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it was founded on a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
Let a frequent reflection on our own faults teach us candour ; and let a sense of our continued dependence on Divine libera. lity make us liberal towards those that need our assistance; lest we lose the comfort so justly forfeited, and abused mercies be another day repaid with measures of wrath, pressed down, shaken together, und running over.
We are another day to give an account of ourselves before God: let us judge then for ourselves in matters of religion ; and be very careful that we do not stupidly follow blind guides, till we fall with them into destruction.
“ Lead us, o Lord, in the way everlasting! Form us to a more perfect resemblance of our great Master ! Make us severe to ourselves, and, so far as it is real charity, indulgent to others! Sanctify our hearts by thy grace, that they may be as trees bringing forth good fruit, or as fountains pouring out wholesome streams! There may a good treasure be laid up, from whence good things may be abundantly produced! There may those holy and benevolent affections continually spring up, which may flow forth with unaffected freedom, to refresh the souls and animate the graces of all that are around us !”
May these beautiful, striking, repeated admonitions, which our Saviour gives us of the vanity of every profession which does not influence the practice, be attended to with reverence and fear! We are building for eternity; may we never grudge the time and labour of a most serious inquiry into the great fundamental principles of religion? May we discover the sure foundation, and raise upon it a noble superstructure, which shall air and glorious, when hypocrites are swept away into everlasting ruin, in that awful day in which heaven and earth shall flee away from the face of him that sits upon the throne ! (Rev. xx. 11.)
SECTION X. Matt. Vill. 5–13.-Luke vii. 1-10. Now when Jesus had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum; and when he was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a certain centurion, beseeching him for his servant, who was dear to him, and who was sick of the palsy, and ready to die, being grievously tormented. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this. For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Jesus saith, I will come and heal him. Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself, for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof.—Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having soldiers under me: And I say unto one, Go, and he goeth: and to another, Come, and he cometh ; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
- And I say unto you, 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. 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 selfsame hour. And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
It is pleasant to think of this good centurion, who amidst all the temptations of a military life, retained the principles, not only of liberality and humanity, but of piety too; and, probably amidst the raillery of his irreligious and idolatrous brethren, had the courage to frequent, and even to build a synagogue. Surely his devotion did not enervate, but rather invigorate and establish his valour ; nor did he find himself less dutifully regarded by the soldiers under his command for his parental tenderness to his afflicted servant, which brought him thus humbly to petition Christ in his favour. Such may our officers be! and we may hope the hosts of heaven will with pleasure cover their heads in the day of battle, and obedient troops be formed, by their example and their care, to the discipline of virtue as well as of war.
We see the force of real goodness to conquer the most inveterate prejudices ! the elders of the Jews at Capernaum turn petitioners for a Gentile-for a Roman centurion ! so may we disarm the virulency of a party spirit, and conciliate the friendship of those who otherwise might have their eyes upon us for evil!
In plentiful circumstances and an honourable station, how great is the humility of this worthy man! How low are the thoughts that he has of himself! And with what veneration and respect does he address himself to Christ! And, had this centurion been even a tribune or a general, this humble address would well have become him when he was thus applying unto Christ. And how well does it become us, when entreating the blessed Jesus to exert his healing power on our hearts, to bow with deep humility before him, and to say, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof, or worthy the honour of appearing in thy presence !” He that thus humbleth himself shall be exalted, (Luke xviii. 14.) nor do we ever stand fairer for the praise of Christ than when we see ourselves undeserving even of his notice.
Behold an instance of faith in a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, by which their unbelief was condemned ! Oh that the virtues of heathens may not another day rise up to our condemnation, notwithstanding an higher profession and much nobler advantages ! We cannot but rejoice to hear that many shall come from the east and the west, to sit down with the pious patriarchs in the kingdom of heaven! but how deplorable is the case of those children of the kingdom, who, with all their towering expectations, shall be cast out, and doomed to hopeless sorrowand to everlasting darkness !
May Almighty Grace awaken those who are now ignorant of the value and importance of the blessings of the gospel ; and excite those holy desires after them, which may prevent that impatience and envy, that rage and despair, with which they must otherwise view them at an unapproachable distance; yea, view them possessed by multitudes, whom they are now ready to despise !
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. 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. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier : and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak: and he delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all : and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God had visited his people. And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about. And the disciples of John shewed him all these things.
It surely becomes us likewise to glorify God on account of this great Prophet, whom he has raised up, not only to his ancient people Israel, but to be for salvation to the ends of the earth. (Acts xiii. 47.) Welcome, thou Messenger of the Father's love! How illustrious thy miracles ! how important thy doctrine ! how beneficent and amiable the whole of thy behaviour.
He went from Capernaum to Nain, still on the same blessed errand, to do good to the bodies and the souls of men. Oh that our lives, in their humbler sphere, might be such a circle of virtues and graces; that we might thus go about doing good; and might learn, by the happiest of all arts, to make the close of one useful and pious action the beginning of another!
Of him may we also learn the most engaging manner of conferring benefits; that lovely mixture of freedom and tenderness, which heightens the sweetness, and doubles the value of every favour! May our hearts imbibe the same temper, and it will diffuse on our actions some proportionable gracefulness. May our bowels, like his, yearn over the afflicted, and our hand be ever ready thus gently to wipe away their tears. But, O gracious Redeemer, how impotent is our pity when compared with thine; with thine, which could call back lamented children from the grave, and turn the sorrows of a weeping parent into a torrent of joy. We are sometimes ready fondly to say, “Oh that thou hadst been near when the darlings of our hearts were snatched away from us, and we left them in the dust!" But thou indeed wast near ; for thou hast the keys of death and the unseen world. And this we know, that, if our beloved children are sleeping in thee, thy voice shall at length awaken them; and thou wilt deliver them to us, to die no more; and wilt thyself graciously take part in that mutual and lasting joy which thou shalt give to us and to them.
SECTION XII. MATT. XI. 2-6.—Luke vil. 19-23. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he calling unto him two of his disciples, sent them unto Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another ? 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? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities, and plagues, and of evil spirits, and to many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way and tell John again what things ye have seen and heard, how that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
We have here in John the Baptist a very edifying instance of a most candid and pious temper. How solicitous was he to remove those scruples from the minds of his disciples which, perhaps, their excessive fondness for him might have occasioned! He wisely sends them to converse with Jesus themselves : and surely they who most accurately inquire into the credentials he brings, will be most effectually convinced and impressed by them,