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assisted to secure it; they were astonished at it, and when Jesus, after calling Peter and Andrew, called them also, " they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.”
Here I cannot help requesting my readers to pause a moment, and consider the fortunes, the singular, and, if the word were holy enough, I would say romantic, fortunes of these four men. Simon and Andrew, James and John, brethren of two different families, dwell together with their parents, in a village at the northern extremity of a lake or small sea, in the district of Galilee, and on the confines of the land of Judea. The sea is a large sea to them, and to them the towns, which here and there dot its coast, and the light barks, which, for the purposes of amusement, or traffic, or their own calling, skim along its pleasant waters, are the world. They are fishermen. Day by day do they rise up to the contented exercise of their toil, to throw their nets, to spread their sails, to ply their oars, and, when successful in pursuit, to dispose of their freight in their native village, or the neighbouring towns, for the support of themselves and their families. They are friends, partners; they have joined themselves to each other in their humble profession, and agreed to share profit and loss,
storm and calm, together. Their low-roofed dwellings look out on each other, and on their native lake, and within these dwellings are bosoms which throb anxiously at their protracted absence, and beat gladly at their return. Their boats contain all their wealth, and their cottages all that they love. Their fathers, perhaps their ancestors, were fishers before them. They themselves have no idea of a different lot. The only changes on which they calculate, are the changes of the weather and the vicissitudes of their calling; and the only great interruptions of the even courses of their lives, to which they look forward, are the annual journeys which they take, at the periods of solemn festival, to the great city of Jerusalem. Thus they live, and thus they expect to live, till they lie down to sleep with their fathers, as calmly, as unknowing, and as unknown as they.
Look at them, on the shore of their lake. Think not of them as apostles, as holy men ; but look at them as they actually were on the morning when you first hear of them from the historian. They have been toiling through a weary night, and have caught nothing; and now, somewhat disheartened at their ill success, they are engaged in spreading their nets, washing them, and preparing them, as they hope, for a more fortunate expedition. Presently, surrounded by an eager crowd, that teacher approaches, whom they have before seen, and whose instructions some of them have already listened to. With his demeanour of quiet but irresistible dignity, he draws toward the spot where they are employed; he enters Simon's vessel, and prays him to thrust out a little distance from the land; then he speaks to that assembled multitude as never man spake; then he bids Simon launch out further, and cast his net in the deep; then follows the overwhelming draught of fishes; and then those four partners, filled with wonder and awe, are called to quit their boats, and throw by their nets, and become fishers of men.
And now what a change, like the change of a dream or of enchantment, has passed over their lives, dividing what was, from what was to be! It was long before they themselves were aware, how entire and how stupendous it was. few years, they are to be the principal actors in the most extraordinary events of recorded time. Home, kindred, country, are to be forsaken for
Their nets may hang and bleach in the sun; their boats may rot piecemeal on the shore; for the owners of them are far away, sailing over
A few years
seas to which that of Gennesareth is a pond; exciting whole cities and countries to wonder and tumult; answering before kings; imprisoned, persecuted, tortured ; their whole existence a storm, and a greater one than ever swept over their lake. On the peaceful shore of that lake, even their bones may not rest. Their ashes are to be separated from the ashes of their kindred. Their blood is to be sprinkled on foreign soils; the headsman and executioner are to preside over their untimely obsequies. more, and the fame and the doctrine of these fishermen have gone out into all lands. Magnificent churches are called by their names. Kingdoms adopt them for their tutelar saints; and the men who claim to succeed to the office of one of them, rule for centuries over all civilized kingdoms with a despotic and overshadowing sway, and by virtue of that claim give away a continent, a world, which, when their predecessor lived, was entirely unknown. History tells us of a fisherman of Sicily, who was raised to that island's throne; but who will compare that, or any earthly throne, to the twelve thrones which were set up over the twelve tribes of Israel? What is a king of Sicily to an apostle of Christ ? A wonderful man has risen up in our own, as we call it, wonderful time, risen up from a moderate station to the empire of Europe; and yet the eight volumes which another wonderful man has written of that emperor's deeds and fortunes, have not preserved, and cannot preserve, such a name for his hero, as is secured by hardly more than eight lines, which tell us of those men who first' fished for their living on the sea of Galilee, and then were called to be apostles of Christ.
My digression has led me far away, over distant countries and through many years. Let us return to the land of Judea, and the history of James. We ascertain, that among the twelve, he was one of those who were the most honored by the confidence of Jesus. With his former partner Simon, and his brother John, he was selected, as we have already seen, to accompany his Lord on several very important occasions ; such as that of the resurrection of Jairus' daughter, the transfiguration, and the agony in the garden. It was perhaps on the strength of this manifest confidence, and of her own services, that Salome, the mother of James and John, made that ambitious and truly maternal request to Jesus, that her sons might sit on his right and left hand in his kingdom ; that is, enjoy the two highest dignities next to his own, when he, as the Messiah, should mount the throne of Israel.