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shouldest enter under my roof: 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. 8 For I also am a man set under .authority, having under me soldiers: and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, end he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth if. 9 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. 10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
In our Saviour's miraculous cure of the centurion's servant, we have several particulars very observable; as, 1. Toe person applying himself to our blessed Saviour for help and healing: he was a Gentile, an .Heathen, a Roman soldier, an officer and commander ; yet he believes in, and reJies upon the power of Christ. Note, That such is the freeness of divine grace, that it extends itself to all sorts and ranks, to all orders and degrees of men, without exception; even the bloody trade of war yields worthy clients to Christ: he doth not so much regard what we are, and whence we are, as with what dispositions and desires, with what purposes and inclinations, we come unto htm. Observe, 2. The person whom the centurion came to Christ for: not for himself, nor for his son, but for his servant. His servant -was sick; be doth not drive him out of doors, nor stand gazing by his bed-side, but looks out for help and relief for him : a worthy example of humanity! Some masters have not so much regard to their sick servants as they have to their oxen and their swine. But he is not worthy of a good servant that in a time of sickness is not willing to serve his servant. Observe, 3. Unto whom the centurion seeks, and with what zeal and application ; he seeks not to wizards and conjurers, but to the physician, for his sick servant; yea, to Christ, the chief Physician j and this not with a formal relation in his mouth, but with a vehement aggravation of his disease, My servant lies sick of the palsy, grievously tormented, St. Matt. viii. 6. where the master'scondolency,
and tender sympathy, with his afflicted servant, is both matter of commendation and imitation. Observe, 4. The happy mixture of humility and faith which was found in this centurion. See his wonderful humility in not thinking himself worthy to come into Christ's presence, or that Christ should come under his roof. The best men have always the lowest thoughts of themselves; when we esteem ourselves unworthy of any favours, Christ accounts us worthy of all. See. also his faith in Christ's divine power; he believed that Christ was able at a distance, and by a single word, to command off the distemper of his servant: lie tells him, that diseases were as much at Christ's command, as his servants were at his command. Humility, we see, is both the fruit of faith, and the companion of faith. An humble soul has evermore an high esteem of Christ's power, and a low esteem of itself. Observe, 5. How our blessed Saviour exceeds not only the centurion's desires, but his expectations also, St. Matt. viii. 7. ./< .v«\ saith unto him, I will come and heal him. O wonderful condescension. In St . John iv. 47. we read of a certain nobleman and ruler that twice entreated our Saviour to come to his house and heal his son, but our Lord refused. Here the centurion doth but barely tell Christ of his poor servant's sickness, and Christ, both unasked and undesired, says, / will come and heal him. O how far is Christ from seeming in the least to honour riches and despise poverty! He that came in the form of a servant goes down to visit a sick servant upon his poor pallet-bed, who did not come near the rich couch of the ruler's son. Observe, 6. The notice and observation which our Saviour takes of the centurion's faith: be wondered at it from him. Admiration agreed not to Christ as God, but as man it did. Christ wrought faith as God, and wondered at it as man. What can be more wonderful than to see Christ wonder't We find not our Saviour wondering at worldly pomp and greatness: when the disciples wondered at the magnificence and stately buildings of the temple, Christ rather rebuked them than wondered with them; but when he sees the gracious act and exercise of faith, he is ravished with wonder. Let it teach us to place our admiration where Christ fixes his , let us be more affected with the least measure of grace in a good man, than with all the gaities and glories of a great man; let us not envy the one, but admire and imitate tbe other. Observe, lastly, Christ doth not only admire the centurion's faith, but publishes it: Verily I have not found so great faith, no, not m Israel; that is, amongst the generality of the Jewish nation. For, as to particular persons, several had showed a greater faith than this, as Joseph and Mary. This expression lets us know, that where the means of faith arc but small, the noble acts and exercise of faith are wonderful and soul amazing.
11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the hier; and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 10 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. 17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about.
There were three persons raised from death to life by the powerful word of Christ's mouth; namely, Jairus's daughter, mentioned by St. Matthew; Lazarus, recorded by St. John; and here the widow's son, only taken notice of by St. Luke. The place where the miracle was wrought was the city of Nain; out of their cities, and not within them, the Jews were wont to bury their dead. Our Saviour at the gate of the city meets with the sad pomp of a funeral, a sorrowful widow attended with her mournful neighbours, following her only son to the grave. Where note, 1. The doleful and distressed condition of the
-widow: there were many heart-piercing circumstances in her affliction. 1. It was the death of a son. To bury a child rends the heart of a parent; tor what are children but the parent multiplied } But to lay a son in the grave, which continues the name, and supports the family, is a sore affliction. 2. This son was a young man in the strength and flower of bo age, not carried from the cradle to the coffin. Had he died an infant, be bad not been so much lamented; but then when the mother's expectations were highest, and the endearments greatest, even in the flower of his age, be is cut off. 3. He was not only a son, but an only son; one in whom all his mother's hopes and comforts were bound up. . The death of one out of many, is much more tolerable than of all in one. The loss of that one admits of no consolation. 4. Still to heighten the affliction, it is added, that she was a -aidow ; she wanted the counsel and support of a Ion ing yoke-fellow. Had the root been left entire, she might better have spared the branch ; now both are cut down, and she has none left to comfort her in her comfortless state of widowhood. In this detressed condition, Christ, the God of comfort, meets her, pities her, relieves her. Observe, 2. The compassion of Christ towards this distressed widow: He saw her, and had compassion on her. Christ saw her, she did not speak to him: no tears, no prayers, can move Christ so much as our afflictions and his own compassion. Christ's heart pitied her, his tongue said to her, Weep not; his feet went to the hier, his hand touched the coffin, and the power of his Godhead raised the dead. But how strange doth Christ's counsel seem! To hid a woman not to weep for such a loss, was to persuade her to be miserable, and not feel it; to feel it, and not regard it; to regard it, and yet conceal and hide it. It is not the decent expression of our sorrow then which Christ condemns, but the undue excess and extravagances of it, which our Saviour blames. And the lesson of instruction which we learn from hence is this, that christians ought to moderate their sorrow for their dead relations, how many afflicting circumstances and aggravations soever do meet together in their death : here was a child, that child a son, that son an only son, that only son carried to the grave in the flower of his age; yet Christ says to the pensive mother, a sorrowful widow, Weep not. Observe, 3.
The power of Christ in raising the widow's sou to life. The Lord of life arrests the Serjeant Death, and rescues the prisoner out of his band. Christ says not. In the name of God, young man, arise ; but, / say unto thee, Arise. Christ had a power iu, himself, and of himself, to command the dead to arise; and the same powerful voice which raised this young man, shall in the last day raise up our dead bodies; for it is as easy for Omnipotency to say, Let them be repaired, as to say at tint, Let them be made. The Socinians here own, that Christ raised this young man by a divine power, which God had communicated to him; yet deny him at the same time to be essentially God. But let them prove if they can, that a divine power, which is proper to God alone, ever was, or ever can be, communicated to a creature, without the communication of the divine nature. True, we find St. feter, Actt ix. 40. commanding Tahitha to arise ; but we find all he did was by faith in Christ, and by prayer unto Christ, Actt ix. 34. Jesus Christ healeth thee, arise: but Christ here raised the widow's son without prayer, purely by his own power; which undeniably proves him to be God. Observe, 4. The reality of the miracle: he sits up, he begins to speak, and is delivered to his mother. Death has no power to hold that man down, whom the Son of God hids rise up: Immediately he that vas dead sat up: and the same power which raised one man, can raise a thousand, a million, a world , no power can raise one man but an almighty power, and that which is almighty can raise all men. It was not so much for the child's sake as the mother's sake, that the son was raised : it was an injury to the son, though a kindness to the mother, for he must twice pass through the gates of death, to others' once; it returned him from rest to labour, from the peaceful harbour, back again to the tempestuous ocean. Observe, lastly, What effects this miracle had upon the multitude: seeing the divine power thus manifestly exerted, they arc rilled with astonishment and amazement: they look upon our Saviour with awful and admiring looks; They glorify and praise God for sending a great prophet amongst them, accounting it a great act of favour that God had in this wonderful manner visited his people; yet a prophet was the highest name they could find for him, whom they saw like them
selves in shape, but above themselves in power: A great prophet is risen up amongst us, and God hath visited his people.
18 And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things. 19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another? 20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 21 And in the same hour he cured many of their infirmities' and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
About the time of our Saviour's appearing in the world there was a general expectation of a great prince that should come out of Judea, and govern all nations: this prince the Jews called the Messias, or the Anointed, and waited for his appearance. Accordingly, when John the Baptist appeared in the quality of an extraordinary prophet, the Jews sent to know of him, whether he was the Messias or not, John i. 19. he answered that he was not, but only the harhinger and forerunner of the Messias ; so that it was very evident that it was not for John's own information that he sent two of his disciples to Christ, to know whether he was the Messias or not ; for John was assured of it himself by a voice from heaven at our Saviour's baptism, Matt. iii. ult. but it was for his disciples' satisfaction that he sent them to Jesus; because John's disciples were unwilling to acknowledge Christ to be the Messias, out of a great zeal for the honour of him their master; they were not willing to own any person greater than John their master, lest such an acknowledgment should eclipse and cloud him. From whence we may note, How the judgments of the best -of men are very apt to be hiased and perverted by faction or interest. No doubt John's disciples were good men, and no doubt their master had often told thein, as be did others, that be was not the Messias; yet they will not believe their own master, when they apprehend him to speak against their own interest; for they knew that they must rise and fall in their reputation and esteem, as their master did: therefore that John's disciples might receive full satisfaction from Christ, he sends two of his disciples to him to hear his doctrine, and see his miracles; for John perceiving his disciples to be ill-affected towards our Saviour, and hearing them speak with some envy of his miracles, he sent them to him, that being eye-witnesses of what he did, they might be convinced who he was. Observe next, The way and means which our Saviour takes to convince and satisfy John's disciples that he was the true Messias: he appeals to the miracles wrought by himself, and submits those miracles to the judgment and examination of their senses: Go and show John the miracles which you hear and see; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear. Christ was all this in a literal and spiritual sense also: he was an eye of understanding to the ignorant, a foot of power to the weak, he opened an ear in deaf hearts to receive the word of life, and the poor receive and embrace the gospel. Miracles are the highest attestation, and the greatest external confirmation and evidence, that can be given to the truth and divinity of any doctrine. Now our Saviour's miracles, for their nature, were divine and Godlike; they were healing and beneficial to mankind, freeing men from the greater calamities of human life ; for their number, they were many ; for the manner of their operation, they were publicly wrought in the sight and view of multitudes of people. To free them from all suspicion of fraud and imposture, be wrought them before his enemies, as well as in the presence of his friends and followers. And this was not done once or twice, or in one place, but at several times, and in several places, wherever he came, and this for a long time, even for three years and a half; so that our blessed Saviour had all the attestation that miracles can give, to evidence himself the true and promised Messias.
- —To the poor the gospel is preached.
The poor hear and receive the gospel, See Matt. xi. 5. Note, That all along, m our Saviour's time and since, the poor of the world have been more disposed to hear and embrace the gospel than other men; and the reasons of it are these: 1. Because the poor have no worldly interest to engage them to reject Christ and his gospel. The high-priest, the scribes and Pharisees, had a plain worldly interest to engage them to oppose Christ and hit doctrine; but the poor were free from these incumbrances and temptations. They bad nothing to lose; therefore oar Saviour's doctrine went down more easily with them, because it did not contradict their interest, as it did the interest of those who had great possessions. Those that are poor, and enjoy little of the good things of this life, are willing to entertain the glad tidings of happiuess in another life. Such as are in a state of misery here, are glad to understand that it shall be well with them hereafter, and are willing to listen to the good news of a future happiness; whereas the rich, who have had their consolation here, are not much concerned what will become of them afterwards.
23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
No doubt our Saviour uttered these words with particular respect and reference to John's disciples, who, out of an extraordinary zeal for the honour of their master, were prejudiced against our Saviour; but thegeneral import of the words doth show that there are many to whom Christ is a Rock oi offence; the Jews were offended at the meanness of his extraction, at the poverty of his parents, at the lowness of his breeding, at his suffering condition; from their traditions they expected the Messias should be a temporal prince, whereas the prophets declared he should be a man of somn-w, and acquainted with grief; be despised, and put to death. Thus at this day man; are offended at Christ; some are offended at the asserted divinity of his person, and the meritoriousness of his satisfaction. Some are offended at the sublimity of his doctrine, others at the sanctity and strictness of his laws; some are offended at the free dispensations of his grace; others that the terms of christianity are very hard, and lay too great a restraint upon human nature: but, Blessed is he, says Christ, that thaii not be offended at me; intimating, that such as, instead of being offended at Christ, do believe in him, and ground their expectations of heaven and salvation wholly upon him, are in a happy and blessed condition: Blessed is he that shall not be offended in me.
24 And when the messengers of John were departed he began to speak onto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 25 But what went you out for to sec? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in king's courts. 26 But what went ve out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Our Saviour having given, as we may suppose, full satisfaction to John's disciples and seat them away, he enters upon a large commendation of John himself. Where we have observable, 1. The persons whom he commended John before: not his own disciple?, but before the multitude; for John's disciples had too high an opinion of their master already, insomuch, that they envied our Saviour for overshadowing their master : John vii. 26. Behold Christ baptizeth, and all men come unto him. It was a great eye-sore to John's disciples, that Christ had more hearers and followers than their master; therefore not before John's disciples, but before the multitude, is John commended: for as John's disciples had too high, so the multitude had too low, an opinion of John; possibly because of his imprisonment and sufferings. There was a time when the people had high thoughts of John's person and ministry; but being now clouded with sufferings, they disesteem and undervalue him. Learn hence, How vain it is for any men, but especially for the ministers of tire gospel, to value themselves by popular applause. The people contemn to-day whom they admired yesterday; he who to-day is cried up, tomorrow is trodden down; the word and ministers are the same, but this proceeds from the fickleness and inconsistency of
the people: nothing is so mutable as the mind of man; nothing so variable as the opinion of the multitude. Observe, 2. The time when our Saviour thus commended John: when he teas cast into prison by Herod. Not when he was in prosperity, when the people flocked after him, when he preached at court, and was reverenced by Herod; but when the giddy multitude had forsaken him; when he was disgraced at court, and had preached himself into a prison; now it is that Christ proclaims his worth, maintains his honour, and tells the people that the world was not worthy of such a preacher. Learn hence, That Christ will evermore stand by, and stick fast unto, his faithful ministers, when all the world forsakes them. Let the world slight and despise them at their pleasure; yet Christ will maintain their honour, and support their cause; as they bear a faithful witness to Christ, so Christ will bear witness to their faithfulness for him. Observe, 3. The commendation itself. Our Saviour commends John for four things! for his constancy, for his sobriety, for his humility, for his gospel-ministry. 1. For his constancy: he was not a reed shaken with the wind; that is, a man of an unstable and unsettled judgment, but fixed and steady. 2. For his sobriety, austerity, and high degree of mortification and self-denial: he was no delicate, voluptuous person, but grave, sober, and severe. He was mortified to the glory and honour, to the ease and pleasure, of the world: John wrought no miracles, but his conversation was almost miraculous, and as effectual as miracles to prevail upon the people. 3. For his humility: John might once have been what he would, the people were ready to cry him up for the Messias, the Christ of God: but John's humble and lowly spirit refuses all: He confessed and denied not, saying, I am not the Christ, but a poor minister of his, willing, but not worthy, to do him the meanest service. This will commend our ministry to the consciences of our people; when we seek not our own glory, but the glory of Christ . 4. Our Saviour commends John for his clear preaching the gospel, and for his making known the coining of the Messias to the people: He was more than a prophet, because he pointed out Christ more clearly and fully than any of the prophets before him. The ancient prophets beheld Christ afar off, but John saw him face to face. They prophesied of him, he pointed at