The Chief Physician and the Centurion's Servant

   (No. 1422)

   DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JUNE 30, 1878,

   BY C. H. SPURGEON,

   AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

   "Jesus said unto him I will come and heal him." Matthew 8:7.

   "And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go your way; and as you have
   believed, so be it done unto you." Matthew 8:13.

   THE centurion of Capernaum is an example to us in a matter which bears
   upon the collection appointed for today, which, you know, is for
   hospitals. This good soldier feared for the sick and was anxious for
   the recovery of his palsied servant. Every employer should take a
   sympathetic interest in his domestics when they are ill, but in some
   cases this is not thought of. "If they cannot do their work, they must
   go"--this is too often the language used about them--and they are
   driven out of the house as soon as possible. I do not say that masters
   and mistresses are often cruel, but I fear that some of them are none
   too kind.

   Among religious persons, kindness towards man should be as manifest as
   piety towards God. The centurion had done what he could to benefit,
   religiously, the people among whom he dwelt, for the elders of the Jews
   said, "He loves our nation and he has built us a synagogue." But he
   combined with a desire to benefit the soul, a sincere desire for the
   welfare of the body. This was apparent in the interest which he took in
   his, "boy," his personal servant, or young valet. God has joined body
   and soul together and they ought not to be divided in our deeds of
   charity. This captain's sympathy with his suffering valet was shown by
   practical action.

   He did not say that he felt for him and then go off to the guardroom
   and keep clear of the sick youth. Nor did he merely stand and watch him
   in his pain to see how he would fare, but he did something--he went
   out, he called together the elders of the city, he summoned his choice
   friends to him--in fact, he made the whole circle of his acquaintances
   feel a sympathy with him concerning the illness of his servant. Then he
   sent these elders and friends to the best Physician of the age and, I
   think, also followed at their heels, himself. He used the surest means
   within his reach and appealed to Him to whom none ever appealed in
   vain!

   From the centurion I gather that we must not be content with loving our
   people and building them synagogues, but we must also build them
   hospitals and dispensaries! Find them preachers, by all means, but find
   them surgeons, too! We may not forget the soul, but we must also
   remember that the soul dwells in a body liable to many disorders. We
   may become just a little too spiritual--so spiritual as to spirit away
   the very Spirit of Christianity! God grant us Grace to be as tenderly
   considerate of suffering humanity as this centurion was and we probably
   shall be so if we have as strong a faith and as deep a humility as he
   had.

   Our Lord, Himself, in our text, sets us an example which may plead with
   us on behalf of hospitals today! He was here upon the high errand of
   our redemption, yet He did not consider it at all derogatory to His
   Divine purpose to be continually engaged in healing diseases! For three
   years He walked the hospitals--He lived all day long in an infirmary,
   for all around Him, at one time, they laid the sick in the streets--and
   at all times physical evil in some form or other came in His way. He
   put forth His hands, or spoke a word and healed all sorts of maladies.
   This our Lord did very readily, for it was part of His lifework. "I
   will come and heal him," He said, for He was a physician in constant
   practice and would be around at once to see the patient.

   "He went about doing good" and in all this He would let His people know
   that He intended not to bless one part of man alone, but the whole of
   our nature, taking upon Himself not only our sins, but our sicknesses!
   Jesus means to bless the body as well as the soul! And though for this
   present time He has left our body very much under the power of
   sickness,

   for still the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life
   because of righteousness. Yet He foreshadows in His healing miracles
   the Resurrection, when He shall raise us perfectly healed and the
   inhabitant shall no more say, "I am sick." Every restored limb, opened
   eye and healed wound is a token that Jesus cares for our flesh and
   blood and means that the body shall share the benefits of His death by
   a glorious resurrection!

   As in our Lord's life His teaching was always connected with healing,
   He would have the Church, also, take a very deep interest in the bodily
   sorrows of the people as well as in their spiritual needs. It will be a
   very great pity if ever it should be thought that benevolence is
   divorced from Christianity, for up to now the crown of the faith of
   Jesus has been love to men. It is, indeed, the glory of Christianity
   that wherever it goes, it erects buildings altogether unknown to
   heathenism--hospitals, asylums and other abodes of charity! The genius
   of Christianity is pity for the sinful and the suffering.

   Let the Church be a healer like her Lord--at least if she cannot pour
   fourth virtue from the hem of her garment, nor "say in a word" so that
   sickness may fly--let her be among the most prompt to help in
   everything that can relieve pain or assist poverty. So ought it to be,
   for, "as Jesus was, so are we, also, in this world." Did He not tell
   us, "As the Father has sent Me, even so send I you"? We cannot too
   diligently study His Character, for He has left us an example that we
   may follow in His steps. Since we cannot practice the healing art, let
   us give support to those whose whole time is spent in it, that they may
   be able, without fee or reward, to watch over the sick poor. And let
   none among us act the tightwad when the blind, the crippled and the
   lame cry to us as they did to our Master of old!

   This said, I desire to pass on to my subject which is of a spiritual
   kind. I want you to mark the development of the faith of the centurion
   and, side by side with it, the growing manifestation of our Lord's
   power. Both are seen in the narrative. The centurion had evidently
   heard about Christ. Perhaps the healing of the ruler's child had
   satisfied him that Jesus was the Messiah. He had attended at the
   synagogue. I cannot doubt that a man who had built a synagogue would be
   sure to go to it--and there he had learned of the Coming One--foretold
   by Prophets and expected by saints. This Anointed One was to work
   wonders among mankind and especially wonders of healing.

   Thus he had gathered that Jesus was the Christ and he believed in Him
   as having power to heal his sick servant. The first practical result
   was that he humbly sent the elders with the urgent request to "come and
   heal him." He believed that Jesus, if He were present, could restore
   the dying youth. He had thought it over and his faith had reached as
   far as that of Mary and Martha when they said, "Lord, if You had been
   here, my brother had not died." In effect he said, If You will come
   here, great Master, my servant will not die. He therefore cried, "Come
   and heal him!" Observe that our Lord's answer was exactly proportioned
   to the measure of faith in the prayer--"I will come and heal him."

   "You cry, 'Come and heal him!' I reply, I will come and heal him." So
   far so good. But the captain's faith is to be seen in a still clearer
   light. He has been considering the matter still further and his
   humility leads him to feel that he ought not to expect Jesus to come to
   his house. Why should he trouble the Master to leave the crowd and to
   cease preaching, to come and attend to his servant? He is grieved to
   think that he should have proposed a visit--he feels himself unfit to
   entertain One so holy and so great and, therefore, he sends off his
   friends, post haste, to offer humble apologies and to beg the Master
   not to come!

   He has, at the same time, advanced in his belief in Christ's power, for
   he says in effect, "There is no need that You should come--only will
   it--merely say the word and the healing is worked. For I, also, am a
   man under authority, deriving authority from being under it and I have
   only to say to one soldier, go, and to another, come, and my will is
   done. I have no need to execute my own wishes personally, for my will
   governs my troops and each man is eager to do my bidding. So, great
   Master, stay where You are. Go on with Your other work and only will to
   bless me and it will be enough. Your desire will be accomplished
   without fail. Oh great Emperor of all the forces of the universe, bid
   Your triumphant eagles fly this way and the foe will vanish before
   You."

   Here was growing faith and, side by side with it, was a clearer
   manifestation of the Master's power! Our Lord Jesus, then and there,
   wills that healing power should go forth--He moves no further towards
   the house where the palsied patient lies, but rather He turns
   around--and in obedience to the wish of the centurion He walks away!
   Yet the miracle is worked! The paralytic child has risen from the bed,
   the captain's heart is gladdened--and those who came to plead stand in
   the house to praise the Lord!

   Awe-struck by the finger of God so near and so manifest, what could
   they do but bless the Lord who had visited His people? That is the
   story and it proves that our Lord Jesus Christ is Omnipotent in the
   physical world! He can do what He wills and though at this present time
   we do not appeal to Him for miraculous cures, it were well if we
   trusted Him more upon that point, for all of the power which dwells in
   medicine and all of the skill which is found in physicians is only
   effective through His tender mercy! We know, however, that our Lord is
   Omnipotent in the moral and spiritual world--and there, today, He
   displays His most sublime feats of power and wisdom! We are going to
   think about this and may the Holy Spirit make the meditation useful to
   us.

   I. The first thing I invite you to consider is THE PERFECT READINESS OF
   OUR LORD JESUS for works of mercy. The centurion was concerned about
   his servant, just as you and I are, I hope, today concerned about
   certain poor souls which lie paralyzed by sin. We mourn over them and
   if we could heal them we would gladly suffer any self-denial or
   suffering. If we could bring our neighbors to Christ, it would be the
   utmost joy to us--their perishing souls are, to some of us, as a
   burdensome stone--a load heavy to bear. How can we endure to see them
   die? The mass of working men around us, yes, and the majority of our
   wealthy neighbors are under the power of the Wicked One!

   To them the things which are seen are the only objects of their
   thoughts. They will not regard the Gospel of Christ, or eternity, or
   judgment, or Heaven, or Hell. The privileges with which our country is
   so largely endowed are treated as if they were of no value
   whatever--Sabbaths, Bibles, the Gospel and the Throne of Grace are
   despised. This is mournful, indeed! Brethren, we must go to Jesus about
   this evil thing and it may help us to do this if we now think of His
   great willingness to bless servant, child, or any other person whom we
   may bring before Him in prayer!

   That willingness we shall see, first, if we notice that He did not
   cavil at the pleas which the Jewish elders urged on behalf of the
   centurion, though they must have been very distasteful to His mind.
   They said, "He is worthy for whom You should do this." That was not the
   right style of pleading with Him who came to save the lost and bless
   the undeserving in the freeness of His Grace! The elders said, "He
   loves our nation and he has built us a synagogue," and so on. Poor
   souls, they were doing their best and using the kind of argument by
   which their own hopes were sustained.

   Our Lord regarded the spirit of their intercession rather than the form
   in which they offered it and though the plea, laying so much stress
   upon human merit, might very well have warranted Him in saying, "hold
   your peace, for you are damaging rather than helping the case," our
   Lord was so willing that He raised no question. From afar He read the
   heart of the centurion and He knew that the good man's advocates were
   altogether misrepresenting His views and feelings! The last thing in
   the world that the lowly-minded soldier would have pleaded would have
   been personal worthiness! His own words were, "I am not worthy"!

   Had he known that his advocates would have talked in that fashion, he
   would never have allowed them to speak on his behalf. If the centurion
   could have been there, he would have said, "Your words cut me to the
   quick, for I am not worthy. What little I have been able to do, I
   cannot boast. I have done no more than I ought to have done! Do not
   speak to my Lord in such a way." But Jesus was so willing to go that He
   put up with all the blunders of the elders and responded to their
   request, "I will come and heal him."

   Beloved, very likely you and I make quite as great mistakes when we
   pray--we fancy we pray very correctly, but I wonder what our Lord
   thinks of our prayers? Surely He has often to pick out the meaning of
   our hearts from among the errors of our lips! But so willing is He to
   bless us, that if there is first a willing mind, it shall still be
   accepted, for He rejoices to hear every prayer which seeks healing for
   sin-sick souls! His willingness is seen, next, in the fact of His so
   cheerfully granting the first prayer in the form in which it was put.
   They besought Him that He would, "come and heal" the servant.

   Now, that was not exactly the best form in which to put it. Certainly
   it was not that which commended itself to the more mature thoughts of
   the centurion. Why should Jesus go? He could heal the patient without
   moving from the spot! Was there not a considerable measure of unbelief
   about the elders' prayer? Yet our blessed Master took the prayer just
   as it was and He seemed to say, "I see the measure of your faith and I
   will give you the blessing as you are able to receive it." The Lord is
   very generous to come down to our capacities. If He were always to act
   according to His own Divine standard, we should be greatly dazzled--but
   we should be afraid to draw near to Him! He condescendingly lays aside
   the splendor of His majesty to act as well as to speak to us after the
   manner of men--and then we see the sweet voluntariness of His Grace and
   the cheerful willingness of His spirit to do us good.

   If we cannot receive a blessing in any other than a second-class way,
   we shall have it in the way in which we can take it. As our faith can
   get no further, He will do the wonder according to the manner in which
   our scanty thought is able to conceive and ask and receive. Oh what a
   willing Friend we have in Christ! He bows the heavens and comes down,
   meeting the weak in his weakness and the fainting in his faintness. He
   comes answering prayers, not only according to the riches of His Glory,
   but according to the poverty of our infirmity!

   Notice further that when the centurion sent a fresh deputation of his
   choice friends to say to the Master, "Trouble not Yourself, I am not
   worthy that You should come under my roof," our Lord did not quarrel
   with the change of the prayer. Some people would have said. "What is it
   that you want? First, I am to come and when I am almost there I am met
   with a request not to come--what do you mean? This is not respectful
   and I will not come." Our gentle Jesus spoke not so. Oh, no--such talk
   might come from you and from me who are so great in our own esteem--but
   never from Him because He is so much greater than we are! He thought
   not of Himself, nor of His own dignity.

   Let us imitate His meek and quiet spirit. When you are trying to do
   good, you will often be put about by the whims of those whom you would
   benefit. You will find that when you do what people ask you, they are
   not satisfied. Many adults are like sick children who are always cross
   and fretful. We must humor these poor hearts as our Lord did. He was so
   willing to bless that He seemed to give carte blanche to those who
   asked of Him! "Yes, you shall have the blessing whichever way you like,
   so that you are but to receive it. It shall be given to you according
   to your faith." Our Lord shifted His movements without pressure and
   would go to the house or not, just as the centurion's faith might lead
   him to pray!

   Blessed, forever blessed, is our most gracious Savior who never wearies
   of us, nor takes offense at our childish changes! The Savior's
   willingness to bless this centurion's servant was very manifest from
   the fact that He did not impute an ill motive to the centurion when he
   bade Him refrain from visiting the house. There was no mistrust about
   our Lord. He knew too much, both of man's evil and of the sincerity of
   those in whom His Grace was placed, to suspect and to interpret
   harshly. Ignorance and selfishness are mistrustful, but love thinks no
   evil. If there are two ways of understanding a sentence, my Brothers
   and Sisters, and one is better than the other, always read it in the
   kinder way if you can. Never put hard constructions upon words and
   actions.

   You and I might have said in the case before us, "You see, he does not
   want me in his fine house. He is a centurion and thinks much of himself
   and I am wearing a poor garment and, therefore, he does not want me in
   his villa to disgrace his halls. He is a captain, a man in authority,
   having soldiers under him. His pride forbids my approach and,
   therefore, I will have nothing to do with him." But no, it was not in
   the Master's heart to think thus bitterly, but as at the first He had
   said, "I will come and heal him," so now, when genuine humility
   requests him not to come, He turns around, but works the miracle all
   the same!

   Brothers and Sisters, our condescending Savior must be very willing to
   bless men since He takes the true meaning of their prayers where others
   would write a harsh interpretation. Be not afraid to approach Him
   however unworthy you are, for He will put the best construction upon
   your broken petitions and interpret them always to your gain! His
   disciples may severely criticize one another and may criticize you, but
   they have learned no hard words in His company. Nor did He object at
   all to the comparison which the centurion made. "I also," said the
   centurion, "am a man under authority."

   If you were to read that expression with dark spectacles, you might
   make a great deal of mischief out of it. A caviler might say, "How dare
   he even, for a moment, compare himself to the Son of God? How can he
   draw a parallel of which he is one side and the blessed Lord the other?
   What impertinence!" Brethren, our Lord was no critic. No, among the
   brotherhood of fault-finders you never see the Christ of God! When He
   has to deal with sincere people, He picks no holes, imputes no motives
   and dwells on no mistakes. The centurion did not wish to make his
   metaphor go on all fours and our Lord did not treat him as if he did.
   Many a time have some of us had to suffer from this mode of attack, but
   never from our Master, nor from those who imitate Him.

   He took the meaning of the centurion's illustration and He admired it,
   for, indeed, it was a grand and beautiful idea to set forth our Lord
   Jesus as the great Emperor of the universe to whom all things are under
   rule and to whose faintest word each form of force, whether good or
   evil, is sure to render obedience! He showed that he had rightly
   estimated Christ and enthroned Him as He should be enthroned in the
   place of unlimited sovereignty and power! The Master did

   not, therefore, for a moment, object to anything he said. No, but the
   prayer had been offered that the servant might be healed and the prayer
   was granted! The faith had been exercised which believed that Christ
   could heal--and that faith was honored! Our Lord did exactly as the
   prayer requested Him. He came when He was asked to come. He stayed when
   He was asked to stay. He spoke the word when He was requested to speak
   the word. He healed when He was asked to heal! In all things He yielded
   Himself entirely to the centurion's wish to show His cheerful alacrity
   in benefiting the suffering boy and in answering his master's prayer.

   Come, then, dear Friends, we may be quite sure of our Lord's sympathy,
   though we are not praying about a sick boy, but pleading for our sinful
   neighbors! He loves sinners better than we do, for they have cost Him
   more than they have ever cost us--even if we have spent nights in
   watching and prayer on their behalf. To Him it is committed of the
   Father to save the lost and His zeal to accomplish the work never
   flags! Therefore we may be sure that our pleading and efforts will
   touch a kindred chord in His heart!

   II. Secondly, an equally interesting topic is before us in THE
   CONSCIOUS ABILITY OF OUR LORD. You have

   seen His perfect willingness, now behold His boundless power! I do not
   know how it affects your minds, but that sentence from the lips of
   Jesus, "I will come and heal him," has a strange majesty about it to my
   soul. It is the word of a king wherein there is power. Perhaps the most
   majestic word that was ever uttered was, "Light be"--no sooner was it
   heard than the eternal darkness fled and light was!

   But surely this is scarcely second in grandeur, if second at all! Its
   sound is as much the voice of the Lord as that which scattered the
   primeval shades--"I will come and heal him." Yet this royal and
   powerful word was spoken as a matter of course. Our Lord Jesus did not
   deliberate, but the healing words flowed from Him as naturally as the
   perfume from the flowers. "I will come and heal him"--it is an
   utterance resolute, true, clear, comprehensible, unconditional and to
   Him, natural and commonplace--though to us Divine! It shows, dear
   Friends, our Lord's conscious ability to deal with all manner of evil
   since He was not at all puzzled by this intricate case!

   Almost any other physician would have felt some measure of perplexity.
   The case is described as that of a man sick of the palsy and yet
   "grievously tormented." How could that be? Paralysis can hardly be
   connected with acute pain. It brings numbness and so ends sensation, at
   least such is my impression. Some interpreters think the disease must
   have been a form of tetanus, but there is no mention of tetanus in
   either account. It was a palsy and yet he was "grievously tormented." I
   know nothing about it, but I have read that there is a period in which
   paralysis may turn into apoplexy and the patient may suffer extreme
   agony. If so, this may explain the mystery. However, though the case
   perplexed many, it did not perplex the Lord Jesus, for He said, "I will
   come and heal him."

   Now, my Brother ministers, have not you and I a great many cases coming
   in our way which tax our experience and make us feel at a loss? I have
   had, during this week, to deal with several tempted ones whose
   difficulties have put me to a non plus, or would have done so if I had
   not borrowed from my Lord. Some experiences are a tangled skein--we
   cannot follow the thread--and so far as we do follow, its knots and
   snarls are our chief reward. See how Jesus sweeps away all debates
   with, "I will come and heal him." All the complicated phenomena of
   human disease He comprehends and, along the dark labyrinth of human
   experience, His mighty word makes a way for itself! Undisturbed and
   even undelayed, the eternal energy enters the soul, for Jesus says, "I
   will come and heal him."

   Neither did the extremity of the case at all dishearten Him, for this
   poor man was ready to die, so Luke tells us, just on the verge of
   expiring. Yet Jesus says, "I will come and heal him." It does not
   matter to Jesus what the stage of the disease may be! A common
   physician would shake his head and say, "Ah, you should have sent for
   me before. I might have done something at an earlier date, but the
   sufferer is now beyond all human help." Poor souls are never beyond the
   reach of the Divine Healer and so He says without a word of doubt, "I
   will come and heal him." Yes, had He been dead, Jesus could have said
   and could have done the same! "I will come and heal him" is a word for
   all emergencies!

   Beloved, let us never hesitate to hope in prayer because the persons
   for whom we plead are such great and horrible sinners and so very far
   gone in crime! So long as they are not actually in Hell, let us firmly
   believe that Christ can save them and, verily, if we can believe in our
   great Savior with mighty faith, we shall yet hear Him say of many a
   reprobate and outcast, "I will come and heal him." I again remark that
   our Lord speaks of this healing as quite a matter of course, for His
   language is after the manner of speech which men use when they know
   that they are at their work and can do it as soon as they have it
   before them.

   A person asks a workman to repair a lock or a window and he answers,
   "Yes, I will come and attend to it." He means that he can do it, it is
   his profession and it is as easy to him to do it as to come. So can our
   blessed Master save a sinner as easily as His Spirit can come to that
   sinner--and we all know that His Spirit is a free Spirit--and like the
   wind, blows where He wills! Jesus could come to the centurion's house
   and He could as easily heal as He could come. "I will come and heal
   him"--the work is simple enough to the Divine Redeemer to whom nothing
   is impossible! No disease of sin can baffle the Savior or even cost Him
   special effort to eject it! Look to Him, you ends of the earth, and
   prove for yourselves that none are beyond His mercy's reach! Oh that
   all who hear me this day would make a like trial of His healing might!

   As for the method of procedure, our Lord, in His conscious power,
   treats the modus operandi as a matter of indifference. He grants the
   first petition as it was presented to Him and will come and heal the
   servant. But when He is requested not to come, He quite as willingly
   says, "According to your faith so be it unto you." He could heal as
   well at a distance as near at hand! Present or absent, it was all the
   same to Him! A touch, a word, a thought could do all that was needed.
   It was so and it is so still, for our blessed Lord saves sinners in all
   sorts of ways. He can save them in their pews under the preaching which
   they have heard so constantly, or He can meet with them in their lonely
   chambers, reading some godly book! Or He can wound their hearts by a
   loving word spoken during a walk with a friend.

   We have known Him call men, by His Grace, right out of the paths of
   sin, wounding them with secret arrows when they were at ease and secure
   in the service of the devil! Where no means of Grace, as we call them,
   were present, yet have sinners been smitten at heart and have been
   turned to God by that heavenly influence of the Spirit which remains
   the supreme miracle of the present dispensation! Saul of Tarsus was not
   on his knees in prayer, but hastening to shed innocent blood--and yet
   the Lord brought him down and made him seek salvation. Beloved, our
   Lord knows how to reach inaccessible persons! They may shut US out, but
   they cannot shut HIM out!

   This should much encourage us in pleading for souls which are out of
   our usual line of action. When we plead with Jesus, let us never bind
   Him down to ways and means of our choosing, but let us leave to Him the
   method of salvation! Jesus was so conscious of His power that you never
   find Him uttering an expression of wonder, or manifesting the slightest
   surprise when His will is done and a notable miracle is worked! No, but
   He did marvel at the centurion's faith and on another occasion He
   marveled at the people's unbelief! He is so in the habit of doing it
   and He is so able to do it that it is no wonder that Christ saves
   sinners!

   You and I will wonder and throughout eternity we will declare that
   wonder, singing with rapture and surprise the loving kindness and
   pardoning power of Christ Jesus, but He does not wonder. Virtue goes
   out of Him almost unconsciously, for He is so full of power that He can
   bless on all sides and scarcely know it! Even as the sun shines north,
   south, east and west and never wonders at its own shining, or as a
   fountain sends forth its sparkling drops and never stops to admire
   itself, or to marvel at its own flashing flow, so does Jesus readily,
   easily, out of His very Nature scatter pardon and salvation on all
   sides! He marvels at our faith! He marvels more often at our
   unbelief--but to Him His own power is not a thing of wonder at all!

   Beloved, I want you to get fast hold of this thought if you can, and I
   beg you to hide it away in your hearts--that Jesus Christ is, beyond
   measure, able to save! We do not half believe it! We think we do, but
   we do not even a tenth believe it, for when we meet with a rather hard
   case we are ready to give it up in despair. Despairing persons we too
   soon leave in their gloom--and even melancholy men and women we are shy
   of, we wish we had never seen them, instead of believing up to their
   point--and believingly interceding until we see them happy in Christ!
   If we meet with a horrible blasphemer, or a foul person, or a bloated
   drinker, we feel quite out of our latitude and in the land of monsters!
   Whereas it is with such cases that our Lord is much at home and we
   ought to pray most about such persons--and to be most confident that
   the Gospel was meant to meet their grievous ills. Is there not a great
   Savior for great sinners?

   III. We shall close by a third equally interesting point of great
   practical value. I have spoken of our Lord's

   willingness and power. Now we will note THE ABIDING METHOD OF OUR LORD
   JESUS. The first method

   mentioned here was, "Come and heal him." Jesus then went about doing
   good, but He does not now vouchsafe His bodily Presence, or give
   physical tokens of His being near to anyone. If any say to us, "Lo
   here," or, "Lo there," let us not believe them, for Jesus is not, now,
   upon the earth--He has gone up on high. We do not now pray, "Come and
   heal him," in the sense of expecting a vision or revelation of Christ
   after the flesh to those whom we love. We believe that He

   will come one day, a second time, and heal the sicknesses of this poor
   world, but till then we know Him not after the flesh, neither do we
   seek any personal coming.

   The other and permanent mode of our Lord's action was that He should
   speak the word and so perform the cure. "Say in a word and my servant
   shall be healed." That is the style of our Lord, today and throughout
   the whole of this dispensation. The healing energy of Jesus is now
   seen, not by His personal Presence, but by the power of His Word in
   answer to the prayer of faith. This is henceforth His fixed and abiding
   method of cure--the Word rendered effectual by believing prayer.

   Now, I want you to notice that this mode of operation is outwardly
   similar to the Lord's usual and natural way of exercising His power in
   Nature and in Providence. Though clearly it is one of the highest forms
   of supernatural action, it may not at first seem to be so. Look at
   this--when Jesus stands at a bedside, bows over the sick child and
   touches his little hand and he is healed, the deed is notable and is a
   great miracle. But will it not seem to you to be even a greater display
   of power, if possible, that Jesus should remain at a distance and not
   see the suffering one, nor even speak so as to be heard in the darkened
   chamber--and yet His mere will shall be able to quicken life and
   restore health? It is a very clear display of supernatural power, is it
   not?

   This healing by volition, or by a single word? Yet it does not seem so
   striking, somehow, to half-opened eyes when you look at it from the
   grosser point of view, for this is just how the good God is working
   every day in Nature and in Providence, achieving His purposes by His
   silent will and by those echoes of His creating voice which still
   linger among us. When but a little while ago your fields were bare and
   your gardens desolate, if the Lord had suddenly come forth in awful
   glory and caused snow and ice to fly before Him and had then benignly
   touched the valleys and the hills and covered them with grass and corn,
   you would have exclaimed, "This is a great miracle!" But in truth it is
   an equally great display of power that the deed is done, though by less
   glaring processes!

   The will of the Lord transforms the clods of the valley into an army of
   wheat ears and clover balls! His quiet wish reddens the clusters of the
   vineyard and ripens the fruit of the garden! Is not this, also, a
   marvel of power? Though the Lord has not come forth riding upon cherub
   wings, nor has He spoken audibly in commanding sentences, yet the
   secret energy of the eternal Word is evermore going forth to give us
   seedtime and harvest, cold and heat. What more Divine form of miracle
   is to be desired? I believe that when we rise to the possession of a
   fully developed faith we shall see ourselves to be daily compassed
   about with the Omnipotence of God and shall look on every tiny blade of
   grass and upon the insect which balances itself on it--and the dewdrop
   that decorates it--as being quite as manifestly the finger of God as
   when the Nile turns to blood, or the dust of Egypt becomes flies!

   To the Believer, miracles have not ceased, but the common course of
   Nature teems with them! The power of the Word of God in answer to the
   prayer of faith is now our Lord's way of blessing and this method
   exactly suits the wish of true humility. Humility says, "I am not
   worthy that God should do anything for me which would attract attention
   to me or make me seem honored above others." The lowly soul hears of
   one who was saved through a dream or a vision and he feels that he is
   not worthy to be thus favored! No, my Friend, and you need not wish for
   it, the Word of the Lord is enough and that Word is near you at this
   moment--in your mouth and in your heart--you have but to hear and your
   soul shall live!

   If I were pleading for the conversion of a sinner I should feel
   hampered by my own unworthiness if I believed that salvation
   necessitated a bodily manifestation of my Lord or some extraordinary
   display of power before men's eyes. But if my Lord will save by His
   Word, only, then do I venture to ask with confidence! Here is no parade
   of power, but quiet Divine energy and this the meek of the earth
   delight in! I am sure that it pleases faith better than any other way.
   Oh that the power of the Word might be displayed at this time! Oh my
   Lord, how I desire of You that You would save thousands and I would be
   glad if it were done without me, without any of Your servants, if only
   You would say in a Word and by Your Holy Spirit cause a nation to be
   born in a day!

   Certain professors eagerly pine for a great stir--they will not believe
   that the kingdom of God prospers unless thousands crowd into our
   assemblies--and unless great excitement reigns and all the papers are
   ringing with the names of famous preachers! They like it all the better
   if they hear of persons being thrown into fits during the meetings, or
   read of men and women falling down, or screaming under excitement and I
   know not what besides. They can believe in Christ's power if there are
   signs and wonders, but not otherwise! That is going back to, "come and
   heal him." But we are

   content to abide by the second mode. Can you not believe that by each
   one of us making the Gospel of God to have free course, our Lord can
   effectually save men by His Word?

   Quietly, without observation, without signs or wonders, Jesus will
   bless believing testimonies and answer believing prayers! Strong faith
   is well content with the Lord's settled and usual mode of action and
   rejoices to see Him save men by His Word in answer to the prayer of
   faith. It is perfectly reasonable that we should expect our Lord to
   display His healing power in this way. What the centurion said was full
   of forcible argument. He said, "I am a captain of a troop. I do not
   have to go about from place to place to do everything personally. No, I
   remain in my quarters and issue orders, and I am sure of their being
   carried out. I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to my servant,
   'Do this,' and he does it."

   Is it not clear that the far greater Captain of our salvation does not
   need to come forth bodily in order to save any? His Word will suffice!
   Give Your order, O Immanuel! Speak to the powers of darkness and the
   captive sinner shall be free! Speak, and the human will must yield to
   You and the human heart must receive You! Is it not so? My Brothers and
   Sisters, we do not believe enough in our Lord! I come back to that--we
   do not believe enough in what is so perfectly reasonable! If we will
   but speak our Master's Words and let it go forth, with less and less of
   our own words to cripple and hinder them, souls must be saved! Do you
   not believe in the plain preaching of the glad tidings? Do you not
   believe in the rams' horns?

   O children of Israel, do you despise the rams' horns and do you long
   for horses and chariots and battering rams and mighty engines of war?
   Remember Jericho and how, by God's own appointed, though simple means,
   the huge walls rocked to their fall? Will not the Lord's own means
   suffice still? Oh, Believers, do you need anything this day except the
   simple preaching of the Gospel? If so, you are departing from the point
   where your faith ought to remain, since it still pleases God by the
   foolishness of preaching to save them that believe! "The world by
   wisdom knew not God," and never will know God! Trust not philosophy,
   but stand by the old, old story and pray the Master to work by it as in
   former ages. You need no new word to be spoken, only let the Living
   Word be filled with power and souls will be healed!

   Now, if anyone here will try in his own case this Divine method of
   healing, it will succeed in his instance as in that of the centurion's
   servant. If you, dear Hearer, will believe the power of Christ and
   trust Him to save you, you shall certainly obtain eternal life and that
   at once! Can you heartily believe in Jesus as you find Him revealed in
   Scripture? Can you be content without strange feelings, without
   remarkable terrors, without dreams or visions? Can you be content
   simply to trust your Savior? You shall be healed immediately, yes, this
   very moment--before this rain shower has ceased the showers of
   Everlasting Grace shall have fallen upon you! You must not ask the Lord
   to come by some singular feeling within you, but just to speak while
   you are hearing and the miracle of Grace will be worked!

   Let me add once more--if you who are converted long to see others
   saved, you will be wise to keep to the established method. Pray,
   believe and then expect the Lord to work by His own Word in answer to
   your prayer! The centurion rose to this method. He began lower by
   desiring a personal visit, but he grew up to this plain, simple, yet
   glorious way! Can you not do the same? Seek no marvels, but test the
   power of the Gospel upon your friends. Do not ask the Lord to go out of
   His way, but beseech Him to apply His Word with power to those whose
   eternal welfare lies near your heart. Bring your loved ones under the
   sound of the Gospel and entreat the healing Lord to put forth His power
   thereby and your desire shall be accomplished!

   Alas, if the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth? If He
   were to come now and ask us all to put into the collection box what
   faith we have--when He opened it, would it come to the eighth part of a
   farthing? Yet every man among us that is a Believer ought to have an
   inexhaustible treasure of golden faith! Lord, we believe! Help You our
   unbelief! Lord, increase our faith! Amen.