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high rank, the deceitfulness of riches, and the pride of life. As such persons had more to combat and to overcome than others, the combat and the conquest redound the more to the glory of God, in whose strength they
lation to us they derive pollution, guilt, condemnation, and death; and shall we not be stimulated to repair the injury we have done them; and, by nurture, by example, by prayer, and supplication, become the instruments of making them "partakers of the divine nature," and of raising them to the rank of "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." Wo unto them, and unto us, unless they are adopted into a nobler family, and exalted to higher privileges than those to which the birth of nature entitles them; and unless they "receive the Spirit of adoption, whereby they may cry, Abba, Father." What will it be to present ourselves, at length, and our offspring, whether after the flesh, or after the spirit, or both in one, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, saying, "Behold I, and the children which God hath given me!" Let this prospect direct our wishes, dictate our prayers, animate our exertions, till, with Israel, we have power with God, and with men, and prevail.
3. We have before us an example of high moral virtue, existing without a principle of saving faith. This nobleman adorned his exalted station by qualities estimable in whatever rank. He ruled well his own house. He was an affectionate parent, and a kind master. And when we behold a man fulfilling the duties of one relation reputably to himself and usefully to others, we are bound in charity to believe, that he acts worthily in the other relations of life. When an instance of this kind presents itself, it excites regret, that such a one though "not far from the kingdom of God," should nevertheless come short. It is religion that confers dignity on high birth, and that gives energy to virtue. If then this man were respectable and exemplary by his virtuous conduct, how 5. Finally, In the presence of that God much more so is he, when faith is added to with whom we have to do, and of Jesus, virtue, now that a divine principle sanctifies," who is God over all, and blessed for ever," animates, ennobles every action, and renders ordinary employments not only a reasonable but a religious service. Morality, then, may exist without religion, but there can be no religion without morality. "Faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone:"" for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." If in his mere civil and moral capacity the nobleman of Capernaum administered his affairs so wisely and so well, what must have been the ardour of natural affection, his discretion in the management of his household, the propriety of his personal deportment, now that his understanding is illuminated, and his heart warmed, and the path of his feet guided by the sacred flame of religion! now that "the grace of God, that bringeth salvation had appeared to him, teaching" him, as it does all its subjects, "that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
4. Do we feel parental solicitude about the bodily health, and the mental improvement, and the worldly prosperity of our children? What then ought to be the fervour of our spirits at a throne of grace, to obtain for them an interest in the favour of God, the knowledge that maketh wise unto salvation, the Spirit of sanctification, a right to "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away?" From their re
all space shrinks into a span, all duration
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented; and Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.-Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself; for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee; but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers; and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth: and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and be doeth it. When Jesus heard these things he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel. And they that were sent returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.—MATTHEW VILĽ. Š -12. LUKE vii. 1-10.
weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
THE various orders of men which exist in | shall play on the hole of the asp, and the society are a demonstration that society is in a very imperfect and corrupt state. Restore everlasting and universal peace to a troubled world, and the profession of a soldier is at an end. There were then no "battle of the warrior with confused noise, and garments Certain professions, it has been alleged, rolled in blood." While injustice, violence, have in their very nature a corruptive and cruelty are in the world, there must be quality. That of the military man is suptribunals, and prisons, and scaffolds. The posed to be of this number. The vulgar ravages of disease, and the thousand acci-associate with it the ideas of insolence, ferodents to which human life is exposed, render city, licentiousness, and of other hateful necessary the interposition of the healing qualities. Like every other general censure, art. When the time of the restitution of all this too must be taken with many grains of things shall come, the office of public in- allowance, and candour must admit that structer shall cease. They shall not teach there are excellent men of every profession; every man his neighbour, and every man his and, in the case of illustrious exceptions from brother, saying, know the Lord: for all shall the generality of the stigmatized orders, know me, from the least to the greatest." higher praise is undoubtedly due to those To this blessed consummation we are en- who have the courage to resist, and strength couraged to look forward, when the spirit of to overcome the temptations to which their love shall absorb the flame of discord, and manner of life, and the very means of earnmake the sword drop from the hand of the ing their subsistence expose them, than to man of war; when the courts shall be shut persons who had no such difficulties to enand the prison-doors thrown open, because counter. Of this description are the noblefraud and violence are no more; when, in man, and the Roman centurion of Capernaum. the beautifully figurative language of the The history of the former, as far as connectprophet, "The wolf also shall dwell with ed with that of our blessed Lord, was the the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down subject of the last Lecture, that of the latter with the kid; and the calf, and the young is now to be the ground of our meditation. lion, and the fatling together, and a little The two personages present a striking re child shall lead them. And the cow and semblance to each other, in their persona! the bear shall feed; their young ones shall character, in their condition of life, in the lie down together: and the lion shall eat circumstances which brought them acquaintstraw like the ox. And the sucking childed with the Saviour of the world. They
dwelt in the same city, perhaps in habits of intimacy, for the good naturally attract and associate with the good; the one a courtier, the other an officer of very considerable rank; both, men of humanity, of gentle manners, of amiable, of noble deportment; the one a suppliant in behalf of a darling child, labouring under an attack of the fever, the other in behalf of a favourite servant, attacked by a violent paralytic affection; both successful in their application, and both deeply impressed with the character of their great Benefactor. With so many marks of resemblance the two little histories display a lovely, affecting, and instructive variety, tending to unfold the various shades of the human mind, in the changing scenes of human life, and equally tending to illustrate the grace and power of Christ, ever ready to meet every case, adapted alike to the relief of the bodies and of the souls of men.
The person who applied to Jesus Christ on this occasion was a centurion, that is, as the word imports, an officer in the Roman army who had a hundred men under his command. It corresponded nearly to the rank of captain in our military establishment. Judea was at this time a conquered province, in subjection to the authority of a Roman governor, and kept in awe by Roman soldiery. The Jews vainly boasted that they were "Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man ;" whereas it was notorious to the whole world, that from the days of Egyptian bondage, down to the despotism of Tiberius Cæsar, their intervals of liberty had been few, transient, and interrupted; and at that very moment they were murmuring under the pressure of a galling yoke, imposed on their neck, and ept there by the strong hand of power; and Jesus Christ convicts them of being in subjection to a yoke still more galling and disgraceful: "whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." But such are the selfdelusions which men practise. Every Roman soldier who was seen, every Roman coin that circulated through the land, demonstrated that they were not a free people. Indeed they were not worthy to be so, for they never enjoyed liberty without abusing it. Happy was it for the district of Capernaum to be under a government so mild and moderate as that of this good centurion.
The two evangelists who have recorded this fact, differ in some circumstances of their narration. In reading St. Matthew's account, we are led to suppose that the centurion made personal application to Christ, for the cure of his servant, whereas in the more circumstantial account of the transaction, transmitted to us by St. Luke, we find that the application was made in the first instance, through the medium of "the elders of the Jews." But there is no real
difference between the two historians. It was a maxim among the Jews, "a man's proxy is the man himself," and it is still a rule among civilians, "What we do by another we are adjudged to have done ourselves." In a process of law, a party is said to come into court, and to have made such a representation, though he appeared only by his counsel or solicitor. Thus Jethro came to Moses first by a messenger, with these words in his mouth: "I, thy father-in-law, Jethro, am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two children." On receiving this message, Moses went out to enjoy a personal interview with his family. Thus Solomon sent ambassadors to Hiram, who were to address him not in the plural number, but in the first person singular, as if Solomon himself had spoken the words face to face: "behold, I purpose to build a house unto the name of the Lord my God;" and Hiram fairly considers himself as "hearing the words of Solomon." Thus the two sons of Zebedee came to Christ, with a petition, through the medium of their mother; and thus John Baptist, now shut up in a prison, addressed himself to Jesus by two of his disciples, saying, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another." Matthew, in conformity to this mode of speech and thought, represents the centurion as coming in person to Christ, though at first, through modesty and humility, he thought proper to employ the intercession of others.
We have here a singularly pleasant opening into a good mind. This man was accustomed to command, not to supplicate: to dictate, not to bend. But such is his veneration for the person and character of Christ, that he is awed at the thought of appearing in his presence; instead of resorting to the exercise of authority, he has recourse to en treaty, and hopes from the interposition of men better than himself what he dared not to ask on his own account. Does this bring his courage under suspicion? Is it likely that such a man would turn his back in the day of battle? No, surely. It is the coward that struts, and boasts, and threatens; the truly brave are modest, gentle, and unassuming; they speak by their actions, not by high swelling words of vanity. And yet this centurion had more than one plea of merit to advance. He had borne his faculties most meekly in his great office. He had not oppressed, he had not been guilty of extortion; and even this negative virtue merits some degree of commendation. On the contrary he cherished, encouraged, protected the people whom he was sent to rule. Instead of restricting their religious liberty, or permitting their worship to be disturbed, he liberally contributed toward the maintenance of public worship, and most probably assisted at it. In a word, he was a public blessing.
Men generally set the full value on the good actions which they perform, and are frequently at pains to make an ostentatious display of them. He puts in no claim, exacts no acknowledgment, expects no return.The elders of the Jews feel themselves so much the more called upon to celebrate his good qualities, and to enumerate his benefits. "They came to Jesus, and besought him instantly, saying, that he was worthy for whom he should do this; for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue." If indeed he had become a proselyte to the Jewish religion, that is, a worshipper of the one living and true God, as, from the whole history taken together, there is little reason to doubt a still higher degree of respectability attaches to his character. What obstacles had he not to surmount, what prejudices to overcome! The prejudice of education in the religion of polytheism, or a plurality of gods; the prejudice of profession, which sometimes makes it a point of honour to be of no religion, sometimes to adhere to the first adopted; political prejudice, which would have tied him down to the religion of the imperial court, the source of all civil and military preferment: and more than all these, he had to encounter the formidable laugh of the world, the raillery of his fellow-officers, the sneer of witlings. The courage that could meet and overcome such discouragements is indeed the courage of a hero.
strength to support the calamity. Thus necessary to each other are the members in both the social and the natural body. "If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?" "And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.'
The case of the little slave was dangerous if not desperate. The palsy is a partial death of the limbs affected. Here it was a priva tion of motion, while acute sensibility remained; he was 'grievously tormented;" and this combination of pain and interrupted circulation threatened approaching dissolution. But the maxim is excellent both in medicine and in morals. "While there is life there is hope," and religion advances a step farther, and says, "Even in death there is hope." Many a promising case has been lost through impatience and despair. Till Providence has decided, man is bound to persevere in the use of means. It is evident that the centurion expected every thing from the sovereign power, and not from the personal presence of Christ; and herein his faith soared much higher than that of the nobleman, who had no idea of a cure effected at a distance from the object. But how shall we account for the cold, repulsive reception given to the personal solicitation of the nobleman; "except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe:" and for the frank and cheerful compliance with the centurion's message, "I will come and heal him?" Jesus will have his sovereignty felt and acknowledged in all things. Humility and self-abasement are the most powerful claims of a suppliant, and the sublimer faith has the superior power with God and prevails.
It is now time to inquire into the object of this circuitous expostulation. What point is to be carried? what interest is at stake to warrant such earnestness and importunity? a servant sick of the palsy and ready to die. The word translated servant, through the whole of St. Matthew's narration, signifies boy, a term of ambiguous meaning, being employed to denote either child or servant, and it determines the age only, not the quality of the patient. But the Greek word used by St. Luke, except in one clause, is of Instead of being transported with joy at unequivocal import, and indeed reduces the the thought of this proffered visit, the cenyoung man's condition lower than that of ser- turion shrinks from the approach of Christ. vant, for it means slave, and expresses the A sense of guilt and unworthiness stares lowest condition of human wretchedness. him in the face. The presence of a perThis young person might have been either a sonage so pure, so exalted, he feels himself prisoner of war, or purchased with money; unable to support, and deputes other friends and slaves of both descriptions were frequent- to meet Jesus, to renew his suit, but to dely endowed with rare accomplishments. As precate the degradation of his dignified Providence permitted the boy to sink into character, by conversing with one so mean this degraded state, it was some compensa- as himself, and by coming under a roof so tion, that he fell into the hands of a kind and unworthy to receive such a guest. Finding affectionate master, a man of principle, a man however that Jesus drew nigher and nigher, of humanity. Where is now the ferocious- he at length assumes resolution, and goes ness, the insensibility, the indifference of the forth himself to meet him, with a heart oversoldier? All melts into sympathy with dis-whelmed, overflowing, and a mouth filled tress, and into a sense of mutual obligation. Thus it is that the God who made us, who "knoweth our frame, and who remembereth that we are dust," balances evil with good, and either finds a way to escape, or administers
with arguments. Never did imagination conceive, never did heart feel, never did tongue express a strain of reasoning more forcible, more affecting, more sublime. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not
worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to this man, go, and he goeth, and to another, come, and he cometh; and to my servant, do this, and he doeth it." The knowledge which he had of his own profession is the foundation of his argument. In a military establishment, all must be cheerful subordination and prompt obedience. He himself was at once under authority, and in authority. He had not the idea of disputing the commands of his superior, and he knew that his word, that his nod was a law to his inferiors. Under this notion of military discipline he contemplates the supreme authority of Christ as extending to all persons, elements, and events. His own orders were obeyed, though his person were at a distance and unseen. What then should retard the execution of a will which all the powers of nature are unable to resist? "Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." "When Jesus heard it, he marvelled," not as an ordinary man wonders at something new, striking, and uncommon. He knew what was in man. The marvellous faith which he graciously pleased to approve and to reward was the operation of his own spirit; but he holds it up as a matter of wonder to all who were present, and as a subject of reproof to those of the house of Israel, who, with all their superior advantages, possess ing as they did, "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came:" nevertheless received their promised, their expected Messiah coldly, doubtingly, reluctantly; and at length utter ly rejected him, and put him to death. This leads our blessed Lord to unfold the approaching admission of the Gentile nations into the church of God, by believing and embracing his gospel, and the rejection of the posterity of Abraham after the flesh, because of their unbelief: "And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east, and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnash- "Many shall come," says Christ, as he ing of teeth." Jesus delivers this all-import- surveyed the gradual progress, and the unant doctrine under the solemnity of an "I limited extent of his empire. The narrow say unto you;""mark me well; my words spirit of Judaism is not peculiar to that peoare true and faithful, they are serious and ple. It seems to be a general character of interesting, they concern every one among human nature. Abraham and Lot were unyou, they shall all have their accomplish- der the necessity of separating, because "the ment." The assembly to whom this was land was not able to bear them, that they addressed, consisted of a great variety of might dwell together." How often has a persons. It was composed of the elders of well of water kindled a flame among breththe Jews, who had come to intercede in be- ren? Whence come pride and envy? whence half of their benefactor, and who were wait- come fraud and cunning? whence come ing the issue; of the centurion himself, ori- | wars and fightings? whence come monopolies
ginally a Gentile and an idolator; of the friends whom he had despatched to meet Jesus, who were likewise, in all probability, Roman soldiers, and of course heathens and idolators; and of a mixed multitude who followed Christ wherever he went. The highest privilege which proselyted Gentiles could obtain from Jewish bigotry was permission to worship the true God in the outer court of the temple, which was appropriated to them, and called by their name. To them how grateful must have been the intimation of being made partakers of all the privileges of the sons of God! of rising to their full and equal rank in the great family of the common Father of all, of being admitted into the society, and of enjoying the felicity of the venerable founders of the Jewish church, a branch only of “the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven!" The like precious faith which exalted the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to a place in the kingdom of God, was to be diffused in every direction, and to raise men "of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues," to the " inheritance of a kingdom prepared," for all the faithful," from the foundation of the world." The Jews, on the other hand, valued themselves on their exclusive privileges. They scorned to have any dealings with even their neighbours and brethren the Samaritans. They held themselves contaminated by coming into contact with the impure heathen! they appropriated to themselves a right to the favour of God. To persons labouring under such prejudices, which had been instilled into them with their mother's milk, what an awful denunciation was it, that not only should the Gentile nations be received within the pale of the church, but received to their own exclusion? "Behold," exclaims the apostle, in contemplating this very object, "Behold the goodness and severity of God."-" Of a truth we perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." But the singular imagery, and the very language by which this view of the Redeemer's kingdom is conveyed, deserve a particular consideration. May they be deeply impressed upon our hearts and minds.