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eternal life, and this life is in bis Son." 9 “Whosoever believeth in him shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death into life.”
THE CALLING OF SIMON AND ANDREW, JAMES AND
MARK i. 16-20.
16. Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea : for they were fishers.
16. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
This, though a casual expression, taken from the circumstances in which Jesus found Simon and Andrew, yet aptly describes the nature of the employment which he intended for them.
When they afterwards went out into the world, and preached what their Master was now preaching, repent and believe the gospel : “repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins :” they cast as it were their nets into the sea, that they might take those who “ were ordained unto eternal life." He himself describes the gospel, as a “net cast into the sea,” for the purpose of gathering those brought 1 John v. 11.
1 John v. 24.
within its range. And those now chosen, were chosen as the persons who hereafter should cast this net, and so become fishers of men. Sometimes that happened to them, which happened on this occasion in their proper calling their own success astonished them. As when the same Simon addressed his countrymen on the day of Pentecost, and “they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” 1
And sometimes “they toiled all night, and took nothing.” As when on the preaching of Paul thirty years afterwards, at Jerusalem, the Jews who heard him, “cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, and lifted up their voices and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth : for it is not fit that he should live.”2 Sometimes many were lost, whilst some few remained; as at Athens, where when Paul was teaching the inhabitants of that city—wise as to “ the wisdom of this world,” but ignorant of heavenly things-to know “the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he bad sent;" “ some mocked; others turned away for that time ;-while some clave unto him, and believed.”
Simon and Andrew were not disobedient unto the summons which called them to a new and high vocation.
18. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
19. And when he had yone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
Acts i. 41.
2 lb. xxii. 22.
Ib. xvii. 22-24.
20. And straightway he called them : and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
They had just witnessed the power of Jesus, in the miraculous draught of fishes, as described by St. Luke, which they had taken at his command : and which so affected them, that Simon Peter fell down at Jesus' knees, and acknowledged the presence in which he stood, “saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord;"* I am not worthy to appear before thee. Probably, too, they had seen other miracles during the time of his sojourning in Galilee, and had heard the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. So now, at his summons, moved by the Spirit which accompanied his words, straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him It
may be thought, that they had little to forsake, and made slight sacrifice. They left, however, their former occupation, their families, their houses; no less their all, and no less dear to them, than if they had been of higher station. And we can readily perceive why Jesus chose simple men like these, to be first his followers and afterwards his apostles, rather than the learned scribe or the honoured Pharisee. The gospel was to “stand not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 6 The doctrines of the gospel were not to be supported by argument, but revealed by the Holy Ghost. They who were to cast their nets into the world, and become fishers of men, were not to allure them by the arts of persua
John i. 36-42.
6 1 Cor. ii. 5.
sion, but to declare to them “ the things which they had seen and heard.” They were not to be as fountains from which “ the water of life” should proceed, but as it were the vessels through which it was to be conveyed. The purer the vessel, the clearer would the water be. The scribes and Pharisees were strongly imbued with notions of their own; and were far less fit to receive or to convey “the words of eternal life" which were revealed to James and John and Simon.
The purpose for which these were chosen, was that they might be “witnesses unto Jesus :" witnesses of the miracles which he had done; witnesses of the discourses which he had held; witnesses of his death ; witnesses of his resurrection from the grave. Now what is required of witnesses, is not that they may be found learned or ingenious, but that they may be found faithful and true. And these fishermen of Galilee were as capable of being true and faithful witnesses, as if they had been “ brought up at the feet of Gamaliel” in Jerusalem, or sat amongst the philosophers at Athens. In every court of justice the inquiry is, not whether a man has been highly educated, or bred in a royal palace; but whether he has seen and known the things to which he deposes. And therefore it was not needful that "many wise men after the flesh, niany mighty, many noble,” should be called to become preachers of the gospel. “Unlearned and ignorant men” were better witnesses; witnesses to such facts as we desire to learn from them ; namely, that Jesus “ dwelt among them, full
? Acts i. 8.
1 Cor. i. 26.
grace and truth :''' that they “heard the voice from heaven, attesting him to be the Son of God :”that he“ did many signs and wonders in the presence of his disciples,”? many more than are recorded ; that they saw the proofs of his actual death, when from his side, pierced by the Roman soldier, there flowed out “ blood and water :"that they “ did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead ;' lastly, that “whilst they beheld he was taken up,” and ascended into heaven."
These are the things which we need to know, and these are things which the fishermen of Galilee were as capable of reporting as the rulers or elders before whom they were preferred. These are the things which under the guidance of the Spirit,—“ teaching them all things, and bringing all things to their remembrance” 6—they declared in words to those of that age, and have left written for our use, “on whom the ends of the world are come :"-have left written, that “we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, we might have life through his name.”?
9 John i. 14.
John xx. 30. 3 Ib. xix. 34, 35. 4 Acts x. 41.
5 Luke xxiv. 51. 6 John xiv. 26.
? Ib. xx. 31.