[ocr errors]

Part 6

saying, Whence shall we buy bread IV. “ that these may eat? (and this he said to

prove him, for he himself knew what “ he would do). Philip answered him, “ Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not “ sufficient for them, that every one of them

may take a little. Jesus answered, I How

many loaves have ye? go and see.' And "

Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto “ him, | There is a lad here, which hath five

barley loaves and two small fishes ; but what are they among so many? Jesus faith unto them, Make them all to fit down by com

panies upon the green grass. And they fat “ down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties. “ And Jesus took the loaves, and when he “ had given thanks, he distributed to the dis

ciples, and the disciples to them that were " set down; and likewise of the fishes, as “ much as they would. When they were

filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up “ the fragments that remain, that nothing be “ loft. Therefore they gathered them toge“ ther, and filled twelve baskets with the

fragments of the five barley loaves, which « remained over and above unto them that had

eaten. And they that had eaten were about " five thousand men, beside women and chil“ dren. Then those men, when they had “ seen the miracle that Jesus did, faid, This “ is of a truth that prophet * that should come « into the world. When Jesus therefore per

" ceived + John vi. 5. I Mark vi. 38.

| John vi.

9. * Whom God had promised to Moses.

[ocr errors]

« ceived that they would come and take him CHAP.

by force, to make him a king, he departed I. “ again into a mountain himself alone.”

He had already constrained his disciples to
enter into a ship without him, to go to Caper-
naum, whither he went the next day, and
where the multitude, which he miraculously
fed in the desart, demanded of him how he
came thither, as he did not enter the ship with
his disciples ? . And then it was that Jesus
made that long speech related by Saint John *
in these words,“ Verily, verily, I say unto

you, ye seek me, not because ye saw the
miracle, but because ye did eat of the loaves

and were filled. Labour not for the meat
“ which perisheth, but for that meat which
“ endureth unto everlasting life, which the
“ Son of man shall give unto you; for him
“ hath God the Father of sealed : ” and this
hath he typified under the miraculous bread
with which ye were fed.

I suppose that all this is read by a man who
unhappily has no faith, but is concerned at it, and
endeavours to be instructed; or at least by one
who judges impartially, and is an enemy to
all frivolous or ill-grounded difficulties. What
precaution would he have had taken before
the increase of loaves, in order to be assured
of the truth of it? 'Tis Christ's disciples that
remind him it was time to dismiss the people,
that they might adjourn to the neighbouring
villages and get food. Upon his ordering them

Verse 26.
* Τατόν γαρ ο πατήρ έσφράγισεν ο Θεός;

PART to buy provisions themselves for the multiIV. tude, they replied, That it was impossible,

because even with a large sum they could provide but a little quantity of victuals for each. He bids them enquire, whether there was any provision remaining among the multitude of people that staid behind, and distribute to them who were most in need of it; and after a strict examination, they found only five loaves and two fishes. What would the above-mentioned person have desired more? was not the testimony of twelve inspectors sufficient ? And as the people were all acquainted with the disquietude in which Jesus Christ seems to be on their account, were they not obliged by all reason to ease him, by Thewing their resources and helps, if they had any? The want is therefore certain, and the means of providing against it seems impossible. This is the first circumstance.

Jesus Christ commands his apostles to make the people fit down upon the grass, and to place them in ranks by hundreds and by fifties. By this method all confusion was avoided, and the attendance render'd easier. Besides, the miraculous operation was hereby exposed to the view of all the multitude, and there was no possibility to deceive by any artifice, a people feated at different tables, who certainly knew whether they were fed or not, and whether they had abundance or scarcity. Confusion might have covered the deceit. They might have thrown a few loaves among


the multitude, which would have been catch'd CHAP. up by a small number of those who were most 1. greedy; afterwards it might have been afferted, that there had been a sufficient quantity for the whole multitude, had they been distributed in order and managed with economy. But tlie ranging the people in different companies, none of which were more and many

less than an hundred, and their fitting quietly on the grass, each confining himself to his proper rank, sets the truth or fallhood of this miracle in the clearest light. This is a second circumstance, which

ought to be a sufficient proof to the most distrustful.

After the multitude had eaten, Jesus bids his apostles gather up the fragments, which was a plain proof of their having plenty: and the disciples filled twelve baskets with the fragments that remained. After this can there be the least room for incredulity ?

The people, struck with a miracle in itself so astonishing, and in which they were so greatly interested, were convinced that he was the prophet promised by the Almighty to succeed Moses, and to become the mediator of the new covenant I. And they were desirous to pronounce him king, because the Messiah, agcording to their notions, was entitled to the fame sovereignty as other princes, and to rule over Israel, as David and Solomon had done. This fourth circumstance is a farther proof of the miracle, and of the impression it had made on every body's mind.

Finally, | Deut. xviii. 15.

PART Finally, Jesus Christ speaking the next day IV. to the same people in the village of Capernaum,

who were still amazed at the miracle which he performed, rebuked them for being wholly sensible of the temporal effect of it, whilst they neglected to apply it to their eternal salvation. This reproach not only establishes the miracle, but likewise gives it an additional dignity, by exhibiting the main design that Jesus Christ had in performing it, and the mystery to which he was willing it should contribute.

It is therefore impossible either to oppose such strong evidence, or to lessen the credit of a miracle, which had the testimony of more than ten thousand persons, not mere spectators, but guests, (the women and children being at least equal in number to the men) and which is so neceffarily connected with other facts, equally public and true. But we must not stop here ; and if the miracle is unquestionable, it is as much past dispute that Jesus Christ is the Mefsiah and the Son of God : for in the same difcourse, where he speaks of this miracle to the people of Capernaum, he plainly says,

« That, as he is the living bread, which came down “ from heaven, and which gives life to the c worldwhoso believeth on him hath eter« nal life, and that he will raise those at the “ last day, who shall come unto him after hav« ing been drawn by his heavenly Father.” He demonstrates these secret truths by a public miracle. He says, that this miracle is the external sign and seal thereof: and as a prodigy ma

nifested John vi

« VorigeDoorgaan »