O TEACHI G WITH MERCY.

BY JOH RIVI GTO

St Luke ix. 2. " And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick." St. Luke the Evangelist had been, we know, by profession, a Physician, and he is called by St. Paul "the beloved Physician*." And this circumstance of his former profession is alluded to in the Collect for the day, where he is spoken of under the higher title, as being made a " Physician of the soul ;" and we pray that " by the wholesome medicines of the doctrine delivered by him, all the diseases of our souls may be healed." The diseases of our souls and bodies, and the healing of our souls and bodies, are both thus put together. And it may be profitable for us to inquire how it is that throughout the Gospels these two are so much connected with each other. Thus our Blessed Saviour, when Hb commenced preaching the Gospel, began also, at the same time, to heal diseases ; and always continued throughout doing the same together, teaching and healing. And, indeed, when He healed diseases, it was of itself like preaching the Gospel ; it was thus our Lord showed to all men that Hb had power to relieve all those bodily maladies which are the punishment of our sins, and that, therefore. He > Col. iv. 14.

O TEACHI G WITH MKRCY. 29 had both the power and the will to remove those of our souls also. And hence it was that when John the Baptist sent to ask whether Hb was the Christ, or whether they were to look for another^ our Blessed Lord, as the best answer that could be given to this question, pointed to the miracles of healing which

Hb had performed : " Then Jbsus answering, said unto them. Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard : how that the bhnd see, the' lame walk, the lepers are cleansed,, the deaf hear *." Our Saviour evidently wished people to observe and notice, that what Hb was doing for their bodies. He was able and willing to do for their souls ; and that the bodily cures which Hb worked were only like an outward sign and representation, set before their eyes, of what Hb would do for their souls, in saving them from diseases and death eternal. And thus, on one remarkable occasion, Hb joined both of these together, to the great offence of the Pharisees, for on healing the manwho was sick of the palsy in the presence of all who were in the synagogue, instead of telling him that he was healed of his infirmity, Hb said, " Son, thy sins are forgiven thee." And when the Pharisees were grievously offended at this, saying that Hb spoke blasphemies, our Blessed Saviour explained to them, that as far as the words went, it was as easy to say one as the other ; but that they ought to have observed, that the power shown in doing one could do the other also ; but that He had a particular object in doing this ; namely, to lead them to observe that His miracles on the body were intended to show them that Hb had power to forgive sinst ** Whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee ; or to say, Rise up and walk ? But that ye mav know that the Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins'." o doubt our Blessed Lord wished, by thus speaking of forgiveness of sins, to draw their attention to what was implied by His thus healing diseases by a word ; so that as they could not doubt of the fact, which was performed before their eyes, so they should go on to see thereby Who and What Hb was : for it was very true and evident, as they themselves said, that no one could forgive sins but God only ; and it was also equally true and evident, that no one could by a Divine 3 Luke vii. 19. 23. ' Ibid. v. 20. 24.

30 O TEACHI G WITH MERCY. mirade restore men from bodily diseases, without having power to

remove the^in that occasioned them. But it may be observed, that not only did oor Lord HiHSstF always work miracles of healing at the same time that Hr preached the Gospel, but likewise when Hr sent oat the Twelve Apostles, and afterwards, when Hr sent out the Seventy Disciples, Hr gave them power and commtssion not only to preach the Gospel, but also to heal diseases : when they entered into a city, they were, oar Loan says, to " heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them. The Kingdom of Gon is come nigh unto yon *" And in the Text it is said of the Twelve, that Hr "gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And Hr sent them to preach the Kingdom of God,. and to heal the sick." Thus we find consistently throughout, that our Lord Himsrlf and the Twelve, and then, again, the Seventy, all Three orders, as it were, of the Ministry, combined together in one these two blessed works of healing the diseases both of body and soul. And so, in like manner, we find it afterwards was the case in the Acts of the Apostles ; St. Peter and St. Paul were working miracles of healing at the same time that they were preaching the Grospel. Thus St. Peter heals the lame, the paralytic, and raises the dead*; and "God worked special miracles by. the hands of Paul ; so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them ; and the evil spirits went out of them '." And when St. Paul himself was brought to the light of the Gospel, Ananias, who was sent to him of God, restored sight to his eyes, at the same time that he baptized him ^. ow, in all these cases this was the manner in which God showed His miraculous power and presence ; for at the same tone that Hr healed the sicknesses of the soul, Hr thus removed also those nlaladies of the body which were the consequences and chastenings for sin ; so that what Hr did in one case was, I say, the outward and visible sign of the other: and both of them were beyond nature, and were, proofs of God's Presence, of the

* Luke X. 9. * Acts iii. 7 ; ix. 34. 40. « Acts xix. 12. ' Acts ix. 18.

O TEACHI G WITH MERCY. 31 power of a loving and mercifol Saviour, Who was come to redeem both body and soul from the power of the devil. But this was not the case with St. Lake, " the beloved physician :" this title implies not that he had any supernatural power to heal the sick, but that it so happened that, as men were called from different occupations and modes of life, as the foor first disciples had been fishermen, St. Matthew a tax-gatherer, St. Paul a tent- maker ; so St. Luke had been brought up to the occupation and practice of a physician. or is it indeed stated that he continued to exercise this profession and skill after he was converted, for he might have had the name though he did nothing but preach the Gospel ; and yet, from this mention of him, it would seem as if the calling itself had something in it of a sacred and Christian character, so that he continued ever afterwards to be thus known. We read not, in the case of the others, of any allusion to their former life, as containing within it any character that continued with them; nothing of the fishermen, or taxgatherer, or tent-maker ; these were distinct things of themselves, which were lost in their Christian ministry, and -had nothing to do with it; but St. Luke is still to the last "the beloved physician." And the Church takes up the sacred allusion, and speaks of him as in some sense a physician both of our bodies and souls. So that, as among the first ministers of the Gospel, there was a •* beloved disciple," so was there also " the beloved physician ;" the disciple beloved of his Loan and loving men, the physician beloved of men and loving God. And surely by all these things we are taught some great and mysterious lesson, that healing of soul and body are in some way to go together ; in such a significant and remarkable manner are they combined throughout the ew Testament, and interwoven

as it were together in all the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth : " bed the sick," ** preach the kingdom." But then ft may be said, these cannot go together in a natural way with us ; for they both require separate skill and undivided attention. We cannot have a physician and a minister of Chkist combined in one ; for these two offices must have a different education, and one would become so absorbed and swallowed up in the other, that the right and due calling of both would be lost : so that, generally speaking, they cannot be altogether combined ; for missionaries and

32 O TEACHI G WITH MERCY. pastors cannot have the education of a physician. And yet, notwithstanding this, we may be snre that a very great and important lesson is intended to be conveyed to us by this circumstance, that God, in His Own Divine and supernatural teaching, has always combined the two in His Kingdom. Our Blessed Saviour, when Hb would intimate His merciful coming to restore lost mankind, seems to have described Himself, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, as taking care of the wounded man, and pouring into his wounds oil and wine. Thus would Hb, perhaps, set forth Himsblf as the Physician of our souls. But then this Parable contains a lesson which we are all to follow in the literal sense, in binding up the wounds of the sick man, and healing them, and taking care of him. In this we are all to resemble the good Samaritan, and in so doing to become like to Christ Himsblf ; for our Blessed Lord Himsblf is seen throughout in the Gospels in this especial character, as relieving the sicknesses and the bodily sufferings of mankind : it is to be like Him in the works of bodily charity that we are especially invited ; it is in this line of conduct more particularly we are to be merciful as Hb is merciful. Visiting the sick is one of the especial marks of His children, to be brought forward at the last day *. So that the parable which sets before us our duty in this respect is a description of Himself. But then, it may be asked, why is this so much connected with

preaching the Gospel ; because the two offices appear to be in themselves quite separate, and yet Holy Scripture so often unites them together, although it is hardly possible that they should in any great degree be found together, excepting where the extraordinary power is given to work miracles ? The reason appears to be, that there can be no teaching of the Gospel, no effectual saving way of edifying the souls of men, unless it be accompanied with compassionate mercy and charity. It is very possible for these to be separated, and for men to be fervently engaged in putting forward eternal truth and the Kingdom of God, without love and a humble desire for their brethren's good. Thus we find, not only that the devils believed and trembled, but also that they were desirous, if one might so speak, to confess and * Malt. XXV. 39.

O TEACHI G WITH MERCY. 83 preach Christ. Indeed, our Lord tboaght it right to exercise His Divine Power and Anthority over them, to prevent them from doing this when He cast them otit. " Hb suffered not the devils to speak/' we read, *' because they knew that Hb was Christ'." It was the constant effort and desire of the evil spirits to make Him known. " I know Tbbb Who Thou art," said one," the Holy One of God *." " Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time ' ?" said another. ow what was this but to confess the Son op God ; to acknowledge Him as the Eternal Judoe ; to make known among men His Holiness ; to show that He was their enemy, and therefore the Great Saviour of mankind ? But yet He suffered them not ; on the contrary. His Own preaching of the Grospel consisted almost entirely in working miracles, and not in declaring aloud the mighty saving truths of His Gospel. He would not have the everlasting truths of His Kingdom to be made known, excepting from the midst of works of mercy. He would not call upon men to love God, without at the same time showing loving-kindness and compassion to each other. And He has told us that the great proof of a true prophet, whom we are to follow, will be that of bearing

fruit *, that is, the fruits of mercy ; for though Satan can transform himself into an angel of light, yet consistent and humble works of loving-kindness he cannot counterfeit. ow this is very much to be observed in days of religious controversy, when men will be springing up and coming forward, whose great object, they would fain make themselves and others to believe, is to seek the truth, and to impress the truth on others. ow, unless this is combined with a very compassionate regard and sympathy for others, although such persons may indeed have got hold of some great truths which they profess, as even the devils had -in Scripture, yet they are to be suspected; tbe means and the end are to be suspected. ow, although it is difficult to apply all this at th^ time to circumstances that are passing before us, yet, in looking back, it may lead us to form a correct judgment on things that are past : where zeal has appeared without charity and humility, we may conclude that there is something •9 Luke iv. 41. 1 Ibid. iv. 34. 3 Matt. viii. 29. ' Ibid. vii. 16. VOL. X. D

84 O TEACHI G WITH MERCY. in such very unlike the movements of the good Spirit of God. Such may be seen in the times of the great rebellion in this country : those were the days, it has been said, " of li^ht but not of love ;" but the very light itself, unless it has love with it, is not the genuine light of Christ, Who " lighteth every man who cometh into the world," but rather the false light of him who can counterfeit the Angel of light. And the same may be applied to still earlier times in this country, when men were burnt to death under pretence of religion. When one compares such a mode of teaching religion with the conduct of our Blessed Saviour, it is difficult to conceive how such fires could ever be attributed to any thing else but the great enemy of

love, the enemy of God and man. But these are all great matters ; what is far more important for us to consider as concerning ourselves is this, that the best way of saving the souls of others, as well as our own^ is by works of mercy; and all zeal for religion is to be suspected without it. ow this is a wonderful provision in the merciful economy of God ; for there is a great repugnance on the part of man to receive the truths of God ; " they are foolishness unto him," and " a stumbling-block ;" for there is that within him which rises up and rejects them ; which tramples them under foot, and rises up and turns again to rend those that bring them. And besides which, religious truths are mixed up very much with controversies which excite angry passions ; so that he who has to carry to mankind the truths of the Gospel must always have to bear the Cross. What a merciful appointment is it, therefore, that they who have to bear these unwelcome truths, have also, by their very calling, to show compassion to the bodily wants of men, and thereby have an access and opening to their hearts; even as our Blessed Saviour Himself, when at last His enemies came to take HiH, He healed the ear of one of them *, and then said, " Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take Mb ?" He first of all shows His Power and His Love for them, and then expostulates with them. * Luke xxii. 51.

O TEACHI G WITH MERCY. 35 And thus always unto the end Mercy and Truth must go together in His Kingdom. Righteousness and Peace are knit together : and therefore the question is not merely, " What is truth ?" but where is the truth together with love and humility ? These God hath joined together ; and if men put

them asunder, nothing but confusion and strife will follow.

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