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been conferred upon them by the law of a civilized nation; which, as long as it remains unaltered, is certainly and assuredly the law of God. By thus doing, you will find, to your inconceivable felicity hereafter, that even the humblest individual-even he who solicits the alms of his neighbour, and is obliged to live upon the bread of charity,—you will find that even such an one as this will be the means, in some degree, of causing the name of God to be proclaimed to the world at large. And if we can conceive the Lord Almighty saying to the proud monarch, "For this cause have I raised thee up,' so, likewise, may we conceive him to say, to the afflicted and distressed, as well as to all of intermediate rank, "For this cause have I thrust thee down, for one and the same purpose: for to shew in thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth."
INFINITE POWER AND MERCY OF JESUS.
JOHN vi. 5, 6.
"When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do."
Of all the miracles of our Lord's performance, there is none which more strongly evinces his pretensions to supernatural power than that which is alluded to in the text. In truth, if the subject be duly examined into, we shall find, if I mistake not, that the wonderful performance just mentioned belongs to the class of miracles which is the most calculated to prove to us the Divine commission of Jesus Christ, and that it was none other than the power of the Creator himself which enabled him to do such things as no man could by any possibility accomplish, unless God were with him.
I do not, of course, mean to assert that any of our Lord's performances, which are usually designated miracles, are in any way defective in respect of the purpose for which they were intended. If a miracle
be a miracle, that is to say, if it belong not to the class of works which are of every day performance, undoubtedly it must convince us that none other than the hand of God can have been instrumental in bringing it to pass. When, therefore, we read of dead bodies which were restored to life, or of those who had been incurably defective or diseased from their birth having been suddenly endowed with those senses or bodily powers in which they had been previously wanting, we must feel satisfied that either the facts are false, or else that it was the power of the Almighty alone which brought such wonderful things to pass. Yet is there, I think, as I have before suggested, something in the miraculous feeding of five thousand men which pre-eminently proves to us the power of God in the undertaking. This is the work of creation, which, in this and in similar cases, so conspicuously developes itself. A dead man, for example, may be restored to life, yet is there, most assuredly, no creation in this case; it may, perhaps, even be argued, that the man had not been actually dead, but that his body had been merely paralyzed by suspended animation, and that, in consequence, no miracle was necessary to enable him afterwards to display the activity and energies of life. So in respect of the halt, the withered, and the blind, or of those whom the palsy or leprosy had smitten or laid low; though, it is true, no man in his senses would pretend that, in the cure of such diseases, our Lord did not most clearly display his divine ability; yet even in these the power of creation-the most wonderful and appro
priate attribute of an Almighty Being-is not disclosed to our view. In these we see cures performed, defects rectified, and things restored to the perfection which naturally belongs to them; and wonderful as such things are when human ability has proved itself unequal to their accomplishment, yet even in these the creative power of God does not, or at least does not very conspicuously, develope itself. It is not, however, thus in regard to the miracle, the relation of which is prefaced in the words of our text. In this we see five thousand men, according to the evangelist who has supplied us with our text, or according to the testimony of St. Matthew, "five thousand men, besides women and children," whose hunger was completely satisfied, not indeed by "five barley loaves," and those of ordinary dimensions, and "two small fishes," but by such a wonderful and instantaneous creation of food as enabled "the disciples," after the repast, to gather up twelve baskets of the fragments that remained. In this, therefore, there could be neither room for scepticism nor doubt. The performance was such as to convince all-I will not say, who were not blinded by prejudice and folly, but all who actually beheld it. Of none other of our Lord's miracles has it been said, that the bystanders were one and all convinced. In respect of this, however, the declaration of the evangelist is peculiarly remarkable. "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."
It does not, however, require the aid of the miracle before us to prove that Jesus Christ was the prophet to whose coming the Jews were taught to look forward: that He was in a very peculiar and pre-eminent manner the anointed servant, and the duly commissioned agent, of the Most High. This performance of the Redeemer is, nevertheless, of the utmost use and importance in another point of view, inasmuch as it teaches us a lesson which we shall do well to attend to as often as the opportunity presents itself. The lesson which I am now about to suggest to your attention, is that which is implied by our text, which it may be proper now once more to repeat: "When Jesus then lifted up his eyes and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to prove him, for he himself knew what he would do."
Now look attentively at these words, and I am mistaken if you perceive not in them more than at first sight they may appear to contain-more than a mere preface to the miracle which our Lord was henceforth about to perform. "This he said to prove him
He himself knew what he would do." Our Lord evidently wished to put to the test the faith of his apostle Philip-to ascertain to what extent he believed in his power and commission from above. He proposed the question to Philip, for the purpose of ascertaining whether, by his answer, he would express his conviction of his Master's Divine power, and of the reality of the character which he as