Зображення сторінки

tion. The diamond of inestimable value in the hands of a jeweller is practically a wretched pebble to a shipwrecked outcast. A man dying of burning thirst would give his most precious possessions for a glass of water, for which under other circumstances he would refuse to pay any price at all. Now what is the end, the destination, of the gifts offered in the temple ? If it be to augment the pomp of public worship, to pour forth the blood of a larger number of sacrificial victims, to heap up treasures in its porches, in a word, to enrich God; in that case, no doubt, the widow's coin is pitifully, absurdly small. “But, in truth, God is sufficiently rich in Himself; He asks only for our affection, everything else belonging to Him already; and if He requires of the Israelites certain offerings, He does so not for Himself, but for them, desiring to put within their reach a very simple means of expressing their gratitude. The sum poured into the treasury derives all its value from the feeling which prompted it; it counts for anything before God, only as it is a sacrifice ; its value is just what it has cost the giver. Hence it is obvious that the widow, in depriving herself, out of piety, of all she possessed, does infinitely more than the rich who bring their large sums of money : as our Lord says, with His incomparable conciseness, she gives of her penury, they of their superfluity. She offers herself, her anxieties, her cares, her distresses; she willingly accepts some additional privations, that she may testify to God her sense of His goodness.” 1

If there be first a willing mind, saith the apostle, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. Xenophon tells us of Socrates, that when he sacrificed he feared not his offering would fail of acceptance in that he was poor; but, giving according to his ability, he doubted not but, in the sight of the gods, he equalled those men whose gifts and sacrifices overspread the whole altar; for Socrates ever deemed it a most indubitable truth, that the service paid to the Deity by the pure and pious soul was the

1 “La Pite de la Veuve,” par T. Colani.

most grateful service. As with what Plutarch relates of Artaxerxes, out on a royal progress, during which people presented him with a variety of gifts; but “a labouring man, having nothing else to give him, ran to the river, and brought him some water in his hands. Artaxerxes was so much pleased, that he sent the man a gold cup, and a thousand darios.To Phidyle, rustic and retiring, filled with misgivings and apprehensions lest the humble nature of her offerings to the gods should by them be scorned, Horace addresses an ode, in which he bids her be of good cheer, in the assurance that the value of every sacrifice depends on the spirit that inspires the offerer, and that the simplest oblation, piously rendered, is more acceptable to the powers above than the most sumptuous if wanting in devout will. Young is more prosy in his poetics, as far as expression goes, when he says,

“Who does the best his circumstance allows,

Does well, acts nobly, angels could no more.” South's sermon on Good Intentions enforces “this great encouragement” in works of charity, that it is the will that gives worth to the oblation, and, as to God's acceptance, sets the poorest giver upon the same level with the richest. Nor is this all, we are told; but so perfectly does the value of all charitable acts take its measure and proportion from the will and from the fulness of the heart, rather than that of the hand : “ a lesser supply may be oftentimes a greater charity; and the widow's mite, in the balance of the sanctuary, outweigh the shekels and perhaps the talents of the most opulent and wealthy; the all and utmost of the one being certainly a nobler

1 Dean Ramsay relates of a certain penurious laird in Fife, whose weekly contributions to the church collection, notwithstanding his largely increasing wealth, never exceeded the sum of one penny, that he, one day, by mistake dropped into the plate at the door a five-shilling-piece, but discovering his error before he was seated in his pew, hurried back, and was about to replace the silver coin by his customary penny, when the elder in attendance cried out: “Stop, laird, ye may put what ye like in, but ye maun tak naething out." The laird finding his explanations went for nothing, at last said, “ A weel, I suppose I'll get credit for it in heaven.” “Na, na, laird,” said the elder; “ye'll only get credit for the penny.

alms than the superfluities of the other.” The balance of the sanctuary indeed reverses ordinary computations. Shekels and mites change places strangely; and many that are last become first, and the first last.

Owen Feltham writes “Of Alms,” that it is not necessary they should always come out of a sack. A man may be charitable, though he hath not an expanding plenty. “A little purse contained that mite, which, once put in, was the greatest gift in the treasury. Nay, sometimes a willing mind (when we are in want ourselves) is as acceptable as the richest offerings of wealth.” Bene velle is here almost one with bene facere.

“ The sense of an earnest will

To help the lowly living,
And a terrible heart thrill

If you have no power of giving ;
An arm to aid the weak,

A friendly hand to the friendless;
Kind words, so short to speak,

But whose echo is endless :
The world is great, these things are small,
They may be nothing, but they are all.” 2


COLOSSIANS iv. 14. “I UKE, the beloved physician.” The name and the

I fame are immortal. Luke and Demas are with the apostle when he writes from his prison in Rome to the saints and faithful brethren at Colosse. When he writes a little later, a very little later, from the same city, and in the same bonds, to Timothy, his own son in the faith, Demas has forsaken him, having loved this present world; but Luke

1 “Little Dorrit turned at the door to say "God bless you !! She said it very softly ; but perhaps she may have been as audible above-who knows !-as a whole cathedral choir.”Little Dorrit, chap. xiv.

2 Lord Houghton. (R. M. Milnes.)

is with him, only Luke is with him. Look on that picture, and on this : Look in, and see Christ's chosen saint In triumph wear his Christlike

chain; No fear lest he should swerve or faint ; His life is Christ, -his death is

gain. Two converts, watching by his side, Alike his love and greetings share: Luke the beloved, the sick soul's guide, And Demas, named in faltering

prayer. Pass a few years—look in once more : The saint is in his bonds again ; Save that his hopes more boldly soar, He and his lot unchanged remain. But only Luke is with him now.” 1

In the long tried and unswerving fidelity of this, "the ablest and most accomplished of all his friends,” Paul the aged, a prisoner in Rome, would find, as Dr. Roberts says, no little solace in the midst of his many trials. We have only to read the words “the beloved physician,” in order to learn the place the evangelist occupied in the affections of St. Paul. "By the loving and tender exercise of that skill which, as a physician, he possessed, he may have greatly conduced to the comfort of his often afflicted friend; and by his bold, unselfish, and devoted faithfulness, even to the end, he contributed to cheer and brighten the last trying months which were spent on earth by the great apostle.” De Quincey signalises him in an impassioned fragment, as one learned in the afflictions of man; wise alike to take counsel for the suffering spirit or for the suffering body. “The voice that breaks upon the night is the voice of a great evangelist, one of the four; and he is also a great physician.” 2 Dante beholds him in vision by the

1 Whose, the beloved physician's, joy is to the wandering sheep to tell of the great Shepherd's love ; so is he commemorated in the Christian Year, because the Gospel according to St. Luke abounds most in such passages as the parable of the lost sheep,“ such as display God's mercy to penitent sinners.And, taught by him, the church' prolongs her hymns of high thanksgiving still ; that recognition Keble makes, because the Christian hymns are all in St. Luke : the Magnificat, Benedictus, and Nunc Dimittis.

2 “His sandals are white with dust; for he has been roaming for weeks beyond the desert, under the guidance of Arabs, in missions of hopeful benignity to Palmyra ; and in spirit he is weary of all things, except

side of St. Paul with his glittering sword :

“ Two old men I beheld, dissimilar

In raiment, but in port and gesture like,
Solid and mainly grave; of whom, the one
Did show himself some favoured counsellor !

Of the great Coan,” namely, Hippocrates. Inseparably associated in memory with the last days of the great apostle, by him St. Luke is known for all time as the beloved physician; and to all who have had occasion to seek aid from some physician, whom to know is to love, the descriptive epithet, now doubly expressive, is doubly endeared.

Mr. Carlyle, in Past and Present, did well to recognise in a late Edinburgh professor, " the brave and humane Dr. Alison, whose noble healing art in his charitable hands becomes once more a truly sacred one.” Real in substance, and realised many times over, if also ideal in its external surroundings, is the portrait a popular story teller has drawn of one who has

faithfulness to God, and burning love to man.” See the opening paragraph of that unfinished (and, in one sense, uncommenced) fantasy piece, The Daughter of Lebanon, designed for a quasi sequel to the Suspiria de Profundis, as they again were professedly a continuation of the Confessions of an English Opium-eater.

John Ward in his Diary takes note of its being observed by some, that St. Luke, when mentioning the difference betwixt Paul and Barnabas, makes use of an expression in his own faculty (Tapoguouos).

Grotius and Wetstein are for making a slave of the evangelist at one period of his life, with very little if any cause shown for it. Tradition also makes a painter of him. Gibbon's sneer pervades a passage which tells how “the East and West have been decorated by the pencil of St. Luke ; and the evangelist, who was perhaps a physician, has been forced to exercise the occupation of a painter, so profane and odious in the eyes of the primitive Christians,” etc. (Rom. Empire, chap. xlix.)

Lanzi and others have shown that the legend of the paintings of St. Luke probably resulted from a confusion of names ; a Florentine monk, named Luca, of the eleventh century, being, there is much reason tó believe (Lecky, Hist. of Rationalism, vol. i., chap. 3), the chief author of the “ portraits by St. Luke." By Luke the Painter, Lucas Cranach is meant, one of the most celebrated of the old Germans ; Lucas Mahler (by some corrupted into the supposed surname, Müller).

Mr. Thackeray in the Paris Sketch-book derides the Chevalier Ziegler's picture of “St. Luke painting the Virgin,"—the evangelist with a monk's dress on, embroidered smartly round the sleeves.

« НазадПродовжити »