Abbildungen der Seite


both temporal and spiritual, outruns not only | ny different inclinations, pursuing as many the supplications of the miserable, but their different interests, with as many different cavery hopes and desires.

pacities, should be brought to one point, "The day began to wear away," they should co-operate in promoting the same pur. were in a desert place, the multitude was pose, should, unknown to each other, invoprodigiously increased, they had fasted long, luntarily enter into exactly one and the same no provision of either victuals or lodging had pursuit, is not to be explained on the combeen made, and the adjacent villages promised mon principles of human sagacity, and can but a slender accommodation of either, even proceed only “ from the Lord of hosts, who had there been money to purchase them. A is wonderful in counsel and excellent in case of truly aggravated distress! The fore- working." Philip immediately has recourse thought and sympathy of the disciples went to arithmetical calculation; he estimates the no farther than to suggest the propriety of multitude at so many, he examines into the an immediate dismission of the assembly, state of their finances, and finds them deplowhile sufficient light remained to procure what rably deficient: “two hundred pennyworth was needful for exhausted nature. “ When of bread is not sufficient for them, that every the day began to wear away then came one of them may take a little.” No, the diffithe twelve, and said unto him, Send the mul- culty was not to be thus resolved. Neither titude away, that they may go into the towns was the matter much mended to human apand country round about, and lodge, and get prehension, when Andrew, Simon's brother, victuals: for we are here in a desert place." brought information that there was a lad preBut their gracious Diaster looked much far- sent who had five barley loaves and two small ther, and felt more tenderly. He addresses tishes to dispose of. He himself sets no great himself particularly to Philip, who was of store by, his intelligence; a single loaf to a the city of Bethsaida, and might be supposed thousand men appeared to him a mere noto know the state of the country, and how thing, an aggravation rather than an alleviamuch it would produce in an emergency of tion of the distress: “ but what,” says he, this kind, on the supposition that their stock despondingły, “are they among so many ?" of money was equal to the demand: “he The case is thus brought to an extreme saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy point. Five thousand men, beside a multibread that these may eat?" Why the ap- tude of women and children, probably to an peal was personally made to Philip, may be equal, if not a greater number, feel the presaccounted for from some peculiarity in that sure of hunger, and of no one of our natural disciple's character. He appears to have been appetites are we more acutely sensible than one of those who slowly, suspiciously, reluct- of this; every one of this myriad, therefore, antly admitted the evidence of their Master's down to the youngest child, was a distinct divine mission; for we find him, long after and a competent witness upon the occasion, this, discovering a diffident, scrupulous in- of the individual and of the general calamity, credulous disposition ; and his kind Master and of the total want of an adequate supply. administering a just and seasonable rebuke: Providence thus frequently permits things to “Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the come to the very verge of wo, that man Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith un- may feel his own weakness and insufficiency, to him, Have I been so long time with you feel his entire dependence, and learn to acand yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he knowledge and to adore the seasonable inthat hath seen me hath seen the Father; and terposition of heaven; that God may be seen how sayest thou, then, show as the Father?" as "our refuge and our strength, a very Thus was it needful that the witnesses of present help in trouble." the truth to others should have their own As if every preparation of human sagacity doubts completely removed. And, thus, He, had been made, Jesus with dignified compowho knew what was in man, will bring out sure, commands, saying, “ Make the men sit of the man himself what is in him; not with down." The attention and sympathy of the insidious design of deceiving and xpo- Christ are observable in minute circumstansing him, as men often act by each other, ces. His guests had passed a day of uncombut of making him feel his own weight; of mon fatigue; they were now overtaken with enabling him to form a just estimate of his two great infirmities, want of food and want wisdom and strength; of affording him a of rest. A standing meal, weary as they fresh and irresistible proof of his Master's su- were, would have been an unspeakable benepreme power, and divine intelligence. “This fit; or to have stretched out their exhausted he said to prove him: for he knew what he limbs to repose, even with a slender proviwould do."

sion, for “the sleep of a labouring man is We have here a most sublime representa-sweet, whether he eat little or much.” He tion of the Redeemer's foreknowledge of who careth for oxen, who feedeth the raven, the natural reasonings of the human mind, who sustaineth the sparrow on the wing, and of the existence and effect of second "shall he not much more” hear the cry of

Tlat a thousand persons, of as ma- | human wretchedness ? Both the precious



gifts of bread and rest are bestowed at once, | of words, employed by Christ on this occaand both unhoped for, both unasked. “Make sion, most probably blended both ideas, as the men sit down:", and it is remarked, indeed they cannot be easily separated. To “Now there was much grass in the place.” give thanks for what God has given is a deWhat a delicious assemblage of natural and vout acknowledgment of dependence upon interesting beauties! It was the still eve- him, a tacit expression of hope in his goodning of a day in spring; the fragrant fertile ness for the time to come, and the most earth had spread an ample carpet, at once likely means of increasing our store. He delightful to behold, pleasant to the smell, acted as the great pattern of his disciples, and softened to the pressure of the faint. teaching them in difficulty to look up to hesTwenty thousand eyes are turned in silent ven for direction and assistance, to improve expectation to their common friend and the blessings of Providence by referring them benefactor. The very order of their ar to their great Author, and to cast every furangement embellishes the scene, and the ture care on him who hath helped hitherto. subdivisions and straight lines of art set off Man cannot pronounce a benediction capable the majestic irregularity of nature: a hun- of communicating efficacious virtue, but, dred rows of fifty men each. What, com- what is equivalent to it, he can “ in every pared to this, was the royal“ feast which the thing, by prayer and supplication with king Ahasuerus made unto all his princes, thanksgiving, let his requests be made known and his servants: the power of Persia and unto God;" and time employed in devotion Media, the nobles and princes of the pro- is not loss, but unspeakably great gain. vinces !" What, compared to this, was the “ He distributed to the disciples and the great, but impious feast, which “ Belshazzar disciples to them that were set down: and the king made to a thousand of his lords!" likewise of the fishes as much as they woald." These noisy and profane revels were quickly The fare was ordinary, barley bread and disturbed, and issued in sorrow. What a dried fish. “The full soul loatheth an honerdifferent spectacle did the mountain in the comb; but to the hungry every bitter thing desert of Bethsaida present! All is calmness is sweet." Mark, the quality of the food is and harmony, all is peace and joy. The not changed, the quantity only is increased, great Master of the feast surveys his vast for the object of the miracle was not to pamfamily with complacency and delight! they per luxury, but to satisfy hunger. The disbehold in him their condescending teacher, ciples had nothing to give but what they their merciful physician, their liberal pro first received. And what must have been vider, their almighty Lord, in whom all ful- their astonishment, their satisfaction, as they ness was pleased to dwell.

walked from rank to rank, to behold the food " And Jesus took the loaves." He mira- not diminish, but multiply to the mouth of culously supported his own body for forty the eater! No murmuring could arise on days in the wilderness, without eating or account of a partial distribution, for all had drinking; and the same divine power could enough and to spare. No doubt could arise undoubtedly have refreshed and sustained respecting the fountain of supply, for every this great multitude, for a night, without ear heard the gracious words which probread, as easily as by a supernatural multi- ceeded out of his mouth; every eye beheld plication of it. But this would have been his face lifted up to heaven, and his hands less sensible and convincing; and natural extended to diffuse plenty. The body and vigour of constitution might have been sup- the mind were refreshed together, with food posed equal to the load. In the method of convenient for them. Thus seasonable, thos relief which our Lord was pleased to employ, suitable, thus satisfying are the good and every man had the witness within himself, perfect gifts which come down immediately and could bear a clear testimony concerning from the Father of lights. The self-sane all around him, that not the powers of nature, miracle, my friends, is repeated day by day, but the God of grace had ministered to their through a different process, and we observe common necessities. “ And, when he had it not, we feel it not. An unseen hand given thanks :” two different words are “ causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, employed by the evangelists to describe this and herb for the service of man:" it " bringeth action of our Saviour. The first thre say, forth food out of the earth; and vine that "he blessed” the loaves, pronounced upon maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to them a solemn and powerful benediction, make his face to shine, and bread which in virtue of which they became prolific, and strengtheneth man's heart.” “O that man multiplied far beyond the extent of the de- would praise the Lord for his goodness, and mand. Our evangelist represents him as for his wonderful works to the children of "giving thanks,” ascribing to God his hea- men !" venly Father the glory of every gift of an “When they were filled, he said unto his indulgent Providence, whether bestowed in disciples, Gather up the fragments that rethe order of natural increase, or produced main, that nothing be lost." There is a criby an extraordinary interposition. The forrn minal forethought about tomorrow which


the Gospel condemns, because it implies dis-, of the five barley loaves, which remained trust of the care, wisdom, and goodness of over and above unto them that had eaten.” Providence, and because it mars the enjoy. Thus the miracle was complete: ample pro ment, and encroaches upon the duties of to- vision was made for the moment, and a lesday. But there is likewise a prudent and son of prudence given for all generations. pious forethought, which both reason and The bodies of thousands were refreshed by religion highly approve and powerfully re- homely but wholesome food, and the sacred commend, because it is the co-operation of impress of divine truth was applied to the human sagacity with the benignity of Pro- human heart. Thus transitory things are vidence; and the happiest and most honour- rendered permanent, and provision made for able condition of man is exertion, as if no supporting the body is converted into food for supernatural aid were to be expected, and the immortal soul. reliance on God, as if human efforts amount- The conviction produced was perfectly ed to nothing. “Gather up the fragments;" natural, and it operated uniformly on the was the command of Him who had the power minds of the whole assembly: “ Then those of multiplying without end, but who would men, when they had seen the miracle that lay himself under no obligation to exert a Jesus did, said, this is of a truth that Promiraculous energy to repair the profusion, phet that should come into the world.” There or supply the negligence of thoughtless man. was, therefore, it is evident, a generally preWhat occasions the present dearth of every vailing expectation of the appearance of the necessary of life? Not the unkindness of august personage whom the prophets had heaven, for the earth has yielded her increase, announced; and what proof of a divine misand our garners are full; but cruel oppression more illustrious could be displayed, than sion on the one hand, and abominable waste that which had just reached the understandon the other. The precious fruits of the ing through all the avenues of sense ? But it ground are, contrary to nature, hoarded up in is truly humbling to observe the perpetual expectation of glutting avarice with a higher intrusion of a worldly spirit. That prophet return, till they corrupt; or they are vilely whom all ranks looked unto and waited for, cast away by the minions of opulence and all ranks thought proper to invest with temgrandeur, who care not what they destroy, poral power and splendour. The idea of because the master's fortune is able to sup-raising him to kingly supremacy is immeport the expenditure. It is one, and not the diately entertained. What quality could a least of the evils of war, that of the provi- prince possess that led more certainly to sion necessary to the maintenance of fleets success than that of subsisting his armies, and armies, one half at least goes to loss, without the expence and incumbrance of mathrough dishonesty, carelessness, and wilful gazines ? Under this impulse the multitude prodigality. This profusion is often found are disposed instantly to rear his standard, in company with a hard and stony heart. and to enlist in his service. And when a It appears to have constituted great part of man faithfully examines himself, he will find the criminality of the rich man in the Gos- that the world, in some form or another, is pel. He was clothed in purple and fine lurking in his heart. He will find time, and linen, and fared sumptuously every day." sense, and self blending with his purest, But this was not in itself sinful, nor is it most generous, most exalted views, and dicharged upon him as guilt. The offal of recting his most seemingly disinterested exhis table was not wisely used. While de- ertions. Jesus demonstrates that he is much testable luxury reigned within doors, the more than a king, by withdrawing from pocry of misery at the gate was disregarded. pular applause and proffered royalty. “When The beggar Lazarus desired, but desired in he perceived that they would come and take vain, “ to be fed with the crumbs which him by force, to make him a king, he defell from the rich man's table.” It is in every parted again into a mountain himself alone." man's power to reduce the price of provi- He meets and relieves their real necessities, sions. Let him purchase no more than what but retires from their projects of power and is needful, and let him be careful to look af- ambition. To the demand of Pilate, “ Art ter the fragments which remain. The opu- thou the king of the Jews?" this was his lent man is responsible for the inhumanity, modest reply: “ My kingdom is not of this the extravagance, the criminal neglect of world. If my kingdom were of this world, his domestics, and to no purpose does he then would my servants fight, that I should exclaim against the rapacity of combinations not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my to engross and enhance, while he is foster- kingdom not from hence.” ing the mischief by the wretched economy We conclude with a few practical reflecof his own household. “Let nothing be lost” tions. is the economy of nature, the maxim of true 1. The law of man's nature is a stated rewisdom, and a precept of Christianity. ligious monitor to him. Every day he hun

“ Therefore they gathered them together, gers, he thirsts, he waxes faint, he must lie and filled twelve baskets with the fragments | down and go to sleep. He is as often admo4 F



nished of his frailty, of his dependence, of his, ing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with obligations. Let the animal functions be ever goodness." so little deranged or suspended, and the whole 2. If God is pleased to humble man, and man, spirit as well as body, pines and lan- to suffer him to hunger, it is to “ make him guishes. An eye which never slumbers nor know that man doth not live by bread only, sleeps watches him by night and by day. An but by every word that proceedeth out of the unseen hand spreads his board, fills his cup, mouth of the Lord doth man live." In the feedeth himn with food convenient for him. animal part of his nature he is reduced to the A careless spirit overlooks common mercies, level of the beasts that perish; in his spirit lightly esteems them, wastes, perverts, abuses he rises to the rank of angels, he draws supthem. And where the hand of God is not plies immediately from the Father of spirits, seen, felt, and acknowledged, there can be he feeds on immortal food, he drinks of the no enjoyment superior to that which the pure river of water of life, proceeding out beasts of the field have in common with the of the throne of God and of the Lamb." The rational creation. The devout spirit refers Christian, like his divine Master, has meat to all to Deity, and thereby a relish is commu- eat which the world knows not of. - My nicated to the simplest and most ordinary meat,” says he, " is to do the will of him that things. “A dinner of herbs where love is, sent me, and to finish his work:” and, speaka dry morsel, and quietness therewith,” far ing of his doctrine, in contrast to the support exceed the luxury of the “stalled ox," and and refreshment of the natural life, “Who of “ a house full of sacrifices." Herein the soever drinketh of this water shall thirst poor have infinitely the superiority over the again: but whosoever drinketh of the water rich and great. Hunger seasons the poor that I shall give him shall never thirst; but man's food, thirst sweetens his cup, labour the water that I shall give him shall be in softens his couch. He beholds his daily sup- him a well of water springing up into everply coming from the bounty of a Father in lasting life;" and again, under the same heaven, he gives God thanks. Thus medi- image of necessary food : “My Father giveth tates the Psalmist in contemplating the pro- you the true bread from heaven. For the vidential care exercised over all creatures, bread of God, is he which cometh down from especially those of the human race: “ Man heaven, and giveth life unto the world. And goeth forth unto his work, and to his labour, Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: until the evening. “O Lord, how manifold he that cometh to me shall never hunger; are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made and he that believeth on me shall never them all; the earth is full of thy riches: so is thirst.”. “ Blessed are they which do hunthis great and wide sea, wherein are things ger and thirst after righteousness, for they creeping innumerable, both small and great shall be filled.” “For the kingdom of God beasts. There go the ships; there is that is not meat and drink; but righteousness, leviathan, whom thou hast made to play and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." The therein. These wait all upon thee, that thou believer's feast is thus described by one who mayest give them their meat in due season. was a liberal partaker of it: “Being justified That thou givest them they gather: thou by faith, we have peace with God, through openest thine hand, they are filled with good. our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: have access by faith into this grace wherein thou takest away their breath, they die and we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy God. And not only so, but we glory in trispirit, they are created; and thou renewest bulations also: knowing that tribulation workthe face of the earth. The glory of the Lord eth patience; and patience, experience; and shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice experience, hope; and hope maketh not in his works.” Thus is the eye of man, from ashamed; because the love of God is shed day to day, alternately directed to the ground abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, out of which he himself was taken, to behold which is given unto us;" and in another the support of his life likewise springing up place, “I know whom I have believed, and I out of it, and to heaven, toward " the Father am persuaded that he is able to keep that of lights,” for, “ every good gift, and every which I have committed unto him against perfect gift is from above.” God, in his eat that day.” “I am now ready to be offered, mercy, has not entrusted to human reason and the time of my departure is at hand. I the preservation of the body, but constantly have fought a good fight, I have finished my warns him by an animal instinct of what his course, I have kept the faith: henceforth frame requires, and renders that savoury to there is laid up for me a crown of righteous sense which he knows to be necessary to ness, which the Lord, the righteous Jodge, life; and thus pleasure and duty, as they shall give me at that day: and not to me only, ever ought, go hand in hand. “() that but unto all them also that love his appear. men would praise the Lord for his good- ing." ness, and for his wonderful works to the 3. In proportion as this spiritual appetite children of men; for he satisfieth the long- increases, attachment to the world will di

[ocr errors]

minish. Nature, says the proverb, is satisfied every one does that which is right in his with little, and grace with still less. The own eyes, and of consequence every thing disciple of Jesus knows and feels that he has goes wrong. He may withhold what is due, here no continuing city, and therefore seeks and the family starves. The food may be one to come. He * coveteth no man's silver, improperly mixed, and thereby changed into or gold, or apparel.” While the rich world- poison. He may be injudicious, and the aliling is pulling down his barns and building ment of the healthy and vigorous is adminisgreater, in which to bestow his fruits and his tered to the puny and feeble, while the deligoods, laying up treasure for himself, with cate nourishment that suits sickliness and imout being rich towards God, the follower of becility is presented to maturity and strength. Christ is employed in laying up “treasures He may be deliberately wicked, and betray in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth the trust which he was appointed to guard. corrupt, and where thieves do not break As a contrast to this melancholy picture, through nor steal.”. He desires “a better turn your eyes to the portrait of that faithcountry, that is, an heavenly:" he looks for ful steward, and able minister of the New “a city which hath foundations, whose builder Testament, the apostle of the Gentiles, in and maker is God.” His master has taught the solemn appeal which he makes to the him, when he prays, to say not, "give me elders of Ephesus, on bidding them a final much goods to be laid up for many years," farewell: “ Ye know, from the first day that but "give us this day our daily bread;" "my I came into Asia, after what manner I have heavenly Father knoweth what things I real- been with you at all seasons, serving the ly need." He knows that the day of the Lord Lord with all humility of mind, and with cometh,“ in the which the heavens shall pass many tears and temptations which befell me away with a great noise, and the elements by the lying in wait of the Jews; and how shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, I kept back nothing that was profitable unto and the works that are therein, shall be burnt you, but have showed you, and have taught up." He, according to the promise of God, you publicly, and from house to house, testiwho cannot lie,“ looks for new heavens and fying both to the Jews and also to the a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteous- Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith ness." Hence he learns “in whatever state,

,” toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, Providence may be pleased to put him, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusa“therewith to be content.” “I know,” says lem, not knowing the things that shall befall Paul, “ both how to be abased, and I know me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesshow to abound: every where, and in all eth in every city, saying, that bonds and things, I am instructed, both to be full and afflictions abide me; but none of these things to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer move me, neither count I my life dear unto need, I can do all things through Christ myself, so that I might finish my course with which strengtheneth me." Brethren, the joy, and the ministry which I have received time is short, it remaineth, that they who of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of weep be as they who weep not; and they the grace of God.” “I take you to record that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and this day, that I am pure from the blood of all they that buy, as though they possessed not; men; for I have not shunned to declare unto and they that use this world, as not abusing you the whole counsel of God-remember, it; for the fashion of this world passeth that, by the space of three years, I ceased away."

not to warn every one night and day with 4. Let the ministers of Christ remember tears.-I have showed you all things, how that they are “ stewards of the mysteries of that so labouring ye ought to support the God," and that " it is required in stewards, weak; and to remember the words of the that a man be found faithful.” That which Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed they deliver to others, they themselves re- to give than to receive." But there is an ceived from the Lord. There is one and the appeal still more solemn and affecting, and same fare provided for them, and for their in circunstances infinitely more interesting, fellow-servants, and the provision is at once that of the chief Shepherd himself, addressed excellent and abundant." Every one is en- to his heavenly Father, in the near prospect titled to the portion most suitable to him, and" of his decease which he should accomplish in the proper season.

“ New born babes," at Jerusalem." "I have glorified thee on in Christ,“ desire the sincere milk of the the earth: I have finished the work which word, that they may grow thereby.” “But thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, strong meat belongeth to them that are of glorify thou me with thine own self, with full age, even those who, by reason of use, the glory which I had with thee before the have their senses exercised to discern both world was. I have manifested thy name good and evil.” In various ways may a unto the men which thou gavest me out of steward be found unfaithful to his trust. He the world; thine they were, and thou gavest may be negligent, and then the household them me: and they have kept thy word. runs into confusion and every evil work; | Now they have known that all things, what




« ZurückWeiter »