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ST. LUKE

Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. Colossians iv. 14. Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world . . . Only Luke is with me. 2 Timothy iv. 10, 11.

Two clouds before the summer gale

In equal race fleet o’er the sky:

Two flowers, when wintry blasts assail,

Together pins, together die.

But two capricious human hearts —

No sage’s rod may track their ways.

No eye pursue their lawless starts

Along their wild self-chosen maze.

He only, by whose sovereign hand

Even sinners for the evil day122122The Lord hath made all things for Himself: year, even the wicked for the day of evil. Proverbs xvi. 4.

Were made — who rules the world He plann’d,

Turning our worst His own good way;

He only can the cause reveal,

Why, at the same fond bosom fed,

Taught in the self-same lap to kneel

Till the same prayer were duly said,

Brothers in blood and nurture too,

Aliens in heart so oft should prove;

One lose, the other keep, Heaven’s clue;

One dwell in wrath, and one in love.

He only knows — for He can read

The mystery of the wicked heart —

Why vainly oft our arrows speed

When aim’d with most unerring art;

While from some rude and powerless arm

A random shaft in season sent

Shall light upon some lurking harm,

And work some wonder little meant.

Doubt we, how souls so wanton change,

Leaving their own experienc’d rest?

Need not around the world to range;

One narrow cell may teach us best.

Look in, and see Christ’s chosen saint

In triumph wear his Christ-like chain;

No fear lest he should swerve or faint;

“His life is Christ, his death is gain.”123123Philippians i. 21.

Two converts, watching by his side,

Alike his love and greetings share;

Luke the belov’d, the sick soul’s guide,

And Demas, nam’d 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,124124   In the Epistle to the Philippians, “I know that I shall abide and continue with you all: — I count not myself to have apprehenede.” chaps. 1. 25; iii. 13.
   In 2 Timothy, “I have finished my course,” &c., ch. iv. 7, 8.

He and his lot unchang’d remain.

But only Luke is with him now:

Alas! that e’en the martyr’s cell,

Heaven’s very gate, should scope allow

For the false world’s seducing spell.

’Tis sad — but yet ’tis well, be sure,

We on the sight should muse awhile,

Nor deem our shelter all secure

Even in the Church’s holiest aisle.

Vainly before the shrine he bends,

Who knows not the true pilgrim’s part:

The martyr’s cell no safety lends

To him who wants the martyr’s heart.

But if there be, who follows Paul

As Paul his Lord, in life and death,

Where’er an aching heart may call,

Ready to speed and take no breath;

Whose joy is, to the wandering sheep

To tell of the great Shepherd’s love;125125The Gospel of Luke abounds most in such passages as the parable of the lost sheep, which display God’s mercy to penitent sinners.

To learn of mourners while they weep

The music that makes mirth above;

Who makes the Saviour all his theme,

The Gospel all his pride and praise —

Approach: for thou canst feel the gleam

That round the martyr’s death-bed plays:

Thou hast an ear for angels’ songs,

A breath the gospel trump to fill,

And taught by thee the Church prolongs

Her hymns of high thanksgiving still.126126The Christian hymns are all in St. Luke: the Magnificat, Benedictus, and Nunc Dimittis.

Ah! dearest mother, since too oft

The world yet wins some Demas frail

E’en from thine arms, so kind and soft,

May thy tried comforts never fail!

When faithless ones forsake thy wing,

Be it vouchsaf’d thee still to see

Thy true, fond nurslings closer cling,

Cling closer to their Lord and thee.


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