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St. MATTHEW viii. 1, 2. When he was come down from the moun.
tain, great multitudes followed him; and behold, there came a leper, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
You may remember, my friends, that it was from a mountain that our Lord Jesus Christ preached to the people that excellently good sermon, which I have been explaining to you, and preaching to you about for so many evenings. After he had finished it, he came down from the mountain, and a great number of people, charmed and delighted with all that he said, pleased to find him giving them advice so
good, and shewing them so plainly the way to that Heaven, (which he had left for their sakes, and which he had power from the Father to give to all his disciples,) followed him. They followed him in throngs and in multitudes : they were not so soon tired of hearing good advice, as many in these days are, who are pleased with a thing as long as it is new, but soon get tired and go on in their former foolish and wicked practices. Jesus Christ, our blessed, our only and adorable Saviour, my friends, was, we are told in the Bible, with God before the world was, and was God. He came from the bosom of the Father to save us and all sipners from hell, into which our sins would have sent us all, if it had not been for him. He, blessed be his holy name! undertook to put us at peace with God, to reconcile us to the Almighty. Now, in what way could we shew men, that he was God, and came from God, and that he was able to do all that he promised, but by doing such things as man cannot do,
as only God can do. Many of these great and wonderful things he began to do, as soon as he came down from the mountain, where he had taught the people. First, a leper came to him, and worshipped him. The leprosy, which you know is a dreadful and filthy disorder, reigned in the country, in which our Saviour lived, very much, and was attended with all those shocking symptoms and appearances, with which you must have seen it sometimes in this country: A poor creature, afflicted with this disorder, driven out from company, and perhaps even loathed by his friends, came to the merciful and compassionate Jesus, and having worshipped him, said, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. He knew our Lord's power, and he knew that our Lord had the heart to use that power for every poor creature, who believed in him. Jesus immediately put forth his hand and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Now who but God could have healed the
leprosy by a word! Could man have done it? Man cannot do it by physic and care. The disorder is never cured. Jesus did it by a word. Will you not then believe in Jesus Christ? Will you not believe all that he tells you? Will you not do all that he commands you? Will you not trust to him for all that he promises ?
Sin, my friends, is to the soul what leprosy is to the body. It taints the whole soul; it fills it with foul and dirty thoughts and passions ; it makes us loathsome in the sight of God and of angels. Now, if you come to your Saviour, saying to him that you are lost and miserable sinners, and begging him to cleanse you by his blood and to heal you by his grace, he will do as you beg him. He will save you by his death on the cross, from the punishment of your sins: he will save you, by his Holy Spirit, from that slavery to sin, which is the worst slavery you ever knew or can know.
After the leper, some poor mean creature perhaps, had gone from the Lord, having had bis request granted and his body healed from the loathsome plague, a man in better circumstances, a captain of a company of Roman soldiers, one hundred in number, a Centurion,as he is called, came to Jesus, entreating him, and saying, Lord ! my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. The palsy is à disorder which deprives people of the use of all, or of some of their limbs, of the use of an arm and leg, and sometimes of life ; and is seldom, if ever, cured. How good was it in the Centurion to take this care of a sick servant! How much trust did it shew that he had in the power of Jesus to leave his home, and to come to him for help! How good and kind in our blessed Saviour to tell him immediately, I will come and heal him. The Centurion, though no mean person, thought that this was too great a condescension in so divine á being as Jesus Christ! He was an humo