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counted to him for Righteousness and to them that follow the Faith of Abraham, is the fame Righteoufness imputed alfo, as we read, Rom. 4. 'Twas the Pride of the Pharifees to truft too much to their own Righteousness, and to expect Juftification by the Merit of their own Works; but the poor Publican, that trufted only to God's Mercy, was juftify'd far before them: The reafon whereof is gi ven, that they being ignorant of Chrift's Righteousness, and going about to establish their own, fubmitted not to the Righ teoufnefs of God, and fo loft all the Benefit of it; Rom. 10.3. And therefore St. Paul defir'd to be found in Chrift, not having on his own Righteoufnefs, but to be cloth'd with his, which alone could cover the multitude of his Sins.
Laftly, From his being call'd, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, let us learn to honour and rejoice in this Name, faying with the Pfalmift, Not unto us, but to thy Name be all the Glory; praying with him, Lord, deal thou with us according to thy Name; that is, forgive us our Sins, and juftify us by thy Righteoufness, as thou ufeft to do to them that love thy Name: To which be all Praise and Glory.
The GOSPEL for the Five and Twentieth
St. John vi. 5———— 15.
Jefus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias, and a great Multitude follow'd him, because they faw his Miracles which they did on them that were diseas'd: And Jefus went up into a Mountain, and there fat with his Difciples, &c.
N this Gofpel for the Day, we have Chrift's Miracle of the Loaves, with the Occafion leading to it, and the Conclufion which the People drew from it.
The Account of it begins ver. 1. with Jefus's going over the Sea of Galilee, fo call'd, tho in truth it was no other than the Lake of Gennefareth; a Lake of about a hundred Furlongs in length, and forty in breadth, in the lower Galilee, call'd alfo the Sea of Tiberias, from a City of that Name, fituate upon the Banks of it. Being paft over that Sea or Lake, great Multitudes follow'd and flock'd to him, drawn by the Fame of his Miracles, and the fight of the wonderfal Cures he did upon them that were difeas'd: And indeed fo able and cheap a Phyfician could never want Followers, who reforted to him from all Parts.
The Place where Jesus went, was up into a Mountain, or a Defart Place belonging to the City of Bethfaida, as we read, Luke 9. 10. There his Difciples found him, and there he ftaid a while, and fat down with them, imparting many things to them, and inftructing them in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. For the time when this was done, it was a little before the Feaft of the Paffover; for the next words tell us, that the Passover, a Feast of the Jews, was nigh. This was fet down not only to denote the Circumftance of Time, but becaufe, as fome tell us, our Saviour took occafion from thence to fpeak of their feeding
upon the true Lamb of God that was flain for the Sins of the World, figur'd by the Pafchal Lamb, and by his holy and heavenly Difcourfes to prepare them for it.
In this mountainous and defart Place they remain'd awhile, far from any Houfe or Home; where the Provisions they brought with them being spent, and no other Recruits or Refreshment being there to be had, they began to be in no fmall Diftrefs; which our Saviour mercifully confider'd, and miraculously reliev'd: for when Jefus lift up his Eyes, and faw a great Company come to him, he had Compaffion upon them, and bethought of making fome Provifion for them, for many of them came from far; calling therefore Philip to him, he faith unto him, Whence hall we buy Bread, that thefe may eat? or where fhall we have Mony to buy Subfiftence enough for fo great a Multitude? This he fpake, not out of any Diffidence or Apprehension of Difficulty in the Cafe, but only to prove him, that is, to try the Strength of Philip's Faith, whether he had any lively Senfe or Belief of his Divine Power and Ability to help them, and whether he had Compaffion enough to move in their behalf, and to defire Relief for them in fuch a time of Need. This was the end of Chrift's faying this to him, not to receive any Information or Afliftance from him, for he himself knew what he would do; he knew well enough how to provide for them, and was refolv'd to do fo.
But what was Philip's Answer to him? Why, distrustful enough; for Philip anfwer'd him, two hundred Pennyworth of Bread is not fufficient for them, that every one may take a little meaning, that they had neither Mony nor Provifions enough for half that Company, that each may have any tolerable Refreshment. Andrew, Simon Peter's Brother's Anfwer, tho one of his own Difciples, was not much better: for he faith unto him, there is a Lad here, which bath five Barley Loaves and two Small Fishes; but what are they among fo many? The Senfe whereof is, that the best fhift we can make amounts to a very flender Pittance, and we are in no way or place to furnish out any more; and therefore 'twere better to difmifs the Multitude, and fend them away, than be troubled with the Cry and Importunity of their Wants. But Jefus took little or no notice of the diftruftful Difcourfe of his Difciples, having another and better way to make them fenfible of their Error; and therefore bid his Difciples to make the Men fit down, and to place them fo in Ranks, that they might be the fitter
to receive what was adminifter'd to them. Now there was much Grafs in the Place, which made it the more easy and convenient for them; fo the Men fat down, in obedience to Chrift's Command, tho they faw nothing prepar'd for them: they were in number about five thousand, St. Matthew adds, befide Women and Children, which increas'd the Number to many more. And then it follows, that Jefus took the Loaves, and when he had given Thanks, he diftributed to the Dfciples; that is, when he had bleffed the Bread and the Fishes, and had given God Thanks for them, and implor'd his Bleffing upon them, he began his Diftribution, in the first place, to his Difciples. Where two things are obfer
1. That Chrift would neither take himfelf, or give to others any Suftenance, before he had thank'd God for it, and crav'd his Bleffing upon it; which is a good Warrant and Direction for our faying Grace (as we call it) before and after Meat: Man liveth not by Bread alone (faith our Saviour) but by every Word that proceedeth out of the Mouth of God. The beft Bread can afford no Nourishment without his Word to blefs it; and unless he fay the Word, there is no Sap or Strength in it. All the nutritive Virtue that it hath, is deriv'd from, and entirely depends upon God's Bleffing; neither can Bread ftrengthen Man's Heart, unless he command it to do fo. We often read in Scripture of the Staff of Bread, fignifying it to be the Stay and Prop of our Lives; but the Word of God bleffing it, and commanding it to feed us, is the Staff of that Staff, and fuftains all that Virtue in it that fuftains us: if God withhold his Bleffing, this Staff will foon be broken, it can uphold us no longer, and we fhall fink as much with Bread as without it. In the Prophet's Phrafe, We may eat much, and not have enough, and drink our Fill, and not be filled; Hag. 1. 6. which may teach us, by Chrift's Example, to implore the Bleffing of God upon the Creatures provided for our Food and Nourishment, Again,
2. We may obferve, that when our Saviour had given Thanks, he diftributed firft to his Difciples: his Kindness began with his more immediate Friends and Attendants, fhewing that our Goodness and Charity is firft and principally to be extended to our nearest Friends and Relations. This, Nature as well as Reafon and Religion teach us, that our natural and fpiritual Relations be first confider'd in all Acts of Bounty; for he that provideth not for those of his
own House and Family, hath deny'd the Faith, and is worse than an Infidel; and tho we are to do good to all Men, yet efpecially and principally to the Houshold of Faith.
But to proceed in the Miracle; when he had distributed to his Difciples, the Disciples diftributed to them that were fat down and this perhaps gave the occafion to that antient Practice in the Holy Sacrament, of diftributing the Bread and Wine, firft to the Priefts there prefent, and they after to affift in diftributing to all the other Guests. But however that be, 'tis certain that Chrift here, as Master of the Feaft, gave the several Proportions, in the firft place, to his Difciples; and then they, as Waiters, diftributed to all the reft, to every Man his Portion of Bread, and likewife of the Fishes, as much as they would. And it follows in the next Verfe, they were all fill'd, and their Hunger well fatisfy'd. By which we fee, that a very fmall Pittance, with God's Bleffing, can furnish out a Meal for many Thoufands, and a little hard and homely Fare, if fanctify'd with God's Word, fhall go farther, and fill better, than far more and greater Provifions without it. A little Cake and Crufe of Water, fhall give Eliah Nourishment enough to walk in the strength of it forty Days and forty Nights; 1 Kings 19. 6, 8. A little Pulfe and Water fed Daniel and his Servants, and made their Countenances look fairer, fresher and fatter than all they who fed upon the King's Dainties, Dan. 1. 12, 15. And here a few Barley-Loaves and two fmall Fishes multiply'd, to the fatisfying of above five thousand Perfons, and gave them to eat all their Fill. God can make a Feaft of a Crumb of Bread, and furnifh a Banquet from a fmall Fifh, that fhall give better Content and Nourishment, than the richer Fare and Luxury of the Epicure. Better is a Dinner of Herbs (faith Solomon) with the Love and Favour of God, than a stall'd Ox and Hatred therewith: Prov. 15. 17. The Light of God's Countenance fhining thro the Creatures he gives us, will afford better Entertainment to our Bodies, and put more Foy and Gladnefs into our Hearts, than the greateft Increase of Corn, and Wine, and Oil; Pfal. 4. 6, 7.
By all which we fee, that 'tis the Blefling of God that gives all the Strength and Sweetness to our Provisions, and enables them to nourish us: a very little, with that, will ferve and fuffice a great Multitude; but a great deal without it, will yield no Savour or Satisfaction. Hence it comes to pass, that the Wicked are in traits in the midst of their