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rence between the Evangelists, St. Marthem 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 consist 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 set 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
counsellings 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 (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 Fishermen, 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, entreated 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 Filh of the Sea, and whatsoever passeth through the Paths of the Sea.
And as he accommodated his Miracles fonetimes to Mens Callings, fo did he at other times to Mens Neceffi
ties, which are apt likewise to make deep Impressions upon them. So when great Multitudes that followed our Saviour in the Wilderness, were in great want, and almost famish'd with Hunger, he multiply'd five Loaves and two little Fishes to the feeding of five thousand Men, beside Women and Children; and when they were all filled, there was more left than was at first set before then. Which Miracle fo astonish'd them, that they all cry'd out, Of a truth this is that Prophet, that was to come into the World. This is the first' Remark on this Miracle. The
(20) Is, from St. Peter's and the other Disciples complaining of their bad Success, we may observe the Prone. hefs of Mankind to murmur and distrust God upon very flight Occasions : we find here that when Jesus bid Simon to launch out into the Deep, and to cast out their Net into the Sea, he reply'd that he had done that already, but in vain, and had been fishing all the Night to no purpose ; and if they could not succeed then in the Night, the most proper time for that Employment, there can be but little Hope of speeding better now, it being probably high Noon : as if Christ would put them upon Labour in vain; and could not give Success to the Work which he sets them about. Many are apt to distrust and complain without a Cause, the israelites were still murmuring and complaining, though they were daily fed with Manna and Quails in the Wilderness: and too many still, upon every little Appearance of bad weather, are apt to despond and murmur, as if they were to be starv'd and undone ; which is a great Dirtrust of God Almighty's Providence, and highly provoking to him.
(3.) We may observe hence, that tho good Men may be liable to these Despondencies, yet by a little Consideration they foon deliver themselves from them. We find here that St. Peter was almost discourag'd by the bad Success of one, whole Night's Labour, yet nevertheless at Christ's word, he let down the Net'; and his Obedience was well Multitude of Fishes, that it began to break meat a rewarded, for the Net immediately enclos'd so great a that they were forc'd to call to their Partners, that were in a Ship hard by, to come in to their Asistance; and both the Ships were so deeply laden, that they could hardly keep them from sinking: An Example great enough to keep us from sinking under any Disappointments in the Vol. IV. Part 2.