The Secret of Success — sermon


The following is from the work, The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent
A Complete Course of 66 Short Sermons, or Full Sermon Outlines for Each Sunday, and Some Chief Holy Days of the Christian Year — Author: S. Baring-Gould, year 1886


5th Sunday after Trinity

S. Luke v. 5.

"We have taken nothing; nevertheless at Thy word, I will let down the

INTRODUCTION.–S. Peter and the other Apostles had been fishing all
night, and had met with no success at all, then Jesus entered into the
boat of Simon, and bade him launch out and let down his net. S. Peter
did not hesitate. He had met with no success when fishing in the
night, nevertheless now, at the word of Christ, he fishes again, and
this time the net encloses a great multitude, so that the net breaks.
No doubt our Lord desired to show those who were to become fishers of
men that there were two ways of doing a thing, and that one way would
be successful and the other would not.

If they were going to become fishers of men, they must try to catch
them by carrying Christ, _i.e._ a Christlike spirit, with them, and the
spirit of Christ is love and gentleness. If they were to be successful
in winning souls, they must have a loving zeal, and that would gain
more than hard work without love.

SUBJECT.–We are all of us, in our several callings, fishers of souls.
Of course, especially are the clergy fishers, but not they only, every
man who loves God must seek to win souls for God, every man who is in
the net of the Church must seek to draw others into the same net. If
the fisher is to be successful, he must fish in the spirit of Christ,
that is, actuated by love, and must deal gently with the souls he
desires to gain.

I. I say, we are all fishers. Those of us who are parents desire to
draw to Christ the souls of our children, those who are masters, the
souls of their servants. The husband seeks to win the wife, and the
believing wife the husband. "What knowest thou, O wife," says S. Paul,
"whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man,
whether thou shalt save thy wife?"

The servant seeks to win the fellow-servant, the labourer in the field
has the welfare of his fellow-labourer at heart, and seeks to draw him
to God. It was Cain who said, "Am I my brother’s keeper?" And the
same isolating, selfish spirit is in those who take no interest in
those they associate with, and do not seek their good.

I was much struck last spring with something a gentleman said to me,
who had been a good deal in America; he was much surprised and struck
with the interest felt in England by the rich for the poor, by the
master and mistress for their servants, by the landowner for his
tenants, and he said to me, "This seems to me the most marvellous thing
I have seen in England. With us a master cares not one snap of the
fingers what becomes of the man he employs, he no more thinks of what
becomes of him than he does of a dollar that passes through his hands.
He sees that he does his work, and if the man dies, the master gets
another in his place to-morrow, and asks nothing about the man who has

Well! I thank God we are not come to that yet, however advanced we may
be in our independent ways; and it is not right and Christian that we

II. Now we come to the way in which we are to try to draw other souls
to Christ, the souls of our children, of our servants, of our
companions, of our fellow-workers. The first principle of success is

In the 4th chapter of the 2nd book of Kings we have this story. There
was a Shunammite woman who had an only son. She was a good
kind-hearted woman, who had shown much hospitality to the prophet
Elijah [Transcriber’s note: Elisha?]. One day the little boy ran out
into the harvest field, when the sun was hot, and he had a sunstroke,
and was very ill. "He said unto his father, My head, my head. And he
said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him and
brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then he
died. And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and
shut the door upon him, and went out." Then she ordered one of the
servants to saddle an ass, and drive her to the prophet; and when she
found him, she told him the piteous story, and how the poor little
fellow whom she loved so dearly, and who was such a darling of his
father, and such a pet of the old Elisha when he paid them his visits,
was lying white and dead upstairs on the bed.

Then Elisha was sorely troubled, and he gave his staff to his servant,
Gehazi, and made him run as fast as he could to the house of the
Shunammite. "Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and
go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute
thee, answer him not again; and lay my staff upon the face of the
child." Gehazi obeyed, but it was of no use. "He laid the staff upon
the face of the child: but there was neither voice, nor hearing." Then
Elisha came himself, and he shut the door, and laid himself beside the
little body, and put his lips to the lips of the child, and his warm
loving heart against the little dead heart, and took the chill hands in
his. Then the spirit of the child came back into him again, and he sat
up, and Elisha delivered him alive to his mother.

Now this story contains some lesson for us. And this is the short
comment on the miracle by an old writer, "Him whom the rod of terror
will not rouse, _love_ will." Or in other words, we may learn by this
that gentleness will succeed where harshness will fail.

In the time when all the north of England was heathen, there was an
assembly held at Iona to decide who should preach the gospel to the
English of Northumbria. Then one missionary was sent, and after having
laboured for some years, he came back to give an account of his
mission. And a council was held, and he said, "Those Northumbrians are
a stiff-necked, hard-hearted people. I threatened them with God’s
wrath, I spoke to them of Hell-fire, I warned them of the terrors of
judgment, I denounced the vengeance of God on them, and they would not
be converted." Then one sitting in a bark seat said, "My brother, it
seems to me that you went the wrong way to work. You should have gone
in love, and not in wrath. You should have tried to win, and not to
drive." All eyes were turned en the speaker, and it was decided with
one voice that he should be sent, and he went. His name was Aidan–and
he was the Apostle of all Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire. He
had the joy to see the whole people bow their necks to receive the yoke
of Christ.

What says S. Paul? "What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or
in love, and in the spirit of meekness?" If he had come with the rod,
he would have gone back disappointed.

CONCLUSION.–Let us then, dear brethren, in dealing with the souls of
others, approach them, not with the rod, or we shall fail to awake them
to a new and better life, but in love, and in the spirit of gentleness,
and then we shall meet, I doubt not, with good success.


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  1. Lydia Walton says:

    I subscribed to the three weeks preachers sermons but could not down-load.I will be using the funeral sermon on Grace this Mon. morning.Your sermons help me with some fresh new thoughts.Thank you for sharing Gods gift with us. Pastor Lydia

  2. ted says:

    nice message Thank U, Praise God

  3. Eddie says:

    Thanks Ted. Blessings to you.

  4. Eddie says:

    Hey Lydia,
    The 3 week trial should be mailed to your inbox one each week. Let me know if you have not received them. Blessings to you for all you do for Jesus.

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