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think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think soberly. Mind not high things: be not wise in your own conceits, but condescend to men of low estate. Stretch not yourselves beyond your measure. Blessed are the poor in spirit, says our Lord, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect to the lowly. As for the proud, he beholdeth them afar off. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Learn of me, says our Saviour, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls*."
I come now lastly to consider that remarkable part of the centurion's character, more particularly noticed by our Lord, I mean his Faith. "I say unto you I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." Now the reason of the high encomiums bestowed on him by
* Rom. xii. 3. 6. 2 Cor. x. 14. Matth. v. 3. xviii. 4. Psalm cxxxviii. 6. James, iv. 6.10. Matth. xi. eg.
Vol. I. P our bur Saviour on this account was, because he reasoned himself into a belief of our Lord's power to work miracles, even at a distance; because he who had been bred up in the principles of heathenism, and whose only guide was the light of nature, did notwithstanding frankly submit himself to sufficient evidence, and was induced by the accounts he had received of our Saviour's doctrines and miracles, to acknowledge that he was a divine person. Whereas the Jews, to whom he was first and principally sent, who from their infancy were instructed in the Holy Scriptures, in which were such plain and express promises of the Messiah, and who actually did expect his coming about that time, suffered themselves to be so blinded by their prejudices and passions, that neither the unspotted sanctity of his life, the excellence of his doctrine, nor the repeated and astonishing miracles which he wrought, could make the slightest impression on the greater part of that stubborn people. Hence we may see how impossible it is for any degree of evidence to convince those who are determined not to be convinced; and what little hopes there are of ever satisfying modern infidels, if they will not be content with the proofs they already have. They are continually complaining fori .want of evidence; and so were the Jews always calling out for new signs and new wonders, even when miracles were daily wrought before their eyes. We may therefore say of the former what our Saviour said of the latter, "if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead*." It is possible, we find, for incredulity to resist even ocular demonstration; and when obstinacy, vanity, and vice have got thorough possession of the heart, they will not only subdue reason and enslave the understanding, but even bar up all the senses, and shut out conviction at every inlet to the mind. This was most eminently the case with some of the principalJews. Because our Saviour's appearance did not correspond to their erroneous and preconceived idea of the Messiah, because he was not a triumphant prince, a temporal hero and deliverer, but, above all, because he upbraided them with their vices, and preached
up repentance and reformation, every testimony that he could give of his divine authority and power was rejected with scorn. In vain did he feed thousands with a handful of provisions; in vain did he send away diseases with a word; in vain did he make the graves give back their dead, rebuke the winds and waves, and evil spirits still more unruly and obstinate than they. In answer to all this they could say, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Does he not eat and drink with publicans and sinners, and with unwashen hands? Doesyhe not even break the sabbath, by commanding sick men to carry their beds on that sacred day*?" These, doubtless, were unanswerable arguments against miracles, signs, and prophecies, against the evidence of sense itself, against the universal voice of nature, bearing testimony to Christ.
The honest centurion, on the contrary, without any Judaical prejudices to distort his understanding, without asking any ill-timed and impertinentquestions about the birth or family of Christ, attends only to the facts before him.
* Matth. ix. 11. xiii. 55. Luke, xi. 38. John, v. 18.
He had heard of Jesus, had heard of his unblemished life, his heavenly doctrines, his numerous and astonishing miracles, had heard them confirmed by such testimony as no ingenuous mind could resist. He immediately surrenders himself up to such convincing evidence; and so far from requiring (as the Jews continually did, and as modern sceptics still do,) more and stronger proofs, he seems afraid of shewing the slightest distrust of ourSaviour's power. He declares his belief of his being able to perform a miracle at any distance; and entreats him not to give himself the trouble of coming to his house in person, but to speak the word only and his servant should be healed.
This, then, is the disposition of mind we ought more particularly to cultivate; that freedom from self-sufficiency and pride and prejudice of every kind, that simplicity and singleness of heart which is open to conviction, and receives, without resistance, thesacred impressions of truth. It is the want of this, not of evidence, that still makes infidels in Europe as it did at first in Asia. It is this principle operating in different ways which now imputes