And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
~ Matthew 4:19
And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
~ Luke 5:10
Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
~ John 21:3-6
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
~ Revelation 3:1
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
~ John 15:5-6
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
~ Luke 13:6-7
And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.
~ 2 Kings 19:30
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
~ John 15:16
The Parable of the Dragnet, by Jonathan Edwards.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
By the kingdom of heaven sometimes is meant heaven, and a state of happiness in another world. But here it is meant to Christian church or the whole company of Christians all over the world.
The people of Christ are the kingdom of Christ, because they are part of the world that belongs to Christ, and that have Christ for their king—as King George’s people are his kingdom—they’d be in that part of the world that he rules over, or that have him for their king.
It is called the kingdom of heaven, because Christ the king is from heaven. And the laws of his kingdom are all from heaven. And the new heart, a new nature, that his people have given them as holy and heavenly. And the country they are to live in forever with Christ, or king, is heaven. It is said that this kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea. The sea is a whole world of mankind, as an net that is cast into the sea, doesn’t take all the fish in the sea, but only goes around and fences in a few. So the kingdom of Christ doesn’t take all the world, but only a part of it.
The people of Christ are separated from the rest of the world to be a peculiar people to him. To be Christ’s part is the net cast into the sea separates a fish that are in it, from all the rest in the sea. That they may belong to the fishermen, and be his part of the fish of the sea. While the rest are let alone, and are not meddled with.
The fisherman that cast the net are ministers of the gospel, whom Christ appoints together men into his church. Christ’s disciples, several of them really were fishermen. That was their trade that they got their living by. And when Christ called them to follow him and to be his disciples of ministers, he told them that they should no longer catch fish. But he would make them fishers of men—to catch men.
When a fisherman cast the net into the sea, what he aims at is only good fish that are good for food. He doesn’t desire to catch any but good fish. But yet the net will gather every sort—good and bad. So none ought to come into the Christian church, but good men. But because ministers can’t know men’s hearts, that every sort will come in, good and bad, as there will be some bad fish in the net. So there will be some bad men in the kingdom of Christ. The fishermen, when their net was full, drew the fish out of the sea. The fish, after they were in the net, that were but a short time in the sea. There were some drawn to the shore. So the professors of religion will be but a short time in this world. They will soon be taken away out of this world into the other world. While the fish were in the net, in the sea, it could not be seen what the fish were—whether they were good or bad. But when they were drawn to shore, then it could be seen plainly what they were, and the bad could easily be distinguished from the good.
So well, professors of the Christian religion or in this world, oftentimes they can certainly say what they be—whether good or bad men. But men are taken out of the world, and when this world comes to an end, then it will be seen.
When the fish were in the sea, good and bad were mixed together. But when they were drawn to the shore, they were separated. So in this world, good men and bad are mixed together. But God will by no means suffer the wicked and the righteous always to dwell together, but will certainly separate them, in another world. It is said that the good were gathered in the vessels. They were preserved and kept as those that were prized and made much of.
So God will save his saints and make much of them as precious to him, and as those that he dearly loves. But the bad fishermen cast away as those that were good for nothing. So in another world, God will cast away wicked men—he will have no regard to them. He will take no care of them, but will despise and hate them. If they have never been so great and rich men, and have been ever so much honored in this world, yet God will throw them away, and as a word, trample them underfoot. So shall it be, says Christ, at the end of the world, the angel shall come forth and separate the wicked from among the just. Many are separated before the end of the world. When men die, they go into another world, where the good are separated from the bad.
But yet many are left in the world where good and bad are mixed together until the end of the world. But at the end of the world all shall be separated. Then all the wicked shall be severed from among the just. When Christ appears coming in the clouds of heaven, the judge so quick and the dead, it will soon be seen what men in fact are in reality for the difference will presently be seen between good and bad men. Christ will then send his angels to separate them—the good on his right hand, the bad on his left. He said the wicked after they are thus severed from among the just, will be cast into a furnace fire. After the Day of Judgment, not only will the souls of men be punished with their bodies, which will be raised from the dead shall be thrown into eternal fire. The fire shall be exceeding great and dreadful. For it will be the fire that God will then kindle by his great power, and in the fierceness of his great wrath for the wickedness of men. And therefore, doubtless, vastly more terrible than any fire ever seen in this world. It is said there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. They will wail because her misery will be very dreadful. And what they cannot bear, and also because they never shall have any hope of being delivered, but will know that there will be no end to their misery.
Now we come to apply the things to your serious consideration. You’ve had the gospel preached to you. The net has been let down. And many of you have been gathered in it, and brought in among the people of Christ into the kingdom of Christ. But remember, they that are gathered in a net are not all good. The net gathers of every kind, both bad and good. And so it is to be feared that you that are called Christians, are not all good. It is so—it is feared that it is with you, as it was amongst the English and others that are called Christians. There are many more bad than our good. Men can certainly know how many of you are good and how many are bad. But God knows. You may deceive men with a good outside when your hearts are run, but you can’t deceive God. And remember that although good and bad are mixed together in this world, they live together in the same houses, they come to meeting together and may sit down at a sacrament together. But they won’t be mixed together always. The time will soon come when God will show the great difference by opening the hearts of men up, so that all the world may see what they are. When Christ comes at the end of the world, and the wicked shall be separated from among the just, then many of them that used to come to meeting together, and used to eat and drink together, and used to go hunting together, shall be separated one from another, never to be together anymore. Christ says then that day two shall be grinding at a mill, one shall be taken and the other left, one good and one bad—Matthew 24:41.
Many parents shall then be separated from their children, brothers from their sisters, many husbands from their wives, and wives from their husbands. One shall be set on the right hand of Christ, and the other on the left. One with glorious angels, and the other with devils. One shining forth as a sun, and the other appearing hateful and dreadful in the image of the devil. To the one, Christ will say “come ye blessed to My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world. To the other, “depart from me you cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”—Matthew 25:34. Matthew 25:41—”the one shall go into everlasting life, the other into everlasting burnings into a furnace of fire that never shall be quenched”. Then shall that be fulfilled what God says in Isaiah 65:13—behold, my servants shall rejoice, but you shall cry (be ashamed). And remember what Christ says, “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way”—Matthew 7:14.
There are many will come in that day and say, Lord, Lord, have we not ate and drank in your presence, but he shall say, “I know you not, whence you are. Depart from me all you workers of iniquity—Luke 13, Verses 25 to 27. Therefore, take heed to yourself so that you aren’t at last found some of the bad fish that is cast away. See to it that your hearts are right with God. Don’t rest in outward show, but get a clean heart. A holy heart that hates all sin, and loves Christ, and loves all the people of Christ, and loves all the ways of God. Unless you have a new heart, you will never be good. Though you may be good in some things, yet if you haven’t right hearts, you will live wickedly and other things. That is a reason that some men reform their lives for a little while only. And then, never again. Their hearts are never changed. The Apostle Peter says they are like the dog returns to his vomit. The sow that was washed, yet will be cleaned but a little while, while her nature is not changed, and therefore she will go again and wallow in the mire—2 Peter 2:22.
But remember, that at the end of the world when Christ will sever the wicked from among the just and cast them into a furnace of fire. He will search the hearts of men, and judge everyone according to his works.