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to their fathers, and predicted in their Sacred Writings :-it was not to be expected that he should manifest a greater reliance on the power and grace of Jesus, than those who had repeatedly seen him performing the most wonderful works. Yet such was the case.
Our Lord himself affirms, “I have not seen so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Too frequently, alas ! there is occasion to lament, that those who possess distinguished advantages do not diligently and conscientiously improve them. And many, there is reason to apprehend, will be put to shame by the superior attainments and proficiency of others, who have been, in regard to outward privileges connected with religion, far less favoured than they. Brethren, how stands the matter with ourselves ? Surely it must be acknowledged that to us much has been given in the merciful dispensations of a gracious God. Oh may he enable us constantly and practically to remember, that of us much will be required !
In close connection with this part of our subject, the solemn testimony which is added by our Lord demands also our serious consideration : “And I say
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.” This testimony was naturally suggested by the occasion itself. Its import is, that many gentiles from opposite and distant parts of the world, embracing through faith the offered blessings of the Gospel, shall finally
partake of the enjoyments of glory, with the blessed patriarchs themselves, in the everlasting kingdom of heaven : while on the other hand many Jews, who thought themselves exclusively the inheritors of the Messiah's kingdom, and to whom the blessings of that kingdom were first proclaimed and offered, shall, in consequence of their misapprehension of its nature, and rejection of its spiritual benefits, be consigned to misery and despair, in everlasting exclusion from the mansions of bliss. There is supposed to be, in the phraseology here adopted, an allusion to the darkness which prevailed in the outer precincts of those dwellings within which numerous guests were engaged in festive rejoicings, as contrasted with the brilliancy of the lights with which the interior apartments were on such occasions adorned. The solemn testimony, however, should be more extensively applied in the way of salutary admonition. Awful indeed beyond conception will be the future condition of those, whosoever they may be, who having been indulged with abundant privileges, and visited with the offered mercies of the Gospel, shall, through their abuse of those privileges, and their rejection of those offered mercies, be finally and eternally excluded from the blessedness which is reserved for the whole company of the faithful in heaven, and consigned to blackness and darkness for ever.
Let us consider this affecting testimony then, as a momentous caution addressed to ourselves : and may God grant that we may know in this our day the things which belong to our everlasting peace !We proceed to notice
III. The HAPPY RESULT WHICH ENSUED ON THIS INTERESTING OCCASION.
“ 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 self-same hour." Thus our Saviour dismisses the applicant; but he does not send him away disappointed :-he grants him the request of his lips—the desire of his heart. At the same time he distinctly intimates that in so doing, he had respect to the faith which he had witnessed and approved : “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” The faith which the centurion had manifested was great; and the benefit which he implored was to be completely obtained. And so it shall ever be with all those who humbly trust in the power and grace of Jesus.
This observation naturally leads us to remark that our Saviour did not excite a false expectation, or utter the language of mercy in vain.
in vain. On the contrary, he spake and it was done. The servant of the centurion was “healed ;” and not only so, but “in the selfsame hour.” Such is the testimony of our Evangelist ; and, according to St. Luke, “they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.” Thus our blessed Lord at once manifested his Divine power, conferred an invaluable benefit upon the individual who had been afflicted with sickness, and diffused joy and gladness through an astonished and grateful household.
Had not this account been true, it would easily have been confuted by the adversaries of Jesus. Its
truth, however, was notorious. Many doubtless knew the servant on whom this miracle of healing was wrought. They knew that he had been severely afflicted. They knew that he was at once remarkably restored to strength and vigour. They believed the evidence of their senses, and we may hope that they cordially believed in Jesus, and humbly resorted to him for the healing of their spiritual maladies.
In endeavouring to apply the narrative which has passed under our review, we may
1. In the first place, address a word of memento indiscriminately to all. We would remind
your continual dependence upon God for life, and breath, and all things; and of the duty which is consequently at all times incumbent upon you, of rendering to Him the grateful tribute of unfeigned praise. But we would also remind you, that while you are truly thankful for those ordinary mercies, which are the gifts of God's bountiful providence, it is at once your duty and your interest earnestly to implore the richer gifts of his abounding grace.
These are largely bestowed on all who humbly seek them, through Jesus Christ our Lord. “ Ask, then, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
2. But in the next place, we would more especially exhort those who enjoy the blessing of health, to employ it in the service and to the glory of Him by whom it is bestowed. It should ever be contemplated as an intrusted talent,—and that too of no ordinary value and importance,-of which they will at length
be called to give an account :-a solemn consideration, which by many is little, if at all, regarded in connection with that blessing of which we now speak. May those of you, my brethren, whom this observation particularly concerns duly estimate its importance. To such we would say, Make it your constant endeavour to devote your strength and energies both of body and mind to Him from whom they were received, and by whom they are sustained. By so doing your enjoyment of the invaluable blessing of health will be abundantly enhanced while you possess it; and in that solemn hour which must at last inevitably arrive, when flesh and heart fail, you will be spared the bitter reflection of having abused so rich a boon.
3. Thirdly. Important advice may be suggested to those who are in distress. Whatever be the occasion of that distress, betake yourselves to Jesus Christ, and apply to Him for needed relief. You cannot indeed go to him, so as to hold a personal and visible interview with him. But you may, and you ought to approach him at the throne of grace. Like the centurion then, as to the frame of your mind, approach him in humility and reverence; address him with earnestness and perseverance; ask of him in the confident hope that he will grant you whatever in his Holy Word he hath given you reason to expect. You have no ground, it is true, to suppose that he will perform a miracle, in the ordinary sense of the expression, in answer to your prayer. The centurion might reasonably expect that our Lord would so