Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

who ate of that food would soon want a fresh supply i but he who was acquainted with the doctrine of Christ Would want no other to enable him to live for ever. The words may also be considered as an answer to the request in the preceding verse, "Master, evermore give us t)iis bread," that is, a constant supply; to which he answers, Having enjoyed jt once, }tou will need nothing more.

3(3. But I said unto you that ye also have seen me, and helieve not.

That is, You have seen the miracle which I performed; that of feeding the five thousand; but you believe not the testimony it bears of me. This he had in reality told them in the twenty-sixth verse, when he said that they sought him, not because they saw the miracle, but because they ate of the loaves and were filled. Yet although you believe not in me, there are others who will.

37. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

That is, every one that the Father disposeth to believe in me shall do so; and him who thus believeth in me, and professes himself my disciple, I will by no means reject. The allusion here seems to be to the practice of a father bringing his child to a master for instruction. Those who thus come to me, says Christ, 1 will by no means turn away, of whatever nation or country they may be, although Gentiles and idolaters. To do so, would be to defeat the object of my mission.

38. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will but the will of him that sent me.

The latter clause of this verse explains the meaning of the former. To be sent by God, it is evident, signifies the same thing as coming down from heaven; but as that phrase implies no more than having a commission from God to instruct mankind, so neither can the other.

39. And this is the Fathers will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given, whom he hath disposed to be my disciples, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

He here explains why he had called himself the bread of life; it is because he had authority to give eternal life to all his disciples, without the exception of any class of men or individual persons. What he means by losing nothing he more fully explains in the next verse.

40. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

By losing nothing it appears that Christ meant suffering none of them, whether Gentiles or Jews, to be lost by remaining in the grave. In opposition to this, he declares that it was the will of God that all, without distinction, should enjoy eternal life, by being raised from the dead at the last day.

REFLECTIONS.

1. How mean and groveling does the character of these Jews appear! They had seen a few loaves and fishes miraculously multiplied, so as to furnish sufficient provision for ten thousand persons, of all ages

and sexes; yet they do not believe the person by whom this miracle is performed to be a divine messenger; they set no value upon the evidence which they have already received, but require something greater and more extraordinary. Thev follow not Christ to hear his divine instructions, to behold his excellent virtues, and to copy his illustrious example; nor to improve their minds in religious knowledge, in the love and practice of goodness; but that they may eat again and be filled; that they may obtain a plentiful meal, without the trouble of labouring for it. Such are the views and motives of these men. Justly does Christ throw every discouragement in their wayv to prevent them from becoming his disciples and followers: to make such proselytes, was not the object of his ministry, nor, however numerous, could they do him any honour.

But their characters are by no means singular: there are many who still profess themselves the followers of Christ, only for the sake of the loaves and fishes; who are attached to Christianity because it furnishes them with honourable employments, or with the means of plentiful subsistence. Let such men, however, know that Christ values not their attachment, and wishes them not to rank themselves with his disciples. Listen to the admonition which he gives you, not to make the support of this frail animal existence, the main object of your lives; learn from his language the folly of preferring an object of small consequence to one of infinite moment. Let a future existence engage your principal care and solicitude; and attend to the support and comfort of the present life only as a secondary object; as the means of securing to yourselves another and a better. If you do this, you will not fail to set a high value upon Christ, who is the bread of life; whose doctrines inform you of a future life; whose precepts contain sure directions for obtaining it, and who is himself" authorized to bestow it upon all those who believe in and obey him.

Let us guard against that unreasonable humour which disposes men to be dissatisfied with good evidence for the truth of the gospel, and to require what they imagine to be something better, when what they already have is sufficient. Such a disposition proved the ruin of the Jews, and will likewise prove tne ruin of all those who tread in their footsteps. It is the plan of Divine Providence, in regard to the principles of natural as well as those of revealed religion, to furnish such proof as will convince every candid and unprejudiced inquirer. To look for more, is an unreasonable expectation, which God is justified in disappointing. him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

2. From the words of Christ let all men take encouragement to profess themselves his disciples, and to persevere in his service; for he will reject none; he will surfer none to perish. Come hither then all ye sons of Adam, in whatever clime living, by whatever colour distinguished, in whatever condition placed; whether you be European or African; whether you be rich or poor; learned or ignorant; plebeian or noble; bond or free; honoured or despised; whether your sins be of a greater or less enormity! You are all welcome to Christ, if you come with a true faith in him, and with a sincere desire to be instructed and directed by his gospel. You are all equally entitled to the privileges or Christianity; you are all heirs of its promises, if you comply with its demands. 13e not discouraged, thou wretched outcast of society, who art shunned by thy brethren, and who dependest for the bread which perishes upon the bounty of others! The bread of life is offered to thee, as freely as to the most opulent. Thou grievous offender against divine and human laws, who art afraid that thy sins are too great to be pardoned, be not overwhelmed with a sense of thy guilt; there is mercy for thee, if thou repent!

[ocr errors][merged small]

42. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

In the preceding verses we find that the Jews, who had been fed by Jesus with a miraculous supply of bread, were led to mention to him the manna given from heaven to their fathers in the wilderness. Hence he took. occasion to call himself the bread of God, which coineth down from heaven; intending no more hereby than..to express his being sent by God in heaven, but using this metaphorical language in order to disgust and drive away men who, he knew, followed him with no other view than that of gratifying their sensual appetites. In this design he appears to have been successful: for the Jews, understanding him to speak literally, could not reconcile his saying that he came down from heaven, with what they knew of his being descended from human parents, like the rest of mankind. They were therefore offended with his declarations, as inconsistent with truth. Jesus takes no pains to reconcile the seeming contradiction, but endeavours to appease the contention which he perceived to be springing up among the people who fallowed him; some of them maintaining that he was a divine teacher, while others denied it.

4-3. Jesus therefore answered and

said unto them, Murmur not among

yourselves.

That is, Quarrel not with one another on this subject.

44. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me

Vol. 2.] T t

« IndietroContinua »