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compensated by the sword of sorrow which pierced her heart, when she beheld him whom her soul loved, agonizing in torments on the fatal tree. But the happiness of those who walk assiduously in the commandments of the Lord, is not of this precarious and transient nature. No. It is imperishable and eternal. It manifests itself here, in all those delicious fruits of the Holy Spirit, which diffuse over the mind contentment and joy; and it will be experienced hereafter in the more exalted blessings of a blissful immortality. That this happiness may be yours, my friends, is my most sincere wish and earnest prayer, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT.
ON JESUS FEEDING THE MULTITUDE IN THE WILDERNESS
GOSPEL. St. John, vi. v. 1-15. At that time, Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias; and a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples, Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to try him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered, two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that
every one may take a little.
One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him, There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes; but what are these among so many? Then Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. And when they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said, This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world. Jesus therefore when he knew that they would come to take him by force and make him a king, fled again into the mountain himself alone. The Gospel of this Sunday furnishes us with an account of a most illustrious miracle. It is nothing less than that of feeding five thousand men with
five barley loaves and two fishes. Stupendous as this prodigy must certainly appear, our ideas of its importance are enhanced by the consideration that it is the only one, amongst the miracles performed by our blessed Saviour during the whole of his ministry, which all the four evangelists have concurred in recording. It took place, as we are informed by the Gospel, a short time before the Jewish passover. The theatre of its exhibition, was an elevated spot, on which Christ was seated with his twelve apostles. And that elevated spot, as we learn from St. Luke (c. ix. v. 10), was situated in a desert, in the neighbourhood of Bethsaida. Thither he proceeded after he had crossed the lake of Tiberias, followed by a great concourse of people, who were allured by the manifestation of that supernatural power, which they had witnessed in the cure of a variety of diseases. Nor did he discover the least displeasure at the intrusion of the multitude into his retreat, nor refuse them access to his sacred person. On the contrary, it is expressly stated by St. Luke, that “ he received them, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and healed them who had need of healing.” His first care, indeed, was to attend to their highest and most important interests. But having done that, having addressed them on the subject of the kingdom of God, he graciously consulted their temporal comfort, by restoring to health those who among them laboured under corporal infirmities. “ Healing them,” says the sacred text, “ who had
need of healing.” And when, on the decline of day, he perceived them to be in want of food, the supply of this want became the object of his thoughts. But here a question naturally arose, how were provisions to be procured adequate to the demands of so vast a multitude ? And this question he propounded to his apostles in the person of Philip, saying to him, in the words of the Gospel,“ whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?” It is not, however, to be imagined, that this query on the part of Jesus, proceeded from any embarrassment that he felt respecting the means by which he might accomplish his benevolent design. He was not so ignorant of his own great resources, as to be under the necessity of applying to his apostles for the aid of their advice in the present conjuncture. Oh! no. He knew those resources well; and he had determined also upon the mode in which he should employ them for the attainment of his purpose. When therefore he addressed himself to Philip, to deliver his sentiments on the matter in question, it was not that he needed his opinion, but because he wished to propose a test, by which the quality of his faith, as well as that of the rest of the Apostles, might be clearly ascertained. “ And this,” adds the Gospel, “ he said to try him, for he himself knew what he would do." Yet let it not be thought that even this trial, to which he subjected the faith of Philip and of his associates in the ministry, was resorted to for the purpose of procuring information for himself in this respect, as if he were not already acquainted with all that passed within their minds, since "he needed not,” says St. John, “ that any should give testimony of man; for he knew what was in man.” (John, c. ii. v. 25.) The fact was, that it was not for his, but for their benefit, that he put the question which has been just stated. It was in order that they might be experimentally convinced, that they might be convicted from their own mouths of the weakness of their faith, and thus be more alive to the feelings of self-reproach, when the replies of their infidelity should be completely confounded by the display of his omnipotence. Clearly, indeed, did the answers given by two of his apostles to the question of Jesus, evince the lamentable deficiency of their faith. Philip intimated the matter in contemplation to be altogether impracticable; as he observed, that two hundred pence, * would not be sufficient to purchase a quantity of food in any degree equal to the wants of so great a multitude. And how, he left it to be inferred, was it to be expected, that provisions to that amount could possibly be procured in the situation in which they then were ? “ Philip answered him : two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little.” Andrew, indeed, the brother of Peter, informed Jesus, that there was a person among them who had a small stock of provisions in his