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Healing and Peace.

by Isaac Williams

from Sermons on the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays and Holy Days

throughout the Year, Vol. II. Trinity Sunday to All Saints' Day 

Rivingtons, London, 1875.



Saint Luke the Evangelist. 


2 Tim. iv. 5-15.  St. Luke x. 1-7. 


How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth

good tidings, that publisheth peace.-Isa.  iii.  7. 


THERE is something peculiar in St. Luke's day, something calm and soothing connected with it; it occurs at a time when summer often revives a little before it finally goes, and sheds on us a parting smile; there is something in St. Luke's own character which speaks of healing to both body and mind, like the good Samaritan, into the wounds of both pouring oil and wine.  We connect his Gospel especially with the Atonement, and the mercies of God to penitents; it is the storehouse of consolation, in incident, and parable, and precept; the source of evangelical hymns.  To these we may add the personal history of St. Luke himself.  In the service for the day he is brought before us as the faithful companion of St. Paul in the last view we obtain of the great Apostle.  While St. Paul is strengthened for his last trial, and ready to encounter death with calm hope and joy, the good Physician is found by his side in his chains.  The recurrence therefore of this day is like the last gleaming of the year itself at this season, when a serene and bright interval precedes its close. 


The Epistle for the day, which is found the same in our own Church as in the Missal, rivets our attention to this one view of St. Luke.  It is not St. Luke in his Gospel, or in the emblems that denote it; nor in the Acts of the Apostles which he wrote; but by love made partaker of St. Paul's bonds, having the privilege of being with that great saint when, after all his labours, his Lord seemed at last about to draw near from behind the veil, and to say unto him, Thou hast been "faithful unto death, I will give thee a crown of life." We are indeed familiarized with the idea of St. Paul and St. Luke being together by this slight incident in the Acts, that at certain periods in the history the term "we" is introduced instead of "they," as “we kneeled down on the shore and prayed;" “we took ship;" "we abode with the brethren." And in St. Paul's Epistles he appears as his fellow-labourer.  Thus he says to the Colossians, "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you ;" [1 Col.  iv.  14] and to the Corinthians he speaks of St. Luke as "the brother whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches.' [2 Cor.  viii.  18]  But none of these things has so connected his memory with St. Paul as this his faithful adherence to him, when all seem to have forsaken him at the eve of martyrdom.   This passage too from St. Paul's second Epistle to Timothy is remarkable, in being expressive of the period at which it was written; not full and flowing in style, or impassioned, like his other Epistles, but short and sententious as of one strung for his last trial, and by brief incidental notices bringing before us his friends and the great Apostle himself, his sorrows, his desertion, his little wants, his great consolations,—all touched with the simple solemnity of approaching departure. 


Watch thou, he says to Timothy, having just charged him before God and Christ, and appealing to the Judgment,- Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an Evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.  And all this on account of the many perils to the faith of which he had been speaking.  For I am now, he adds, ready to be offered, literally to be poured forth as a drink offering, in allusion to the shedding of his blood in martyrdom; and the time of my departure is at hand.   I have fought a good fight.  There is something, as St. Chrysostom observes, unusual with St. Paul in this high language, the reason of which is that he was speaking for the consolation of him to whom he wrote, and of those around him.  And we may add it was the light of God in the darkness, amidst the desertion of friends, the triumph of enemies, the apparent failure of his course; it partakes of the peculiar blessing attached to persecution for Christ's sake, that of being exceeding glad, yea, of leaping for joy.  I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.  Before this he had said, "I count not myself to have apprehended, but reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling." [Phil.  iii.  13]  He strove for the mastery, he said, as one contending, and kept under his body lest he should be a castaway.  [1 Cor.  ix.  25, 27]  But now in calm and humble hope he looks up and beholds the crown of martyrdom held out in the Judge's hand.  But here how carefu1 against preferring himself, and excluding others from this hope! And not to me only, he adds, but unto all them also that love His appearing.  And who are they that love His appearing? They, says St. Chrysostom, who rejoicing in that His coming, for joy thereof cast away substance, if need be, and life itself, and do all things to ensure a particular coming, each to himself, before that His appearing. 


And now wishing to see Timothy before his death, he says, Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.  Only Luke is with me.  The fidelity of Luke here appears in sad contrast with the falling away of Demas; and the more strongly from their having been mentioned together in former letters.  He sends their greeting together to the Colossians; and to Philemon he speaks of Demas and Luke his fellow-labourers.   But now the trial had sifted the chaff and the wheat, and they are parted asunder.  How awful is this separation ever going on between the good and bad! It is as our Lord says, "Two shall be together, the one shall be taken and the other left."  Demas was buying a little present ease, while St. Luke was incurring danger and trouble; but after a few years how great for ever the separation between them! How awakening and impressive are our Lord's words respecting this great exchange, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?".


And now with regard to the remainder of this Epistle, and the little circumstantial details of ordinary life which it introduces.  God has been pleased to afford us a more intimate knowledge of St. Paul than of any other of the early saints; and this has been partly owing to the accounts of him which St. Luke has given us in the Acts, and partly to incidental particulars, many of themselves of little moment, which occur throughout his letters.  Take Mark, he says, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.  Though there had been some disagreement between them, this had been quite forgiven and forgotten, except perhaps to suggest this little act of kindness before his death and word of strong approval; while no prospect of death had made the great Apostle omit the care of his charge, which needed the ministry of another.  And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.  The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee; and the books, but especially the parchments.  Books and parchments containing such documents probably as he would leave for the future guidance of the Church. 


Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works.  Of whom be thou ware also, for he hath greatly withstood our words.  This too is a memorable passage; St. Paul has not only the desertion of a friend to grieve him in this, his last trial, but also the active opposition of enemies of the faith, which was dearer to him than life—it is an instance of the seducers of the last days which he had just been speaking of.  But observe, he leaves him to the judgment of God, and only gives the warning to Timothy; bidding him to be on his guard against him.  As our Lord Himself says, "Beware," or "Take heed" of false prophets, and “Leave them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind."


And now we come to consider the Gospel for the day, which is the account of our Lord sending forth the Seventy disciples.  It may be asked what is the reason for this selection.  It has been thought that St. Luke himself was one of the Seventy, but there is no sufficient authority for this opinion.  First, it may be this: among the Jews there were three orders—the High Priest, the Priest, and the Levites; and in the Gospels our Lord Himself, and then the Twelve, and then the Seventy disciples; and it may be intended that as St. Luke does not rank among the Twelve Apostles, he is to be considered as one of the larger number thus sent forth to preach the Gospel.  Or, again, it might be, that as the Twelve were more especially for the Jews, and the Seventy for the calling of the Gentiles, St. Luke, as the companion of St. Paul, and the writer of that Gospel which was more especially for the Gentiles, is therefore associated with this second mission.  Or, thirdly, it might be because this important account is given only in St. Luke's Gospel, and therefore thus appropriated to his memory.  For all these reasons we may see that this selection from Scripture is not unsuited to the day.  This sending forth of disciples throughout all the world, by mercies to both body and soul to prepare the way for the coming of Christ, has this admonitory lesson for ourselves, that it invites us to look forward to that Advent to which, in the course of our Sacred Year, our faces are now turned.  It bids us prepare for the gathering in of the harvest by the joint endeavours of ministers and laity, labouring together in prayer; when "the harvest" of our natural year "is past, and the summer is ended," to fill our thoughts with the work of another harvest, wherein "he that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together."


The Lord appointed other seventy also, that is, after the mission of the Twelve, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place whither He Himself would come.  Therefore said He unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few I pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harveSt. Here we may see something of that mystery of love wherein God works the great marvels of His grace—they are sent forth "two and two," that they may mutually aid and support each other; from whence, as in the instance of St. Paul, and St. Luke with him, faithful unto death, we have such beautiful instances of Divine union and concord, which is the strength of the Church.  And oh, how sad a sign of these last days, that harmony is now so seldom found between two ministering together at the same altar! In the next place, we have all the Christian body united together in prayer with those that are sent forth, co-operating and associated with them in one heart and soul, as striving together with them in prayer; and both of these dependent on each other.  The multitude are not saved without the labourers sent forth to gather, and the labourers are not sent forth without the prayers of the multitude.  And, thirdly, these are by prayer united unto God, the Lover of concord; for it is said, "Pray ye the Lord that He would send;" and, again, it is of God in Christ, for our Lord Himself says, also, "Behold, I send you." All these are necessary; for if the Lord did not send them that go forth, unity would be broken; and if God sent them without the prayers of His people, their going forth would be for condemnation, for there would be no love. 


Go your ways, behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.  It is I that send you forth thus to conquer in unarmed meekness; it is "the Lamb” that leadeth, and therefore ye must go forth as lambs, and ye shall overcome the wolves.  Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes, and salute no man by the way.  And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.  And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.  Your labour cannot be lost; the Word of God shall not be void; "it shall turn to you again," and bring peace to your own bosom.  The more destitute of human means, the more will ye look to the Lamb Who was slain for us, and find health in the great and good Physician, "by Whose stripes we are healed." Your peace which shall rest upon them is the peace which Christ gives, but it is through you, His ministers, that He bestows it upon "the son of peace." For the son of peace may be in that house, but while separated from the Body of Christ he has not that peace, till ye entering in as the servants of Christ, and in His Name proclaim His peace.  O peace beyond all price, mayest thou never by us, His ministers, be pronounced in vain!


And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.  Here again is another fresh bond by which all things are held together in ChriSt. Not only are the people to pray for their ministers, but also to support them.  Thus are all associated together in one common endeavour to the furtherance of the Gospel, labouring together in mutual aid and charities.  Nor can any Church flourish or abound in the grace of God, unless for spiritual blessings and gifts it restores things temporal.  Not that this is needed, it may be, in the present times for the aid of your own immediate minister, but it is required most urgently for the needs of the Church of Christ which is abroad.  It is needful for the salvation of those that send, as well as for those to whom they are sent. 


It is to this sending forth to preach that St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans applies the fulfilment of the text from Isaiah, for he says, "How shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace!" [Rom x.  15.]  And surely in no part of Scripture are these words more fulfilled than in the Gospel of St. Luke, which so peculiarly declares peace to the penitent.  St. John speaks of love, and St. Matthew of power, but St. Luke of healing and of peace, and of these in the highest and best sense—not merely of the kingdom of peace in a general way, but of that which our Lord gives in this mission—His own peace to each house, and to each in that house who is "the son of peace."  As the prophet Isaiah adds, "that publisheth peace; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"—that Kingdom of God which is within.  Such is St. Luke's Gospel and mission of good tidings.  And how many on their knees since St. Luke wrote have prayed over the things which he alone mentions in his Gospel—of the Prodigal son; of the woman that was a Sinner that loved much; of the Penitent thief; of the Lost sheep; of the Publican in the Temple; of the good Samaritan;—how many, I say, from that day to this, in praying over these have found peace!