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glowing beyond all description by the magic power of sympathy. In the eyes of the poor wretch, cursed with a disease which cut him off from all human fellowship, the figure of Jesus must have dilated, and he must have appeared a very God, not "like a formal man." So much we must infer from a general view of the occasion. The manner in which the leper addressed Jesus confirms the inference, and reveals the great idea he had formed of his power. "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Words cannot describe the state of the leper's mind, the reverence, confidence, faith with which he must have been inspired so to address one, to all outward appearance, a fellow man, to express such a belief, that a simple act of the will of Jesus could cure him! With what indescribable looks and tones must the utterance of this conviction have been accompanied! With what soul-absorbing earnestness must he have watched to see what Jesus would do! The least movement of Jesus, the parting of his lips to speak, the raising of his hand, even before the leper felt its awful touch, must have thrilled his whole frame, like an electric shock. And when that hand was extended towards him, and that voice rung clear, "I will: Be thou clean," he must have felt as if God in all his power were descending upon him. The voice and the touch penetrated like lightning, into the inmost fountains of his life, and, through the close but mysterious connexion of the mind and body, caused a sudden developement of vital power. The hidden forces of Nature, thus authoritatively summoned, produced instantaneous soundness. By his word and touch, the perfect faith of Jesus in his own power, operated upon the already powerful faith of the leper and quickened it to the necessary action.
Believing that the mind is not a property of the body,
THE CENTURION'S SERVANT.
but, consciously or unconsciously, its life-spring, I have no power to question the reality of this incident, when all its circumstances are faithfully considered, the extreme misery of the leper, the idea he had of Jesus, the presence of a mass of men trembling, gazing, crowding, the majestic bearing of the man of Nazareth and his tone of kingly authority. If men afflicted with severe diseases, have been instantaneously relieved by being thrown into sudden danger, surely there was enough here to operate with extraordinary power and to produce a corresponding effect on the frame of the leper.
II. THE CENTURION'S SERVANT.
This case differs from the one just considered, but it admits of being viewed in a similar way.
The Centurion was popular among the Jews. He had built them a synagogue; a fact which justifies the belief that he held the religion of Moses in great respect. If not a proselyte, he was evidently a man of no common degree of religious sensibility, naturally disposed to credit the wonderful things related of the extraordinary man of Nazareth. A favourite servant or child of his lay sick of palsy, a nervous disease, upon which the mind acts with obvious readiness. Intelligence was brought to the house of sickness that the Wonder-worker, about whom the whole country was in a flame, was in the neighbourhood. It is instantly proposed to send and request him to come and relieve the sick child. The bare proposal could not but affect the susceptible mind of the sick youth, who, as he was beloved by the Centurion, must have been possessed of a like sensibility. Shortly the messengers return with the intelligence that they had seen Jesus and spoken to
THE CENTURION'S SERVANT.
him, and that he had consented to come. Probably they were among the spectators when he healed the leper. At least they must have heard of fresh wonders wrought by him, which they, no doubt, mentioned with all the exciting expressions of wonder, in the presence of the sick boy, whom all naturally sought to cheer. Can it be doubted whether these things had a tendency to animate his languishing mind and body? Is it at all probable that they called forth from the Centurion, even before he went to Jesus and while he was at the side of the sick bed, no imposing expression of that confidence in the power of Jesus which was so great that it astonished Jesus himself? He must have started up, I conceive, and, with every look and tone of perfect faith, exclaimed "He shall not come! I am not worthy that he should come under my roof." The susceptible mind of the young sufferer, naturally deferring to the authority of his beloved master, must have been moved to no common degree. His cure, we may believe, was begun even before the Centurion quitted the house. Well did Jesus say, in view of the singularly powerful faith of the Roman, "According to thy faith, be it done unto thee." He who knew from his own consciousness, the omnipotence of faith, saw that under these circumstances the youth must be cured, and his own personal attendance was unnecessary. Faith, as a grain of mustard seed, he again and again declared, would work the greatest wonders. Not in that small degree did it exist in the Centurion. It had sprung up there, like a very tree of life, and the heart of the child was as a decaying branch drawing new strength from the parent stock.
In order to estimate this and nearly all the miracles aright, we must keep steadily in mind the extraordinary sensation which the appearance, words and works of
Jesus, had produced throughout the country; and consider how the heart of man answereth to man, so that a deep feeling spreads like an epidemic, and, although it may die out at any moment, yet, while it lasts, fuses all hearts into one. "There is a sympathy in heaped masses of men: nay, are not mankind, in whole, like tuned strings, and a cunning infinite concordance and unity; you smite one string, and all strings will begin sounding." It is related that the disciples of Jesus informed him on one occasion that they had seen a man casting out evil spirits in his name, and they had forbidden him. "Forbid him not," said their master, "for there is no man who shall do a miracle in my name that can lightly speak evil of me." What an impression had gone abroad of the power of Jesus! Here was a person, not one of his regular followers, a stranger, who had conceived such an idea of him, that he believed he could expel the evil spirits, by which the insane were supposed to be possessed, by the simple utterance of the awful name of Jesus of Nazareth. Whether he succeeded or not does not decisively appear. It would seem, on the whole, that he was successful. Jesus truly said that it was impossible for one, who had formed such an idea of him as to attempt to work miracles with his name, to speak of him slightingly. The success of this man only corroborates our belief in the power of Jesus. What must he have been the bare utterance of whose name by a believing stranger could quell the fury of madness!
III. THE SYRO-PHENICIAN WOMAN'S DAUGHTER.
I turn to this miracle next, on account of its similarity to the last, the cure being effected without any immediate connexion between Jesus and the sufferer.
At the moment the Syro-Phenician woman came to him, he was striving to escape public notice and avoid the machinations of his enemies. This explains his disregard of her petition. He naturally supposed that she wished him to go with her to her home, to cure her child. Let it be remembered that the faith of the Centurion astonished him. He was not prepared to find faith so great as to render his personal presence unnecessary, and his impression was that to grant the woman's prayer would require him to accompany her to the spot where her child was. This at that moment he could not do. He had a great work on hand, and he did not feel himself authorised to spend his time and power in merely going about here and there to heal the sick. His own country was the sphere of his labours. He had a duty to discharge to his own people, which required him at that juncture to avoid public notice. If it should be thought that his disregard of this petitioner argued a want of benevolence, I should rather deem it a proof of his extraordinary prudence and self-command, and freedom from all desire of display, since it involved the relinquishment of an opportunity of exhibiting his miraculous power. To his disciples who begged him to send the woman away, he said, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," i. e. My work is here, and among my own countrymen, and it requires me at this juncture to escape public notice. It would not be right for me to listen to such calls upon my time and power, as carry me away from my appointed sphere.'
Still the woman, strong in faith, and a mother's heart, was not to be put off. She threw herself at his feet, and urged her prayer. To her he said, "The children must first be filled. It is not right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs." This