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II. The importance of faith ̧·
[Our Lord makes more enquiry after this than after any other graces He overlooked many faults, where this was exercised; and disregarded every thing that was apparently good, if this were wantingi-He invariably bestowed the highest encomiums upon it;k and made it, not only a condition, but the very measure of his favours1 --]
1. To unbelievers
[If men may manifest a very considerable earnestness about salvation, and yet leave room to doubt whether they really believe in the all-sufficiency of Christ, how evidently must they be unbelievers, who have no solicitude about their eternal welfare!-Think then, what will you answer to the Lord when he shall enquire respecting your faith? And what will you do if he should say, Be it unto you according to your faith? -Alas! you need no greater curse than this-If you have no more pardon, peace, or glory than in proportion to your present exercise of faith, you will be miserable indeed-Ö remember the fate of the unbelieving Israelites; and flee to Christ lest ye perish after their example of unbeliefTM—]
2. To those who are weak in faith
- [Can you see the multitude of our Saviour's miracles, and entertain any doubt of his sufficiency? or the examples of so many that were strong in faith, and not be ashamed that, with your superior advantages, you should ever indulge unbelief? O fix it in your minds, that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost, and to keep that which you have committed to him"-Believe in the Lord, so shall you be established, believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper°-But if ye will not believe, neither shall ye established"]
3. To believers in general
[You will find that peace of mind, purity of heart, vic
* He enquired to this effect of Martha, John xi. 26.; of the blind man, John ix. 35. See also the text.
He might have justly reproved the nobleman's impatience, John iv. 49.
m Heb. iii. 18,
i The zeal and love of Peter were no longer approved when his faith failed him, Matt. xiv. 31. Nor did Jesus regard the ready obedience of his disciples in ferrying him over the lake, when they discovered such timidity and want of faith, Mark iv. 40.
k Matt. viii. 10. and xxi. 21, 22. See particularly 2 Chron. xvi. 8. where it was not only commended, but rewarded.
Mark ix. 23. Matt. viii. 13. and xv. 28. See also the text.
n 2 Tim. i. 12,
P Isai. vii. 9.
19. and iv. 11.
tory over the world, and indeed all that you hold dear, vary according to the weakness or stability of your faith-Beware then of ever "limiting the Holy One of Israel"-Beg that "what is yet lacking in your faith may be perfected"-And seek to become "strong in faith, giving glory to God"-]
a Thess. iii. 10.
CCXCVII. THE FIVE THOUSAND FED.
Luke ix. 12, 13. And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat.
WITH our active services for God we should blend devotion and retirement
And be careful of our own vineyard, while we are cultivating that of others"
But there are calls, which may supersede our private duties
When the occasion is urgent, "God will have mercy rather than sacrifice"
Our Lord had retired to a desert for the purposes of solitude and prayer
But, the people still following him, he denied himself these necessary enjoyments
And renewed his labours with his wonted earnestnessWe shall call your attention to
a Mark vi. 31. VOL. III.
I. The zeal of the multitude
They followed Jesus when he had withdrawn himself from them
[They had pressed upon him so that he had not had leisure to eat breada
To relieve himself for a season from their importunities, he took ship
The people, seeing whither he directed his course, ran before him
Ib. ver, 33.
Unmindful of their own wants, they followed him to a lonely "desert”—
And, though destitute of " food or lodging," were unwilling to depart from him-]
How far their zeal was pure, may indeed admit of doubt
[Some perhaps were really desirous of divine instructionOthers sought nothing but the healing of their bodily disorders
And too many were actuated by no better motive than curiosity
Thus we learn from their conduct how much may be done by those who, notwithstanding their zeal, are strangers to vital godliness-]
But their conduct condemns the supineness of lukewarm Christians
[It would not indeed be expedient for us to intimate them. altogether
The august character of Jesus, and the paucity of faithful instructors, fully justified them in neglecting, for a season, their temporal concerns
Whereas we have many stated opportunities of religious instruction
And may attend the ordinances without neglecting our worldly callings
But we should imitate them in their thirst for divine knowledge
We should, like them, be willing to deny our present ease and interests
And (in heart and affection) forsake all to follow ChristO that the conduct of the generality did not form such a contrast to theirs!-]
Our Lord would not thwart their wishes, or disappoint their hopes
II. The miracles that Jesus wrought for them
He pitied the people because they were as sheep without a shepherd
He instantly resumed his labour both for their souls and bodies
And provided them a plentiful supply for their present
[To try the faith of Philip, Jesus enquired about purchasing of breadd
© Ver. 11.
d John vî. 5, 6.
But having determined to supply the people by a miracle, he ordered them to be seated in ranks upon the grass
He took the five loaves and two small fishes which were at hand, and, looking up to heaven, pronounced a blessing upon them
By this he has taught us to acknowledge God in his bounties, and to adore him for them
He then brake and delivered the bread to the disciples, that they might distribute it among the multitude
In the disciples' hands the bread, though constantly imparted, suffered no diminution
Thus all became spectators and witnesses of the miracleAll too were filled and satisfied with an ample repastHow infinitely did the grandeur of this feast surpass that given by king Ahasuerus!
And what an evident demonstration of Jesus' Messiahship did it afford!-]
Nevertheless he would not suffer any thing to be
[He ordered the remnants of the bread and fish to be gathered up
Of these there were not less than twelve baskets full This afforded an additional confirmation of the miracleBy this too he shewed that, not the poor only, but even the most opulent, should exercise frugality-]
From this history we may INFER that,
1. We may safely trust in Jesus for a supply of our
[He often suffers his people to be reduced to a state of indigence
But by this means he discovers to them more fully his care over them
Nor does he ever fail to fulfil the promise he has made them
We are not indeed in these days to look for miracles--
It is he that gives provision to the whole universe
His almighty power is no less exercised in the production of the fruits of the earth than it was in the miracle before us→→ And in the season of our necessity he will interpose for our relief
e Esth. i. 4-7.
f Probably much more than there was at the beginning.
* Matt. vi. 33.
Let us then, in firm reliance upon him, follow the direction given ush-]
2. We should be contented with mean and humble fare
[Our Lord occasionally attended at feasts to which he was invited
Nor is it unlawful for his followers also to be present at them
But when he feasted ten thousand people, he gave them only the provisions suited to a laborious fisherman
How unseemly then is it for his followers to be men given to appetite!
Or to squander away their substance in splendid entertainments!
How does it rather become them to be satisfied with mean provisions!
And under the greatest straits to adopt the language of St. Paul!-]
3. We should be ready at all times to communicate of our substance to others
[The loaves and fishes were all the provision which the apostles had
Nor is it probable that they had any great store of money to purchase more
Yet all without reluctance complied with their Lord's command"
Thus we also are directed to exercise liberality to the poor°And what we do for them, Christ will accept as done for himselfp-]
h Ps. xxxvii. 3.
i Matt. xiv. 21.
k Barley bread, und cold dried fish, with water out of the brook in the desert. John vi. 13. 1 Phil. iv. 16.
m It should seem that 200 pence, about six guineas, was all the stock that they and their master had at that time to subsist upon, John vi. 7. n Ver. 13. • Heb. xiii. 16. P Matt. xxv. 40.
CCXCVIII. CHRIST WALKING ON THE SEA.
Matt. xiv. 26, 27. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit: and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer: it is I; be nut afraid.
THE Christian's duties are often difficult and selfdenying-Nevertheless he must do the will of God, and