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those things that drew them. His delight was not in their flocking after him, but in instructing and doing them good.
Ver. 2. And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him.] Whether this was intended as the highest kind of civil reverence, as to a prophet, or Divine worship, as to God, it is not easy to aver, because it is hard to determine what kind of persuasion he, and the centurion, and others now coming to him, had; how little, or how much, or if any apprehension of him as the Messiah and Son of God. This being as yet not much noised abroad, yet they might have it by special revelation from God. A high confidence, however, there was of a Divine power being with him for the greatest works. This is clearly expressed; and in whatsoever notion it was, our Saviour takes it very graciously, and grants their suits. We are commonly unsatisfied with all that comes not up to our own height; but our meek Redeemer cherisheth sincerity, and accepts of what he finds, even the very least, and extols it to the highest pitch it was capable of.
Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.] Strong confidence and humility are contempered in this word: confidence in asserting full power in Christ for the work; (the doubt of his will, cannot be challenged as injurious or unbelieving, for he had as yet no warrant absolutely to believe that he would;) the humility in the way of propounding it, not daring peremptorily to sue for it, but moving it thus, as a thing in his hand to do; the sense of his vile disease and other unworthiness, it is likely, depressing him, and forming his desire in this style only, as representing and reserving the matter with humble submission, as resolved not to quarrel nor complain if he should refuse, but to acknowledge pure compassion and goodness, if obtained: q. d. Lord, it becomes not such a horrid, polluted wretch to say any further than this, I believe, and crave leave to say it out, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
Ver. 3. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him.] And this humble motion is as graciously taken: he hath straightway real experience both of the power that he believed
in, and of the good-will that he durst not think himself so sure of, yet had (no doubt) some good hope of. Thou sayest, I can? I say, I will be thou clean. And the touch of his hand is a concurrent sign of his goodness and condescension. That word had power enough alone, without the touch; yet it goes not alone, lest it should look like a disdain of touching. He is pleased, therefore, to put his pure hand to the defiled skin of this leper, being in no hazard to receive pollution by that touch by which the leper received a cleansing. And thus in his word he speaks to sinners, where he hath revealed his will together with his power; and that we may doubt it not, we may read it in his blood streaming forth for our cleansing. Yet if any one, out of a deep sense of his vileness, think, I know that he can cleanse me, but will he look upon such a one? Or, if he look, will he not straight turn away? Will he vouchsafe to touch my filthy sores, and apply his own precious blood for my cleansing and healing? Yes, He will. Speak it not as doubting, but as humbly referring the matter, thou mayest even in the same style, say, Lord, I am filthy as ever any that came to thee, yet, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And thou shalt find that powerful cure from a word of his mouth, and a touch of his hand, that all thy scrubbing, and washing, and bathing in legal self-cleansings, could never have attained; and that not only as to the guiltiness, but likewise as to the power and polluting filthiness of thy sin. And this is to be laid before him in the prevailings of lusts and sinful impurities: Lord, thou knowest how impossible it is for me, and I know how possible, how easy it is for thee, to cleanse me. And if thou shouldst say no more, lie before If he be not changed from what he was, he will pity thee, and thou shalt find it. Ver. 4. And Jesus saith unto him, See that thou tell no. man.] This charge not to divulge the cure, besides our Lord's exemplary humility in avoiding noise, was that he might wait the fitter time of discovering himself, and because as yet, it might rather hinder him: as Mark i. 45. The other Evan
him, and look upward till he pity thee.
gelists tell us that the man kept not this injunction, wherein, though he was to be blamed, yet there is some excuse in part, from the ardent affection and overcoming joy that he could not well conceal. Nor are we sharply to inveigh against all the impertinences and imprudences of new converts, in their speeches and carriage in religious things, though they are to be admonished to study prudence. It is no wonder that so high a change does a little transport them beyond their bounds. The shewing to the priest, and offering of the gift, was both a respect to the Law, not as yet out of date, and a provision for a testimony for Christ, when it should be afterwards known that he had done it. This may be the meaning of that word, for a testimony to them. And it is not at all unlikely, that the restraint from publishing it to others, was only till it should be first shewn to the priest, and approved by him as full cleanness, which, possibly, otherwise, out of envy to Jesus Christ, they might have denied, if it had been known and famed abroad as his work.
Ver. 5-9. And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him.] The history of the centurion hath much of the like confidence and lowliness. He desired him but to say the word, no more being needful for the thing to be done, and no more fit to be desired of him who is addressed.
I am not worthy that thou They that spake for him, as worthy for whom Jesus should
shouldst come under my roof. St. Luke hath it, said, He was do this. He, of a far different mind, sends by others what is here related as his own speech; they speaking what he put in their mouths, that he was not worthy of Christ's presence. His confidence of power in Christ's word to do the deed, he expresses by the resemblance of his own command over his soldiers. He himself being but one under others, was yet so readily obeyed by those under him; and he believed all diseases to be much more under the word of Jesus's command. So, indeed, they know his word, and so, also, he rebukes souldiseases and they are gone, as the fever in the next history,
Oh! if we did but believe this and put him to it! For faith doth So, and in a manner commands him, as he doth all other things.
Ver. 10. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said unto them that followed, Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.] This man was a stranger, and a soldier, yet, it seems, a proselyte; and our Lord, receiving this as a kind of first fruits of the Gentiles, foretels upon it a plentiful harvest of them: Many shall come, and the children of the kingdom be cast out. Ver. 11. This is a harsh word to the Jews; and yet, thus often, the most remote and unlikely, who have long lived strangers to religion, have proved notable converts; and they that have lived from their childhood under a powerful ministry, and with persons professing religion, and have themselves been moulded into a form of it, yet die in their sins, and never lay hold of that salvation unto which they always seemed to be so near. And this near miss of happiness is the greatest misery. Children of the kingdom in outward appearance and church privileges, yet, prove children of wrath, not only not entering into the kingdom they had a seeming title to, but cast out into the dungeon of utter darkness!
Observe the misery of the damned, resembled by utter darkness, void of light, and full of hideous noises and cries; weeping and gnashing of teeth. And the happiness of glory is resembled to a banquet, where there is full light and joy; a coronation banquet, where all the company of kings sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God. And this and all other resemblances in Scripture, are but a dark shadow of that bright glory. Oh! were the things of eternity, the misery and the blessedness to come, indeed believed, how much would our thoughts be in them, and how little room would they leave for the trifles and vanities that our hearts are taken up with!
Ver. 14. When Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.] He takes humble,
compassionate notice of all maladies where he comes, and is touched with the griefs of his own, and so moved as to touch and heal them. This king's touch cures all sorts of diseases: it did so while he walked in a low, despised condition on earth, and it does so still by that virtual Divine power, now that he is in heaven; and although his glory there is greater, his compassion is not less than when he was here; and his compassion always was, and is, directed much more to souls diseased, than to bodies, as they are better and more valuable.
Ver. 15. And she arose and administered to them.] Oh! thus it should still be; yea, thus it will be. They whom he cures, will bestow upon him the health and strength they have received by him, and shall be serviceable to him. How can it be so fitly and duly employed? Then are all deliverances and favours, outward and inward work, most kindly and sweetly enjoyed, when they are most quickly and entirely returned to their spring, all improved and offered up to Him from whom they come.
Ver, 16. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed.] Upon the report of these works, they run to him in great numbers. Oh, that upon the report of his all-healing virtue published in the Gospel, sick souls were thronging about him! The others were welcome, but these would be much more so. Many came to him, and we hear of none who were turned away without help. He cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick. Oh, come hither, all ye that have any thing that troubles you. Is it a lethargic, a dead benumbedness of spirit, or is it a fever, a boiling of passions or lusts, yea, is it, as it were, a kind of possession of an unclean or an unquiet spirit? Come forward: here is help for thee. He cured those here, with his word. Now that word of the prophet, here applied, (ver. 17.) had its accomplishment in part, even in these works; in his suffering the importunity of the multitudes coming early and late, and suffering likewise the maladies he cured, by the tender compassion he felt in doing it. He is not a hard