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DISCOURSE XXI. The Gospel for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity,
St. Luke v. 112. It came to pass, that as the People press’d upon him
to hear the Word of God, be stood by the Lake of Gennefareth, and saw two Ships ftanding by the Lake; but the Fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their Nets : And he entred into one of the Ships, which was Simon's, &c.
HE People, mov'd by the Divine Discourses and miraculous Cures of our blessed Saviour, flock'd in
great Multitudes to him from all Parts: and being a Teacher come from Heaven to fhew the Way thither, they press'd hard through Crouds and Throngs to hear him ; as he that comes with glad Tidings fall be fure to have niany Followers.
Some of those that thus press’d upon him, had been the Disciples of the Scribes and Pharisees, who having (as they were inform’d) corrupted and falsify'd the Law, they delir'd to hear the pure Word of God out of Christ's Mouth, and therefore strove hard to come near him to that end.
The Place where he stood, when they came to him, was by the Lake of Gennefareth ; calld sometimes the Sea of Galilee, Mat. 4. 18. sometimes the Lake or Sea of Tiberias, Mat. 14. 34. and here the Lake of Gennefareth. At our Saviour's standing there, He saw two Ships ftanding by the Lake ; but the Fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their Nets. These two Ships or Boats belong'd, the one to Andremo and Peter, the other to James and John, the Sons of Zebedee : And these were the Fishermen here mention’d. But there seems to be fome small diffe
rence between the Evangelists, St. Matthem and St. Luke, in the relating of this Story of Christ's coming to these two Ships or Boats: St. Matthew tells us, thac Peter and Andred were cafting their Nets into the Sea or Lake, as if they were actually fishing ; Mat. 4. 18. and that James and Fohn were in their Boats mending their Nets ; ver. 21. St. Luke here speaks indifferently of them, that they left their Boats, and were washing or scouring their Nets, as if they had left off fishing for that time ; though they inight meet together again a little after about the fame Buliness, and so both may very well be thought to conlist together. Again, St. Matthew speaks of calling Peter and Andrew, who ftraightway left their Nets and follow'd him ; Mat. 46 20. and that he went his way, and seeing James and John, the two Sons of Zebedee, he call'd them sometime after : But St. Luke takes no notice of two different Calls, but mentions them as done together. Now these small Differences may be easily suppos'd between the one that speaks briefly and concisely of the Matter, and the other that speaks more largely of the Manner and Circumstances of the whole Action. But to proceed to what is more material,
'Tis fáid in the next Verse, that Chrif enter'd into one of the Ships, which was Simon's, and pray'd him that he would thrust out a little from the Land : And he sat down, and taught the People out of the ship. The Multitude fol lowing our Saviour to the Shore, he consider'd how he might instruct them in the best manner, that the Place where they they were would admit of: and to that end he went into St. Peter's Ship, which was then ready to receive him; and having plac'd the People to the best advantage of hearing him, he discours'd before them of things that were of the greatest Use and Benefit to them,
What the particular Matter or Subject of this Discourse was, is not here fet down, but no doubt related to the Affairs of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the great Concerns of their Souls, and perhaps was the Heads of his Divine Sermon on the Mount, which he preach'd to them foon after. By this we learn the great Willingness of our Sáviour to teach and to do good to all Mankind, for he embrac'd all Opportunities of imparting to them his Father's Mind, and improving theni in all Divine and HeaVenly Wisdom; and thereby hath given us an example of
counselling, comforting, and instructing one another, and to the best of our Knowledg and Power helping forward the Salvation of all Men:
Now when he had left fpėsking, he said unto Simon, launch out into the Deep, and let down your Nets for a Draught: . When he had ended his Discourse, he put Peter upon the Business of his Calling; and being a Filherman, he bids him put forth into the Sea, and cast out their Nets for a draught of Fishes : whereby he few'd his Approbation of Mens Diligence and Industry in their several Stations and Callings, willing them carefully and seasonably to follow the Business of them, that they may receive a Blessing from their honest and innocent Endeavours.
But Simon answering, said unto him, Master, poe have toild all the Night, and have taken nothing. His bad Success had mightily discourag'd him, and made him backward to the using of any farther Endeavours. Most Men are: unwilling to labour in vain, or to follow Business, when they see nothing comes of it'; but this is many times thro their own Folly and Default, they have not things so soon and in that measure and quantity that they expect, and so cease their Endeavours after them.
Some lay aside their Prayers, because they do not find a prefent Answer to them, and others neglect and refuse to labour, because they do not instantly reap the desir'd Fruits of it: whereas by a little Patience and Perseverance in their Duty, they may obtain more than they could reafonably expect ; For we mall reap (faith the Apostle) if we faint not. And so it prov'd in this Case: St. Peter felt something of this Impatience and Distrust, and by the fruitless Labour and Toil of one Night, was almost difcourag'd from any farther Attempt, till awaken'd by our, Saviour's Call, he renews his Endeavours, and falls to his Work again; Nevertheless (faith he) at thy Word, I will let down the Net. Christ's Word quicken'd both his Dili , gence and his Hopes; and that made him readily obey it, by letting down his Net, which he had wash'd and prepar'd for a better Opportunity. But what was the Effect of this chearful Compliance? Why, that the next Verse tells us ; When they had thus done, they enclos'd a great Multitude of Fimes, so that their Net brake. We shall lose nothing by obeying and trusting our Lord ; yea, we shall be infinite Gainers by both. For the Disciples here who had toil'd all Night, and caught nothing, no not so much as
one single Fille ; by believing and doing as Christ commanded them, took up fuch valt Numbers of Fishes as brake their Net, tho before wash'd and mended for the Draught: A seasonable Encouragement to all Christ's Servants to go on chearfully in the Duties of their respective Callings; not to despond after some unsuccessful Toils and Trials; nor to desist from the Works of their Vocation for any seeming Discouragements or Disappointments they may meet with in it.
But what did the Disciples do upon this extraordinary Draught of Fishes, and the breaking of their Nets? Why, They beckon'd to their Partners, which were in the other Ship, that they should come and help them; and they came and filled both the Ships, so that they began to sink. They were more oppress’d now with the Number and Weight of the Fish taken, than they were before with the want of them ; and therefore callid to their Companions for Aflistance, under the Burden of their Abundance. They beckon'd to the Partners in the other Ship to come and help them, not in their Poverty, but their Plenty, to share in their Prosperity, and to ease them of some of the Care and Trouble of it. To which they readily came, as most Men are willing to repair to and partake of Plenty ; the Rich have many Friends, and they that have Store of Provisions, shall ne. ver want Company to receive and consume them. When they, in the other Ship, came to these Disciples, they found them labouring under the Burden of Affluence and Plenty, which was so great, that they could not well bear nor manage ; for they found the number of the fish taken at one Draught fufficient to fill both the Ships, and the Weight of them great enough to link both the Veffels. Prosperity is sometimes more dangerous than Adversity, and more are overwhelni’d with Plenty, than are funk with Poverty. A Heathen could observe, that few Men can καθαπέπσαι μέγαν όλθον, digeft great Profperity; it expofes to Difficulties and Dangers, that are not easily conquer'd; and more Men perish by Luxury, than pine away by lack. The Disciples here were in greater Danger by the Fulness, thani they were by the Emptiness of their Vessels ; they who before swam about with Pleasure, were here sinking with Pressure, and calld for Aslistance, not so much in time of Need, as in time of Abundance. Now here we may remark' two or three things, that may be worth Observa. tion :
(1.) That our Saviour fuited his Miracles and wonderful Works to the Employments and Necessities of those, with whom he had to do; as being more likely to work upon them, than fach as had no Reference to either. Christ having here to do with Filhermen, whom he was about to convert, and call to be his Disciples, he thought he could not do better with them, than to take them in their owni way, and by a miraculous Draught of Fishes, especially at a time when they could take none themselves, to convince them of his Divine Power: By this they perceiv'd him to be Lord of the Sea, as well as Land, and that he had all the Creatures in both at his Call and Conimanid, and could bring them together at all times and places, both when and where he pleases. By this aftonishing Draught of Fishes, he caught the Disciples too, and enclos'd them in the fame Net: a Draught it was, far above and beside their Expectation, and such a one as they knew nothing but the commanding Power of God was able to bring to pass; and this 'gave them such a convincing Evidence of his Meffiahship, that they ever after devoted themselves to his Service, as we shall fee after. Again,
At another time, we read that Peter seeing our Saviour walking on the Sea, as on dry Ground, and that too in a great Storm, en treated that he might come to him on the Water. Christ calling him to him, he went out of the Ship, and walked on the Sea to meet his Master, who to trý his Faith, permitted him to sink a little under Water į which made him in a paflionate Fright to cry out, Lord save me : whereupon Christ took him by the Hand, and fet him again on the Top of the Water, with this mild Rebuke, O thou of little Faith, wherefore didst thou doubt ? At whích Peter and all that saw it were astonish'd at the Miracle, and brake out into this Confession ; Of a truth thou art the Son of God; Mat. 14. 32, 33.
Thus having to do with Seamen and Fishermen, he treated them with Arguments taken from their own Cal ling and Element, and convinc'd them of the Divinity of his Person by Miracles done in and upon the Sea : For they were all amaz’d, when they saw the Winds and the Sea obey him, and that he commanded not only the Fowls of the Air, but the Fish of the Sea, and whatsoever passeth through the Paths of the Sea.
And as he accommodated his Miracles fometimes to Mens Callings, so did he at other times to Mens Necefli