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with the unspeakably greater blessing, the eyes of his understanding opened. Behold that helpless paralytic, “ borne of four,” stretched motionless on his couch. At the word of Christ he recovers strength, arises, takes up his bed, goes forth before them all, and departs to his house, not only with a body every whit whole but with a soul relieved from the dreadful pressure of the guilt of sin; “ Jesus said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Mark these ten lepers, outcasts from society, loathsome to themselves, an abomination to others, labouring under a malady which medicine could not reach; they stand afar off, they lift up their voices, they cry for mercy. As they went at the command of Christ, to shew themselves to the priests, they were cleansed. To nine of the ten it proved a mere temporary relief, a corporal purgation; the fatal leprosy of sin remained to defile the conscience. To the tenth, a stranger, a Samaritan, it proved at once the cure of bodily disease and of mental pollution : “and one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, were there not ten cleansed ? but where are the nine There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole."
Illustrious to the same purpose is the history of miracle under review. The nearer and more immediate object is a sick child at Capernaum, restored instantaneously from threatening indisposition to perfect sound
But consider how many momentous circumstances are involved in that one object. The father was a person of the very first distinction, connected with the higher powers of this world, at the head of a numerous and well ordered household, a man of urbanity, understanding and address. Converted him. self to the faith of the gospel, behold him disposed to employ the whole weight of his influence, of his authority, of his example, in promoting the cause which he himself had from conviction embraced. Incalculable is the effect which one man of character, talents and virtue may produce in a court, a city, a kingdom, a world. No one can be solitarily either good or wicked. The contagion whether of virtue or vice is quickly caught and communicated, with this difference, that in the one case there is a repulsive faculty that guards the system against admission of the gracious principle, and which therefore needs to be corrected, whereas in the other there is a predisposition to absorb the poison, which it requires no common skill and attention to prevent. Whatever might be the more remote, or more extensive influence of this good man's faith and piety, the evangelist informs us that it embraced at least the whole of his own family: " and himself believed and his whole house." Here was another province, by a strong hand rent from the empire of Satan and added to the kingdom of the Messiah ; "for he must reign till he hath put all his enemies under his feet.”
We conclude with a few practical reflections suggested by this portion of our blessed Lord's history.
1. Events, to our apprehension, casual, ordinary, merely things of course, are, in the purpose of the Eternal Mind, order, connection mutual dependence. Our eyes are too feeble to discern how delicately fine the hinges are on which the mighty machinery of heaven moves. The enterprizes of man exhibit the noise and bustle of preparation, and violence of exertion, and lo, they come to nothing; they commence in a blaze, and presently issue in smoke. The designs of the Most High have, from imperceptible beginnings, made a silent, unnoticed progress, and have acquired strength irresistible before attention was excited; they issue from a dark cloud, and advance with growing
lustre unto the perfect day. What more common than sickness in a numerous family ? Uniform health, not occasional disease, is the wonder. The malady of a beloved child spreads, a sable veil over an honoura. ble house ; it threatens to embitter the future days of survivors; the hand of death is lifted up to strike the decisive blow. It is a critical moment. The Lord gives the word.
The child lives, the parent believes, the whole house is converted unto the Lord, an im, pression favourable to christianity is made on the pub. lic mind, the dominion of grace is extended, and the kingdom of glory opens to view. From such a hid. den source, inaccessible as that of the Nile, issues the majestic river destined to adorn and fertilize distant regions and the nations which inhabit them. salvation came to the house of that nobleman. It wor: a lowering aspect, but it brightened as it went.
2. Mark the impartial regards of the great Lord of all to his creatures of every order and condition. With some men there is a strong prejudice in favour of no. bility and affluence, as if they implied greatness, generosity, capacity. Others are actuated by a prejudice equally violent and unrtasonable against them. Wis. dom says, look to the man, and not to his circumstan.
Goodness is the object of commendation and esteem, whether in the high or the low, the rich or the poor; and vice is odious whatever be the condi- . tion of life. A righteous judge considereth the cause, not the rank and character of the parties.--And lest there should be an improper bias to the side of poverty, as there sometimes is to the side of wealth, the law very wisely throws in this caution: “ Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his
Our Lord sets the example of this impar. tiality. obility could be no recommendation to his favour, neither was it any bar in the way. The dis
tress, the importunity, the parental affection of the man moved his compassion, the current of which could not be impeded by the consideration of his being a courtier. It is a melancholy reflection, “ that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called ;" but it is pleasing to reflect that the rule is not absolute and universal, The history of the christian church and the state of the world at this day, exhibit many glorious instances of the triumph of divine grace over the fascination of high rank, the deceitfulness of riches, and the pride of life. As such persons had more to combat and to overcome than others, the combat and the conquest redound the more to the glory of God, in whose strength they overcome.
3. We have before us an example of high moral virtue, existing without a principle of saving faith. This nobleman adorned his exalted station by qualities estimable in whatever rank. He ruled well his owu house. He was an affectionate parent, and a kind master. And when we behold a man fulfilling the duties of one relation reputably to himself and usefully to others, we are bound in charity to believe, that he acts worthily in the other relations of life. When an instance of this kind presents itself, it excites regret that such a one though “ not far from the kingdom of God," should nevertheless come short, It is a religion that confers dignity on high birth, and that gives energy to virtue. If then this man were respectable and exemplary by his virtuous conduct, how much more so is he, when faith is added to virtue, now that a divine principle sanctifies, animates, ennobles every action, and renders ordinary employments not only a reasonable but a religious service. Morality, then, may exist without religion, but there can be no religion without morality. “Faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone :” “ for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." If in his mere civil and moral capacity the nobleman of Capernaum administered his affairs so wisely and so well, what must have been the ardour of natural affection, his discretion in the management of his household, the propriety of his personal de. portment, now that his understanding is illuminated, and his heart warmed, and the path of his feet guided, by the sacred flame of religion! now that “ the grace of God, that bringeth salvation had appeared to him, teaching” him, as it does all its subjects, “ that denying ungodliness and worldly luşt, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world ; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
4. Do we feel parental solicitude about the bodily health, and the mental improvement, and the worldly prosperity of our children? What then ought to be the fervour of our spirits at a throne of grace, to obtain for them an interest in the favour of God, the knowledge that maketh wise unto salvation, the spirit of sanctification, a right to “ an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away ?" From their relation to us they derive pollution, guilt, condemnation and death; and shall not we be stimulated to repair the injury we have done them; and, by nurture, by example, by prayer and supplication, become the instruments of making them “partakers of the divine nature," and of raising them to the rank of “ heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” Wo unto them, and unto us, unless they are adopted into a nobler family, and exalted to higher privileges, than those to which the birth of nature entitles them ; and unless they “receive the Spirit of