[At the Hague, December 19, 1619, I preached upon this text. Since, in my sickness at Abrey-hatch, in Essex, 1680, revising my short notes of that sermon, I digested them into these two.]
Matthew iv. 18, 19, 20.
And Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, (for they were fishers.) And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men ; and they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
Solomon presenting our Saviour Christ, in the name and person of wisdom, in the Book of Proverbs, puts, by instinct of the Holy Ghost, these words into his mouth, Deliciw mew esse cum filiu hominum, Christ's delight is to be with the children of men1; and in satisfaction of that delight, he says in the same verse, in the person of Christ, That he rejoiced to be in the habitable parts of the earth (that is, where he might converse with men) Ludens in orbe terrarum (so the Vulgate reads it) and so our former translation had it, / took my solace in the compass of the earth. But since Christ's adversary Satan does so too, (Satan came from compassing the earth to and fro, and from walking in it*;) since the Scribes and Pharisees do more than so, They compass land and sea, to make one of their own profession, the mercy of Christ is not less active, not less industrious than the malice of his adversaries, he preaches in populous cities, he preaches in the desert wilderness, he preaches in the tempestuous sea: and as his power shall collect the several dusts, and atoms, and elements of our scattered bodies at the Resurrection, as materials, members of his triumphant church; so he collects the materials, the living stone, and timber, for his militant church, from all places, from cities, from deserts, and here in this text, from the sea, (Jesus walking by the sea, §c.)
In these words we shall only pursue a twofold consideration of
the persons whom Christ called here to his apostleship, Peter and Andrew; what their present, what their future function was, what they were, what they were to be; they were fishermen, they were to be fishers of men. But from these two considerations of these persons, arise many circumstances, in and about their calling; and their preferment for their cheerful following. For first, in the first, we shall survey the place, the sea of Galilee; and their education and conversation upon that sea, by which they were naturally less fit for this church-service. At this sea he found them casting their nets; of which act of theirs, there is an empbatical reason expressed in the text, For they were fishers, which intimates both these notes, that they did it because they were fishers; it became them, it behoved them, it concerned them to follow their trade; and then they did it as they were fishers, if they had not been fishers they would not have done it, they might not have usurped upon another's calling; (They cast their nets into the sea, for they were fishers.) And then, in a nearer consideration of these persons, we find that they were two that were called; Christ provided at first against singularity, he called not one alone; and then they were two brethren, persons likely to agree; he provided at first against schism; and then, they were two such as were nothing of kin to him, (whereas the second pair of brethren, whom he called, James and John) were his kinsmen) he provided at first, against partiality, and that kind of simony, which prefers for affection. These men, thus conditioned naturally, thus disposed at this place, and at this time, our blessed Saviour calls; and then we note their readiness, they obeyed the call, they did all they were bid, they were bid follow, and they followed, and followed presently; and they did somewhat more than seems expressly to have been required, for, they left their nets, and followed him. And all these substantial circumstances invest our first part, these persons in their first estate. For those that belong to the second part, their preferment upon this obedience, (Follow me, and I will make fishers of men) it would be an impertinent thing, to open them now, because I do easily foresee, that this day we shall not come to that part.
In our first part, the consideration of these persons then, though in this text Peter be first named, yet we are to note, that this was not the first time of their meeting; when Christ and they met first, which was, when John Baptist made that declaration upon Christ's walking by him, Behold the Lamb of God*, Peter was not the first that applied himself to Christ, nor that was invited by Christ's presenting himself to him, to do it; Peter was not there; Peter was not the second; for, Andrew, and another, who were then John Baptist's disciples, and saw Christ declared by him, were presently affected with a desire to follow Christ, and to converse with him, and to that purpose press him with that question, Magister, ubi habitas? They profess that they had chosen him for their master, and they desire to know where he dwelt, that they might wait upon him, and receive their instructions from him. And in Andrew's thus early applying himself to Christ, we are also to note, both the fecundity of true religion; for, as soon as he had found Christ, he sought his brother Peter, Et duzit ad Jemm, he made his brother as happy as himself, he led him to Jesus; (and that other disciple, which came to Christ as soon as Andrew did, yet because he is not noted to have brought any others but himself, is not named in the Gospel) and we are to observe also, the unsearchable wisdom of God in his proceedings, that he would have Peter, whom he had purposed to be his principal apostle, to be led to him by another, of inferior dignity, in his determination. And therefore Conversus converte, think not thyself well enough preached unto, except thou find a desire, that thy life and conversation may preach to others, and Edoctus disce, think not that thou knowest anything, except thou desire to learn more; neither grudge to learn of him, whom thou thinkest less 'earned than thyself; the blessing is in Cod's calling, and ordinance, not in the good parts of the man; Andrew drew Peter, the lesser in God's purpose for the building of the church, brought in the greater. Therefore doth the church celebrate the memory of St. Andrew, first of any saint in the year; and after they had been altogether united in that one festival of All Saints, St. Andrew is the first that hath a particular day. He was Primogmittu Testamenti Nom\ the first Christian, the first begotten of the New Testament; for, John Baptist, who may seem to have the birthright before him, had his conception in the Old Testa
* John L 35. * Bernard.
ment in the womb of those prophecies of Malachi5, and of Isaiah*, of his coming, and of his office, and so cannot be so entirely referred to the New Testament, as St. Andrew is. Because therefore, our adversaries of the Roman heresy distil, and rack every passage of Scripture, that may drop anything for the advantage of St. Peter, and the almightiness of his successor, I refuse not the occasion offered from this text, compared with that other (John i.) to say, that if that first coming to Christ were but (as they used to say) Ad notitiam et familiaritatem, and this in our text, Ad apostolatum, that they that came there, came but to an acquaintance, and conversation with Christ, but here, in this text, to the apostleship, yet, to that conversation, (which was no small happiness) Andrew came clearly before Peter, and to this apostleship here, Peter did not come before Andrew; they came together.
These two then our Saviour found, as he walked by the sea of Galilee. No solitude, no tempest, no bleakness, no inconvenience averts Christ, and his spirit, from his sweet, and gracious, and comfortable visitations. But yet, this that is called here, the see of Galilee, was not properly a sea; but according to the phrase of the Hebrews, who call all great meetings of waters, by that one name, a sea, this, which was indeed a lake of fresh water, is called a sea. From the root of Mount Libanus, spring two rivers, Jor, and Dan; and these two, meeting together, joining their waters, join their names too, and make that famous river Jordan; a name so composed, as perchance our river is, Thamesis, of Thame, and Isis. And this river Jordan falling into this flat, makes this lake, of sixteen miles long, and some six in breadth. Which lake being famous for fish, though of ordinary kinds, yet of an extraordinary taste and relish, and then of extraordinary kinds too, not found in other waters, and famous, because divers famous cities did engirt it, and become as a garland to it, Capernaum, and Chorazim, and Bethsaida, and Tiberias, and Magdalo, (all celebrated in the Scriptures) was yet much more famous for the often recourse, which our Saviour (who was of that country) made to it; for this was the sea, where he amazed Peter, with that great draught qf fishes, that brought him to say,
* Mal. iii. 1. f Isaiah Xl. 3.
Exi a me Domine, Depart from me, 0 Lord, for I am a sinful man1; this was the sea, where himself walked upon the waters3; and where he rebuked the tempest3; and where he manifested his Almighty power many times. And by this lake, this sea, dwelt Andrew and Peter, and using the commodity of the place, lived upon fishing in this lake; and in that act our Saviour found them, and called them to his service. Why them? why fishers I
First, Christ having a greater, a fairer Jerusalem to build than David's was, a greater kingdom to establish than Judah's was, a greater temple to build than Solomon's was, having a greater work to raise, yet he begun upon a less ground; he is come from his twelve tribes, that afforded armies in swarms, to twelve persons, twelve apostles; from his Judah and Levi, the foundations of state and church, to an Andrew and a Peter fishermen, seamen; and these men accustomed to that various, and tempestuous element, to the sea, less capable of offices of civility, and sociableness, than other men, yet must be employed in religious offices, to gather all nations to one household of the faithful, and to constitute a communion of saints; they were seamen, fishermen, unlearned, and indocile; why did Christ take them? Not that thereby there was any scandal given, or just occasion of that calumny of Julian the apostate, that Christ found it easy to seduce, and draw to his sect, such poor ignorant men as they were; for Christ did receive persons eminent in learning, (Saul was so) and of authority in the state, (Nicodemus was so) and of wealth, and ability, (Zaccheus was so, and so was Joseph of Arimathea) but first he chose such men, that when the world had considered their beginning, their insufficiency then, and how improper they were for such an employment, and yet seen that great work so far, and so fast advanced, by so weak instruments, they might ascribe all power to him, and ever after, come to him cheerfully upon any invitation, how weak men soever he should send to them, because he had done so much by so weak instruments before: to make his work in all ages after prosper the better, he proceeded thus at first. And then, he chose such men for another reason too; to show that how insufficient soever he received them, yet he received them into such a school, such an uersity, as should
7 Luke v. 8. 6 Matt. xiv. 25. 'Matt. viii. 23.
deliver them back into his church, made fit by him, for the service thereof. Christ needed not man's sufficiency, he took insufficient men; Christ excuses no man's insufficiency, he made them sufficient.
His purpose then was, that the work should be ascribed to the workman, not to the instrument; to himself, not to them; Nec qucesivit per oratorem piscatorem10, He sent not out orators, rhetoricians, strong or fair-spoken men to work upon these fishermen, Sed depiscatore lucratus est imperatorem, By these fishermen, he hath reduced all those kings, and emperors, and states which have embraced the Christian religion, these thousand and six hundred years. When Samuel was sent with that general commission, to anoint a son of Ishai king", without anymore particular instructions, when he came, and Eliab was presented unto him, Surely, says Samuel, (noting the goodliness of his personago) this is the Lord's anointed. But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on Ms countenance, nor the height of his stature, for I have refused him; for, (as it followeth there, from God's mouth) God seeth not as man seeth; man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord beholdeth the heart. And so David, in appearance less likely, was chosen. But, if the Lord's arm be not shortened, let no man impute weakness to the instrument. For so, when David himself was appointed by God, to pursue the Amalekites, the Amalekites that had burnt Ziklag, and done such spoil upon God's people, as that the people began to speak of stoning David, from whom they looked for defence, when David had no kind of intelligence, no ground to settle a conjecture upon, which way he must pursue the Amalekites, and yet pursue them he must, in the way he finds a poor young fellow, a famished, sick young man, derelicted of his master, and left for dead in the march, and by the means and conduct of this wretch, David recovers the enemy, recovers the spoil, recovers his honour, and the love of his people.
If the Lord's arm be not shortened, let no man impute weakness to his instrument. But yet God will always have so much weakness appear in the instrument, as that their strength shall not be thought to be their own. When Peter and John preached in the streets, The people marcelled, (says the text,) why I Jor they
had understood that they were unlearned". But beholding also the man that was healed standing by, they had nothing to say, says that story. The insufficiency of the instrument makes a man wonder naturally; but the accomplishing of some great work brings them to a necessary acknowledgment of a greater power, working in that weak instrument. For if those apostles that preached, had been as learned men, as Simon Magus, as they did in him, (This man is the great power of God", not that he had, but that he was the power of God) the people would have rested in the admiration of those persons, and proceeded no farther. It was their working of supernatural things, that convinced the world. For all Paul's learning, (though he were very learned) never brought any of the conjurors to burn his books, or to renounce his art; but when God wrought extraordinary works by him, that sicknesses were cured by his napkins, and his handkerchiefs", (in which cures, Pauls learning had no more concurrence, no more co-operation, than the ignorance of any of the fishermen apostles) and when the world saw that those exorcists, which went about to do miracles in the names of Jesus, because Paul did so, could not do it, because that Jesus had not promised to work in them, as in Paul, then the conjurors came, and burnt their books, in the sight of all the world, to the value of fifty thousand pieces of silver. It was not learning, (that may have been got, though they that hear them, know it not; and it were not hard to assign many examples of men that have stolen a great measure of learning, and yet lived open and conversible lives, and never been observed, except by them, that knew their lucubrations, and night-watchings, to have spent many hours in study) but it was the calling of the world to an apprehension of a greater power, by seeing great things done by weak instruments, that reduced them, that convinced them. Peter and John's preaching did not half the good then, as the presenting of one man, which had been recovered by them, did. Twenty of our sermons edify not so much, as if the congregation might see one man converted by us. Any one of you might out-preach us. That one man that would leave his beloved sin, that one man that would restore illgotten goods, had made a better sermon than ever I shall, and
"Acts iv. 13. 13 Acts viii, 10, \4 Acts xix. 11.
should gain more souls by his act, than all our words (as they are ours) can do.
Such men he took then, as might be no occasion to their hearers, to ascribe the work to their sufficiency; but yet such men too, as should be no examples to insufficient men to adventure upon that great service; but men, though ignorant before, yet docile, and glad to learn. In a rough stone, a cunning lapidary will easily foresee, what his cutting, and his polishing, and his art will bring that stone to. A cunning statuary discerns in a marble stone under his feet, where there will arise an eye, and an ear, and a hand, and other lineaments to make it a perfect statue. Much more did our Saviour Christ, who was himself the author of that disposition in them (for no man hath any such disposition but from God) foresee in these fishermen, an inclineableness to become useful in that great service of his church. Therefore he took them from their own ship, but he sent them from his cross; he took them weather-beaten with north and south winds, and rough-cast with foam, and mud; but he sent them back suppled, and smoothed, and levigated, quickened, and inanimated with that Spirit, which he had breathed into them from his own bowels, his own eternal bowels, from which the Holy Ghost proceeded; he took fishermen, and he sent fishers of men. He sent them not out to preach, as soon as he called them to him; he called them ad discipulatum, before he called them ad apostolatum; he taught them, before they taught others. As St. Paul says of himself, and the rest, God hath made us able ministers of the New Testament11: idoneos, fit ministers, that is, fit for that service. There is a fitness founded in discretion; a discretion to make our present service acceptable to our present auditory; for if it be not acceptable, agreeable to them, it is never profitable.
As God gave his children such manna as was agreeable to every man's taste1*, and tasted to every man like that, that that man liked best: so are we to deliver the bread of life agreeable to every taste, to fit our doctrine to the apprehension, and capacity, and digestion of the hearers. For as St. Augustine says, That no man profits by a sermon that he hears with pain, if he do not stand easily; so if he do not understand easily, or if he do not
"2 Cor. iii. 6.
Wisd. xvi. 20.
assent easily to that that he hears, if he be put to study one sentence, till the preacher have passed three or four more, or if the doctrine be new and doubtful, and suspicious to him, this fitness which is grounded in discretion is not showed. But the general fitness is grounded in learning, St. Paul hath joined them safely together, Rebuke and exhort with all long-suffering, and learning". Show thy discretion in seasonable rebuking; show thy learning in exhorting. Let the congregation see that thou studiest the good of their souls, and they will digest any wholesome increpation, any medicinal reprehension at thy hands, Dilige et die quod voles1*. We say so first to God, Lord let thy spirit bear witness with my spirit, that thou lovest me, and I can endure all thy prophets, and all the vws, and the woes that they thunder against me and my sin. So also the congregation says to the minister, Dilige et die quod voles, Show thy love to me in studying my case, and applying thy knowledge to my conscience, speak so, as God and I may know thou meanest me, but not the congregation, lest that bring me to a confusion of face, and that to a hardness of heart; deal thus with me, love me thus, and say what thou wilt; nothing shall offend me. And this is the idoneity, the fitness which we consider in the minister, fitness in learning, fitness in discretion, to use and apply that learning. So Christ fits us.
Such men then Christ takes for the service of his church; such as bring no confidence in their own fitness, such as embrace the means to make them fit in his school, and learn before they teach. And to that purpose he took Andrew and Peter; and he took them, when he found them casting their net into the sea. This was a symbolical, a prophetical action of their future life; this fishing was a type, a figure, a prophecy of their other fishing. But here (in this first part) we are bound to the consideration of their real and direct action, and exercise of their present calling; They cast their net, for they were fishers, says the text. In which for, (as we told you at first) there is a double reason involved.
First, in this For is intimated, how acceptable to God that labour is, that is taken in a calling. They did not forbear to cast their nets because it was a tempestuous sea; we must make account to meet storms in our profession, yea and temptations
"2 Tim. iv. 2. "> Augustine.
too. A man must not leave his calling, because it is hard for him to be an honest man in that calling; but he must labour to overcome those difficulties, and as much as he can, vindicate and redeem that calling from those aspersions and calumnies, which ill men have cast upon a good calling. They did not forbear because it was a tempestuous sea, nor because they had cast their nets often and caught nothing, nor because it was uncertain how the market would go when they had catched. A man must not be an ill prophet upon his own labours, nor bewitch them with a suspicion that they will not prosper. It is the slothful man that says, A lion in the way, a lion in the streetCast thou thy net into the sea, and God shall drive fish into thy net; undertake a lawful calling, and clog not thy calling with murmuring, nor with an ill conscience, and God shall give thee increase, and worship in it, They cast their nets into the sea, for they were fishers; it was their calling, and they were bound to labour in that.
And then this For hath another aspect, looks another way too, and implies another instruction, They cast their nets into the sea, for they were fishers, that is, if they had not been fishers, they would not have done it; intrusion into other men's callings is an unjust usurpation; and, if it take away their profit, it is a theft. If it be but a censuring of them in their calling, yet it is a calumny, because it is not in the right way, if it be extrajudicial. To lay an aspersion upon any man (who is not under our charge) though that which we say of him be true, yet it is a calumny, and a degree of libelling, if it be not done judiciarily, and where it may receive redress and remedy. And yet how forward are men that are not fishers in that sea, to censure state councils, and judiciary proceedings? Every man is an Absalom, to say to every man, Your cause is good, but the king hath appointed none to hear it"; money brings them in, favour brings them in, it is not the king; or, if it must be said to be the king, yet it is the affection of the king and not his-judgment, the king misled, not rightly informed, say our seditious Absaloms, and, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man might come unto me, and I would do him justice, is the charm that Absalom hath taught every man. They cast their nets into a deeper sea than this,
1* Prov. xxvi. 13. 80 2 Sam. xv. 3.
and where they are much less fishers, into the secret councils of God. It is well provided by your laws, that divines and ecclesiastical persons may not take farms, nor buy nor sell, for return, in markets. I would it were as well provided, that buyers and sellers, and farmers might not be divines, nor censure them. I speak not of censuring our lives; please yourselves with that, till God be pleased to mend us by that, (though that way of whispering calumny be not the right way to that amendment) but I speak of censuring our doctrines, and of appointing our doctrines; when men are weary of hearing any other thing, than election and reprobation, and whom, and when, and how, and why God hath chosen, or cast away. We have liberty enough by your law, to hold enough for the maintenance of our bodies, and states; you have liberty enough by our law, to know enough for the salvation of your souls; if you will search farther into God's eternal decrees, and unrevealed councils, you should not cast your nets into that sea, for you are not fishers there. Andrew and Peter cast their nets, for they werefishers, (therefore they were bound to do it) and again, for they were fishers, (if they had not been so, they would not have done so.)
These persons then thus disposed, unfit of themselves, made fit by him, and found by him at their labour, labour in a lawful calling, and in their own calling, our Saviour Christ calls to him; and he called them by couples, by pairs; two together. So he called his creatures into the world at the first creation, by pairs. So he called them into the ark, for the reparation of the world, by pairs, two and two. God loves not singularity; the very name of church implies company; it is concio, congregatio, castus; it is a congregation, a meeting, an assembly; it is not any one man; neither can the church be preserved in one man. And therefore it hath been dangerously said, (though they confess it to have been said by many of their greatest divines in the Roman church) that during the time that our blessed Saviour lay dead in the grave, there was no faith left upon the earth, but only in the Virgin Mary; for then there was no church. God hath manifested his will in two Testaments; and though he have abridged and contracted the doctrine of both in a narrow room, yet he hath digested it into two commandments, Love God, love thy neighbour. There is but one church; that is true, but one; but that one church cannot be in any one man; there is but one baptism; that is also true, but one; but no man can baptize himself; there must be sacerdos et competens, (as our old canons speak) a person to receive, and a priest to give baptism. There is but one faith in the remission of sins; that is true too, but one; but no man can absolve himself; there must be a priest and a penitent. God calls no man so, but that he calls him to the knowledge, that he hath called more than him to that church, or else it is an illusory, and imaginary calling, and a dream.
Take heed therefore of being seduced to that church that is in one man; in scrinio pectoris, where all infallibility, and assured resolution is in the breast of one man; who (as their own authors say) is not bound to ask the counsel of others before, nor to follow their counsel after. And since the church cannot be in one, in an unity, take heed of bringing it too near that unity, to a paucity, to a few, to a separation, to a conventicle. The church loves the name of Catholic; and it is a glorious, and an harmonious name; love thou those things wherein she is Catholic, and wherein she is harmonious, that is, Quod ubique, quod semper, Those uersal, and fundamental doctrines, which in all Christian ages, and in all Christian churches, have been agreed by all to be necessary to salvation; and then thou art a true Catholic. Otherwise, that is, without relation to this Catholic and uersal doctrine, to call a particular church Catholic, (that she should be Catholic, that is, uersal in dominion, but not in doctrine) is such a solecism, as to speak of a white blackness, or a great littleness; a particular church to be uersal, implies such a contradiction.
Christ loves not singularity; he called not one alone; he loves not schism neither between them whom he calls; and therefore he calls persons likely to agree, two brethren, (He saw two brethren, Peter and Andrew, &c.) So he began to build the synagogues, to establish that first government, in Moses and Aaron, brethren; so he begins to build the church, in Peter and Andrew, brethren. The principal fraternity and brotherhood that God respects, is spiritual; brethren in the profession of the same true religion. But Peter and Andrew whom he called here to the
VOL. III. T
true religion, and so gave them that second fraternity and brotherhood, which is spiritual, were natural brethren before; and that God loves; that a natural, a secular, a civil fraternity, and a spiritual fraternity should be joined together; when those that profess the same religion, should desire to contract their alliances, in marrying their children, and to have their other dealings in the world (as much as they can) with men that profess the same true religion that they do. That so (not meddling nor disputing the proceedings of states, who, in some cases, go by other rules than private men do) we do not make it an equal, an indifferent thing, whether we marry ourselves, or our children, or make our bargains, or our conversation, with persons of a different religion, when as our adversaries amongst us will not go to a lawyer, nor call a physician, no, nor scarce a tailor, or other tradesman of another religion than their own, if they can possibly avoid it. God saw a better likelihood of avoiding schism and dissension, when those whom he called to a new spiritual brotherhood in one religion, were natural brothers too, and tied in civil bands, as well as spiritual.
And as Christ began, so he proceeded; for the persons whom he called were catechistical, instructive persons; persons, from whose very persons we receive instruction. The next whom he called, (which is in the next verse) were two too: and brethren too; John and James; but yet his own kiusmen in the flesh. But, as he chose two together to avoid singularity, and two brethren to avoid schism, so he preferred two strangers before his own kindred, to avoid partiality, and respect of persons. Certainly every man is bound to do good to those that are near him by nature; the obligation of doing good to others lies (for the most part) thus; Let us do good to all men, but especially unto them which are of the household of the faithful"; (they of our own religion are of the quorum) now, when all are so, (of the household of the faithful, of our own religion) the obligation looks home, and lies thus, He that promdeth not for h is own, denieth the fa ith, and is worse than an infidel**. Christ would therefore leave no example, nor justification of that perverse distemper, to leave his kindred out, nor of their disposition, who had rather buy new
al Gal. vi. 10. ■« 1 Tim. v. 8.
friends at any rate, than relieve or cherish the old. But yet when Christ knew how far his stock would reach, that no liberality, howsoever placed, could exhaust that, but that ho was able to provide for all, he would leave no example nor justification of that perverse distemper, to heap up preferments upon our own kindred, without any consideration how God's glory might be more advanced by doing good to others too; but finding in these men a fit disposition to be good labourers in his harvest, and to agree in the service of the church, as they did in the band of nature, he calls Peter and Andrew, otherwise strangers, before he called his cousins, James and John.
These circumstances we proposed to be considered in these persons before, and at their being called. The first, after their calling, is their cheerful readiness in obeying, Continuo sequuti, they were bid follow, and forthwith they followed. Which present obedience of theirs is exalted in this, that this was freshly upon the imprisonment of John Baptist, whose disciple Andrew had been; and it might easily have deterred, and averted a man in his case, to consider, that it was well for him that he was got out of John Baptist's school, and company, before that storm, the displeasure of the state fell upon him; and that it behoved him to be wary to apply himself to any such new master, as might draw him into as much trouble; which Christ's service was very like to do. But the contemplation of future persecutions, that may fall, the example of persecutions past, that have fallen, the apprehension of imminent persecutions, that are now falling, the sense of present persecutions, that are now upon us, retard not those, upon whom the love of Christ Jesus works effectually; they followed for all that. And they followed, when there was no more persuasion used to them, no more words said to them, but Sequere me, follow me.
And therefore how easy soever Julian the apostate might make it, for Christ to work upon so weak men, as these were, yet to work upon any men by so weak means, only by one Sequere me, follow me, and no more, cannot be thought easy. The way of rhetoric in working upon weak men, is first to trouble the understanding, to displace, and discompose, and disorder the judgment, to smother and bury in it, or to empty it of former apprehensions and opinions, and to shake that belief, with which it had possessed itself before, and then when it is thus melted, to pour it into new moulds, when it is thus mollified, to stamp and imprint new forms, new images, new opinions in it. But here in our case, there was none of this fire, none of this practice, none of this battery of eloquence, none of this verbal violence, only a bare Sequere me, follow me, and they followed. No eloquence inclined them, no terrors declined them: no dangers withdrew them, no preferment drew them; they knew Christ, and his kindred, and his means; they loved him himself, and not anything they expected from him. Minus te amat, qui aliquid tuum amat, quod non propter te amat**, that man loves thee but a little, that begins his love at that which thou hast, and not at thyself. It is a weak love that is divided between Christ and the world; especially, if God come after the world, as many times he does, even in them, who think they love him well; that first they love the riches of this world, and then they love God that gave them. But that is a false method in this art of love; the true is, radically to love God for himself, and other things, for his sake, so far, as he may receive glory in our having, and using them.
This Peter and Andrew declared abundantly; they did as much as they were bid; they were bid follow, and they followed; but it seems they did more, they were not bid leave their nets, and yet they left their nets, and followed him: but, for this, they did not; no man can do more in the service of God, than is enjoined him, commanded him. There is no supererogation, no making of God beholden to us, no bringing of God into our debt. Every man is commanded to love God with all his heart, and all his power, and a heart above a whole heart, and a power above a whole power, is a strange extension. That therefore which was declared explicitly, plainly, directly by Christ, to the young man in the gospel, Vade, et vende, et sequere, go and sell all, and follow me*', was implicitly implied to these men in our text, leave your nets, and follow me. And, though to do so, (to leave all) be not always a precept, a commandment to all men, yet it was a precept, a commandment to both these, at that time; to the young man in the gospel, (for he was as expressly bid to sell away all, as
"Augustine. « Matt. xix. 21.
he was to follow Christ) and to these men in the text, because they could not perform that that was directly commanded, except they performed that which was implied too; except they left their nets, they could not follow Christ. When God commands us to follow him, he gives us light, how, and in which way he will be followed; and then when we understand which is his way, that way is as much a commandment, as the very end itself, and not to follow him that way, is as much a transgression, as not to follow him at all. If that young man in the gospel, who was bid sell all, and give to the poor, and then follow, had followed, but kept his interest in his land; if he had divested himself of the land, but let it fall, or conveyed it to the next heir, or other kinsmen; if he had employed it to pious uses, but not so, as Christ commanded, to the poor, still he had been in a transgression: the way when it is declared, is as much a command, as the end.
But then, in this command, which was implicitly, and by necessary consequence laid upon Peter and Andrew, to leave their nets, (becauso without doing so, they could not forthwith follow Christ) there is no example of forsaking a calling, upon pretence of following Christ; no example here, of divesting one's self of all means of defending us from those manifold necessities, which this life lays upon us, upon pretence of following Christ; it is not an absolute leaving of all worldly cares, but a leaving them out of the first consideration; Primum quwrite regnum Dei, so, as our first business be to seek the kingdom of God". For, after this leaving of his nets, for this time, Peter continued owner of his house, and Christ came to that house of his, and found his mother-in-law sick in that house, and recovered here there. Upon a like commandment, upon such a Sequere, follow me, Matthew followed Christ too"; but after that following, Christ went with Matthew to his house, and sat at meat with him at home. And for this very exercise of fishing, though at that time when Christ said, follow me, they left their nets, yet they returned to that trade, sometimes, upon occasions, in all likelihood, in Christ's life; and after Christ's death, clearly they did
return to it; for Christ, after his resurrection, found them fishing".
They did not therefore abandon and leave all care, and all government of their own estate, and disposo themselves to live after upon the sweat of others; but transported with a holy alacrity, in this pleasant and cheerful following of Christ, in respect of that thon, they neglected their nets, and all things else. Perfecta obedientia est sua imperfecta relinquere**, not to be too diligent towards the world, is the diligence that God requires. St. Augustine does not say, sua relinquere, but sua imperfecta relinquere, that God requires we should leave the world, but that we should leave it to second considerations; that thou do not forbear, nor defer thy conversion to God, and thy restitution to man, till thou have purchased such a state, bought such an office, married and provided such and such children, but imperfecta relinquere, to leave these worldly things unperfected, till thy repentance have restored thee to God, and established thy reconciliation in him, and then the world lies open to thy honest endeavours. Others take up all with their net, and they sacrifice to their nets, because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous". They are confident in their own learning, their own wisdom, their own practice, and (which is a strange idolatry) they sacrifice to themselves, they attribute all to their own industry. These men in our text were far from that; they left their nets.
But still consider, that they did but leave their nets, they did not burn them. And consider too, that they left but nets; those things, which might entangle them, and retard them in their following of Christ. And such nets, (some such things as might hinder them in the service of God) even these men, so well disposed to follow Christ, had about them. And therefore let no man say, Imitari vellem, sed quod relinquam, non habeo**, I would gladly do as the apostles did, leave all to follow Christ, but I have nothing to leave; alas, all things have left me, and I have nothing to leave. Even that murmuring at poverty, is a net;
'7 John xxi. 1.
,a Hab. i. 16.
1* Augustine. Gregory.
leave that. Leave thy superfluous desire of having the riches of this world; though thou mayest flatter thyself, that thou desirest to have only that thou mightest leave it, that thou mightest employ it charitably, yet it might prove a net, and stick too close about thee to part with it. Multa relinquitis, si desideriis renunciatis, You leave your nets, if you leave your over-earnest greediness of catching; for, when you do so, you do not only fish with a net, (that is, lay hold upon all you can compass) but, (which is strange) you fish for a net, even that which you get proves a net to you, and hinders you in the following of Christ, and you aro less disposed to follow him, when you have got your ends, than before. He that hath least, hath enough to weigh him down from heaven, by an. inordinate love of that little which he hath, or in an inordinate and murmuring desire of more. And he that hath most, hath not too much to give for heaven; Tantum valet regnum Dei, quantum tu vales, Heaven is always so much worth, as thou art worth. A poor man may have heaven for a penny, that hath no greater store; and, God looks, that he to whom he hath given thousands, should lay out thousands upon the purchase of heaven. The market changes, as the plenty of money changes; heaven costs a rich man more than a poor, because he hath more to give. But in this, rich and poor are both equal, that both must leave themselves without nets, that is, without those things, which, in their own consciences they know, retard the following of Christ. Whatsoever hinders my present following, that I cannot follow to-day, whatsoever may hinder my constant following, that I cannot follow to-morrow, and all my life, is a net, and I am bound to leave that.
And these are the pieces that constitute our first part, the circumstances that invest these persons, Peter, and Andrew, in their former condition, before, and when Christ called them.