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distance and yet mighty to save.” Not that we are to suppose that the Lord thus speaking meant to cast any slight on the significance of miracles, only they are not to serve for this, namely, to compel the reluctant and unbelieving to the faith, but to confirm the mission of a divine ambassador before them that have already been taken hold of by the power of the truth. Yet, as Bengel observes, there is a beautiful admixture in this answer, of rebuke and encouragement; an implied promise of a miracle, even while the man is blamed, that he needeth this, that nothing short of this would induce him to put his trust in the Lord of life.f And so the man accepts it; for he does not suffer himself to be repelled by this word of a seeming, and indeed of a real severity; rather he now presses on the more earnestly, “Sir, come downs ere my child die;”— still, it is true, not guessing of any other help save through the Lord's bodily presence; still far off from the faith and humility of that centurion, who said, “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed;”— much less dreaming of a power that could raise the dead; it must be “ere my child die,” or the help will be too late. Therefore that gracious Lord, who had always the higher good of those who came in contact with him in his eye, again tries his faith, and in the trying strengthens it, sending him away with a mere word of assurance that it should go well with his child; “Go thy way, thy son liveth.” And the nobleman was contented with that assurance; he “believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way,” expecting to find that it should be done according to that word. There is here again something to be learned by a comparison of the Lord's dealing with this man and with the centurion of the other Gospels. Here being entreated to come, he does not, but sends his healing word. There, being asked to speak that word of healing, he rather proposes himself to come; for here, as Chrysostom, unfolding the mo tives of his different conduct in the two instances, well brings out, a
* Bengel will have this to be the especial point of the whole answer, laying the entire emphasis thus: “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe:"Innuit Jesus se etiam absenti reguli filio posse vitam dare; et postulat ut regulus id credat, neque profectionem Jesu postulet suscipiendam cum ipso sanationem apud lectulum visuro. Others have done the same : see Köcher's Analecta (in loc.)
+ Simul autem miraculum promittitur, fidesque prius etiam desideratur, et dum desideratur, excitatur. Responsum externă quádam repulsae specie et tacità opis promissione mixtum, congruit sensuirogantis ex fide et imbecillitate mixto.
# Kará3m0t, Capernaum lying upon the shore, and lower than Cana, where now they were.
narrow and poor faith is enlarged and deepened, there a strong faith is crowned and rewarded. By not going he increases this nobleman’s faith; by offering to go, he brings out and honors that centurion’s humility. Nor shall we fail to observe by the difference of his conduct in the two cases how far was the Lord from being an accepter of persons. He will not come, but only send, to the son of this nobleman (see 2 Kin. v. 10, 11); he is prompt to visit in his own person the servant of that centurion.* It would seem that now his confidence in Christ's word was so great, that he proceeded leisurely homewards, since it was not till the next day that he reached his house, though the distance between the two cities was not so great that the journey need have occupied many hours. Maldonatus quotes Isai. xxviii. 16, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” It is worthy of note that his inquiry of the servants who met him on his return with news of his child's recovery, was when the child “began to amend,”f to be a little better. For at the height of his faith, the father had only looked for a slow and gradual amendment, and therefore he used such an expression as this: but his servants answer, that at such an hour, the very hour when Jesus spake the word, the fever not merely began to subside, there was not merely a turning point in the disease, but it “left him,”; it suddenly forsook him. “So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth, and himself believed;”—this he did for all the benefits which the Lord had bestowed on him, he accepted another and the crowning benefit, even the cup of salvation; and not he alone, but, as so often happened, and this for the bringing us into the perception of the manner in which each smaller community, as well as the great community of mankind,-a nation, or as in this case a family, is united and bound together under its federal head, his conversion drew after it that
of all who belonged to him: “himself believed, and his whole house.” (Cf. Acts xvi. 15, 34; xviii. 8)" Yet, might it not be asked, Did he not believe before? was not the healing itself a reward of his faith? Yes, he believed that particular word of the Lord's; but this is the adherence of faith, the entering into the number of Christ's disciples, the giving of himself to him as to the promised Messiah. Or, supposing he already truly believed, there may be indicated here a heightening and augmenting of his faith. For a true faith is yet most capable of this increase; “Lord, increase our faith;” (Luke xvii. 5;) and so in him who said, “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief,” (Mark ix. 24.) the true faith was born, though as yet its actings were weak and feeble. So, too, we read after the last miracle of the water made wine, that “his disciples believed on him,” (John ii. 11,) who yet, being already his disciples, must have believed on him before.} Thus in the Old Testament they who suffered themselves to be guided by Moses must have already believed that he was the instrument of God for their deliverance, yet not the less is it said after the great overthrow of Pharaoh and his host, that the people “be. lieved the Lord and his servant Moses.” (Exod. xiv, 31.) We have another analogous example, 1 Kin. xvii. 24, where after the mighty work which Elijah did, raising the widow's son, she addresses him thus: “Now by this I know thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth,” while yet she had recognized him as such before, (ver. 18;) now, however, her faith received a new confirmation; (cf. John xi. 15; xiii. 19;) and so we may accept it here.
* The Jews have their miracle, evidently founded upon, and in rivalry of this Vitringa (De Synag., p. 147) quotes it: Quando agrotavit Filius R. Gamalielis, duos misit studiosos sapientiae ad R. Chanina, Dusae filium, ut per preces pro eo gratiam divinam implorarent. Postguam eos vidit, ascendit in coenaculum suum, Deumque pro eo oravit. Ubi veró descendit, dixit, Abite, quia febris illum jam dereliquit. . . Illi veró considentes, signaté annotarunt illam horam, et quando reversi sunt ad R. Gamalielem, dixit ipsis, Per cultum ! Nec excessu nec defectu temporis peccastis, sed sic prorsus factum: ea enim ipsá horá dereliquit ipsum febris, et petiit a nobis aquam potandam. Cf. LAMPE, Com. in Joh., v.1, p. 813
+ Beda: Unde datur intelligiet in fide gradus esse, sicut et in aliis virtutibus, quibus est initium, incrementum, et perfectio. Hujus ergo fides initium habuit, cum filii salutem petit: incrementum, cum credidit sermoni Domini dicentis, Filius tuns vivit; deinde perfectionem obtinuit, nuntiantibus servis.
THERE have been some in all times who have deemed themselves bound to distinguish this narrative from those in St. Matthew (iv. 18), and St. Mark (i. 16–20). Augustine, for example, finds the differences so considerable, that he can only suppose the circumstance narrated by St. Luke to have first happened, our Lord then predicting to Peter that hereafter he should catch men; but not at that time summoning him to enter on the work; that without any sinful drawing back, he and his fellows returned after a while to their usual employments;–they only on a somewhat later occasion, that recorded by St. Matthew and St. Mark, hearing the word of command, “Follow me,” which then they obeyed, and attached themselves for ever to their heavenly Lord.* Now that there are some difficulties, yet such as hardly deserve that name, in the harmonizing of the two accounts, every one will readily admit; but the flying immediately to the resource of supposing an event happened, with slight variations, twice or even three times over, whenever there is any difficulty in bringing the parallel accounts perfectly to agree, seems a very questionable expedient, at least to him who will deal honestly in the matter, and will ask himself whether he would be satis
* De Cons. Evang., l.2, c. 17: Unde datur locus intelligere eos ex captură piscium ex more remeåsse, ut postea fieret quod Matthaeus et Marcus narrant. . . Tunc enim non subductis ad terram navibus tanquam curá redeundi, sedita eum secuti sunt, tanquam vocantem ac jubentem ut eum sequerentur. Mr. Greswell in the same way, (see his Dissert., v. 2, Diss. 9.) earnestly pleads for the keeping asunder the two narrations. Yet any one who wishes to see how capable they are, by the expenditure of a little pains, of being exactly reconciled, has only to refer to SPANHEIM's Dub. Evang., v. 3, p. 337. Lightfoot, in his Harmony, sees but the records of one and the same event, and Grotius and Hammond.
fied with such an explanation in any other history. It is for him a far greater difficulty made than avoided. For the other is nothing so great, indeed in most cases, as here, is none at all. Any one who knows the various aspects, yet all true, in which the same event will present itself from different points of view to different witnesses, who keeps in mind how very few points in any complex fact or event any narration whatever can seize, least of all a written one, which in its very nature is limited, will little wonder when two or three narrators have in part seized diverse as the culminating points of a narrative, have brought out different moments of an event: he will rather be grateful to that providence of God which thus often sets us not merely in the place of one bystander, but of more; allows us to see the acts of Christ, each part of which is significant, from various points of view; to hear of his discourses, not merely what one heard and carried away, but also that which sunk especially deep into the heart and memory of another. A work exclusively devoted to the miracles of our Lord has only immediately to do with the narrative of St. Luke, for in that only the miracle appears. That which followed upon the miracle, the effectual calling of four apostles, appears in the parallel narratives as well—he thus by his narrative excellently completing theirs, and explaining to us why the Lord, when he bade these future chiefs of his kingdom to follow him, should have clothed the accompanying promise in that especial shape, “I will make you fishers of men;” words which would anyhow have had their propriety as addressed to fishers whom he found casting their nets, and unconsciously prophesying of their future work,” yet winning a pecular fitness after he has just shown them what successful fishers of the mute creatures of the sea, he could make them, if only they would be obedient to his word: whereupon linking, as was so often his custom, the higher to the lower, and setting forth that higher in the forms of the lower, he bade them exchange their present for a loftier calling; he still contemplating that under the same aspect, as a fishing, though now of men, which at his bidding, and under his direction, they should no less successfully accomplish. But when we compare John i. 40–42, would it not appear as though of these four, Andrew and Peter at least, and perhaps John himself, (ver. 35,) had been already called? No doubt they had been then, on the banks of Jordan, brought into a transient fellowship with their future Lord; but, as would appear, after that meeting with him
* Auct. Oper. Imperf in Matth, Hom. 6: Futurae dignitatis gratiam artificii sui opere prophetantes. Augustine (Serm. Inedd. Serm. 58): Petrus piscator non posuit retia, sed mutavit.