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nifested with fo public evidence cannot be re-CHAP. jected, so the doctrine which it enforces can- I. not but equally be entitled to a thorough ben lief.
Let us resume our discourse, and look upon the five loaves and two fishes in the hands of Jesus Christ, as the grain and seed annually increased by his providence by a miracle equally true, and much more astonishing, tho’ by its familiarity it becomes less observed. Let us confider how in the prodigies themselves he follows the order which he has prescribed to nature, by demanding on the side of man something which conceals the creation, and that belongs to the ancient creatures which he intends to multiply. Let us admire how his fruitful hands discharge themselves into those of his apostles, and from them into the breasts of the people, without any one's being able to unravel the mystery of such a fecundity, altho' the whole multitude partook of the blessing. And how in the increase and distribution of a temporal nourishment, he has figured the mystery of the gospel and of the spiritual food, which he directly bestowed on his ministers, and which by their means he convey'd to the very babes.
But chiefly let us consider how attentive he was to prove himself the promised Messiah, and yet without permitting the people to proclaim him king, because he was already invested with the royal dignity in a more fublime, and in a more perfect manner than the people thought or desired. He shews what he is,
Part and evades the people’s intent: this is acting IV. like himself, and giving a most sensible mark
of his divine character.
Lastly, let us admire, how after such a prodiyy he is infinitely superior to it; how little affected with what dazles the people, and even is afflicted at it; and how useless the miracle in itself appeared to him, if he was to be fatiffied with the admiration of an interested
people, and if it were not the figure and promise of another, more futable to his magnificence, and love for his elect.
- You seek me (says he) not because
saw the miracles (which ought to have faith for their fruit) but be"cause ye did eat of the loaves and were filled. “ Labour not for the meat which perisheth, o but for that meat which endureth unto ever
lasting life, which the Son of man shall give
unto you : for him hath the Father sealed,” and plainly described, by feeding you in the desart with the miraculous bread.
not only certain, but confirms many
HE miracle that we are now treating
of, has been a second time repeated with almost the same circumstances, and this repetition compleats the preceding demonftrations. Thus Saint Matthew relates this Mi
racle, t " Jesus came nigh unto the sea ofChap.
Galilee, and went up into a mountain and 1. “ fat down there. And great multitudes came “ unto him, having with them those that were
lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many “ others, and cast them at Jesus feet, and he * healed them': insomuch that the multitude
wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to fee; and they
glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus “ called his disciples unto him, and said, I “ have compassion on the multitude, because
they continue with me now three days " and have nothing to eat. I will not send “ them away fasting, left they faint in the way. “ And his disciples say unto him, Whence 46 should we have so much bread in the wil
derness, as to fill so great a multitude ? And
Jesus faith unto them, How many loaves " have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few « little fishes. And he commanded the multi“ 'tude to sit down on the ground. And he " took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave.
thanks, and brake them, and gave to his
disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. " And they did all eat and were filled. And
they took up of the broken meat that was “ left, seven baskets full
. And they that did « eat, were four thousand men, besides wo
men and children."
In order to establish the truth of this mi. racle, I am far from making use of the same
reflections + Matth. xv. 29.
Part reflections the foregoing supplied us with ; yet IV. I cannot help observing, that if this second
increase of loaves is unquestionable, the preceding miracles are likewise so: for both had the same testimony, being wrought in the presence of more than eight thousand people ; and the truth thereof is confirmed to us by the miraculous feeding which followed. Now whatsort of miracles are these? Some of the most striking, and such as are far beyond any other power, except that of the Creator. These are the dumb, whose speech is restored; the lame, who walk; the blind, who fee; the maimed of every kind made whole. Objects of compaffion were laid at Jesus Christ's feet; and the whole multitude, that was present at this sad spectacle, was suddenly seized with admiration, when they saw all these poor wretches cured.
How is it possible to deny these miracles under such convincing circumstances ? and if any one should be so obstinate ; how will he be able to disown the increase of seven loaves for eight thousand people, of which there remained, after the multitude was satisfied, seven baskets full ? shall we treat as a dream a prodigy of which there is such a memorial ? Thall we imagine that the apostles afterwards contrived an affair of this publick nature, the falsity of which could be so easily detected, since they mentioned both time and place, and ingenuously owned, that both the miracles of the loaves had made so light an impression upon their minds, (altho' they were ministers on that occasion) that they were still distrustful
of the power and foresight * of Jesus Christ;CHAP. and upon a certain occasion, they imagined that I. he accused them of being unmindful of his having provided them with bread, because he bids them beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, meaning their hypocrisy by this figurative term.
But it will be faid, from whence came fo great a number of fick and maimed ? two reasons may be assigned: the one, the astonishing facility with which Jesus Christ cured them; the other, the great reputation which his power and goodress gained him, not only in Judea, but also in the neighbouring provinces. We may judge of it by this paffage alone of Saint Mark: t " A great multitude “ from Galilee followed him, and from
Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from
Idumea, and from beyond Jordan, and they “ about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, “ when they liad heard what great things he did,
came unto him. And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on
him, because of the multitude, lest they “ Thould throng him. For he had healed
many, insomuch that they pressed upon
* “Which when Jelas perceived, he said unto them, Oye “ of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because " have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither o remember ihe five loaves of the five thousand, and how many « baskets
ye cook up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thou“ .sand, and how many bakets ye took up? How is it that ye “ do not understand, that I spake it not to you concerning “ bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees “ and Sadducees? Mat. xvi. 8. + Mark iii. 7. Vol. III.