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of the universe, though he has appointed a distant period for the general distribution of his rewards and punishments, yet, in extraordinary cases, he will sometimes interpose to chastise the bold offender, to assert his superintending providence and supreme dominion over all his creatures, and to give them the most awful proofs, that, from his all-searching eye, no wicked

ness can be concealed. The remaining part of this chapter is occupied with the recital of two miracles, on which I have only to observe, that they have both of them a spiritual as well as a literal meaning, are both of a very extraordinary nature, and calculated to make, as they did, a most powerful impression on the minds of the spectators; these were, the feeding above five thousand persons with five loaves and two fishes, and our Saviour's walking on the sea. The first of these had a reference to that spiritual food, that celestial manna, that bread of life, which our Lord was then dispensing in such abundance to those those that hungered and thirsted after righteousness. The other was meant to encourage the great principle of faith; of trust and reliance upon God, in opposition to that self-confidence, that high opinion of our own strength, which we are too apt to entertain, and to which St. Peter, above all the other apostles, was peculiarly liable. When therefore, in consequence of his own request, he was permitted to go to Jesus on the water, and, forgetting immediately who was his guide and support, began to be afraid and to sink, and called out to his Divine Master to save him, our Lord graciously stretched forth his hand and caught him, and said unto him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” A reproof well calculated to convince him that it was not in proportion to his own natural strength, but according to the degree of his faith, that he must rise or sink. And what he says to Peter, he says to all who waver in their belief: “O ye of little faith, why do ye doubt?” - -

Vo L. l II. ID But

But there is another circumstance belonging to these miracles, which is of great importance; they are very extraordinary and astonishing instances of our Lord's power over nature, and of such a kind as to admit of no possibility of being counterfeited. And accordingly we find that although some cheats have pretended to cure diseases miraculously, and some have even attempted to raise the dead, yet no impostor I believe has ever yet been so bold as to undertake to feed five thousand people at once with five loaves and two fishes, or to walk upon the sea. And the reason is plain. It would not be very easy to persuade five thousand people that they had been plentifully fed, when in fact they had received no nourishment at all; and it would be rather too dangerous an experiment for any man, not really supported by the hand of God, to attempt walking on the sea, when he cannot but know but the loss of life must be the inevitable consequence of it. Indeed this act has always been considered as utterly 3 beyond beyond all human power to achieve ; accordingly two feet walking upon water was an Egyptian hieroglyphic to denote impossibility. And Job represents the power of treading on the waves of the sea as a distinguished mark and attribute of the Deity”. Yet this did Jesus do; this impossibility did he accomplish : a most incontestable proof that God was with him. And in fact this miracle seems to have made a stronger impression on the minds of his disciples than any other recorded in the Gospels, even than that of raising the dead; for we are told in St. Markt, that when our Lord went up into the ship, from walking on the sea, the disciples were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. The words in the original are still stronger; indeed so strong, that it is impossible for the English language to express all their force. In comparison of this miracle, even that of the loaves and fishes seems to have appeared nothing in the eyes of the disciples; for St. Mark * Job, ix. 8. + Chap. vi. D 2 tells

tells us, they considered not the miracle of the loaves, for their heart was hardened; but at the act of walking on the sea, they were amazed beyond measure; they were overwhelmed and overcome with this astonishing display of divine power; they fell instantly at the feet of Jesus, and worshipped him; and exclaimed, as every one who considers this stupendous miracle must do, “Of a truth thou art the SoN of GoD !”

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