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.
We are now in our order proposed at first, come to our second part, from the consideration of these persons, Peter and Andrew, in their former state and condition, before, and at their calling, to their future estate in promise, but an infallible promise, Christ's promise, if they followed him, (Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.) In which part we shall best come to our end, (which is your edification) by these steps. First, that there is an humility enjoined them, in the sequere, follow, come after. That though they be brought to a high calling, that do not make them proud, nor tyrannous over men's consciences; and then, even this humility is limited, sequere me, follow me; for there may be a pride even in humility, and a man may follow a dangerous guide; our guide here is Christ, sequere me, follow me. And then we shall see the promise itself, the employment, the function, the preferment; in which there is no new state promised them, no innovation, (they were fishers, and they shall be fishers still) but there is an improvement, a bettering, a reformation, (they were fishermen before, and now they shall be fishers of men;) to which purpose, we shall find the world to bo the sea, and the Gospel their net. And lastly, all this is presented to them, not as it was expressed in the former part, with a for, (it is not, Follow me, for I will prefer you) he will not have that the reason of their following; but yet it is, Follow me, and I will prefer you; it is a subsequent addition of his own goodness, but so infallible a one, as we may rely upon; whosoever doth follow Christ, speeds well. And into these considerations will fall all that belongs to this last part, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
First then, here is an impression of humility, in following, in coming after, sequere, follow, press not to come before; and it had need be first, if we consider how early, how primary a sin pride is, and how soon it possesses us. Scarce any man, but if he look back seriously into himself, and into his former life, and revolve his own history, but that the first act which he can remember in himself, or can be remembered of by others, will be some act of pride. Before ambition, or covetousness, or licentiousness is awake in us, pride is working; though but a childish pride, yet pride; and this parents rejoice at in their children, and call it spirit, and so it is, but not the best. We enlarge not therefore the consideration of this word sequere, follow, come after, so far, as to put our meditations upon the whole body, and the several members of this sin of pride; nor upon the extent and diffusiveness of this sin, as it spreads itself over every other sin; (for every sin is complicated with pride, so as every sin is a rebellious opposing of the law and will of God) nor to consider the weighty heinousness of pride, how it aggravates every other sin, how it makes a musket a cannon bullet, and a pebble a millstone; but after wo have stopped a little upon that useful consideration, that there is not so direct, and diametral a contrariety between the nature of any sin and God, as between him and pride, we shall pass to that which is our principal observation in this branch, how early and primary a sin pride is, occasioned by this, that the commandment of humility is first given, first enjoined in our first word, sequere, follow.
But first, we exalt that consideration, that nothing is so contrary to God, as pride, with this observation, that God in the Scriptures is often by the Holy Ghost invested, and represented in the qualities and affections of man; and to constitute a commerce and familiarity between God and man, God is not only said to have bodily lineaments, eyes and ears, and hands, and feet, and to have some of the natural affections of man, as joy, in particular, The Lord will rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers1; and so, pity too, The Lord was with Joseph, and extended kindness unto him*; but some of those inordinate and irregular passions and perturbations, excesses and defects of man, are imputed to God, by the Holy Ghost in the Scriptures. For so, laziness, drowsiness is imputed to God; Awake Lord, why
1 Deut. xxx. 9. * Gen. xxxix. 21.
sleepest thou3? So corruptibleness, and deterioration, and growing worse by ill company, is imputed to God; Cum perverso perverteris4, God is said to grow froward with the froward, and that he learns to go crookedly with them that go crookedly; and prodigality and wastefulness is imputed to God; Thou sellest thy people for nought, and doest not increase thy wealth by their price3; so sudden and hasty choler; Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish In ira brevi, though his wrath be kindled but a little': and then illimited, and boundless anger, a vindicative irreconcilableness is imputed to God; / was but a little displeased, (but it is otherwise now) / am very sore displeased7; so there is ira devo~ rans; Wrath that consumes like stubble3; so there is, ira multiplicata, Plagues renewed and indignation increased9: so God himself expresses it, / will fight against you in anger and in fury": and so for his inexorableness, his irreconcilableness, O Lord God of hosts, Quousque, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people"? God's own people, God's own people praying to their own God, and yet their God irreconcilable to them. Scorn and contempt is imputed to God; which is one of the most enormous, and disproportioned weaknesses in mau; that a worm that crawls in the dust, that a grain of dust, that is hurried with every blast of wind, should find anything so much inferior to itself as to scorn it, to deride it, to contemn it; yet scorn, and derison, and contempt is imputed to God, He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision ia; and again, / will laugh at your calamity, I will mock you when your fear cometh". Nay beloved, even inebriation, excess in that kind, drunkenness, is a metaphor which the Holy Ghost hath mingled in the expressing of God's proceedings with man; for God does not only threaten to make his enemies drunk, (and to make others drunk is a circumstance of drunkenness) so Jerusalem being in his displeasure complains, inebriavit absynthio, He hath made me drunk with wormwood14; and again, They shall be drunk with their oivn blood, as with new wineli; nor only to express his plentiful mercies to his friends and servants, does God
3 Psalm XLiv. 23. 4 Psalm xviii. 26. 5 Psalm Xliv. 12.
• Psalm ii. 12. 7 Zech. i. 15. 8 Exod. xv. 7- * Job 17.
10 Jer. xxi. 5. 11 Psalm Lxxx. 4 18 Psalm ii. 4.
13 Prov. 1. 26. "Lam. iiL 15. 15 Isaiah XLix. 26.
take that metaphor, (Inebriabo animam sacerdotis, I will make the soul of the priest drunk; fill it, satiate it; and again, / will make the weary soul, and the sorroicfid soul drunk1'; but not only all this, (though in all this God have a hand) not only towards others, but God in his own behalf complains of the scant and penurious sacrificer, Non inebriasti me, Thou hast not made me drunk with thy sacrifices". And yet, though for the better applying of God to the understanding of man, the Holy Ghost impute to God these excesses, and defects of man (laziness and drowsiness, deterioration, corruptibleness by ill conversation, prodigality and wastefulness, sudden choler, long irreconcilableness, scorn, inebriation, and many others) in the Scriptures, yet in no place of the Scripture is God, for any respect said to be proud; God in the Scriptures is never made so like man, as to be made capable of pride; for this had not been to have God like man, but like the devil.
God is said in the Scriptures to apparel himself gloriously; God covers him with light as with a garment"; and so of his spouse the church it is said, Her clothing is of wrought gold, and her raiment of needlework1*; and, as though nothing in this world were good enough for her wearing, she is said to be clothed with the sunTM. But glorious apparel is not pride in them, whose conditions require it, and whose revenues will bear it. God is said in the Scriptures to appear with greatness and majesty, A stream of fire came forth before him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him". And so Christ shall come at judgment, with his hosts of angels, in majesty and in glory. But these outward appearances and acts of greatness are not pride in those persons, to whom there is a reverence due, which reverence is preserved by this outward splendour, and not otherwise. God is said in the Scriptures to triumph over his enemies, and to be jealous of his glory; The Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God": but, for princes to be jealous of their glory, studious of their honour, for any private man to be jealous of his good name, careful to preserve
an honest reputation, is not pride. For, pride is appetitus celsitudinis perversus, It is an inordinate desire of being better than we are.
Now there is a lawful, nay a necessary desire of being better and better; and that, not only in spiritual things, (for so every man is bound to be better and better, better to-day than yesterday, and to-morrow than to-day, and he that grows not in religion, withers, there is no standing at a stay, he that goes not forward in godliness, goes backward, and he that is not better, is worse) but even in temporal things too there is a liberty given us, nay there is a law, an obligation laid upon us, to endeavour by industry in a lawful calling, to mend and improve, to enlarge ourselves, and spread, even in worldly things. The first commandment that God gave man, was not prohibitive; God, in that, forbad man nothing, but enlarged him with that Crescite, et multiplicamini, Increase and multiply", which is not only in the multiplication of children, but in the enlargement of possessions too; for so it follows in the same place, not only replete, but dominamini, not only replenish the world, but subdue it, and take dominion over it, that is, make it your own. For, Terram dedit filiis hominum, As God hath given sons to men, so God gives the possession of this world to the sons of men. For so when God delivers that commandment, the second time, to Noah, for the reparation of the world, Crescite et multiplicamini, Increase and multiply*4, he accompanies it with that reason, The fear of you, and the dread of you shall be upon all, and all are delivered into your hands; which reason can have no relation to the multiplying of children, but to the enlarging of possessions. God planted trees in Paradise in a good state at first; at first with ripe fruits upon them; but God's purpose was, that even those trees, though well then, should grow greater. God gives many men good estates from their parents at first; yet God's purpose is that they should increase those estates. ■ He that leaves no more, than his father left him, (if the fault be in himself) shall hardly make a good account of his stewardship to God; for, he hath but kept his talent in a handkerchiefAnd the slothful man is eeen brother to the waster". The Holy Ghost in Solomon, scarce pre
fers him that does not get more, before him that wastes all. He makes them brethren; almost all one. Cursed be he that does the work of God negligently*1; that does any commandment of God by halves; and this negligent and lazy man, this in-industrious and il-laborious man that takes no pains, he does one part of God's commandment, he docs multiply, but ho does not the other, he does not increase; he leaves children enough, but he leaves them nothing; not in possessions and maintenance, nor in vocation and calling.
And truly, howsoever the love of money be the root of all evilTM, (he cannot mistake that told us so) howsoever they that will be rich (that resolve to be rich by any means) shall fall into many tentations, howsoever a hasty desire of being suddenly and prematurely rich, be a dangerous and an obnoxious thing, a pestilent and contagious disease, (for what a perverse and inordinate anticipation and prevention of God and nature is it, to look for our harvest in May, or to look for all grains at once? and such a perverseness is the hasty desire of being suddenly and prematurely rich, yet, to go on industriously in an honest calling, and giving God his leisure, and giving God his portion all the way, in tithes, and in alms, and then, still to lay up something for posterity, is that, which God does not only permit and accept from us, but command to us, and reward in us. And certainly, that man shall not stand so right in God's eye at the last day, that leaves his children to the parish, as he that leaves the parish to his children, if he have made his purchases out of honest gain, in a lawful calling, and not out of oppression.
In all which, I would be rightly understood; that is, that I speak of such poverty as is contracted by our own laziness, or wastefulness. For otherwise, poverty that comes from the hand of God, is as rich a blessing as comes from his hand. He that is poor with a good conscience, that hath laboured and yet not prospered, knows to whom to go, and what to say, Lord, thou hast put gladness into my heart, more than in the time when corn and wine increased**; (more now, than when I had more) / will lay me down and sleep, for thou Lord only makest me to dwell in safety. Does every rich man dwell in safety? Can every rich man lay
Jer. xlviii. 10. "1 Tim. vi. 10 "Psalm iv. 7.
down in peace and sleep? no, nor every poor man neither; but ho that is poor with a good conscience, can. And, though he that is rich with a good conscience may, in a good measure, do so too, (sleep in peace) yet not so out of the sphere and latitude of envy, and free from the machinations and supplantations, and underminings of malicious men, that feed upon the confiscations, and build upon the ruins of others, as the poor man is.
Though then St. Chrysostom call riches Absurditatisparentes, the parents of absurdities, that they make us do, not only ungodly, but inhuman things, not only irreligious, but unreasonable things, uncomely and absurd things, things which we ourselves did not suspect that we could be drawn to, yet there is a growing rich, which is not covetousness, and there is a desire of honour and preferment, which is not pride. For, pride is, as we said before, AppetituB perversus, A perverse and inordinate desire, but there is a desire of honour and preferment, regulated by rectified reason; and rectified reason is religion. And therefore, (as we said) however other affections of man, may, and are, by the Holy Ghost, in Scriptures, in some respects ascribed to God, yet never pride. Nay, the Holy Ghost himself seems to be straightened, and in a difficulty, when he comes to express God's proceedings with a proud man, and his detestation of him, and aversion from him. There is a considerable, a remarkable, indeed a singular manner of expressing it, (perchance you find not the like in the whole Bible) where God says", Him that hath a high look, and a proud heart, I will not, (in our last) I cannot, (in our former translation). Not what? Not as it is in those translations, /cannot suffer him, I will not suffer him; for that word of suffering, is but a voluntary word, supplied by the translators; in the original, it is as it were an abrupt breaking off on God's part, from the proud man, and, (if we may so speak) a kind of froward departing from him. God does not say of the proud man, I cannot work upon him, I cannot mend him, I cannot pardon him, I cannot suffer him, I cannot stay with him, but merely I cannot, and no more, I cannot tell what to say of him, what to do for him; (Him that hath a proud heart, I cannot) pride is so contrary to God, as that the proud man, and he can meet in nothing. And
80 Psalm ci. 5.
this consideration hath kept us thus long, from that which we made our first and principal collection, that this commandment of humility, was imprinted in our very first word, sequere, follow, be content to come after, to denote how early aud primary a sin pride is, and how soon it entered into the world, and how soon into us; and that consideration we shall pursue now.
We know that light is God's eldest child, his first-born of all creatures; and it is ordinarily received, that the angels are twins with the light, made then when light was made. And then the first act, that these angols that fell, did, was an act of pride. They did not thank nor praise God, for their creation; (which should have been their first act) they did not solicit, nor pray to God for their sustentation, their melioration, their confirmation; (so they should have proceeded) but the first act that those first creatures did, was an act of pride, a proud reflecting upon themselves, a proud overvaluing, of their own condition, and an acquiescence in that, in an imaginary possibility of standing by themselves, without any farther relation, or beholdingness to God. So early, so primary a sin is pride, as that it was the first act of the first of creatures.
'So early, so primary a sin, as that whereas all pride now is but a comparative pride, this first pride in the angels was a positive, a radical pride. The Pharisee is but proud, That he is not as other men are"; that is but a comparative pride. No king thinks himself great enough, yet he is proud that he is independent, sovereign, subject to none. No subject thinks himself rich enough, yet he is proud that he is able to oppress others that are poerer, Et gloriatur in malo, quiapotens est", He boasteth himself in mischief, because he is a mighty man. But all these are but comparative prides; and there must be some subjects to compare with, before a king can be proud, and some inferiors, before the magistrate, and some poor, before the rich man can be proud. But this pride in those angels in heaven, was a positive pride; there were no other creatures yet made, with whom these angels could compare themselves, and before whom these angels could prefer themselves, and yet before there was any other creature but themselves, any other creature, to undervalue, or insult
31 Luke xviii. 11. "Psalm Lii. i.
over, these angels were proud of themselves. So early, so primary a sin is pride.
So early, so primary, as that in that ground, which was for goodness next to heaven, that is, Paradise, pride grew very early too. Adam's first act was not an act of pride, but an act of lawful power and jurisdiction, in naming the creatures; Adam was above them all, and he might have called them what he would; there had lien no action, no appeal, if Adam had called a lion a dog, or an eagle an owl. And yet we dispute with God, why he should not make us all vessels of honour, and we complain of God, that he hath not given us all, all the abundances of this world. Comparatively Adam was better than all the world beside, and yet we find no act of pride in Adam, when he %vas alone. Solitude is not the scene of pride; the danger of pride is in company, when we meet to look upon another. But in Adam's wife, Eve, her first act (that is noted) was an act of pride, a hearkening to that voice of the serpent, Ye shall be as Gods". As soon as there were two, there was pride. How many may we have known, (if we have had any conversation in the world) that have been content all the week, at homo alone, with their worky-day faces, as well as with their worky-day clothes, and yet on Sundays, when they come to church, and appear in company, will mend both, their faces as well as their clothes. Not solitude, but company is the scene of pride; and therefore I know not what to call that practice of the nuns in Spain, who though they never see man, yet will paint. So early, so primary a sin is pride, as that it grew instantly from her, whom God intended for a helper, because he saw that it was not good for man to be alone*4. God sees that it is not good for man to be without health, without wealth, without power, and jurisdiction, and magistracy, and we grow proud of our helpers, proud of our health and strength, proud of our wealth and riches, proud of our office and authority over others.
So early, so primary a sin is pride, as that, out of every mercy, and blessing, which God affords us, (and, His mercies are new every morning) we gather pride; we are not the more thankful for them, and yet we are the prouder of them. Nay, we gather
"Gen. iii. 5.
M Gen. ii. 18.
pride, not only out of tbose things, which mend and improve us, (God's blessings and mercies) but out of those actions of our own, that destroy and ruin us, we gather pride; sins overthrow us, demolish us, destroy and ruin us, and yet we are proud of our sins. How many men have we heard boast of their sins; and, (as St. Augustine confesses of himself) belie themselves, and boast of more sins than ever they committed! Out of everything, out of nothing sin grows. Therefore was this commandment in our text, sequere, follow, come after, well placed first, for we are come to see even children strive for place and precedency, and mothers are ready to go to the heralds to know how cradles shall be ranked, which cradle shall have the highest place; nay, even in the womb, there was contention for precedency; Jacob took hold of his brother Esau's heel", and would have been born before him.
And as our pride begins in our cradle, it continues in our graves and monuments. It was a good while in the primitive church, before any were buried in the church; the best contented themselves with the churchyards. After, a holy ambition, (may we call it so) a holy pride brought them ad limina, to the churchthreshold, to the church-door, because some great martyrs were buried in the porches, and devout men desired to lie near them, as one prophet did to lie near another, (Lay my bones beside his bones".) But now, persons whom the devil kept from church all their lives, separatists, libertines, that never came to any church, and persons, whom the devil brought to church all their lives, (for such as come merely out of the obligation of the law, and to redeem that vexation, or out of custom, or company, or curiosity, or a perverse and sinister affection to the particular preacher, though they come to God's house, come upon the devil's invitation) such as one devil, that is, worldly respect, brought to church in their lives, another devil, that is, pride and vain-glory, brings to church after their deaths, in an affectation of high places, and sumptuous monuments in the church. And such as have given nothing at all to any pious uses, or have determined their alms and their dole which they have given, in that one day of their funeral, and no farther, have given large annuities, per
"Gen. xxv. 26. »* 1 Kings xiii. 31.
Vol. in. u
petuities, for new painting their tombs, and for new flags, and scutcheons, every certain number of years.
O the earliness! O the lateness! How early a spring, and no autumn! How fast a growth, and no declination, of this branch of this sin pride, against which, this first word of ours, sequere, follow, come after, is opposed! This love of place, and precedency, it rocks us in our cradles, it lies down with us in our graves. There are diseases proper to certain things, rots to sheep, murrain to cattle. There are diseases proper to certain places, as the sweat was to us. There are diseases proper to certain times, as the plague is in divers parts of the Eastern countries, where they know assuredly, when it will begin and end. But for this infectious disease of precedency, and love of place, it is run over all places, as well cloisters as courts, and over all men, as well spiritual as temporal, and over all times, as well the apostles as ours. The apostles disputed often, who should be greatest*1, and it was not enough to them, that Christ assured them, that they should sit upon the twelve thrones, and judge the twelve tribes"; it was not enough for the sons of Zebedee, to be put into that commission, but their friends must solicit the office, to place them high in that commission; their mother must move, that one may sit at Christ's right hand, and the other at his left, in the execution of that commission. Because this sin of pride is so early and primary a sin, is this commandment of humility first enjoined, and because this sin appears most nenerally in this love of place, and precedency, the commandment is expressed in that word, sequere, follow, come after. But then, even this humility is limited, for it is, sequere me, follow me, which was proposed for our second consideration, sequere me.
There maybe a pride in humility, and an over-weening of ourselves, in attributing too much to our own judgment, in following some leaders; for so, we may be so humble as to go after some man, and yet so proud, as to go before the church, because that man may be a schismatic. Therefore Christ proposes a safe guide, himself, sequere me, follow me. It is a dangerous thing, when Christ says, Vade post me, Get thee behind me; for that is accompanied with a shrewd name of increpation, Satan, Get the*
*7 Luke xxii. 24. "Matt, xix. 28.
behind me Satan; Christ speaks it but twice in the Gospel; once to Peter", who because he then did the part of an adversary, Christ calls Satan, and once to Satan himself'40, because he pursued his tentations upon him: for there is a going behind Christ, which is a casting out of his presence, without any future following, and that is a fearful station, a fearful retrogradation; but when Christ says, not Vade retro, Get thee behind me, see my face no more, but seqaere me, follow me, he means to look back upon us; so the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, and Peter wept bitterly", and all was well; when he bids us follow him, he directs us in a good way, and by a good guide.
The Carthusian friars thought they descended into as low pastures as they could go, when they renounced all flesh, and bound themselves to feed on fish only; and yet another order follows them in their superstitious singularity, and goes beyond them, Foliantes, the Fueillans, they eat neither flesh, nor fish, nothing but leaves, and roots; and as the Carthusians in a proud humility, despise all other orders that eat flesh, so do the Fueillans the Carthusians that eat fish. There is a pride in such humility. That order of friars that called themselves Ignorantes, ignorant men, that pretended to know nothing, sunk as low as they thought it possible, into a humble name and appellation; and yet the Minorites, (Minorites that are less than any) think they are gone lower, and then the Minimes, (Minimes that are less than all) lower than they. And when one would have thought, that there had not been a lower step than that, another sect went beyond all, beyond the Ignorants, and the Minorites, and the Minimes, and all, and called themselves, Nullanot, Nothings. But yet, even these diminutives, the Minorites, and Minimes, and Nullans, as little, as less, as least, as very nothing as they profess themselves, lie under this disease, which is opposed in the sequere me, follow, come after, in our text; for no sort nor condition of men in the world are more contentious, more quarrelsome, more vehement for place, and precedency, than these orders of friars are, there, where it may appear, that is, in their public processions, as we find by those often troubles, which the superiors of the several orders, and bishops in their several dioceses, and some of
*• Matt. xvi. 16. 40 Matt. iv. 10. 41 Luke xxii. 61,62.
those councils, which they call General, have been put to, for the ranking, and marshalling of these contentious, and wrangling men. Which makes me remember the words, in which the eighteenth of Queen Elizabeth's Injunctions is conceived, " That | to take away fond curtesie," (that is, needless compliment) " and to take away challenging of places," (which it seems were frequent and troublesome then) "to take away fond curtesie, and challenging of places," processions themselves were taken away, because in those processions, these orders of friars, that pretended to follow, and come after all the world, did thus passionately, and with so much scandalous animosity pursue the love of place and precedency. Therefore is our humility here limited, sequere me, follow me, follow Christ. How is that done?
Consider it in doctrinal things first, and then in moral; first, how we are to follow Christ in believing, and then how in doing, in practising. First in doctrinal things, there must have gone somebody before, else it is no following; take heed therefore of going on with thine own inventions, thine own imaginations, for this is no following; take heed of accompanying the beginners of heresies and schisms; for these are no followings where none have gone before: nay, there have not gone enough before, to make it a path to follow in, except it have had a long continuance, and been much trodden in. And therefore to follow Christ doctrinally, is to embrace those doctrines, in which his church hath walked from the beginning, and not to vex thyself with new points, not necessary to salvation. That is the right way, and then thou art well entered; but that is not all; thou must walk in the right way to the end, that is, to the end of thy life. So that to profess the whole Gospel, and nothing but gospel for gospel, and profess this to thy death, for no respect, no dependance upon any great person, to slacken in any fundamental point of thy religion, nor to be shaken with hopes or fears in thine age, when thou wouldst fain live at ease, and therefore thinkest it necessary to do, as thy supporters do; to persevere to the end in the whole Gospel, this is to follow Christ in doctrinal things.
In practical things, things that belong to action, we must also follow Christ, in the right way, and to the end. They are both (way and end) laid together, Sufferentiam Job audiistis, et finem Domini vidistis; You have heard of the patience of Job, and you have seen the end of the Lord"; and you must go Job's way to Christ's end. Job hath beaten a path for us, to show us all the way; a path that affliction walked in, and seemed to delight in it, in bringing the Sabaean upon his oxen, the Chaldean upon his camels, the fire upon his sheep, destruction upon his servants, and at last, ruin upon his children. One affliction makes not a path; iterated, continued calamities do; and such a path Job hath showed us, not only patience, but cheerfulness; more, thankfulness for our afflictions, because they were multiplied. And then, we must set before our eyes, as the way of Job, so the end of the Lord; now the end of the Lord was the cross: so that to follow him to the end, is not only to bear afflictions, though to death, but it is to bring our crosses to the cross of Christ. How is that progress made? (for it is a royal progress, not a pilgrimage, to follow Christ to his cross) our Saviour saith, He that will follow me, let him take up his cross, and follow me". You see four stages, four resting, baiting places in this progress. It must be a cross, and it must be my cross, and then it must be taken up by me, and with this cross of mine, thus taken up by me, I must follow Christ, that is, carry my cross to his.
First it must be a cross, tollat crucem; for every man hath afflictions, but every man hath not crosses. Only those afflictions are crosses, whereby the world is crucified to us, and we to the world". The afflictions of the wicked exasperate them, enrage them, stone and pave them, obdurate and petrify them, but they do not crucify them. The afflictions of the godly crucify them. And when I am come to that conformity with my Saviour, as to fulfill his sufferings in my fiesh", (as I am, when I glorify him in a Christian constancy and cheerfulness in my afflictions) then I am crucified with him, carried up to his cross: and as Elisha in raising the Shunamite's dead child", put his mouth upon the child's mouth, his eyes, and his hands, upon the hands, and eyes of the child; so when my crosses have carried me up to my Saviour's cross, I put my hands into his hands, and hang upon his nails, I put mine eyes
upon his, and wash off all my former unchaste looks, and receive a sovereign tincture, and a lively verdure, and a new life into my dead tears, from his tears. I put my mouth upon his mouth, and it is I that say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? and it is I that recover again, and say, Into thy hands, 0 Lord, I commend my spirit. Thus my afflictions are truly a cross, when those afflictions do truly crucify me, and supple me, and mellow nie, nd knead me, and roll me out, to a conformity with Christ. It must be this cross, and then it must be my cross that I must take up, tollat suam.
Other men's crosses are not my crosses; no man hath suffered more than himself needed. That is a poor treasure which they boast of in the Roman church, that they have in their exchequer, all the works of supererogation of the martyrs in the Primitive church, that suffered so much more than was necessary for their own salvation, and those superabundant crosses and merits they can apply to me. If the treasure of the blood of Christ Jesus be not sufficient, Lord what addition can I find, to match them, to piece out them? and if it be sufficient of itself, what addition need I seek! other men's crosses are not mine, other men's merits cannot save me. Nor is any cross mine own, which is not mine by a good title; if I be not possessor bona' fidei, if I came not well by that cross. And Quid habeo quod non accepi*7? is a question that reaches even to my crosses; What have I that I have not received I not a cross; and from whose hands can I receive any good thing, but from the hands of God? So that that only is my cross, which the hand of God hath laid upon me. Alas, that cross of present bodily weakness, which the former wautonnesses of my youth have brought upon me, is not my cross; that cross of poverty which the wastefulness of youth hath brought upon me, is not my cross; for these, weakness upon wantonness, want upon wastefulness, are Nature's crosses, not God's, and they would fall naturally, though there were (which is an impossible supposition) no God. Except God therefore take these crosses iu the way, as they fall into his hands, and sanctify them so, and then lay them upon me, they are not my crosses; but if God do this, they are. And then this cross thus prepared, I must take up; tollat.
47 1 Cor. iv. 7.
Foreign crosses, other men's merits are not mine; spontaneous and voluntary crosses, contracted by mine own sins, are not mine; neither are devious, and remote, and unnecessary crosses, my crosses. Since I am bound to take up my cross, there must be a cross that is mine to take up; that is, a cross prepared for me by God, and laid in my way, which is temptations or tribulations in my calling; and I must not go out of my way to seek a cross; for so it is not mine, nor laid for my taking up. I am not bound to hunt after a persecution, nor to stand it, and not fly, nor to affront a plague, and not remove, nor to open myself to an injury, and not defend. I am not bound to starve myself by inordinate fasting, nor to tear my flesh by inhuman whippings, and flagelations. I am bound to take up my cross; and that is only mine which the hand of God hath laid for me, that is, in the way of my calling, temptations and tribulations incident to that.
If it be mine, that is, laid for me by the hand of God, and taken up by me, that is, voluntarily embraced, then sequatur, says Christ, I am bound to follow him, with that cross, that is, to carry my cross to his cross. And if at any time I faint under this cross in the way, let this comfort me, that even Christ himself was eased by Simon of Cyrene, in the carrying of his cross**; and in all such cases, I must fly to the assistance of the prayers of the church, and of good men, that God, since it is his burden, will make it lighter, since it is his yoke, easier, and since it is his cross, more supportable, and give me the issue with the temptation. When all is done, with this cross thus laid for me, and taken up by me, I must follow Christ; Christ to his end; his end is his cross; that is, I must bring my cross to his; lay down my cross at the foot of his; confess that there is no dignity, no merit in mine, but as it receives an impression, a sanctification from his. For, if I could die a thousand times for Christ, this were nothing, if Christ had not died for me before. And this is truly to follow Christ, both in the way, and to the end, as well in doctrinal things as in practical. And this is all that lay upon these two, Peter and Andrew, follow me. Remains yet to be
« Matt, xxvii. 32,
considered, what they shall get by this; which is our last consideration.
They shall be fishers; and what shall they catch? men. They shall be fishers of men. And then, for that the world must be their sea, and their net must be the Gospel. And here in so vast a sea, and with so small a net, there was no great appearance of much gain. And in this function, whatsoever they should catch, they should catch little for themselves. The apostleship, as it was the fruitfulest, so it was the barrenest vocation; they were to catch all the world; there is their fecundity; but the apostles were to have no successors, as apostles; there is their barrenness. The apostleship was not intended for a function to raise houses and families; the function ended in their persons; after the first, there were no more.apostles.
And therefore it is an usurpation, an imposture, an illusion, it is a forgery, when the Bishop of Rome will proceed by apostolical authority, and with apostolical dignity, and apostolical jurisdiction; if he be St. Peter's successor in the bishopric of Rome, he may proceed with episcopal authority in his diocese. If he be; for, though we do not deny that St. Peter was at Rome, and Bishop of Rome; though we receive it with an historical faith, induced by the consent of ancient writers, yet when they will constitute matter of faith out of matters of fact, and because St. Peter was (de facto) Bishop of Rome, therefore we must believe, as an article of faith, such an infallibility in that church, as that no successor of St. Peter's can ever err, when they stretch it to the matter of faith, then for matter of faith, we require Scriptures; and then we are confident, and justly confident, that though historically we do believe it, yet out of Scriptures (which is a necessary proof in articles of faith) they can never prove that St. Peter was Bishop of Rome, or ever at Rome. So then, if the present Bishop of Rome be St. Peter's successor, as Bishop of Rome, he hath episcopal jurisdiction there; but he is not St. Peter's successor in his apostleship; and only that apostleship was a jurisdiction over all the world. But the apostleship was an extraordinary office instituted by Christ, for a certain time, and to certain purposes, and not to continue in ordinary use. As also the office of the prophet was in the Old Testament an extraordinary office, and was not transferred then, nor does not remain now in the ordinary office of the minister.
And therefore they argue impertinently, and collect and infer sometimes seditiously that say, the prophet proceeded thus and thus, therefore the minister may and must proceed so too; the prophets would chide the kings openly, and threaten the kings publicly, and proclaim the fault of the kings in the ears of the people confidently, authoritatively, therefore the minister may and must do so. God sent that particular prophet Jeremy with that extraordinary commission, Behold I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, to destroy and throw down, and then to build, and to plant again"; but God hath given none of us his ministers, in our ordinary function, any such commission over nations, and over kingdoms. Even in Jeremy's commission there seems to be a limitation of time; Behold this day I have set thee over them, where that addition, this day, is not only the date of the commission, that it passed God's hand that day, but this day is the term, the duration of the commission, that it was to last but that day, that is, (as the phrase of that language is) that time for which it was limited. And therefore, as they argue perversely, frowardly, dangerously that say, the minister does not his duty that speaks not as boldly, and as publicly too, and of kings, and great persons, as the prophets did, because their's was an extraordinary, ours an ordinary office, (and no man will think that the justices in their sessions, or the judges in their circuits may proceed to executions, without due trial by a course of law, because marshals, in time of rebellion and other necessities, may do so, because the one hath but an ordinary, the other an extraordinary commission) so do they deceive themselves and others, that pretend in the Bishop of Rome an apostolical jurisdiction, a jurisdiction over all the world, whereas howsoever he may be St. Peter's successor, as Bishop of Rome, yet he is no successor to St. Peter as an apostle; upon which only the universal power can be grounded, and without which that universal power falls to the ground: the apostolical faith remains spread over all the world, but apostolical jurisdiction is expired with their persons.
- Jer. i. 10.
These twelve Christ calls fishers; why fishers? because it is a name of labour, of service, and of humiliation; and the names that taste of humiliation, and labour, and service, are most properly ours; (fishers we may be) names of dignity, and authority, and command are not so properly ours, (apostles we are not in any sense as they were) nothing inflames, nor swells, nor puffs us up, more than that leaven of the soul, that empty, aery, frothy love of names and titles. We have known men part with ancient lands for new titles, and with old manors for new honours; and as a man that should bestow all his money upon a lair purse, and then have nothing to put into it; so whole estates have melted away for titles and honours, and nothing left to support them. And how long last they? How many winds blast them i That namo of God, in which, Moses was sent to Pharaoh, is by our translators and expositors ordinarily said to be I Am that I Am1*, (Go and say, I Am hath sent me, says God there) but in truth, in the original, the name is conceived in the future, it is, I shall be. Every man is that he is; but only God is sure that he shall be so still. Therefore Christ calls them by a name of labour and humiliation. But why by that name of labour and humiliation, fishers 2
Because it was nomen primitivum, their own, their former name. The Holy Ghost pursues his own way, and does here in Christ, as he does often in other places, he speaks in such forms, and such phrases, as may most work upon them to whom he speaks. Of David, that was a shepherd before, God says, ho took him to feed his people51. To those magi of the east, who were given to the study of the stars, God gave a star to be their guide to Christ at Bethlem5*. To those which followed him to Capernaum for meat, Christ took occasion by that, to preach to them of the spiritual food of their souls". To the Samaritan woman, whom he found at the well, he preached of the water of life5*. To these men in our text accustomed to a joy and gladness, when they took great, or great store55 of fish, he presents his comforts agreeably to their taste, they should be fishers still. Beloved,
50 Exod. iii. 14. 51 Psalm Lxxviii. 70. 5i Matt. ii. 2.
M John vi. 24. M John iv. 11.
55 i. e. When they took one, or another great store of fish.
Christ puts no man out of his way, (for sinful courses are no ways, but continual deviations) to go to heaven. Christ makes heaven all things to all men, that he might gain all: to the mirthful man he presents heaven, as all joy, and to the ambitious man, as all glory; to the merchant it is a pearl, and to the husbandman it is a rich field. Christ hath made heaven all things to all men, that he might gain all, and he puts no man out of his way to come thither. These men he calls fishers.
He does not call them from their calling, but he mends them in it. It is not an innovation; God loves not innovations; old doctrines, old disciplines, old words and forms of speech in his service, God loves best. But it is a renovation, though not an innovation, aud renovations are always acceptable to God; that is, the renewing of a man's self, in a consideration of his first estate, what he was made for, and wherein he might be most serviceable to God. Such a renewing it is, as could not be done without God; no man can renew himself, regenerate himself; no man can prepare that work, no man can begin it, no man can proceed iu it of himself. The desire and the actual beginning is from the preventing grace of God, and the constant proceeding is <from the concomitant, and subsequent, and continual succeeding grace of God; for there is no conclusive, no consummative grace in this life; no such measure of grace given to any man, as that that man needs no more, or can lose or frustrate none of that. The renewing of these men in our text, Christ takes to himself; Faciam vos, I will make ye fishers of men; no worldly respects must make us such fishers; it must be a calling from God; and yet, (as the other evangelist in the same history expresses it") it is Faciam fieri vos, I will cause ye to be made fishers of men, that is, I will provide an outward calling for you too. Our calling to this man-fishing is not good, Nisi Dominns faciat, et fieri faciat, except God make us fishers by an internal, and make his church to make us so too, by an external calling. Then we are fishers of men, and then we are successors to the apostles, though not in their apostleship, yet in this fishing. Aud then, for this fishing, the world is the sea, and our net is the Gospel.
- Mark i. 17.
The world is a sea in many respects and assimilations. It is a sea, as it is subject to storms, and tempests; every man (and every man is a world) feels that. And then, it is never the shallower for the calmness, the sea is as deep, there is as much water in the sea, in a calm, as in a storm; we may be drowned in a calm and flattering fortune, in prosperity, as irrecoverably, as in a wrought sea, in adversity; so the world is a sea. It is a sea, as it is bottomless to any line, which we can sound it with, and endless to any discovery that we can make of it. The purposes of the world, the ways of the world, exceed our consideration; but yet we are sure the sea hath a bottom, and sure that it hath limits, that it cannot overpass; the power of the greatest in the world, the life of the happiest in the world, cannot exceed those bounds, which God hath placed for them; so the world is a sea. It is a sea, as it hath ebbs and floods, and no man knows the true reason of those floods and those ebbs. All men have changes and vicissitudes in their bodies, (they fall sick) and in their estates, (they grow poor) and in their minds, (they become sad) at which changes, (sickness, poverty, sadness) themselves wonder, and the cause is wrapped up in the purpose and judgment of God only, and hid even from them that have them; and so the world is a sea. It is a sea, as the sea affords water enough for all the world to drink, but such water as will not quench the thirst. The world affords conveniences enow to satisfy nature, but these increase our thirst with drinking, and our desire grows and enlarges itself with our abundance, and though we sail in a full sea, yet we lack water; so the world is a sea. It is a sea, if we consider the inhabitants. In the sea, the greater fish devour the less; and so do the men of this world too. And as fish, when they mud themselves, have no hands to make themselves clean, but the current of the waters must work that; so have the men of this world no means to cleanse themselves from those sins which they have contracted in the world, of themselves, till a new flood, waters of repentance, drawn up, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, work that blessed effect in them.
All these ways the world is a sea, but especially it is a sea iu this respect, that the sea is no place of habitation, but a passage to our habitations. So the apostle expresses the world, Here ire have no continuing city, but we seek one to come"; we seek it not here, but we seek it whilst we are here, else we shall never find it. Those are the two great works which we are to do in this world; first to know, that this world is not our home, and then to provide us another home, whilst we are in this world. Therefore the prophet says, Arise, and depart, for this is not your rest". Worldly men, that have no farther prospect, promise themselves some rest in this world, (Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry", says the rich man) but this is not your rest; indeed no rest; at least not yours. You must depart, depart by death, before ye come to that rest; but then you must arise, before you depart; for except ye hare a resurrection to grace here, before you depart, you shall have no resurrection to t*lory in the life to come, when you are departed.
Now, in this sea, every ship that sails must necessarily have some part of the ship under water; every man that lives in this world, must necessarily have some of his life, some of his thoughts, some of his labours spent upon this world; but that part of the ship, by which he sails, is above water; those meditations, and those endeavours which must bring us to heaven, are removed from this world, and fixed entirely upon God. And in this sea, are we made fishers of men; of men in general; not of rich men, to profit by them, nor of poor men, to pierce them the more sharply, because affliction hath opened a way into them; not of learned men, to be over-glad of their approbation of our labours, nor of ignorant men, to affect them with an astonishment, or admiration of our gifts: but we are fishers of men, of all men, of that which makes them men, their souls. And for this fishing in this sea, this Gospel is our net.
Eloquence is not our net; traditions of men are not our nets; only the Gospel is. The devil angles with hooks and baits; he deceives, and he wounds in the catching; for every sin hath his sting. The Gospel of Christ Jesus is a net; it hath leads and corks; it hath leads, that is, the denouncing of God's judgments,
"Heb. xiii. 14. 58 Micah ii. 10. *3 Luke xii. 19.
and a power to sink down, and lay flat any stubborn and rebellious heart, and it hath corks, that is, the power of absolution, and application of the mercies of God, that swim above all his works, means to erect an humble and contrite spirit, above all the waters of tribulation, and affliction. A net is res nodosa, a knotty thing; and so is the Scripture, full of knots, of scruple, and perplexity, and anxiety, and vexation, if thou wilt go about to entangle thyself in those things, which appertain not to thy salvation; but knots of a fast union, and inseparable alliance of thy soul to God, and to the fellowship of his saints, if thou take the Scriptures, as they were intended for thee, that is, if thou beest content to rest in those places, which are clear, and evident in things necessary. A net is a large thing, past thy fathoming, if thou cast it from thee, but if thou draw it to thee, it will lie upon thine arm. The Scriptures will be out of thy reach, and out of thy use, if thou cast and scatter them upon reason, upon philosophy, upon morality, to try how the Scriptures will fit all them, and believe them but so far as they agree with thy reason; but draw the Scripture to thine own heart, and to thine own actions, and thou shalt find it made for that; all the promises of the Old Testament made, and all accomplished in the New Testament, for the salvation of thy soul hereafter, and for thy consolation in the present application of them.
Now this that Christ promises here, is not here promised in the nature of wages due to our labour, and our fishing. There is no merit in all that we can do. The wages of sin is death; death is due to sin, the proper reward of sin; but the apostle does not say there, that eternal life is the wages of any good work of ours. (The wages of sin is death, but eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord"'.) Through Jesus Christ, that is, as we are considered in him; and in him, who is a Saviour, a Redeemer, we are not considered but as sinners. So that God s purpose works no otherwise upon us, but as we are sinners; neither did God mean ill to any man, till that man was, in his sight, a sinner. God shuts no man out of heaven, by a lock on the inside, except that man have clapped the door after him, and never knocked to have it opened again, that is, except he have
50 Rom. vi . 23.
sinned, and never repented. Christ does not say in our text, Follow me, for I will prefer you; he will not have that the reason, the cause. If I would not serve God, except I might he saved for serving him, I shall not be saved though I serve him; my first end in serving God, must not be myself, but he and his glory. It is but an addition from his own goodness, et faciam, follow me, and I will do this; but yet it is as certain, and infallible as a debt, or as an effect upon a natural cause; those propositions in nature are not so certain; the earth is at such a time just between the sun, and the moon, therefore the moon must be eclipsed, the moon is at such time just between the earth and the sun, therefore the sun must be eclipsed; for upon the sun, and those other bodies, God can, and hath sometimes wrought miraculously, and changed the natural courses of them; (the sun stood still in Joshua, and there was an unnatural eclipse at the death of Christ) but God cannot by any miracle so work upon himself, as to make himself not himself, unmerciful, or unjust; and out of his mercy he makes this promise, (Do this, and thus it shall be with you) and then, of his justice he performs that promise, which was made merely, and only out of mercy, if we do it, (though not because we do it) we shall have eternal life.
Therefore did Andrew, and Peter faithfully believe, such a net should be put into their hands. Christ had vouchsafed to fish for them, and caught them with that net, and they believed that he that made them fishers of men, would also enable them to catch others with that net. And that is truly the comfort that refreshes us in all our lucubrations, and night-studies, through the course of our lives, that that God that sets us to sea, will prosper our voyage, that whether he fix us upon our own, or sends us to other congregations, he will open the hearts of those congregations to us, and bless our labours to them. For as St. PauPs vw si non, lies upon us wheresoever we are, (woe be unto us if we do not preach) so, (as St. Paul says too) we were of all men the most miserable, if we preached without hope of doing good. With this net St. Peter caught three thousand souls in one day, at one sermon", and five thousand in another". With this net St. Paul fished all the Mediterranean Sea, and caused the gospel of Christ
81 Acts ii. 41. "Acts iv. 4.
Jesus to abound from Jerusalem round about to Illyricum". This is the net, with which if ye be willing to be caught, that is, to lay down all your hopes and affiances in the gracious promises of his gospel, then you are fishes reserved for that great marriagefeast, which is the kingdom of heaven; where, whosoever is a dish, is a guest too; whosoever is served in at the table, sits at the table; whosoever is caught by this net, is called to this feast; and there your souls shall be satisfied as with marrow, and with fatness, in an infallible assurance, of an everlasting and undeterminable term, in inexpressible joy and glory. Amen.