VI The miracle of increase
THAT miracle of increase—what the steps,
And at what moment did the change take place?
Did broken fragments multiply the while—
The instant’s space—they passed through Jesus’
The Disciples’ baskets—were they straightway
Direct from the hands of the Lord? Or, grew
In the act of giving, each portion leaving more
Than itself to fill its place? Idle, we ask;
Who tells us how the goodly grain is built,—
The seed, the blade, the ear, full corn in ear—
That man knows th’ processes of miracles,
How thousands may be fed, how tempests, stilled!
Such mysteries, they yield all to one key
Had we the wit to know it, grace to use:
Life feeds upon the living—all we know!
“In Him was life”—our sum of knowledge, see;
No further oracle’s vouchsafed to men
For all their restless searching, arrogant boasts:
That secret place where life doth hide itself
And thence flows forth to animate the worlds—
Rejecting Christ, THE LIFE, what hope have we
That any find it for us? Alternative,
There’s none for us: ’tis Christ, or blank dismay!
As General spies weak point in his defence,
So Christ took His disciples, constraining them,
By force of that strong word they knew t’obey,
Despite their protestations—sure, not they
Would leave Him all alone to deal with this
Tumultuous multitude!—and, straight, they go,
Take boat as they are bid for further side;
And Christ, alone, took leave of all the folk,
Dispersed them to their homes, constrained by
Authority in Him which some knew to name.
And was the Christ alone? Two years had
Since in the wilderness one came and said,—
“The Kingdoms shall be thine and all their praise
Wilt thou but bow to me!” Two strenuous
The Lord had carried water in a sieve,
Had urged great boulder up a mountainous slope;
The inconstant people slipped away from Him;
Fast as He raised them, fell to lower depth:
Is any toil like his who high ideal
Urges incessant on unwilling souls?
What if, once more, the Tempter came and
“Two years gone by—no Kingdom yet to
What if he urged, “Nay, try my readier plan,—
Let them make King of Thee, and all the gifts
Which Thou wouldst give to men shall flow from
What if stress of temptation drove our Lord,
That He clomb up the mountain there to pray!—
And peace attends His prayer, and careful love.
The Lord gazed from His height; quick flash
The Disciples toiling on uneasy sea—
Sight piteous out of the dark, their boat a toy,
A plaything of strong waves, tempestuous winds:
The men distressed with rowing make no way;
In the fourth watch of the night, there were they
“Anon, the Lord was with us, safe were we
’Mid all the turmoil of wild heavens, great seas!
Alone, we perish, late so full of hope!”
What greater strait might be—alone, in the
Peril of death about them, without hope?
But what is this adds horror to their dread—
Better to drown than demons see abroad
Walking the midnight sea! Spectre abhorred,
They’d heard how such appeared to men fore-
And terror froze their hands to idle oars!
The Shape draws near—a likeness grows on
More awful fear appals: then,—Is it He,
The Spirit of their Master? He is dead,
And they, indeed, left orphaned, desolate!—
They cried aloud in terror; worse than all,
This apparition unendurable!
A tender voice bids all their fears subside—
They hear through the tempest’s raging, “It is I;
Be of good cheer poor troubled hearts, nor
Too much the joy for Peter, sudden induced
On anguish of his terror:—Lost he his wits,
And cried, “Lord, bid me come if it be
Hazards of faith are welcome to the Lord,
If so be, He must reckless zeal instruct
Which counts not the cost. “Come,’ saith Christ,
and he came,
Stepped from the boat with eye fixed on the
And steady walked the waters: then, distract,
He saw the heaving sea; “I perish, Lord,
Save Thou!” Immediately the Lord stretched
Took hold of the sinking saint, and spake re-
“O thou of little faith, wherefore didst doubt?”
They in the boat knew all their fears subside;
That dear familiar voice quick calmed their soul;—
How awful the surroundings, here was Christ,
And willingness took the place of shrinking
Glad, they in the boat received Him; subsided
The fury of the storm: those weary leagues
Their sore-tired arms must row were over-past,
In the haven where they would be, were they
Once more they worshipped Him;—“By this
Of a truth, our Lord, Thou art the Son of God!”
The Lord, too, was He weary? What confi-
The loaves, had they produced in hardened
Which had no faith in Him when terror urged?
A PDF is available here.