We shall now speak of two diverse parties that come together to this church, both of good and evil. First we take for our ground where Christ speaketh in parable to his own disciples (Matthew 13). The kingdom of heaven is like to a net that is sent into the sea, and gathereth together of all kinds of fishes. When this net was full of fishes, the fishers drew it to the land, and they, sitting beside the sea brink, chose the good into their vessels, the evil they sent out, and cast them again into the sea. The second church here on earth is like to a net sent into the sea of this world, — The fishes that swim in this sea, are all the people that live in this world, both good and evil, of every degree, of each state, temporal or spiritual. And as the great fishes eat the small, so mighty rich men of this world devour the poor. — And thus saith God by the prophet Habakkuk. The prophet seeing in his spirit how rich men waste the poor needy, he maketh mourning to his God; Lord, shalt thou suffer men to be made as fishes that swim in the sea, &c. But for that fishes dread not the hideous waves, whether they rise high or fall low, in this place they shall betoken true belief of man’s heart. Christ in the gospel, Luke 9 stirreth us to prayer, saying, which of you being asked of his son, My father, give me a fish, shall he for this fish give him an adder? Nay, plainly, Chrysostom saith upon this text (John Chrysostom Homily 47 on Matthew), that this fish is man’s faith; and after this we should pray to our Father that is in heaven, that he will stablish us in true belief, and in the articles that belong thereto; for then we shall be well disposed, in the waters of tribulation, to do and to suffer as pleases God, lively joying for this belief; and though there seem peril of death, our conscience shall not abash. For succour is kept for all the faithful, in the treasure of Christ’s passion.
The fishers that draw this net, are angels sent before the doom, that shall rightly do God’s message, and bring all folks before God almighty, as is written, (Joel 3:12 – 14) and there shall he make with them a righteous reckoning upon his people Israel, that is his own heritage. And then shall Christ, with his saints, part the evil from the good. Christ chooseth the good of his church into the vessel of bliss, but the evil they cast out into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.