Description of author: Thomas Boston (1676-1732) was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and scholar.
Comments: This soliloquy was written in 1699. It is as relevant today as it was then. Boston’s comments are both helpful and convicting. This little work was written primarily for ministers of the gospel, but all will benefit. He begins with the text of Matthew 4:19 – Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men – the words which Jesus spoke to Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee. He observes that in this text there is a duty (follow me) and a promise (I will make you fishers of men). In typical Puritan fashion, he then divides his comments into a very detailed outline. The two main parts are (1) That it is the Lord Jesus Christ that makes men fishers of men (p. 7-14). This first part is further divided into three main headings: I. How Christ makes men fishers of men; II. Why unconverted men are compared to fish in the water; and III. That ministers are fishers by office; (2) That the way for me to be a fisher of men is to follow Christ (p. 14-43). This second part is divided into two main headings: I. What following Christ supposes and implies; and II. Wherein Christ is to be followed.
An example of some of the excellent advice given: Take not the way of natural wisdom, follow not the rules of carnal wisdom. Its language will always be, Master, spare thyself; have a care of thy credit and reputation among men. If thou speak freely, they will call thee a railer, and thy preaching reflections; every parish will scare at thee as a monster of men, and one that would preach them all to hell; and so thou shalt not be settled. Such and such a man, that has a great influence in a parish, will never like thee. That way of preaching is not the way to gain people; that startles them at the very first. You may bring them on by little and little, by being somewhat smooth, at least at the first: for this generation is not able to abide such doctrine as that thou preachest. But hear thou and follow the rules of the wisdom that is from above: for the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God; that which is in high esteem among men, is nought in the sight of God. The wisdom that is from above will tell thee, that thou must be denied to thy credit and reputation . . . It will tell thee, Let them call thee what they will, that thou must cry aloud, and spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet . . . It will tell thee, that God has appointed the bounds of men’s habitation . . . It will tell thee that not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble are called . . . Whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, thou shalt speak God’s words unto them . . . It will shew thee rules quite contrary to those of carnal wisdom (p. 20-21).
This soliloquy reminds us of several important things: (1) the importance of the work of preaching in saving souls; (2) our dependence upon God in the accomplishing of this monumental task; and (3) the need for our hearts to be burdened for the people to whom we preach.