And when they had brought their boats ashore, they left everything and followed Him.
I. THE WAY IN WHICH GOD NOW MANIFESTS HIMSELF TO THE WORLD. That way is threefold.
1. Nature and providence. The heavens declare his glory, and so does this wonderful and beautiful and fruitful earth. Not less so do the souls and the lives of men, created with all their faculties, preserved and enriched with all their joys and blessings. "The invisible things of him... are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." But more than this was proved to be needed by the sad, dark history of man kind. Hence we have:
2. Special revelation. "At sundry times and in divers manners God spake unto our fathers" by Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, etc.; but at a later time he spake unto us by his Son - by his life, his truth, his sorrow, his death, his resurrection. But this did not suffice. Divine love appeared, and human hatred slew it. Divine truth spake, and human error determinately rejected it. So God gives us what we need.
3. The direct influences of his Holy Spirit, to arouse, to quicken, to enlighten, to renew us.
II. THE FIRST EFFECT UPON THE SOUL OF THIS VISION OF GOD. What usually happens is that the soul is smitten with a sense of its sinfulness, and desires to withdraw from the Divine presence. At this we need not wonder. If conscious ignorance shrinks from great learning, poverty from great wealth, obscurity from high rank, human guilt from human purity, well may the consciously sinful soul of man shrink from the near presence of the thrice-holy God. As Adam and Eve hid themselves when they "heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden;" as Isaiah exclaimed, "Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips," when he "saw the Lord" in the temple; - so do we shrink from the felt presence of the Lord in view of our own unworthiness and guilt. Remembering our spiritual estrangement, our great undischarged indebtedness to God, our impurity of heart in his sight, our manifold transgressions of his righteous law, - our souls tremble before him; and if we do not say, "Depart from me, O Lord!" as Peter did, yet our first thought is to escape from his felt presence, to put some distance, in thought and feeling, between ourselves and that Holy and Mighty One in whose power we stand so absolutely, and whose Spirit we have grieved so greatly.
III. THE INTERPOSITION OF OUR SAVIOUR. The sacred record does not state what immediately ensued, but our instructed imagination will very readily supply the remainder of the incident. We are quite sure that our gracious Master, instead of acting on Peter's word, and leaving him, drew nearer to him, and "took him by the hand," and so reassured him. Thus does he treat us now. Instead of withdrawing from us when we know and feel our guilt, he comes nearer to us. Instead of saying to us, "Depart from me!" he says, earnestly and emphatically, "Come unto me!" He says to us, "If, in my teaching and in my life and in my death, there is (as there is) the strongest possible condemnation of sin, so is there also in all these things, in my words and my actions and my cross, the greatest possible hope for the sinner. Come unto me; see in me the Propitiation for your sin, the Way back unto the Father the Divine Friend and Helper of the sorrowing and struggling human soul. Do not leave me; come to me, and abide in me!" - C.
And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him.I. WITH REGARD TO THOSE POINTS IN WHICH THE EXAMPLE OF THE APOSTLES AT THEIR CALL IS NOT TO BE UNIVERSALLY IMITATED, I would remark at once a wide difference betwixt their case and that of the generality of Christians, which is, that they were entering the ministerial office. Those whom they might convert, either from the errors of Judaism or the blindness of idolatry, might possibly become equally acceptable Christians in the sight of their Divine leader; but there would still remain a line of separation betwixt the two classes, and to each class peculiar duties were annexed. And besides this distinction which we have just noticed, there is another consideration which invests the situation of the apostles in a still more peculiar light. They were going to live day and night, and in constant companionship with one who, having "all power given Him both in heaven and earth," could, at any moment, supply their wants, whatever those wants might be: and in attending upon whom, therefore, they would be miraculously defended from all those evils which would infallibly overtake any one who now attempted literally to do as they were ordered. And in speculating upon our Saviour's purpose in this particular miracle, though the idea may not hitherto have occurred to you, it certainly does seem probable that He meant it to have this convincing effect; for that men, earning their precarious livelihood as mere fishermen on the Lake of Tiberias, probably dependent for their next day's meal on the fortune which attended their over-night's fishing, would naturally feel their trust much strengthened in our Saviour's character after such an exhibition of His miraculous power to help them, there cannot be a doubt. Christ foresaw, indeed, though as yet hidden from the apostles' eyes, that dreadful cloud of persecution which was gathering on every side of them, which in a very short while burst in its first fury upon Calvary, and soon after took off each one of our Lord's immediate followers by the refined agonies of some cruel death. And having this foreknowledge of what would and must come, Christ took only for the attendants of His mission such as would be undisturbed from their purpose of final perseverance and endurance: such in fact only as, having previously resigned all affections for this world, would be able and willing to quit life at any moment through the martyr's blood-stained gate. But, my brethren, there are some points in which the example of the apostles must be imitated, if we would be Christians. In the first place, we must imitate the apostles in their readiness to resign all earthly things when put in competition with those of heaven. Secondly, we must imitate them in their liveliness of conscience, to distinguish the value betwixt the body and the soul. Thirdly, we must imitate their perseverance and final triumph, through faith, over the temptations of life and the terrors of death.
(A. Garry, M. A.)
1. We are to feel habitually that we have nothing of our own. All idea of proprietary rights we are to relinquish.
2. And when the selfish counter pleas that oppose the claims of the rightful Master solicit my consent, I must hear only the one Divine call that bids me forsake all I have in devotion to this new Master.
3. And this renunciation of all must be made in the conviction that there is no use we can possibly make of ourselves and of what we have that can be so sweet, so wise, and so fruitful of good and of blessing, as to lay the whole down at Jesus' feet.
( A. L. Stone, D. D.)1 Timothy 2:9). She looked again and again at her handsome necklace, and then, with an air of modest decision, she took it off, saying, "I love Christ more than this."
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