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"givest fulness of bread and cleanutess of teeth.” It is no reason thy goodness should be less magnified, because it is universal.
One or two baskets could have held the five loaves and two fishes ; not less than twelve can hold the remainders. The divine munificence provides not for our necessity only, but for our abundance, yea superfluity. Envy and ignorance, while they make God the author of enough, are ready to impute the surplusage to another cause; as we commonly say of wine, that the liquour is God's, the excess Satan's.
Thy table, O Saviour, convinces thein, which had more taken away than set on : thy blessing makes an estate not competent only, but rich. I hear of barns full of plenty, and presses bursting out with new wine, as the rewards of those that honour thee with their substance. I hear of heads anointed with oil, and cups running over. O God, as thou hast a free hand to give, so let us have a free heart to return thee the praise of thy bounty,
Those fragments were left behind. I do not see the people, when they had filled their bellies, cramming their pockets, or stuffing their wallets; yet the place was desart, and some of them doubtless had far home.
It becomes true disciples to be content with the present, not too solicitous for the future. O Saviour, that didst not bid us beg bread for to-morrow, but for to-day; not that we should refuse thy bounty when thou pleasest to give, but that we should not distrust thy Providence for the need we
Even these fragments, though but of barley loaves and fishbones, may not be left in the desart, for the compost of that earth whereon they were increased; but, by our Saviour's holy and just command, are gathered up. The liberal housekeeper of the world will not allow the loss of his orts: the children's bread inay not be given to dogs; and if the crumbs fall to their share, it is because their sınallness adınits not of a collection. If those, who out of obedience or due thrift have thought to gather up crumbs, have found them pearls, I wonder not; surely, both are alike the good creatures of the same Maker, and both of them may prove equally costly to us in their wilful mispense. But 0, what shall we say, that not crusts and crumbs, not loaves and dishes, and cups, but whole patrimonies are idly lavished away, not merely lost;
this were more easy, but ill spent in a wicked riot, upon dice, drabs, drunkards ? O the fearful account of these unthrifty bailiffs, which shall once be given in to our great Lord and Master, when he shall call us to a strict reckoning of all our talents! He was condemned that increased not the sum concredited to him ; what shall become of him that lawlessly impairs it?
Who gathered up these fragments but the twelve apostles, every one his basket full? they were the servitors that set on this banquet, at the command of Christ, they waited on the tables, they took away.
It was our Saviour's just care that those offals should not perish; but he well knew, that a greater loss depended upon those scraps, a loss of glory to the omnipotent Worker of that miracle. The feeding of the multitude was but the one half of the work, the other half was in the rempant. Of all other it most concerns the successors of the apostles to take care, that the marvellous works of their God and Saviour may be improved to the best; they may not suffer a crust or crumb to be lost, that may yield any glory to that Almighty agent.
Here was not any morsel or bone that was not worthy to be a relic, every the least parcel whereof was no other than miraculous. All the antient monuments of God's supernatural power and mercy were in the keeping of Aaron and his sons. There is no servant in the family but should be thriftly careful for his master's profit; but most of all the steward, who is particularly charged with this oversight. Woe be to us, if we care only to gather up our own scraps, with neglect of the precious morsels of our Maker and Redeemer!
The Walk upon the Waters. All elements are alike to their Maker. He, that had well approved his power on the land, will now shew it in the air and the waters; he, that had preserved the multitude from the peril of hanger in the desart, will now preserve his disciples froin the peril of the tempest in the sea.
Where do we ever else find any compulsion offered by Christ to his disciples ? He was like the good centurion; he said to one, “Go, and he goeth.” When he did but call them from their nets, they cane; and when he sent them by pairs into the cities and country of Judea, to preach the gospel, they went. There was never errand whereon they went unwillingly: only now he constrained them to depart. We may easily conceive how loath they were to leave him, whether out of love, or common civility. Peter's tongue did but (when it was) speak the heart of the rest ; “ Master, thou knowest that I love thee.” Who could choose but be in love with such a Master? and who can willingly part from what he loves? But had the respects been only common and ordinary, how unfit might it seem to leave a master, now towards night, in a wild place, amongst strangers, unprovided of the means of his passage! Where otherways therefore he needed but to bid, now he constrains : 0 Saviour, it was ever thy manner to call all men unto thee, “Come to me, all that labour and are beavy laden.” When didst thou ever drive any one from thee. Neither had it been so now, but to draw them closer unto thee, whom thou seemedst for the time to abdicate. In the mean while, I know not whether more to excuse their unwillingness, or to applaud their obedience. As it shall be fully above, so it was proportionably here below;“ In thy presence, O Saviour, “is the fulness of joy.” Once, when thou askedst these thy domestics, whether they also would depart, it was answered thee by one tongue for all; “Master, wbither should we go from thee? thou hast the words of eternal life.” 'What a death was it then to them to be compelled to leave thee! Sometimes it pleased the divine goodness to lay upon his servants such commands as savour of harshness and discomfort, which yet, both in bis intention and in the event, are no other than gracious and sovereign. The more difficulty was in the charge, the more praise was in the obedience. I do not hear them stand upon the terms of capitulation with their Master, nor pleading importunately for their stay, but instantly, upon the command, they yield and go. We are never perfect disciples till we can depart from our reason, from our will; yea, O Saviour, when thou biddest us, from thyself.
Neither will the multitude be gone without a dismission. They had followed bim while they were hungry, they will not leave him now they are fed. Fain would they put that honour upon him, which to avoid, he is fain to avoid them: gladly would they pay a kingdom to him, as their shot for their
late banquet; he shuns both it and them. O Saviour, when the hour of thy passion was now come, thou couldst offer thyself readily to thine apprehenders; and now, when the glory of the world presses upon thee, thou runnest away from a
Was it to teach us, that there is less danger ini suffering than in outward prosperity? What, do we doat upon that worldly honour which thou heldest worthy of avoidance and contempt?
Besides this reservedness, it was devotion that drew Jesus aside: he went alone up to the mountain to pray. Lo, thou, to whom the greatest throng was a solitude, in respect of the fruition of thy Father ; thou, who wert incapable of distraction from himn with whoin thou wert one, wouldst yet so much act man, as to retire for the opportunity of prayer; to teach us, who are nothing but wild thoughts and giddy distractedness, to go aside when we would speak with God. How happy is it for us that thou prayedst! O Saviour, thou prayedst for us, who have not grace enough to pray for ourselves, not worth enough to be accepted when we do pray. Thy prayers, which were most perfect and imperative, are they by which our weak and unworthy prayers receive both life and favour. And now, how asiduous should we be in our supplications, who are empty of grace, full of wants; when thou, who wert a God of all power, prayedst for that which thou couldst command ! Therefore do we pray, because thou prayedst: therefore do we expect to be graciously answered in our prayers, because thou didst pray for us here on earth, and now intercedest for us in heaven.
The evening was come; the disciples looked long for their Master, and loath they were to have stirred without him : but his command is more than the strongest wind to fill their sails ; and they are now gone. Their expectation made not the evening seem so long, as our Saviour's devotion made it seem short to him : he is on the mount, they on the sea; yet while he was on the mount praying, and lifting up his
eyes to his Father, he fails not to cast them about upon his disciples tossed on the waves. Those all-seeing eyes admit of no limits : at once he sees the highest heavens, and the midst of the sea; the glory of his father, and the misery of his disciples. Whatever prospects present themselves to his view, the distress of his followers is ever most noted.
How much more dost thou now, O Saviour, froin the height of thy glorious advancement, behold us, thy wretched servants, tossed on the unquiet sea of this world, and beaten with the troublesome and threatening billows of affliction! Thou foresawest their toil and danger ere thou dismissedst them, and purposely sendest them away that they might be tossed. Thou, that couldst prevent our sufferings by thy power, wilt permit them in thy wisdom, that thou mayst glorify thy inercy in our deliverance, and confirm our faith by the issue of our distresses.
How do all things now seem to conspire to the vexing of the poor disciples ! the night was sullen and dark, their Master was absent, the sea was boisterous, the winds were high and contrary. Had their Master been with them, howsoever the elements had raged, they had been secure : had their Master been away, yet if the sea had been quiet, or the winds fair, the passage might have been endured. Now both season, and sea, and wind, and their Master's desertion, had agreed to render them perfectly miserable. Sometimes the Providence of God hath thought good so to order it, that to his best servants there appeareth no glimpse of comfort, but so absolute vexation, as if heaven and earth had plotted their full affliction. Yea, O Saviour, what a dead night, what a fearful tempest, what an astonishing dereliction was that, .wherein thou thyself criedst out in the bitterness of thine anguished soul, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
Yet, in all these extremities of misery, our gracious God intends nothing but his greater glory and ours'; the triumph of our faith, the crown of our victory.
All that longsome and tempestuous night must the disciples wear out in danger and horror, as given over to the winds and waves; but in the fourth watch of the night, when they were wearied out with toils and fears, comes deliverance.
At their entrance into the ship, at the rising of the tempest, at the shutting in of the evening, there was no news of Christ: but when they have been all the night long beaten, not so much with storms and waves, as with their own thoughts, now in the fourth watch, which was near to the morning, Jesus came unto them, and purposely not till then, that he might exercise their patience, that he might inure them to wait upon divine Providence in cases of extremity, that their devotions might be more whetted by delay, that they might give gladder welcome to their deliverance. O God,