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children He graciously promises; Bread shall be given thee, thy water shall be sure ;31 what is needful shall be vouchsafed. He compassionates the distresses of the poor of His people; and His power to relieve them is as great as His compassion; and therefore they shall not call upon Him in vain, who giveth food to the young ravens which cry.23
We may observe also that our Saviour provided only what was necessary for the occasion; there was no superfluity. And notwithstanding the bread was miraculously increased as it was wanted, He would not suffer any of it to be wasted; but directed His disciples as soon as the people had eaten all that they wished, to gather up the fragments that remained, that nothing might be lost. This was designed to show us our duty with regard to the things of this life. We are not to squander them in wastefulness and wantonness, but to use them to the glory of God, with gratitude to Him who is graciously pleased to supply our necessities.
Having made these remarks on the miracle before us, let us now consider the spiritual improvement to be derived from it. This is stated by the Evangelist St. John, from our Saviour's lips, on the occasion of the other similar miracle being wrought. When the multitudes came together again to Him after He had fed
31 Isaial xxxiii. 16.
32 Psalm cxlvii. 9.
them; and many even crossed over the lake of Galilee in search of Him, He said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. He exhorted thein therefore, Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you. And when they intimated that He was worthy of being compared to Moses in the miracle which He had wrought; since Moses had miraculously supplied food to their fathers in the wilderness; He turned their attention from Moses and the supply of bodily food, to that which was needful for the sustenance and salvation of their souls. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses
gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 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.33 So that we are to learn from this miracle, which was wrought by our blessed Saviour, that as He then provided for the bodily sustenance of the multitudes who surrounded Him, in the time of their necessity; so likewise He has been pleased to make provision for the wants of the souls of men; and that He came down from heaven for the purpose of giving spiritual and eternal life to perishing sinners. And therefore they who come to Him, and believe on Him shall have every spiritual good, to their present comfort, and their eternal salvation.
33 John vi. 26, 27, 32, 33, 35.
We are to learn, then, from this miracle, that He who supplied bread to feed the multitudes, is Himself the bread of life. He is that to the soul of man which bread, the staff of life, is to the body. If we could not obtain food for our bodies, we must die. In like manner if our souls are not nourished with the bread of life, we shall perish everlastingly. When our Saviour spoke of eating the bread of life, He meant, as we have seen, the same thing as coming to Him and believing on Him. And at the same time He added, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.34 Those then who, according to the language of our Communion Service, Him in their hearts by faith with thanksgiving ; who come to Him, or make their application to Him for the spiritual blessings which He has promised to bestow upon His waiting people; who believe the record of the holy Scriptures concerning Him, who receive His word with pure affection, they shall never hunger nor thirst; their souls shall not be left destitute of His consolations; all their spiritual wants shall be fully supplied; they shall not suffer any pain or privation which may be compared to that which the body suffers from want of food. The mortal bodies of all men must die ; but our immortal souls will exist for ever. Unless, however, we truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive from Him those blessings which He came into the world to procure and to bestow upon the sinful children of men, we shall not know what life or the enjoyment of happiness is in eternity. Christ is the bread of life; and unless our souls are sustained and nourished by Him, we must perish for ever.
o feed on
34 John vi. 47, 48, 51.
But, alas, how generally is this bread of life rejected by the multitudes of those who need it! How few seek happiness for their souls in the knowledge and love of Christ! The bread that perisheth they labour to procure with all their might; they rise up early, and sit up late, 35 and are ready to compass sea and land to acquire it; but that which endureth unto everlasting life is overlooked and slighted by them, as though it were of little or no importance that they should obtain it. And this, notwithstanding they are well aware that in a short time, in a few years at most, and possibly even in a few hours, their soul may be required of them ;36 and then all their labour and toil for earthly things will be of no further use to them; they will for ever have done with this world, and with all things here below. But though they know and acknowledge this, how many rest satisfied without making provision for what is beyond this life, and of infinitely greater moment than any thing that relates only to their earthly existence. How does the god of this world blind the minds:37 of men, and lead them to prefer earth to heaven, the things of time and sense to those things which are unseen and eternal. Let us beware of being thus deluded by the enemy of souls. They only are truly wise who regard the things that belong to their everlasting peace as of infinite importance, and act under the impression that nothing will admit of comparison with them. Let us beseech the Spirit of God to impress our minds with such a sense of their inestimable value, that we may come to Christ, and believe in Him to the salvation of our souls.
35 Psalm cxxvii. 2.