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one of them, since the blessed Virgin mother of Jesus, and all His disciples were invited to be present on the occasion. The honour of marriage is strikingly exhibited by this circumstance, that our blessed Saviour took such an opportunity to display His Divine power in the first miracle that He wrought; and the impiety of the Romish church, in forbidding her clergy to marry, is plainly deducible from it. An inspired Apostle was subsequently directed to declare that Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge;29 and to call forbidding to marry, a doctrine of devils.30 Since the Lord Jesus thought fit to choose married persons for His apostles, which He did in the case of St. Peter, whose wife's mother He healed of a fever, the marriage of the clergy is thereby fully to be justified. If it were not lawful or proper, the Apostle Paul would not have asked, Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas, or Peter? There are doubtless occasions in which individuals, whether ministers or others, may live more to the glory of God in a single state; as the same Apostle observes. But this can afford no just cause for binding a large body of men to celibacy, under the pretence of its being a more
29 Heb.xiii. 4. 301 Tim. iv. 3, 1. 3 Mat.viii. 14, 15. 321 Cor. ix. 5.
pure and holy state of life; when in reality it inevitably opens the door to all manner of abominations, which have been found to result from it. This prohibition was evidently introduced into the canons of the apostate church, for the purpose of extending the power of the Pope, by keeping a body of men in all countries dependent upon him, who should have no bond of union to attach them to the community with which they lived.
The Lord Jesus was called to the marriage referred to; and by His presence He signified His approval of it. It is the duty of those who profess to be His people so to act, in forming such a connexion, that they may be assured of His approval of their conduct. It becomes them to intreat the direction of His overruling Providence in this important event of life. They are to take care, according to the Apostolic precept, to marry only in the Lord.33 Unsanctified unions may be expected to cause bitter heart-burnings and continual disquietude. But when counsel is asked of the Lord in secret prayer, and the directions of the word of God are followed in the course of proceeding, His people may be assured that He will overrule the event for His own glory and their real good.
It seems that at the wedding feast, the parties
331 Corinthians vii. 39.
were not able through poverty to entertain their friends as they could have wished. When they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine. She seems to have spoken to Him in such a manner as if, from being fully aware of His character, and knowing that He had now begun to show Himself to the world, by collecting disciples around Him, she expected that He would signalize this event by a display of His miraculous power, which hitherto He had not openly exerted.
In reply to the intimation, Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. On this answer a remark has been made, that the address was not respectful. But that it was so, appears from our Saviour's using the same mode of address to His mother at a most afflicting moment, when He would assuredly express Himself with the greatest kindness and tenderness. While suspended on the cross, He commended her to the care of His beloved disciple, saying, Woman, behold thy son; and to the disciple, Behold thy mother. And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.34 The question is said to have been rather, What hast thou to do with Me? implying that she had no authority whatever to lay any commands upon Him. If He had even intimated before
34 John xix. 26, 27.
hand His design of conferring a benefit upon these poor people when they should be joined together in the bands of matrimony, it was not her business to interfere: He would attend to it at the proper season.
Our blessed Saviour was pleased, for our example, to submit to the authority of His parents in the days of His youth. He was subject unto them 35 during that period. But His mother had
no controul over Him in the prophetical character which He had now assumed. On another occasion we read that when she was desirous of being owned as His mother by the multitudes whom He healed of their diseases and fed with His bounty, she met with a similar reproof for her sinful vanity. When it was told Him, Thy mother and Thy brethren stand without, desiring to see Thee; because they could not come at Him for the press; He answered and said unto them, My mother and My brethren are these which hear the word of God and do it.36 These traits of a fallen creature in the character of the Virgin Mary were recorded, as it were by anticipation, to rebuke the impiety of the church of Rome in the worship which they pay to her. In one of their prayers they impiously desire her to command her Son Jesus to do for them what they ask. There is no scriptural authority for
35 Luke ii. 51.
36 Luke viii. 19, 20.
praying to the Virgin Mary, or to any other being but God only. It is idolatry to worship with religious adoration any other than the one living and true God, subsisting in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. He that hears prayer must be an Omnipresent Being; otherwise His worshippers cannot derive any benefit from their adoration. None but God alone is present in all places at all times. He speaks of His own peculiar prerogative when He asks, Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord. Saints and angels are not every where present, and therefore they cannot hear the petitions which are impiously addressed to them. Departed spirits have nothing to do with the concerns of this world, when they have once left it. The dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.38 His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.39 So the church of old declared, Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledgeth us not.1o When the angels are spoken of as ministering spirits, it is to be understood that they are the
37 Isa. xxiii. 23, 24. 38 Eccles. ix. 5,6. 39Job xiv. 21. 4o Isa. lxiii. 16.