« AnteriorContinuar »
high rank, the deceitfulness of riches, and | lation to us they derive pollution, guilt, conthe pride of life. As such persons had more demnation, and death; and shall we not be to combat and to overcome than others, the stimulated to repair the injury we have done combat and the conquest redound the more them; and, by nurture, by example, by prayer, to the glory of God, in whose strength they and supplication, become the instruments of overcome.
making them “partakers of the divine na3. We have before us an example of high ture,” and of raising them to the rank of moral virtue, existing without a principle of " heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." saving faith. This nobleman adorned his Wo unto them, and unto us, unless they are exalted station by qualities estimable in adopted into a nobler family, and exalted to whatever rank. He ruled well his own higher privileges than those to which the house. He was an affectionate parent, and a birth of nature entitles them; and unless kind master. And when we behold a man they “receive the Spirit of adoption, whereby fulfilling the duties of one relation reputably they may cry, Abba, Father.” What will it to himself and usefully to others, we are be to present ourselves, at length, and our bound in charity to believe, that he acts offspring, whether after the flesh, or after worthily in the other relations of life. When the spirit, or both in one, with joy unspeakaan instance of this kind presents itself, it ex- ble, and full of glory, saying, “Behold I, and cites regret, that such a one though “not far the children which God hath given me!" from the kingdom of God,” should neverthe- Let this prospect direct our wishes, dictate less come short. It is religion that confers our prayers, animate our exertions, till
, with dignity on high birth, and that gives energy Israel, we have power with God, and with to virtue. If then this man were respectable men, and prevail. 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 all space shrinks into a span, all duration ordinary employments not only a reasonable into a moment. “ Am I a God at hand, saith but a religious service. Morality, then, may the Lord, and not a God afar off? Do not exist without religion, but there can be no I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord ?" religion without morality. “Faith, if it hath Realize that awful omnipresence as a guard not works is dead, being alone :" " for as the upon the heart, upon the tongue, upon the body without the spirit is dead, so faith with life; as a ground of hope and a source of out works is dead also." If in his mere civil joy in every dark and trying hour.
“God and moral capacity the nobleman of Caper- is a very present help in trouble.” “Though naum administered his affairs so wisely and I walk through the valley of the shadow so well, what must have been the ardour of of death I will fear no evil; for thou art natural affection, his discretion in the manage- with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort ment of his household, the propriety of his me.” He is faithful who hath promised, to personal deportment, now that his under his Israel whom he hath created, whom he standing is illuminated, and his heart warmed, hath formed, whom he hath redeemed, whom and the path of his feet guided by the sacred he hath called by name. “When thou passest flame of religion ! now that “the grace of through the waters, I will be with thee; and God, that bringeth salvation had appeared to through the rivers, they shall not overflow him, teaching” him, as it does all its subjects, thee: when thou walkest through the fire, " that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, flame kindle upon thee.” Are " a thousand in this present world; looking for that blessed years in his sight but as yesterday, when it hope, and the glorious appearing of the great is past, and as a watch in the night?". And God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave do " we spend our years as a tale that is himself for us, that he might redeem us from told?” “See then that ye walk circumall iniquity, and purify unto himself a pecu- spectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming liar people, zealous of good works." the time, because the days are evil.” There
4. Do we feel parental solicitude about is no commodity which men trifle with so the bodily health, and the mental improve sadly, when they have it at command, as ment, and the worldly prosperity of our chil- time; and no one the loss of which they so dren? What then ought to be the fervour bitterly deplore, when it is in their power no of our spirits at a throne of grace, to obtain longer. Account every instant critical and for them an interest in the favour of God, decisive, for undoubtedly many are so. Rethe knowledge that maketh wise unto salva- member that you are the disciples of him tion, the Spirit of sanctification, a right to who saith of himself; “I must work the "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, work of him that sent me while it is day: and that fadeth not away?" From their re- the night cometh, when no man can work."
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 tam, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou should est come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a men under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth ; and to another, Cone, 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 cell same 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 woold come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That be was worthy for whom he should do this : for he loveth our nation, and he bath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to hirm, 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 ope, 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 vai. 5 -12. LUKE vii. 1-10.
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 weaned child shall put his hand on the a very imperfect and corrupt state. Restore cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor everlasting and universal peace to a troubled destroy in all my holy mountain: for the world, and the profession of a soldier is at an earth shall be full of the knowledge of the end. There were then no “battle of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." 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, fero dents to which human life is exposed, render city, licentiousness, and of other hateful necessary the interposition of the healing qualities. Like every other general cerisure, 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 adinit 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 wbich 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 rechild shall lead them. And the cow and semblance to each other, in their personal the bear shall feed; their young ones shall character, in their condition of life, in ths lie down together: and the lion shall eat circumstances which brought them acquaintstraw like the ox. And the sucking child | ed with the Saviour of the world. "Taey
dwelt in the same city, perhaps in habits of difference between the two historians. It intimacy, for the good naturally attract and was a maxim among the Jews, “a man's associate with the good ; the one a courtier, proxy is the man himself,” and it is still a the other an officer of very considerable rule among civilians, “What we do by rank; both, men of humanity, of gentle man- another we are adjudged to have done ourners, of amiable, of noble deportment; the selves." In a process of law, a party is said one a suppliant in behalf of a darling child, to come into court, and to have made such a labouring under an attack of the fever, the representation, though he appeared only by other in behalf of a favourite servant, attack his counsel or solicitor. Thus Jethro came ed by a violent paralytic affection; both suc- to Moses first by a messenger, with these cessful in their application, and both deeply words in his mouth: “ I, thy father-in-law, impressed with the character of their great Jethro, am come unto thee, and thy wife, Benefactor. With so many marks of re- and her two children.” On receiving this semblance the two little histories display a message, Moses went out to enjoy a personal lovely, affecting, and instructive variety, interview with his family. Thus Solomon tending to untold the various shades of the sent ambassadors to Hiram, who were to adhuman mind, in the changing scenes of dress him not in the plural number, but in human life, and equally tending to illustrate the first person singular, as if Solomon himthe grace and power of Christ, ever ready to self had spoken the words face to face: “ bemeet every case, adapted alike to the relief hold, I purpose to build a house unto the of the bodies and of the souls of men. name of the Lord my God;" and Hiram fair
The person who applied to Jesus Christ ly considers himself as hearing the words on this occasion was a centurion, that is, as of Solomon." Thus the two sons of Zebedee the word imports, an officer in the Roman came to Christ, with a petition, through the army who had a hundred men under his medium of their mother; and thus John command. It corresponded nearly to the Baptist, now shut up in a prison, addressed rank of captain in our military establish- himself to Jesus by two of his disciples, sayment. Judea was at this time a conquered ing, “ Art thou he that should come, or do province, in subjection to the authority of a we look for another.” Matthew, in conRoman governor, and kept in awe by Roman formity to this mode of speech and thought, soldiery. The Jews vainly boasted that they represents the centurion as coming in perwere “ Abraham's seed, and were never in son to Christ, though at first, through mobondage to any man;" whereas it was no desty and humility, he thought proper to emtorious to the whole world, that from the ploy the intercession of others. days of Egyptian bondage, down to the We have here a singularly pleasant opendespotism of Tiberius Cæsar, their intervals ing into a good mind. This man was acof liberty had been few, transient, and in- customed to command, not to supplicate : to terrupted; and at that very moment they dictate, not to bend. But such is his venerawere murmuring under the pressure of a tion for the person and character of Christ, galling yoke, imposed on their neck, and that he is awed at the thought of appearing Dept there by the strong hand of power; and in his presence; instead of resorting to the Jesus Christ convicts them of being in sub- exercise of authority, he has recourse to en jection to a yoke still more galling and dis- treaty, and hopes from the interposition of graceful: "whosoever committeth sin is the men better than himself what he dared not servant of sin.” But such are the self- to ask on his own account. Does this bring delusions which men practise. Every Ro- his courage under suspicion? Is it likely that man soldier who was seen, every Roman such a man would turn his back in the day coin that circulated through the land, de- of battle? No, surely. It is the coward that monstrated that they were not a free people. struts, and boasts, and threatens; the truly Indeed they were not worthy to be so, for brave are modest, gentle, and unassuming ; they never enjoyed liberty without abusing they speak by their actions, not by high it. Happy was it for the district of Caper- swelling words of vanity. And yet this cennaum to be under a government so mild and turion had more than one plea of merit to moderate as that of this good centurion. advance. He had borne his faculties most
The two evangelists who have recorded meekly in his great office. He had not opthis fact, differ in some circumstances of pressed, he had not been guilty of extortion; their narration. In reading St. Matthew's and even this negative virtue merits some account, we are led to suppose that the degree of commendation. On the contrary centurion made personal application to he cherished, encouraged, protected the peoChrist, for the cure of his servant, whereas ple whom he was sent to rule. Instead of in the more circumstantial account of the restricting their religious liberty, or pertransaction, transmitted to us by St. Luke, mitting their worship to be disturbed, he we find that the application was made in the liberally contributed toward the maintenance first instance, through the medium of " the of public worship, and most probably assisted elders of the Jews.” But there is no real at it. In a word, he was a public blessing.
Men generally set the full value on the good strength to support the calamity. Thus neactions which they perform, and are fre- cessary to each other are the members in quently at pains to make an ostentatious dis- both the social and the natural body. “If play of them. He puts in no claim, exacts the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, no acknowledgment, expects no return. - I am not of the body; is it therefore not of The elders of the Jews feel themselves so the body? And if the ear shall say, because much the more called upon to celebrate his I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it good qualities, and to enumerate his benefits. therefore not of the body ?" " And the eye
They came to Jesus, and besought him in- cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of stantly, saying, that he was worthy for whom thee; nor again the head to the feet, I bare he should do this; for he loveth our nation, no need of you.” and he hath built us a synagogue." If in The case of the little slave was dangerous deed he had become a proselyte to the Jew- if not desperate. The palsy is a partial death ish religion, that is, a worshipper of the one of the limbs affected. Here it was a prira. living and true God, as, from the whole his- tion of motion, while acute sensibility retory taken together, there is little reason to mained; he was “grievously tormented;" doubt a still higher degree of respectability and this combination of pain and interrupted attaches to his character. What obstacles circulation threatened approaching discolohad he not to surmount, what prejudices to tion. But the maxim is excellent both in overcome! The prejudice of education in medicine an in morals. “While there is the religion of polytheism, or a plurality of life there is hope," and religion advances a gods; the prejudice of profession, which step farther, and says, "Even in death there sometimes makes it a point of honour to be is hope.” Many a promising case has been of no religion, sometimes to adhere to the lost through impatience and despair. Till first adopted; political prejudice, which would Providence has decided, man is bound to have tied him down to the religion of the im- persevere in the use of means. It is evident perial court, the source of all civil and mili- that the centurion expected every thing from tary preferment: and more than all these, he the sovereign power, and not from the perhad to encounter the formidable laugh of the sonal presence of Christ; and herein his world, the raillery of his fellow-officers, the faith soared much higher than that of the sneer of witlings. The courage that could nobleman, who had no idea of a cure effected meet and overcome such discouragements is at a distance from the object. But how indeed the courage of a hero.
shall we account for the cold, repulsive reIt is now time to inquire into the object ception given to the personal solicitation of of this circuitous expostulation. What point the nobleman; "except ye see signs and is to be carried ? what interest is at stake to wonders, ye will not believe:" and for the warrant such earnestness and importunity ? frank and cheerful compliance with the cena servant sick of the palsy and ready to die. turion's message, “I will come and heal The word translated servant, through the him?" Jesus will have his sovereignty felt whole of St. Matthew's narration, signifies and acknowledged in all things. Humility boy, a term of ambiguous meaning, being and self-abasement are the most powerful employed to denote either child or servant, claims of a suppliant, and the sublimer faith and it determines the age only, not the has the superior power with God and prequality of the patient. But the Greek word vails. 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 ceryoung man's condition lower than that of ser- turion shrinks from the approach of Christ yant, 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 de ly 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 mof s 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. with arguments. Never did imagination Thus it is that the God who made us, who conceive, never did heart feel, never da " knoweth our frame, and who remembereth tongue express a strain of reasoning more that we are dust," balances evil with good, and forcible, more affecting, more sublime. “ The either finds a way to escape, or administers centurion answered and said, Lord, I am st
worthy that thou shouldest come under my ginally a Gentile and an idolator; of the roof: but speak the word only, and my ser friends whom he had despatched to meet vant shall be healed. For I am a man under Jesus, who were likewise, in all probability, authority, having soldiers under me, and I Roman soldiers, and of course heathens and say to this man, go, and he goeth, and to idolators; and of a mixed multitude who another, come, and he cometh; and to my followed Christ wherever he went. The servant, do this, and he doeth it.” The know- highest privilege which proselyted Gentiles ledge which he had of his own profession is could obtain fro Jewish bigotry was perthe foundation of his argument. In a mili- mission to worship the true God in the outer tary establishment, all must be cheerful sub- court of the temple, which was appropriated ordination and prompt obedience. He him to them, and called by their name. To them self was at once under authority, and in how grateful must have been the intimation authority. He had not the idea of disputing of being made partakers of all the privileges the commands of his superior, and he knew of the sons of God! of rising to their full that his word, that his nod was a law to his and equal rank in the great family of the inferiors. Under this notion of military dis- common Father of all, of being admitted into cipline he contemplates the supreme au- the society, and of enjoying the felicity of the thority of Christ as extending to all persons, venerable founders of the Jewish church, a elements, and events. His own orders were branch only of “the general assembly and obeyed, though his person were at a distance church of the first-born, which are written in and unseen. What then should retard the heaven!" The like precious faith which exaltexecution of a will which all the powers of ed the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob nature are unable to resist? “ Speak the to a place in the kingdom of God, was to be word only, and my servant shall be healed.” diffused in every direction, and to raise men
"When Jesus heard it, he marvelled,” not " of all nations, and kindreds, and people, as an ordinary man wonders at something and tongues," to the “ inheritance of a kingnew, striking, and uncommon. He knew dom prepared,” for all the faithful, “ from the what was in man. The marvellous faith foundation of the world." The Jews, on the which he graciously pleased to approve and other hand, valued themselves on their exto reward was the operation of his own spirit; clusive privileges. They scorned to have but he holds it up as a matter of wonder to any dealings with even their neighbours and all who were present, and as a subject of re- brethren the Samaritans. They held themproof to those of the house of Israel, who, selves contaminated by coming into contact with all their superior advantages, possess- with the impure heathen! they appropriated ing as they did, “ the adoption, and the glory, to themselves a right to the favour of God. and the covenants, and the giving of the To persons labouring under such prejudices, law, and the service of God, and the pro- which had been instilled into them with their mises; and of whom, as concerning the flesh, mother's milk, what an awful denunciation Christ came:" nevertheless received their was it, that not only should the Gentile napromised, their expected Messiah coldly, tions be received within the pale of the doubtingly, reluctantly; and at length utter- church, but received to their own exclusion ? ly rejected him, and put him to death. This “ Behold,” exclaims the apostle, in contemleads our blessed Lord to unfold the approach. plating this very object, " Behold the gooding admission of the Gentile nations into the ness and severity of God.”—“ Of a truth we church of God, by believing and embracing perceive that God is no respecter of persons: his gospel, and the rejection of the posterity but in every nation he that feareth him, and of Abraham after the flesh, because of their worketh_righteousness, is accepted with unbelief: “And I say unto you, that many him." But the singular imagery, and the shall come from the east, and west, and shall very language by which this view of the Resit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, deemer's kingdom is conveyed, deserve a in the kingdom of heaven : but the children particular consideration. May they be deepof the kingdom shall be cast out into outer ly impressed upon our hearts and minds. 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 peo are 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