John 6Observe here, How busy and industrious our holy Lord was about his Father's work, both on the sea and on the land, both by night and by day; His meat was to do the will of him that sent him, and to finish his work; some have enquired into the reason why Christ travelled by sea, as well as by land; and they seem to be these;
1. To shew what his intent was in making the sea; namely to be sailed upon, as the land was made to be walked upon.
2. That Christ might take occasion to manifest his deity, in working miracles upon the sea, as well as upon the land.
3. Might it not be to comfort and encourage sea-faring men that dwell much upon the waters, in the midst of their distresses, to trust in and pray to such a Saviour, as had himself an experimental knowledge of the dangers of the sea?
Some have farther observed, That after our Saviour's resurrection, we never hear of his sailing upon the seas more; for such a turbulent condition, which necessarily attends sea voyages, was utterly inconsistent with the stability and perpetuity of Christ's state, when he was risen from the dead; the firm land better agreeing with his fixed estate, than the fluctuating water.
Observe here, What an exact knowledge Christ had, not only of all his followers, but of the motives and principles which did induce them to follow him; it was not the excellency of his person, nor the heavenliness of his doctrine, that drew the mutitude at this time after him, but the novelty of his miracles, They saw the miracles which he did: it is better to feel one miracle wrought upon the heart, in changing and renewing that, than to see a thousand outward miracles wrought before our eyes.
This miracle of our Saviour's feeding five thousand persons with five barley loaves and two small fishes, is recorded by all the four Evangelists, and several particulars therein are very remarkable.
Observe, 1. What a poor and slender provision the Lord of the whole earth hath for his family, for himself, for his disciples, and the multitude; nothing more than five barley loaves and two fishes.
Teaching us, That these bodies of ours must be fed, not pampered. Our belly must not be our master, much less our God; and as the quality of the victuals was plain, so was the quantity small; only five loaves and two fishes. Well might the disciples say, What are they among so many? The eye of sense and reason sees an utter impossibility of those effects which faith can easily apprehend, and a divine power more easily produce. When men judge by sense and reason, and do not look to Christ's power, if extremities come, they are soon at their wit's end, and know not what to do.
Observe, 2. How the great Master of this miraculous feast doth marshal his guests; he commanded them to sit down. None of the people reply, "Sit down, but to what? Here's the mouths, but where's the meat? We may soon be set, but when shall we be served?" Not a word like this, but they obey and expect. Lord how easy it is to trust thy providence, and rely upon thy power, when there is corn in the barn, bread in the cupboard, money in the purse. But when our stores are empty, when our stock runs low, when we have nothing in hand, then to depend upon an invisible bounty, is a noble act of faith indeed.
Observe, 3. The actions performed by our blessed Saviour.
1. He blessed the loaves; teaching us by his example, never to use or receive the good creatures of God without prayer and praise, not to sit down to our food as a beast to his fodder. Christ broke the loaves: he could have mutiplied them whole, why then doth he rather chuse to do it in the breaking?
Perhaps to teach us, that we may rather expect his blessings in the distribution of his bounty, than in the reservation of it. Scattering is the way to increasing, and liberality the way to riches.
Again, 3. He gave to his disciples, that they might distribute to the multitude; he did not do it with his own hands, but by theirs; doubtless it was to gain reputation to his disciples, from the people: the same course doth Christ take in spiritual distributions. He that could feed the souls of his people immediately by the hand of his Spirit, chuses rather by the hands of his ministers to divide the bread of life among them.
Observe, 4. The reality and greatness of the miracle, They did all eat, and were filled; they did eat, not a crumb or a bit, but to satiety and fulness. All that were hungry did eat, and all that did eat were satisfied, and yet twelve baskets of fragments remain. More is left than was at first set on. It is hard to say which was the greatest miracle, the miraculous eating, or miraculous leaving. If we consider what they ate, we may wonder that they left any thing; if what they left, that they eat anything.
Observe lastly, These fragments, though of barley loaves and fish bones, must not be lost, but gathered up; we must exercise frugality in the enjoyment of the greatest plenty.
Lord! how tremendous will their account be, who, having large and plentiful estates, do consume them upon their lusts! how will they wish they had been born to poverty and necessity, when they appear to make up their accounts before God!
Here we have observable, The wonderful effect of the foregoing miracle; the people seeing so many thousands fed with five loaves, were so transported, that they concluded that Jesus was certainly the promised Messias. Now the notion they had of the Messias was this, that he should be a temporal prince, that should subdue all nations under his feet, and particularly free the Jews from the slavery of the Roman yoke, which was now upon their necks; forgetting what our Saviour had often told them, that his kingdom was not of this world, but within men; and that his business was to free men from soul slavery, not from civil subjection: however, upon this mistake, the Jews here in a furious zeal designed to take Christ by force, and make him their king: but our Saviour (who came not into the world to disturb the order of civil government) understanding their intentions, withdraws himself into a mountain, to avoid giving the least occasion for any such jealousy or suspicion.
Hence learn, That although Jesus Christ be the great King of his church, and doth exercise a spiritual kingdom in it, yet he came not into the world to be a temporal king, nor was his kingdom of this world, or ever designed to be prejudicial to the thrones of princes, and civil government of men. Therefore doth Christ withdraw himself and refuse all this offer as no ways agreeable to him, or consistent with his design.
Observe here, 1. The great danger the disciples were in, and the difficulties they encounter with, after they had enjoyed the sweet privileges of Christ's gracious presence with them. They were tossed upon a tempestuous sea.
Learn thence, That it is not unusual, after sweet refreshment and manifestations from Christ unto his people, to meet with a stormy and sharp exercise of faith and patience; such was the lot of his disciples here; a constant gale of sweetness, an uninterrupted course of prosperity and happiness, as it is not to be expected here, so neither can it be enjoyed here, without great peril and danger.
Observe, 2. What haste our Saviour makes towards his disciples, when they were tossed upon a tempestuous sea; Jesus drew nigh unto the ship. Nothing can separate between, nor keep Christ from his children and people in a suffering hour. He that waded through a sea of wrath to save his people, will walk upon a sea of water to succour and relieve them in an hour of tribulation.
Observe, 3. The disciples not discerning Christ, not knowing him to be their Saviour, were afraid of him. Christ may be coming to save his people, and they not able at present to discern and apprehend him; but their fears may be highest, when their deliverer and deliverance is nearest.
Observe, 4. How speedily Christ relieves them of their fears, by telling them who he was; It is I, be not afraid. It is a sufficient support in all our afflictions to be assured of Christ's gracious presence with us. Say but, O Saviour, It is I, and then let evils do their worst: that one word, It is I, is sufficient to allay all storms, and to calm a thousand tempests.
Observe lastly, with what joy and gladness the disciples received and entertained Christ in this hour of their distress: They willingly received him into the ship. Though the company of Christ is always sweet and welcome to his disciples and friends, yet never is it so very agreeable and desirable to them as in the hour of trial and temptation; then they willingly receive him, and joyfully welcome and entertain him.
Our blessed Saviour having wrought the foregoing miracle, feeding five thousand with five loaves, the people followed him in troops from place to place. Christ, who knew their hearts, tells them plainly, what was their end: they followed him indeed, but not for any spiritual excellencies they saw in him, or soul advantages they expected from him, but for bread: only to have their bellies fed with the loaves, not their souls satisfied with the bread of life.
Oh! how seldom is Christ sought for his own sake, viz. Jesus quaritur propter Jesum, Aug. How natural is it for men to seek Christ for sinister ends and bye-respects! But to seek him only for outward advantages, is the basest abhors. Labour not for the meat which perisheth.
This prohibition must not be understood absolutely, but comparatively; not as if Christ intended to take them of from their lawful labours, and the business of their callings; but his meaning is, Labour not in the first and chief place for earthly things, which are all perishing; but for bread for your souls to live eternally by; even for the food of my heavenly doctrine, which will make them that feed upon it immortal: and this the Son of man stands ready to give unto you: For him hath God the Father sealed. that is, by a special commission and authority, hath impowered him to dispense all spiritual blessings to them that want and crave them.
Learn hence, 1. That all the things of this life are perishing and fading. The best of outward comforts and enjoyments are meat that perisheth.
2. That it is the greatest of follies to labour intensely and inordinately for, and to set ouraselves with all our might and strength to pursue and follow after, perishing things.
3. That Jesus Christ's holy doctrine, his heavenly grace, is food that never perisheth, nor diminisheth, how many soever partake of it, but makes all that partake thereof, to be partakers of eternal life therewith.
4. That Jesus Christ is authorized, sealed, and commissioned, by his Father, to give eternal life to such as industriously labour after him, and will not be satisfied without him. Him hath God the Father sealed; that is, Jesus Christ was sealed to the office of Mediator by God the Father; Christ was sealed at his baptism; sealed by his doctrine; sealed by his miracles; sealed by his resurrection; sealed by his unction or supereminent and unparalleled sanctification.
Lord! where will the rejecters of Christ then appear at the great day, who have despised the authority of him, whom the Father commissioned to give eternal life to whomsoever he pleaseth.
Here the Jews, who were strict observers of the ceremonial law of Moses, and rested thereupon for salvation, inquire of our Saviour what they should do that they might please God? Christ directs them to the great duty of believing on himself to own and acknowledge him to be the true Messiah, and as such to rely upon him alone for salvation; This is the work of God, that ye believe, &c.
Learn hence, That for a penitent humble sinner to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, is a work highly pleasing and acceptable unto God. Christ calls faith the work of God, upon a threefold account; it is the work of his efficiency and operation; it is the work of his commanding; and it is the work of his approbation and acceptation, a work that God is highly pleased with, and greatly delighted in; This is the work of God.
Here the Jews tell our Saviour, that, before they will believe in him, they must see some sign from him, to confirm his doctrine, and prove him to be the Messias; they acknowledge Christ had wrought a great miracle in feeding five thousand persons with five barley loaves; but Moses fed their fathers in the wilderness, who were no less than six hundred thousand persons, with excellent manna from heaven, and this for forty years together; from whence they would seem to conclude, that they had more reason to believe Moses than Christ: not considering that Moses was but an instrument to obtain, by prayer the manna at the hands of God: but Christ was an agent, and that, by a creating power inherent in himself, he multiplied the five loaves to the feeding of five thousand.
Note, here, From the Jews requring a sign before they would believe, that he who publishes a new doctrine to the world, ought to confirm his mission by some miraculous operation.
2. That God honoured moses, his messenger, very much, and Christ his minister much more, in that both of them wrought great and special miracles for the confirmation of their mission.
3. That the Jews not believing Christ to be the true Messias, upon so many attestations, and after his divine mission was confirmed by such miraculous operations, rendered their infidelity inexcusable, and their obstinacy invincible.
Upon the Jews mentioning manna to our blessed Saviour, he takes occasion to make a comparison betwixt himself, the bread of life, and manna, the bread of Moses, and that in three particulars.
1. It was not Moses that gave the Israelites that manna, it was God at the prayer of Moses; but it was God that now offered them the bread of life, were they willing to accept it.
2. The manna was not given from heaven, that is, from the celestial heaven, but only from the air and clouds, which frequently in the scripture is called heaven; but Christ the bread of life was given, and sent by, the Father from the highest heaven, even the heaven of glory.
3. Manna was not true spiritual food effectively and of itself, but bodily food only: but Christ is real and spiritual bread, which gives life to lost and dead men; which manna did not, could not do. And whereas manna was peculiar to Israel only, Christ gives life to all sorts of persons, Gentiles as well as Jews, The bread of God giveth life unto the world.
Learn hence, That as Christ is the truth and substance of all types in the Old Testament, so particularly, the manna was an illustrious type of Christ. In many things they agree; and in some they differ.
They agree in their original: manna came down from above, so did Christ: manna was freely given, so is Jesus Christ the free gift of God: manna was not fit to be eaten as it lay in the field, but must be ground in a mill, or beaten in a mortar, and baked in an oven before it was fit for food: Christ was ground by his sufferings, bruised on the cross, scorched in the fiery oven of his Father's wrath, that he might become a fit Saviour for us.
Again, as the manna was gathered by the Israelites daily and equally: it was ruined down about their tents, and every man had his omer: thus is Christ in the ministry of the word daily offered to a lost world, and all that believe in him, shall share alike in the benefit of the justification, sanctification, and glorification from him; but now the manna and Christ differ in this: and the truth excels the type thus: there is a quickening, enlivening virtue, a life giving, and a life upholding power in Christ the bread of life, which was never found in manna, the bread of Israel; and whereas manna only fed the body of an Israelite, and this only for a little time in the wilderness: Christ nourisheth the soul, the souls of all believers, be they Jew or Gentile, bond or free, and this not for a time, but for eternity; The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
Observe here, 1. How the carnal Jews hearing of the bread which Christ had commended so highly, and conceiving of it carnally, desire they may partake of it constantly; Lord, evermore give us this bread. The commendation of spiritual things may move the affections, and quicken the desires, of natural persons: but if their desires be not spiritual and serious, diligent and laborious, constant and abiding, they are no evidence of the truth of grace.
Observe, 2. Christ discovers another excellent effect of this bread of life, which he had been recommending; that such as feed of it shall never hunger more; that is, inordinately; after the perishing satisfactions of this world; but shall find an all-sufficient fulness in him, and complete refreshment from him, for the preserving and perpetuating of their spiritual life: He that cometh unto me shall never hunger, &c.
Observe, 3. How justly Christ upbraids the Jews for their obstinate infidelity: Ye have seen me, says our Saviour, yet ye believe not. Ye have seen me in the flesh, you have heard my doctrine, you have seen my miracles: I have done amongst you those works which never any man did, to convince you that I am the Messiah, yet you will not own me to be such, nor believe on me; Oh the strength of infidelity to be such, nor believe on me; Oh the strength of infidelity and unbelief! The devil has as great an advantage upon men by making them strong in unbelief, as God hath by making his people strong in faith.
Our blessed Saviour having lamented the obstinate infidelity of the Jews in the foregoing verse, who, though they had seen him, would not believe on him; he doth in this verse comfort himself with the assured expectation, that there would be a number, which should certainly and infallibly come unto him; All that the Father hath given me, shall come unto me, &c.
Here observe, 1. An account of the persons that shall come to Christ: All that the Father hath given him. There is a double gift of us to Christ.
1. In God's eternal purpose and counsel.
2. In our effectual vocation and calling, when our hearts are by the Holy Spirit of God persuaded and enabled to accept of Christ, as he is freely tendered to us in the gospel.
Observe, 2. The gracious entertainment which Christ gives to those that come unto him: He will in no wise cast them out; that is, I will kindly receive, and graciously entertain them.
Learn hence, 1. That both God the Father, and Christ his Son, are unfeignedly willing, and cordially desirous of the salvation of lost sinners. The federal transaction which was betwixt the Father and the Son from everlasting about the salvation of lost sinners, evidently declares this.
Learn, 2. That the merciful and compassionate Jesus will in no wise cast out or reject, but kindly entertain and receive, every penitent sinner that doth believingly apply unto him for pardon of sin and eternal life; I will in no wise cast out; that is, I will not cast them out of my pity and compassion, out of my love and affection, out of my prayer and intercession, out of my care and protection; I will not cast them out of my covenant; I will never cast them out of my kingdom: for my nature inclines me, my promise binds me, and my office, as Mediator, engages me, to the contrary.
In these words our Saviour gives us the confirmation of the foregoing promise, that he will in no wise cast out those that come unto him, by assuring us, that it was the great end for which he came into the world. His Father sent him to do his will, and not his own: that is, not to do his own will without his Father's, but to do his own will and his Father's. For Christ, as God, had a co-ordinate will with his Father's, and as man, a will subordinate to the will of his Father. Now, it is the will of both Father and Son, that such as believe in him should be preserved from perishing, and be raised up by Christ at the last day.
Learn hence, 1. That the Lord Jesus Christ stands not only inclined by his own mercy and goodness to save repenting and believing sinners, but doth also stand obliged thereunto by virtue of a trust, committed to him from the Father. Therefore Christ mentions the will of him that sent him, as a reason of his fidelity in this matter.
Learn, 2. That the Father's will and good pleasure is the original source the fountain and first spring, from whence the salvation of believers doth proceed and flow. It is the Father's will that sent me, that every one that seeth the son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.
Learn, 3. That such as are given to Christ by the Father, and put as his trust into his keeping, he looks upon them as his charge, and stands engaged for the preservation of them. This is my Father's will, that of all which he hath given me, I shall lose nothing. Yet hath the Father so committed the care of believers to his Son, as that he keeps them still in his own hand. My Father which gave them to me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. Joh 10:28,29
Learn, 4. From those words, I will raise him up at the last day, that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly, essentially, and really God. That person who can by his own almighty power raise the dead, must certainly be God. And this power Christ had. He raised others from the dead, and his own dead body from the grave also, by his own power; and therefore Christ says, I am the resurrection and the life; and I will raise him up at the last day. Doubtless he that spake these words and made these promises, knew his own power to perform them; and that power must be omnipotent, and that act of omnipotence doth prove him to be God. It is true, the disciples raised the dead, who yet were no God, by with this difference, they raised the dead by Christ's power; but Christ raised others and himself also by his own power.
Although Christ had in the foregoing verses plainly asserted himself to be the true bread that came down from heaven, for the benefit of the world; yet the Jews understanding his words carnally, are offended with him, for pretending to come down from heaven, when they knew him to be the son of Joseph and Mary. They understood nothing of his divine nature, nor of his miraculous conception by the over-shadowing of the Holy Ghost, and therefore were highly offended at him.
Thence learn, That ignorance of Christ's divine nature was the ground and occasion of that contempt which was cast upon his person.
Observe farther, The proof which Christ gave of his divine nature, in his knowing the hearts and thoughts of these murmuring Jews; Jesus said, Murmur not among yourselves. Christ knows and observes the most secret murmurings and repinings that are found in the breasts of the children of men: and this his knowledge is an evidence and proof of his divinity, that he is truly and really God.
In which words we have something necessarily implied, and something positively expressed. The misery of man in his natural and unsanctified state is here implied; he is far distant from Christ, and unable of himself to come unto him. By nature we are strangers, yea, enemies, unto God; enemies to the holiness of his nature, and to the righteousness of his laws; and as the state of unregeneracy is a state of enmity, so consequently must it be a state of impotency; Without me, therefore says Christ, ye can do nothing, that is, without interest in me, and influences of grace derived from me. Joh 15:5
Again, the truth we have expressed are these:
1. That all those who come unto Christ are drawn unto him.
2. That the drawing of sinful souls unto Jesus Christ is the special and peculiar work of God. This drawing is a powerful act, but not a compulsory act; God doth not draw any against their wills to Christ, but he inclines the wills of sinners to come unto him. He draws by effectual persuasion, and not by violent compulsion.
3. That all those who are drawn to Christ here, shall be raised up gloriously by him hereafter: I will raise him up at the last day. Such as are brought to Christ by the Father, Christ shall never abandon them, till he has raised them up at the last day, and presented them blameless and complete before his Father; where they shall ever be with the Lord.
In these words our blessed Saviour confirms his former assertion, concerning his Father's drawing, from the prophecies of the Old Testament, which, speaking of the days of the Messias, foretold, that persons should be taught of God to embrace the Messias; whence Christ inferreth, that every one who is thus taught, shall come upon him, and believe in him.
Learn hence, 1. That the teachings of God are absolutely necessary to every man that cometh unto Christ in the way of faith,
2. That such shall not miscarry in the way of faith, who are under the special teachings and instructions of God; They shall be all taught of God, and he teacheth to profit, and that not only authoritatively, but efficaciously and effectually. Those whom God undertakes to teach, receive from him both an ear to hear, and an heart to understand. They shall be all taught of God, and they that are taught, have heard and learned of the Father.
In these verses our blessed Saviour resumes his former doctrine, namely, that he is the object of saving faith, and the bread of life, which he compares with the manna, the bread of Israel. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, which manna was an illustrious type of Christ. Thus both came down from heaven; both were freely given of God without any merit or desert of men; both in a miraculous manner; both at first unknown what they were, and whence they came; both equally belonging to all: both sufficient for all, poor and rich.
The manna, white in colour, so clear is our Lord's innocence; pleasant like honey, so sweet are his benefits: beaten and broken before eaten, Christ on his cross, bleeding and dying; giving only in the wilderness, and ceasing as soon as they came in to the land of promise, as sacraments shall vanish, when we enjoy the substance, in heaven. But though manna was thus excellent, yet the eaters of it were dead; but such as feed upon Christ, the bread of life, shall live eternally in bliss and glory. I am the living bread which came down from heaven, if any man may eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.
Here we learn, 1. What a miserable creature man naturally is, in a pining and starved condition, under the want of soul food.
2. That Jesus Christ is the food of souls, which quickens them that are dead, and is unto the needy soul all that it can need; such spiritual food as will prove a remedy and preservative against death, both spiritual and eternal. I am the living bread.
Observe here, How the Jews, understanding Christ after a carnal manner, were offended at what he had said: for they thought it was inhuman to eat man's flesh, and could not understand how the body of Christ could in such a sense be food to all the world.
Hence note, That carnal persons put a carnal sense upon Christ's spiritual words, and so occasion their own stumbling. But yet notwithstanding the Jews stumbling at our Saviour's expression, he doth not alter his words, but presseth more and more the necessity of feeding upon him by faith, in order to eternal life; Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Learn from hence, 1. That the Lord Jesus Christ is the true spiritual food of all believers.
2. That those, and only those, who do by faith feed upon him, shall obtain a life of grace, and glory from him; if we do not by faith feed upon him, we can have no evidence for a life of grace, no title to a life of glory. This place some papists produce to countenance the doctrine of transubstantiation, a bodily eating and drinking of Christ's flesh and blood in the sacrament. But it is evident that Christ treats not of the sacrament in this chapter, for the sacrament was not now instituted; therefore it is not a sacramental, but a spiritual, feeding upon Christ by faith, that is here meant. For this eating gives life to the eater; all that eat are saved, and all that do not eat are damned; but this is not true of a sacramental eating; besides, this eating which Christ speaks of, he makes absolutely necessary to salvation; but some are saved that never fed upon Christ in the sacrament, as John the Baptist, and the thief on the cross.
Lastly, If it be understood of the sacramental eating and drinking, woe be to the church of Rome, for denying the cup to the laity; because drinking of Christ's blood is here made as necessary, as eating of his flesh, in order to eternal life. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Observe farther, The close and intimate union which is betwixt Christ himself, and those that feed upon him: He that eateth me, dwelleth within me, and I in him. As meat is turned into the eater's substance, so believers and Christ become one; and by feeding on him, that is, by believing in him, there followeth a mutual inhabitation; Christ dwelling in them, and they in him: this is true of a spiritual feeding upon Christ, but not of a sacramental eating. Nay, Christ carries it higher still, and tells us, that as there is a real union between the Father and him, and as the Father lives who sent him, having an eternal fountain of life in himself: and the Son lives by the Father, having the same life communicated to him with his essence from the Father: in like manner, says Christ, he that eateth me, the same shall live by me. All which is certainly true of our spiritual feeding upon Christ by faith; but cannot be applied to a corporal feeding on him in the sacrament, as the papists would have it.
The foregoing doctrine of our Saviour concerning eating his flesh and drinking his blood, sounded so very harshly, that not only the common multitude, but some of them that had been his disciples, that is, who had given up their names to follow him, could not tell how to hear it. Our Saviour reproves their unjust stumbling at what he had said, that he was the bread which came down from heaven, and tells them, that his ascension into heaven should prove the truth of his descent from heaven.
Hence we learn, That Christ's arising from the grave, and ascending into heaven, by his own power is an evident proof of his godhead, and that he really came down from heaven, in respect of his divine nature, which condescended to be clothed with our flesh. What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
To convince the Jews that our Saviour did not mean a carnal and fleshly eating of his body, he tells them, That such an eating would profit nothing; but it is a spiritual eating of him by faith, that bringeth that quickening life of which he had spoken. It is the spirit, or divine nature, that quickeneth; the flesh, or human nature, alone, separated from his godhead, profiteth nothing, and can give no life.
Learn hence, That it is the godhead of Christ united to the human nature, which adds all virtue, efficacy, and merit, to the obedience and sufferings of the human nature. It is the spirit, or divine nature of Christ, that quickeneth; the flesh, or human nature alone, profiteth nothing; and therefore the carnal eating of his flesh would do no good.
Our blessed Saviour having thus cleared his doctrine, that he was the bread of life which came down from heaven, and that he is not to be carnally, but spiritually, fed upon: he plainly tells the Jews, That the true cause of their stumbling at his doctrine, was their ignorance and unbelief; There are some of you that believe not. Upon which plain dealing of our blessed Saviour's, many unsound professors did wholly forsake him, and accompanied no longer with him.
Learn hence, That multitudes, who have long professed Christ and his holy religion, may draw back, and fall from their profession, and finally revolt from him.
2. That it is an evil heart of unbelief, which causes men to depart from Christ, and to make shipwreck of their profession.
Our Saviour finding many of his nominal disciples forsaking him, and departing from him, asks his apostles (the twelve) whether they would also go away? Intimating, that their departure would go nearer to him, than the departure of all the rest. The nearer they are from whom we receive unkindness, the nearer do these unkindnesses go to our hearts, Will you, the twelve, also go away? Peter as the mouth, and in the name, of the rest, answers, That they knew none besides to whom they could go, and expect that happiness which they did from him. They that go from Christ, can never hope to mend themselves, let them go whither they will: therefore 'tis as irrational as it is sinful to depart from Christ, who hath the words, that is, the promise of eternal life.
Observe lastly, St. Peter having made this profession for himself and the rest of the twelve, that they would not depart from Jesus, whom they believed to be the true Messias, the Son of God; Christ intimates to Peter, that his charity was something too large in promising so much from them all; for there was one traitor among them, whose heart was as open to Christ, as his face was to them; he meant it of Judas Iscariot, of whose perfidiousness he gave them warning at this time.
Learn hence, That the better any man is in himself, the more charitable is the opinion which he has of others. Charity inclines to believe others good till they discover themselves to be bad.
Learn, 2. That Christ doth approve of our charitable judgment of others sincerity, according to what we hope and believe, though we happen to be mistaken, and our judgment is not according to truth: Christ knew Judas to be an hypocrite at this time, but doth not reprove Peter for having a better opinion of him than he deserved. It is far better to err on the charitable, than on the censorious hand; it is less offensive to Christ, and less injurious to ourselves.
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