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2. We here learn that Those who follow Christ may trust to him for the necessaries of life. It is, indeed, only this principle which pervades this history, and not what is miraculous in it, which is generally applicable. Miracles have ceased; but the providential government of the world, which is on Christ's shoulder, may be fully depended on by those who, using prudence and diligence in their worldly concerns, are still more earnest in seeking the salvation of their souls. All supplies come originally from him, through whatever channel they may be conveyed; and he has a peculiar care over those who seek him. If the very ravens are fed, much more shall his own people be fed. "Trust

in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." It is only what is necessary, however, which is promised. This miraculous provision was only bread, barley bread, as we learn from John; and fish, which was ordinary and common fare to those who lived by the Lake of Gennesareth. There was no wine, and they must have been contented with water from the brook or spring. As our Lord did not then exert his miraculous power, so neither does he now engage his common providential power, to furnish dainties. Yet, these are blessed promises made to his people, that "bread shall be given to them, and their water shall be sure;" and that, if they "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," all needful things shall be added unto them. Let none of them murmur, though reduced to plain or coarse fare; but, having food and raiment, let them therewith be content. Those who have not even bread, should consider whether they be not destitute of faith. If it be so that any of Christ's real disciples are in want, he will soon supply their want, or abundantly make it up in divine consolation.


3. We are here reminded of the duty of what is commonly called saying grace at meals. Before Christ distributed the loaves and the fishes, "he blessed them," and 'gave thanks;" and he did the same when he fed the four thousand, when he instituted the Lord's supper, and when he sat at meat with the disciples in Emmaus. In addition to Christ's example, Scripture contains many passages which, in the form of example, or of precept, enjoin attention to this duty. Of these the following may be noticed. Deut. viii. 10: "When thou hast eaten, and art full, then shalt thou bless the Lord thy God, for the good land which he hath given thee." 1 Sam. ix. 13, when Saul was seeking


Samuel, the maidens said to him and his servant, "As soon as ye be come into the city, ye shall straightway find him before he go up to the high place to eat; for, the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice; and afterwards they eat that be bidden." Acts xxvii. 34, Paul said to his shipmates, "Wherefore, I pray you to take some meat; for this is for your health:" and "when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all; and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat." 1 Tim. iv. 4, "Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for, it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." Rom. xiv. 6, "He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks." And 1 Cor. x. 30, "If I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Without meaning to say that any precise form, or length, or numeration of particulars, is necessary, the following hints may be given as of general application. A grace is a prayer before, or after meat, which circumstances require to be short, but which ought always to be solemn and earnest, never formal and careless. It most expressly requires an acknowledgment of God as the author of our mercies, and a petition for his blessing along with them: and, as presented by Christians, it ought, in some way, to refer to the gospel, and spiritual things, and be concluded in the name of Christ. At a solitary meal, the duty must by no means be neglected; and then one's own private feelings may be more particularly consulted as to the matter. a social meal, time and circumstances, in what is indifferent, may be, and ought to be, considered; but all present ought to hear what is said, and join heartily in it, else it is no grace, no act of blessing and thanksgiving of theirs. Children ought to be early instructed in the nature of this duty, and taught and accustomed reverentially to discharge it. Nor ought it ever afterwards to be discontinued. due observance of this pious custom adorns the best furnished table, and ennobles and sweetens the plainest fare. Let no man, who should be expected to discharge this honourable service before others, whether he be minister, or landlord, or other person presiding, or taking a lead for the time, be afraid or ashamed so to do.

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4. From the particular direction our Lord here gave as to the fragments, we draw the general rule that nothing should be lost, or wasted. To waste our substance, is a sinful abuse of God's gifts. The prodigal son "wasted his substance with riotous living;" and, according to another parable, "There was a certain rich man who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods." We must "use this world as not abusing it." It is one thing to be generous, and hospitable; it is quite another to be thoughtless, extravagant, and wasteful. Such wasting is not only offensive to God, but unjust and unkind to our fellow-creatures. With regard, for example, to what is most analogous to the caution in this passage, namely, the neglect and loss of provisions after an entertainment, those who fare sumptuously, or plentifully, should remember that there is many a Lazarus at their door, or in their neighbourhood, who would be glad to be fed with the crumbs that fall-the left food that is taken away from their table. It is a good charity "to send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared." But, whether this exact mode of charity be much resorted to, or not, as it is clear that charity, in some form, should by no means be neglected, so, it is also clear that the being careful not to waste, but, on the contrary, frugally and judiciously to manage affairs in the house, and, indeed, in every department, is the way to place people in those easy circumstances, according to their station, be it what it may, which put it in their power, not merely to give somewhat, but to persevere, without imprudence, in contributing very liberally, to those who are in need. The connection between economy and charity, is well illustrated in Solomon's description of the virtuous woman, "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness :" "she stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy." The waster acts a foolish part for himself, too, in every respect:-" There is a treasure to be desired, and oil in the dwelling of the wise," says Solomon, "but a foolish man spendeth it up." Nor should men carelessly sit down without trying to find any piece of property which has been lost; the woman, in the parable, is supposed to search diligently for the lost piece of silver, till she find it. The same principle ought to be applied, also, to the proper improvement of our time. Time is a precious talent committed to us, which ought to be carefully husbanded, and

the fragments, or small portions, of which should be turned to some good account. Though each of these fragments be small in itself, they are very considerable when all put together, and much may be done during them. Let us beware of wasting and losing time by sloth, or inconsideration. "He that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster." Let us see, then, that we "walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Once more here, we should improve this miracle in the literal sense, to confirm us in our belief of the divine mission and Messiahship of Jesus Christ. This is, indeed, exactly the conclusion which John tells us was drawn from this miracle, by those who were eye-witnesses of it. "Then

those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of truth that prophet that should come into the world." And, surely, every man who rightly exercises his reason, must still draw the same conclusion from the same premises. Let us remember, however, that, as the greater part of the spectators of this miracle, though the conviction of Christ's being the great Prophet was thereby forced on their minds, did not receive his doctrine, nor continue to follow him, but "went back, and walked no more with him;" so we ought to beware, lest a somewhat similar inconsistency, on our part, render our profession vain, and our Christianity only a name. If we acknowledge his divine mission and Messiahship, the same evidence should lead us to receive all the doctrines he teaches, to rely on him for acceptance, and to do whatsoever he commands.


Let us, therefore, also improve this miracle figuratively, or, in reference to the supply of our spiritual wants. this, our Lord himself leads the way: for, though Luke does not record this, John supplies the account of it. In the same chapter in which this miracle is recorded by John, he tells us how our Lord had soon occasion to complain of many who sought him, not because of the miracles and the truths they established, but " because they did eat of the foaves, and were filled." Our Lord then thus exhorted; "Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give you:" and he added, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." 66 My flesh is meat indeed

John vi. 14.

and my blood is drink indeed." But, the very same spiritual nourishment he now invites you to partake of;—that is, in plain terms, he invites you to partake of all the blessings. of salvation through faith in his atonement. And do you not stand in need of this nourishment?-is it not written that man "liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that cometh out of the mouth of God?" Ought you not to say, with Job, "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food?" Are not the blessings which Jesus is now ready to bestow, of much more importance, than if he were here personally present to work a miracle to feed your bodies? The provisions he now brings forward may appear, to the world, to be nean and scanty: but they are just those which, as poor sinners, you require; and they are truly heavenly, and abundant. Knowledge, pardon, peace, comfort, strength, holiness, and every other spiritual blessing, may be had from him. " My God," saith the apostle, "shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." However great the number to be supplied, the provision is sufficient: nay, the more widely it is diffused, the more it increases; the greater the number who are blessed with it, the greater the blessedness of each. Here there is "bread enough and to spare." Like the twelve disciples of old, ministers are employed to distribute this bread of life: and it is well when they can indeed say, "We have received of the Lord that which we deliver unto you."- "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing." This we desire now to do, exhorting you all to come, and to be fully satisfied with the blessings of salvation, and saying, “ Ho, every one that thirsteth, come to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."-" Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."

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