صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

buted to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes, as much as they would, (Mark, and the two fishes divided he among them all). It is not to be supposed, that twelve persons could put first a piece of bread, and then a piece of fish into the hands of five thousand men, besides women and children, who were all fed with such expedition, that not. withstanding the thing was not so much as proposed to the disciples till about three, * all was over by five o'clock in the afternoon. Wherefore it is natural to conclude, that in distributing the meat, the disciples used the most expeditious method, putting, by their Master's direction, the bread first, and after that the fish, into the hands of those only who sat at the ends of the ranks, with orders to give it to their companions.' On this supposition, the meat must have extended its dimensions, not in our Lord's hands only, but in the hands of the multitude likewise, + conti


different sense uron the word, because meat they think is not capable of heing blessed. Farther, they apprehend that our Lord's looking up to beaPen v hen be blessed, mentioned by Luke himself, shews that his blessing vus directed to Cod, and that it imported a thanksgiving for his great roodness. Accordingly, John expresses it by the word ev%20:577kç, which Luke, in his account of the institution of the sacrament, has substituted for the idea which Matthew and Mark express by eurogatus. For these reasons they conclude, that the words to Flor dich are suppressed by Luke, which being joined with autrs makes this sense, He blessed God for them, viz. the loaves and the fishes. The reader however will remember, that the word in dispute has a sense which favours the common interpretation of this passage, Psal. Ixv. 10. Thou blessest the sprirging thereof, viz, of the corn.

* was over by five o'clock ] This may be gathered from a circumstance mentioned, John vi. 16. namely, that when the disciples departed some time after the dinner, the second evening approached, that is, it was* a little before sun-setting, at which time the second evening began. But at that season of the year, the sun set before six o'clock in the afternoon, for the passover, and consequently the vernal equinox, was not come, John vi. 4. Besides, they were in the midst of the lake by the time the sun was set. Mait. xiv. 23. Mark vi. 47

+ This sugrists more reasons for the peoples being set down in the manner above explained. For as they were fed on a mountain, we may reasonably suppose that the ground was somewhat steep, and that they lay with their heads pointing up the hill, in such a manner, that reclining on their elbows, they were almost in a sitting posture, and had their eyes fixed m: Jesus, who stood below them in a plare that was more plain, at a little distance from the ends of the ranks. Without claubt therefore they all heard his thanksgiving and prayer for the mira le, sawim give the disciples the meat, and were astonished above measure when they perceivel, that in. stead of diminishing it increased under his creating hands. Moreover, be. ing set down in companies consisting some of fifty, some of a hundred persons, arcording as the ground wculd aulinit; and every company being orvided into two ranks, which lay 1:oring each other, the ranks of all the comunies were parallel, and pointed toward Jesus, and so were situated . in such a manner, that the disciples could readily bring the bread and fish to them that sat at the extremitics of the ranks. To conclude, by this


they also", saw the remainder of what way who

[ocr errors]

sing to swell till there was a greater quantity than they who held it could make use of; so that breaking off what was sufli. cient for themselves, they gave the remainder to the persons next them, who, in like manner, saw the bread and fish swell in their own hands, till they also had enough and to spare. The meal being thus created among the hands of the multitude, and before their eyes, as long as there was a single person to be fed, they did all eat and were filled, to their unspeakable astonishment.. Luke ix. 17. And they did eat, and were all filled. John vi. 12. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Though Jesus was entirely free from worldly cares, and from all anxiety about fu. turity, he did not think it unworthy of him on this occasion, to order his disciples to take care of the broken pieces of meat left, by the multitude. The reason mentioned by him for their doing 59, namely, that nothing might be lost, deserves our notice ; for it shews us, that he to whom the earth and the fulness thereof belongs, willeth every man to take due care of all the goods which he possesses, and that if he wastes any thing by carelessness * of profusion, he is guilty of sin ; namely, the sin of despising the creatures of God, which by so admirable a contrivance as the frame of the world, God has produced for his use. Wherefore, as by feeding so many, Jesus has set us an example of liberality, 50 by taking care of the fragments, he has taught us frugality ; and by joining the two together, he has shewed us that charity and frugality ought always to go hand in hand, and that there is a great difference between the truly liberal and the lavish man. 13. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskds with the fragments of the five barley loaves (Mark, and of the fishes) which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Matt. xiv. 21. And they that had caten (Mark, of the loaves) were about five thousand men, besides women and children. In computing the number of persons fed at this meal, the evangelists mention none but the men, and of them only such as were of age; and they all agree that they were about five thousand. In this they do not speak by guess ; for the disposition of the multitude in ranks of a determinate number, enabled them to . make the computation with certainty. If they were not five VOL. II.

thousand disposition there must have been such a space between the two ranks of each company, that every individual in it could casily survey the whole of his own company, as well those above him, as thosc brlow him ; and therefore when the incat was brought, and handed from one to another, they would all follow it with their eye, and see it swelling, not only in their own hands, but in the hands of their companions likewise, to the amazement and joy of every person present. The evangents indeco give very short accounts of our Lord's miracles. Nevertheless, the nature of those miracies, and the few circumstances which they have mentioned, oftentimes suggest many astonishing ideas, which vulgar and inarrentive minds altogether overjook,

thousand precisely, one of the ranks incomplete will make them less, and an additional rank, or part of a rank, will make them more. But besides the men, there were women also and children, who, we may suppose, * were not inferior in number to the men ; and who, if they were not fed with the men, as is probable from John 10. must have been set down by themselves to a separate meal, some of the disciples being appointed to wait on , them and serve them. This vast multitude of people finding their hunger removed, and spirits recreated, as well as their taste delighted by the meal, were absolutely sure it was no illusion. As John expresses it very properly, ver. 14. They had seen the miracle, so could not entertain doubts, or form ojections. In this manner did he, who is the bread of life, feed upwards of ten thousand people with five loaves and two small fishes, giving a magnificent proof, not only of his goodness, but of his creating power. For after all had eaten to satiety, the disciples took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces of meat, each disciple a basket, in which, as every one of the multitude may be supposed to have left a little, there must have been much more than the quantity at first set before the Lord to divide. The stupendous miracle, therefore, without all doubt, was conspicuous, not to the disciples only, who carrying each his basket in his hand, had an abiding sensible demonstration of its truth, but to every india vidual guest at this divine feast, who had all felt themselves de lighted, filled, refreshed, and strengthened by the meal. Anciently, Elisha fed an hundred men with twenty barley loaves, 2 Kings iv. 42. But the quantity of the food divided was greater, and the people fed there with incomparably fewer than at our Lord's miracle. Besides, though something was left at Elisha's feast to shew that the men were filled, it was but a trifle in comparison of the quantity left by the great multitude whom our Lord fed.

This being one of the most astonishing, and at the same time the most extensively convincing of all the miracles Jesus performed during the course of his ministry, every one of the evangelists has recorded it; and, which is remarkable, it is the only one found in each of their histories.

Were not inferior in number to the men.] The evangelist John gives the reason that so great a crowd was now with Jesus. The passover was at hand, chup. vi. 4. consequently numbers from every corner being on the roa's to Jerusalem, they might be drown round Christ by the fanae of his in'racks, of which they desired to be the eye-witnesses.

LXI. The multitude propose to make Jesus a king. He per. suodes tiem to depart, and orders the disciples to soil away befiri lim. They are retorded ly contrary winds. Jesus walks upon the sea, draws nigh to their boat, and makes Peter also


ta walk upon the sea. They arrive at Capernaum. Matt. xiv. 24,-34. Mark vi. 45,—53. John vi. 14,21.

The people thus fed by miracle were unspeakably astonished, for indeed it was wonderful to see and feel the meat extending itself among their hands. In the height of their transport, they proposed to take Jesus by force, and make him a king, that is, would constrain him to assume the title of Messiah without farther delay. Anciently it was usual for great men who courted the favour of the populace, to give public feasts, at which they would treat all the inhabitants of a town or city. (Jos, Bell. ii. 1.) Le Clerc therefore fancies, that this multitude took the miracle of the loaves for a thing of this kind, and that they expressed their gratitude to Jesus, by offering to aid him in' what they supposed was his purpose. Yet the reader may think it as probable, that in this they fulfilled their own inclinations, which led them to wish for the coming of Messiah's kingdom, wherein they all expected to enjoy great secular advantages. For to say the truth, they might very naturally imagine, that he who with five loaves and two fishes could feed so many thousands, was in a condition to supporr armies any length of time he pleased. But Jesus knowing both the purposes of the multitude, and the inclination of the disciples to encourage them in those purposes, ordered the latter to get into their boat and make for Bethsaida, while he should dismiss the former. The disciples therefore expressed great unwillingness to depart. They would not go till he constrained them. It seems they would gladly have detained the people, with whom they fully agreed in sentiment. For it was their opinion also, that he who could feed such a number with so little, had no reason to conceal himself, but without running the least risk, might take the title of Messiah whenever he pleased. Besides, they certainly supposed that the favourable moment was come, the people being in such a proper temper, that if Jesus but spake the word, they would all to a man have listed under him, and formed an army immediately. John vi. 14. 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: the prophet predicted by Moses, the Messiah. 15. When Jesus therefore perceived, that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. But before Jesus went into the mountain, several things happened which the other evangelists have related. For when the miraculous dinner was over, Jesus perceiving the disposition of the multitude, went down from the hill where he had fed them to the shore, and sent his disciples off in their boat to Bethsaida. The multitude also who had followed him down the hill, he perBuaded to depart; then went up again into the mountain. To

this agrees John's manner of telling the story. For as it is he who has informed us, that the miraculous dinner was given on a mountain, vi. 3. when he tells us here, that Jesus deported again into a mountain (645 to opos, into the mountain), he insinuates, that on some occasion or other he had come down from it. Matt. xiv. 22. And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, (Mark, unto Bethsaida ) while he sent the multitudes away. John xv. 16. And when even was now come, his disciples went down into the sea. 17. And entered into a ship, and went over the sea towards Capernaum. Their Master's order was, that they should go to Bethsaida, as Mark informs us; but the wind becoming contrary, as we shall see immediately, they were obliged to sail towards Capernaum. John therefore describes the voyage, not as it was intended, but as it actually happened. The evangelists have not told us how the twelve baskets full of fragments were disposed of. Probably the disciples carried them with them into the boat. So that having before their eyes this most convincing evidence of the miracle, they no doubt discoursed about it among themselves as they sailed, and deliberately reflected on every circumstance which had accompanied it. The people perceiving that Jesus intended to stay, made no scruple to let the disciples go. Perhaps they imagined he was sending them away, to provide such things as he had need of, in order to the expedition. Neither did they refuse to disperse when he commanded them, proposing all to return next miorning, as they actually did; a circumstance which proves that they did not go far away.

The multitude being dispersed, Jesus went up into the mountain, where he spent the evening in contemplation and prayer. Matth. xiv. 23. And when he had sent the multitudes away, and his disciples, he went up into a mountain apart to pray. 24. And when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves, for the wind was contrary. The disciples having met with a contrary wind, could not keep their course to * Bethsaida, which was situated


* Bethsaida, which was situated northwards, about a league or two from the desart mountain.] If Bethsaida had been at a greater distance, Jesus would hardly have sent the disciples away, nor would they have consented to go; but as it was only a few miles off, he could easily walk thither on foot. By the way, this explains John vi. 17. where we are told, that the disciples, when it was evening, went towards Caperndum. They rowed hard to keep their course to Bethsaida, but could only make Capernaum, the wind being contrary, and the sea running high by reason of the storm. Or, since John represents them as sailing towards Capernaum before the storm arose, we may conceive his meaning in this manner. Capernauit lying on the west side of the lake, in sailing from the mountain on the eastern shore to Bethsaida, which stcod just where the Jordan runs into the lake, they would be obliged to launch out into the deep, as if they


« السابقةمتابعة »