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The Feeding of the Five Thousand.

The Feeding of the Five Thousand.

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Published by glennpease
BY Rev. WILLIAM T. WILSON

LATE RECTOR OF THE CHURCH OF THE MEDIATOR
KINGSBRIDGE, NEW YORK


[York, Pa., 1877.]

"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." — St. John vi. 14.
BY Rev. WILLIAM T. WILSON

LATE RECTOR OF THE CHURCH OF THE MEDIATOR
KINGSBRIDGE, NEW YORK


[York, Pa., 1877.]

"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." — St. John vi. 14.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 04, 2014
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THE FEEDIG OF THE FIVE THOUSAD. BY Rev. WILLIAM T. WILSO LATE RECTOR OF THE CHURCH OF THE MEDIATOR KIGSBRIDGE, EW YORK [York, Pa., 1877.] "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." — St. John vi. 14. OE of the most impressive of our Lord's mira- cles, so far as its effect upon the people was concerned, seems to have been His feeding of the five thousand. There are certain things about it which give it a kind of representative character, which make it the key to the right apprehension of the others ; just as Jesus Himself says that the proper understanding of the parable of the sower is the necessary condition of the proper understanding of all parables. It may be interesting, therefore, as well as instructive, to consider the moral and spiritual significance of this miracle, and the various lessons which grow out of the several incidents con- nected with it. ow, in regard to the Christian miracles, one gen- eral principle is this : They are distinguished from all pseudo miracles, whether ancient or modern, by their moral and spiritual content. In other words, they have an ethical and religious meaning which THE FEEDIG OF THE FIVE THOUSAD. 93  justifies them to man's heart and conscience. They
 
are not primarily evidential ; this is not their first and foremost aim — not, at least, in the sense in which the word '' evidence " is commonly under- stood. In the very nature of the case they do acquire great evidential worth, but this follows as a consequence, almost as an incident ; it does not express the purpose which informs them. They are not presented to us primarily in the character of proofs, evidences, credentials. If our Lord Himself ever seemingly consents to this view of them, it is a kind of weary concession, to that grossness of heart, that slowness of understanding, which cannot rec- ognize a divine word, but which may, perhaps, recog- nize a divine work. As simple marvels, mere signs and wonders — things which, if they accredit a teacher at all, accredit him quite irrespectively of the moral and spiritual character of his mission — this concep- tion of His miracles Christ repudiates peremptorily and altogether. How strange that both the defenders and the assailants of the miraculous should have lin- gered so long in this unworthy misapprehension when the Master so often went out of his way, as it were, to disparage mere signs and wonders ! And St. Paul has left on record his testimony, that even an angel from heaven, irrespective of the purport of his mes- sage, is not to be believed. The Christian miracles are mainly modes and methods of manifestation. They are the epiphany, the manifestation, the set- ting forth of Christ. Through them, as through some hieroglyphic, some larger kind of speech, He discloses, reveals Himself to the world. Assume 94 THE FEEDIG OF THE FIVE THOUSAD. Him to have been what He claims to have been, and He must have embodied in some such acts His relation to and His work among men. Thus His miracles, in their primary significance, become, not
 
so much evidences, proofs, credentials, as grand ex- pressions and illustrations of His redemptive ministry. ow, the feeding of the five thousand is a most felicitous and striking instance of this general princi- ple. It had, as was said before, a singularly im- pressive effect upon the multitude. But its primary object was not the exhibition of supernatural power; it was not wrought by the Master with the direct intent of constraining, compelling men to believe in Him; its purpose was moral, religious, spiritual. It came as the supplement, the complement of some- thing which had gone before. It was only another way of saying and doing over again what Jesus had but just now said and done. It was not a capricious, arbitrary display ; the occasion demanded it as its moral consequence. The great, comforting truth which had been set forth, but which no words could adequately express, needed the larger exposition of its divine symbolism. Let us trace briefly its history. All the evangelists tell us that the occasion was one on which Jesus had withdrawn for rest with His disciples into a comparatively desert place. The multitudes, assembled in the neighboring cities, ac- cording to the implication of St. John, by the ap- proaching Passover, follow Him into His retirement. Whereupon Jesus comes forth to meet them, and see- ing the *' great company,'^ according to Matthew and Mark, He is " moved with compassion toward them." THE FEEDIG OF THE FIVE THOUSAD. 95 The sight of this large concourse of men and women and little children fills Him with divine pity. A great multitude may be to us a very grand or a very sad spectacle, according to the mood we are in, and the point of view from which we look at it. It may

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