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providence over all the creatures; the cattle on a thousand hills, and all the fish swimming in the sea, are obedient to his power, and observant of his commands.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8 And the other disciples came in a little ship, (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cuhits,) dragging the net with fishes. 0 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid there, and bread.
Observe here, 1. The great zeal and forwardness of Peter: hearing that it was Christ, he leaps into the sea to get to him. O how inviting, attractive, and alluring, is a sight of Christ! It will make those that know him break through all difficulties to come unto him. It is not a sea of water, no, nor seas of blood, that can keep a zealous soul at a distance from Christ: When Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his coat, and cast himself into the sea. Observe, 2. What a complication of miracles were hero: as soon as they came to land they discerned another miracle, viz. a fire of coals, and fish laid on, and bread, all created and produced by Christ out of nothing, at this time, as an evidence of his divine power; for before they could get the fish to shore, they saw fish broiling upon coals, which makes it evident that these were none of the fish which they had catched. Christ, when he pleases, for the benefit and comfort of his people, will work miracle upon miracle, mercy upon mercy, one wonder upon the head of another; for here, after a miracle at sea, they met with another miracle at land: As soon as they came to land they saw a fire.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
Observe here, 1. What was Christ's end in commanding his disciples to bring forth the fish which they had now taken: namely, that the sight of their number and higness, together with the sight of the net remaining unbroken, might confirm them in the belief of its being a real miracle. Christ had fed their bellies before, his business now is to feed their minds with the contemplation of the greatness and reality of the miracle. All Christ's miracles were obvious to sense, and would bear the examination of the senses; not like the lying wonders of the church of Rome, which are commonly wrought in the dark to cozen the vulgar, and are mere cheats and impostures. Observe, 2. That this full draught of fishes, which Peter and the rest of the disciples now had, might probably presage that great and wonderful success which he and they were afterwards to have in fishing for men. Here we have an hundred fifty and three great fishes caught at one draught: but Acts ii. we find three thousand souls converted by St. Peter at one sermon. O the marvellous success of the gospel at the first preaching and planting of it! Three thousand then proselyted by one sermon. Now we have cause to fear that there are three thousand sermons preached, and scarce one soul savingly converted. Lord! who hath believed our report?
12 Jesus saith unto them, Come, and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. 1 i Jesus thencometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
A two-fold reason may be assigned why Christ did at this time invite and call his disciples to dine with him: the first and more principal reason was, to evidence to them the reality of his resurrection, and to assure them of the truth of his manhood, that they might not think it was an apparition only. By the miracle in catching the fishes, he proved himself to be God; by his present eating of the fish, he evidenced himself to be man, and consequently teaches us, that our exalted High Priest continues our kinsman in heaven. He is still bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; he has taken possession of heaven in our nature, sitting there in our glorified humanity united to the glorious Deity, clothed with that body which hung in its blood and gore upon the cross, but now shining brighter than ten thousand suns. The second and less principal reason why Christ called his disciples to dine with him, was this, to show his tender care over the bodies of his dear disciples, as being the tabernacles of his own Spirit, the temples of the Holy Ghost; therefore Christ encourages, though not to the pampering, yet to the refreshing of them: Jesus said unto them, Come and dine. And he would not confer with them till they had dined; as the next verse shows.
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my Iambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, ton of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? and he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Observe here, 1. Christ puts Peter upon a threefold profession of his love unto him, answerable to his threefold denial of him: his threefold denial required a threefold confession. True repentance ought, and will be as eminent in the fruit and effects of it, as the saint's fall hath been. A threefold denial of Christ shall be attended with a threefold profession of love unto him. Observe, 2. The^solemn question put by our Saviour unto Peter: Lovest thou me .* Lovest thou me more than these? That is, more than thy occupation and employment, more than thy nets and fishingboats? If so, leave them, and wholly employ thyself in feeding my sheep and
lambs. Or, more than these? that is, more than the rest of my disciples. Dost thou love me more than thou lovest these? Or, more than they love me? If so, evidence the sincerity of thy love to me by thy care of mine. Thence note, That ministers who are called to take care of Christ's flock, had need of much love to Jesus Christ, and great compassion for souls; by which they will be animated and fortified to go through with the labours and difficulties, as well as to encounter the dangers and sufferings, which do accompany their calling. Simon, lovett thou me .* Feed my flock. Note farther, That the surest argument and best evidence of a minister's love to Jesus Christ, is his conscientious care to feed, that is, to teach, instruct, and govern, the whole flock of Christ; lambs and sheep, weak and strong: the feeblest in the fold were purchased by the great Shepherd. And if he judged them worth his blood, well may we judge them worth our sweat. Note again, That such as would be faithful in their ministerial charge, ought to look upon their people as committed to them by Christ himself, as loved of him, and committed to their care by him, and for which they must be accountable to him. Christ calls them three times over, his lambs and his sheep, and as often charges Peter to feed them. Observe next, Peter's threefold answer to Christ's question: Simon, lovest thou me more than these? Lord, thou knowest that 1 love thee. Where note, 1. The great modesty of Peter in his reply. lasest thou me more than these? says Christ; Peter replies, Lord, 'thou knowest that I love thee.' He doth not say, Lord! I love thee above them all, and before them all: here is no boasting now. Once it was said that Peter vaunted, though oilmen forsake thee, yet will not I; but now his fall bad taught him humility; he boasts not of his love above others, and makes no comparison with others, but only ranks himself among the true lovers of Christ: Lord, I love thee. Note, 2. The evidence that Peter gives of his sincere love to Christ: be dares appeal to Christ himself, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee; yea, Tfiou art omniscient, the all-knowing and heart-searching God, thou that knowest all things, knowest that I love thee. O! it is a blessed thing, when we can and dare appeal to God's knowledge; and it is matter of high consolation to know that God knoweth our sincerity and love unto him, and he know
eth and approvcth us as such. Lord, thou icnowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee. Note lastly, From these words, Lord, thou knowest all things, an argument of Christ's divinity. He that knows all things, and particularly the hearts of all men, is God, 1 Kings viii. 29. but so doth Christ, if St Peter's testimony here be true; saying, Lord, thou knowest all things, that is, say the Socinians, very many things; but this would have destroyed St. Peter's argument at once; for it follows not that Christ knew the sincerity of Peter's heart, unless he knew the secrets of all hearts; and if he knew the secrets of all hearts, he is really God.
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: hut when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 12 Thus spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he sail lt unto him, Follow me.
In these words our Saviour forewarns Peter of his future sufferings, intimating, that he should prove more stout than in his former trial. When he was young and unexperienced, he enjoyed his liberty; but when he was grown older in years, and stronger in grace, he should willingly stretch forth his hands, and quietly suffer himself to be bound to the cross; for Peter (say some) was not nailed, but tied and bound to the cross only, and so as a martyr or witness for the truth of Christ glorified God by his death. Learn hence, 1. The ministers of Jesus Christ, when they undertake the charge of his flock, must prepare for suffering work, and their lot upon it: therefore is this prediction of Peter's sufferings joined with the former injunction, Feed my sheep. 2. That human nature in Christ's ministers, as well as in other men, reluctates sufferings, has an antipathy against a violent death: They shall carry thee -w/nther thou wouldest not. 3. From the time of St. Peter's sufferings, when he is old; learn, That the timing of the saints' sufferings is in Christ's hands; he can, and when he pleaseth doth, screen them from suffering till old age; and when
their work is almost done for God, they close their days with suffering for him: When thou art old, thou shalt stretch forth thine hands, and another shall gird thee. Learn lastly, That the sufferings of the saints in general, and of the ministers of Christ in particular, do redound much to the glory of God; which is a consideration that ought to reconcile them to the cross of Christ, and support them under it: This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify dod.
20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following, which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, what is he that betraycth thee? 21 Peter seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee ? follow thou me.
Our Saviour having foretold the manner of Peter's death in the foregoing verses; here in these, Peter is inquisitive after, and very solicitous for the knowledge of, what kind of death St. John should die. Christ checks him for his curiosity, as meddling with that which did not concern him, yet intimates to him that John should live till he came to take vengeance on the Jews, and destroy Jerusalem: If I will that he tarry till I come; that is, till I come to execute judgment upon Jerusalem. Here we may note, There are two great vanities in men with reference to knowledge; the one a neglect to know what is our duty to know ; the other a curiosity to know what doth not belong to us to know. Christ tells Peter, it was none of his business to enquire what John should do; but he ought rather to be preparing for what he himself should suffer: If I will that he tarry, what is that to thee.
23 Then went his saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die : yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
Observe here, How strangely our Saviour's words were mistaken and misunderstood by his own disciples; they appre
hend presently that John should not die, and so it passed current among them. From hence we may note, How much the wisdom of God is, and ought to be admired, in giving us a written word and tying us to it, when we see erroneous traditions so soon on foot in the world, and our Saviour's own speeches so much mistaken, and that by wise and holy men themselves in the purest times. Much more may the words of others be mis reported, and wrested contrary to their sense and meaning. How great then is the vanity and uncertainty of oral tradition! Men are naturally prone to mistake, to mistake themselves, and to mistake one another. The more to be admired is their over-daring ignorance, who think they cannot err. Such a haughty opinion of a man's self, concludes him to be neither good nor wise.
24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
The great modesty of the holy evangelist St. John is all along throughout his gospel very observable; he mentioncth himself hitherto under a third person; he calleth himself a disciple, a learner, who excelled the most accomplished doctors of the ages ever since. Here he speaks more plainly and expressly concerning himself, declaring that he was an eye-witness and an ear-witness of what he wrote, for the greater certainty thereof. And this protestation here made by the evangelist of the truth of what he wrote, was highly necessary, lest any should think that Christ's extraordinary love and affection to him, (he being the beloved disciple) should move him to exceed (as we arc prone to do) in writing the history of their lives who are dear to us, and we to them. Learn hence, That this gospel was written by John the beloved disciple, and the narration is of divine truth, worthy to be embraced and received by us as a perfect rule of faith and life. We know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which
if they should be written every one, 1 suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
John being about to conclude the history of our Saviour's life asserts, that there were many other miracles and special deeds done by Christ, both before and after his passioo, which he had not recorded or set down , because, should all that Christ did and said be committed to writing, it would even fill the world, the volumes would be so many. From hence we gather, 1. The wonderful activity, industry, and diligence, of the Lord Jesus Christ, that he was never idle, but that his whole life was spent in doing good; because should all toe particular instances have been recorded, it would amount to an incredible bulk. Learn, 2. That it is impossible to get all said, which might be said of Christ, and in his commendation: such is the transcendent excellency of his person, and the weakness of our apprehensions and judgments, that if all were written, which might be written concerning him, the world itself could not contain the books which should be written. Learn lastly, That although many of Christ's sermons, conferences, miracles, and actions, be not recorded ; yet it doth not follow, nor can it be inferred from thence, that any necessary doctrine is omitted, or not sufficiently confirmed: there being so much written as it pleased God we should know, and was necessary for us to know, in order to our improvement in faith and holiness. It' then, after all the revelation and discovery which God hath made of his Son Christ Jesus, and of the way that leads to eternal salvation by him, persons remain willingly ignorant of him, and of their duty to bun, "where shall they appear, and bow shall they escape?"
Rev. i. ver. 5, 6.
AT«m/ unto him that loved us, and -washed us from our sins in his oirn Hood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
FF1HE design of the foregoing Notes upon -■- the Holy Evangelists, being to recommend the instructive life of our blessed Redeemer to our observation and imitation: although I have upon all occasions propounded his example to be followed by us in all the steps of an imitable virtue, as the matter every where occurred; yet adjudging it may be profitable to sum up together the several graces and virtues which were so orient in the Life of Christ, that having them daily before our eyes, we may be continually correcting and reforming of our lives by that blessed pattern; 1 shall therefore briefly offer at it . Because,
Nothing is so proper to form us to holiness, as the example of the Mediator, it being absolutely perfect, and thoroughly accommodated to our present state: there is no example of any mere man that is to be followed without limitation; but the Life of Christ was as the purest gold without the least alloy. His conversation was a living law; and christianity, which is the best and holiest institution in the world, is nothing else but a conformity to his precepts and pattern. The universal command of the whole gospel is this, To walk as Christ walked. This denotes a sincere intention, design, and endeavour, to imitate and follow him in all the paths of holiness and pbedience.
Particularly let us imitate Jesus,
I. In his early piety. We find him at twelve years old about his Father's business, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing and asking them questions. See on St. Luke ii. 46, 47. An early piety gives both the person and the service a peculiar pre-eminency; no comfort in life, no happiness in death, like the happiness and comfort of being good betimes.
II. In his obedience to his earthly parents. See on St. Luke ii. 51. He went down to Nazareth, and was subject to them. He paid homage to the womb that bare him, and to his supposed and reputed father that provided for him : let a person be never so high above others, he is still
below his parents ; If the highest upon earth think their parents beneath them, and themselves above their parents' commands, our Saviour did not so. What shall we think of those monsters of ingratitude, the reproach of human nature, who are ashamed to own their parents because of their poverty ; or despise them because of the infirmities of their age! Prov. xxiii. 22 Hearken to thy Father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.
III. In his unwearied diligence in doing good, Acts x. 33. Who went about doing good. This was his meat and drink by day; his rest and sleep by night. He fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and administered to such as were in necessities and straits. And he has declared, that he will judge us at the great day, according to our imitation of him in doing good to all mankind. See the notes on St. Matt, xxv, the ten last verses.
IV. In his humility and lowliness of mind, Matt. xi. 29. Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; witness his stooping to the meanest office, even that of washing his disciples' feet, St. John xiii, 5. He that came in the form of a servant, performs the office of the meanest servant to his disciples. And all this was to set us an example of mutual condescension to each other: If I your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you ought also to wash one another'sfeet; which precept, though it doth not hind us to the same action, yet it obliges us to the same condescension; namely, to think no office of love beneath us, which the necessities of our brother call for from us.
V. In the unblameableness and inoffensiveness of his life and actions. He injured none, and justly offended none, but was harmless as well as holy: he wrought a miracle to pay tribute money, rather than give occasion of offence to the government. See on Matt. xvi. 37. Accordingly, let us be harmless and blameless; wise as set