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centurion's house. The petition runs, “speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed;” he speaks the word, he wills the cure, and virtue goes out of him to perform it. Neither of the evangelists pursue the history of the centurion farther. But we have every thing to hope, every thing to believe of a man who so eminently distinguished himself as an excellent soldier, a kind master, a moderate ruler, a pious worshipper of God, and an humble but firm believer in Jesus Christ. In his history the christian world has to boast of another of the triumphs of the captain of salvation, of another successful invasion of Satan's kingdom, of another display of divine perfection in the person of Jesus Christ. It is not unworthy of remark that various persons of the same rank and profession, that of centurion, stand with high marks of approbation on the sacred page. Next to this most respectable character, we find another employed on a very trying occasion. He, with the company under his command, was appointed to see the sentence of crucifixion executed, for soldiers are put upon many a painful service, and he was not an unconcerned spectator of that awful scene. “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, truly this was the Son of God.” The name of Cornelius of Cesarea, the centurion of the Italian band, is renowned in all the churches of Christ, as “a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much. alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.” He is farther honourably reported by those of his own household, as “a just man, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews.” The centurion who had charge of Paul and the other prisoners, on the disastrous voyage which terminated in shipwreck on the island of Melita, paid singular attention to the apostle, followed his advice, and spared the rest of the prisoners that he might preserve Paul's life. And upon their arrival at Rome, when this generous officer delivered over the rest of his charge to the captain of the guard, he had sufficient credit and ability to express his friendship for our apostle, by procuring for him a greater enlargement of liberty : “Paul was suf. fered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.”
From this interesting story let us learn,
1. To despise no man’s person, feelings, opinions, profession or country. His person is what God made it, and he makes nothing that is in itself contemptible. You are bound in equity to respect the feelings of another, for you wish that your own should not be handled rudely. It ill becomes one who has himself formed so many erroneous opinions, and veered about so frequently with the flitting gale, to prescribe a standard of opinion to other men. Unless a profession be radically, and in its own nature sinful, those who follow it ought not to be condemned in the lump; if it expose to peculiar temptations to act amiss, he who resists the temptation and overcomes himself is the more estimable. Over the place of his birth a man had no more power than over the height of his stature or the colour of his skin. It is an object of neither praise nor blame. The apostle Peter received a severe and just rebuke on this head, by a vision from heaven. He was prepared, and he needed to be prepared, for the exercise of his ministry at Cesarea, and to the family and friends of this excellent Roman centurion already mentioned, and whom his Jewish pride had taught him to hold in contempt, by a thrice repeated mandate which he dared not to disobey: “What God hath cleansed that call not thou common.” Let us consider it is addressed to ourselves. “Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall not stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.”
2. The fearful doom denounced against unbelieving Jews ought to operate as a warning to still more highly privileged christians, lest any man “fall after the same example of unbelief.” “For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward ; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” We sometimes express contempt for the Pagan world sometimes affect to pity the blinded nations, and without hesitation presume to pass a sentence of final condemnation upon them. The unhappy tribes of Africa, in particular, Christian Europe calmly reduces to the condition of beasts of burthen in this world, with hardly an effort to ameliorate in the next. And yet they are men, they possess many virtues which ought to put their tyrants to the blush, and which will one day rise up in judgment against them. We despise the miserable Jews, and stigmatize them as infidels, as if all those who bear the name of Christ actually believed in him. “Boast not against the brokenoff branches :”—thou wilt say, the “branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well ; because of unbelief, they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.” I conclude with the solemn denunciation of Christ himself respecting the men of his generation, and which is still in equal force. “The men of Nineveh shall rise injudgment with this generation and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall cond mn it : for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
.After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was migh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat # (and this he said to prove him ; for he himself knew what he would do.) Philip answered him two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient, for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, there is a lad here which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes, but what are they among so many # And Jesus said, make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves ; and when he had given thanks he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down ; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had
seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world— Joh N vi. 1–14.
THE course of nature is a standing miracle. To be an atheist is to cease from being a man. To think of arguing with such a one is to undertake a labour as fruitless as attempting to reason the lunatic into a sound mind. A case like this ought to excite no emotion but compassion, mixed with gratitude to God that he has not reduced us to a condition so deplorable. Refinement in reasoning is, in general, both unprofitable and inconclusive. The man of plain common sense may advantageously observe and devoutly acknowledge the wisdom and goodness of the Great Supreme in the regular ebbing and flowing of the tide, though he cannot trace the process of the sun's action on the waters of the ocean; or of the wind, in conveying the fluid to the mountain's top; or of gravity, sending it down to water the plains beneath; or the supposed influence of the moon, or of the melting of the polar ices, producing an alternate and regular flux and reflux on our shores, or in our rivers. Of what importance is the theory of vegetation, compared to the simple but valuable labour and experience of the gardener and husbandman 2 The same observation applies to the religion of the gospel. Here the learned have no advantage whatever over the illiterate. It consists of a few plain, unadorned facts, authenticated by the testimony of a cloud of unsuspected witnesses; of a few simple, practical truths, level to the most ordinary capacity ; and of a few precepts of self-evident importance, which it highly concerns every man to observe. Should it be alleged that these are blended with things hard to be understood, it is admitted. And here again the wise and prudent have no superiority over the vulgar, but both meet the God of grace as well as the God of nature exercising his divine prero