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its waters. Four of their friends were with them—two whose names are not recorded; the other two, Thomas, known as the Twin Brother, and Nathanael, from the village of Cana of Galilee. They were once more at their common work. The morning had just broken over the dark eastern hills. The sun shone on the lake and on the tops of the western mountains. On the shore of the sea - we know not the exact spot, but somewhere along the shelving beach there stood a Figure, which arrested their attention. They gazed, but knew not who it was. They heard a voice calling to them, “Children, have ye any food ?' They obeyed the advice of the unknown stranger ; and then came the rush of fishes into the net, which at once recalled to the disciple who knew his Master best the like scene on the same waters three

years before : "The disciple whom Jesus loved turned to Peter and said, “It is the Lord.”'

Let me pause for a moment to call to mind how like this is to what still occurs in life. These appearances of Christ after His Resurrection seem to be told to us as intimations of what still continues in our relations towards Him: "He is not here -- He is • risen.' He even then had ceased to be to His disciples as He had been before. He went and came suddenly — hardly known by them at first; then

known by some gesture, some word, some old association. Is it not so with us? We, like the Apostles, are engaged in our common occupations. We hear a voice from the distance ; at first it seems to us only some event or incident of our ordinary life. Suddenly, we see, we hear in it the call of Christ - the



call of God Himself, calling us to higher thoughts. A familiar recollection of old days sweeps across us, to impress it more firmly upon us; and even in our engagements, our amusements, our fisheries, we recognise the hand, the voice of our merciful Saviour, and are able to say, ' It is the Lord.'

2. The story goes on. There was a yet closer interview—a yet nearer sense of that Divine Presence to be brought home to them. We can imagine still more clearly what follows. Peter, who, like the boatmen of these Eastern countries, had thrown off his clothes to drag up the heavy net, now girded on his fisher's coat, and, with his usual ardour, sprang into the water before the others, and waded up

the sloping side of the shore. The rest, in the little boat attached to their larger vessel, came after him ; and on the shore they found the meal already spread, and their Lord inviting them to come and partake of it. They felt that it was no common meal; they were struck with awe - none of them ventured even to

say, Who art thou ?' They gathered round Him in reverent silence; and Jesus,' we are told, cometh and taketh bread and giveth them, and fish likewise.'

It is impossible, as we read this, not to see the likeness of that holy ordinance of which we this morning partake. It was not, indeed, in form the same, but in spirit it certainly was; and so it was understood in the earliest times. Some of the oldest pictures in the Roman Catacombs represent the Holy Communion under this very figure — not the twelve disciples, but these seven, with the thin round loaves as of Arab bread, and the fishes lying beside them as



from this sacred lake. It is the fitting likeness of the Holy Communion, because it was a meal of the coinmon elements of sustenance, and yet invested with such a solemn and mysterious character, that they who partook of it then felt, as we who partake of it now feel, that there is something in it which brings us nearer than any other ordinance or ceremony of religion into the presence of our Divine Saviour, who is no longer on earth, but in heaven. It recalled to them, as it recalls to us, the days when He ate and drank and lived with them on earth. It drew their thoughts, as it ought to draw ours, heavenward, to Him who dwells above all our earthly cares, and griefs, and joys. It drew their thoughts, as it ought to draw ours, to a nearer and closer communion with each other — with their and our fellow disciples elsewhere. They must have felt that in that sacred Presence, at least for the time, one only thought was in all their minds alike. We, in like manner, feel, as we partake of this blessed remembrance of His Death and Resurrection, that, however various our characters and stations, one thought for the moment binds us all together, and not us only — the small company who are here assembled — but all who are near and dear to us far away - far


in the several homes of our native land; those, too, who are far away in their Eternal Home, and who share in a yet deeper and fuller communion with Him in whose immediate presence they are.

3. And this brings me to the close of the narrative. There were, as I have said, seven only out of the twelve disciples. But these seven contained very

different characters, characters so different from each other, as to represent almost every phase of the human soul and mind that can be brought into communion with God and Christ. There was the ardent, impatient, active Peter. There was the devoted, loving John. There was James, the zealous Son of Thunder, the courageous youth who, first of the Apostles, died a martyr's death. There was Nathanael, the blameless, sincere, and candid Israelite in whom there was to be found no guile. There was Thomas, the doubting, reasoning, enquiring, philosophic Apostle, who believed in spite of his doubts and because of his reasonable convictions. Each of these, as each of us, stood, or sat, or knelt beside their Master, to receive whatever message He had to give. Of these, two only

, are specially named, as receiving special warnings or encouragements. But in these two we may all find ourselves included. One was Peter. We need not now think of Peter's peculiar character. We need only remember that he was, as we are, compassed with weakness — that he had thrice from weakness, as we not thrice only, but

denied his Lord, failed in the hour of trial, done what he most hated himself for having done, left undone that which of all things in the world he would most have desired to have done. To him, as to each of us, in that sacred communion by the sea of Tiberias, our Lord approached, calling him by his own

, peculiar name and address : “Simon, son of Jonas, · lovest thou Me?' Thrice, as if for the three denials, He asked this question, as if to show that for all our failings and misdoings in the past there is but one

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remedy for the future, and that is, to overcome past evil by future good, to blot out fresh failures by renewed exertions in the love and service of goodness. Lovest thou Me more than these?' Yes, that is the great question — Lovest thou me?' "

Hast thou any regard for the commands, for the mind, for the spirit of Christ, more than others, above all earthly desires ?' · Hast thou this in any degree?'

We answer, I am sure we should all wish to answer, as he did - 'Lord, thou knowest that I love Thee.' “Thou knowest that I wish to love Thee.

Thou knowest that here, on this day and in this sacred ' ordinance, I pledge myself to be Thy disciple. Thou • knowest all things—Thou knowest our infirmities· Thou knowest our ignorance - Thou knowest that this is our firm intention and resolution.'

So Peter said; so we say and feel also. And to Peter, and to each of us, the same answer comes back as the last charge of our departing Lord — as the only test of our sincerity in this profession, ' Feed My

sheep Feed My lambs:'that is, our love to Christ can only be shown by the care, the tender, active, constant care, for the welfare of others — of those whom He by His providence has placed or will place in any degree under our charge. To be shepherds of mankind — this, in its full sense, belongs to the rulers of nations and the pastors of human souls ; but, in a lesser sense, it belongs to every one of us who has any influence over those who are near us. To feed, to guide, to support, to be attentive, considerate, kind, helpful, to these, is indeed the best proof of our love of Christ. And this, He continues to say, we must do, even although it cost us much.


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