The Art of Manfishing is a very surprising book. When I read in the foreword that it was written by a twenty-two year old man who was not yet a Pastor it is an astounding work. I remember what I was capable of at twenty-two and it puts the book into a different light. As a book of the puritan era it differs a great deal from the kind of books that we tend to write these days. A whole book expounding one small verse is unheard of. Yet that is exactly what I found here. Brooks is expounding the statement from the Gospels that we are to follow Christ and He would make us fishers of men.
Maybe reflecting the pragmatic spirit of the age I was most taken with part two of the book where Brooks explains how a minister may come by the art of Manfishing. The last chapter was the most brilliant portion of the book. Here he looks at the life of Christ and His dealing with sinners and lays out for us what it means to be a fisher of men.
First, Christ took not on Him the work of preaching the Gospel without a call. Second, Christ designed His Fathers glory in the work. This is a powerful reminder in our day with all the focus on church growth and there seems to be an attitude that whatever works is good. Brooks reminds us that in all our efforts at leading people to Christ the goal is the glory of God and we must use methods that bring honor to God. Third, Christ had the good of souls in His eye. The mindset of putting notches in the belt or scalp-hunting does not honor God and it certainly is not real love for the lost. Instead we must have a Spirit-given burden and love for those who are still separated from Christ. Fourth, Christ had not only the good of souls before His eyes but He was much affected with their case. Fifth, Christ was much in Prayer. A greater dedication to praying for the lost would certainly be a benefit to others and would benefit us as well. We also need to be reminded that it does not depend on our cleverness for people to be saved. It is not our skill in apologetics that souls depend on, rather it God making sinners dead in sins and trespasses alive together with Christ. Sixth, Christ condemned the world. A greater and deeper death to the world is needed in all our lives. Death to our need for approval, death to our need for people to like us, death to our avoidal of contention. Christ come and kill our pretensions. Seventh, Christ was useful to souls in His private converse. We must lay aside conversations that are only frivolous, talk of football and other kinds of nonsense is fine if there are also serious conversations that are urging one another to greater love and devotion to Christ.