Images de page

of his domestics, and to no purpose does he exclaim against the rapacity of combinations to engross and enhance, while he is fostering the mischief by the wretched economy of his own household. "Let nothing be lost" is the economy of nature, the maxim of true wisdom, and a precept of christianity.

"Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Thus the miracle was complete; ample provision was made for the moment, and a lesson of prudence given for all generations. The bodies of thousands were refreshed by homely but wholesome food, and the sacred impress of divine truth was ap plied to the human heart. Thus transitory things are rendered permanent, and provision made for supporting the body is converted into food for the immortal soul.

The conviction produced was perfectly natural, and it operated uniformly on the minds of the whole assembly: "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." There was therefore, it is evident, a generally prevailing expectation of the appearance of the august personage whom the prophets had announced; and what proof of a divine mission more illustrious could be displayed, than that which had just reached the understanding through all the avenues of sense? But it is truly humbling to observe the perpetual intrusion of a worldly spirit. That prophet whom all ranks looked unto and waited for, all ranks thought proper to invest with temporal power and splendour. The idea of raising him to kingly supremacy is immediately entertained. What quality could a prince possess that led more certainly to success than that of subsisting his armies, without the expense and incumbrance of magazines? Under this impulse the multitude are

disposed instantly to rear his standard, and to enlist in his service. And when a man faithfully examines himself, he will find that the world, in some form or another, is lurking in his heart. He will find time, and sense, and self blending with his purest, most generous, most exalted views, and directing his most seemingly disinterested exertions. Jesus demonstrates that he is much more than a king, by withdrawing from popular applause and proffered royalty. "When he perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone." He meets and relieves their real necessities, but retires from their projects of power and ambition. To the demand of Pilate, "Art thou the king of the Jews?" this was his modest reply: "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

We conclude with a few practical reflections.

1. The law of man's nature is a stated religious monitor to him. Every day he hungers, he thirsts, he waxes faint, he must lie down and go to sleep. He is as often admonished of his frailty, of his dependance, of his obligations. Let the animal functions be ever so little deranged or suspended, and the whole man, spirit as well as body, pines and languishes. An eye which never slumbers nor sleeps watches him by night and by day. An unseen hand spreads his board, fills his cup, feedeth him with food convenient for him. A careless spirit overlooks common mercies, lightly esteems them, wastes, perverts, abuses them. And where the hand of God is not seen, felt and acknowledged, there can be no enjoyment superiour to that which the beasts of the field have in common with the rational creation. The devout spirit refers all to Deity, and thereby a relish is communicated to the simplest and most ordinary things. "A dinner of herbs where

love is, a dry morsel, and quietness therewith," far
exceed the luxury of the "stalled ox," and of "a
house full of sacrifices." Herein the poor have in-
finitely the superiority over the rich and great. Hun-
ger seasons the poor man's food, thirst sweetens his
cup, labour softens his couch. He beholds his daily
supply coming from the bounty of a Father in Heaven,
he gives God thanks. Thus meditates the Psalmist in
contemplating the providential care exercised over all
creatures, especially those of the human race:
goeth forth unto his work, and to his labour, until the
evening. O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in
wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of
thy riches: So is this great and wide sea, wherein are
things creeping innumerable, both small and great
beasts. There go the ships; there is that leviathan,
whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all
upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in
due season. That thou givest them they gather;
thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.
Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest
away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and
thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the
Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in
his works." Thus is the eye of man, from day to
day, alternately directed to the ground out of which
he himself was taken, to behold the support of his life
likewise springing up out of it, and to heaven, toward
"the Father of lights," for, "every good gift, and
every perfect gift is from above." God, in his great
mercy, has not entrusted to human reason the pre-
servation of the body, but constantly warns him by an
animal instinct of what his frame requires, and renders
that savoury to sense which he knows to be necessary to
life; and thus pleasure and duty, as they ever ought, go

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

hand in hand. "O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men; for he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."

2. If God is pleased to humble man, and to suffer him to hunger, it is to "make him know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live." In the animal part of his nature he is reduced to the level of the beasts that perish; in his spirit he rises to the rank of angels, he draws supplies immediately from the Father of spirits, he feeds on immortal food, he drinks of the "pure river of water of life, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." The christian, like his divine master, has meat to eat which the world knows not of. "My meat," says he, "is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work :" and, speaking of his doctrine, in contrast to the support and refreshment of the natural life, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life;" and again, under the same image of necessary food; "My father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." The believer's feast is thus described by one who was a liberal partaker of it: "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,

and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us ;" and in another place, "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righte ousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

to come.

3. In proportion as this spiritual appetite increases, attachment to the world will diminish. Nature, says the proverb, is satisfied with little, and grace with still less. The disciple of Jesus knows and feels that he has here no continuing city, and therefore seeks one He "coveteth no man's silver, or gold, or apparel." While the rich worldling is pulling down his barns and building greater, in which to bestow his fruits and his goods, laying up treasure for himself without being rich towards God, the follower of Christ is employed in laying up "treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where theives do not break through nor steal." He desires "a better country, that is a heavenly :" he looks for "a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." His master has taught him, when he prays, to say not," give me much goods to be laid up for many years," but " give us this day our daily bread :” "my heavenly Father knoweth what things I really need." He knows that the day of the Lord cometh, "in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »