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not particularly bidden to cast the net to the right hand or to the left; for, had he said to the right, it would have implied that none should be taken but the good,—if to the left, that only the bad; while yet in the present mixed condition of the Church, both bad and good are inclosed in the nets; but now he says “Cast the net on the right side of the ship," implying that now all who should be taken should be good.* Then the nets were broken with the multitude of fishes, so that all were not secured which once were within them;—and what are the schisms and divisions of the present condition of the Church, but rents and holes through which numbers, that impatiently bear to be restrained in the net, break away from it? but now, in the end of time, "for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.” Then the fish were brought into the ship, which yet was itself still on the unquiet sea, even as it is thus that men in the present time who are taken for Christ, are brought into the Church, still itself exposed to the world's tempests: but now the nets are drawn up to land, to the safe and quiet shore of eternity.t Then the ships were well nigh sunken with their burden, for so is it with the ship of the Church-encumbered with evil livers till it well nigh makes shipwreck altogether: but nothing of a like kind is mentioned here. There it is merely mentioned that a great multitude
renter, Laxate, inquit, retia vestra in capturam, ut permixtos intelligamus bonos et malos: hic autem inquit, Mittite in dextram navigii rete, ut significaret eos qui stabant ad dexteram, solos bonos. Ibi rete propter significanda schismata rumpebatur: hîc verò, quoniam tunc jam in illâ summâ pace sanctorum nulla erunt schismata, pertinuit ad Evangelistam dicere, Et cùm tanti essent, id est, tam magni, non est scissum rete; tanquam illud respiceret ubi scissum est, et in illius mali comparatione commendaret hoc bonum. Cf. Serm. 248–252 ; and also the Brev. Coll. con Donat., 1.3; Quæst. 83, qu. 8; and Gregory the Great, (Hom. in Evang. 24,) who altogether follows the exposition of Augustine, making indeed far more of Peter's part, especially of his bringing of the net to land, which is easily to be accounted for, the idea of the Papacy having in his time developed itself further.
* This, because the right hand is ever the hand of value; thus, the sheep are placed at the right hand. (Matt. xxv. 33.) Even the right eye, if needs is, shall be plucked out,—the right hand cut off. (Matt. v. 29, 30.) Again, it is threatened that even the right eye of the idol shepherd, the eye of spiritual understanding, shall be utterly darkened. (Zech, xi. 17.) Ezekiel lies on his left side for Israel, but on his right for Judah, (Ezek. iv. 4, 6 ;) and this because Judah with all its sins was not yet an apostate Church. (Hos. xi. 12.) Cf. Gen xlviii. 17; 1 Kin. ii. 19; Acts vii. 55.
7 Augustine (Serm. 251, c. 3): In illâ piscatione non ad littus adtracta sunt retia : sed ipsi pisces qui capti sunt, in naviculas fusi sunt. Hic autem traxerunt ad littus. Spera finem seculi. Grotius has a glimpse of the same thought, when upon the words, "Jesus stood on the shore,” (ver. 4,) he adds: Significans se per Resurrectionem jam esse in vado, ipsos in salo versari. Cf. Gregory the Great, Hom. 24 in Evang.
| Augustine (Serm. 249): Implentur navigia duo propter populos duos de circum
were inclosed, but here a definite number, even as the number of the elect is fixed and pre-ordained ;* and there, no doubt, small and great fishes, for nothing to the contrary is said; but here they are all“ great,” for so shall they all be that belong to that kingdom, being equal to the angels.
That which follows is obscure, and without the key which the symbolical explanation supplies, would be obscurer yet. What is the meaning of this meal which they found ready prepared for thein on the shore, with the Lord's invitation that they should come and share it? It could not be needful for him with his risen body, and as little for them, whose dwellings were near at hand. But we must continue to see an undermeaning, and a rich and deep one, in all this. As that large capture of fish was to them the pledge and promise of a labor that should not be in vain, I so the meal, when the labor was done, a meal of the Lord's own preparing, and upon the shore, was the symbol of the great festival in heaven with which, after their earthly toil was over, he would refresh his servants, when he should cause them to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom. And as they were bidden to bring
cisione et præputio: et sic implentur, ut premantur et pæne mergantur. Hoc quod significat gemendum est. Turba turbavit Ecclesiam. Quàm magnum numerum fecerunt malè viventes, prementes et gementes (pænè mergentes ?]. Sed propter pisces bonos non sunt mersa navigia.
* Augustine and others have very laborious calculations to show why this num. ber of fishes was exactly one hundred and fifty and three, and the mystery that is here. But the significance is not in its being that particular number, for the number seems chosen to exclude that, in this unlike the hundred and forty-four thousand (12 X 12) of the Apocalypse, (vii. 4 ;) but in its being a fixed and definite number at all: just as in Ezekiel's temple, (ch. 40, seq.,) each measurement is not, and cannot be made, significant, but that it is all by measurement is most significant,—telling us, that here, in the rearing of the spiritual temple, no caprice or wilfulness of men is to find room, but that all is laid down according to a pre-ordained purpose and will of God. To number, as to measure and to weigh, is a Divine attribute. Compare Job xxviii. 25; xxxviii. 5; Isai. xl. 12; and the noble debate in St. Augustine. (De Lib. Arbit., 1. 2, c. 11—16,) on all the works of wisdom being by number.
+ Augustine (Serm. 248, c. 3): Quis est enim ibi tunc parvus, quando erunt æquales Angelis Dei?
Maldonatus: Missurus erat paulò post Christus discipulos suos in omnem terrarum orbem, quasi in altum ac latum mare, ut homines piscarentur. Poterant inscitiam, poterant imbecillitatem suam excusare, se homines esse litterarum rudes, id est, piscandi imperitos, paucos præterea et infirmos, qui posse se tot tamque grandes pisces capere, tot oratores, tot tantosque philosophos irretire et a sententiâ dimovere ! Voluit ergo Christus exemplo artis propriæ docere id ipsos suis viribus suâque industria facere nullo modo posse, idque significat quod totam laborantes doctem nihil ceperant: ipsius vero ope atque auxilio facillimè facturos.
of their fish to that meal, so should the souls which they had taken for life be their crown and rejoicing in that day, should help and contribute to their gladness then.*
When the Evangelist tells us that at this meal" none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou ? knowing that it was the Lord;" this again is difficult; for if they knew, where was even the temptation to make this inquiry ? and yet it seems on the surface of the narration that they were tempted to ask such a question, and were only hindered by the solemn fear and awe which was shed on them by his presence. But the right meaning of the words, no doubt, is that none of them dared to show so much of unbelief and uncertainty as would have been involved in the question “Who art thou ?" There was shed over them such a mysterious awe, such a sense of the presence of their beloved Master, witnessing for itself in the inmost depths of their spirits, that, unusual and unlike as was his outward appearance to that whereunto their eyes were accustomed, yet none of them durst ask for a clearer evidence that it was he, even though it would have been a satisfaction to them to hear from his own lips that it was indeed himself and no other.t
The most interesting conversation which follows hangs too closely upon this miracle to be omitted; in fact, as appears almost universally the case with St. John, the miracle is not recorded so much for its own sake, as for the sake of that which grows out of it. Here, after the Lord has opened the eyes of his apostles to the greatness of their future work, and given to them in type a prophetic glimpse both of their successful labor and their abundant reward, he now declares to them the one condition both of accomplishing this work, and inheriting this reward. Love to Christ, and the unreserved yielding up of self to God—these were the sole conditions, and all which follows is to teach this: so that the two portions of the chapter are intimately connected, and together
Augustine (In Ev. Joh., Tract. 123): Piscis assus, Christus est passus. Ipse est et panis qui de cælo descendit. Hinc incorporatur Ecclesia ad participandam beatitudinem sempiternam. Ammonius: Tο, Δεύτε αριστεύσατε, αίνιγμα έχει ο λόγος, ότι μετα τους πόνους διαδέξεται τους αγίους ανάπαυσις και τρυφή και απόλαυσις. Gregory the Great (Hom. 24 in Evang.) notes how the number who here feast with the Lord are seven, the number of perfection and completion.
+ Augustine (In Ev. Joh., Tract. 123): Si ergo sciebant, quid opus erat ut interrogarent ? Si autem non opus erat, quare dictum est, non audebant; quasi opus esset, sed timore aliquo non auderent ? Sensus ergo hic est : Tanta erat evidentia veritatis, quâ Jesus illis discipulis apparebat, ut eorum non solùm negare, sed nec dubitare quidem ullus auderet : quoniam si quisquam dubitaret, utique interrogare deberet. Sic ergo dictum est, Nemo audebat eum interrogare, Tu quis es: ac si diceretur, Nemo audebat dubitare quod ipse esset. Cf. Chrysostom's striking words In Joh., Hom. 87.
form a complete whole. When the meal was ended, " Jesus said unto Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these ?” with an evident allusion to Peter's boasting speech, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended,” (Matt. xxvi. 33,) as is proved by Peter's answer, wherein appealing to the Lord, the Searcher of hearts, he affirms that indeed he loves him, but does not now cast any slight by comparison on the love of his fellow-disciples.* The main object of the Lord in his rejoinder, “ Feed my sheep," " Feed my lambs,” is not to say, “Show then thy love in act,” but rather, “I restore to thee thy apostolic function; this grace is thine, that thou shalt yet be a chief shepherd of my flock.”+ It implies, therefore, the fullest forgiveness of the past, since none but the forgiven could rightly declare the forgiveness of God. The question, “ Lovest thou me?" I is thrice repeated, that by three solemn affirmations the apostle may efface his three denials of his Lord. At last, upon the third repetition of the
* Augustine (Serm. 147, c. 2): Non potuit dicere nisi, Amo te: non ausus est dicere, plus his. Noluit iterum esse mendax. Suffecerat ei testimonium perhibere cordi suo: non debuit esse judex cordis alieni.
+ The other, doubtless, is the commonest view of the connection of the words. Thus Augustine takes it a hundred times, as Serm. 146, c. 1: Tamquam ei diceret, Amas me? In hoc ostende quia amas me, Pasce oves meas. But the view expressed in the text is that of Cyril, Chrysostom, Euthymius. Thus, too, Calvin : Nunc illi tam libertas docendi quàm auctoritas restituitur, quarum utramque amiserat suả culpa.
† 'Ayarậv and piheiv are here so interchangeably used, that the Lord on his first and second putting of the question to Peter says, ủyatậs pe; on the third, piheis, while Peter every time answers with the latter word, diaW OE,
If there be any significance in the variation, our version has lost it, though the Latin has at least marked it by using for the first, diligo ; for the second, amo,-words which Cicero more than once distinguishes, making the last to imply more of affection than the first. But there hardly is such here (see AUGUSTINE, De Civ. Dei, 1. 14, c. 7); not that ayatậv and 12.elv have not each of them certain meanings, which the other will not admit, or that there are not places where the one could by no means be substituted for the other ; yet here they appear indifferently used. (See Tittman's Synonyms, c. 4.) Still more confidently one may affirm the BookELV and Toljaiver of these verses to be entire synonyms.
§ Augustine (In Ev. Joh., Tract. 123); Redditur negationi trinæ trina confessio ; ne minùs amori lingua serviat quàm timori : et plus vocis elicuisse videatur mors imminens, quàm vita præsens. Enarr. in Ps. xxxvii. 13: Donec trinâ voce amoris solveret trinam vocem negationis. Serm. 285: Odit Deus præsumtores de viribus suis ; et tumorem istum in eis, quos diligit, tamquam medicus secat. Secando quidem infert dolorem ; sed firmat postea sanitatem. Itaque resurgens Dominus commendat Petro oves suas illi negatori; sed negatori quia præsumtori, postea pastori quia amatori. Nam quare ter interrogat amantem, nisi ut compungat ter negantem! Cf. Enarr. 2* in Ps. xc. 12. So Ammonius: Ald fpeãv tūv éputýcEwV kai karabérewv
question, Peter was saddened, as though the Lord doubted his word; and with yet more emphasis than before, appeals to his Saviour in his allknowing and all-searching character, whether it was not true that indeed he loved him: “ Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love
There does not seem any thing in the distinction which some have made between the two commands, *“ Feed my lambs,” and “ Feed my sheep,” as though the first were the more imperfect Christians, the little children in Christ; the other the more advanced, the grown men. And still more groundless and trifling is the interpretation made in the interests of Rome, as though the “lambs” are the laity, and the “sheep" the clergy; and that here to Peter, and in him to the Roman pontiffs, was given dominion over both. The commission should at least have run, Feed my sheep, Feed my shepherds, if any conclusions of the kind were to be drawn from it, though an infinite deal would even then have remained to be proved. I
But “ Feed my sheep,” is not all. This life of labor is to be crowned with a death of painfulness; such is the way, with its narrow and strait gate, which even for a Peter is the only one which will lead to eternal life. The Lord would show him beforehand what great things he must suffer for his sake. For this is often his manner with his elect servants, with an Ezekiel, (iii. 25,) with a Paul, (Acts xxi. 11,) and now with a Peter. “When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest, but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." There cannot, I think, be a doubt that there is allusion here to the crucifixion of Peter, since St. John himself declared that Jesus spake thus, “ signifying by what death he should glorify God;"
εξαλείφει τας τρείς φωνές της αρνήσεως, και διά λόγων επανορθοί τα εν λόγοις γενόμενα antalouara. Not otherwise the Church hymn,
Ter confessus ter negatum,
Vitâ, verbo, precibus.
* Augustine (Serm. 253, c. 1): Contristatus est Petrus. Quid contristaris, Petre, quia ter respondes amorem? Oblitus est trinum timorem Sine interroget te Dominus: medicus est qui te interrogat, ad sanitatem pertinet, quod interrogat. Noli tædio affici. Expecta, impleatur numerus dilectionis, ut deleat numerum negationis
+ Wetstein: Oves istæ quo tempore Petro committebantur, erant adhuc teneri agni, novitii discipuli à Petro ex Judæis et gentibus adducendi. Quando verò etiam oves committit, significat eum ad senectutem victurum, et ecclesiam constitutam et ordinatam visurum esse.
# See BERNARD, De Consid., 1. 2, c. 8.