Imágenes de páginas

this be of whom I hear such great things?” Herod must see Jesus to explain these matters, and for this purpose he sent for him.

If nature had given Christ unquestionable rights to the throne of Judea, we might believe that these pretensions were his motives for not putting himself in the power of a prince, the usurper of his crown. But Jesus could not dissemble that his pretensions were not too well established; he knew besides that for a long time past the family of David had lost the sovereign power. We must therefore search for another motive for his refusing to see Herod ; the more so, as the interview with the Son of God would not only have contributed to the conversion of this prince and all his court, but even of all Judea, and perhaps of the whole Roman empire. A single miracle of consequence, performed before a court, acknowledged and attested by persons of high authority, would doubtless have been more effectual than the suspected testimony of all the pea. şantry and vagabonds in Galilee.

Far from complying with the request of Herod, and performing so eminent a benefit, Jesus withdrew into a desart as soon as he learned the prince's intention f. He, who often uttered the most terrible curses against such as rejected him, scorned the invitation of a sovereign, and Aed into a desart, instead of labouring for his conversion. The Messiah, who made no difficulty in entering the house of a centurion to heal his slave, refused to visit a monarch in order to cure his blindness, and bring

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* St. Lake, v. 7, &c. St. Mark, vi. 14, &c. St. Matt. xiv. 1, &c.

+ St. Matt. xiv. 13.


back to himself all his subjects, for whom, he affirmed, that he was specially sent!

Our theologians explain these contradictions by referring us to the inexplicable decrees of Providence: But the incredulous maintain, that Jesus, who well knew how to work wonders in the eyes of a simple populace, dared not to expose himself before an en, lightened court; and it must be owned, that the manner in which he comported himself before his judges, before whom he was afterwards to appear, strengthens this opinion.

Meanwhile, the mission of the apostles expired. In a short time they had traversed Galilee; and it appears from the repast which Jesus soon after gave to a crowd of people, that the preaching of his missionaries had procured an abundant harvest. Loaded with the alms of the Galileans, the apostles returned to their mastër, who again found himself incommoded by the multitude which flocked to see him. To enjoy more liberty, the party embarked on board a small vessel, which conveyed them across the sea of Galilee. There, in a retired spot, the apostles gave an account of the success of their mission they made arrangements for the future, and especially secured their provisions in a place of safety:

Those who had seen Jesus embark, thought, perhaps, they were for érer to be deprived of the pleasure of seeing him perform wonders. They made the tour of the lake, and though on foot, reached the other side before Jesus arrived there in his vessel. He preached to them, wrought miracles and cured the diseased; and these labours lasted until the evening. His disciples then advised him to send away the people from the

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

we go

desart place, that they might go in search of lodgings and victuals in the neighbouring villages. He made nó reply on the article of lodging ; - there were doubtless few persons in this multitude who were ac customed to sleep on down - besides; the nights were likely not cold in that season and climate. But, wishing to amuse himself with the embarrassment of those who made the proposal, and who might not know the resources which the collections of his apostles had procured, “ It is necessary,” said he, 4 that they should go into the villages, give them yourselves wherewith to eat." “ Think you so?" replied they," shall

and buy two hundred ponny-worth of bread; and give them to eat ?" - Philip, who perhaps was not in the secret*, represented the impossibility of finding bread to feed this multitude: Upon which Cbrist said to Peter, “ See how many loaves you have." He found none at all a circumstance the more surprizing, as, according to St. Mark, they had withdrawn to this place “on purpose to eatt." Peter; without ansa wering the question, said to his master, “ There is a young lad here, who has five barley loaves and two small fishes.". Jesus ordered them to be brought, and made the multitude range themselves in eompanies of hundreds and of fifties. From this arrangement it appeared that there were five thousand inen, besides women and children.-- When every one had taken his place on the grass, Jesus, according to the usage of the Jews, blessed the loaves and fishes, broke, and dis.

* In important affairs, it was always Peter, James, and John, whom Jesus employed. + St. Mark, vi: 31.

D D %

[ocr errors]

tributed them among the apostles, who gave thereof to the people as much as they desired ; they likewise filled twelve baskets with the fragments of this celebrated entertainment. The guests, penetrated with admiration, exclaimed, “ This is of a truth a prophet, and that prophet who should come into the world*, which, translated into ordinary language, means, The true Amphitrion is he who gives us our dinner, The apostles spoke not a word.

Some critics, founding on the impossibilities. this miracle presents, have ventured to doubt the truth of it:' as if the impossibility of things could prejudice the reality of a miracle, the essence of which is to produce things impossible. Yet if attention is given to the account of the evangelists, who are not, however, very unanimous on particulars, we shall find, that this miracle presents nothing'impossible, if we are inclined to give any credit to the prudence of the Son of God, whu, on this occasion, found that he could not make a better use of the provisions amassed by his apostles, than to distribute them to a hungry multitude. By this act, he saw himself certain of gaining their favour, It may be, the crowd was not quite go numerous as is related. Besides, our apostles, in passing to the oppo. site shore, might have thrown their nets with sufficient success to furnish fish for the company assembled. This meal must have appeared miraculous to persons who knew that Jesus had no fortune, and lived on alms. We accordingly find, that the people wanted to pro_ claim king the person who had so sumptuously regailed

* St. Mark, vi. 31–44. St. Matt. xiv. 18, &c, and St. John, VA

[ocr errors]

them. The entertainment no doubt recalled to their mind the idea of a Messiah, under whose government abundance was to reign. No more was requisite to induce a handful of miserables to believe, that the preacher, who by a miracle fed them so liberally, must be the extraordinary man the nation expected.

This great miracle then 'will become very probable, by supposing that the apostles in their collection had received a large quantity of bread. They amused themselves, as has been observed, with fishing while they crossed the lake; Jesus gave them the hint:-when evening was come, things were disposed without the observations of the people, who were thus fed with provisions amassed by means very natural.

Though the Galileans wished to proclaim Christ king, he did not think proper to accept an honour which he found himself for the present incapable of supporting. His exhausted provisions did not suffer him to undertake the frequent entertaining of so many guests at his own expence; and, though this conduct, much more than all his other miracles, would have gained him the affections of the beggars, idlers, and vagabonds of the country, the necessity of his affairs prevented him from recurring to it.

Thus Jesus crowned the second year of his mission with an action well adapted to conciliate the love of the people, and at the same time give uneasiness to the magistrates. This stroke of eclat must doubtless have alarmed those in power, who perceived that the affair might become very serious, especially considering the intention the Galileans had displayed of proclaiming our adventurer king. The priests probably profited by these dispositions in order to destroy

« AnteriorContinuar »