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among the people. A specimen of our Saviour's manner of teaching is then given, in His sermon on the mount. After which several of His miracles are recorded.
It is first stated in the Gospel for this day, that when He was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. His doctrine had excited their astonishment, because it was so different from that which they had been accustomed to hear. And the authoritative manner in which He delivered it, as one who was intimately acquainted with the subjects on which He spake, was so new to them, that they were desirous of continuing their attendance upon this extraordinary Teacher. They wished to hear more of the gracious words that proceeded from His lips, and to behold the wonderful miracles which He wrought.
An opportunity of witnessing the display of His almighty power soon presented itself. Behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. This was a remarkable instance of the man's faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The leprosy was a disorder which was deemed incurable by human means, and is said never to have been cured but by miraculous power. The leper was an outcast from society, and not suffered to enter into any city or town. The disease with which he was afflicted was loathsome and infectious, so
that it was dangerous for other persons to come in contact with him. We therefore find that these miserable sufferers usually sought the company of each other, as they were obliged to dwell by themselves. We read of four leprous men being at the entering in of the gate of Samaria, when that city was besieged by the Syrians. And of ten men that were lepers meeting our blessed Saviour, and imploring His mercy; while they stood afar off from Him, not presuming to come near Him, as they were deemed unclean according to the ceremonial law; which enjoined respecting the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.65 He was to be known at a distance by his appearance; and lest any should come near him, and be defiled by being in contact with him, he was to give them notice that he was unclean, that they might keep out of his way.
The fame of the miracles of Christ in healing the diseased, had reached the ears of the leper mentioned in the Gospel for this day, so that he resolved to apply to Him for the removal of his disorder. He ventured therefore into His presence, and fell down before Him and worshipped Him; and expressing his confidence in His almighty power, solicited that His compas
63 2 Kings vii. 3.
64 Luke xvii. 12. 65 Leviticus xiii. 45.
sion might be extended to one who stood so greatly in need of it.
The request was no sooner made, than an answer was given. Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. He did not reprove the man for worshipping Him, as Peter did with regard to Cornelius, and the angel to St. John;67 but He graciously accepted his homage, and showed him that He was as willing as He was able to give him health and a cure. Instead of receiving defilement from contact with the leper, He effected the cure of his loathsome disease by a touch. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. The incurable disorder was cured in a moment. And thus our Saviour proved Himself to be possessed of Divine power. And in order that the cure might be legally recognised, Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. When the man had been pronounced clean by the priest in the temple, there would be undeniable testimony afforded of the Divine power of Him who had done this wonderful work; and that He had not come to destroy the law, since He commanded it to be observed, and would not allow of its being dispensed with, until He
66 Acts x. 25, 26. 67 Revelation xxii. 8, 9.
had fulfilled it, by offering up Himself as a sacrifice for sin, and by bearing the curse which it denounced upon transgressors.
But we are expressly taught by this account of the leper, that Divine worship is acceptable to our Lord Jesus Christ, and that it becomes us to pay it to Him. We are also encouraged to believe in His ability to heal the diseases of our souls; and to rely upon His compassion being vouchsafed to us when we call upon Him in the time of our need. These are subjects on which we might profitably extend our meditations; but the Gospel for this day directs us to another manifestation of the Divine power of our blessed Redeemer; the particulars of which are stated in the text.
The Evangelist informs us that 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. Capernaum was a town which is supposed to have been situated on the north-east border of the lake of Galilee. Our blessed Saviour is said to have taken up His residence at this place, after He was expelled from Nazareth. When He was entering the town on some occasion, a centurion, or Roman captain of a hundred men, met Him, and represented to Him the case of his young servant, or his son, for the word means in general a young person, who was confined
to his bed in consequence of a paralytic seizure, and was lying in very great pain and distress. It was indeed a grievous thing for a young man to be thus afflicted. When therefore the
distressing case of this youth was laid before the almighty and compassionate Physician, Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. He was ready to go without delay to the house of the centurion, and cure the disorder under which the young man laboured. Never did any one implore the compassion of our blessed Saviour without partaking of it.
When He had thus signified His willingness to comply with the request that had been made. to Him, the centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof. He thought that it would be unbecoming in a holy prophet, who was mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, to enter into the house of a Gentile sinner, and to be seen associating with such company. knew that the Jews esteemed it unlawful even to eat with Gentiles; which perhaps might lead him to think of his unworthiness to receive the great favour that Jesus had promised to grant him. But together with a sense of his own unworthiness, he manifested the most astonishing faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; for he added,
69 Luke xxiv. 19.