Christ our “Providence”

Christ our “Providence”

Five Thousand Men fed.

(The Gospel History, Section 62)

And he said, Bring them hither unto me. Now there was much grass in the place. And he said unto his disciples, Make them all sit down by companies upon the green grass. So the men sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties, in number about five thousand. Jesus therefore took the five loaves and the two fishes; and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and gave thanks, and brake the loaves, and gave to the disciples to distribute to them that were set down: likewise also the two fishes divided he among them all, as much as they would. And they did all eat and were filled. And when they were filled, he saith unto his disciples, Gather up the broken pieces which remain over, that nothing be lost. So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves, and also from the fishes, which remained over unto them that had eaten. And they that did eat were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Christ our “Providence”

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

Now make them all sit down:” and that same John,
Who splendours saw of the new Jerusalem,
The rainbow throne, the sardius, emerald,—
Here, also, saw what fed his artist-eye;—
Saw much grass in the place; the vivid-hued
Garments of eastern men amongst the flowers,—
Kaleidoscope of colours: soon, the word
Came, bidding all to sit by companies;
See, a score of open squares, with space in midst
Where Christ stood with th’ disciples, and that meal—
The little meal which should sustain them all—
Mocking the eyes of thousand hungry folk
Thus bidden to break fast! Did any know
With soft assurance in his inward heart
That, the thing He gives sufficeth, less or more?

How good to us, anhungered, to perceive
The Master’s mind disclosed in all the tale,
See order emanating from His act
As song from throat of throstle! so did John see
A jewelled glory as of painted glass
Reflected on his vision from Christ’s thought!—
How good to see our Saviour in the midst
Dealing out bread to all that multitude
E’en as He deals to us in harvest field!
The harvest’s yellow glory in all lands,
In Egypt, Syria, distant western fields,
The table spread for us as for the birds,—
How this one scene interprets the Lord’s ways!

Lo, that large circle, those five thousand souls,
Raised eyes to Him in their midst; He took the loaves,—
The little barley cakes, the fishes two,—
And, looking up to heaven, He blessed the meat
And gave God thanks Who feeds us. That poor “Grace”
We say before meat,—convicted, we elude
The eye of Him who taught us! Consider we
This feeding of five thousand, and we perceive
How the very life of God comes with our bread!
He brake the loaves and fishes, gave the meat
To the disciples, they to th’ multitude:—
Behold, our uses! That He hands to us,
For distribution is’t, that all may eat;
We, honoured in His service and in theirs.

The people ate accustomed fare with zest—
The wonder of ’t! And ate the more to try,
Could the supply give out and any lack?
In time they were all filled; and the ordered mind
Of Him, the universe sustains and made,
Appeared in a little matter: “Gather up,”
Said He who fed them with unlaboured act,
“The broken pieces left that none be lost.”
No trifling thing, these fragments of men’s food;—
Organic life alone can life sustain;
Cycles of time, processes manifold,
Initial act creative, evolving care
Of Him who first had made,—all these had gone
To make rejected crust, fragment of fish:
And those twelve baskets filled with broken meat,
Of God’s world-providence tell all the tale!

St. Matthew xiv. 19-21.
St. Mark vi. 39-44.
St. Luke ix. 14-17.
St. John vi. 10-13.

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