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offence. O how desirable then is it to be numbered with God's Israel, and to come to mount Zion, the church of the living God! Let us then come out of Egypt: let us put ourselves under the direction and care of God: and, in dependence on his power and faithfulness, prosecute our journey toward the heavenly Canaan.]
CXLIV. THE LIVING BREAD. John vi. 34. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give u
this bread. A FANCIED approbation of the gospel will consist with rooted enmity against it. But such an approbation always arises from carnal, or partial views of the truth. Many love God under the idea “ that He is such an one as themselves.” Thus the Samaritan woman desired the living water, that she might have no more occasion to go to the well. Thus also the people, whom our Lord was now addressing, seem to have misapprehended our Saviour's meaning. They had desired him to confirm his divine mission by some miracle equal to what Moses had wrought for their forefathers in the wilderness. Our Lord assured them that He himself was the true bread, of which the manna was only a type and figure. They little knowing what they asked for, desired him to give them the bread of which he spake. The petition however, in itself, was good. That you may be led to offer it in a more intelligent manner, we shall set before you I. The excellence of that bread
Our Lord enters very minutely into this subject. He institutes a comparison between the manna, and himself as the bread of life; and shews the superiority of the true bread 1. In its origin
[They supposed that the manna had been given thent from heaven : whereas it came only from the clouds;e and was as earthly in its nature as if it had been formed like common bread. But Christ himself was the true bread :d and He came down from heaven. His abode from all eternity had
a John iv. 15.
c Ver. 32. VOL. II.
Ver. 31. d Ver. 48.
been in the bosom of his Father. And he was now come down from thence to be the food of his chosen people.e] 2. In its properties
[The manna, like any other bread, was suited only to the body; nor could it give life to that, but only maintain its life; and after all, the bodies which it nourished would die at last. But the true bread was intended for the soul. Nor would it merely support it when alive, but quicken it when dead.& Yea, the soul, once quickened by it, should never die. Christ himself being their life, they should live by him here, and with him for ever.k] 3. In its uses
[The manna was very confined as to its use. It was for one nation only; whereas the true bread is intended for the use of all mankind. It is more extensively necessary. The Israelites might as easily have been supported by other food. And we can find many substitutes for bread. But without Christ, no man can live,m Neither earth nor heaven can provide
substitute for him. That bread is equally needed by every child of man. It is also more extensively suitable. Persons may be so disordered as to be incapable of enjoying, or even digesting, common bread. But in whatever state we be, Christ is the proper food of the soul. He is a bread, which is suited both, as milk, to babes, and, as strong meat, to them that are of age. Further, it is more extensively satisfying: The manna could supply one want. Whatever abundance of bread we have, we may need a variety of other things, for want of which we may even perish. But if we have Christ, we have all things. We can want nothing which is good for the body;ó nor any thing that relates to the soul. He is food to the hungry, clothing
to the naked, riches to the poor, health to the sick, life to the dead ;9 He is ALL AND IN ALL."]
Such a glorious account of this bread being giving by Christ
himself, it becomes us to enquire into 1. The means by which it may be obtained
Every provision for the body must be obtained by labour; but this for the soul must be accepted as a free gift
[We are extremely averse to stand indebted to another for our spiritual sustenance. We should be much better pleased
fVer. 49. h Ver. 5), 58,
& Ver. 33.
i Ver. 57 I Ver. 33. before cited. n Ver.-54-56.
o Matt. vi. 33.. 9 Rev. iii.. 18. 1 Cor. i. 30.
to earn it by our own industry. But all our exertions for this end are fruitless. If we were to obtain an interest in Christ by our own works, salvation would no longer be of grace. We are therefore cautioned against every attempt to gain it in that way.' We are expressly
told that the Israelites were left for ever destitute of this bread, because they would persist in these self-righteous methods of obtaining it. We are exhorted to receive it freely, without money and without price.*]
Nevertheless we are not to decline all kind of labour for it
[We are to seek this bread in prayer, and in the use of all God's appointed ordinances. We are to exert ourselves as much in order to obtain it, as if the acquisition of it were the sole effect of our labour. But we are at the same time to depend as much upon God for it, as if we used no endeavours whatever to procure it. Nor is there any inconsistency in such a view of our duty. Our Lord himself
" Labour for the meat, which the Son of man shall give you.”2] APPLICATION
[Let us seek it by prayer and faith. Let us be thankful that it is sent us in such rich abundance. Let us gather it fresh every day and hour.a Nor once attempt to hoard it for future use. There is a fulness in Christ to satisfy our every want. Nor shall we ever be refused if we plead with him as we ought to do. Let us remember, that in our Father's house there is bread enough and to spare. And rest assured, that, by feeding upon Christ, we shall find him to be meat indeed and drink indeed.e]
* Rom. xi. 6.
t Gal. v. 2-4.
u Rom. ix. 30-32.
CXLV. THE MANNA AND THE ROCK TYPES OF CHRIST.
i Cor. x. 3, 4. They did all eat the same spiritual meat; and
did all drink the same spiritual drink. (For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.) THOUGH it is certain that the covenant of
is ordered in all things and sure, and that God will fulfil his promises to all who believe, yet there is no man so absolutely assured of his own interest in the divine favour, as that he can with safety cast off all watchfulness and circumspection. The Corinthians, by going to the utmost verge of their Christian liberty in eating things of fered to idols, were in danger of being drawn back into actual idolatry. The apostle recommends to them therefore to exercise self-denial, as well for their own sake, that they might not be ensnared, as for the sake of others, whose weak consciences might be wounded. He tells them that he himself felt the necessity of mortifying all his appetites, and that he was obliged to “ keep his body under, and to bring it into subjection, lest by any means, after having preached to others, he himself should be a cast-away.” He then proceeds to remind them of the Israelites, who, notwithstanding the numberless privileges that they enjoyed, as God's peculiar people, perished in the wilderness for their manifold provocations. Among the privileges which he specifies, we shall fix our attention upon that referred to in the text: and shall take occasion from it to enquire I. What was that spiritual food which the Israelites par
took of in the wilderness? God, having brought his people into the wilderness, sustained them there with miraculous supplies of bread and water
[About six weeks after their departure out of Egypt, a their provisions were spent, and they began to be in want of bread. God therefore promised them a constant supply from day to day; forbidding them to reserve any for the morrow, except on the day preceding the sabbath, when they were to gather sufficient for two days consumption. This food (which for want of any more appropriate name they called manna, i. e. a portion) descended from the clouds every night; and, when the dew that covered it was exhaled by the sun, it appeared on the face of the ground; it was a very small white thing like coriander seed, which they ground in their mills, and baked; and, in taste, it was like wafers made of fresh oil and honey.b Of this there was a constant and regular supply for forty years; nor did it ever fail, till their want of it was superseded by the corn, of which they got possession in the land of Canaan. In like manner, water was given them out of a rock in Horeb, by a stroke of that rod, with which Moses had divided the Red Sea:c and it was made to follow them in all their encampments for about thirty-eight years; when
b Ib. 13-31. with Numb. xi.
2 Exod. xvi. 1.
for their further trial, the stream was dried up, and a similar miracle was wrought for them again in Kadesh-barnea..]
This food, though carnal in its nature and use, was truly “spiritual;” inasmuch as it was 1. A typical representation of Christ
[Our Lord himself copiously declares this with respect to the manna; draws a parallel between the bread which Moses gave to the Israelites, and himself as the true bread that was given them from heaven; and shews that, as the manna supported the natural life of that nation for a time, so he would give spiritual and eternal life to the whole believing world.“ The same truth also he establishes, in reference to the water that proceeded from the rock. He told the Samaritan woman, that if she would have asked of him he would have given her living water. And on another occasion he stood in the place of public concourse, and cried, “ If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink;'s thereby declaring himself to be the only “ well of salvation,” the only rock froin whence the living water could proceed. Indeed, the apostle, in the very words of the text, puts this matter beyond a doubt;
they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them;" and “ that Rock was Christ.”] 2. A sacramental pledge of his blessing
[Under the gospel dispensation there are two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper: and these are not only “ an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace," but they are also mians whereby we receive that grace, and a pledge to assure us thereof.” Thus when the Israelites were
baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea,” they were consecrated unto God; and they received, as it were, an earnest from him, that all the blessings of his covenant should in due time be imparted to them, unless they, by their violation of the covenant, should provoke him to withhold them. In the same manner the bread and water miraculously given and continued to them, were a pledge, that they should one day “ eat of the hidden manna,” and “ drink of the rivers of pleasure which are at his right hand for evermore," provided they continued stedfast in the covenant, and walked worthy of their heavenly calling. Thus while their daily food typically represented, and, to those who partook of it in faith, really conveyed, spiritual blessings, it was an earnest to them of that Spirit,” whom the water typified, and “an earnest of that inheritance, which Christ should purchase for them by his obedience unto death."]
d Numb. xx. 8-1l. 6 John vii. 37, 38.
e John vi. 48–58. f John iv. 10, 14. h 2 Cor. i. 22. Eph. i, 14.