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of which, many instances besides this occur in the Gospels. The manner too in which he performed this cure was equally an evidence that all the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him*; it was instantaneous, with a touch, and a few words, and those words the most sublime and dignified that can be imagined: I Will; Be Thou clean; and immediately the leprosy departed from him. This was plainly the language as well as the act of a God. I Will; be Thou Clean.
Yet with all this supernatural power there was no ostentation or parade, no arrogant contempt of ancient ceremonies and institutions (which an enthusiast always tramples under foot); but on the contrary a perfect submission to the established laws and usages of his country. He said to the man who was healed, "See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." Here he gave at once a striking example both of humility and obedience. He enjoined the man to keep secret the astonishing miracle he had wrought, and he com* Coloss. ii. 9.
© 4 manded manded him to comply with the injunctions of Moses; to shew himself to the priest, to undergo the examination, and to offer the sacrifice prescribed by the law*; which, at the same time that it shewed his disposition to fulfil all righteousness, established the truth of the miracle beyond all controversy, by making the priest himself the judge of the reality of the cure. This was not the mode which an impostor would have chosen.
After this miracle, the next incident that occurs is the remarkable and interesting story of the centurion, whose servant was cured of the palsy by our Saviour. The relation of this miracle is as follows: "When Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented-(.•. And Jesus saithunto
him, him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am 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."
* Lev. xiv.
•f In the parallel passage of St.Luke, chap. vii. it is said, that the centurion sent messengers to Jesus: but no mention is made of his coming to him in person. This difficulty may be cleared up by observing, that in Scripture what any person does by his messengers he is frequently represented as doing by himself. Thus Christ, who preached to the Ephesiansby his apostles, is said to have - .-7 preached
preached to them himself, Eph. ii. 17. But it seems to me not at all improbable, that the centurion may both have sent messengers to Jesus, and afterwards gone to him in person. "Not thinking himself worthy" (as he himself expresses it) to go to Christ in the first instance, he sent probably the elders of the Jews, and then some of his friends, to implore our Lord to heal his servant, not meaning to give him the trouble of coming to his house. But when he found that Jesus was actually on his way to him, what was more natural for him than to hasten out of his house to meet him, and to make his acknowledgments to him in person?
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 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 shewed 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, 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 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 shews 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.