Matthew 14* Death of John the Baptist. (1-12) Five thousand peoplemiraculously fed. (13-21) Jesus walks upon the sea. (22-33)Jesus healing the sick. (34-36)1-12 The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, likeother daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs andwarnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. Butthere may be the terror of convictions, where there is not thetruth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yetlive in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but mustdeliver our consciences as John did. The world may call thisrudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians,may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerfulenemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit.Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise arebellion among the people, which it did not; but he neverfeared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which itdid. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear beingdamned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenienttimes for carrying on bad designs against God's people. Herodwould profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment anddeath were the recompence of the man of God who sought thesalvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneathhis consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear ofhis promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheepneed not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to goto. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss,than not to come to him at all. 13-21 When Christ and his word withdraw, it is best for us tofollow, seeking the means of grace for our souls before anyworldly advantages. The presence of Christ and his gospel, makesa desert not only tolerable, but desirable. This little supplyof bread was increased by Christ's creating power, till thewhole multitude were satisfied. In seeking the welfare of men'ssouls, we should have compassion on their bodies likewise. Letus also remember always to crave a blessing on our meals, andlearn to avoid all waste, as frugality is the proper source ofliberality. See in this miracle an emblem of the Bread of life,which came down from heaven to sustain our perishing souls. Theprovisions of Christ's gospel appear mean and scanty to theworld, yet they satisfy all that feed on him in their hearts byfaith with thanksgiving. 22-33 Those are not Christ's followers who cannot enjoy beingalone with God and their own hearts. It is good, upon specialoccasions, and when we find our hearts enlarged, to continuelong in secret prayer, and in pouring out our hearts before theLord. It is no new thing for Christ's disciples to meet withstorms in the way of duty, but he thereby shows himself with themore grace to them and for them. He can take what way he pleasesto save his people. But even appearances of deliverancesometimes occasion trouble and perplexity to God's people, frommistakes about Christ. Nothing ought to affright those that haveChrist near them, and know he is theirs; not death itself. Peterwalked upon the water, not for diversion or to boast of it, butto go to Jesus; and in that he was thus wonderfully borne up.Special supports are promised, and are to be expected, but onlyin spiritual pursuits; nor can we ever come to Jesus, unless weare upheld by his power. Christ bade Peter come, not only thathe might walk upon the water, and so know his Lord's power, butthat he might know his own weakness. And the Lord often lets hisservants have their choice, to humble and prove them, and toshow the greatness of his power and grace. When we look off fromChrist, and look at the greatness of opposing difficulties, weshall begin to fall; but when we call to him, he will stretchout his arm, and save us. Christ is the great Saviour; those whowould be saved, must come to him, and cry to him, for salvation;we are never brought to this, till we find ourselves sinking:the sense of need drives us to him. He rebuked Peter. Could webut believe more, we should suffer less. The weakness of faith,and the prevailing of our doubts, displease our Lord Jesus, forthere is no good reason why Christ's disciples should be of adoubtful mind. Even in a stormy day he is to them a very presenthelp. None but the world's Creator could multiply the loaves,none but its Governor could tread upon the waters of the sea:the disciples yield to the evidence, and confess their faith.They were suitably affected, and worshipped Christ. He thatcomes to God, must believe; and he that believes in God, willcome, #Heb 11:6|. 34-36 Whithersoever Christ went, he was doing good. Theybrought unto him all that were diseased. They came humblybeseeching him to help them. The experiences of others maydirect and encourage us in seeking for Christ. As many astouched, were made perfectly whole. Those whom Christ heals, heheals perfectly. Were men more acquainted with Christ, and withthe diseased state of their souls, they would flock to receivehis healing influences. The healing virtue was not in thefinger, but in their faith; or rather, it was in Christ, whomtheir faith took hold upon.
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