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in still? Is it not in this ?-in changing man's lot for the better?-in giving health to the sick, strength to the weak, comfort to the afflicted, pardon to the penitent?
Think but of what the Gospel has done for the poorfor the servant-for the outcast-for the mourner-think of the light it has thrown upon the grave—think of the hope it has brought us ! Surely such an effectual alteration in our condition, such a change in our whole circumstances for the better, is well typified by the miracle of the water made into wine-surely in itself it is greater than any miracle—manifests yet more strikingly His glory—compels us yet more convincingly to believe on Him !
I would only, in concluding, notice for our instruction, the remark of the ruler of the feast to the bridegroom, after he had tasted the wine-Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine ; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse ; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
Here we have truly stated, the order of the world, and the order of Christ, in the bestowal of their several gifts.
The world gives its best, its good wine, at the first, and when men have well drunk, when they have passed their youth and manhood in its pleasures and pursuits, giving the rein to every worldly appetite and passion, then comes that which is worse—a fretful old age, a hardened heart, a shrinking from the thought of death, and a fearful looking for of judgment.
That, I repeat, is the world's order—the best first, the worse afterwards.
Wholly different is the order of Christ. With Him
the hard part is at the beginning of our course_He never deludes about this—He tells us plainly-If a man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.
This is His first cup to us—bitter to the natural man, but full of health to the soul.
Believe me, brethren, they that drink this cup of the Lord's—they who at present mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts—they who bring their bodies into subjection to the law of Christ, will not pass many years, even on earth, unrewarded. Already, while they live here, will they feel that Christ, and not the world, is the best guide to a man's good.
But their richest recompence—the completeness of their happiness, will be on the other side of the grave.
There—in the resurrection of the just—all their trials over, all their foes put down, all their strivings against sin brought to a close-face to face with their Lord in His kingdom, these true followers of the crucified One, shall recall the first miracle that He wrought, and bear witness to the wisdom of His appointment--they will lift up their voices to the Redeemer, and say—“The words are indeed come true—we have not laboured in vain, nor waited in vain-Thou hast kept the good wine until now !”
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
THE CENTURION AND HIS SERVANT.
ST. MATTHEw VII. 5, 6, 7.
And 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 saith, I will come and heal him.
THERE are two miracles done by our blessed Lord, which are recorded in the Gospel for this Sunday—two occasions on which, looking with pity on our human infirmities, He stretched forth His merciful hand to heal and to make whole.
The first of these cures was performed on a leper. A poor man, afflicted with that most loathsome disease— that terrible plague which has been so truly called the great typical disease, because it is the type and image of our soul's sore malady—sin.
A poor man thus afflicted, thrust himself on our Lord's notice as He came down from the mountain; fell down before His feet, and claimed His help :-Lord if Thou will Thou canst make me clean. And at once we
hear his appeal was answered. Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, and said, I will—be thou clean—and immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
That is the first of the two miracles in this day's Gospel: and the lesson of it is plain.
As did that leper, so must we do, if we would be cleansed from the plague of sin-worship Christ—and trust in Christ's power, and cast ourselves on Christ's mercy-Lord if Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean. Other refuge is there none neither is there salvation in any other. The leprosy which is upon us—with which we are born—can be cured by but one Physician; the remedy for the case is in His hands only; but we may have it without money and without price, by simply asking for it—asking in faith—asking in the full persuasion that He can and will heal us—Lord if Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean!
Should there be one among us, who has never yet put up for himself such a prayer as this—who has never gone to Christ to be cleansed-oh! let him not delay a moment longer! Let him not sleep this night, before he has besought the Lord, according to the multitude of His mercies, to do away his offences, to wash him thoroughly from his wickedness, and to cleanse him from his sin.
And for his encouragement let him remember that Christ has a ready ear for the leper's prayer : let him think, that when the prayer goes up winged with faith and trust, it will fetch back a speedy answer: let him think how short a while there was between the leper's cry and the leper's cure-how, in one moment, he stood there, covered with the plague spots of his disease, with no whole part in his body, and in the next moment perfectly sound—let us remember how immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
So far then of the first miracle—the cleansing of the leper, which comes before us to-day. It was followed shortly by a second—the healing of the centurion's servant; and it is on this second miracle (as my text will show) that I wish more especially to dwell in my remarks to you this morning.
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 saith unto him, I will come and heal him. Before going further, I may remark that St. Luke, in his seventh chapter, gives us a fuller account than St. Matthew has done of the circumstances of this miracle. From him we learn that the centurion did not himself go to Jesus, but sent elders of the Jews to make the request on his behalf. And this he did from no desire to spare himself the trouble, or because, being a great man, he considered it beneath his dignity ; but from a very opposite feeling—from a feeling of the deepest humility—because he did not think himself worthy to come into the Lord's presence. This humility appears also in his answer to our Lord, which St. Matthew puts in his own mouth, but which in reality was spoken by the friends whom, on hearing that Christ was on the way, he had despatched to meet Him :-Lord I am not