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they have nothing to eat. But Jesus answered, and said unto them, They need not depart, give ye them to eat. And he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? (And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.) Philip answered him, Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. And his disciples said unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred penny worth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, one of his disciples, 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? He said, Bring them hither to me. Now there was much grass in the place. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they did so, and made them all sit down. And they sat down in ranks by hundreds and by fifties in a company. Then he took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the multitude; and the two fishes he divided among them all, as much as they would. And they did all eat, and were all filled. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, and of the fishes, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent the multitudes away.
And when he had sent the multitudes away, and perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again, and went himself alone up into a mountain apart to pray.
So evidently true is it that man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God! (Matt. iv. 4.) How wonderful did the power of Christ appear in thus multiplying the food? and how amiable his compassion, in his affectionate concern for the relief of his necessitous followers! It is to be esteemed a great happiness when the ministers of the gospel have it in their power to assist men in their temporal as well as spiritual necessities: and it is peculiarly incumbent upon them thus to do good and communicate: for with such sacrifices from their hands God is peculiarly well pleased, and the success of their ministry may be greatly promoted by them. (Heb. xiii. 16.)
The disciples received from the hand of Christ the food they delivered to the people: and so should ministers be concerned that they may receive from Christ, what they dispense to others, as the bread of life, and that they also at the same time may live upon it, as the support of their own souls. How great an honour is it to be employed as stewards of the mysteries of God! Let not immoderate secular cares, let not the desire of worldly riches or greatness interrupt us in this blessed work! Christ withdrew from those who would have made him king: ill therefore does it become his disciples to pursue earthly grandeur ; and most unworthy is it of his ministers to act as if his kingdom were of this world. May we learn in every state to be content. (Phil. iv. 11.) In want may we cheerfully trust Providence! In plenty, may we not wantonly abuse it! but learn, by his command of gathering up the fragments even of his miraculous feast, a wise frugality in the use of our enjoyments; that nothing may be lost, nor a reserve be wanting, by which the streams of future liberality may be fed.
When the day had been thus employed, Christ retired to a mountain to pray. Thus must secret devotion attend our public labours for the instruction and salvation of men, if we would secure that Divine blessing, without which, neither the most eloquent preaching, nor the most engaging and benevolent conduct, can command or promise success.
MATTHEW XIV. 24-36.-MARK VI. 47-56.
AND when the evening was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, and entered into a ship, and went over the sea towards Capernaum: and it was now dark, and the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land, and was not come to them: and the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. And he saw them toiling in rowing: for the wind was contrary unto them, and the ship was tossed with waves. And about the fourth watch of the night Jesus cometh unto them, when they had rowed about five-and-twenty or thirty furlongs, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship, they supposed it had been a spirit; and cried out for fear. (For they all saw him and were troubled.) And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come to thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid: and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Then they willingly received him into the ship. And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased, and immediately the ship was at the land, whither they went. Then they that were in the ship were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered; for they considered not the miracle of the loaves, for their heart was hardened. And they came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth
thou art the Son of God. And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret; and drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, the men of that place had straightway knowledge of him, and they sent out into all the country round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was, and brought unto him all that were diseased.
And whithersoever he entered into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made perfectly whole.
Thus it still pleases Christ to exercise the faith of his people, that he may strengthen their dependance on him, and demonstrate at once his compassion and his power. Thus are storms permitted oftentimes to rise around them, and for a while they are left in darkness, and are tossed with tempests: but he is near at hand, even when they think him at the remotest distance; and when he seems to be passing by them, as regardless of their danger and distress, he has designs of grace and mercy to them, and acts in such a way on purpose to quicken and excite them to a greater earnestness and fervour in their application to him. Happy would the Christian be, could he always discern his Lord and always conceive of him aright! but alas, how often does he appear to the disordered mind as the object of terror rather than of confidence! and, in a day of darkness, while he may seem to treat his suffering people with neglect, instead of seeking him with a more earnest importunity, how ready are they to be overwhelmed with fears, and to conclude he has forgotten them!
At the command of Jesus, Peter ventured to go to him on the And through what storms and dangers may we not safely venture, if we are sure that our Lord calls us! Yet the rebuke which he suffered, may warn us not rashly to throw ourselves on unnecessary trials, lest our excess of confidence end in fear and disgrace. Modesty and caution will adorn our other virtues, and render us amiable in the eyes of the humble Jesus.
In how many circumstances of life does the Christian appear to his own imagination like Peter beginning to sink in the waves! But in the time of our distress, like him, let us cry to Jesus for help; and, while we are lifting up the hands of faith and prayer, we may humbly hope that Christ will stretch forth
his omnipotent arm for our rescue. Let every experience of this kind, and all the seasonable aid he is from time to time imparting to us, establish our dependance on him, and enforce our obedience to him, as the Son of God. May Divine Grace deliver us from that hardness of heart, that stupidity and insensibility of mind, which sometimes remains unconvinced in the midst of evidence, and unaffected under the most moving illustrations of his abilities and willingness to help us!
JOHN VI. 22-40.
THE day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone: (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks :) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, 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 sealed. Then they said unto him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign showest thou then, that we may see and believe thee? What dost thou work? Our Fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not