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much as ye have been serviceable to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have been serviceable to me."
Now unto Thee, O Father of all! who art the only living and true God, &c.
The Lord bless us. &C.
December 19, 1784.
Luke vii. 1-3.
Now wben be bad ended all bis sayings in the au
dience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion's servant, who was bigbly valued by him, was sick and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, be sent unto him the elders of the fews, beseeching bim that he would come and beal bis ser
It is a character of great virtue and goodness · that is exhibited to us in this centurion, to which we find some of the principal Jews bear pleasing testimony; and which also merited the highest commendations from our Lord himself.
It cannot, therefore, but be a suitable and useful employ for us at present to take a view of it; and where it may be needed, thereby to reform and correct our own conduct ; that we also may be such as Christ our Master shall approve.
But there are two points which it will be of use previously to settle.
1st. To reconcile the seemingly contrary accounts in one respect, which the two evangelists who mention this transaction give of it.
For Matthew says; (viii. 5.) that the centurion himself came to Jesus. Whereas our evangelist Luke relates here; that he sent some of the elders of the Jews, and afterwards certain of his friends, to beseech Jesus, in his name, to heal his servant: but that he did not come himself.
It would not at all impeach the credibility of the history, if the two historians really differed in such an unimportant circumstance relating to it.
But, as hath been often observed, the matter may
be easily adjusted, without admitting any such difference.
For Luke appears to have given a larger and more circumstantial narrative; viz. that the centurion employed other persons to wait upon Jesus, and intercede in his behalf; whilst Matthew, who enters not into such particu. lars, might ascribe the whole to the centurion in his own person, what he directed
others to do in his name : a very common mode of speaking and style, both in sacred and profane writers.
So in Matthew, (xx. 20.) we read, that the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus to ask the first honours in his kingdom for them. But in Mark, (x. 35.) that they came themselves and asked him: because their mother having done it at their desire, was the same as if they had requested it themselves.
These little variations in the evangelists we often have occasion to observe, are so far from being blemishes, or marks of uncertainty in their histories, that they rather are very agreeable and satisfactory proofs that they did not copy after one another, but are so many independent witnesses of the facts they relate.
2d. The other point is; Who this centurion
It was so ordered, by that divine Providence that appointeth and directeth all things, that the country of the Jews, in our Saviour's time, was subject to the Romans; and it was customary with that warlike people to station
officers and soldiers over all the conquered provinces, to keep them in obedience. One of these was this person, a Roman military officer stationed at Capernaum, and captain over a hundred men, as his name bespeaks.
As to his religion, he was a heathen.
For although some have supposed that the Jews had two sorts of proselytes or converts to their religion ; one, proselytes of righteousness, as they are distinguished, who were circumcised, and bound to observe the whole law of Moses ; the other, proselytes of the gate, as they are called, who were neither circumcised nor tied to the observance of the Mosaic law, except the moral parts of it, in renouncing idolatry, and in professing the belief and worship of Jehovah, the one true God; and it has been supposed that this centurion was one of this latter sort of proselytes to the Jews' religion;
The scriptures, however, take no notice of this second sort of proselytes, or half-converts; nor are there any good grounds of authority elsewhere to prove that there ever were any proselytes among the Jews but such as were circumcised, and conformed to the whole law