wine. But how? Surely, whereas their former lives and conversati∣ons haue bin vnto Christ but (as it were) a cup of heartlesse water; they should be vnto him by their amendment, as a cup of wine to cheere vp his heart.