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stood theur; said upon their answering and then concluded that our Saviour must in the affirmative, he added, that every be greater than any of the old proplets, teacher of the gospel ought to resemble a who could not transmit the power they person whose house was completely furnish enjoyed to any other. This extraordinary ed, and brought " forth out of bis trea circumstance could not fail of spreading sures things new and old."
his fame through the whole country : it even
reached the cars of Herod Antipos, who Soon after Jesus left Capernaum, and fearing a person of such extraordinary abilirepaired to Nazareth, where he had been ties, was very uneasy ; which some of his brought up, and preached in the synagogue courtiers observing, endeavoured to remove, tbe glad tidings of the kingdom of God; telling bim, that one of the old prophets was but his townsmen, though astonished at bis risen from the dead ; but this did not satisfy doctrine, could not overcome the prejudices him, and he declared that he believed it was they had conceived against bim, on account John the Baptist was raisen from the dead. of the meanness of his family, and thence re " And he said unto his servants, This is John fused to own him for the Messiah. Our the Baptist ; he is risen from the dead, and Saviour finding them the same incorrigible therefore mighty works do shew forth thenpersons as when he visited them before, selves in him.” Matt. xiv. 2. departed from them, and taught in the neighbouring villages. They, in common with all The Evangelist baving, on this account, the Jews, were strangers to the true charac mentioned John the Baptist, informs us that ter of the Messiah, whom they considered as Herod had put him to death : but when this a temporal prince; and therefore could not happened is uncertain. bear that a person so mean as Jesus appeared to be, should perform works peculiar to It has already been observed, that Herod that idol of their vanity, a glorious, triumph bad cast Johu into prison for his boldness in ant, secular Messiah.
reproving him for the adulterous commerce
in which he lived with bis brother's wife. While our Lord resided in the neighbour The sacred writers have not told us how hood of Nazareth, he seut out his disciples long be continued in prison, but it is plain to preach in different parts of Galilee, apd from his two disciples, who came from him to proclaim the glad tidings that God was to our Saviour, that his followers did not forthen going to establish the kingdom of the sake him in bis melancholy condition. Nay, Messiah, wherein he would be worshipped, Herod himself both respected and feared in spirit and in truth. And in order that him, kuowing that he was highly and deserthey might confirm the doctrines they de vedly beloved by the people ; he consulted livered, and prove that they had received him often, and in many things followed his their commission from the Son of God, they advice. But Herodias, his brother's wife, were endowed with the power of working with whom he lived in so shameful a manner, miracles. How long they continued their being continually uneasy Jest Herod should preaching cannot be known, but it is rea be prevailed upon to set him at liberty, sonable to think they spent a considerable sought all opportunities to destroy him ; and time in it, preaching in several parts of at last an incident happened, wbich enabled Judea.
her to accomplish her intentions.
The miracles which the apostles wrought, raised the expectations of men higher than ever : the people were astonished to see the disciples of Jesus perform such miracles !
The king having, on bis birth-day, made a great feast for his friends, she sent her daughter Salome, whom she had by Philip, her lawful husband, into the saloon, to dance bea
fore the king and his guests. Her perforn) - The young lady eagerly received the ance was remarkably elegant, and bloody present, and carried it to her mother, charmed lierod, that he promised, with an who enjoyed the whole pleasure of revenge, oath, to give her whatever she asked. and feasted her eyes with the sight of her
enemy's head, now silent and barmless. Having obtained soremarkable a promise,
But she could not silence the voice of she ran to her mother, desiring to know the Baptist ; it becaine louder, filling the what she should ask ! and was instructed
earth and heavens, and publishing to every by that wicked woman, to require the head people and nation this woman's baseness . of Jolin the Baptist. Her mother's desire,
and adultery. doubtless surprised Salome, as she could not possibly see the use of asking what would be Thus fell that great and good inan, John of no use to her. But Herodias would take the Baptist, who was proclaimed by our no denial, peremptorily insisting on her de
Saviour himself, to be more than a prophet. tanding the head of the Baptist. According
Josephus tells us, that his whole crime conly she turned to Herod, saying, “ I will
sisted in exhorting the Jews to the love and thou give me, by and by, in a charger, the practice of virtue ; and in the first place to bead of John the Baptist."
piety, justice, and regeneration, or newness
of life; not by the bare abstinence from this So cruel a request thrilled every breast;
or that particular sin, but by an habitual. the gaiety of the king was vanished; he purity of mind and body. was vexed and coufounded. But being unwilling to appear either rash, fickle, or
It may not be improper, on this occasion, false, before a company of the first persons
to hini, that the history of this birth-day of his kingdom, for rank and character, he
transmitted to posterity in the scriptures, commanded the head to be given her; not
stands a perpetual beacon to warn the great, oneof the guests having the courage to speak
the gay, and the young, to beware of disa a single word iv behalf of an innocent man,
solute mirth. Admonished by so fatal an: nor attempt to divert him from his mad pur
example, they should be careful to maintain, pose, though he gave them an opportunity
in the midst of their jollity, an habitual of doing it, by signifying to them that he recollection of spirit, lest reason, at any had performed his oath, merely out of re
time, enervated by the pleasures of sense, gard to the company. Thus Herod, through
should slacken the rein of wisdom, or let it a misplaced regard to his oath, and his drop, though only for a moment, because guests, committed a most unjust and cruel their head-strong passions, ever impatient of action: an action that will for ever bravd controul, may catch the opportunity, and his memory with dishonour, and render rush with them into follies, whose consehis very name detestable to the latest pos quences will be unspeakably, perhaps eter, terity.
Soon after the command was given, the head of that venerable prophet, whose rebukes had struck Herod with awe in his loosest moments, and whose exhortations had often excited him to virtuous actions, was brought pale and bloody in a charger, and given to the daughter of Herodias, in the presence
of all the guests.
Mission and Doctrine, by working a Mi-
raise him to the earthly Dignity of King.
labourers ; motives abundantly sufficient to Peter, by means of his blessed Master, excite compassion in the Son of God. performed a Miracle, in walking upon the sea. Our Lord's Improvement of the
The situation of those numerous throngs Miracles wrought in the Wilderness,
of people scattered abroad, without a guide, introduced in a discourse delivered in without a guardian : a large flock of dethe Synagogues of Capernaum.
fenceless sheep, without a single shepherd
to defend them from the jaws of the internal THE THE disciples were so alarmed at the
wolf, was truly deplorable; the blessed cruel fate of the Baptist, whose me Jesus, therefore, that good shepherd who mory they highly revered, that they return came to lay down his life for the sheep, was ed from their mission, and assisted in per moved with pity towards them : the same forming the last offices to the body of their pity which brought him from the courts of old master, many of the apostles having heaven, for the sake of his lost and wanderbeen originally disciples of Joho. As soon ing sheep in the desart, now brought bim as these pious rites were over, they repaired to this multitude of people, whom he into Jesus, and told him all that had happen structed in the doctrines of eternal life; and, ed.
with his usual goodness, healed all the sick
among them. Their compassionate master, on hearing this melancholy news, retired with them by Intentionally devoted to teaching and sea into a desart place, belonging to Beth healing the people ; our blessed Saviour did saida, that by retirement, meditation and not perceive the day to wear away, and that prayer, they might be refreshed and recruited
the greatest part of it was already spent: but for their spiritual labours; and, at the same his disciples, too anxious about the things time, leave an example to us, that we should of this world, thought proper to advise him often retire from the noise and hurry of the of it; as if the Son of God wanted any diworld, and offer the most fervent prayers to rections from
The day, said the our most heavenly Father.
disciples, is now far advanced, and the But the multitude attended so closely, place a solitary desart, where neither food that their departure was not long concealed ;
nor lodging can be procured : It would
therefore be convenient to dismiss the peoand great numbers of people repaired to the place, where they supposed Jesus and his ple, that they may repair to the towns or disciples had secluded themselves. Struck villages, on the borders of the wilderness, with the greatness of his miracles on those
and provide themselves with food and lodg. that were sick, and anxious to hear more
ing, for they bave nothing to eat. instructions from the mouth of so divine a Teacher, no difficulties were too great for But our Lord prevented that trouble, by them to surmount, nor any place too retired telling bim there was no necessity for send for them to penetrate, in search of their ing the people away to procure victuals for admired Preacher.
themselves, as they might satisfy the hun
ger of the multitude, by giving them to eat. Nor was the beneficent Saviour of the
And at the same time to prove what opinion world regardless of their pious esteem. He his disciples entertained of his power, adsaw them, he was moved with compassion dressed himself to Philip, who was well towards them, because they were as sheep, acquainted with the country, and said, not having a shepherd, multitudes of people Whence shall we buy bread, that those may without a pastor, a large harvest without eat ?
Philip astonished at the seeming impossi the number, ordered them to be brought to bility of procuring a supply for so great a him; and immediately commanded the mulmultitude, with the small sum of money titude to sit dowu on the grass, with which which he knew was their all, and forgetting the place abounded, directing his disciples the extent of his Master's power, answered, at the same time to range them in a regular “ Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not order, by hundreds and fifties in a company, sufficient for them, that every one of them each company formning a long square, conmay take a little.” John vi. 7.
taining an hundred in rank, and fisty in file,
that the number might be more easily ascerOur blessed Saviour might now have put | tained, and the people the more regularly. the same question to Philip, that he did on served. another occasion, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known In obedience to his command, the people me, Philip ?” John xiv. 9. Hast thou be sat down in the manner they were ordered, held so many miracles, and art still ignorant big with expectation of what this uncommon that I can supply food, not only for this preparation portended: while the great people, but for all the sons of men, and for Master of the banquet stood ready to supthe cattle upon a thousand hills ?
ply the necessities of all his guests ; a ban
quet, where, though they had no canopy, But he contented bimself with answering, but the azure sky, no table, but the ver
Give ye them to eat.” The twelve, not dant turf, where their food was only coarse yet comprehending the design of their Mas
barley bread, and dried fishes, and their ter, repeated the objection of Philip: but drink only water from a bubbling fountain, added, that they were willing to expend yet displayed more real grandeur, by the their whole stock, in order to procure as presence of the divine Master of it, than the large a supply as possible, “Shall we go royal feast of gorgeous Abasuerus, or the (said they) and buy two hundred penny splendid entertainment of the imperious. . worth of bread, that they may eat?”
But this was by no means the design The multitude being seated, Jesus took their great Master, who, instead of making the loaves and fishes into his hands, in: å direct answer to their question, asked sight ofallthe people, that they might be con-, them, “How many loaves have ye ?” How vinced of thesmall quantityof provisions that much provision can be found among this were then before them, and that they could multitude ? go and see.
only expect to be fed by his supernatural power.
But that hand which had conan The disciples obeyed the command of their
stantly sustained nature, could now easily. Master ; and Andrew soon returned to in
multiply these five loaves and two fishes; form him, that the whole stock amounted
for, as the Psalmist elegantly observes, “ He. to no more than five barley loaves, and two
openeth his hand, and filleth all things living fishes; a quantity so inconsiderable, that it
with plenteousness. Accordingly, he lookscarcely deserved notice. What are they,
ed up to heaven, returned thanks to God, the said this disciple, among so many? What, liberal giver of all good things, for his infinite indeed, would they have been among such
beneficence in furnishing food for all flesh, a multitude of people, if they had not been
and for the power he had conferred on him, distributed by the creating hand of the Son
of relieving mankind by his miracles, parof God.
ticularly for that he was about to work.
This done, he blessed them, and so pecuJesus, notwithstanding the smallness of liarly efficacious, was his blessing, that these,
five barley loaves and two fishes were mul had it been done in the morning, they might tiplied into a quantity sufficient to supply have said, either that the people had been the wants of tive thousand men, besides | just refreshed, or were not hungry ; consé.. women and children, who, on the most quently the miracl
quently the miracl not great. But the favourable supposition, must amount to an time and place wholly removed all objectious equal number. “ And Jesus took the loaves, of this kind, and proved beyond a possiand when he bad given thanks, he distribut- bility of doubt, that “God can furnish a ed to the disciples, and the disciples to table in the wilderness," them that were set down ; and likewise of the fishes, as much as they would.” John
We should learn from this mighty miracle vi. 11.
to remember, That it is God Almighty who
every year blesses mankind with plentiful Thus did the compassionate and powerful
supplies of every thing necessary; who, Redeemer feed at least ten thousand people agreeable to the empliatical works of David, with five barley loaves and two small fisbes,
“ visiteth the earth, and blesseth it; who giving a magnificent proof, both of bis maketh it very plenteous, who watereth hier power and goodness. For after all had furrows, and sendeth rain into the little eaten to satisfy, they took up twelve baskets vallies thereof, who maketh it soft with, full of the broken pieces of meat-much
showers, and blesseth the increase of it: who larger quantity than was at first set before crowneth the year with his good ness, wbile our Lord to divide.
his clouds drop fatness : making the val
lies stand so thick with corn, that they Miraculous works! But what is too hard laugh and sing.” Whose beneficent for God! What is impossible to Omnipo
hand and liberal bounty call for all their tence! Strange perverseness of the sons of praise and claim all their thankfulness. For men, that after such manifestations of however inattentively we may behold this Almighty power, they should incredulously mighty work of Omnipotence, it is no less doubt, or impiously distrust the works of
a miracle, that she should every day support the Son of God ; as the extraordinary cir
and feed the whole race of mankind, and cumstances attending them, must convince
all the creatures of his hand, than that Christ the most hạrdened sinner, that they were
should feed five thousand with five loaves the effect of God's unlimited power and
and two fishes; for what proportion does goodness.
five thousand bear to those myriads of men,
who are daily fed from the fruits of the The literal account of this miracle, as
earth : theincrease of which is equallyá mira., recorded by the several evangelists, is very
cle with the increase of the bread and loaves, plain, as well as circumstantial; and it is by the blessing of Jesus.--How small is the remarkable, that the place and time tended seed sown when compared with the produce? to magnify its greatness. The place was a It is carried out in handfuls and brought desart, where there was no possibility of
home in sheaves : and who can tell by what procuring any sustenance. Had be done secret operations this wonderful effect is this mighty work in any of the towns or wrought! Nature is equally wonderful in : villages round about, the pharisees in those all her works as in this particular; and the days, and the infidels in ours might have divinity, to an attentive observer equally objected, that he had received secretly visible in these regular productions, as in some supplies; but this, in the present case,
miraculous supplies afforded ; equally seen was impossible. The time was the evening: in the wine produced from the moisture of the people had been all the day fasting, and the earth filtrated through the branches of consequently were ready for their meal; the vine, as in that instantaneously made