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whence to get any thing, then to depend upon an invisible bounty, this is a true and noble act of faith. To cast away our own, that we may immediately live upon Divine Providence, I know no warrant: but when the necessity is of God's making, we see our refuge ; and happy are we, if our confidence can Ay to it, and rest in it. Yea fulness should be a curse, if it should debar us from this dependence. At our best, we must look up to this great Householder of the World, and cannot but need his provision. If we have meat, perhaps not appetite ; if appetite, it may be not digestion; or if that, not health, and freedom from pain ; or if that, (perhaps from other occurrents) not life. The

guests are set, full of expectation. He, that could have multiplied the bread in absence, in silence takes it and blesses it; that he might at once show them the Author and the means of this increase. It is thy blessing, O God, that maketh rich. What a difference do we see in men's estates! Some languish under great means, and enjoy not either their substance or themselves ; others are cheerful and happy in a little. Second causes may not be denied their work ; but the overruling power is above. The subordinateness of the creature doth not take away from the right, from the thank, of the First Mover,

He could as well have multiplied the loaves whole ; why would he rather do it in the breaking? Was it to teach us, that in the distribution of our goods we should expect his blessing, not in their entireness and reservation? There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth, saith Solomon : yea, there is no man but increaseth by scattering. It is the grain thrown into the several furrows of the earth, which yields the rich interest unto the husbandman : that, which is tied up in his sack, or heaped in his granary, decreaseth by keeping. He, that soweth liberally, shall reap liberally.

Away with our weak distrust. If wealth came by us, giving were the way to want : now that God gives to the giver, nothing can so sure enrich us, as our beneficence. He multiplied the bread, not to keep, but to give; He gave it to the disciples.

And why not rather by his own hand to the multitude, that so the miracle and thank might have been more immediate? Wherefore was this, O Saviour, but that thou mightest win respect to thy disciples from the people? as great princes, when they would ingratiate a favourite, pass no suits but through his hands. What an honour was this to thy servants, that, as thou wert Mediator betwixt thy Father and man, so thou wouldest have them, in some beneficial occasion, mediate betwixt men and thee! How fit a type is this of thy spiritual provision ; that thou, who couldst have fed the world by thine immediate word, wouldst by the hands of thy ministers divide the bread of life to all hearers ! like as it was with the Law: well did the Israelites see and hear, that thou couldst deliver that dreadful message

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with thine own mouth; yet, in favour of their weakness, thou wouldst treat with them by a Moses.

Use of means derogates nothing from the efficacy of the principal agent; yea, adds to it. It is a strange weakness of our spiritual eyes, if we can look but to the next hand. How absurd had these guests been, if they had termined the thanks in the servitors; and had said, “ We have it from you ; whence ye had it, is no part of our care: we owe this favour to you ; if

You owe it to your Master, acknowledge your obligations to him, as we do unto you !" But, since they well knew, that the disciples might have handled this bread long enough, ere any such effect could have followed, they easily find to whom they are beholden. Our Christian wisdom must teach us, whosoever be the means, to reserve our main thanks for the Author of our Good. He gave

the bread then to his disciples; not to eat, not to keep, but to distribute. It was not their particular benefit he regarded in this gift, but the good of many. In every feast, each servitor takes up his dish ; not to carry it aside into a corner for his own private repast, but to set it before the guests for the honour of his Master: when they have done, his cheer begins. What shall we say to those injurious waiters, who fatten themselves with those concealed messes, which are meant to others ? Their table is made their snare; and these stolen morsels cannot but end in bitterness.

Accordingly, the disciples set this fare before the guests. I do not see so much as Judas reserve a share to himself, whether out of hunger or distrust. Had not our Saviour commanded so free a distribution, their self-love would easily have taught them where to begin. Nature says, “ First thyself; then thy friends :" either extremity, or particular charge, gives grace occasion to alter the case. Far be it from us, to think we have any

claim in that, which the owner gives us merely to bestow.

I know not now, whether more to wonder at the miraculous eating, or the miraculous leaving. Here were a whole host of guests, five thousand men ; and, in all likelihood, no fewer women and children. Perhaps, some of these only looked on: nay, they did all eat. Perhaps, every man a crumb, or a bit : nay, they did eat to satiety; all were satisfied. So many must needs make clean work ; of so little there could be left nothing: yea, there were fragments remaining. Perhaps some crumbs or crusts, hardly to be discerned, much less gathered : nay, twelve baskets full : more remained than was first set down. Had they eaten nothing, it was a just miracle, that so much should be left; had nothing remained, it was no less miracle, that so many had eaten, and so many satisfied: but now, that so many bellies and so many baskets were filled, the miracle was doubled.

O'work of a boundless omnipotency! Whether this were done by creation or by conversion, uses to be questioned; but needs

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not. While Christ multiplies the bread, it is not for us to multiply his miracles. To make ought of nothing, is more than to add much unto something. It was, therefore, rather by turning of a former matter into these substances, than by making these substances of nothing.

Howsoever, here is a marvellous provision made ; a marvellous bounty of that provision ; a no less marvellous extent of that bounty.

Those, that depend upon God and busy themselves in his work, shall not want a due purveyance in the very desert. Our strait and confined beneficence reaches so far, as to provide for our own. Those of our domestics, which labour in our service, do but justly expect and challenge their diet ; whereas, day-labourers are ofttimes at their own finding. How much more will that God, who is infinite in mercy and power, take order for the livelihood of those that attend him ! We see the birds of the air provided for by him; how rarely have we found any of them dead of hunger ! yet what do they, but what they are carried unto by natural instinct? how much more, where, besides propriety, there is a rational and willing service! Shall the Israelites be fed with manna, Elijah by the ravens, the widow by her multiplied meal and oil, Christ's clients in the wilderness with loaves and fishes ? O God, while thou dost thus promerit us by thy Providence, let not us wrong thee by distrust.

God's undertakings cannot but be exquisite. Those, whom he professes to feed, must needs have enough. The measure of his bounty cannot but run over. Doth he take upon him, to prepare a table for his Israel in the desert ? the bread shall be the food of angels; the flesh shall be the delicates of princes ; manna and quails. Doth he take upon him to make wine for the marriagefeast of Cana ? there shall be both store and choice; the vintage yields poor stuff to this. Will he feast his auditors in the wilderness ? if they have not dainties, they shall have plenty; They were all satisfied. Neither yet, O Saviour, is thy hand closed. What abundance of heavenly doctrine dost thou set before us! how are we feasted, yea pampered with thy celestial delicacies ! Not according to our meanness, but according to thy state, are we fed. Thrifty and niggardly collations are not for princes. We are full of thy goodness ; oh, let our hearts run over with thanks.

I do gladly wonder at this miracle of thine, O Saviour ; yet so, as that I forget not mine own condition. Whence is it, that we have our continual provision? One and the same munificent hand doth all. If the Israelites were fed with manna in the desert, and with corn in Canaan, both were done by the same power and bounty. If the disciples were fed by the loaves multiplied, and we by the grain multiplied, both are the act of one Omnipotence. What is this, but a perpetual miracle, O God, which thou workest


for our preservation? Without thee, there is no more power the grain to multiply, than in the loaf: it is thou, that givest it a body at thy pleasure even to every seed his own body; it is thou, that givest fulness of bread and cleanness 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 liquor is God's, the excess, Satan's.

Thy table, O Saviour, convinces them, 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 desert, 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, thou 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 may have.

Even these fragments, though but of barley loaves and fishbones, may not be left in the desert, 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 may not be given to dogs; and if the crumbs fall to their share, it is because their smallness admits 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 misspending:

But oh, 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 ? Oh 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 remnant. 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 relique; every the least parcel whereof was no other than miraculous.

All the ancient 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 thriftily 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.




All elements are alike to their Maker. He, that had well approved his power on the land, will now show it in the air and the waters. He, that had preserved the multitude from the peril of hunger in the desert, will now preserve his disciples from 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 came; 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 loth they were to leave him; whether out of love, or of 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 chuse, but be in love with such a Master? and who can willingly

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