The Calling of the Twelve

The Calling of the Twelve

Appointment of twelve Apostles.

(The Gospel History, Section 42)

And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples, whom he himself would, and they went unto him: and he chose from them twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have authority to cast out devils: Simon whom he also surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, and them he surnamed Boanerges, which is Sons of thunder: and Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, and James the son of Alphæus, and Simon which was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot which was the traitor.

The Calling of the Twelve

(The Saviour of the World, Vol II Book III Poem XXVIII)

When the dawn brake, behold, upon the slopes
Of that lone peak, disciples drawn—aware,
Anticipating, fearful, the unknown,—
That which should happen now the day had dawned:
From crowd of the disciples called He straight
Such as He would—none murmuring to be left:
These stood with open soul before the Judge,
Who, as He looked, applied resolving test,—
Was’t love and loyalty in eye of each,
Or simple truth as of a little child,
Capacity for affairs, intelligence
To comprehend the mystery of the Cross,
Was’t zeal, or steadfastness, or countenance
Witnessed to eloquent tongue, whose burning words
Should quicken life in thousand longing souls?
We know not: all we know,—from out the crowd
Waiting the judgment of the Son of Man,
Some, He rejected; other some, He chose:
Twelve, whom He named Apostles, called He forth:
(How dear to us occasions when the Son
Useth that earliest privilege of man,—
To name the things that be, and in the name
Express the functions, attributes, of each:
Good, He should surname Simon, Levi, give
That designation to the Twelve, to last
While Time goes on, Eternity evolves:
Every such naming of the Lord, more dear
Than chiefest poet’s most melodious lay!)

The Apostles—what their part? To be with Him,
Go where He went, gather the words that fell
From lips divine that so, no fragment lost:
Ah, happy Twelve, to hear all words He spake,
To see Him go, in greatness of His might,
Putting to flight all shapes of human ill!
To learn of Him philosophy benign
Should truth discriminate, error confound,
Offer that only clew to labyrinth
Of time and sense and seeming baffles us,
Till, lost in maze, with wandering wits we stray,—
Say, Sure, there is no God, nor heaven, nor hell,
Nothing is anywhere but what we see,
Know through our senses, choose that it shall be!—
As miser finds where he shall hide his gold,
A secret place, secure, strong to resist
Able to hold ’gainst thief, or who, alloy,
Would mix with precious metal and debase,
So Christ, the Giver, found to lodge His words,
Stronghold of those twelve hearts,—oh, holy trust!

“That they might be with Him;” but, came a time
When He should send them forth to preach, give forth
Of that committed to their keeping, teach
Way of salvation to poor souls that strayed,
And, giving freely, should increase the more!
In earthen vessels lodged He all that wealth
Whose scattering should feed His fainting world!

Hear should they, and should preach; but more, He gave
Of that, inherent in Himself alone,
To them as of His substance; they should have
Authority, all devils to cast out—
For, how to preach or teach or help poor souls
At mercy of the evil one, who comes
And takes possession, as men claim their own!
Still goeth he about to claw and tear,
To ravage human souls with bestial lusts;
Prudence, we preach, and temperance, and hope
Of good things of this world for who shall cast
His evil from him and go forth, clean man:
Poor wretch, of what avail? No power he has;
In one Name only can he be set free;
And this Name the Apostles, graced to use
(Else were their preaching vain), Deliverers,
Went forth to captive thralls and set them free!

To hear and hold and treasure up the Word,
To teach and preach and spread abroad the Word,
To deliver captive souls by that great Word,—
To these three offices were consecrate
The Twelve Apostles; all these they fulfilled.
Who were those Twelve—most honoured among men—
Names we revere, on whose word build our faith?
Peter and Andrew, James and John, we know;
Nearest and dearest ever to their Lord,
Because they loved much and yet were meek:
Simon, unstable, yet a rock, we learned,
Gat new name from his Lord; those other two,
John we call gentle, and his brother James—
Too bold are we?—But, see we smile, the Lord?
Doth tender humour for the instant show
In Christ’s kind Eyes, as, seeing fiery zeal
In the meek brothers, “Boanerges,” He
Straight named those Sons of Thunder, gentle saints?
Bartholomew we love, for he, Nathanael;
Glad, we, that modest Levi here to meet
Amongst the chosen Twelve, graced with a name
Dear to all Christian folk, as one of Four
Who for us wrote Evangel of our Lord;
That other James, and Simon, zealot called—
Of sect confounding politics and faith;
Philip and Thomas, he of doubtful mind;
And Judas, son of James, called Thaddeus,
(How bear the name of him betrayed the Lord?)—
These five we scarce know yet; emerge shall each
From the Holy Company as occasion bids:
Remains but Judas—man of Kerioth:—
Lord, seven times seventy Thou bidd’st forgive;
Would’st Thou bid pardon him betrayèd Thee?
Too hard, O Lord, for us, too hard is this!
If pardon must we, Thou, enable us!

St. Luke vi. 13-16;
St. Mark iii. 14-19