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opians themselves not excepted, have been caused to retire underneath the shadow of Christ for salvation. What God hath done for* others, he can to for you. Though your provocations have reached unto heaven, his mercy is above the heavens. Though myriads have already come from the east and west, there is room for you, bo.h in the chuich on earth, and in the kingdom of God above. Whatever lengths in rebellion rgainst God ye, have gone, and however long continued there is, at least, a peradventure in your
favour, that,'after all, God may see your ways, and heal them.
2. Is it so, that many Gentile sinners shall as really come to the kingdom of heaven by believing, as the centurion referred to in our text did? Then, by the circumstance wish which his faith was attended, we may try ourselves; andi with some degree of certainty, know if we are on the way to the kingdom or not.
This Roman officer was a praying person;— and one too who rested not in careh ss and formal perfcrmar.ccs, but entered very much into the spirit os that duty, as the coming and beseeching, mentioned in the preceeding context, emphatically express, vers. 5. Hypocrites, literally, say their .prayers; - they think it enow h, if they go the lound of duties, without having, or so much as C1;firing to have their hearts engaged in them, Ifxxix. 1 But holy persons desire and endeavour t<' lie as serious and hearty, as much concerned a id exerciled in the discharge of such duties, as they will wish they had been when God calls them to an account.
The centurion ackcow!eged our Lord Jesus Christ as the preper object ol worship. —He came to him,—he besceched him, and called him Lordt . . . . vers. Fers. 5, 6. Many professed worshippers, who imagine they are on the way to heaven, discover no regard to oar Lord's divinity.---While seemingly devout in worshipping the Father, they are daringly defective in honouring the Son :---But, unless it can be supposed, that men may bj devout wot shippers of the Father, and deliberate rebels against him at the same time,---such persons .prove, to demonstration, that their regards to the Father himself are counterfeit and imaginary; for, in the beautiful language of scripture, "all "men should honour the Son even as they honour "the Father:" and "he that honoureth not the "Son, honoureth not the Father," John v. 23. True converts, therefore, consider Jesus Christ not merely as Mediator, through whom their access to God and acceptance with him are obtained, but as no less the object of worship himself than the Father or the Spirit.
The centurion was a generous and benevolent person;—his prayers, and importunity in them, were not confined to his own, but extended to the concerns of others. Accordingly his present business at the throne of grace, was whoMy in behalf of a distressed youth under his roof, ve's. 6.
Numbers. who could not bear to have their. Christianity called in question, know nothing of exercising a concern about others; bat holy persons wish, and endeavour to be burden-bearers, by carrying the circumstances of children or servants, of parents or masters before God ;• -and being importunate for their support and relief. While naughty and wicked creatures curse odierS» sometimes, perhaps, their nearest connections,.;the heirs of salvation pray for others, their greate'sll enemies not excepted.
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The centurion not only prayed, but succeeded i *' I will come (said the Hearer of prayer) and "heal thy servant," vers. 7. Many pray with such indifference and lukewarronels of spirit, as if they cared not whether their prayers were accepted ot shut out; and, having lodged their frozen petitions, they mind them no more; they neither receive, nor properly expect an answer:—Whereas, holy persons desire to look upward, and wait God'* time of commanding the blessing. They cannot bear to be put off; they groan heavily under delays, and earnestly watch for the Lord's interposing in their behalf. Nay, sometimes, by the indulgence of their heavenly Father, the travellers of hope are no left sensible of the acceptance and answer of prayer, than the have Roman wa§ ia the instance before us.
The centurion was a humble and self-denied 'person Lord, (said he) I am not worthy
** that thou stvouldstcomc under my roof," vers. 8. Hypocrites are puffed up with any little acquisitions in religion they have made 4— their duties and privileges become feuel to their latent pride.--Thcy may have more prudence, indeed, than speak it cut, --while they look upon God as—how dreadful the presumption! under obligations for their pitiful services;--and haughtily undervalue others, ss grotly below them in Christian attainments, and sar behind them in the road to glory. The more that such persons do and acquire, the flame of pride becomes more impetuous, and the idol self -the more established on the throne of their hearts. "These, who say, Stand by thy self, "come not near to me, for I am holier than thou, "- are a smoke in my nose, (saith the Lord) *' a fire that burneth all the day," Is. lxv. 5. But, O, how different is it with holy persons !• -The
nearer Bearer the access they get to God, and the more
ithey enjoy, as men or Christians, they lie so much the lower in the dust of self-denial and condernoation.—Duties humble them, because of the blemishes with which they are attended :—Crosses humble them, because they are all, in their view, infinitely less than their iniquities deserve: —Comforts humble them* because, of the very least mercy, they fee themselves to be utterly unworthy :-.-Views of the divine glory humble them, because they find themselves lb unlike God:— Views of their own hearts and Ways humble them, because they appear inexpressibly vain and vile :--In one word, the sarther insight into the things of God, and conformity to him they acquire,—they
, are at the greater loss for a place or posture low enough for them to lie down in his sight, ,
The centurion had honourable thoughts of our Lord's power and authority ;-• nay, was persuacl<ed, that slaves were. riot more obsequious to their owners, nor sctdiers to their commanders, than
.<Useale§ to the. bare word of-Jesus Christ: "I say "to this man, (said the believing officer) Go, and
• *' he goeth ; and to another, Come, and he cometh; "and to my servant, Do this, and he doth it," vers. 8, 9. When Hypocrites are wholly at ease, and pressed neither with outward fightings nor in. ward fears, they may talk of their confidence in God, and flatter themselves, that their views of his power and other perfections are both honourable and liberal; but they arc no soontr brought into straits, and reduced to extremity,--no sooner overtaken by gulls of temptation, and surcharged with the billows of affliction, than hard thoughts of God are entertained,—his truth is suspected,--his power doubted of, and his love shamefully called in question.—Whereas thofe of the centuriK 4 on'a on's excellent spirit never have higher thought* of the divine attributes', than when their circumstances call most for the exertion of them.—When the view of their own ignorance, weakness, and vnworthiness rise?,---the view of God's wisdom, power, and sovereignty swells in their eye—Nay, that the glory of divine power may be the more snining, thsy sometimes exult in their very weaknesses and imperfections: "Most gladly (said an "eminent saint) will I glory in my infirmities, "that the power of Christ may rest upon me," 2 Cor. xii. 9.
- 3. Is there such a thing as the kingdom of heaven and of God? Is there such a consummate felicity in reserve for the heirs of promise? Then lee,
That this present is not the abiding state of faints. Now, they are only minors, in the life of grace,—but hastening toward majority in the lise of glory;—at a distance from their Father's house,—but bound for Emmanuel's land, where their mansions are prepared;-soldiers under the bnnner of Christ,—but sure of the victory in due time;—prisoners in houses of clay,-- but the day hastens when these prison-doors will burst open, and those ransomed souls get leave to depart ia peace. They are subject at present, to numberless diseases, and nameless disasters; but, by and by, they shall be where the inhabitants do not,--where they cannot say they are sick. Many of them are now in penurious circumstances as to thefr bodies, and groaning under manifold wants y/ith regard to their souls; but, ere long, their whole wants shall be supplied, all their treasures filled, and their cup made eternally to run over.
They frequently meet with dilrelpect at present,