Obrazy na stronie

præcepit. Leprosus enim tangitur, cum respectu divinæ pietatis mens peccatoris illustrata compungitur. Leprosus semetipsum sacerdoti repræsentat, dum peccatum suum sacerdoti pænitens confitetur. Sacrificium ex lege offert, dum satisfactionem Ecclesiæ judicio sibi impositam factis exsequitur. Sed antequam ad sacerdotem perveniat, emundatur, dum per contritionem cordis ante confessionem oris peccati veniâ indulgetur. Cf. Pet. Lombard (Sent. iv. dist. 18): Dominus leprosum sanitate prius per se restituit, deinde ad sacerdotes misit, quorum judicio ostenderetur mundatus. . ... Quia etsi aliquis apud Deum sit solutus, non tamen in facie Ecclesiæ solutus habetur, nisi per judicium sacerdotis. In solvendis ergo culpis vel retinendis ita operatur sacerdos evangelicus et judicat, sicut olim legalis in illis, qui contaminati erant leprâ, quæ peccatum signat.


Matt. viii. 5-13; LUKE vii. 1-10.


THERE has been already occasion to denounce the error of

confounding this healing with that of the nobleman's son recorded by St. John (iv. 46). But while we may not seek forcibly to reduce to one two narratives which relate events entirely different, there is matter still in the records of this miracle on which the harmonist may exercise his skill. We possess two independent records of it, the one given by St. Matthew, the other by St. Luke; and, according to the first Evangelist, the centurion comes a petitioner in his own person for the boon which he desires ; according to the third, he sends others as mediators between himself and the Lord, as intercessors for him, with other differences which necessarily follow and flow out of this. Doubtless the latter is the more strictly literal account of the circumstance, as it actually came to pass; St. Matthew, who is briefer, telling it as though the centurion had done in his own person what, in fact, he did by the intervention of others-an exchange of persons of which all historical narrative and all the language of our common life is full.? A comparison of Mark x. 35 with Matt. xx. 20 will furnish another example of the same.

1 Faustus the Manichæan uses these apparent divergences of the two narratives, and the greater fulness of the one account than of the other, it being said in one that many shall come from the east and west, und sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God,'

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home grievously tormented. This centurion, probably one of the Roman garrison of Capernaum, was by birth a heathen; but, like another of the same rank in the Acts (x. I), like the eunuch under Candace (Acts viii. 27), like Lydia (Acts xvi. 14), was one of many who were at this time deeply feeling the emptiness and falsehood of all the polytheistic religions, and who had attached themselves by laxer or closer bonds, as proselytes of the gate, or proselytes of righteousness, to the congregation of Israel and the worship of Jehovah, finding in Judaism a satisfaction of some of the deepest needs of their souls, and a promise of the satisfaction of all.' He was one among the many who are distinguished from the seed of Abraham, yet described as ' fearing God,' or worshipping God,' of whom we read so often in the Acts (xiii. 43, 50 ; xvi. 14; xvii. 4, 17 ; xviii. 7), while this is omitted in the other, to cast a slight and suspicion upon both. It is, of course, this last declaration which makes him bent anyhow on getting rid of this history. The calumniator of the Old Covenant, he cannot endure to hear of the chiefs of that covenant sitting down in the first places at the heavenly banquet. Augustine's admirable reply contains much which is applicable still, on the unfair way in which gainsayers find or make discrepancies where indeed there are none,—as though one narrator telling some detail in an event, contradicts another, who passes over that detail, -one saying that a person did this, contradicts another who states more particularly that he did it by the agency and intervention of another. All that we demand, he says, is, that men should be as fair to Scripture as to any other historic record ; should suffer it to speak to men as they are wont to speak one to another (Con. Faust. xxxiii. 7, 8): Quid ergo, cum legimus, obliviscimur quemadmodum loqui soleamus ?

An Scriptura Dei aliter nobiscum fuerat quam nostro more locutura ? Cf. De Cons. Evang. ii. 20.

· Remarkably enough all the Roman centurions who figure in the sacred narrative are honourably mentioned ; thus, besides these two, the centurion who watched by the cross of Christ, and exclaimed, “ Truly this was the Son of God' (Matt. xxvii. 54; Luke xxiii. 47); and Julius, who so courteously entreated Paul on his way to Rome (Acts xxvii. 3, 43). Probably, in the general wreck of the moral institutions of the heathen world, the Roman army was one of the few in which something of the old virtues survived.


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the proselytes, whom the providence of God had so wonder-
fully prepared in all the great cities of the Greek and Roman
world as a link of communication between Gentile and Jew,
in contact with both-holding to the first by their race, and
to the last by their religion; and who must have greatly
helped to the ultimate fusion of both into one Christian

But with the higher matters which he had learned from
his intercourse with the people of the covenant, he had
learned this, that all heathens, all sinners of the Gentiles,
were without;' that there was a middle wall of partition
between them and the children of the stock of Abraham ;
that they were to worship only as in the outer court, and not
presume to draw near to the holy place. And thus, as we
learn from St. Luke (vii. 3), he did not himself approach, but
when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the
Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his ser-
vant,' a servant who was dear unto him,'but now
sick and ready to die.' The Jewish elders executed their
commission with fidelity and zeal, pleading for him as one
whose affection for the chosen people, and active well-doing
in their behalf, had merited this return of favour: '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.'

But presently even this request seemed to the maker of
it too bold. In his true and ever-deepening humility he
counted it a presumption to have asked, though by the inter-
vention of others, the presence under his roof of one so
highly exalted.

And when He was now not far from the


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i Calvin: Lucas hoc modo dubitationem prævenit, quæ subire poterat lectorum animos: scimus enim, non habitos fuisse servos eo in pretio, ut de ipsorum vitâu tam anxii essent domini, nisi qui singulari industriâ vel fide vel aliâ virtute sibi gratiam acquisierant. Significat ergo Lucas non vulgare fuisse sordidumque mancipium, sed fidelem et raris dotibus ornatum servum qui eximiâ gratiâ apud dominum polleret: hinc tanta illius vitæ cura et tam studiosa commendatio,

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house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying, Lord trouble not Thyself : for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof. It was not merely that he, a heathen, might claim no near access to the King of Israel ; but there was, no doubt, beneath this and mingling with this, a deep inward feeling of his own personal unworthiness and unfitness for a close communion with a holy being, which was the motive of this message.

And thus, in Augustine's words, *counting himself unworthy that Christ should enter into his doors, he was counted worthy that Christ should enter into his heart'ua far better boon; for Christ sat down in the houses of many, as of that proud self-righteous Pharisee (Luke vii. 36; cf. xiv. I); whose hearts for all this were not the less empty of his presence. But this centurion received Him in his heart, whom he did not receive in his house.? And, indeed, every little trait of his character, as it comes forth in the sacred narrative, points him out as one in whom the seed of God's word would find the ready and prepared soil of a good and honest heart. For, not to speak of those prime graces, faith and humility, which so eminently shone forth in him,—the affection which he had evidently won from those Jewish elders, the zeal which had stirred him to build a house for the worship of the true God, his earnest care and anxiety about a slave,-one so commonly excluded from all earnest human sympathies on the part of his master, that even a Cicero excuses himself for feeling deeply the death of such a one in his household, -all these traits of character combine to present him to us as one of those children of God' scattered abroad in the world, whom the Son of God

1 Serm. lxii. 1: Dicendo se indignum præstitit dignum, non in cujus parietes, sed in cujus cor Christus intraret. Neque hoc diceret cum tantâ tide et humilitate, nisi illum quem timebat intrare in domum suam, corde gestaret. Nam non erat magna felicitas si Dominus Jesus intraret in parietes ejus et non esset in pectore ejus (Luke vii. 36).

2 Augustine (Serm. lxxvii. 8): Tecto non recipiebat, corde receperat. Quanto humilior, tanto capacior, tanto plenior. Colles enim aquam repellunt, valles implentur.

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