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successful. Never man threw out his net at the word of bis Saviour, and drew it back empty. Who would not obey thee, O Christ, since thou dost so bountifully requite our weakest services ?
It was not mere retribution, that was intended in this event, but instruction also. This act was not without a mystery. He, that should be made a fisher of men, shall in this draught foresee his success. The kingdom of heaven is like a draw-net cast into the sea, which, when it is full, men draw to land. The very first draught, that Peter made, after the complement of his apostleship, enclosed no less thanthree thousand souls. O powerful Gospel, that can fetch sinful men from out of the depths of natural corruption ! () 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!
Simon's net breaks with the store. Abundance is sometimes no less troublesome than want. The net should have held, if Christ had not meant to overcharge Simon, both with blessing and admiration. How happily is that net broken, whose rupture draws the fisher to Christ!
Though the net brake, yet the fish escaped not. He, that brought them thither to be taken, held them there till they were taken.
They beckoned to their partners in the other ship, that they should come and help them. There are other ships in partnership with Peter: he doth not fish all the lake alone. There cannot be a better improvement of society, than to help us gain; to relieve us in our profitable labours; to draw up the spiritual draught into the vessel of Christ and his Church. Wherefore hath God given us partners, but that we should beckon to them for their aid in our necessary occasions ?
Neither doth Simon slacken his hand, because he had assistants. What shall we say to those lazy fishers, who can set others to the drag, while themselves look on at ease ; caring only to feed themselves with the fish, not willing to wet their hands with the net?
What shall we say to this excess of gain? The nets break, the ships sink with their burden. Oh happy complaint of too large a capture! () Saviour, if those apostolical vessels of thy first rigging were thus overlaid, ours float and totter with a ballasted lightness.
Thou, who art no less present in these bottoms of ours, lade them with an equal fraught of converted souls, and let us praise thee for thus sinking,
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 bis eyes from the draught to himself, from the act to the Au. thor, acknowledging vileness in the one, in the other Majesty : Go from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.
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; and dost thou say, Lord, go from me? As if the patient should say to the physician, “ Depart from me, for I am sick.” It was the voice of astonishment, not of dislike; the voice of humility, not of discontentment: yea, because thou art a sinful man, therefore hath thy Saviour need to come to thee, to stay with thee; and because thou art humble in the acknowledgment of thy sinfulness, therefore Christ delights to abide with thee, and will call thee to abide with him. No man ever fared the worse, for abasing himself to his God. Christ hath left many a soul for froward and unkind usage; never any, for the disparagement of itself, and entreaties of humility: Şimon could not devise how to hold Christ faster, than by thus suing to him to be gone, than by thus pleading his unworthiness.
O my soul, be not weary of complaining of thine own wretchedness. Disgrace thyself to him, that knows thy vileness. Be astonished at those mercies, which have shamed thine ill deservings. Thy Saviour hath no power to go away from a prostrate heart. He, that resists the proud, heartens the lowly : Fear not, for I will make thee henceforth a fisher of men. Lo, this humility is rewarded with an apostleship. What had the earth ever more glorious, than a legacy from heaven? He, that bade Christ go from him, shall have the honour to go first on this happy errand. This was a trade, that Simon had no skill of: it could not but be enough to him, that Christ said, I will make thee; the miracle shewed him able to make good his word. He, that hath power to command the fishes to be taken, can easily enable the hands to take them.
What is this divine trade of ours then, but a spiritual piscation? 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. How much skill, and toil, and patience, is requisite in this art! Who is sufficient for these things? This sea, these nets, the fishers, the fish, the vessels are all thine, O God. Do what thou wilt, in us and by us. Give us ability and grace to take; give men will and grace to be taken ; and take thou glory by that, which thou hast given.
THE MARRIAGE IN CANA. Was this then thy first miracle, O Saviour, that thou wroughtest in Cana of Galilee? And could there be a greater miracle than this ; that, having been thirty years upon earth, thou didst no miracle till now? that thy Divinity did hide itself thus long in flesh ? that so long thou wouldst lie obscure in a corner of Galilee ; unknown to that world, thou camest to redeem ? that so long thou wouldst strain the patient expectation of those, who, ever since thy Star, waited upon the revelation of a Messiah? We silly wretches, if we have but a dram of virtue, are ready to set it out to the best shew; thou, who receivedst not the Spirit by measure,
dram lation of those that Galilee
wouldst content thyself with a willing obscurity; and concealedst that power, that made the world, in the roof of a human breast, in a cottage of Nazareth. O Saviour, none of thy miracles is more worthy of astonishment, than thy not doing of miracles.
What thou didst in private, thy wisdom thought fit for secresy; but if thy Blessed Mother had not been acquainted with some diomestical wonders, she had not now expected a miracle abroad. The stars are not seen by day; the sun itself is not seen by night. As it is no small art, to hide art; so is it no small glory, to conceal glory.
Thy first public miracle graceth a Marriage. It is an ancient and laudable institution, that the rites of matrimony should not want a solemn celebration. When are feasts in season, if not at the recovery of our lost rib ; if not at this main change of our estate, wherein the joy of obtaining meets with the hope of further comforts? The Son of the Virgin, and the Mother of that Son, are both at a wedding. It was in all likelihood some of their kindred, to whose nuptial feast they were invited so far; yet was it more the honour of the act, than of the person, that Christ in. tended. He, that made the first marriage in Paradise, bestows his first miracle upon a Galilean marriage. He, that was the Author of matrimony and sanctified it, doth, by his holy presence, honour the resemblance of his eternal union with his Church. How boldly may we spit in the faces of all the impure adversaries of wedlock, when the Son of God pleases to honour it!
The glorious Bridegroom of the Church knew well, how ready men would be to place shame, even in the most lawful conjunctions; and therefore his first work shall be, to countenance his own ordinance. Happy is that wedding, where Christ is a guest, () Saviour, those, that marry in thee, cannot marry without thee, There is no holy marriage, whereat thou art not (however invisible, yet) truly present by thy Spirit, by thy gracious benediction, Thou makest marriages in heaven ; thou blessest them from heaven. O thou, that hast betrothed us to thyself in truth and righteousness, do thou consummate that happy marriage of ours in the highest heavens.
It was no rich or sumptuous bridal, to which Christ, with his mother and disciples, vouchsafed to come, from the further parts of Galilee. I find him not at the magnificent feasts or triumphs of the great. The proud pomp of the world did not agree with the state of a servant.
This poor needy Bridegroom wants drink for his guests. The Blessed Virgin, though a stranger to the house, out of a charitable compassion and a friendly desire to maintain the decency of a hospitable entertainment, inquires into the wants of her host; pities them; bemoans them, where there was power of redress : When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said unto him, They have no wine. How well doth it beseem the eyes of piety and Christian love, to look into the necessities of others! She, that conceived the God of Mercies both in her heart and in her womb, doth not
There is truly bearing handit beter
fix her eyes upon her own trencher; but searcheth into the penury of a poor Israelite ; and feels those wants, whereof he complains not. They are made for themselves, whose thoughts are only taken up, with their own store or indigence..
There was wine enough for a meal, though not for a feast ; and if there were not wine enough, there was enough water: yet the Holy Virgin complains of the want of wine, and is troubled with the very lack of superfluity. The bounty of our God reaches not to our life only, but to our contentment: neither hath he thought good to allow us only the bread of sufficiency, but sometimes of pleasure. One while that is but necessary, which some other time were superfluous. It is a scrupulous injustice to scant ourselves, where God hath been liberal.
To whom should we complain of any want, but to the Maker and Giver of all things? The Blessed Virgin knew to whom she sued. She had good reason to know the Divine nature and power of her Son. Perhaps, the Bridegroom was not so needy, but, if not by his purse, yet by his credit, he might have supplied that want; or, it were hard if some of the neighbour-guests, had they been duly solicited, might not have furnished him with so much wine, as might suffice for the last service of a dinner. But Blessed Mary knew a nearer way: she did not think best to lade at the shallow channel, but runs rather to the well-head, where she may dip and fill the firkins at once with ease. It may be, she saw that the train of Christ, which unbidden followed unto that feast and unexpectedly added to the number of the guests, might help forward that defect, and therefore she justly solicits her son Jesus for a supply. Whether we want bread, or water, or wine, necessaries or comforts, whither should we run, O Saviour, but to that infinite munificence of thine, which neither denieth nor upbraideth any thing? We cannot want, we cannot abound, but from thee. Give us wht thou wilt, so thou give us contentment with what thou givest.
But what is this I hear? A sharp answer to the suit of a mother? O woman, what have I to do with thee? He, whose sweet inild. ness and mercy never sent away any suppliant discontented, doth he only frown upon her, that bare him? He, that commands us to honour father and mother, doth he disdain her, whose flesh he took ? God forbid. Love, and duty, doth not exempt parents from due admonition. She solicited Christ, as a mother; he answers her, as a woman. If she were the mother of his flesh, his deity was eternal. She might not so remember herself to be a mother, that she should forget she was a woman; nor so look upon bim as a son, that she should not regard him a God. He was so obedient to her as a mother, that withal she must obey him as her God. That part, which he took from her, shall observe her; she must observe that nature, which came from above, and made her both a woman and a mother. Matter of miracle concerned the Godhead only : supernatural things were above the sphere of fleshly relation. If now the Blessed Virgin will be prescribing either
E MARRIAGE IN CAN A whar have I do anything
THE MARRIAGE IN CANA.
249 time or form unto Divine acts, O woman, what have I do with thee? Nly hour is not come. In all bodily actions his stile was, o mother; in spiritual and heavenly, O woman. Neither is it for us, in the holy affairs of God, to know any faces ; yea, if we have known Christ heretofore according to the flesh, henceforth know we him so no more.
O Blessed Virgin, if, in that heavenly glory wherein thou art thou canst take notice of these earthly things, with what indignation dost thou look upon the presumptuous superstition of vain men, whose suits make thee more than a solicitor of divine favours! Thy humanity is not lost in thy motherhood, nor in thy glory. The respects of nature reach not so high as Heaven. It is far from thee, to abide that honour, which is stolen from thy Redeemer.
There is a marriage, whereto we are invited ; yea, wherein we are already interested, not as the guests only, but as the bride ; in which there shall be no want of the wine of gladness. It is marvel, if, in these earthly banquets, there be not some lack. In thy presence, O Saviour, there is fulness of joy; and at thy right hand, are pleasures for evermore, Blessed are they, that are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb.
Even in that rough answer, doth the Blessed Virgin descry cause of hope. If his hour were not yet come, it was therefore coming. When the expectation of the guests and the necessity of the occasion had made fit room for the miracle, it shall come forth and challenge their wonder. Faithfully therefore and observantly, doth she turn her speech from her Son to the waiters; Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. How well doth it beseem the mother of Christ, to agree with his Father in Heaven, whose voice from hea, ven said, This is my well-beloved Son, hear him! She, that said of herself, Be it unto me according to thy word, says unto others, Whatsoever he saith to you, do it. This is the way to have miracles wrought in us, obedience to his word. · The power of Christ did not stand upon their officiousness : he could have wrought wonders in spite of them ; but their perverse refusal of his commands might have made them uncapable of the favour of a miraculous action. He, that can, when he will, convince the obstinate, will not grace the disobedient. He, that could work without us, or against us, will not work for us, but by us.
This very poor house was furnished with many and large vessels for outward purification : as if sin had dwelt upon the skin, that superstitious people sought holiness in frequent washings. Even this rinsing fouled them, with the uncleanness of a traditional willworship. It is the soul, which needs scouring ; and nothing can wash that, but the blood, which they desperately wished upon themselves and their children, for guilt, not for expiation. Purge thou us, () Lord, with hyssop, and we shall be clean ; wash us, and we shall be whiter than snow.
The waiters could not but think strange of so unseasonable a command, Fill the water pots, “ It is wine, that we want : what