A venture of faith

A venture of faith

Five Thousand Men fed.

(The Gospel History, Section 62)

Jesus therefore lifting up his eyes and seeing that a great multitude cometh unto him, saith unto Philip, Whence are we to buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to prove him; for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him; There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves, and two fishes: but what are they among so many?

A venture of faith

(The Saviour of the World, Vol IV, Book I, Poem III)

The Lord sat wearied after day-long speech,
Passing of “virtue” from Him in those signs—
Compassionate miracles—He wrought for them.
The people looked and heard and took their fill
Of the life that was in Jesus. (Wherefore, then,
But a handful gathered in that upper room
To fulfil their last obedience, when multitudes,
Arrested by His signs, had paid that due—
Attention to His words—which should lead to life?
Alack, an active part was theirs to play:
’Tis not enough to feed—e’en on the Word:
To assimilate that we take is our concern,
Else, go we empty!)

Lifting up His eyes,—

He sees great multitudes have come to Him:
Ah, good for us that one was by who loved,
And garnered bread for Christendom’s fond heart!
Blessèd to know that, there He sat, our Lord;
Where lies the spot, we know not, but rejoice
With brooding mind to know that, on a place,
Here on our very earth, the Saviour sat!

Bless’d, to know surely that He raised His eyes;—
Love treasures such things up; the love of John
Made record for us; our love tells her gains;
Surpassing reverence transports the heart
To note the Lord’s regard, observe Him, sit!
And now the Master tests that growth in faith—
The disciples’ sole concern, our only care:
One picks He out; turning to Philip, saith,
(Our testing finds us ever one by one!)
“Whence buy we bread that all these folk may eat?”
As when a King calls young knight to his side—
“Thou art a man of valour—knightly hest
I lay on thee; go, do this valiant deed!”—
Was Philip honoured that day ’mongst his peers
With opportunity for splendid faith,
More in regard of Christ than any work!
Would we’d been there to answer, “Lord, I know
That thou canst feed men, heal them, give them life!”—
Such chance was Philip’s: but perceived he not
Himself, a school-boy called to say his task;
The lesson, is it conned? Go higher, thou;
But, stumblest in the saying? Go thou down:
So, Philip had his chance to praise the Lord!

By what perverseness harden we our heart
When friend makes meek appeal for sympathy
In noble purpose, soul-uplifting thought?
Then, practical, are we; would count the cost,
Bid him beware of that generosity,
Or sneering men will ask, ‘What hast in bank,
What coin or credit with the Highest?’ So,
Did Philip answer, reckoning up the cost:
“Two hundred pennyworth is not enough
To afford a little bread to each of these.”—

Alas, for Philip! One chance, they say, men have,
One single chance of greatness in a life:
Philip lost his for common sordid thought—
What good’s done on the earth, that, money does;
And, Were we rich, what great things would we do!

Another heard, one of a generous stock,
Whose brother cast his all on one great throw,
One lottery of faith,—Peter, who owned,
“Thou art the Christ of God!”—Now, Andrew saith,
“A lad’s here with five loaves, two fishes small;”—
And in his heart he thought, “Enough for one,
May’t in His hands feed all this numerous host?”
Sudden ashamed of his temerity,
Fall’n cowardly, he adds—“but what are they
For all this multitude?” With failing heart,
He launched his petty bark, the “Little Faith”:
Ah, were’t an ocean vessel for this voyage!

St. Matthew xiv. 17, 18.
St. Mark vi. 37, 38.
St. Luke ix. 13.
St. John vi. 5-9.

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