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a great multitude, uncounted; in the second, one hundred and fifty and three, carefully counted, in spite of the delay thus caused, and all of them great fishes. This difference points not obscurely to the fact that the church visible is composed of a mixed multitude; whilst the church invisible is composed only of that counted number that shall be found in the Lamb's book of life, all of them chosen vessels, counted jewels, sheep known by name to the great Shepherd. Whether the number one hundred and fifty-three has a special significance, may be questioned. Jerome states that it was the precise number of species of fish then known to the ancients, quoting an ancient authority to that effect, and suggests that it was thus intimated that all classes should be found in the number of the saved, and that from every kindred, and tongue, and people, should at last be gathered ransomed souls, by the blood of Christ, and the toils of the church. However this may be, it is obvious that the uncounted mass of the first draught fitly represents the mixed, multitude that compose the church visible, whilst the carefully counted and recorded number of the second suggest the chosen seed, the hundred and forty and four thousand that shall stand beside the Lamb on Mount Zion.
Here then we reach the meaning of the fire and food on the shore. They do not appear in the first miracle, because the church in the period there represented had not reached her rest. But at the time exhibited in the second she shall be welcomed to that blessed festival—that marriage supper of the Lamb, where there shall sit down in the heavenly kingdom, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with the great company that no man can number. This glorious banquet of heavenly bliss was fitly shadowed forth by the fire of coals, and fish thereon, and bread, that welcomed the weary apostles in the chilly morning that succeeded their night of toil. But why bring of the fish they had caught, to add to this prepared provision? Why, but to shadow forth the great fact that the works of earth shall constitute a part of the joys of heaven. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for their works shall follow them." Heaven is the gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, but the grade and grandeur of that gift will depend on the fidelity with which we toil at the oar and the net in life. The great truth thus presented by the adding of the fish in the net to those on the shore is, that we must carry a part of our heaven with us from earth. It must begin here, or it will not be enjoyed there. Hence the absurdity of hoping that we may live as we please in this life, and yet be allowed to enter at death upon the enjoyments of the life to come. We must carry some part of the heavenly banquet with us. The memories of our efforts to serve God, the words and deeds of love on earth, the souls that have been given us as stars in our crown of rejoicing— all these will constitute a large part of the enjoyments of heaven. When we think how rich must be the rewards that greet such men as Martyn, Whitefield, Payson, and others, who have turned many souls to righteousness, in tracing the results of their labours on earth, in meeting the hundreds that have been brought by their agency to the cross, we can see how fitly this fact was exhibited, by the significant addition that was made to the morning meal on the shore of Galilee.
Hence to the toiling and struggling church, this scene is full of beautiful instruction. She is toiling now in the midst of the sea, and the night is dark on the waters. Much of her toil seems fruitless and thankless, and but few come to her solemn feasts. These unsuccessful efforts are often thrown in her teeth with a taunt, as if they were a mark of her imbecility. We would turn from these words of bitter reproach, and listen to those sweet accents that come through the dim haze that hangs over the waters: "Children, have ye any meat?" and steering by that voice we would press on with the assurance that soon the long night will be gone, and the morning begin to light up the hills, and then shall this weary toil be forgotten, as we are welcomed to the glorious repast that is waiting for us on the shore.
To the individual Christian it also gives most cheering comfort. We too are often toiling all night, and taking nothing. We are ready to despair, because of our want of success. But let us patiently toil on, for there is near us, unseen, one who will give us aid at the right time. Soon the day shall dawn, and the shadows flee away, and on that dim line of sea and shore, where there meet and touch, a tossing time, and an unmoving eternity, we shall find one awaiting us, who has said, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee." We know not how we shall meet this last hour, whether like Peter buffeting the waves, or like John and the others gently drawn to the shore; but this we know, that if we are in the ship, we shall find, as soon as we land, a joyous greeting, and a feast prepared, of which that cheerful fire and welcome meal on the lonely shore of Galilee, was a significant foreshadowing. Earth will scarce have faded from the dying eye, before heaven, with its undying splendors, shall welcome the weary voyager to its quiet rest. Oh I what a contrast to those who refuse to enter the ark, who also shall be cast on this silent shore of eternity, but not to meet a fire of coals and food thereon, but a fire that shall never be quenched, a lake whose wild tossings of wrath shall continue for ever!
THE SEVENTH APPEARANCE—LOVEST THOU ME?
Peter reinvested with the apostolic office—The fire of coals. I. The Question/. (1) The name by which Peter was addressed. (2) The two words for love. (3) The contrast with the other disciples. (4) The gradnal relenting of Jesus to Peter. II. The charge). feeding and governing the flock—No primacy of Peter here—The girding of old age. III. Lessons from this scene. (1) The essence of the Christian life is love to Christ. (2) The test of love is obedience—The German pastor and the picture. (3) Love to Christ is made perfect through suffering—The girdings and carryings of the Christian—Not loving Christ—Maranatha.
"Do not I love thee, dearest Lord?
Behold my heart and see;
That dares to rival thee.
"Is not thy name melodious still
To my attentive ear?
My Saviour's voice to hear?
"Hast thou a lamb in all thy flock
I would disdain to feed?
I fear thy cause to plead?
"Thou knowest I love thee, dearest Lord,
But oh! I long to soar Far from the sphere of mortal joys, And learn to love thee more." "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea,