Sermon 702. Peter'S Three Calls
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus." John 1:37.
"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net intothe sea, for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
"And when He had called His twelve disciples... the first, Simon, who is called Peter."
Matthew 10:1, 2.
PERHAPS YOU are aware that there has always been a certain set of persons who have tried to disprove the Gospel narrativeby picking out what they suppose to be discrepancies, especially in the statements of Matthew and Luke. Four independent personshave each given us a separate story of the Lifeof Christ, each story being written with a distinct object. Of course, from the fact that each one was written with a distinctobject, it was natural that one Evangelist should give more attention to certain points in the history of Christ than theothers. And it was natural for hiseye to be fixed upon those things which most concerned the point which he had in hand, and for his ears to be most quickto catch those words which had a relation to the object he was driving at throughout the whole of his Gospel.
Now these divergences and differences have been so many pegs upon which quibblers have hung their quibbles and these men haveconstantly been saying, "How do you reconcile Matthew with John in a certain place." Or, "how do you reconcile Mark, in suchanother place, with Luke?" It is not always easyto harmonize the testimony of four perfectly honest witnesses upon the same subject! I will venture to say that if thereshould be a simple accident upon the railway, and four persons present were to give their accounts of it with rigid exactness,yet they would each one be likelyto mention some point not mentioned by the other, and, moreover, differ upon the points which they notice in common!
Although we might be morally convinced that they all spoke the truth, yet it would be difficult to put the story togetherso as to make a harmonious whole of it. Sometimes it is not easy to put the stories of the Evangelists together, and manyof the "Gospel Harmonies," so called, which have beenproduced by very admirable writers, are not quite correct-they show at once the difficulty attaching to that which someBrethren have been trying to attempt, and which perhaps will never be fully carried out-namely, the making of it into oneharmonious idyll.
It so happens, however, that the difficulty in the case before us is no difficulty at all! John tells us that Peter was calledby Christ through the preaching of John the Baptist, who bore witness that Jesus was Christ, the Messiah. Matthew, on theother hand, tells us that Peter and his brotherwere fishing, that Christ was walking by the lake of Galilee, and that as He passed by He saw these men fishing, calledthem by name, and said, "Follow me." Now, the key to the whole may be found in the fact that there was yet a third call, andthat afterwards Jesus called not Peterand Andrew alone, but the whole twelve of His disciples and set them apart to be Apostles.
And so we gather from this last call that the other two might perhaps have been different and distinct from each other. Comingto look at the subject we find that the first call was the call at Peter's conversion, which called him to be a disciple whilestill at his daily avocation. The second wasthe call of Peter, not to be a mere disciple, but to be an Evangelist. And the third was the call of Peter, not to be anEvangelist or a common servant of the Master, but to be a leader, to take a yet higher grade, and to become one of the Twelvewho should be associated with Christas the founders of the new system of religion, and witnesses of the life of Christ Himself.
I. I want you, then, just for a moment, to bear in mind that we have under our consideration THREE CALLS:
(1) The first is that which Christ gave to Peter when He called him out of darkness into marvelous light, blessing to himat first the testimony of John, and then by manifesting Himself to him.
(2) The second is the call by which the servant, already converted, already willing, is bid to put himself into closer relationshipwith his Lord-to come out and be no longer a servant whose allegiance is true but not manifest-but to show that fealty byfollowing his Master.
(3) And the third call is that which the Savior gives only to a few whom He has picked out and chosen to do some special work-whoshall have fellowship with Him more closely still, and become captains in the ranks of-
"The sacramental host of God's elect." We shall speak of these three calls in the order in which they occur. Very brieflyI shall go through the subject, speaking at length about the second call which Peter received.
1. Notice the personal call to be a disciple. These three calls are given in a certain order. Observe where it begins. Peterwas not called to be an Evangelist before he was called to be a follower. Christ begins by first teaching us our own needof Him, and our own sin, and then, revealing Himselfto us as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. It is a presumption-what if I say an accursed treason-againstthe Majesty of the great Head of the Church, if any man pretends to reverse this order!
You must first be called, yourselves, into Christ before you may dare to even so much as think about being called into theministry or into the service of Christ. You cannot serve Him until first of all you have learned to sit at His feet. Beforeyou can serve God you must have a new heart and aright spirit. The blind eye is not fit for the service of Christ. The eye must be illuminated. The understanding must beinstructed. That stubborn will of yours cannot bear the yoke of Christ-it must be subdued. "You must be born again."
Should there be some among you here tonight who are teaching in Sunday schools, distributing tracts, or in any other way aretrying to serve God, and yet are not, yourselves, saved, I would very affectionately, but with great earnestness, entreatyou to consider that you are reversing the naturaland proper order of things. Your first business is at home, in your own soul and your own heart!
I will not apply to you the words of the Prophet, "Unto the wicked, God said, What have you to do to declare My statutes?"But I think there is a spirit in those terrible words which might well have an application to you. How can you be a guideuntil you are first able, yourself, to see, for "ifthe blind lead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch." How can you, diseased and leprous, begin to heal others,for it shall be said to you, "Physician, heal yourself"? How can you, when the beam is in your own eye, go abroad to pointout the beams and the specks which arein other men's eyes?
Oh, take care, take care lest this very service to Christ, as you think it to be, is an injury to you-for you may serve Christafter a sort till you begin to think that you do so much, and do it so well, that you must be a Christian! You may spin foryourself a robe which shall seemsufficient to cover you, and you may go and dress in this cobweb, this mere figment of a fictitious righteousness, and persuadeyourself that you are wearing the robe of Christ's righteousness, whereas you shall be found at the last to he naked, andpoor, and miserable!
Oh, I pray you to understand those words, "Behold the Lamb of God." Behold Him for yourselves! See Him for yourselves! Donot talk about being a fisher of men-do not speak of being a servant whose loins are girt, and whose lamp is trimmed-untilfirst you have become as a little child.Unless you so become you cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
2. But, dear Friends, after the first call has been received, it is very delightful to observe the Christian receiving thesecond. He is called into active service. Simon Peter became a disciple, but all that he meant by that was, "I acknowledgeJesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah," and he wentaway and continued with his good brother in the fishing business! It never, perhaps, entered into his head that he was todo anything more than to cultivate a quiet peaceful faith, and walk in a life consistent with that faith.
But all of a sudden he sees this famous man of Nazareth walking by the seaside, who addresses him by name, and says to him,"Follow Me." And in a moment, putting down his net, and leaving his family, he left all to follow Christ with his two companionsJames and John, equally famous in thebattle-roll of Christian heroes. Now, I may have some here tonight who are saved. You are the disciples of Jesus, and Iregret to say that He has not yet been seen by you as calling you into His service.
You have joined the Church and you have been baptized into the faith of Christ, and so far it is good. But as yet it has notstruck you that you are to be actively engaged for Christ. Now, it is not in my power to call you to the service, nor to indicateto you what special form that service shalltake. But, my dear Friends, I do pray that you may have another revelation of the Lord Jesus yet more full and bright, andthat He may say to you, "Come, Man, you are not your own. You are bought with a price. Serve Me. Arise, gird up your loins,and wait upon the Lord." I trustthat He may lay His hand upon you tonight, and say to you as He did to the assembled twelve, "As My Father has sent Me intothe world, even so send I you."
And may you have Divine Grace to obey the mandate-and though it may be something which has been distasteful to you, some Christianengagement in which you have never been occupied before-may you have Grace to say, "Here am I, Lord, send me, whatever thebusiness may happen to be." Ah,what would a Church be if it consisted altogether of persons of this sort? What vigor should we have in the Christian armyif every soldier felt called to fight! But some of you do not realize your duty in this respect. I would that you would takea farther step. I would that thespirit of service fell upon you so that you did not merely wear the robe of righteousness but the mantle of service, too!
Oh, Brothers and Sisters, by the love which-
"Saw you ruined in the Fall, Yet loved you notwithstanding all," by the love which gave up its honor and its glory, and tookupon itself the form of a servant for your sakes-by the love which sweat great drops of blood in the garden, by the love whichemptied out its heart that you might beredeemed from ruin-I pray you, hear Jesus saying to you, "Follow Me"! And do follow Him-follow Him in active, industrious,persevering consecration.
And from this day forth, if you have up to now been but a sleeping partner in the great Christian firm. If you have been contentto ride upon the Gospel chariot instead of drawing it or adding an impulse to its wheels, may you say, "My Lord, fill me withthe zeal which possessed You. Kindle in methe same spirit of service which burned so brightly in Yourself. And as You did call Peter, and Andrew, and James, and John,so call me, and say, "Follow Me."
You notice, then, that this second call follows the first call, and it is a blessed thing when it does thus succeed and isobeyed.
3. But in the third text which I gave you, you find Peter called to another service above that of an ordinary worker, thatis to say, he is called to be an Apostle. I will venture here to trace an analogy between this and the calling of the Christianminister. You will observe that this call comeslast. The call to the Apostleship does not come first. Peter is first the catechumen or disciple, secondly the Evangelistand thirdly the Apostle. So, no man is called to be specially set apart to the ministry of Christ, or to have a share in theApostleship until he has first ofall, himself, known Christ, and until, secondly, as an ordinary Christian he has fully exercised himself in all the dutieswhich are proper to Christian service.
Now, some people turn this topsy-turvy. Young men who have never preached are set apart to the ministry. Those who have nevervisited the sick, never instructed the ignorant, and are totally devoid of any knowledge of Gospel experience except the littleof their own, are supposed to be dedicated tothe Christian ministry. I believe this to be a radical and a fatal error. Brothers and Sisters, we have no right to thrusta Brother into the ministry until he has first given evidence of his own conversion, and has also given proof not only ofbeing a good average worker butsomething more.
If he cannot labor in the Church, before he pretends to be a minister, he is good for nothing. If he cannot, while he is aprivate member of the Church, perform all the duties of that position with zeal and energy, and if he is not evidently a consecratedman while he is a private Christian,certainly you do not feel the guidance of God's Holy Spirit to bid him enter the ministry! No man has a right to aspireto come into that office until, like the knights of old, he has first won his spurs and has shown that he is really devotedto Christ by having served Him asothers have done.
Let me say that it would be a very great mercy for this Christian Church if some persons would not take this last place atall, but would be content to stop in the second one. There are many men who, when set apart to the Christian ministry, area drag and burden to the churches as well as to otherpeople. If they had but given up themselves as ordinary members to Christian service they might have been a very great blessingand honor to the Church. One of the kindest pieces of advice I could give to some of our ministerial friends would be, "Gohome, Brother. Take off yourblack coat and your white tie, and put yourself into some honest way of getting a living. Just think about whether you werenot more serviceable to the Church when you were a carpenter or a tradesman-when you were earning a considerable sum of moneyat your own ordinaryavocation-than you are now, when you are necessarily dependent upon the gifts and liberality of God's servants without havingthe ability and the talent which are necessary to make you a leader in the Lord's host."
I pray the day may come when we shall all see this, and never think of giving ourselves to the ministry before conversion,and even then aspire not after special work until first of all we have proved that we can serve the Lord in our ordinary life.Occasionally I have Brothers come to me asking tobe received into our College, and one singular reason which some of them give me why they believe that they are called tothe ministry is this: "You see, Sir, I could not get on at anything else, and therefore I thought Providence must have ordainedme to be a minister."
I never say a word about that, but I am very clear that if a man is such a fool that he can do nothing else but preach, itis a great pity that he should be allowed to do that! And when a Brother tells me that, I sometimes venture to ask him ifhe thinks that God wants only the biggest fools toserve Him. I question him as to whether there should not be given up to God's service the very pick, and prime, and flowerof the Christian Church-those men who, if they had addicted themselves to commerce, might have taken the lead-or who, if theyhad given themselvesto the bar or to the profession of surgery or medicine, would have stood in the front rank?
I believe, Brothers and Sisters, we need strong men to take such a position, and that the Lord Jesus Christ has a keen eye,and when He does call a man He calls him to something that he is fit for. Take the cases of Peter and Paul. Peter was a fisherman,it is true, but a fisherman of such apeculiar breed that it would be well if God would find us more of the same sort who would become fishers of men! And asfor Paul, he was one well-skilled and learned in all matters, and just fitted and adapted to the work which the Master gavehim to do.
II. I have thus noticed these three calls. And I want now to direct your earnest and particular attention to the second call,because of the lessons to be learned from the CHARACTER OF THE MEN CHOSEN, AND THE NATURE OF THE WORK entrusted to them.
The second call is recorded in the fourth chapter of Matthew and the eighteenth verse, and it deserves our attention becausewe perceive that these Brothers were called to the service of Christ while they were engaged in their ordinary avocations.It seems to have been early in the morning, forPeter was just starting on his work, and was casting his net into the sea. And in the twenty-first verse we find that Jamesand John were mending their nets, so that they were all industrious in their ordinary calling.
There is a notion abroad among some persons that they cannot serve God unless they neglect their ordinary work. This usedto be a complaint brought against the Methodists in the olden time. I believe it was a great falsehood, but it was statedthat they were so earnest in listening to sermons thatthey made bad servants and bad trades people. If it were so it was a very grievous fault, but I do not think it ever wasthe case. However, let none of us fall into it. If I were a Christian and a fisherman, I should like to catch more fish thananybody else. If I were a Christianand a shoe-black, I should desire to clean people's boots so that they shone better than any other shoe-black could makethem shine. If I were a Christian master, I should desire to be the best master, and if a Christian servant the best servant.
Our Christianity, I think, shows itself more, at any rate to the world, in the pursuits of daily life, than it does in theengagements of the House of God. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is." I scarcelyneed give that exhortation here, but when you doassemble yourselves together, come not up to God's House having the blood of other duties upon your spirits.
You are a mother with little children, and it is probably your duty to be at home rather than to be at the Prayer Meeting.It may sometimes be your business, as a husband, to take turns with your wife and let her come out to the House of God, insteadof always taking the privilege yourself. It maybe the case with some of you that your trade may absolutely require you to be behind the counter both on lecture and onPrayer Meeting night, and though I would have you here if possible, and if you do go anywhere, go to the House of God, yetdo not let it ever be said, or evenwhispered that you did not attend to your business, and that you came to grief because the things of God were cared for,and your business, in consequence, neglected!
I think it never should be so. I like to remember that after Jesus Christ had gone away-after He was crucified, died, hadbeen buried and had risen again-where did He find Peter? Why, He found him fishing again! That is right, Peter. Follow Christby all manner of means when He bidsyou, but when there is nothing to do in the service of Christ, come back to fishing again. Oh, but some people seem to thinkthat hard work in attending to ordinary business is not spiritual-minded in a Christian. Nonsense! Out with that difficulty,if any of you are troubled by it.Just ask the Lord to clear your brains and brush away such cobwebs as these, for we shall never have genuine Christianityin the world while such nonsense remains-nonsense about giving up the world-meaning thereby living in laziness!
The truest Christian is the working man who so labors for God that he does not neglect the common duties of life. The bestform of Christianity is found in the Christian who is a Christian behind the counter, a Christian in the street, a Christianin the marketplace, a Christian anywhere-andwho, wherever and whenever he may be found, is like his Master-"diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
I think no man will ever serve Christ aright who does not show some energy in other things. I think the Savior chose thesetwo men, not only out of Sovereign Grace unto salvation, but also because He saw about them a zeal in the pursuit of fisherywhich seemed to mark them out as being the very mento be made useful in His own cause. Notice the character of the men who were thus called to work for Christ! They were active,diligent men, engaged in their own calling. Notice what their occupation was. When Christ called them He said, "You are fishers,and you shall be fishersall your lives. But now you are fishers of fish, and I want you to be fishers of men."
He mentions their vocation, and the work He is going to give them. O my Brothers and Sisters, if you are saved I pray thatJesus may give you that second call, so that you may be earnest "fishers of men"! There is a great deal in that sentence,"fishers of men," a very great deal more than we canbring out now. A fisherman, you know, must be acquainted with the sea. Peter knew the Lake of Galilee. I dare say therewas not a creek or an inlet in it with which he was not acquainted. He knew the deep places where some kinds of fish wereto be found, and the shallow places whereothers could be caught.
And so if you would serve Christ you must know a good deal about men. You must study human nature and you must watch youropportunities of doing good. You know there are some places where you can meet with more sinners than in others, and thereis a certain way of dealing with one disposition andquite another way of dealing with another. If you are to be a "fisher of men," you must take good stock of the neighborhoodwhere you live. If you would be a "fisher of men" in the Tabernacle, I hope you will know the people near whom you sit, foras you know them, and theirpursuits in daily life, and their characters and dispositions, you will be more likely to be blessed, by the help of God'sSpirit, in bringing them to a knowledge of the Truth of God.
A fisherman must be acquainted with the locality where he has to work. A fisherman must also know how to allure the fish.I saw on Lake Como, when we visited Bellagio, some men fishing. They had torches burning in their boats, and the fish wereattracted to them by the glare of the light. You mustknow how to get the fish together. You know there is such a thing as the bait for the fishes. You must know how to alluremen. The preacher does this by using images, symbols, and illustrations.
You must know how to catch the fish, throwing out first, perhaps, not a remark directly to the point, because that might beunwise, but a side remark, which shall lead to another, and yet another. If you are to be a "fisher of men" you will needyour wits about you. It will not do to blunder overmen's souls. Fish are not caught by every boy who chooses to take a pin and a piece of cotton and make his way to the pond.Fish need a fisherman, and there is a sort of congruity between the fish and the man who catches them.
I do not wonder that Isaac Walton could catch fish. He seems to have been born and made on purpose for it, and so there aresome men who are made on purpose for winning souls. They naturally care for their fellows, and they have such a way of puttingthe Truth of God that as soon as they speak mensay, "Here is a man come who knows all about me, and knows how to deal with me," and they at once yield to his influence.Oh that I had hundreds of such in this Church! I have a good share of them, and I bless God every time I remember them. Godhas called them, and has made themtrue fishers of men-they know about men, and also how to allure them.
The fisherman must be a man who can wait with patience. Oh the patience of a fisherman! "We have toiled all night," said thedisciples, "and have taken nothing." You cannot be a fisherman unless you are willing to sit and watch, especially if youangle. There you may sit for hours and hourstogether, and at last, when the float begins to move, you think you have got your fish, but probably it is only a weed ora frog. And you may watch, and watch, and watch again, and nothing will come of it.
Ah, but it is harder work, still, to wait in Christ's service, to preach twenty times and have no conversions, perhaps togo on teaching in a Sunday school and to see no heart-breaking work done, no sinners crying "What must I do to be saved?"You have to go to your knees and say, "Who has believedour report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" You will need something within to help you to wait thus-you willneed the Holy Spirit of Grace Himself dwelling in you to supply you with Divine patience, or else you will throw up your work,give away your nets, andsay, "I will do something that pays me better than this!"
A fisherman, too, is one who must be able to take risks. Especially was this so on the Lake of Galilee, for that, like manyother lakes, was subject to fierce storms. The winds sometimes came rushing down from the mountains, and before the fishermancould take in his sail his boat would be upset.And truly every worker for Christ must expect squalls and stormy weather. Do not think, dear Friends, to serve Jesus Christin those kid gloves and in that nice dainty style of yours! That is not the way in which fish are caught out at sea! It isrough work and requires a man whocan let the wind howl about him without being afraid of his fine curls, or of having the perfume taken out of them.
It needs a man that has a bold face and a brave heart, and who, when the storm comes, looks up to the God of Storms and feelsthat he is on his Master's service and may therefore count upon his Master's protection. May the Lord call many members ofthis Church to such work as this, and when theMaster shall drag home our net full of big fishes, we shall have a rich reward for all the toils of Christian labor!
The fisherman, once again, must be one who has learned both how to persevere and how to expect. The fisherman goes on, andon, and on, and fishes, not sometimes but continually. As Christ's good sower must take the precept, "In the morning sow yourseed, and in the evening withhold not your hand,"so also must His fisherman. "We have toiled all night and taken nothing, nevertheless, at Your command we will let downthe net." But I said he must also learn to expect. He must have twinkling in his soul, like a bright particular star, thehope that he shall drag his net to landfull of fishes at the last!
Beloved, we shall not labor in vain. We shall not spend our strength for nothing. We may not live to see the result of theTruth which we proclaim, but-
"The precious seed shall never be lost, For Grace ensures the crop."
We must learn to believe in the indestructibility of every truthful testimony, in the immortality of every good deed, in theresurrection of every buried word to live in the sight of God. We must-
"Learn to labor and to wait."
There are three words which have been running in my mind for the last few days, and have seemed to work themselves into me,and I hope I may long keep them. One word is Work, another is Wait, and the other is Pray. Work, work, work! Wait, wait, wait!Pray, pray, pray!
I think that these three words will enable a man to be, under God, a true and successful fisher of men. I have thus describedthe sort of men who were called, and the work which Christ gave them to do over and above the work in which they were engaged.I now want you to notice the prompt obedienceof Peter to this call. I wonder how it was that Peter came directly. Christ said, "Follow Me." We know that Peter was adisciple, and consequently, his heart was ready to receive the word which called him to be a servant. It is of no use forme to call some of you to follow Christ,and work for him as "fishers of men"-for if you were to obey, you could not do it acceptably-because you are not the childrenof God.
But you who are saved have something in your hearts that will echo to the exhortation, "Follow me," so that I think you needonly to have a good work set fairly before you, and to know what it is that the Master requires of you, and you will say atonce, "Lord, I will do it," for-
"'Tis love that makes our cheerful feet In swift obedience move."
When the heart loves Christ, then the path of duty, which before was rough and rugged, becomes straight and smooth, if notflowery, and the soul says-
"Help me to run in Your commands, 'Tis a delightful road. Nor let my heart, nor feet, nor hands, Offend against my God."
Beloved Friend, very much of the excellence of our service to Christ will depend upon the instantaneous way in which we doit when we know it to be a duty. I believe that debating with oneself about duty is a very dangerous thing. David said, "Imade haste, and delayed not to keep YourCommandments." Peter did not say, "Lord, let me stop and dry these nets, and hang them up, and bring the boat to shore,and then cast anchor and leave it right." Nor did James and John say, "Master, let us go home and kiss that dear mother ofours, and let us see that Zebedee hassomebody to take our place." No, immediately they left their nets and followed Christ.
May I urge upon you the habit of falling into the line of duty instantly. When soldiers are being drilled I like to see theway in which the word of command is obeyed the instant it is given. "Right about face!" and the whole line turns right aboutat once. The thing is done, we say, mechanically.It should be so with us. But I know how it is-we get a right good thought of something we ought to do, but we stop and say-"Now,shall I do it, and when shall I do it?" And for the first hour or two we mean to do it, but by the next day we think it possiblethat we willdecline it, and perhaps when a week is over we give it up altogether.
I believe that this is so with many, many Christians in the matter of Believers' Baptism. To give one instance out of many,they say, "Well, I used to think of it when I was young, and I then believed it was my duty, and I guess I think it is myduty now if I really came to consult the Word of Godabout it. But I have put it off so long-well, perhaps I may see to it one of these days." While there is another and farmore likely "perhaps," namely, that having procrastinated so long over that one duty, they will suffer it to go by default.Do not toy with Christianservice, Brethren! There would have been more earnest Whitfields in the world, more Wesleys, more devoted Brainerds andMartyns, if men obeyed the call of God instead of taking counsel of flesh and blood and considering this, that, and the other,and then resolving not to obey.
Remember, it is possible for us to have Divine Grace in the heart, and yet to be disobedient. We have many such mournful specimens.We cannot but hope that they will enter Heaven, for they are washed in the precious blood, and clothed in the Savior's righteousness.But they do little, if anything,for Christ because they have tampered with His calls, they have violated convictions, and have started back from dutiesin the exercise of their unbelief, instead of pressing forward in the glory and the majesty of a simple faith in Christ Jesus.If you feel that you have anythingto do, do it immediately!
If God calls you to preach before you go home, do it in the street! And if there is anything which claims your immediate attention-ifthere is a poor person you ought to relieve, if there is anyone to whom you ought to speak before leaving this place-I beseechyou do not trifle with theconviction! As faithful servants of Jesus Christ, being saved, and professing to love Him, I pray you, at once, to do whateveryou feel you ought to do for Him. I have heard of the question being asked in a school, what was the meaning of the text,"Your will be done on earth as itis in Heaven." One said, it meant that it should be done truthfully. And another, that it should be done unanimously. Buta third said, it meant that it should be done without asking any questions. That answer was a good one, for we who know andlove Christ should be willing to doHis will without asking any questions.
I must not, however, keep you much longer. I will notice, lastly, that when the call came to Peter in the shape of "FollowMe," it must have suggested to him many thoughts-for it contained, in addition to mere service-privilege as well as duty.There was a book written not many yearsago by an excellent Divine, to which I cannot quite subscribe. I mean Dr. Bushnell's "Higher Life." I cannot subscribe toall that is in it, but I believe that there is a period in the life of some Christians when they rise to a platform elevatedabove ordinary Christianity, almostas much as ordinary Christianity is elevated above the world.
I think that in addition to the first call by which we are brought out of nature's darkness into God's marvelous light, theredoes come to the Christian, when the Spirit of God works mightily with him, another call by which he is brought into greaterfamiliarity with the Lord Jesus, taught more ofconformity to Him in His sufferings, and made to be more fully a partaker of the height, and depth, and breadth, and lengthof that love which passes all understanding. Such a call seems to me to be imaged in this call of Peter.
Have you been living, my dear Sister, at a distance from Christ? Have you been obliged to sing the hymn-
Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought- Do I love the Lord, or no? Am IHis, or am Inot?'"
I do pray for you, as one of the greatest privileges I could ask God for on your behalf, that Christ may come to you afreshnow and be formed in your heart anew, the Hope of Glory, in such a way that you may follow Him into close practical fellowshipand earnest, unstaggering faith. Believe me, itis life to believe in Christ, however little-but it is life in health and vigor to believe in Christ with a faith that doesnot flinch!
To have Christ and not to see Him is salvation, but to have Him and to see Him is salvation rapturously enjoyed! To be savedand not to know it is a small privilege, but to be saved and to know it, no, to know Him who is the Resurrection and the Life-tosit with Him, and sup with Him, and tofeel that His shadow yields a great delight, and that His fruit is sweet unto one's taste-this is a way of living whichangels might almost envy the favored men who possess it! May the Master call you in that sense now! Pray that prayer whichWatts has put into rhyme-
"Draw me away from flesh and sense, One sovereign word shall draw me thence; I would obey the voice Divine, And all inferior joys resign."
May you get a call from the Master, "Follow Me unto the Mount of Transfiguration to see My Glory, and share in it, and abidewith Me in sacred, rapt, secret fellowship which the world knows nothing of."
But this was not merely a call to fellowship, but to practical fellowship. It seemed to say, "Peter, put down your net, andtake up the cross. I am to be despised, come and be despised with Me. I am going outside the camp, I shall be scorned, andcast out from society. Come, Peter, come outside thecamp with Me." Oh may Christ give you such a call as that! You are saved, but still, to a great extent you are in the world.Oh that you might have a separating call-"Come you out from among them; be you separate; touch not the unclean thing."
May you feel now as if you had got a new life over and above the life you have already! May you have fresh blood poured intothe veins of your piety that you might rise to something better! Come out and confess your Master! Confess Him by nonconformityto the world in all respects.
To conclude. When Christ said, "Follow Me," did He not mean that Peter was to follow Him in everything and in all things?May the Master call you and me to follow Him in that consecration to His Father's will which made Him say, "My meat and Mydrink is to do the will of Him that sent Me." Oh,there are so many of you professors whose meat and drink are found in trade, or the making of money, or the reading of books,or the study of this and of that. May He call you to make Himself the first thing! To make His honor your grand object, andto make His Church your truemistress, the lady of your heart reigning in your spirit!
Oh, to be wholly given up to Christ! To be a sacrifice upon the altar, smoking, burning, utterly consumed-a living sacrificewhich is your most reasonable service. No, you need not shut up your shop! Oh no, but you will go and make money for Christ,and give it to His cause. No, you need notgive up your daily labor, but you will be a priest unto God even while you are wearing the garments of your trade. No, youmust not dare to think of such a thing as withdrawing from your present position and your little ones round about you! Youmust stay where you are and glorifyChrist there. Feeling now that you have been called to the work of God, that service is to be done just where you are-youare not to be stargazing and looking aloft for some great thing, but to stand and do a day's work in a day in the sphere whereProvidence has called you,and where Divine Grace has blessed you.
Now, you see, I have put all this on the right footing. I have told none of you to serve Christ till you are saved. But whenyou are saved, I hope and pray that you and I may see Christ calling on us to be "fishers of men." May the Lord call somewho have never been called at all. May it come topass that this very evening some may look to the Lamb of God, dying, bleeding, and suffering. Sinner, He is the Sin-Bearer.He came to seek and to save that which was lost! That face was marred with sorrow, and there must you find your hope. Lookto Him!
That bleeding Man is also the immortal God! Trust Him and you are saved! That one act of trust is the means of eternal salvationto everyone that exercises it. Then, being saved, may Christ call you, fishermen or whatever you may be, to serve Him untilHe comes to take you unto Himself-
"Teach me, my God and King, In all things You to see, And what I do in anything, To do it as for You! All may of You partake- Nothing so small can be, But draws when acted for Your sake, Greatness and worth from You. If done beneath Your laws, Even servile labors shine! Hallowed is toil, if this the cause, The meanest work Divine."