But as I told you, you have seen Me and still you do not believe.
I. CONSIDER THE HUNGER OF THE SOUL WHICH IS PRESUMED. The body is dependent upon food for life, health, and strength; and the appetite of hunger prompts to the seeking and partaking of food. There is a correspondence between the hunger that craves and the bread that satisfies; an adaptation of the supply to the necessity. There is a parallel arrangement in the spiritual realm. Man is a weak, dependent, craving being, with an ineradicable desire for the highest good - a desire not to be appeased by earthly provisions. It is a spiritual appetite, which in many is deadened by carnal indulgence, by sinful habit, yet which ever and anon recurs. What a revelation of soul yearning would there be, could the inner nature and experience of any congregation be exposed to an observer's view!
II. CONSIDER THE BREAD OF THE SOUL WHICH IS PROVIDED.
1. Christ, as the true Bread, is the gift of the Father. All the family are dependent upon the liberality and thoughtfulness of the great Father and Benefactor. If "he openeth his hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing," it is not to be believed that, providing for the lower wants, he will neglect the higher. And, as a matter of fact, he has not done so.
2. Christ is the Bread "from heaven." As such he was prefigured by the manna of the wilderness. This gift is bestowed from the sphere of the spiritual and supernatural, which is thus brought near to our souls.
3. He is the true, the real Bread. There is no hollow pretence in this gift. God is not a Father who, if his son ask bread of him, will give him a stone. He who made the soul of man knows how that soul's wants can be fully and forever met.
III. CONSIDER THE SATISFACTION OF THE SOUL WHICH IS SECURED.
1. Christ is partaken, not by physical eating, but by communion of the spirit with the Saviour. Faith is the means of appropriating the Divine provision. Jesus in this conversation especially warned his disciples of the error into which some of them afterwards fell - the error of confounding carnal with spiritual participation of his body and blood.
2. The result of feeding by faith upon the Bread of life is - satisfaction and gladness, health and vigour of soul, and a life which is immortal. "If a man eat this Bread, he shall live forever." As the hunger of the Israelites was appeased by the manna, as the hunger of the multitude was appeased by the miraculous multiplication of loaves in the wilderness, so have myriads in every age partaken of the true and spiritual Bread, and have borne witness to its efficacy to satisfy their deepest cravings, and to nourish their spiritual life. - T.
Ye also have seen Me and believe not.1. The grand distinction of Christianity is that it makes its appeal to faith, and upon that rests the promise of salvation.
2. But this is the scandal of men. If we hold any truth by reason, perception, or on evidence what need of holding by faith? And if we hold it without such evidence what is belief, but a surrender of our proper intelligence?
3. It is proposed to show how it is that we, as intelligent beings, are called to believe, and how, as sinners, we can in the nature of things, be saved only as we believe. This text sets us at the point when seeing and believing are brought together as not united; in ver. 40 they are united.
4. It stands on the face of the language —(1) That faith is not sight but something so different that we may see and not believe;(2) That sight does not include faith or supersede the necessity of it, for after sight faith is expected;(3) That sight is supposed to furnish a ground for faith, and involving guilt when faith is not exercised. Let us look at three kinds of faith.
I. Take the case of SIGHT. It has been a great question how it is we perceive objects. Berkeley denied that we saw them at all. The persons who saw Christ had only certain pictures cast in the back of the eye which were mere subjective impressions. How then do we bridge the gulf between sensations and their objects; how it is that having a true picture in the back of the eye we make it a tree. Some deny the possibility of any solution; but the best solutions conceive the soul to take these forms as more than objects perceived, that we complete sensation or issue it in perception by assigning reality to the distant object. What is this but the exercise of a sense faith. We thus see by faith.
II. Take that FAITH WHICH, after perception is completed, ASSIGNS TRUTH TO THE THINGS SEEN, and takes them to be historic verities. Thus after Christ had been seen in the facts of His life, it became a question what to make of those facts — whether there could have been conspiracy or self-imposition in the miracles. The mere seeing of a wonder never concludes the mind of the spectator. How many testify to having seen the most fantastic wonders, and yet they very commonly conclude by saying they know not what to make of them, doubting whether sleight of hand, ventriloquism, etc., may not account for them. The evidence to one who saw Christ was as perfect as it could be; but all that can be said is that a given impression has been made, and that impression is practically nought till an act of intellectual assent is added. Then the impression becomes to the mind a real and historical fact, a sentence of credit passed.
III. We come now to CHRISTIAN FAITH. This begins just where the last-named faith ends. That decided the greatest fact of history, viz., that Christ actually was. But what is now wanted and justified and even required by the facts of His life is a faith that goes beyond the mere evidence of proportional verities, viz., the faith of a transaction; and Christian faith is the act of trust by which one being, a sinner, commits herself to another Being, a Saviour. In this faith —
1. Everything is presupposed that makes the act intelligent and rational. That Christ was what He declared Himself to be and can do what He offered to do, and that we can commit ourselves to Him.
2. The matters included in this act are the surrender of our mere self care, the ceasing to live from our own point of separated will, a complete admission of the mind of Christ, a consenting to live as infolded in His spirit.
3. Great results will follow.(1) The believer will be as one possessed by Christ, created anew in Christ Jesus.(2) New evidence will be created. As in trying a physician new evidence is obtained from the successful management of the disease, so the soul that trusts itself to Christ knows Him with a new kind of knowledge; has the witness in himself.Lessons.
1. The mistake is here corrected that the gospel is a theorem to be thought out and not a new premiss of fact communicated by God to be received of men in all the threefold gradations of faith.
2. We discover that the requirement of faith, as a condition of salvation, is not arbitrary but essential for deliverance from sin. What we want is God, to be united to Him and thus to be quickened, raised, made partakers of the Divine Nature.
3. We perceive that mere impressions can never amount to faith, inasmuch as it is the commitment of our being to the Being of Christ our Saviour.
4. It is plain that what is wanted in the Christian world is more faith. We dabble too much in reason. We shall never recover the true apostolic energy without it.
(H. Bushnell, D. D.)
(H. Bushnell, D. D.)
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