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Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will
smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of
the river.—Exod. vii. 17, 18. And Moses cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which, when
he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.—Exod. xv. 25.
And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering, said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken; and so were also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.—Luke v. 1-11.-See also John xxi. 1, 12.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money, came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute ? of their own children, or of strangers ? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money; that take, and give unto them, for me and thee.—Matt. xvii. 24-27.
And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there. Now in the morning, as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig-tree withered away.—Matt. xxi. 17-20.—See also Mark xi. 11-21.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE SACRED NARRATIVE. Simon was busy washing his nets, when the throng of auditors forced Christ to leave the shore, and to make Peter's ship his pulpit. While he was upon the land, he healed the sick bodies by his touch; now that he was upon the sea, he cured the sick souls by his doctrine. The honest fisherman, when he saw the people flock after Christ, and heard him speak with such power, could not but conceive a general apprehension of some excellent worth in such a teacher; and therefore is glad to honour his ship with such a guest; and is first Christ's host by sea, ere he is his disciple by land. A humble and serviceable entertainment of a Prophet of God, was a good foundation of his future honour. He, that would so easily lend Christ
his hand and his ship, was likely soon after to bestow himself upon
Simon hath no sooner done this service to Christ, than Christ is preparing for his reward. When the sermon is ended, the ship room shall be paid for abundantly; neither shall the host expect any other paymaster than himself: “ Launch forth into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” That ship which lent Christ an opportunity of catching men upon the shore, shall be requited with a plentiful draught of fish in the deep. Rather in a desire to gratify and obey his guest, than to pleasure himself, will Simon bestow one cast of his net. Had Christ enjoined him a harder task, he had not refused; yet not without an allegation of the unlikelihood of success : “ Master we have travailed all night, and caught nothing ; yet, at thy word, I will let down the net." Not unjustly might Simon misdoubt his speed by day, when he had worn out the night in unprofitable labour. Sometimes God crosseth the fairest of our expectations; and gives a blessing to those times and means whereof we despair. That pains cannot be cast away, which we resolve to lose for Christ.
66 And when they had so done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes, so that their net brake.” Never man threw out his net at the word of his Saviour, and drew it back empty. Who would not obey thee, O Christ, since thou dost so bountifully requite our weakest services ?
Simon was a skilful fisher, and knew well the depth of his trade; and now perceiving more than art or nature in this draught, he falls down at the knees of Jesus, saying, “ Lord, go from me, for I am a sinful man.” Himself is caught in this net. He doth not greedily fall upon so unexpected and profitable a booty, but he turns his eyes from the draught to himself, from the act to the Author, acknowledging vileness in the one, in the other majesty. It had been pity the honest fisherman should have been taken at his word. O Simon, thy Saviour is come into thine own ship to call thee, to call others by thee unto blessedness. What is this divine trade of ours then, but a spiritual fishing? The world is a sea : souls, like fishes, swim at liberty in this deep: the nets of wholesome doctrine draw up some to the shore of grace and glory! The very first draught that Peter made, after the complement of his apostleship, enclosed no less than three thousand souls ! O powerful gospel, that can fetch sinful men from out of the depths of natural corruption ! O happy souls, that, from the blind and muddy cells of our wicked nature, are drawn forth to the glorious liberty of the sons of God !
“ Jesus showed himself to his disciples at the sea of Tiberias ;” (John xxi. 1.) as, after Christ was crucified, they returned, for a time, to their trade and employment of fishing ; though they were called to be fishers of
Afterwards, when, at the feast of Pentecost, they had received those visible gifts of the Holy Ghost, which did furnish them for preaching the gospel to all nations.
Observe how Peter, with the rest, toil all night and catch nothing; but no sooner is Christ come among them, but they enclose a multitude of fishes : thereby teaching us, that all human labours and endeavours are in