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to our habitations. So the apostle expresses the world, Here we 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 have a resurrection to grace here, before you depart, you shall have no resurrection to glory 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,
57 Heb. xiii. 14.
58 Micah ii. 10.
59 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
60 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 be 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. Paul's va 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
61 Acts ii. 41.
62 Acts iv. 4.
Jesus to abound from Jerusalem round about to Illyricum "3. 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.
PREACHED TO THE KING IN MY ORDINARY WAITING AT WHITEHALL, 18TH APRIL, 1626.
JOHN XIV. 2.
In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so,
THERE are occasions of controversies of all kinds in this one verse; and one is, whether this be one verse or no; for as there are doctrinal controversies, out of the sense and interpretation of the words, so are there grammatical differences about the distinction, and interpunction of them: some translations differing therein from the original, (as the original copies are distinguished, and interpuncted now) and some differing from one another. The first translation that was, that into Syriac, as it is expressed by Tremellius, renders these words absolutely, precisely, as our two translations do; and, as our two translations do, applies the second clause and proposition, Si quo minus, If it were not so, I would have told you, as in affirmation, and confirmation of the former, In domo patris, in my father's house there are many mansions, for, if it were not so, I would have told you. But then, as
63 Rom. xv. 19.
both our translations do, the Syriac also admits into this verse a third clause and proposition, Vado parare, I go to prepare you a place. Now Beza doth not so; Piscator doth not so; they determine this verse in those two propositions which constitute our text, In my father's house, &c., and then they let fall the third proposition, as an inducement, and inchoation of the next verse, I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will come again. Divers others do otherwise, and diversely; for some do assume (as we, and the Syriac do) all three propositions into the verse, but then they do not (as we, and the Syriac do) make the second a proof of the first, In my father's house are many mansions, for, if it were not so, I would have told you, but they refer the second to the third proposition, if it were not so, I would have told you, for, I go to prepare you a place, and being to go from you, would leave you ignorant of nothing. But we find no reason to depart from that distinction and interpunction of these words, which our own church exhibits to us, and therefore we shall pursue them so; and so determine, though not the verse, (for into the verse, we admit all three propositions) yet the whole purpose and intention of our Saviour, in those two propositions, which accomplish our text, In my father's house, &c.
This interpunction then offers and constitutes our two parts. First, a particular doctrine, which Christ infuses into his disciples, In domo Patris, in my Father's house are many mansions; and then a general rule and scale, by which we are to measure, and weigh all doctrines, Si quo minus, if it were not so, I would have told you. In the order of nature, the latter part falls first into consideration, the rule of all doctrines; which in this place is, the word of God in the mouth of Christ, digested into the Scriptures; in which we shall have just, more than just, necessary occasion to note both their distempers, both theirs, that think, that there are other things to be believed, than are in the Scriptures, and theirs that think, that there are some things in the Scriptures, which are not to be believed: for when our Saviour says, Si quo minus, if it were not so, I would have told you, he intends both this proposition, I have told you all that is necessary to be believed; and this also, all that I have told you, is necessary to be believed, so as I have told it you. So that this