Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me; and I say unto this man, go, and he goeth; and to another, come, and he cometh; and to a third, do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed him, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 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.” This is the short and edifying history of the Roman centurion; and the reason of its being recorded by the sacred writers was, in the first place, to give a most striking evidence of our Saviour's divine power, which enabled him to restore the centurion's servant to health at a distance, and without so much as seeing him; and in the next place to set before us, in the character of the centurion, an illustrious

[ocr errors][merged small]

example of those eminent Christian virtues, humanity and charity, piety and generosity, humility and faith. Of the former of these virtues, humanity and charity, he gave a very convincing proof in the solicitude he showed for the welfare of his servant, and the strong interest he took in the recovery of his health. And this is the more remarkable and the more honourable to the centurion, because in general the treatment which the servants of the Romans experienced from their masters was very different indeed, from what we see in the present instance. These servants were almost all of them slaves, and were too commonly treated with extreme rigour and cruelty. They were often strained to labour beyond their strength, were confined to loathsome dungeons, were loaded with chains, were scourged and tortured without reason, were deserted in sickness and old age, and put to death for trivial faults and slight suspicions, and sometimes out of mere

wantonness and cruelty, without any Q 4 TeaSOn

reason at all. Such barbarity as this, which was at that time by no means uncommon, which indeed has in a greater or less degree universally prevailed in every country where slavery has been established, and which shows in the strongest light the danger of trusting absolute power of any kind, political or personal, in the hands of such a creature as man; this barbarity, I say, forms a most striking contrast to the kindness and compassion of the centurion, who, though he had so much power over his slaves, and so many instances of its severest exertion before his eyes, yet made use of it, as we here see, not for their oppression and destruction, but their happiness, comfort, and preservation. The next virtues which attract our notice in the centurion's character are his piety and generosity. These wereeminently displayed in the affection he manifested towards the Jewish people, and his building them a place of worship at his own expence; for the elders of the Jews in- formed formed Jesus, “that he loved their nation, and had built them a synagogue”.” The Jews, it is well known, were at this time under the dominion of the Romans. Their country was a Roman province, where this centurion had a military command; and they who are acquainted with the Roman history know well with what cruelty, rapacity, and oppression, the governors, and commanding officers in the conquered provinces, too commonly behaved towards the people whom they were sent to keep in awe. So far were they from building them temples or synagogues, that they frequently invaded even those sacred retreats, and laid their sacrilegious hands on every thing that was valuable in them. Of this we have abundant proofs in the history of Verres, when governor of Sicily; and Verres was in many respects a faithful representative of too large a part of the Roman governors. In the midst of this brutality and insolence of power does this gallant soldier stand up to patronize and assista distressed and an injured people ; and it is a testimony as glorious to his memory as it is singular and almost unexampled in his circumstances, that he loved the Jewish nation, and that he gave a very decisive and magnificent proof of it, by building them a synagogue; for there cannot be a stronger indication both of love to mankind and love towards God, than erecting places of

up * Luke, vii. 5.

worship where they are wanted”. Without buildings * There is a most dreadful want of this nature in the western part of this great metropolis. From St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields to Marybone church inclusive, a spacecontaining perhaps 200,000 souls, there are only five parish churches, St. Martin's, St. Anne's Soho, St.James's, St. George's Hanover Square, and the very small church of Marybone. There are, it is true, a few chapels interspersed in this place; but what they can contain is a mere trifle, compared to the whole number of inhabitants in those parts, and the lowest classes are almost entirely excluded from them. The only measure that can be of any essential service, is the erection of several spacious parish churches, capable of receiving very large congregations, and affording decent accommodations for the lower and inferior, as well as the higher orders of the people. In the reign of Queen Anne, a considerable sum of money was voted by Parliament for fifty new churches. It is most - devoutly

« FöregåendeFortsätt »