Luke 7:1
When Jesus had concluded His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum.
Sermons
A Full SailOwen Felltham.Luke 7:1-10
A Soldier's TrainingCharles Kingsley.Luke 7:1-10
An Endeared ServantLuke 7:1-10
Another TreatmentW. A. Edwards.Luke 7:1-10
Christ MarvellingS. Cox, D. D.Luke 7:1-10
Cues to CharacterW. Kirkman.Luke 7:1-10
Faith and ReasonBishop Moorhouse.Luke 7:1-10
Faith in its FulnessW. Clarkson Luke 7:1-10
Faith of the CenturionF. W. Robertson., J. Ogmore Davies.Luke 7:1-10
Great FaithT. Guthrie, D. D.Luke 7:1-10
He Loveth Our NationJ. C. Galloway.Luke 7:1-10
Humility Always SeasonableC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 7:1-10
Humility Does not Lessen DignityLuke 7:1-10
Importance of Servants in a HouseholdBaxendale.Luke 7:1-10
Kindness to InferiorsG. Swinnock.Luke 7:1-10
Marvellous FaithA. B. Bruce, D. D.Luke 7:1-10
Masters and ServantsDean Vaughan.Luke 7:1-10
Military ObedienceBaxendale.Luke 7:1-10
Motives of HumilityLaselve.Luke 7:1-10
Of HumilityOwen Felltham.Luke 7:1-10
Paradoxes in the Character of the CenturionJ. R. Bailey.Luke 7:1-10
Ready to ObeyLuke 7:1-10
Religion Essentially Included in the Love of Our CountryJ. Lathrop, D. D.Luke 7:1-10
Sickness the Servant of the SaviourC. New.Luke 7:1-10
The Candour and Liberality of the Centurion RecommendedR. Hall, M. A.Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion and His ServantT. B. Dover, M. A.Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion At CapernaumT. Jackson.Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion of CapernaumG. M. Grout, B. D.Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion; Or, an Exhortation to the VirtuousC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion's FaithEdwin C. Bissell.Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion's FaithW. H. Aitken, M. A.Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion's FaithT. Manton.Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion's Faith and HumilityC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion's Love for God's HouseJ. G. Angley, M. A.Luke 7:1-10
The Increase of FaithE. Garbett, M. A.Luke 7:1-10
The Lessons of the NarrativeW. A. Edwards.Luke 7:1-10
The Threefold Influence of FaithW. A. Edwards.Luke 7:1-10
The Usefulness of Good MenN. Emmons, D. D.Luke 7:1-10
To ChildrenA. Macleod, D. D.Luke 7:1-10
Write Me as One that Loves His Fellow-MenLuke 7:1-10
The Saviour of Sick and DeadR.M. Edgar Luke 7:1-17
Use the introduction to advert to the apparent discrepancy between the account of St. Matthew and that of St. Luke, in that the latter informs us that it was by messengers and not by himself that the centurion's appeal to Christ was made. Plausible as the objection may justly be allowed to appear, one fact is sufficient to silence it, namely, that the apparent inconsistence appears quite sufficiently in the one selfsame account of St. Luke. Notice, for instance, and compare vers. 8-10 there. Also allude to the favour-able circumstances in which three other centurions are brought before our notice in Christian history, e.g. Matthew 27:54; Acts 10:1; Acts 27:3, 43; Acts 28:16. Notice -

I. THE CHARACTER THIS CENTURION HAD ACQUIRED, AND, THOUGH AN OUTSIDER, THE ESTEEM IN WHICH HE WAS HELD. Nor is the secret of this far to find.

1. He had a large heart and a sympathetic. He loved the nation of the Jews, and had built them a synagogue, no doubt because of the higher good he had gained from them. He had reaped their spiritual things, he had given his carnal things.

2. He loved his servant, and evidently was taking great pains, not felt as such, now to get help for him, as much as though he had been a son or a brother.

II. THE CORRECT AND HIGHLY ENLIGHTENED ESTIMATE THAT HE HAD ALREADY EVIDENTLY FIRMLY PLANTED WITHIN HIM OF THE CHARACTER AND THE JUST DIGNITY OF CHRIST. Whence, it may naturally be asked, did this come?

1. From the fact that he used aright his reason, upon his observation; i.e. upon the induction of things seen and heard by him, of Christ. Of how many things higher and deeper than those of which the apostle first used the question may not the same words be used, "Doth not even nature teach you?" And in what harmony with this do we find the argument of St. Paul in Romans 1., when he says, summing it up, "So that they are without excuse"!

2. How well it may be believed that the centurion was among the instances of those illuminated by that Spirit who was always omnipresent, and who as at this time worked often where least supposed! We are reminded of the illustration used by our Lord himself preceding the sentence, "So is every one that is born of the Spirit."

III. THE GENUINE HUMILITY WHICH PENETRATED HIM.

1. He genuinely pleads deep sense of his own unworthiness as the reason why he did not come in person to Jesus.

2. He with every witness of genuineness pleads the same as the ground of deprecating Jesus coming in person to him. It would appear from the account of St. Luke that the centurion in the first instance did ask Jesus "to come and heal his servant." But second thoughts, and the awe of the imminent advent of the great Sovereign of bodies and souls changed his prayer, took away the last remnant of mere human boldness, and superseded it by diviner humility.

IV. THE FAITH, SO SIMPLY CONSTRUCTED AND SO PERFECT, FROM THE FIRST AND IN ALL DETAIL, OF THE CENTURION. This was the "marvel" for Christ. It is "great" faith; it is "so great faith;" it is greater faith than the greatest Jesus had as yet "found in Israel" even, and this not in Israel! In conclusion, dwell on all the sweet, condescending grace of Jesus. "I will come and heal him;" "and he went with them;" "he marvelled at him;" and he praised his faith "to the people that followed him;" and "they who were sent returning to the house found the servant whole." What a parable in drama of the great grace of Jesus Christ! - B.







And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
A Roman soldier, a stern, unbending man, accustomed to be obeyed absolutely; accustomed to oppress a downtrodden, conquered race, no one daring to raise a murmur; a heathen, too, a man whose religion was odious and contemptible, a man, therefore, without real power over his actions, the creature of caprice: such, at least by instinct and education, must the good centurion have been. Yet the grace of God is well-nigh irresistible, it triumphs against desperate odds. At first he has nothing but contempt for a religion which, good in itself, was made almost insufferable by its priests and professors. As he looks deeper down; as he begins to think; takes the trouble to examine this old creed, at first it may be with a sort of antiquarian interest, then with growing curiosity, then with an honest desire to learn; God teaches him, the Holy Spirit enlightens his heart, and he begins to love the nation whom he had been sent to trample upon rather than to rule. So between this rough soldier and his neighbour there sprang up mutual confidence, even love; at last, so drawn was he towards the people of God, that with boundless generosity he built the men of Capernaum a synagogue. Nor was this soldier's love only to the inhabitants of Capernaum; his servant, a poor slave, a youth stolen from home and friends, expecting only cruelty and stripes, "was dear unto him," and he lay at home sick and ready to die.

1. The wisdom of accepting God's plan of life as the one by which we can most glorify Him. Who does not often wish that his place in life had been quite differently cast? If we only had had more money, leisure, scope for talents, friends, what could we not have done for God, what might not God have accomplished in us? See the correction of this foolishness in the saintly centurion's history. A heathen soldier mixing with men whose actions, however brave they might be, were always cruel and hard, living amongst companions coarse and low, where passion was unbridled, pity unknown; a man sent to serve m despised Galilee, amongst a nation utterly degraded, hopelessly vile; his headquarters one of the most corrupt cities of that land of darkness; how could circumstances be apparently more against him? Yet what seemed hindrances, he turned into helps. If he had not been in the Roman army he had never seen Capernaum; if he had not been quartered near Capernaum, he had never built a synagogue; but for his sorrow he would never have had personal intercourse with the Lord of Life; but for his great need he would never have won so gracious a benediction from God's Son. So is it with every one born of woman. Where our lot is cast, what our circumstances may be — all this is God's plan. Therefore it follows, they are the best circumstances conceivable, by which we may mount to Him. Shun discontent. Ourselves, not our circumstances, are our hindrances.

2. There is another line of thought suggested by the relationship which existed between this master and those whom God had placed in his home — "his servant was dear unto him." It is difficult for us to realize the strangeness of the situation. Christianity has taught men pity, tenderness, sympathy for weakness and suffering, yet this centurion was not even a Jew. Somehow the tender heart of this valiant soldier, illuminated by the light of conscience, taught him that his slave lad was brought into his home, in order that he might lift him out of the lower depths of degradation, succour and help him in his need. How clear the lesson to a Christian, to a soldier of the cross. Are we not taught the strange responsibility which is placed on each as, in turn, he becomes a master or a messenger, as parents or teachers — immediately, that is, God gives us any authority? Home, the centre of Christian influence, home, the place where servants, children, guests, are all brought together for this end alone, that by love those in authority may win those over whom they are set, and so God may win them too; this, indeed, is the lesson of the good centurion's action.

(T. B. Dover, M. A.)

Notice some of the lessons, naturally lessons touching faith, which this passage is designed to teach.

I. We learn that GREAT SPIRITUAL ADVANTAGES ARE NOT ALWAYS NECESSARY TO GREAT FAITH. Let us never despair of truth-sowing, in waste and unlikely places. The so-called rose of Jericho drops its dried-up germ on the parched desert sand. But God's mind does not leave it to perish. Swept hither and thither, it finds at last its oasis, some hidden spot of moisture, and there it abides and sprouts, and becomes again a thing of life and beauty. A drifting cocoa-nut, cast by the surf ashore upon some barren limestone reef, seems in itself the very image of failure and utter loss. But see I this apparent waif, under the watchful eye of Providence, becomes the beginning of an earthly paradise. It is faith in sowing that brings the harvest of faith (Ecclesiastes 11:6).

II. It is more than hinted, further, that GREAT FAITH IS MOST LIKELY TO BE FOUND IN CONNECTION WITH A NOBLE NATURE. Equity, generosity, sympathy, humility, such traits were prominent here, and they made room for the working of great faith in Christ. Faith is something that has to do with ideas, and hence holds mere things cheap. It is not so much what they achieve as what they believe in and strive for that makes men noble and great. "What I admire," said Turgot, "in Christopher Columbus, is not that he discovered the New World, but that he went to look for it on the faith of an idea."

III. Again, GREAT FAITH HERE, AS ALWAYS, IS ACCOMPANIED BY A SENSE OF GREAT NEED.

IV. Further, it follows also from what has just been said, that GREAT FAITH IS ACCOMPANIED ALSO BY GREAT HUMILITY. Its sublimest flights, like those of the birds, are always preceded by a settling low down. There are some beautiful plants whose leaves grow even smaller as the plant grows higher.

V. Still again, THE GREAT FAITH OF THE CENTURION WAS NO UNREASONING FAITH. A great deal is said about believing blindly. And there are times when a simple trust is all that is left us; but generally speaking, we may reason from the seen to the unseen, front ourselves and our finite circumstances to God and His unlimited might. Faith is not blind, except to trifles. It sees! It sees more, not less. It sees with new light and new powers. This earth of ours is but a simple birthplace, a nest of sticks and mud on the swinging bough. It is the point of departure, not the place of rest, and the man of faith has realized this in some degree. He has looked over its borders into the unsounded depths. He has gazed on the immeasurable vault. He has the evidence of things unseen. He knows that though "the steps of faith fall on a seeming void, they find the Rock beneath."

VI. It is interesting to notice, in the next place, THE KIND OF MORAL TRAINING THAT SEEMS TO FIT ONE FOR THE EXERCISE OF GREAT FAITH.

1. Obedience. Our centurion, as a soldier, had learned to submit his will, to obey. But it is still better to learn obedience in the family than in the army. A loving, filial obedience towards Christian parents is of all earthly things the nearest to that service which our heavenly Father claims from us.

2. Liberality. Our centurion was a generous giver, too. There is a really potent moral discipline in giving. Just as the largest ships only venture into the deepest harbours, so it is safe to expect that the Divine blessing — especially an all-conquering faith, one of the greatest — will only there come richest and fullest where the sluices are held widest open, through a noble, perpetual outgush of kindly feeling and generous doing towards one's fellow-men.

VII. GREAT FAITH DOES NOT LIFT ONE OUT OF THE BEACH OF INTERCESSORY PRAYER ON THE PART OF THOSE HAVING LESS.

VIII. GREAT FAITH IS ABLE TO BEAR WITHOUT PERIL GREAT BLESSINGS. Ships that are well ballasted you may load high, and they will not careen or refuse to mind the rudder.

IX. WHETHER FAITH BE GREAT OR SMALL, IT IS THE SAME THING IN ESSENCE, AND INEXPRESSIBLY WELL-PLEASING TO OUR LORD. The principal thing is to have some faith, though it be little. It is that which brings us into the blessed circle of the beneficiaries of Jesus, while the want of it shuts us wholly out. Men have had it who had little else that was good, who had, in fact, much else that was bad, and yet, because they had it, were enrolled among the heroes of God's shining host.

(Edwin C. Bissell.)

Xenocrates, though a heathen, was pitiful to a poor sparrow, which, being pursued by a hawk, fled to him for succour. He sheltered her until the enemy had flown off, and then, letting her go, said that he had not betrayed his poor suppliant. A Christian should have more pity for a distressed Christian than a heathen has for a bird. A master should be a physician to his servants; as careful to preserve their health and prevent their death, as to provide them work. Another heathen told his wife that it was part of her office, and the most grateful part of it, in case a servant fell sick, to tend him and promote his recovery. This centurion, though a soldier (and their hearts usually are more obdurate and less compassionate than others), was earnest and diligent for the help of his sick servant.

(G. Swinnock.)

I. FAITH IS THE CONDITION OF THE EXERCISE OF GOD'S POWER UPON US — a condition, let it ever be borne in mind, of God's own making, and springing wholly out of God's own wisdom and love to us. For, I ask, What is faith? and I reply that, speaking generally, faith is sympathy with God — it is the receptive attitude of the soul — it is the laying open of the whole being to the influence of God. If I would keep the tender flower from the frost, I must cover it up and wrap it round to shut out the icy touch that would freeze up its life. But would I quicken it with the sun I must take away all barriers and let its blessed rays stream in. Unbelief covers up and closes the soul: faith opens it to the sunshine.

II. FAITH IS THE MEASURE OF GOD'S GIFTS TO US. The gifts are proportioned to our fitness and our power to receive them. There are partial gifts for partial faith; fuller gifts for fuller faith. To recur to my former illustration, the measure in which the sun streams into a chamber depends on the degree in which all impediments are removed from its entrance. The limit is not in the glorious orb, but in that which receives it. It will enter wherever it can, though it be but through a broken link. Throw wide open the broad shutters, and how it will stream in, till every object becomes beautiful in its rays! If we would have more faith, we must cultivate it; and I will tell you how.

1. There must be conscious desire in your minds for more faith — not a general wish for more grace in a vague and unmeaning way, but a deep sense of your need of a fuller trust in God and an earnest desire for it.

2. Try to exercise faith. The gift, indeed, is all of God; but He works through the human effort. Not the listless idle soul, that folds its hands and takes its ease in Zion, will ever get close to God, but the soul that presses on and up, and, in our Lord's vivid language, "takes heaven by violence."

3. To assist you in this effort, endeavour to watch and study the dealings of God with you, like one who expects to see God everywhere. Be not like the man who saunters along the road, not caring or thinking whom he shall meet; but like one who is looking out for a friend, and watches on every side to see him. Think of God as a real being, and both in the answers to your prayers and in the details of your life, try to trace His providence.

4. Let us dwell much upon the promises; let us live in them and on them, making them the habitual atmosphere of our religious life.

(E. Garbett, M. A.)

I. There are three aspects in which this "centurion of Capernaum" commands our attention; as a MAN, as an OFFICIAL, and as a PROSELYTE. His attraction is thus PERSONAL, POLITICAL, and RELIGIOUS.

1. The personal interest that attaches to him.

2. His political interest, or official significance. As an officer of Rome, the representative of Roman power at a Jewish Court, he draws our notice to himself. The Jew is the world's representative Religionist; the Greek its representative Thinker; but the Roman its representative Ruler. He is the typical warrior and administrator. Her own greatest poet put into the prophetic mouth of Anchises in the nether world this description of her mission: — "Others, I grant, shall with more delicacy mould the breathing brass; from marble draw the features to the life; describe with the rod the courses of the rising stars. To rule the nations with imperial sway, be your care, O Romans; these shall be thine arts — to impose terms of peace, to spare the humble, and to crush the proud." When the Word of God became Incarnate He entered into a world politically prepared for His Advent after a fashion not less perfect for the purpose designed than strange because of the means by which it had been wrought. Of this preparation Rome was the instrument; and of Rome her officer at Capernaum is a representative. Is there not, then, about him, as an official, a deep political significance and interest?

3. His interest as a Proselyte, This term, "Proselyte," leads me to call attention to a function of the Jewish Prophets in Messianic preparation, not always adequately measured by us in our estimate of them as divinely ordained to "make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Joel thrills him; Jeremiah melts him; Ezekiel elevates him; Isaiah entrances him. The Greek Philosophy, which formed the polite study of every educated Roman, had taught him to look beneath the surface and to gather the truths unseen by the vulgar eye, to see substance under shadow, reality under form, and the truth typified under the typifying symbol. He is thus prepared to pierce beneath the rites and sacrifices to that to which they pointed and which they forecasted.

II. His action, in circumstances which to many men in his station would have been trivial, reveals a new beauty in his character, and demands from us a new admiration. His servant — "dear to him" in a personal way, as one bound to him by personal links, and not merely, as were his soldiers, by official relations — "was sick and ready to die." The manifestation of a noble nature was grateful to the Son of Man. His Divine Humanity rejoiced as the flower of faith blossomed in the hearts of those He loved.

(G. M. Grout, B. D.)

This centurion certainly had a high reputation. Two features of character blend in him which do not often meet in such graceful harmony. He won the high opinion of others, and yet he held a low estimation of himself.

I. To begin, then, here is a HIGH CHARACTER; let us thoroughly appreciate it, and give it a full measure of commendation. This centurion must have been a man of sterling worth. He was not merely quiet and inoffensive like some men who are as insipid as they are harmless. It would appear, too, that his private temperament, as well as his public spirit, contributed to the estimation in which he was held. Next to this, you will observe his generosity. It is not by occasional deeds of showy lustre, but by the habitual practice of comely virtues, that a worthy character is built up. A thousand kindnesses may be nestling beneath the soil, like the many-fibred root of a gigantic tree, when it is said, "He loveth our nation"; and then the conspicuous fruit appears in its season — "He hath built us a synagogue." But, remember, and here I close this point, however good your character, or however excellent your repute, not one word of this is ever to be mentioned before the throne of the Most High.

II. Secondly, in the centurion we see coupled with this high and noble repute, DEEP HUMILIATION OF SOUL — "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my root." Humility, then, it appears, may exist in any condition. There are some men who are too mean to be humble. They are too crouching, crawling, sneakish, and abject to be humble. It certainly is not for the least vermin that creep the earth to talk about humility. But a man to be humble, needs to have a soul; to stoop, you must have some elevation to stoop from; you must have some real excellence within you before you can really understand what it is to renounce merit. We have heard of a certain monk, who, professing to be humble, said "he had broken all God's commandments; he was the greatest sinner in the world; he was as bad as Judas." Somebody said, "Why tell us that? we have all of us thought that a long time!" Straightway the holy man grew red in the face, and smote the accuser, and asked him what he had ever done to deserve such a speech.

III. The main thing I am aiming at, because, after all, the most practical, lies in my third point. However deep our humility, however conscious we may be of our own undeservingness, WE SHOULD NEVER DIMINISH OUR FAITH IN GOD. Observe the confession — "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof." What then will be the inference? — "I fear, therefore, my servant will not be healed"? No, no; but — "Say in a word, and my servant shall be healed." It is all a mistake that great faith implies pride. Beloved, the greater faith, the deeper humility. The more the glories of God strike your eyes, the humbler you will lie in conscious abasement, but yet the higher you will rise in importunate prayer. But now just imagine what your own case is, and the case of others, and let us apply this principle to it: we are utterly unworthy to obtain the temporal or spiritual mercy which, it may be, we are now seeking: we may feel this, but in asking anything for ourselves, we must still ask in faith in God, in His promise, and in His grace; and we shall prevail. Whatever thy desire may be, only believe, and it shall be granted unto thee if it be a desire in accordance with His will, and in accordance with the promises of His Word; or else God's Word is not true. Be humble about it, but do not be doubtful about it.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The greatest light may enter into the darkest places. We may find the choicest flowers blooming where we least expected them. Here was a Gentile, a Roman, a soldier — a soldier clothed with absolute power — and yet a tender master, a considerate citizen, a lover of God! The best of pearls have been found in the darkest caves of ocean. Let no man think that because of his position in society he cannot excel in virtue. It is not the place which is to blame, but the man.

I. THE HUMILITY OF THE CENTURION WAS NOT AT ALL INJURIOUS TO THE STRENGTH OF HIS FAITH. You may have noticed in the biography of some eminent men how badly they speak of themselves. Southey, in his "Life of Bunyan," seems at a difficulty to understand how Bunyan could have used such depreciating language concerning his own character. For it is true, according to all we know of his biography, that he was not, except in the case of profane swearing, at all so bad as the most of the villagers. Indeed, there were some virtues in the man which were worthy of all commendation. Southey attributes it to a morbid state of mind, but we rather ascribe it to a return of spiritual health. Had the excellent poet seen himself in the same heavenly light as that in which Bunyan saw himself, he would have discovered that Bunyan did not exaggerate, but was simply stating as far as he could a truth which utterly surpassed his powers of utterance. The great light which shone around Saul of Tarsus was the outward type of that inner light above the brightness of the sun which flashes into a regenerate soul, and reveals the horrible character of the sin which dwells within. Believe me, when you hear Christians making abject confessions, it is not that they are worse than others, but that they see themselves in clearer light than others; and this centurion's unworthiness was not because he had been more vicious than other men — on the contrary, he had evidently been much more virtuous than the common run of mankind — but because he saw what others did not see, and felt what others had not felt. Deep as was this man's contrition, overwhelming as was his sense of utter worthlessness, he did not doubt for a moment either the power or the willingness of Christ.

II. I shall want you for s moment to attend while we shift the text to the other quarter. THE CENTURION'S GREAT FAITH WAS NOT AT ALL HOSTILE TO HIS HUMILITY. His faith was extraordinary. It ought not to be extraordinary. We ought all of us to believe as well in Christ as this soldier did. In his heart he enthroned the Lord Jesus as a Captain over all the forces of the world, as the generalissimo of heaven and earth; as, in fact, the Caesar, the imperial Governor of all the forces of the universe. 'Twas graciously thought, 'twas poetically embodied, 'twas nobly spoken, 'twas gloriously believed; but it was the truth and nothing more than the truth, for universal dominion is really in the power of Jesus to-day. Here is one point to which I recall you; this man's faith did not for a moment interfere with his thorough personal humiliation. Because Christ was so great, he felt himself to be unworthy either to meet Him or entertain Him. The application shall be to three sorts of people.

1. First, we speak to distressed minds deeply conscious of their unworthiness. You feel that you cannot repent, but cannot Jesus make thee repent by His Spirit? Do you hesitate about that question? See the world a few months ago hard bound with frost, but how daffodil, and crocus, and snowdrop, have come up above that once frozen soil, how snow and ice have gone, and the genial sun shines out? God does it readily, with the soft breath of the south wind and the kind sunbeams, and he can do the same in the spiritual world for thee. But, perhaps, it is some bad habit which gives you trouble. You cannot get rid of it. Ah! I know your dreads and despairs; but, man, I ask thee, cannot Jesus deliver? He whose every act is wonderful, can surely do what He will within this little world of thy soul, since in the great world outside He rules as He pleases. Believe in His power, and ask Him to prove it. He has but to say in a word, and this matter of present distress shall be taken away.

2. A second application of our subject shall be made to the patient workers who are ready to faint. The last application I shall make is the same as the second, only on a wider scale.

3. There are many who are like watchers who have grown weary. When He saith, "Do" it shall be done, and His name shall be praised. O for more faith and more self-abasement.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE FRUITS OF HUMILITY.

1. Humility keeps us from many sins.

2. Humility preserves the other virtues.

3. Humility attracts Divine grace (James 4:6).

4. Humility inflames the heart with Divine charity.

5. Humility exalts us to the height of heaven (Luke 1:52; Luke 18:14; 1 Peter 5:6).

II. THE TEACHING AND EXAMPLE OF JESUS CHRIST. Jesus has enjoined on us this duty —

1. By words (Matthew 11:29).

2. By example.

(1)In His birth.

(2)In His circumcision.

(3)In washing the disciples' feet.

(4)In His death on the cross.

III. OUR OWN MISERY.

1. We find motives in the outer world.

(1)If you look at the earth, you behold your grave.

(2)Beneath the earth, you find hell.

(3)In heaven is God, and the gate of heaven is low.

2. Motives within ourselves.

(1)Concerning our body.

(2)Concerning our soul.

(Laselve.)

He that would build lastingly must lay his foundation low. The proud man, like the early shoots of a new-felled coppice, thrusts out full of sap, green in leaves, and fresh in colour; but bruises and breaks with every wind, is nipped with every little cold, and being top-heavy, is wholly unfit for use. Whereas the humble man retains it in the root, can abide the winter's killing blast, the ruffling concussions of the wind, and can endure far more than that which appears so flourishing. Like the pyramid, he has a large foundation, whereby his height may be more eminent; and the higher he is, the less does he draw at the top; as if the nearer heaven, the smaller he must appear. And indeed, the higher man approaches to celestials, and the more he considers God, the more he sees to make himself vile in his own esteem. He who values himself least shall by others be prized most. Nature swells when she meets a check; but submission in us to others begets submission in others to us. Give me the man that is humble out of judgment, and I shall find him full of parts. Charles

V. appears as great in holding the candle to his departing visitors, as when he was surrounded by his victorious officers. Moses, who was the first and greatest divine, statesman, historian, philosopher, and poet; who as a valiant general led Israel out of Egypt; who was renowned for his miracles, and could roll up the waves to pass his men, and tumble them down again upon his enemies; who was a type of Christ, and styled a friend of God; was nevertheless meek above all that were upon the face of the earth and lest our proud dust should think it a disparagement to be humble, we are assured by our Saviour Himself, that to be so will be rest to our souls. No man ever lost the esteem of a wise man by stooping to an honest lowness when there was occasion for it. I have known a great duke to fetch in wood to his inferior's fire; and a general of nations descend to a footman's office in lifting up the boot of a coach; yet neither thought it a degradation to their dignity.

(Owen Felltham.)

The full sail oversets the vessel, which drawn in, may make the voyage prosperous.

(Owen Felltham.)

If I had seen this centurion only when he was dressed for battle I should not have thought of him as gentle. I should have seen him carrying a sword to kill men with, and a shield to defend himself from being killed by others. And as he had other soldiers under him, I might have heard him speaking to them in a loud commanding way, and telling them to do hard and cruel things. But, as we see him in the Gospels, his sword and shield are hanging on the wall, and he is sitting beside a little bed in his room in the soldiers' barracks. After one of his dreadful battles he had got for his share of the spoil a little boy who had been taken captive — a poor little boy, torn away from father and mother, and forced to be a slave. He was the slave of this soldier; he cooked his food, he tidied his room, he polished his armour, he went his errands. Then the rough soldier was as tender as a mother could be. He sat by his bed; he watched over him day and night. One day, as the big soldier was sitting by the little bed, somebody came in and said, "A great prophet has come to the town. Jesus of Nazareth has come." "Jesus of Nazareth?" the soldier said; "the Healer of sickness? Oh that He would heal my boy!" But then this thought came into his mind, "I am a soldier of the nation that is ill-treating the Jews. I am not worthy that a Jew so good as He should do anything for me." Then other thoughts came, and in his great love for the boy, and knowing that Jesus could heal him, he at last ventured to send this humble message: "Oh, my Lord, my servant is near to die, and Thou art able to save from dying. I am not worthy that Thou shouldest visit my house. But only speak the word, and he shall live." Now when Jesus received that message, a great joy came into His heart; and He said to health, "Go to that soldier's little servant, and make him well, for I have not found a heart so gentle as his master's — no, not in all Israel." And He had no sooner spoken, out on the street, than the thing He commanded was done. Health came back to the sick boy in the soldier's house. And the gentle heart of the master swelled up in thankful joy, as he stooped down and kissed the child whom Jesus had made well again.

(A. Macleod, D. D.)

There are three separate spectators of every man's life — himself, his neighbours, and his God. Let us consider concerning this man —

I. WHAT HIS NEIGHBOURS THOUGHT OF HIM — that he was worthy.

1. They formed their opinion of his character from his conduct — "He loveth," &c. They judged of his worth, not by his words but by his works.

2. Their estimate of his character was singularly just.

II. WHAT HE THOUGHT OF HIMSELF — "I am not worthy." Doubtless this feeling of unworthiness which prompted him to procure the services of the Jewish elders, instead of going direct to Christ himself.

1. A truly good man has a higher standard of moral excellence than other men.

2. A truly good man is conscious of numerous imperfections which other men do not perceive.

III. WHAT THE SAVIOUR THOUGHT OF HIM — "I have not found so great faith," &c.

1. Christ estimates a man's character according to the amount of his faith.

2. All true faith prompts to corresponding activity in doing good. Morality without faith is heathenism, and faith without morality is antinomianism.

(W. Kirkman.)

I. THE INFLUENCE OF FAITH UPON SOCIETY — "He is worthy."

1. Faith influencing society through the lowest natural means. Stones and mortar. "He hath built us a synagogue."

2. Faith influencing society through the highest human means. Philanthropy. "He loveth our nation."

3. Faith continuing to influence society independently of the means by which it manifested itself. Every heart says till this day, "He is worthy."

II. THE INFLUENCE OF FAITH UPON THE MAN HIMSELF.

1. It gives man a right estimate of himself — "I am not worthy."

2. It gives him the right estimate of what he has — "Under my roof."

3. It gives man right ideas of God — "Speak the word only." He believed

(a)that Christ has authority to speak;

(b)in His willingness to speak;

(c)in His power to accomplish — "And my servant shall be healed."

4. It gives to the soul the right idea of duty. Loving the nation and caring for the welfare of his domestics.

5. It gives to the soul the right religious impulse — "He hath built us a synagogue."

6. It converts the soul into a most Christ-like aspect. Disinterestedness pervades all the centurion's acts. All for others.

III. THE INFLUENCE OF FAITH UPON THE SAVIOUR — "I have not found so great faith," &c.

1. The uniqueness of the faith. It took the Saviour by surprise.

2. The clear conception which his faith had of the person of the Saviour.

3. The estimate which his faith had formed of the Saviour's feelings. Believed there were sympathy and tenderness in the Saviour's heart.

4. The estimate which he had formed of the resources at the Saviour's command.

5. His implicit confidence in the Saviour in His absence.

6. The Saviour's unreserved compliance with the centurion's request, and the desired blessing bestowed.

(W. A. Edwards.)

1. The true Church in the world in all ages is wider than the visible Church.

2. There are in all ages lost characters within the pale of the visible Church. "They are not all Israel which are of Israel."

3. True piety always insures membership of the invisible Church.

4. We are led into circumstances at times in which our religious sympathies ought to transcend all the narrow sectional lines of our creeds.

5. True faith presents itself to Christ and the world in very different aspects.

6. True faith never fails to enlist Christ's sympathy and help.

7. Devotion to the welfare of others is a safe path to personal happiness and heaven's approval.

(W. A. Edwards.)

1. Truth may prosper when the Church is not aware of it.

2. Truth prospers at times beyond the expectation of the Church.

3. Truth prospers often where we least expect it.

4. Contact with Christ reveals the true condition of the soul:

(a)Faith in the heart of the centurion;

(b)Unbelief in that of the Jews.

5. The noble influence of religion, conquering the bigotry of the Jew, and inspiring the heart of a Gentile to build synagogues to the service of the living God.

6. Privileges enhance responsibility, and neglect of them involves the saddest consequences.

7. Man's work is ever in proportion to his faith.

8. Man's influence upon society is ever in proportion to the amount of his faith.

9. Man's influence with Heaven is ever in proportion to the strength of his faith.

(W. A. Edwards.)

This centurion was a Roman, a captain in the army, who had risen from the ranks by good conduct. Before he got his vine-stock, which was the mark of his authority over a hundred men, he had, no doubt, marched many a weary mile under a heavy load, and fought, probably, many a bloody battle in foreign parts. That had been his education — discipline and hard work. And because he had learned to obey, he was fit to rule. He was helping now to keep in order those treacherous, unruly Jews, and their worthless puppet-kings like Herod; much as our soldiers in India are keeping in order the Hindoos, and their worthless puppet-kings. This was the great and true thought which had filled this good man's mind — duty, order, and obedience. The message which he sent to Jesus means this: "There is a word of command among us soldiers. Has God no word of command likewise? The word of my superiors is enough for me. I say to those under me, 'Go,' and they go. And if I can work by a word, cannot this Jesus work by a word likewise? "By some such thoughts as these, I suppose, had this good soldier gained his great faith; his faith that all God's creatures were in a divine and wonderful order obedient to the wilt of God who made them; and that Jesus Christ was God's viceroy and lieutenant (I speak so, because I suppose that is what he, as a soldier, would have thought), to carry out God's commands on earth. This is the character which makes a good soldier, and a good Christian likewise.

(Charles Kingsley.)

He was —

1. A soldier accustomed to scenes of bloodshed, yet preserving, amid all the hardening tendencies of his profession, a tender heart.

2. A slave-owner, yet solicitous for the welfare of his slave.

3. A representative of the usurping power, yet one who had secured the respect and affection of the leaders of the subjugated people among whom he lived.

4. A proselyte to the religion of Israel, yet more truly religious than the people whose religion he had adopted.

5. A Pagan by birth, a Jew by conversion, a Christian by faith. "The first heathen man of whom we read, that he acknowledged Christ." Learn that a true religious faith is able to overcome in the man who possesses it the untoward influences of

(a)birth;

(b)training:

(c)calling;

(d)circumstances.

(J. R. Bailey.)

I. THE FAITH WHICH WAS COMMENDED.

1. First evidence of its existence — His tenderness to his servants. Of course this good act might have existed separate from religion. But we arc forbidden to view it so, when we remember that he was a proselyte.

2. Second proof: His humility.

3. Third: His belief in an invisible living will.

II. THE CAUSES OF CHRIST'S ASTONISHMENT.

1. The centurion was a Gentile, and therefore unlikely to know revealed truth.

2. A soldier, and therefore exposed to a recklessness, and idleness, and sensuality, which are the temptations of that profession. But he turned his loss to glorious gain.

III. THE SAVIOUR'S COMMENT CONTAINED THE ADVANTAGE OF DISADVANTAGES, AND THE DISADVANTAGE OF ADVANTAGES. The former, "Many shall come from the east and the west," &c. The latter, "The children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness" (Matthew 8:11-12).

IV. THIS INCIDENT TESTIFIES TO THE PERFECT HUMANITY OF CHRIST. The Saviour marvelled. It was a real genuine wonder.

(F. W. Robertson.)

I. THIS FAITH IN ITS AWAKENING IN THE MAN'S LIFE.

II. THIS FAITH IN ITS EXPRESSION IN THE MAN'S LIFE.

(J. Ogmore Davies.)

The faith of the centurion reveals itself.

I. As A POWER OF CONCEIVING GREAT THOUGHTS. His idea is, that just as the hundred men under his command are at his beck to come and go, and do as he pleases, so all the powers of nature arc ready to do the bidding of Christ. Was it not a great original idea? Observe, it was an idea, the credit of which belonged to the centurion's faith. To conceive it required more than a clever brain, even the daring spirit of which faith alone is capable. Unbelief cannot entertain such grand ideas of Divine power.

II. AS A POWER OF DWARFING INTO INSIGNIFICANCE MOUNTAINS OF DIFFICULTY. Weak faith makes difficulties, but strong faith annihilates them.

(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

The centurion was

(1)a man of faith.

(2)He was also a man of liberality.

(3)His charity began at home.There are many faults noticeable in rulers of families.

1. Injustice in the assignment of duties.

2. Unreasonableness in the expectation of perfection.

3. Negligence in the consideration of religious interests.

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. THE PRINCIPLE ON WHICH THE CENTURION ACTED.

II. THE ACTION ITSELF. "He hath built us," &c. We estimate love by the service that it renders, and the cost that service occasions.

(J. C. Galloway.)

I. THE SUPERIORITY TO PREJUDICE WHICH HIS LOVE FOR THE JEWISH NATION IMPLIES.

II. THE SOLID GROUNDS ON WHICH HIS ATTACHMENT TO THE JEWISH NATION RESTED. It was such an attachment as it was next to impossible for a good man not to feel. To love the Jewish nation is still a natural dictate of piety.

III. THE MANNER IN WHICH HIS ATTACHMENTS TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD WAS EVINCED. It was not an empty profession, productive of no fruit.

IV. THE HIGHLY PRAISEWORTHY AND EXEMPLARY CHARACTER OF HIS CONDUCT. To assist in the erection of places of worship, providing it proceeds from right motives, is unquestionably an acceptable service to the Most High.

(R. Hall, M. A.)

I do not know that we ever feel the immense interval between ourselves and the Son of Man more keenly than when we compare that which astonishes us with that which astonishes Him. To us, as a rule, the word "miracles" denotes mere physical wonders; and these are so wonderful to us as to be well-nigh incredible. But in Him they awake no astonishment. He never speaks of them with the faintest accent of surprise. He set so little store by them that He often seemed reluctant to work them, and openly expressed His wish that those on or for whom they had been wrought would tell no man of them. What does astonish Him is not these outward wonders so surprising to us, but that inward wonder, the mystery of man's soul, the miraculous power which we often exercise without a thought of surprise, the power of opening and shutting that door or window of the soul which looks heavenward, and through which alone the glories of the spiritual world can stream in upon us. Only twice are we told that He marvelled to whom all the secrets of Nature and Life lay open; once at the unbelief of men, and once at their faith. When He came to His own, and they received Him not, He was driven from His wonted calm by an immeasurable surprise: He marvelled at their unbelief (Mark 6:6); and, again, when He came to those to whom He was a Stranger, and they took Him in, He was beyond all measure astonished; He marvelled at their prompt and vigorous faith.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

We are told that this man's faith excited the wonder of the Son of God, and, therefore, everything that belongs to that faith must be interesting to us.

1. Already, then, this man was recognized for his devotedness of character.

2. Since our Lord knew that the character of this centurion was that of a devout, unselfish believer in God, we can easily understand that His expectations must have been large.

3. And yet we are told that His expectations were exceeded. Expecting much, He found more.

4. Some people have thought that the humility of this centurion was so extreme as to be exaggerated, and even unnatural. Yet remember

(1)that he had been taught that the position of a Gentile was that of a profane and unclean person;

(2)that his humility was founded, doubtless, upon moral as well as ceremonial reasons. He realized the greatness of the Lord Jesus.

5. How did he reason with himself? In a way which shows that the basis of true faith is always humility.

(Bishop Moorhouse.)

Faith and humility, my brethren, may be described as two sister virtues, so closely are they connected together, that the one cannot flourish without the other. We are taught that we may possibly have something like a vague hope that, through God's mercy, our sin may, ultimately, be forgiven, and our souls rescued from ruin: but for a man to say that he knows that salvation is his, that he is in a state of acceptance, that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ has been applied to his soul, and that now he is the child of God, is presumption, and that no real, humble-minded Christian will speak in this way. Thus we find, that while, on the one hand, faith is, by one class of persons represented as presumption, on the other hand, it is exaggerated into presumption just because people fail to exercise the virtue of humility. There is no humility in my doubting the Word of God. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." Let us take the narrative as it stands, and learn a few practical lessons from it.

I. The first thing I notice about this centurion is, that although he was a man in a considerable social position, HE WAS ALTOGETHER FREE FROM THAT PETTY FORM OF CONVENTIONAL PRIDE, WHICH IS IN TOO MANY INSTANCES THE CURSE OF MODERN SOCIETY. Here is a very practical lesson with respect to humility. My friends, I do not believe much in the humility of man towards his God where his conduct is characterized by pride towards his fellow men. Yet, again, the centurion was free from that miserable form of pride which exhibits itself in national prejudice. The man that really wants to get a blessing from the Lord Jesus Christ must be content to take the lowest place, to think everybody better than himself, to see himself as God sees him, and to be willing to accept from any man whatever reasonable help that man seems likely to offer to him.

II. Well, listen to THE WORDS OF COMMENDATION OF THE MASTER. "When Jesus heard it, He marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith: no, not in Israel." I want to ask you, before concluding my sermon this morning, Are you prepared to receive a blessing, dear friends, on those terms? If the Lord Jesus Christ were to stand in this pulpit, looking every one of you in the face, and were to say, " Go thy way; as thou hast believed, so be it unto thee," would you reply by a fervent exclamation of grateful joy? Should we be able to say so? or should we not, in common honesty, have to look up, and say. "Not so, Lord; I have net believed, or trusted my case into Thy hand; on the contrary, I feel in my own heart, that I have been constantly taking it out of Thy hand, and transferring it from Thee to myself? I have had my own feelings and thoughts; I have been reasoning about possibilities; and, so far as I have been taking it out of Thy hand, I cannot claim Thy blessing." Oh, dear friends, remember that God cannot alter His conditions. They are fixed in the very nature of things.

(W. H. Aitken, M. A.)

I. HIS PIETY WAS MARKED BY ZEAL AND LIBERALITY. The true secret of this soldier's "love " for the Jewish "nation" is thus explained. It was a "love" founded upon religion, and it expressed itself in religious acts. The conversion of this Roman soldier gives an interesting and instructive view of the power of Divine truth. In scarcely any period of its history was there a more sad declension of genuine piety in the Jewish Church, than in the age to which the text refers. Scepticism, formality, hypocrisy, and sin, seemed to pervade all ranks. Yet, amidst all this degeneracy, the truth remained embodied in the sacred Scriptures, the purity of which was most sedulously guarded; and by means of that truth, however it might be dishonoured by its professors, this heathen soldier was effectually "turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." How wonderful are the dispensations of Providence! The Roman army conquered the Jews in battle, and rendered their nation tributary; but the Jews, in their turn, armed with the power of revealed truth, effected a greater victory. They overcame the understandings and the hearts of many of their conquerors, and laid the hardy soldiers of heathen Rome prostrate in prayer before the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. In connection with this part of our subject I wish particularly to invite your attention to the liberal and generous character of true religion. A good man cannot live to himself. His property, his influence, his person, are freely placed upon God's altar, and offered in sacrifice to the Lord of all. But the piety of the centurion mentioned in our text was not only characterized by zeal and liberality; it was equally marked —

II. BY KINDNESS AND HUMANITY. He had a "servant that was dear to him"; and when that servant "was sick, and ready to die," the tenderest sympathies of the master were awakened. We are here reminded of that diversity of rank which has prevailed in the world from the earliest ages. While poverty remains, servitude must also continue. This diversity of rank, in consequence of the depravity of human nature, has often given birth to feelings and acts alike dishonourable to God and man. True religion effectually corrects all these evils. It produces a spirit of justice, equity, and love; and it inspires the mind with the fear of God, and a supreme regard for His authority. It renders the rich man the guardian and benefactor of the poor; and it makes the poor cheerful, contented, and honest. And let no one suppose that this spiritual equality and affection is subversive of order and of just authority. The most perfect of all government is the government of holy love. This remark will apply both to families and the Church. His piety and kindness, so far from impairing his authority, seem to have even increased it; and the probability is, that a master more respected, or an officer more efficient, did not then exist. The obedience which he received was remarkable for its promptitude and cheerfulness; so far was his pious kindness from rendering his domestic servants insolent, or his soldiers careless and remiss.

III. THE CENTURION'S DEEP AND UNAFFECTED HUMILITY, Humility consists in lowliness of mind. It is a disposition which becomes creatures of even the highest order. Angels never affect independence. Humility especially becomes fallen man. Humility so profound as this is rarely met with, and argues an extraordinary degree of self-knowledge. The centurion was now converted from the error of his way; bat his conversion was effected by the grace of God, and therefore conferred upon him no proper merit, or worthiness, before the Lord. It was not self-righteous pride, but the want of better knowledge, that led him, under the mingled influence of shame and fear, to shun the presence of his Saviour. Increasing light would discover to him that his own unworthiness constituted the grand reason why he should come to Christ, and entrust all his concerns with Him. Tim simplicity and ingenuousness with which the centurion had already received the truth would prepare him for those further discoveries of the Divine mind and plan which the doctrine of Christ and His apostles was about to present to the world. The spiritual benefits resulting from humility are numerous and great. This temper is especially pleasing in the sight of the Lord. The piety of the centurion was particularly marked —

IV. BY STRONG FAITH. The faith of the centurion was not a blind and presumptuous confidence.

1. The subjects which I have brought before you on this occasion, I fear suggest to many of us matter of shame and humiliation before God. What an example of practical godliness have we in this centurion! and yet how great were the disadvantages under which he laboured!

2. But there is another view to be taken of this subject; and it is one which is full of encouragement. The argument which we have just urged may be changed, and proposed thus: If this heathen soldier, in whose mind there was so much error and prejudice to be overcome, and whose means of instruction and spiritual improvement were so vastly inferior to those which we enjoy, attained to all this religious eminence; what may not we attain to, with all our helps and advantages?

(T. Jackson.)

Now, that we may profit by this example, let us consider these three things —

1. What was his faith, and wherein the greatness of it lay.

2. How this faith was bred and begotten in him.

3. The effects and fruits of it, or how it discovered itself.

I. THE NATURE OF HIS FAITH. It was a firm persuasion that all power and authority was eminently in Christ, and that He could do what He pleased.

1. You must distinguish of the times. In that age there was no human reason to believe this truth. Antiquity was against it, and therefore, when Paul preached Jesus, they said, " He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods" (Acts 17:18). Authority was against it: "Which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8). The universal consent of the habitable world was against it; Only a small handful of contemptible people owned Him: "Fear not, little flock " (Luke 12:32). At that time it was the critical point, the hated truth, that the carpenter's Son should be owned as the Son of God. Those bleak winds that blow in our backs, and thrust us onward to believe, blew in their faces, and drove them from it; those very reasons which move us to own Christ moved them to reject Him. For many ages the name of Christ bath been in request and honour, but then it was a despised way. At His first appearance a certain persuasion, impressed upon the soul by the Spirit of God, of the Divine power and all-sufficiency of Christ, so as to repair to I-lira for help, was faith and great faith; when the veil of His human nature and infirmities did not keep the eye of faith from seeing Him to have a Divine power, though they could not unriddle all the mysteries about His Person and office, this was accepted for saving faith.

2. The speculative belief of this truth was not sufficient then, no more than it is now, but the practical improvement. Grant that truth, that Jesus is the Son of God, and other things will follow, as that we must obey His laws, and depend upon His promises, and make use of His power, and trust ourselves in His hands; otherwise the bare acknowledgment was not sufficient.

II. How was THIS FAITH WROUGHT AND BRED IN HIM? I answer — The groundwork was laid in his knowledge of the omnipotency and power of God, and his acquaintance with the Scriptures of the Old Testament, though he were not a professed Jew. This prepared for his faith in Christ; the report or hearing was the ground of faith: "Who hath believed our report?" (Isaiah 53:1.) He had heard by fame of His excellent doctrine: " That He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matthew 7:29). And he had heard the rumour of His miracles, more particularly the late instance of curing the leper, which was notorious and public; for Christ biddeth him "show himself to the priests" (Matthew 8:4); and also the miracle in recovering the ruler's son, an instance near, which was done in time before this: "And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum; end he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, and he went unto Him, and besought Him that He would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death" (John 4:46, 47). By all which he was moved to ascribe the omnipotency of God, which he knew before, to Jesus Christ. Thus the Spirit of God blessed the knowledge of this centurion, and the rumours that were brought to him of Christ's doctrine and miracles.

III. THE EFFECTS OR FRUITS OF IT, OR NOW IT DISCOVERED ITSELF.

1. In that he applieth himself to Christ. They that believe in Christ will come to Him, and put Him upon work, whilst others prize His name but neglect His office. A gracious heart will find occasions and opportunities of acquaintance with Christ, if not for themselves yet for others; for when they have heard of Him, they cannot keep from Him.

2. That He accounteth misery an object proper enough for mercy to work upon. The centurion came to Him, saying, "Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented " (verse 6), that is, grievously affected with the disease. Alas! what can we bring to Christ but sins and sicknesses?

3. When Christ offereth to come and heal him, "I will come and heal him" (verse 7), (which was the great condescension of the Son of God to a poor servant), see how the centurion taketh it, "He answered, and said, Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof" (verse 8). Humility is a fruit of faith. Why are true and sound believers so ready to profess their unworthiness? They have a deeper sense of God's majesty and greatness than others have, and also a more broken-hearted sense of their own vileness by reason of sin. They have a more affective light and sight of things; God is another thing to them than before, so is sin and self.

4. He is content with Christ's word without His bodily presence: "Speak but the word, and my servant shall be healed." God's word is enough to a believer.

5. Here is Christ's power and dominion over all events, and events that concern us and ours, fully acknowledged, and that is a great point gained: "He is Lord both of the dead and living" (Romans 14:9). Health and sickness are at His command. "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things" (Isaiah 45:7).

6. He reasoneth from the strict discipline observed in the Roman armies, where there was no disputing of commands or questioning why and wherefore: "I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me; and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth." Reasoning for God and His promises is a great advantage. We are naturally acute in reasoning against faith, but when the understanding is quick and ready to invent arguments to encourage faith, it is a good sign. Use. Go you and do likewise. From the example of the centurion let me encourage you —(1) To readiness of believing (James 3:17).(2) To represent our necessity to Christ, and refer the event to Him, to commit and submit all to Him.(3) To be humble. In all our commerce with Christ, faith must produce a real humility. Faith is most high when the heart is most low (Luke 18:11-14).(4) To meditate often on the sovereign dominion of Christ, and His power over all things that fall out in the world.

(T. Manton.)

I. LET US LOOK AT THE PROOFS OF THE STATEMENT.

1. In Christ's world-wide love we have the proof of it. Christ's love to men is the assurance that He reserves to Himself the entire control of whatever makes them suffer.

2. Then the fact that suffering is the servant of the Saviour is shown in Christ's universal sovereignty. He is "Lord of all"; "all authority is given unto Me in heaven and earth." He is therefore Lord of Providence.

3. And we may add that in His miraculous works we have a token of this. When He stood before sickness on earth He could do with it what He liked, it recognized His voice and bowed submissive to His Word.

II. If then, this suggestion of the centurion is an established Scripture truth, let us pass on to see WHAT IT INVOLVES WITH REGARD TO SICKNESS. Our Lord is to sickness what the Roman captain was to the soldiers under him.

1. Then we may say that sickness only comes at His building. Compact, motionless in their ranks, stand all possible pains and sicknesses before Him, until He singles one out and bids it hasten here or there.

2. And this truth implies also that sickness is restrained by His will. Like the centurion to his servant, so says Christ to sickness, "Do this," and it doeth it. It can only do what Christ permits.

3. And if sickness is Christ's servant, then sickness is sent to do His work. His servant! Then it has some message to bring, some gift to leave behind, some mission to fulfil for its Master; there is a distinct purpose in it. And the sooner that purpose is fulfilled by our discovery and acceptance of it the sooner will the sickness be withdrawn. That invests sickness with great solemnity.

III. These are THREE CLOSING LESSONS.

1. This should teach us the sacred blessedness of sickness.

2. And this should call us to reverential service for the sick.

3. And this should show us the possibility of redemption, to those who are sick.

(C. New.)

"She was a special Providence to me, "wrote the late Earl of Shaftesbury concerning his father's housekeeper, Maria Millas. He explains his meaning by stating that this good woman had almost the entire care of him until he was seven years old, when she died. Yet such was the impression she made upon him in those few years, that towards the close of his truly noble life this good man said: "I must trace, under God, very much, perhaps all, of the duties of my later life to her precepts and her prayers." What a striking testimony is this confession to the fidelity of an obscure Christian woman! And what a grand result it wrought! Lord Shaftesbury's nobility of birth, represented by his earl's coronet, when placed beside the moral grandeur of his character, was but as a glowworm to a star. Through his long life his supreme devotion to works of benevolence gave him an undisputed right to say —

His deeds gave light, hope, comfort, and elevation to many thousands who were born heirs to an inheritance of poverty and woe. And those deeds were the precious fruit of the influence of a servant in his father's household.

A worldly man began to taunt a celebrated preacher, and, among other things, told him it was true his congregation was large, but it was chiefly made up of servants and low people. "I know it is," said the sagacious divine. "My Church is composed of such converts as Jesus Christ and His apostles gained; and as for servants, I had rather be instrumental in converting them than their employers." "Why so?" inquired the man. "Because," observed the minister, "they have the care of all the children."

(Baxendale.)

I think it was Bernard, or one of the preachers of the Middle Ages, who said, "There is one thing to be said for humility, that it never can by any possibility do one harm." For if a man goes through a door, and he has the habit of stooping his head, it may be the door is so high there is no need for stooping, but the stooping is no injury to him; whereas if the door should happen to be a low one, and he has the habit of holding up his head, he may come into sharp contact with the top of the door. True humility is a flower which will adorn any garden. This is a sauce with which you may season every dish of life, and you will find an improvement in every case. Whether it be prayer or praise, whether it be work or suffering, the salt of humility cannot be used in excess.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A person of great sanctity once paid a visit to the Caliph Haroun. The Caliph rose to receive him, and with every mark of reverence conducted him to his own seat; and when he took his leave the Caliph rose again, and accompanied him a little way. Some of the nobles afterwards observed that such condescension would lessen his dignity, and diminish the awe that belongs to a prince. The Caliph replied, "The dignity that is lessened by humility is not worth maintaining; and the awe that is diminished by paying reverence to piety should be got rid of as soon as possible."

The story is told of a young general in the ninth century who, with five hundred men, came against a king with twenty thousand. The king sent word that it was the height of folly in so small an army to resist his legions. In reply the general called one of his men and said, "Take that sword and drive it to your heart." The man did so, and fell dead. To another he said, "Leap into yon chasm," and the man instantly obeyed. "Go," he said to the messenger, "and tell your king we have five hundred such men. We will die, but never surrender." The messenger returned with his message — a message that struck terror into the heart of the whole army of the king.

(Baxendale.)

The Duke of Wellington was an eminently magnanimous man, bribes could not buy him, threats could not annoy him. When a lower place was offered him, he said, "Give me your orders, and you shall be obeyed."

The discovery of the New World, as the continent of America and its islands are called, was not, like many discoveries, an accident; it was the reward of faith — the reward of Christopher Columbus's faith. He found fruits on the shores of Western Europe, cast up by the Atlantic waves, and brought there, as we now know, by the Gulf Stream, perfectly diverse from any that the temperate, fiery, or frozen zones of the Old World produced. So one day, let me say, strolling by the sea-shore, he saw a nut. He takes it in his hand, and looks at it; he takes it into his capacious mind, and out of that little seed springs his faith in another world beyond that watery horizon, where, as he believed, and events proved, the sea had pearls, and the veins of the earth were filled with silver, and the rivers that flowed through spicy groves ran over sands of gold. They thought him mad to leave his sweet bays, and his land, and his pleasant home, to launch on a sea which keel had never ploughed, in search of a land man had never seen. I tell that infidel that I know in whom I have believed; I can give a reason for the faith that is in me; and so he could. And so he launched his bark on the deep, and with strange stars above him and strange seas around him, storms without and mutinies within, no man of all the crew hoping but himself, with a courage nothing could daunt, and a perseverance nothing could exhaust, that remarkable man stood by the helm, and kept the prow of his bark onward and westward till lights gleamed on San Salvador's shore, and as the day broke, the joyful cry "Land!" rang from the mast-head; and faith was crowned with success, and patience had her perfect work. Now I look on that man, and the world has looked on him, as one of the finest types of a believer; but I cannot read his story without feeling that it puts our faith to the blush, and, as it were, hearing the echo from heaven of that voice that said, "I have not found such great faith; no, not in Israel."

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

For he loveth our nation, and hath built us a synagogue.
I. LET US CONSIDER WHAT IT IS TO SEEK THE GENERAL GOOD OF SOCIETY.

1. That to seek the general good of society, men must sincerely desire that good as an ultimate object. The worst member of society may desire the general good of society, when he apprehends it will have a favourable aspect upon himself; and he may seek the general good in that view of it.

2. Men's seeking the general good of society, implies their seeking that good in preference to their own.

3. That men's seeking the general good of society farther implies their actually using all the proper means in their power to promote it.

II. THAT IT BECOMES ALL MEN TO SEEK THE GENERAL GOOD OF SOCIETY. This will appear from a variety of considerations.

1. Men were formed for society. It is one important end for which they were created rational beings. No man was made solely for himself; and no man is capable of living in the world totally independent of society.

2. It becomes men to seek the general good of society, because this is the great and valuable end of entering into society. Every body of men, which deserves the name of society, unite together for some valuable and desirable purpose.

3. It becomes men to seek the general good of society, by obeying the general laws of society. Societies are not formed by mere accident.

4. Every society needs the assistance or co-operation of all its members, to promote its general prosperity and happiness.

5. It becomes all men to seek the general good of society, in return for the benefits they receive from it.

6. There is something so amiable and beautiful in seeking the general good, that it commands universal approbation and esteem. For this the Roman centurion was so highly esteemed and applauded by the Jewish nation.

7. It becomes all men to obey the will of their Creator; and it is expressly His will that they should seek the general good. He says to every man, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The apostle requires the same things under different forms of expression. "By love serve one another."IMPROVEMENT

1. If it becomes men to seek the general good of society, then it becomes them to be truly religious. There is a natural, and even necessary connection between their being religious, and being good members of society.

2. In the view of this subject, parents may learn how much it becomes and concerns them to educate their children in the best manner to qualify them to promote not only their own good, but the general good of society.

3. It appears, in view of this discourse, that all men are morally bound to promote the general good of society, in proportion to the various abilities they possess. Knowledge gives men ability to promote their own good, and the general good. Wealth gives men ability to do good. Men in authority have peculiar ability to promote the general good of society.

4. Since it becomes all men to promote the general good of society, it is unbecoming men to pursue any courses which are either directly or indirectly injurious to the public good. Not only idlers, but all profane swearers, Sabbath-breakers, neglecters and despisers of all religion, act a part highly detrimental to human society.

5. It appears from what has been said, that those who are truly pious are the best men in the world. They are the only men who have true love to God and man.

6. We learn the goodness of God in prolonging the lives of His pious and faithful servants. He is good to His cordial friends in carrying them in His arms, and guiding and guarding their lives, even to old age. He has promised this as a mark of His favour to the godly man.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

I. THE POWERFUL FAITH DISPLAYED BY THIS CENTURION.

II. THIS CENTURION'S EXAMPLE OF GREAT LOVE FOR THE PUBLIC WORSHIP OF GOD. We here find his true piety shown in his liberality in building a house of God for public worship. When he knew Divine truth, he loved the people among whom it shone, and he then erected a synagogue for God's honour.

III. IS IT NOT, THEREFORE, OUR PLAIN DUTY AS CHRISTIANS TO SUPPORT PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE CHURCH OF GOD AMONG US?

IV. THE WANTS OF THE PEOPLE, WITH THE WISHES OF OUR CHURCH BUILDING SOCIETIES, SHOULD WARMLY EXCITE OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERALITY.

(J. G. Angley, M. A.)

These remarks may be sufficient to illustrate the general principle. We will now attend to its operations.

1. If we love our country, we shall be affected with her dangers and calamities. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem," says the Psalmist; "let my right hand forget her cunning."

2. This principle will restrain us from injuring, and prompt us to serve our country. "Love works no ill." "By love we serve one another."

3. A lover of his country has an affection for the Church of God, and a concern to promote its credit and interest.

4. Love to our country will express itself in prayers for her prosperity. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem," says the Psalmist, " they prosper that love thee." I have illustrated the nature and operations of love to our country.I now ask your attention to some reflections which result from the subject.

1. True patriotism is a nobler attainment than some seem to imagine. It includes compassion for the unhappy, hatred of sin, love of virtue, disinterestedness, self-denial, industry, prudence, piety and devotion; yea, everything that is excellent and amiable.

2. There is a great difference between talking warmly in our country's favour, and really loving it. A man may say much in the praise of his country, its constitution, trade, soil, and climate, and give it the preference to all other countries; he may plead for its rights with great earnestness, and do much to support its credit and respectability; and yet not be a real lover of it not have any pure benevolence, any piety to God, or regard to virtue; but be influenced wholly by ambition and avarice.

3. It appears from our subject, that a people who enjoy, who profess to believe, Divine revelation, ought to make some stated provision for maintaining and preserving the social worship of the Deity. This is a plain dictate of reason, as well as Scripture.

4. If we ought to regard the interest of our country at large, we ought, for the same reasons, to consult the peace and happiness of the smaller societies of which we are members.

5. We see how careful we should be, that no selfish or unworthy motive influence our social or religious conduct.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

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