A Hand-Basket Portion
They have a common saying in the Weald of Kent, when the daughter of a farmer is married. If it be enquired what portion the father gave, the answer is:
“He gave not much money; but is always sending them something – there is always something from the farmhouse.”
Then the observation usually is:
“Aye, her’s is a hand-basket portion, which is generally the best; for there is no end to that.”
Even so our Everlasting Father gives to His poor children a hand-basket portion – a basket being that which we generally fetch our daily provisions in: and God sometimes puts His blessing even in the basket, and then it seldom comes home empty; as it is written:
“Blessed shall be thy basket.”
Our blessed Saviour eyed this promise on the mount. When He was going to feed five thousand men, beside women and children, with five barley loaves and two small fishes, it is said:
“He looked up to heaven, and blessed and brake…”
And that blessing was enough; for they were all filled, and there were twelve baskets full of fragments. Thus the blessing appeared in the basket; and that made the Saviour so fond of the fragments as to give this strict charge to His disciples:
“Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”
Thus, too, the proverb of the hand-basket portion appears true; and our blessed Saviour Himself lived on it while He dwelt below; yea, the whole Levitical tribe lived on the hand-basket portion; for the shewbread, that was set hot before God on the golden table, was brought in a basket. So that God Himself has highly honoured the basket.
I am firmly of opinion that the hand-basket portion is the best, both for soul and body; because it keeps us to prayer, exercises our faith, engages our watchfulness, and excites to gratitude.
By William Huntington