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an explanation more in harmony with the Saviour's character, and with the object which he has in view.
Peter was a fisherman of Galilee. That he had found in the business the means of a comfortable and prosperous living, his ownership of fishing vessels and his house in Capernaum bear witness. The family of Zebedee were in comparatively affluent circumstances, and from the superior culture of his sons, and their access, as familiar acquaintances, to the palace of the high priest at Jerusalem, we see that the occupation was not, necessarily, one inconsistent with a highly respectable position in society. The old idea of “the poor fishermen of Galilee,” as of an indigent, half-vagrant class, dependent for a scanty subsistence on a precarious employment, is now given up by all Biblical critics. It did not take into account the exbaustless riches of that beautiful lake from which they drew their means of subsistence, nor the numerous and thriving population clustered on its shores, which offered them a convenient and unfailing market. As a class, they undoubtedly were, like our own fishermen, a rude, hardy set of men, not polished in speech and manners like those trained to professional and civil pursuits, yet well compensated for the lack by the quick use of their faculties, and a certain liberality of ideas, which grow naturally out of the circumstances of their calling; and the opportunities it offered, in the heart of that rich, busy, trading, half-Gentile Galilee, would attract to it men of superior energy and ambition. Peter's appeal to Christ, “Lo, we have left all and fol. lowed thee; what shall we have, then p” implies a worldly condition not to be relinquished but for weighty reasons.
The occupation was, moreover, one to which men of his temperament turn by a natural instinct, and cling to with tenacious fondness. They love its changes, its chances, its excitements, its freedom from social constraints ; and in many a rude spirit there dwells such a passionate yearning delight in nature, in this her moody, unquiet, watery realm of ever-shifting aspects and conditions, that it would pine its life out if compelled to leave it for a dull business in the common ways of men.
So they lie there on the familiar shore, and gaze on the scene before them. A silent group—for a vague awe, a trembling joy which is half fear, holds the disciples mute, and the Saviour himself, as if his heart were too full for words, has only uttered the few necessary directions for their simple meal. And what a scene it is on which they look! The lake, the fairest jewel of Palestine, curled by the fresh breeze of morning, sparkles in the sunrise, and kisses its clean pebbly beach with a loving murmur. Its circlet of hills, vine-clad, palm-crowned, with rich towns and thriving hamlets clustering on their seaward slopes, and the grand ring of mountain forms that tower beyond, seem like an imperial setting for this peerless gem of wealth and beauty. The whole earth, perhaps, could not show at that time a spot of like extent, in which was concentrated so much of natural loveliness and human interest. Peter knew every feature of it as he did the face of his mother. It had been the scene of his daily life from boyhood to mature age. Every headland, every cove, was familiar to him ; every gorge through which rushed those mighty storms of wind which had often imperilled his little craft; every street in the towns whose towers and spires were now glimmering in the rising sun. Capernaum was in sight, where rose his pleasant home; his fishing-boat rocked gently at the strand; his wide nets, and the great shining fish they had drawn from the bounteous bosom of the sea, the symbols of his prosperous worldly calling, lay scattered on the beach.
“ Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” The question now has meaning and emphasis. It is as if a keen sense of what he was about to ask of his disciple and friend had come over the Saviour's sympathetic soul; and herce, to the strong natural drawing of Peter to the actual and the earthly, he simply opposes the strongest affection of his heart. He presents here, in the presence of the objects most likely to awaken self in its power, no abstract considerations of duty, no dim prospect of future reward ; but HIS FRIEND, him whom he knows 80 well, who has counted nothing too dear to sacrifice for bim, who has forgiven him so much, who now sits beside him, and pleads, by all that He has done, and all He is, for a corresponding self-renunciation. All this speaks in a single word. “Lovest thou Me more than these p» Was it to put the strength of Peter's attachment to this final test, as a preparation for his entire self-surrender, to his Master's work, his solemn transfer from the calling of a Galilean fisherman to that of a shepherd of souls, that Jesus had appointed this meeting? True, Peter had already forsaken all and followed him ; but the abandonment of his worldly business had been, thus far, rather virtual than practical ; for he seems to have retained his property in it, and to have followed it as time and circumstances allowed. Up to this time, he had not felt the call literally to give up all for Christ.
I shall be pardoned for offering here a version of the touching story, by a friend, which represents, more exactly than our common Bible, the exquisite modulations of feeling, the divinely tender climax, of the Saviour's plea :
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?
“He saith to him, Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. “He saith to him, FEED MY SHEEP !
“ Again the second time he saith to him, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me ?
“He saith, Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. “ He saith to him, TEND MY LAMBS!
“He saith to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things ; thou knowest that I love thee.
“ Jesus saith unto him, FEED MY DARLING SHEEP !”.
The Greek diminutive (the reading of the oldest manuscripts) expresses in a single word, more simply and sweetly, what in English requires two; but the feeling is, as nearly as possible, reflected in the tender phrase, "my darling sheep?"
LIFE A GOOD.
Tales and Sketches.
THE SICK MAN'S DEED OF LOVE.
The sick man shook his head.
“ As I came along just now," continued HE was a poor cripple-with fingers the neighbour, “ I stopped to say a word twisted out of all useful shape, and lower to poor Tom Hicks, the cripple, as he limbs paralysed so that he had to drag | stood swinging on the gate before his them after him wearily when he moved-a mother's house, looking so unhappy that I poor, unhappy, murmuring, and at times pitied him in my heart. What do you do ill-natured cripple, eating the bread which with yourself all through these long days, a mother's hard labour procured for him. Tom I asked. “Nothing,' he replied For hours, every fair day during spring, moodily. "Don't you read sometimes ? I summer, and autumn, he might be seen in queried. 'Can't read,' was the sullen answer. front of the house where he lived, leaning Were you never at school ?' I went on. upon the gate, or sitting on an old bench, • No; how can I get to school?' • Why looking with a sober face at the romping don't your mother teach you ?' Because village children, or dreamily regarding the she can't read herself,' replied Tom. It passengers who moved with strong limbs up isn't too late to begin now,' said I, encouand down the street. How often bitter ragingly: suppose I were to find some envy stung the poor cripple's heart! How one willing to teach you, what would you often, as the thoughtless village children say?' The poor lad's face brightened as if taunted him with his misfortune, would he the sunshine had fallen upon it, and he anfling harsh maledictions after them. Many swered, 'I would say that nothing would pitied the poor cripple; many looked upon please me better. I promised to find him him with disgust and repulsion ; but few, a teacher, and as I promised, the thought if any, sought to do him good.
of you, friend Croft, came into my mind. Not far from where the cripple lived was Now, here is something that you can do; & a man who had been bedridden for years, good work in which you can employ your and was likely to remain so to the end of | one talent." his days. He was supported by the The sick man did not respond warmly to patient industry of a wife.
this proposition. He had been for so long "If good works were to be the only a mere recipient of good offices, and so passport to heaven," he said to a neigh long felt himself the object towards bour one day, “my chances would be | which pity and service must tend, that small."
| he had nearly lost the relish for good "Well done, good and faithful ser deeds. Idle dependence had made him vant,' is a part of the language of welcome,” selfish. was replied ; and this neighbour looked at “Give the poor cripple a lesson every the sick man in a way that made him a day," went on the neighbour, pressing home little uncomfortable.
the subject, "and talk and read to him. "A man sick and bedridden-what can Take him in charge as one of God's children I do?” he spoke fretfully.
who needs to be instructed and led up to a “ When little is given, little is required. higher life than the one he is living. Is not But if there is only a single talent, it must this a good and great work? It is, my be improved."
friend, one that God has brought to your “I have no talent," said the invalid. hand, and in the doing of which there will " Are you sure of that?"
be great reward. What can you do? Much! “ What can I do? Look at me! No Think of that poor boy's weary life, and of health-no strength-no power to rise
the sadder years that lie still before him. from this bed. A poor, helpless creature,
What will become of him when his mother burdening my wife. Better for me, and dies ? The almshouse alone will open its for all, if I were in my grave.”
doors for the helpless one. But who can “ If that were so, you would be in your tell what resources may open before him if grave. But God knows best. There is stimulated by thought ? Take him, then, something for you to do, or you would be and unlock the doors of a mind that now no longer permitted to live," said the sits in darkness, that sunlight may come in. neighbour.
To you it will give a few hours of pleasant
work each day : to him it will be a life. , son had been one of Tom's visitors, and long benefit. Will you do it?".
who had grown to be a better boy under “Yes."
his influence, offered to send him in his The sick man could not say “No," wagon every day to the school-house, which though in uttering that half-assent he stood half a mile distant, and to have him manifested no warm interest in the case of brought back in the afternoon. It was the poor Tom Hicks.
happiest day in Tom's life when he was On the next day the cripple came to the helped down from the wagon and went sick man and received his first lesson; hobbling into the school-room. and every day, at an appointed hour, he Before leaving home that morning, he had was seen at Mr., Croft's room, eager for made his way up to the sick room of Mr. the instruction he received. Quickly he Croft. "I owe it all to you," he said, as mastered the alphabet, and as quickly he brought the white, thin hand of his learned to construct very small words pre benefactor to his lips—it was damp with paratory to combining them in reading. more than a kiss when he laid it back gently lessons. After the first three or four days on the bed—"and our Father in heaven the sick man, who had undertaken this will reward you." work with reluctance, began to find his The advantages of the school being placed heart going down into it. Tom was grate within the reach of Tom Hicks, he gave up ful, and the neighbour who had suggested every thought of serious difficulty. His this useful employment of the invalid's bent, stiff fingers could not be made to hold time, looked in now and then to see how either pen or pencil in the right position, matters were progressing, and to speak or to use them in such a way as to make words of encouragement.
intelligible signs. But Tom was too much Poor Tom was seen less frequently than in earnest to give up on the first, or second, before hanging on the gate, or sitting idly or third effort. He found, after a great on the bench before his mother's dwelling, many trials, that he could hold a pencil and when you did find him there as of old, more firmly than at first, and guide his you saw a different expression on his face. hand in some obedience to his will. This As soon as Tom could read, the children of was sufficient to encourage him in longthe neighbourhood, who had grown to like continued efforts, the result of which was a him, always gathered around him at the gradual yielding of the muscle, which begate when they happened to find him there, came in time so flexible that he could make and supplied him with books, so that he quite passable figures and write a fair hand. had an abundance of mental food, and now This did not satisfy him, however. He was began to repay his benefactor, the bedridden ambitious to do better, and so kept on tryman, by reading to him for hours every ing and trying, until few boys in the school
could give a fairer copy. There was something about him that “Have you heard the news ?" said a strongly attracted the boys of the neigh neighbour to Mr. Croft, the poor bedridden bourhood; and he usually had three or four man. It was five years from the day he of them around him, and often a dozen, in gave the poor cripple, Tom Hicks, his first the afternoon, when the schools were out. lesson. There was no nonsense. Low, sensual talk, “What news p" the sick man asked, in to which boys are sometimes addicted, a feeble voice, not even turning his head found no encouragement in his presence. towards the speaker. Life's pulses were His influence over these boys was, there running very low. The strong struggle fore, of the best kind. The parents of some with disease was nearly over. of these children, when they found their “Tom Hicks has received the appointsous going so often to the house of Tom ment of teacher to our public school." Hicks, felt doubts as to the safety of such " Are you in earnest ?" There was a intercourse. The report of these boys took mingling of surprise and doubt in the low their parents by surprise ; but, on investi tones that crept out upon the air. gation, it proved to be true, and Tom's “Yes, it is true what I say. You know character soon rose in the public estima that, after Mr. Wilson died, the directors tion.
got Tom, who was a favourite with all the The cripple's eagerness to learn, and rapid scholars, to keep the school together for a progress under limited advantages, becom few weeks until a successor could be aping generally known, a gentleman, whose / pointed. He managed so well, kept such
good order, and showed himself so capable! At length we set out, the ferrymen as an instructor, that, at the election to-day, 1 magnifying the difficulties of the passage he received a large majority of votes over a as much as possible, in order to enhance number of highly-recommended teachers, the value of their services. When first we and this without his having made applica- left the wharf a stranger stepped towards tion for the situation, or even dreaming of the stern of the boat, and took the helm. such a thing."
Every eye was fixed on him who had asAt this moment the cripple's well-known sumed this responsible station from which shuffling tread, and the rattle of crutches, every passenger had shrunk. But now that was heard upon the stairs. He came up one of their number had seen fit to take with more than his usual hurry. Croft command of the boat, on whose skill and turned with an effort, so as to get a sight knowledge solely depended the success of at him as he entered the room.
our little voyage, every one was disposed to “I have heard the good news," he said, criticise him. There could be no doubt as he reached a hand feebly towards Tom, that if he failed to bring us safely to the " and it has made my heart glad.”
landing-place on the opposite side of the "I owe it all to you,” replied the cripple, river, he would be obliged to endure the in a voice that trembled with feeling. reproaches of every one who had embarked. “God will reward you.”.
Indeed, it was soon perceived that some And he caught the shadowy arm, touched were unwilling to wait for his failure before it with his lips, and wetted it with grateful | they gave vent to their feelings. Thinking tears as once before. Even as he held that it a matter of certainty that he could not thin, white hand, the low moving pulses find the way to the ferry-stairs during a fog took a lower beat-lower and lower--until as impenetrable as midnight darkness, they the long suffering heart grew still, and the began to murmur in anticipation. The freed spirit went up to its reward.
ferrymen were the first to evince their un“Mỹ benefactor!" sobbed the cripple, easiness by casting glances at each other, as he stood by the wasted form shrouded which were noticed by the passengers, and in grave-clothes, and looked upon it for the | regarded as prognostics of ill success. One last time ere the coffin-lid closed over it, of the passengers then asked the stranger “what should I have been except for you ?" at the helm if he did not think he was
going too far up the river. The stranger at
the helm bowed, and made answer that if THE UNKNOWN PILOT.
any other gentleman present wished to take I RECOLLECT that, when a lad, I was the helm he would resign it to bis charge; crossing the East River from New York to from which it was readily inferred that so Brooklyn on a very foggy day, in a small long as he held his place, he intended to ferry-boat. My father, and several other be guided solely by his own judgment. individuals belonging to the same company This answer silenced complaint for a time, with myself, were desirous of going to as no other individual felt disposed to reFlushing, on Long Island, to attend a lieve him of his responsibility. But the meeting. It was necessary, therefore, to uneasiness of the passengers increased as we cross the river early; and when we arrived proceeded. When we became entirely surat the foot of Fulton Street, we found that rounded by fog, and no object in sight by the steam-boat had just left the wharf. which our course could be directed, the Being unwilling to wait for its return, we murmurs and conjectures of the little made a party, with the passengers who company were audibly expressed. stood on the ground, sufficient to tempt “Why don't he put the helm up?" said the ferrymen to put off in a small boat, | one nestling in his seat. and convey us across the river. The ferry “We shall come out somewhere near the men hesitated for some time, but at length Navy Yard,” said another. the offer of a sufficient reward induced "He had better let the helm go, and them to set out. The reason of their ob trust to the ferrymen,” said a lady present. jection to starting was, that the thick fog “Why don't he keep the tiller to him ?” rendered the passage uncertain. They said an elderly black woman, anxiously. could scarcely see from one end of the boat As the stranger paid no attention to to the other; and much they feared they these remarks, his silence was set down for would lose their way, and row about the obstinacy; and I am afraid a few observariver for several hours to no purpose. | tions were:added which somewhat exceeded