The Centurion’s Servant Healed
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to Him a Centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented, etc.
Q. WHAT do you here understand by the centurion, by his servant, and by the palsy of which he was sick, and by which he was grievously tormented?
A. According to the sense of the letter, by the Centurion here recorded is to be understood a Roman Commander of a hundred soldiers, and by his servant is to be understood one of his domestics employed in his service, and by the palsy with which he was afflicted, is further to be understood a bodily disease called by that name, and consisting in the want of a proper circulation of the blood in some part of the body, in consequence of which the part affected was rendered incapable of performing the functions for which it was intended. But according to the spiritual idea, which is involved in every part of this Miracle, as well as of all the other Miracles performed by the great redeemer, by the Centurion above-mentioned is to be understood the Church among the Gentiles, and particularly the Church combating against spiritual adversaries, for the Centurion here spoken was a Gentile Soldier. Agreeably to the same spiritual idea, by this Centurion’s servant is to be understood some lower principle in the natural mind intended to administer to the higher principles of the spiritual mind; and therefore by the palsy, with which the servant was afflicted, is to be understood a defect of truth in the lower principles of the natural mind, in consequence of which defect there was a want of circulation of heavenly life and love from the higher principles of the spiritual mind, which rendered the natural mind unable to perform the functions for which it was intended, particularly in the way of combat against the evil principles and false persuasions with which it was infected. It is accordingly said concerning this servant, that he was sick, and grievously tormented, because sickness has relation to the evils which were unsubdued and thus unremoved, whilst grievous torment has relation to the false persuasions originating in those evils.
Q. But it is added, that Jesus says unto him, I will come and heal him——what do you learn from these words of the blessed Jesus?
A. I learn, not only His willingness to administer to the relief of the servant here recorded, but also His willingness to administer to the relief of all other His afflicted servants, who apply to Him out of pure and penitent hearts. It is therefore to be understood, and attentively considered, that Jesus is ever uttering this same expression, I will come and heal him, over every individual child or servant, labouring under any disease or sorrow, whether mental or corporeal. For the great redeemer is the same compassionate mercy yesterday, today, and for ever, and consequently as He was willing in the days of His flesh to listen to the prayers of His afflicted children, and to relieve their distresses, so He is alike willing at this day, and alike in the act of coming, to remove the infirmities of all those, who, like the good Centurion of old, supplicate His Divine Power and Presence, It is to be remarked further concerning the two expressions, coming and healing, that the former must in all cases precede the latter; in other words, that the blessed Jesus cannot heal, unless he be first allowed to come, and that healing therefore is to be regarded as the effect of His Divine Presence, and that consequently whoever wishes to experience the power of His healing, must first labour to open his mind, and to keep it open, to the Divine presence, favour, and benediction.
Q. But it is added that the Centurion answered and said, lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed — what instruction do you learn from these words?
A. I learn from these words two necessary qualifications to secure the favour and blessing of the holy Jesus, the first of which is humility, as manifested in these words, lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, and the second is, confidence in divine aid grounded in that humility, and expressed in these words, speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
Q. And what instruction do you learn from the words which follow, where it is written, for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me; and I say to this [man] Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes ; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.
A. I learn a third qualification necessary to secure the favour and blessing of the great redeemer, which qualification consists in a well arranged mind, resulting from the two former qualifications, humility and confidence in Divine Aid. For the soldiers here spoken of, as being under the Centurion, have reference to the subordinate principles of the natural mind, and to say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it, denotes the orderly arrangement of those principles. It is further to be observed concerning this arrangement, that to say to one, Go, and he goes, denotes the first energy and effect of the will in the execution of any purpose; whilst to say to another, Come, and he cometh, denotes the excitation and presence of means in the understanding for the accomplishment of the same purpose; and to say to my servant, Do this, and he does it, denotes the effect, or the full accomplishment of the purpose in word and in work.
Q. But it follows, that when Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel — what instruction do you further learn from these words ?
A. By Jesus marvelling, I learn, that the case of the Centurion was singular and extraordinary; and by his saying, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel, I am further taught in what respect the case was both singular and extraordinary, namely. because the faith of the Centurion was a faith not grounded in himself, but in the affection of charity, thus in the god from whom that affection is derived, on which account it is called a great faith, for the term great is always applied, according to the spiritual idea, to denote heavenly good, which is the good of love and charity. And since the faith, which prevailed at that time in the Israelitish Church, was not of that description, being grounded in selfish and worldly love, and thus not in god, it is therefore added, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
Q. And what instruction do you further learn from the words which follow, where Jesus adds, and I say unto you, that many shall come from the East and West, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of god, but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth?
A. By many coming from the East and West, I am instructed in the call of the Gentiles into the Christian Church, both of those who were in a state of more enlightened good, signified by the East, and of those who were in a state of more obscure good, signified by the West; and by their sitting down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of god, I am further taught the several degrees of goodness and of blessedness to which they will be admitted, whilst some attain to a celestial degree, signified by Abraham, some to a spiritual degree, signified by Isaac, and some to a natural degree, signified by Jacob; in other words, while some become principled in love to the lord, others in charity towards their neighbour, and lastly, others in simple obedience to the truth, because they believe it to be their duty to live uprightly and sincerely one amongst smother. For according to any other idea, what can be meant by sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of god? And again, by the children of the kingdom being cast out into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, I am further instructed, that they, who are principled in faith and truth alone, separate from a life of charity, or obedience to the truth, will be removed from all communion with the blessed, and plunged into a more terrible darkness than they who are ignorant of the truth, and will thus be deprived of all heavenly love and wisdom, and left a prey to every evil purpose and false principle, signified by weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Q. But it is lastly written, that Jesus said to the Centurion, Go your way; and as you have believed, so be it done to you. And his servant was healed in the self-same hour — what is the instruction which you learn from these words?
A. By Jesus saying to the Centurion, Go your way, is to be understood Divine Exhortation to live according to the great faith with which he was gifted, for to go, and to go in a way, according to the spiritual idea, signifies to walk or to live according to the knowledge of heavenly truth which has been received; and therefore I am instructed by these words, that every one, who has been blessed with the knowledge and belief of the eternal truth, ought to endeavour to form his life and love according to it; heavenly dictates. By Jesus saying further, as you have believed, so be it done to you. I am again instructed that the Divine Blessing, with its operation, attends every one, according to his faith; in other words, according to the ruling persuasions of his mind, as grounded in his ruling love, if that love be in agreement with the Divine Will, and that for this plain reason, because those persuasions are in conjunction with the eternal truth, and the eternal truth is ever connected with Omnipotence, agreeable to which idea it is written in. another place, that ail things are possible to him that believes. Lastly, I am instructed by the concluding words, his servant was healed in the self-same hour, that a Divine Effect always attends a Divine Intention and loving-kindness, in all cases, where obstructions to its operation are removed, as in the present instance of the faithful Centurion and his afflicted servant, and that thus the palsy is healed in all the lower principles of the human mind, whenever the higher principles are opened, by genuine faith and love, to the reception of the Divine Mercy and its full operation.
Q. What then is the general instruction which you learn from, this Miracle?
A. I learn, first, that there is a spiritual palsy as well as a natural one, and that a spiritual palsy consists in some spiritual obstruction in the mind and life, whereby the free circulation of heavenly love and wisdom is impeded, so that the mental faculties are not able to perform their proper functions, which functions consist in opposing evil and false principles, and in cherishing such as are in agreement with the supreme good and the supreme truth. I am instructed yet further, that no radical cure is to be found for this spiritual palsy but in the incarnate god, or In the great saviour, Jesus Christ in His divine humanity, and not even, in this god and saviour, unless he be approached in a right faith, that is to say, with a faith grounded in love and charity, producing right arrangement in all the subordinate powers and principles of the natural mind. I 1earn still further from the above Divine Miracle, that let the obstructions to heavenly life and love be ever so formidable, and the Divine circulation of Blessing be ever so much impeded, yet if Jesus Christ in His divine humanity be believed in and approached with a sincere heart, and in the spirit of true repentance, every obstruction will then soon be removed, which prevents the free circulation of His blessed influence, until at length the whole mind and life be restored to their proper health and strength, by being enabled to comply willingly and freely with the Divine Operation. I am resolved therefore now on, whensoever I feel my own mind affected with a spiritual palsy, to apply immediately, like the faithful Centurion above recorded, to my god and saviour for his healing virtue, and to apply to him with that living faith in His Divine Omnipotence, for which the Centurion was so eminently distinguished. I am resolved also to attend well to the operations of my own mind, that so all its powers and faculties may be brought into right arrangement, and thus rendered strong to withstand the assault of evil and false principles, and eager and earnest to cherish all heavenly and holy influences. Lastly, I am resolved to believe confidently, that if my faith in my god and saviour be grounded in His love and wisdom, it will then connect me perpetually with His Omnipotence, and through that Omnipotence every obstruction to the circulation of the Divine Blessing will finally be removed, and I shall feel myself restored to the free exercise of every mental faculty, and to the happy perception of its close conjunction with the mercy, favour, peace and blessedness of my heavenly father. amen.