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an empire, the most broad and lasting which has ever existed, over the human mind. Who were they? As Christians, as subjects of that empire, as men amazed, at the same time that we are rejoiced, at what we have heard and what we behold, we are impelled to inquire who they were who established a dominion which has already covered the civilized world, and is apparently going on, with ever-encroaching steps, to spread itself over the whole earth. If the lives of any men are interesting, theirs must be peculiarly so. They are the great reformers, the great conquerors, whose empire has been continually increasing and strengthening, while the houses and dynasties of heroes and kings have risen, and flourished, and passed away into forgetfulness and ruin; the only empire which has grown more vigorous and more hopeful with age, because the mind and the heart and the destiny of man, and the good providence of God, are joined to support and perpetuate it. Who were these men ?
No elaborate biography, no studied panegyric, has portrayed to us the lives and characters of the apostles of Christ. In their own condensed and simple writings, and in the quite as simple book of their Acts, composed by one of their associates, we must glean such sketches of them as are to be found in connection with the accounts of their Master and the history of their religion ; for of
themselves, as individuals, they seldom think of speaking; absorbed in their duty and devoted to their great work, the idea of self-importance or personal fame never seems to have entered their minds. We shall not, however, esteem them the less because they were faithful to their calling, and sought not the praise and honor of men, and postponed their own glory to the glory of God. And although our just curiosity may not be gratified by a full and detailed portraiture of these eminent men, who remembered their work, and forgot themselves, yet we shall meet with notices enough in the Scriptures of the New Testament to enable us to form for ourselves an outline at least of some of their lives and characters. Of some of them we shall find more abundant accounts than of others; for among them, as well as among mankind in general, there was undoubtedly a diversity of power, which caused some of them to stand out in the foreground of action, and others to remain comparatively in shade; though all of them might have been zealous, useful, and efficient, and most probably were so.
Though the sacred writings themselves are the only sources of knowledge on this subject to which we may give implicit credence, yet from other early documents we may obtain some narratives of the latter days of the apostles which are worthy of a good degree of faith. Making
use, therefore, of such authorities as are within my reach, I shall proceed to give some account of the twelve disciples of our Lord; pursuing the order in which they are arranged by Matthew, only because his catalogue is the first which occurs in the common collocation of the Gospel histories.
SIMON, who also received from our Lord the appellation of Peter, is invariably the first named on all the four lists of the apostles, and was, on several accounts, the chief of their company. He was one of the first who was called to be a disciple; though not the very first, for Andrew his brother appears to have been called before him, or at least at the same time with him. distinguished above the rest by the solemn predictions and trusts of his Master, by his uncommon zeal, and by his strong natural talents. He is altogether not only a conspicuous disciple, but a remarkable man. The sacred historians give us more copious accounts of him than of the other apostles, and a distinct conception of his character may be gained from what they relate.
He was, as is stated two or three times in the Gospels, the son of John or Jona, who was probably, like his children, a fisherman. The family had lived in the town of Bethsaida, on the northwestern side of the lake of Genesareth, otherwise called the sea of Tiberias, or the sea of Galilee,* where Peter was born; but they afterwards seem to have removed to the neighboring city of Capernaum, and then consisted, as far as we can ascertain, of Simon himself, his brother, and his father, his wife, and her mother. When Galilee was the scene of our Saviour's ministry, Capernaum was the place of his most constant abode; and it is probable that his resort to it was determined in some measure by its being the residence of Peter, in whose house he is thought to have lodged.
As we learn from the Evangelist John, Simon was acquainted with Jesus, and had heard him attentively, before he became one of the selected disciples. His brother Andrew was already one of the disciples of John the Baptist, and was standing with a fellow-disciple in company with their master, at a time when Jesus was passing by. Looking upon him as he walked, John, by whom he had recently been baptized, exclaimed, “ Behold the Lamb of God!” Upon this, the two followed him, and, on the invitation of Jesus, went with him to his dwelling-place, and abode with him that day. Convinced of the justice of his claims, Andrew sought for his brother Simon, and
* This lake took its name of Galilee from the province in which it was situated, and Genesareth and Tiberias from towns on its coast. It was more anciently called the sea of Chinnereth. Numb. xxxiv. 11; Josh. xiii. 27.