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“come down to you?" He should, as to many things, even right in themselves, leave them to others ; saying with the apostles, “ We will give “ ourselves continually to prayer and to the min“ istry of the word.” In short, he should never suffer his time to be occupied by any other things, if he can avoid it, which might interfere either with the exercise of his ministry, or his preparation for exercising it in a proper manner ; but observe the apostle's rule,“ Study to shew thyself “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not “to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of “ truth." 1
5. Further: The fisherman's object is to catch fish : however fine the weather, and calm the sea, and good the provisions on board, or pleasant the company, if he do not take fish, he returns disapappointed. “He that winneth souls is wise.” Learning, reputation, preferment, wealth-even applause, popularity, respect and affection from every quarter-will leave the genuine minister of the gospel disappointed and grieved, if he do not gain souls. For he is “a fisher of men," not of applause, preferment, or“ filthy lucre.” For the salvation of immortal souls he labours, studies, prays, preaches, teaches “publicly and from house “ to house "_" spends," himself and " is spent.' And, if he succeed, these will be accounted by him as his riches, his joy, his crown, at present; and will be found so in the day of Jesus Christ: and in this view poverty, reproach, scorn, or even far heavier sufferings will not greatly move him.
1 2 Tim. ii. 15.
6. As appointed by our blessed Lord to be “ fishers of men,” we may also deduce instruction from Peter's conduct, and language, and success. “ Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken “ nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let “ down the net; and when they had thus done, “ they inclosed a great multitude of fishes.”! Peter used his own understanding as to the best time and opportunity for fishing ; but he did not so lean to it, as to refuse obedience to his Lord's command or direction. He believed and obeyed. Thus Mary says to the servants, as still hoping in Jesus for a supply of wine,) “ Whatever he saith unto you, do it.” 2 They obeyed what might appear very unseasonable : “ they filled the water-pots with water to the “ brim,” and they drew it out “ good wine." Would we succeed as the ministers of Christ, we must adhere strictly to his instructions ; leave undone nothing of what he enjoins ; do what we can do, and trust in him to do what is beyond our power; neither relying on our own plans and exertions, or wisdom, or persuasive powers ; nor neglecting any means prescribed by him, or on which we may properly expect and pray for his blessing
7. Men are indeed, in this evil world, as the fishes are in the sea : and as far as the Lord prospers his ministers, they are brought forth out of this evil world ; delivered from the power of darkness; translated into the kingdom of God's beloved Son, in whom they have redemption,
! Luke v. 4-6.
2 John ii. 5.
through his blood, even the forgiveness of their sins. The most successful minister, however, takes only a very small proportion of the multitudes who surround him and occasionally come near to him; as the fisherman catches but a small proportion of the fishes in the sea, or even in the shoal. It has been shewn, that these are counted his gain, his joy and crown. The zealous affectionate minister counts each of them a more valuable acquisition than the largest legacy or the richest preferment would be. But his gain is as nothing to theirs. He does not seek them for their hurt, but their salvation. Here the emblem may seem to fail; but surely our Lord's words about the harvest are equally applicable to the fishery : “He that reapeth receiveth wages, and
gathereth fruit unto life eternal.”! The literal harvest is as much reaped in order to be eaten as the literal fisherman catches fishes to be eaten. But, in the spiritual harvest and fishery, both are effectual to the eternal salvation of those, about whom that labour is successfully employed.? At the same time, the minister máy learn from the fisherman not to spend his time, and discourage his heart, in vain regrets about those who shun his net, or even those who, when supposed to be taken, get out of it and disappoint his hope; but to bless and praise God for those to whom he is made successful; and to hope, pray, prepare, and labour, that he may succeed in respect of more and more.3
! John iv. 36.
1 Cor. iii. 7, 8. 3 1 Thess. i. 2, 3, 11, 13. 2 Thess. i. 3. Compare Acts xvii, 1-9, 13.
8. Again ; A fisherman sometimes at one cast, or in one night, or in a few nights or days, is so successful that he is amply remunerated for many, many labours, by which he took nothing. The emblem of St. Peter's draught of fishes, when, at Christ's command, he let down the net, was abundantly explained by his success, as “ a fisher “ of men,” at the day of Pentecost, and the conversion of three thousand souls in one day. Let then the unsuccessful minister redouble his diligence, his earnestness in prayer and supplication, and his endeavours to exemplify his doctrine by his own holy example ; and, after years, perhaps many years, of humiliating failure in what is the grand desire of his heart, he may at length see his most sanguine expectations in past times even exceeded towards the close of his life ;-or, perhaps, he may at length look down from heaven, , to witness that extensive efficacy given to his labours which it would not have been safe or good for him to have known on earth, “ lest he should .“ have been exalted above measure.”1 At any rate, let none grow weary
in well-doing ; for “ in due season they shall reap, if they faint not.” Let all remember, that in this case a little success is immensely better than very great success in any other case; and let none seek relief to his mind in other studies, recreations, and pursuits, because discouraged in his ministry—a temptation which proves too strong for many.
9. The direction given to St. Peter, in respect of the payment of the tribute-money, and the
peculiar nature of the miracle by which the poverty of Christ and his apostle was to be supplied, seems to lead the attentive reader to think, that some reference was intended both to Peter's former occupation and to his new office of a “ fisher of men;" else why select this peculiar way of obtaining a miraculous supply On such a subject, it is easy to say crude and ridiculous things; yet the following hint may not be inappropriate : ' The “fishers of men,” though ‘ needy, may go on cheerfully in their work, 'trusting in the Lord to supply their wants; for ' he will bring to their net, when necessary, such as shall be both able and willing to contribute to the support of his cause. 1 And many instances will occur, of ministers becoming useful to those who not only act towards them as the Philippians did by St. Paul, but enable them to accomplish important designs of usefulness, which, if it had not been for such help, must have remained mere plans formed in the mind but never attempted or executed.
REVIEW OF REVIEWS.
Sir, The last Eclectic Review contains, with several other things on the subject, the following words :
'Scott's Commentary on Matt. xvii. 14–27. P. O.