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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 animus, cætera vos 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 the 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 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 excellencies 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 discourses of the old doctors, signifies the church, and declares that the homilies of order and authority must be delivered from the oracle : they that
Simul et quod gaudes et quod times contrahe. Seneca.
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 the 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 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 Galileans were observed naturally to be, and Peter was the boldest of the twelve, and a good sword-man, till
I Gal. iii. 19.
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 designs 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 excellency, which, in the work of redemption of man, are beyond that of his creation and first being.
() 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 vigilancy their ks ; let all the
world submit to the scepter, and praise thy righteousness, and adore thy judgments, and revere thy laws. And in the multitudes of thy people within the enclosure of thy nets, let me also communicate in the offices of a strict and religious duty, that I may know thy voice, and obey thy call, and entertain thy holy Spirit, and improve my talents ; that I may also communicate in the blessings of the church; and when the nets shall be drawn to the shore, and the angels shall make separation of the good fishes from the bad, I may not be rejected, or thrown into those seas of fire which shall afflict the enemies of thy kingdom, but be admitted into the societies of saints, and the everlasting communion of thy blessings and glories, O blessed and eternal Jesu. Amen.
Of Repentance. : 1. The whole doctrine of the gospel is comprehended by the Holy Ghost in these two summaries, faith and repentance;' that those two potent and imperious faculties which command our lower powers, which are the fountain of actions, the occasion and capacity of laws, and the title to reward or punishment, the will and the understanding; that is, the whole man considered in his superior faculties, may become subjects of the kingdom, servants of Jesus, and heirs of glory. Faith supplies our imperfect conceptions, and corrects our ignorance, making us to distinguish good from evil, not only by the proportions of reason, and custom, and old laws, but by the new standard of the gospel ; it teaches us all those duties which
Acts, xx. 21.