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centurions. Though the province of Galilee, acknowledged Herod Antipas as its tetrarch, yet, since the Romans were the real sovereigns of it, they always kept there a body of troops. The centurion, of whom the text speaks, was a pagan by birth; but probably had become one of those many proselytes, who, without submitting themselves to the discipline and ceremonies of Judaism, adored the one only God, and observed the precepts of the moral law. Had not this been the case, he would not probably have built, as St. Luke informs us he did, a synagogue for the Jews. Few characters more interesting are exhibited to us. Let us combine the accounts of this event given by Matthew and Luke, and we shall find much to admire and to imitate.
1. Behold his love to his fellow-creatures. He enters, with the deepest interest, into the concerns of his servant; he administers to him in his sickness with the tenderest affection; he applies to the elders of the Jews to intercede for him with Jesus; he omits nothing that can contribute to his welfare.
2. Behold his warm and liberal piety towards God. Though he had learned to acknowledge the only true God, yet he had embraced neither the doctrines nor discipline of the Jewish church. But he was solicitous to promote the worship of God, even though he did not acquiesce in the peculiar mode in which he was worshipped. He therefore built a synagogue at his own expense. What an admirable example of liberality and candour!
3. Behold his low thoughts of himself. He arrogates nothing to himself from his rank and authority. He values not himself on his benevolence to man and zeal for God. While the elders of the Jews judged him worthy that a miracle should be wrought for
him, he accounted himself unworthy of the smallest favour. This was the reason that he at first forebore to wait on our Lord in person; but when Jesus drew near to his house, this same humility compelled him to go and meet him, lest he should seem guilty of disrespect. How lovely does such a character appear
. in the eyes of both God and man!
4. Behold his exalted thoughts of Christ. He judged our Lord to be too holy to admit of converse with a heathen. He believed the Saviour's power to be unlimited, so that he could effect what he pleased at a distance, without the intervention of means. He was persuaded that universal nature was subject to the will of Jesus, far more than the most obedient soldier could be to the commands of his officer.
Such a character as this could never meet with a repulse from Jesus. He, therefore, on the request of the elders, immediately advanced to the centurion's house. He who, though repeatedly importuned, refused to visit a nobleman's son, went at the very first summons to attend upon a centurion's servant. He no sooner met the centurion, than he expressed his admiration of his faith. We never read of the Saviour's admiring the things of this world. He always checked such ill-placed veneration; but he here teaches us, by his example, that true faith can never be estimated too highly. He gave joy to the heart of the centurion, by declaring that this faith had not been equalled by the Israelites themselves. Jesus never contents himself with barren approbation; he gives more solid proofs of his love. By a simple act of his will, he restored the servant to perfect health, and told the centurion it should be to him according to his faith. Thus he removed the distress of the family in an instant. Thus, too, he confirmed the faith which had shone so nobly, and showed that we can never expect too much from him. What advantages for the acquisition of eternal life the centurion derived from this event! With what lively hope might he now apply to Jesus for the saving of his soul! The Scriptures are silent concerning his subsequent life; but we can never suppose that such love and piety, such humility and faith, should perish.
Our Lord concludes with a solemn declaration, that many such persons should be saved, while many, with clearer light and higher privileges, shall be rejected. “ But I say unto you, Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God.” But the “ children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Those who profess the true religion may be called the children of the kingdom; but how many of them are destitute of the attainments which this heathen had made!
LIFE OF CHRIST.
PETER'S WIFE'S MOTHER-EJECTION OF AN EVIL SPIRIT
MATTHEW viii. 14, &c.
AFFLICTIONs and diseases enter the families of the servants of God, as well as of the unholy. Though Peter was one of the peculiar favourites of our Lord, and privileged to have more intimate access to him than almost any of the apostles, yet he experi
. enced personally, and in his family, those troubles common to humanity. The aged mother of his wife spent her declining years with him. She had been afflicted by a fever, which, by its duration and violence, had reduced her to a weak and languid state. Her trial was doubtless the greater, because she was detained from attending the public ordinances of God; and this, too, at a time when He, who “spake as never man spake," had come to Capernaum to instruct the people. Peter interceded for his afflicted relative; and his intercessions were not in vain. " Jesus arose out of the synagogue,” says St. Luke, " and entered into Simon's house." He rebuked her disorder. It instantly vanished, and her former strength returned. Universal joy succeeded to the tears of sympathy and compassion, which had before
been paid to the sufferings of this aged female. Rejoicing in her perfect restoration, and desirous of manifesting her gratitude, she immediately ministered to Jesus and his attendants.
Christians, imitate the example of Peter. In the arms of faith and prayer, carry your friends and relations to Jesus. If they are suffering under external affiictions, or if their souls are languishing, spread their wants before him. Your intercessions will
probably benefit them, will certainly draw down blessings upon yourselves.
And you who have received mercies from God, learn from the example of this pious matron to testify your gratitude. Have you been preserved in health, or restored from sickness? Content not yourselves with making a few cold acknowledgments; but render active services to your Benefactor. Do not pretend that there is nothing which you can do for him. Whatever your capacity or your situation in life is, you may find something to perform for Jesus; and however mean or trifling the service is, it shall be accepted, if it spring from a grateful heart.
“ When the even was come," proceeds the Evangelist, i. e. after the Jewish Sabbath was ended, “ they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils, and he cast out the spirits with his word.” From this and a variety of other passages in the New Testament, we learn that, just before the advent of Saviour, Satan was permitted to exercise a power over the bodies of men which he no longer possesses. Perhaps one great reason why Providence permitted this, was to show, visibly and openly, the superiority of Jesus to the adversary of souls; and to dispose men joyfully to receive him who 6 came to destroy the