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With all the points of similarity, there are also some points differ encing this second narrative from the first. Here the people had continued with the Lord three days, but on the former occasion nothing of the kind is noted; the provision too is somewhat larger, seven loaves and a few fishes, instead of five loaves and two fishes; as the number fed is somewhat smaller, four thousand now, instead of five thousand, as it was then; and the remaining fragments in this case fill but seven baskets,* while in the former they had filled twelve. Of course the work, considered as a miraculous putting forth of the power of the Lord, in each case remains exactly the same.
At first it excites some surprise that the apostles, with that other miracle fresh in their memories, should now have been equally at a loss how the multitude should be fed as they were before. Yet this surprise rises out of our ignorance of man's heart, of our own heart, and of the deep root of unbelief which is there. It is evermore thus in times of difficulty and distress. All former deliverances are in danger of being forgotten;t the mighty interpositions of God's hand in former passages of men's lives fall out of their memories. Each new difficulty appears insurmountable, as one from which there is no extrication; at each recurring necessity it seems as though the wonders of God's grace are exhausted and have come to an end. God may have divided the Red Sea for Israel, yet no sooner are they on the other side, than be
* It is remarkable that all four Evangelists, in narrating the first miracle, agree in using the term kopívous to describe the baskets which were filled with the remain. ing fragments, while the two that relate the second equally agree there in using the -term otupídas. And that this variation was not accidental, but that there was some difference, is clear from our Lord's after words; when alluding to the two miracles, he preserves the distinction, asking his disciples how many kopívous on the first occasion they gathered up; how many otupídas on the last. (Matt. xvi. 9, 10; Mark viii. 19, 20.) What the distinction was, is more difficult to say. The derivation of the words, κόφινος from κόπτω (=αγγείον πλεκτόν, Suidas) and σπυρίς from σπείρα, does not help us, as each points to the baskets being of woven work. See, however, another derivation of otupís in Mr. Greswell's Dissert., v. 2, p. 358, and the distinction which he seeks to draw from it. Why the people, or at least the apostles should have been provided with the one or the other has been variously accounted for. Some say, to carry their own provisions with them, while they were travelling through a polluted land, such as Samaria. Mr. Greswell rather supposes that they might sleep in them, so long as they were compelled to lodge sub dio; and refers in confirmation, to the words of Juvenal (3, 13): Judæis, quorum cophinus fænumque supellex. It appears from Acts ix. 25, that the otupíc might be of size sufficient to contain a man.
+ Calvin : Quia autem similis quotidie nobis obrepit torpor, eo magis cavendum est ne unquam distrahantur mentes nostræ à reputandis Dei beneficiis, ut præteriti temporis experientia in futurum idem nos sperare doceat, quod jam semel vel sæpius largitus est Deus.
cause there are no waters to drink, they murmur against Moses, and count that they must perish for thirst, (Exod. xvii. 1—7,) crying, “ Is the Lord among us or not ?" or, to adduce a still nearer parallel, once already the Lord had covered the camp with quails, (Exod. xvi. 13,) yet for all this even Moses himself cannot believe that he will provide flesh for all that multitude. (Num. xi. 21, 22.) It is only the man of a full formed faith, a faith such as apostles themselves at this time had not, who argues from the past to the future, and truly derives confidence from God's former dealings of faithfulness and love. (Cf. 1 Sam. xvii. 34—37; 2 Chron. xvi. 7, 8.)
And were it not so, even granting that they did remember how their Master had once spread a table in the wilderness, and were persuaded that he could do it again, yet they might very well have doubted whether he would choose a second time to put forth his creative might; -whether there was in these present multitudes that spiritual hunger, which was worthy of being met and rewarded by this interposition of divine power; whether these too were seeking the kingdom of heaven, and were so worthy to have all other things, those also which pertain to this lower life, to the supply of their present needs, added unto them.*
* It is at least an ingenious allegory which Augustine starts, that these two miracles respectively set forth Christ's communicating of himself to the Jew and to the Gentile ; that as the first is a parable of the Jewish people finding in him the satisfaction in their spiritual need, so this second, in which the people came from far, even from the far country of idols, is a parable of the Gentile world. The details of his application may not be of any very great value; but the perplexity of the apostles here concerning the supply of the new needs, notwithstanding all that they had already witnessed, will then exactly answer to the slowness with which they themselves, as the ministers of the new Kingdom, did recognize that Christ was as freely given to, and was as truly the portion of, the Gentile as the Jew. This sermon the Benedictine Edd. place in the Appendix (Serm. 81), but the passage about Eutyches might easily be, indeed bears witness of being, an interpolation, and the rest is so entirely in Augustine’s manner, that I have not hesitated to quote it as his. Hilary had before him suggested the same: Sicut autem illa turba quam prius pavit, Judaicæ credentium convenit turbæ, ita hæc populo gentium comparatur.
THE OPENING THE EYES OF ONE BLIND AT BETHSAIDA.
MARK VÜN. 22–26.
There is little peculiar in this miracle which has not been treated of elsewhere. For Christ's leading the man out of the town,* and touching his eyes as he did, see what has been said already on the miracle last treated of but one. The Lord links on his power, as was frequent with him, to forms in use among men; working through these forms something higher than they could have produced, and clothing the supernatural in the forms of the natural. It was not otherwise, when he bade his disciples anoint the sick with oil,—one of the most esteemed helps for healing in the East. Not the oil, but his Word was to heal, yet without the oil the disciples might have found it too hard to believe in the power which they were exerting,—those who through their faith were to be healed, in the power which should heal them. (Mark vi. 13; Jam. v. 14.) So the figs for Hezekiah's boil were indeed the very remedy which a physician with only natural appliances at command would have used; (Isai. xxxviii. 22;) yet now, hiding itself behind this nature, clothing itself in the forms of this nature, did an effectual work of preternatural healing go forward.
The only circumstance which remains distinctive of this narration is the progressiveness of the cure; which is not itself without analogies in other cures, as in that of the man blind from his birth, who only after he had been to wash in Siloam, “came seeing;” (John ix. 7;) yet the steps of the progress are marked more plainly here than in any other
* Bengel gives this as the reason why the Lord led him out into the country: Cæco visum recuperanti lætior erat aspectus cæli et operum divinorum in natura, quàm operum humanorum in pago.
OPENING THE EYES OF ONE BLIND AT BETHSAIDA. 289
instance. For first " when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw aught. And he looked
and said, I see men, as trees, walking ;" certain moving forms about him, but without the power of discerning their shape or magnitude,-trees he should have accounted them from their height, but men from their motion.* Then the Lord perfects the cure: “ He put his hands again upon his eyes,t and made him look up, and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.”
Chrysostom and others find the reasons for this only progressive cure, in the imperfectness of this blind man's faith, whereof they see an evidence in this, that while others in like case cried with their own voices to Jesus for the opening of their eyes, this man was brought to him by others, himself perhaps scarcely expecting a benefit. The gracious Lord, then, who would not reject him, but who could as little cure him so long as there was on his part this desperation of healing, gave a glimpse of the blessing, that he might kindle in him a longing for the fulness of it, that he might show him how he was indeed an opener of the blind eyes. Others again see a testimony here of the freeness of God's grace, which is linked to no single way of manifestation, but works in divers manners, sometimes accomplishing in a moment what at other times it brings about only little by little.
There has oftentimes been traced in this healing an apt symbol of the manner in which he who is the Light of the world makes the souls that come to him partakers of the illumination of his grace. Not all at once are the old errors and the old confusions put to flight; not all at once do they see clearly : for a while there are many remains of their old blindness, much which for a season still hinders their vision; they
* In the very interesting account which Cheselden has given (Anatomy, p. 301, 1768, London) of the feelings of a child, who having been blind from his birth, was enabled to see, a curious confirmation of the truthfulness of this narrative occurs :
When he first saw, he knew not the shape of any thing, nor any one thing from another, however different in shape or magnitude, but being told what things were, whose forms he before knew from feeling, he would carefully observe that he might know them again."
+ Chemnitz (Harm. Evang., c. 84): Manus imponit ut ostendat carnem suam esse instrumentum per quod et cum quo ipse ó Aóyos æternus omnia opera vivificationis perficiat.
| Calvin : Paulatim cæco visum restituit: quod ideo factum esse probabile est, ut documentum in hoc homine statueret liberæ suæ dispensationis, nec se astrictum esse ad certam normam, quin hoc vel illo modo virtutem suam proferret. Oculos ergo cæci non statim ita illuminat ut officio suo fungantur, sed obscurum illis confusumque intuitum instillat: deinde alterâ manuum impositione integram aciem illis reddit. Ita gratia Christi, quæ in alios repente effusa prius erat, quasi guttatim dei uxit in hunc hominem.
OPENING THE EYES OF ONE BLIND AT BETHSADDA,
see men but as trees walking. Yet in good time Christ finishes the work which he has begun; he lays his hands on them anew, and they see every man clearly.*
* Bede: Quem uno verbo totum simul curare poterat, paulatim curat, ut magnitudinem humanæ cæcitatis ostendat, quæ vix et quasi per gradus ad lucem redeat, et gratiam suam nobis indicet, per quam singula perfectionis incrementa adjuvat.