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baptized; and the multitudes so great, that the apostles were forced to design some men to the ministration of baptism by way of peculiar office; and it grew to be work enough, the easiness of the ministry being made busy and full of employment where a whole nation became disciples. And indeed the doctrine is so holy, the principle so Divine, the instruments so supernatural, the promises so glorious, the revelations so admirable, the rites so mysterious, the whole fabric of the discipline so full of wisdom, persuasion, and energy, that the infinite number of the first conversions were not so great a wonder, as that there are so few now: every man calling himself Christian, but few having that " power of godliness" which distinguishes Christian from a word and an empty name. And the word is now the same, and the arguments greater, (for some have been growing ever since, as the prophecies have been fulfilled,) and the sermons more, and "the Spirit the same;" and yet such "diversity of operations," that we hear and read the sermons and dictates evangelical as we do a romance, but that it is with less passion, but altogether as much unconcerned as with a story of Salmanasar or Ibrahim Bassa: for we do not leave one vice, or reject one lust, or deny one impetuous temptation the more, for the four Gospels' sake, and all St. Paul's epistles mingled in the argument. And yet all think themselves fishes within Christ's net, and the prey of the Gospel : and it is true they are so; for "the kingdom is like unto a net, which enclosed fishes good and bad;" but this shall be of small advantage when the net shall be drawn to the shore, and the separation made.
5. When Jesus called those disciples, they ha been "fishing all night, and caught nothing;" but when Christ bade them "let down the net," they took multitudes: to show to us, that the success of our endeavours is not in proportion to our labours, but the Divine assistance and benediction. It is not the excellence of the instrument, but the capacity of the subject, nor yet this alone, but the aptness of the application, nor that without an influence from Heaven, can produce the fruits of a holy persuasion and conversion. "Paul may plant, and Apollos may water; but God gives the increase." Indeed, when we let down the nets at the Divine appointment, the success is the more
probable; and certainly God will bring benefit to the place, or honour to himself, or salvation to them that will obey, or conviction to them that will not: but whatever the fruit be in respect of others, the reward shall be great to themselves. And therefore St. Paul did not say he had profited, but, "he had laboured more than they all," as knowing the Divine acceptance would take its account in proportion to our endeavours and intendments; not by commensuration to the effect, which being without us, depending upon God's blessing, and the co-operation of the recipients, can be no ingredients into our account. But this also may help to support the weariness of our hopes, and the protraction and deferring of our expectation, if a laborious prelate and an assiduous preacher have but few returns to his many cares and greater labours. A whole night a man may labour, (the longest life is no other,) and yet catch nothing, and then the Lord may visit us with his special presence, and more forward assistances, and the harvest may grow up with the swiftness of a gourd, and the fruitfulness of olives, and the plaisance of the vine, and the strength of wheat; and whole troops of penitents may arise from the darkness of their graves at the call of one sermon, even when he pleases: and till then we must be content that we do our duty, and lay the consideration of the effect at the feet of Jesus.
6. In the days of the patriarchs, the governors of the Lord's people were called shepherds; so was Moses, and so was David. In the days of the Gospel they are shepherds still, but with the addition of a new appellative, for now they are called fishers. Both the callings were honest, humble, and laborious, watchful and full of trouble; but now that both the titles are conjunct, we may observe the symbol of an implicit and folded duty. There is much simplicity and care in the shepherd's trade; there is much craft and labour in the fisher's and a prelate is to be both full of piety to his flock, careful of their welfare; and, because in the political and spiritual sense too, feeding and governing are the same duty, it concerns them that have cure of souls to be discreet and wary, observant of advantages, laying such baits for the people as may entice them into the nets of Jesus's discipline. "But being crafty I caught you," saith St. Paul; for he was a fisher too. And so must spiritual persons be fishers to all
spiritual senses of watchfulness, and care, and prudence only they must not fish for preferment and ambitious purposes, but must say with the king of Sodom, "Date nobis animas, cætera vobis tollite ;" which St. Paul renders, "We seek not yours, but you." And in order to such acquist, the purchase of souls, let them have the diligence and the craft of fishers, the watchfulness and care of shepherds, the prudence of politics, the tenderness of parents, the spirit of government, the wariness of observation, great knowledge of the dispositions of their people, and experience of such advantages by means of which they may serve the ends of God, and of salvation upon their souls.
7. When Peter had received the fruits of a rich miracle, in the prodigious and prosperous draught of fishes, he instantly falls down at the feet of Jesus," and confesses himself" a sinner," and unworthy of the presence of Christ. In which confession I not only consider the conviction of his understanding by the testimony of the miracle, but the modesty of his spirit, who, in his exaltation, and the joy of a sudden and happy success, retired into humility and consideration of his own unworthiness, lest, as it happens in sudden joys, the lavishness of his spirit should transport him to intemperance, to looser affections, to vanity, and garishness, less becoming the severity and government of a disciple of so great a Master. For in such great and sudden accidents, men usually are dissolved and melted into joy and inconsideration, and let fly all their severe principles and discipline of manners, till, as Peter here did, though to another purpose, they say to Christ, " Depart from me, O Lord;" as if such excellences of joys, like the lesser stars, did disappear at the presence of him, who is the fountain of all joys regular and just. When the spirits of the body have been bound up by the cold winter air, the warmth of the spring makes so great an aperture of the passages, and, by consequence, such dissolution of spirits, in the presence of the sun, that it becomes the occasion of fevers and violent diseases. Just such a thing is a sudden joy, in which the spirits leap out from their cells of austerity and sobriety, and are warmed into fevers and wildnesses, and forfeiture of all judgment and vigorous understanding. In these accidents, the best advice is to temper and allay our joys with some
instant consideration of the vilest of our sins, the shamefulness of our disgraces, the most dolorous accidents of our lives, the worst of our fears, with meditation of death, or the terrors of doomsday, or the unimaginable miseries of damned and accursed spirits. For such considerations as these are good instruments of sobriety, and are correctives to the malignity of excessive joys or temporal prosperities, which, like minerals, unless allayed by art, prey upon the spirits, and become the union of a contradiction, being turned into mortal medicines.
8. At this time "Jesus preached to the people from the ship," which, in the fancies and tropical discoursings of the old doctors, signifies the church, and declares, that the homilies of order and authority must be delivered from the oracle; they that preach must be sent, and God hath appointed tutors and instructors of our consciences by special designation and peculiar appointment: if they that preach do not make their sermons from the ship, their discourses either are the false murmurs of heretics and false shepherds, or else of thieves and invaders of authority, or corrupters of discipline and order. For God, that loves to hear us in special places, will also be heard himself by special persons; and since he sent his angels ministers to convey his purposes of old, then when "the law was ordained by angels, as by the hands of a mediator," now also he will send his servants, the sons of men, since the new law was ordained by the Son of Man, who is the Mediator between God and man in the new covenant. And, therefore, in the ship Jesus preached, but he had first caused it " to put off from land;" to represent to us, that the ship in which we preach must be put off from the vulgar communities of men, separate from the people, by the designation of special appointment and of special holiness; that is, they neither must be common men, nor of common lives, but consecrated by order, and hallowed by holy living, lest the person want authority in destitution of a divine character, and his doctrine lose its energy and
b Simul et quod gaudes et quod times contrahe. — Seneca.
c Gal. iii. 19.
d Χωρεῖν γὰς ὅμοιον πρὸς ὅμοιον, ὅθεν καὶ μόνος ἱερεὺς ὁ σοφὸς λέγεται, μόνος Θεοφιλής, μόνος εἰδὼς ἔυξασθαι' μόνος γὰς οἶδε τιμᾷν, ὁ τὴν ἀξίαν μὴ συγχέων τῶν τιμωμένων, καὶ ὁ προηγουμένως ἱερεῖον ἑαυτὸν προσάγων. ---- Hierocl. in Pythag.
power when the life is vulgar, and hath nothing in it holy and extraordinary.
9. The holy Jesus, in the choice of his apostles, was resolute and determined to make election of persons bold and confident, (for so the Galilæans were observed naturally to be, and Peter was the boldest of the twelve, and a good sword-man, till the spirit of his Master had fastened his sword within the scabbard, and charmed his spirit into quietness;) but he never chose any of the Scribes and Pharisees, none of the doctors of the law, but persons ignorant and unlearned; which, in design and institutions whose divinity is not demonstrated from other arguments, would seem an art of concealment and distrust. But in this, which derives its rays from the fountain of wisdom most openly and infallibly, it is a contestation against the powers of the world upon the interests of God, that he who does all the work might have all the glory, and in the productions in which he is fain to make the instruments themselves, and give them capacity and activity, every part of the operation, and causality, and effect, may give to God the same honour he had from the creation, for his being the only workman; with the addition of those degrees of excellence which, in the work of redemption of man, are beyond that of his creation and first being.
O eternal Jesu, Lord of the creatures, and Prince of the catholic church, to whom all creatures obey, in acknowledgment of thy supreme dominion, and all according to thy disposition, co-operate to the advancement of thy kingdom, be pleased to order the affairs and accidents of the world, that all things in their capacity may do the work of the Gospel, and co-operate to the good of the elect, and retrench the growth of vice, and advance the interests of virtue. Make all the states and orders of men disciples of thy, holy institution: let princes worship thee, and defend religion; let thy clergy do thee honour by personal zeal, and vigilance over their flocks; let all the world submit to thy sceptre, and praise thy righteousness, and adore thy judgments, and revere thy laws: and,