« ElőzőTovább »
command of their officer; nor can distance be any obstacle to thee. Give then the word, and the disease shall depart.
Jesus looked on the centurion with delight, as he stood bending before him. He knew his kind concern for his servant, his zeal for the worship of God, his amiable disposition that had gained him the good-will of his neighbours, and his deep humility; but it was his faith that chiefly obtained the approval of our Lord: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel”-in the Jewish nation. While I am rejected by those who pride themselves in being called the children of believing Abraham, here is a Gentile by birth, who regards me as possessed of almighty power.
Our Lord made this an occasion of warning the Jews of the consequence of their unbelief. The Gentiles “ shall come from the east and west,” (from the whole heathen world, Isa. xlv. 6; lix. 19,)“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.' Here is a beautiful allusion to an eastern banquet, where the three great Jewish patriarchs might be supposed to meet with their pious descendants, and recline with them at the heavenly feast. To be in their society, was to the Jews the chief attraction of heaven. They all expected this privilege as their birthright, and would presumptuously say, that it was impossible that a Jew should be missing at the heavenly banquet. But they were now solemnly forewarned, that numbers would be shut out through their unbelief, whilst the heathen, through faith in the Messiah, would find admittance. As eastern feasts were held at night, in tents brilliantly illuminated with hundreds of coloured lamps, the
outer darkness” formed a most gloomy contrast. The figure, however, has been supposed to refer to those who were not only shut out from the banquet, but were also cast into the darkness of a dungeon. Not only to lose the long-expected feast, but to be shut up in a prison for life, might well cause weeping and gnashing of teeth—the extreme of anguish and despair. How fearful to delude ourselves with a hope of heaven, and then to be cast into “ blackness of darkness for ever!”
The ruler was dismissed, with an answer to • his petition : “Go thy way; and as thou hast
believed," or, according to thy faith, “ so be it done unto thee.” He went back to his house, accompanied by his friends, and in the same hour his servant was healed.
Several lessons may be learned from this in- • structive narrative. It teaches, that servants should commend themselves to their masters by their faithfulness and diligence; and that masters should feel a lively interest in the welfare of their servants. It shows that believing application to Christ, on the behalf of others, is very acceptable to him, and shall not be disregarded.
The improvement, however, which Jesus himself made of it was to this effect: It is a great mercy to have religious advantages, but they will add to our guilt and misery if they are not improved. The centurion, who had been brought up as a Gentile, believed in Christ as the Messiah; while the Jews, who had known the Scriptures from
their youth, refused to be convinced. It is so in these days: many among the heathen receive the gospel with gladness, while those who live in professedly Christian lands, who have heard it from their earliest childhood, slight and reject it. The children of pious parents and ancestors should especially take warning: they may be called “ the children of the kingdom,” and may expect to sit down with their holy fathers in heaven; but if they are without faith in Christ for themselves, they will certainly be cast out; while believing Hindoos from the east, and
praying negroes from the west, shall sit down with Christ on his throne.
It was immediately after the miracle of healing the centurion's servant, that our Lord solemnly warned the inhabitants of Capernaum, where he had performed many miracles: “ Thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” Did it profit by these repeated reproofs? The answer is to be found in its history. The city fell into decay, and was made desolate by war, till at length it became a mass of ruins. So complete has been its destruction, that even the spot on which the city stood is doubtful. A similar doom was also pronounced against Bethsaida and Chorazin.* The towns of Capernaum,
* “ The very names of Chorazin and Bethsaida have perished : no one knew of such names, nor of anything which could be moulded to resemble them."- Dr. Robinson's Researches in
Another traveller found six poor fishermen's huts near the supposed site of Capernaum, and all around were the scattered ruins of buildings, hewn stones, and broken pottery.
Bethsaida, and Chorazin,” says Hardy,* “ were once exalted to heaven; but they heeded not the day of their visitation, and they are now desolate. It is a solemn fact, the voice of which ought to be listened to with attention, that there is no place mentioned in the New Testament, as having rejected the mission of the Saviour, or refused the offer of mercy made to it by himself and his disciples, but bears evidence, in a degree beyond all others, either in its history or present condition, of the wrath of God: and as surely as the denunciations of old were fulfilled against the guilty cities that put out from their dwellings the candle of the Lord, so surely will still more awful threatenings be fulfilled against us, if we neglect to profit by the light that shines. at present so brightly on the world.” RAISING TO LIFE OF A WIDOW's son.
LUKE vii. 11-17. Jesus left Capernaum the day after he had raised the centurion's servant, and proceeded along the road that led to the little city of Nain, which lay about eighteen miles distant. Many disciples and much people followed him, doubtless expecting to see other wonders done.
It may be asked, Had any one sent for him, that he now directed his way to this town? There was a work of mercy to be done, and he came this distance to perform it. As he drew nigh to the city, a funeral procession was seen coming from its gate, in slow and solemn array; they were bearing a body, according to their custom, without the walls of the town, to lay it in the
Notices of the Holy Land.
grave.* On a frame for carrying the dead, lay the
body of a young man, covered with a linen
• Carne describes a funeral procession, as seen by him in Egypt. First walked three or four men abreast at a slow pace, singing in a mournful voice. The corpse was borne after them on the shoulders of six bearers, on an open bier, completely covered, and followed by a number of women, who uttered loud cries at intervals, to show their sorrow.