Imatges de pÓgina

southern end, and at the outlet of the Jordan. The old story, told by Tacitus and others, that the Jordan flows directly through the centre without mingling with the lake, has no other foundation than the fancy of those who repeat it. The water is sweet and wholesome, and the fish abundant and of an excellent quality. They are, however, but little troubled by either hook, net, or spear.

By the way, this reminds me that in all our rambles around this most Biblical of lakes, I have constantly missed two pictures with which it has ever been associated on fancy's tablet-the little ships and the fishermen. The absence of the former is easily explained. The few semi-savage Arabs who now frequent this shore have no occasion for ships. But why are there no fishers about Gennesaret? There are fish enough in these waters, as we have frequently seen.

The Arabs, particularly the Bedawîn and the peasant, have an invincible dread and repugnance to the sea, nor can they be tempted to trust themselves upon its treacherous bosom. Some of their favorite proverbs are intended to express this national aversion. If the lake was covered with boats, they would travel all round its shores on the slowpaced camel rather than sail directly across to our city. As there is no demand for boats, the very art of building them is lost. You could not find a carpenter on this whole coast who has either the materials, the tools, or the skill to construct one, or even to mend it if broken. They have no more use for boats than for well-made roads; both disappeared together when the Arabians conquered the country, and both will reappear together as soon as a more civilized race rises to power.

The cause for the absence of fishermen is likewise found in the character and habits of these Arabs. You could never persuade a genuine son of the desert to sit or stand all day holding a rod over the water with a string and hook at the end of it. If you put it into his hands all ready baited, you would soon hear "Yukta 'amrû" as he flung the whole apparatus into the lake. Those who dwell in the cities and


villages along the coast of the Mediterranean have partially departed from these primitive habits, and learned from Greeks and Franks the piscatory art, but even they have no enthusiasm for it. Out here it is held in utter contempt.

How do you account for the fact that so many of the apostles were chosen from this class of fishermen? It could not have been accidental.

Nothing in the kingdom of Christ is accidental or the result of caprice, least of all the vital matter of its first teachers and founders. There was, no doubt, an adaptation, a fitness in the occupation of these men to develop just those attributes of character most needed in the apostolic office. There are various modes of fishing, and each calculated to cultivate and strengthen some particular moral quality of great importance in their mission. Thus angling requires patience, and great perseverance and caution. The line must be fine; the hook carefully concealed by the bait; and this, too, must be such as is suited to the capacity and taste of the fish you seek to catch. A mistake in any of these things defeats the object. If the hook is too big or not well covered the bait too large or not adapted to the taste-of course you take nothing, or bring up a useless crab. There may be deceptive nibbles, but nothing more. So, also, the line must not alarm them, nor will it do to dash the hook in impatiently. And the man must not put himself forward; he should not be seen at all.

Then there is fishing with the hand-net. This is beautiful and picturesque. You see it to best advantage along the coast from Beirût to Sidon. The net is in shape like the top of a tent, with a long cord fastened to the apex. This is tied to his arm, and the net so folded that, when it is thrown, it expands to its utmost circumference, around which are strung beads of lead to make it drop suddenly to the bottom. Now see the actor: half bent, and more than half naked, he keenly watches the playful surf, and there he spies his game tumbling in carelessly toward him. Forward he leaps to meet it. Away goes the net, expanding as it flies, and its leaded circumference strikes the bottom

ere the silly fish is aware that its meshes have closed around him. By the aid of his cord the fisherman leisurely draws up the net and the fish with it. This requires a keen eye, an active frame, and great skill in throwing the net. He, too, must be patient, watchful, wide awake, and prompt to seize the exact moment to throw.

Then there is the great drag-net, the working of which teaches the value of united effort. Some must row the boat, some cast out the net, some on the shore pull the rope with all their strength, others throw stones and beat the water round the ends, to frighten the fish from escaping there; and as it approaches the shore, every one is active in holding up the edges, drawing it to land, and seizing the fish. This is that net which gathered of every kind, and, when drawn to the shore, the fishermen sit down and gather the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. I have watched this operation throughout a hundred times along the shore of the Mediterranean.

Again, there is the bag-net and basket-net, of various kinds, which are so constructed and worked as to inclose the fish out in deep water. I have seen them of almost every conceivable size and pattern. It was with some one of this sort, I suppose, that Simon had toiled all night without catching any thing, but which, when let down at the command of Jesus, inclosed so great a multitude that the net. brake, and they filled two ships with the fish until they began to sink. Peter here speaks of toiling all night, and there are certain kinds of fishing always carried on at night. It is a beautiful sight. With blazing torch, the boat glides over the flashing sea, and the men stand gazing keenly into it until their prey is sighted, when, quick as lightning, they fling their net or fly their spear; and often you see the tired firshermen come sullenly into harbor in the morning, having toiled all night in vain. Indeed, every kind of fishing is uncertain. A dozen times the angler jerks out a naked hook; the hand-net closes down on nothing; the dragnet brings in only weeds; the bag comes up empty. And

Matt. xiii. 47, 48.

Luke v. 4-9.



then, again, every throw is successful-every net is full; and frequently without any other apparent reason than that of throwing it on the right side of the ship instead of the left, as it happened to the disciples here at Tiberias.'

It is wholly unnecessary to apply these things to the business of fishing for men in the great seas of sin. That we may leave to the commentator and the preacher. No one occupation of humble life, not even that of the shepherd, calls into exercise and develops so many of the elements necessary for the office of a religious teacher as this of fishing. Are we to understand from John xxi. 7 that Peter was actually naked?

Not necessarily so. Here in this hot climate, however, it is common to fish with nothing but a sort of shawl or napkin tied round the waist. The fisher's coat which he girt about him was the short 'abayeh which they now wear, and which they very often lay aside while fishing. They can doff and don it in a moment. When worn, it is girt tight about the loins with the zunnar, and Peter did this when hastening to meet the Lord.

As to "ships," they have all disappeared, and there is but one small boat on the lake, and this is generally out of repair. The owner has been here, and told the servant that he will take us for a short sail this evening. We will go to Mejdel, and then you will have completed the entire circuit of this "sacred sea."

26th. What a charming sail on Gennesaret we had last night! I would not have missed it for any consideration.

It was indeed delightful, especially the row back after sunset, while twilight was fading into the solemn mysteries of night; and how prettily the stars came out, twinkling so sociably at us like old friends! These very stars thus gazed with their loving eyes upon Him who made them when he sailed over this same lake eighteen hundred years ago. Mystery of mysteries! The God-man, the Divine Logos, by whom all things were made which are in heaven and which are on earth, did actually sail over this identical sea

John xxi. 6.

in a boat, and by night, as we have done; and not stars only, but angels also beheld and wondered, and still do gaze, and ever will, "desiring earnestly to look into those things." This is not fancy, but fact; and shadowy indeed must be his faith in whose breast these sacred shores awaken no holier emotions than such as spring from common earth and ordinary lakes. He must be of those who have eyes but see not, ears but hear not, and hearts that can not comprehend. Shame on us all, that we can frequent the haunts and the home of Him who came from heaven to die for our redemption with little reverence and less love. We would not plead for apocryphal relics or fabulous caverns. It is wise and well to refuse all homage to such cunning fabrications. But surely it is unnatural, if not impious, to withhold or restrain those emotions which the scenes we are contemplating are calculated to awaken, which they will inspire in every mind having faith enough to invest the Gospel narratives with reality and life. Depend upon it, the eye that looks unmoved on these shores is in the head of a practical infidel.

I have always supposed that the Gospel narratives would be more interesting and better understood, and that the instructions of our divine Teacher would fall with more power upon the heart in the places where they were first delivered, than when read or heard on the other side of the world; and to a limited extent I find this to be true. Still, there is a sense of vagueness which I can not dissipate. I regret this the more, because it is so different from what I anticipated. It is a favorite theory of mine that every true book has a birth-day and a home; so has every prophet and religious teacher; and we not only have a right to subject their recorded history and instructions to the test of time and place to ascertain their authenticity and truthfulness, but, if they are genuine, such scrutiny will greatly illustrate and emphasize their meaning. Nor is it irreverent to apply these tests to the life and teachings of Him who spoke as man never spoke-as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Can we not do something toward gathering

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