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THE WOMAN OF CANAAN.
A Sermon, Preached at Christ's Church, October 26, 1647.
“ 21. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22. And behold a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David, my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away, for she crieth after us.
24. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to dogs,
27. And she said, Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs whii h fall from their master's table.
28. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith : be it unto thec even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
Ye have in this story a great storehouse of heavenly comfort and instruction. I shall labour, briefly, to open it at this time unto ye.
The words tell us of a great miracle wrought by our Saviour Christ : casting out the devil in one that was possessed. Concerning which cure two things are considerable : where this cure was wrought; and by what means it was wrought. Wrought in the coasts of Tyre and Sidon; and by means of a woman's faith, for our Saviour said, “O woman, great is thy faith : be it unto thee even as thuu wilt. And her daughter was made whole.”
The greatness of this woman's faith is set out by three great temptations that she did meet withal
when she came and besought our Saviour for the cure of her child.
First, He answered her not a word;" but was silent to all her misery and prayer. This was a great temptation, a
Secondly, He was not only silent, but when the disciples spake for her, he seems to give her a flat denial : “ I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” And this was a further and greater temptation.
Thirdly, When yet she pressed in upon him, he seems to give her the repulse, and to call her dog : “ It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs.” Here was a great temptation indeed. But her faith wrought through all these temptations. And because, as ye shall see and hear in the opening of the words, that there is none of all these temptations but one time or other may befal the best of God's children, it will be good for us to observe how this woman's faith wrought through every temptation, that we may do the like in our temptations.
But before we come unto that. The Holy Ghost here would have us take notice, first, from whence Christ came, and upon what occasion. Secondly, Whither he came, and how he was received.
First of all, it is said here, “Then Jesus went thence:” he went from the Jews. He had been, as ye read in the former part of the chapter, disputing with them against their traditions: 66 Ye have made the commandments of God void through your traditions," verse 6. Whereupon they were much offended, verse 12. Our Saviour now then goes from them; they were offended, and rejected his words, and he goes from them. These were the Jews that dwelt at Jerusalem, not the meanest neither, the scribes and pharisees, the learned men of that time, and those that were most in account for holiness. See what entertainment the gospel finds in Christ's own time
the learned and those that were accounted the most holy: scribes, learned men, and the pharisees, the most precise and strict men of those times, and yet here the gospel is rejected by them. Christ goes away, Christ goes from thence
this account. None more rigorous opposers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, than learned men, and such as go for holy and pre
cise men, being wedded to their own inventions: so were these here. Know ye, therefore, men wedded to their own inventions, though never so learned, or never so strict in their lives; little hope that the gospel or the Lord Christ, should find entertainment among them. Be not offended though this fall out.
Jesus went from thence : but whither went he? The text says, “ He departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.” How so? Our Lord and Saviour Christ, commanded his disciples, that they should not go into the way of the gentiles ; but says he," Go and preach to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but go not into the way of the gentiles,” Matt. x. 5, 6. Will Christ forbid his disciples and apostles to go into the way of the gentiles, and will he himself go into the way of the gentiles, go into Tyre and Sidon, how can this be? Some answer it thus: That the law-giver was not bound unto the law that he made himself. Others answer it thus : That our Lord and Saviour did not go unto Tyre and Sidon for to preach, but he went thither to be hid. And in Mark vii., where ye have the same story, “ From thence he arose and went to Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it." In this respect now,
he did not forbid his disciples to go into the way of the gentiles.
But the answer is clear, both in Matthew xv., and that same of Mark, “ He departed kiç tapęgn unto the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.” And in Mark vii. 34., “ He arose and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon.” He went unto some place of Judea; he did not go into the way of the gentiles, but he went unto some town and place in Judea, which was upon the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
And here now he being, a woman comes unto him, who is described at verse 22., from her country; and from the action which she did. 66 Behold a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him saying,” &c.
A woman, a woman of Canaan, and “ behold a woman of Canaan.” As if that the Holy Ghost would have us take special notice of it, “ Behold, a woman of Canaan came unto him." The Canaanites were of all others the most wicked : the Jews were for to cast them out of their nation, and not to converse with them : in the Jews' account they were dogs. And therefore our Saviour says afterward, “ It is not lawful
to cast children's bread unto dogs." She was a Canaanite. But now this woman, this Canaanite, she believes; comes unto Christ, and believes greatly: “O woman, great is thy faith.”
Pray let us observe the wonderful dispensation of God here. The Jews that Christ was sent unto, they rejected Christ: a Canaanite that is called a dog, receives Christ. Oh, the wonderful dispensation of God's grace. Mercy takes those in, and free grace takes in those into Christ that are most unlikely. The Jews they were called the children of the kingdom; the children they turn dogs: “ Beware of the concision, beware of dogs,” Phil. iii. 2. Children turn dogs : and dogs turn children: the Canaanite, a dog, becomes a child and believes; and the Jews that were the children of the kingdom, they turn dogs and rend Christ; oh, what free grace and love is here. Who would rest upon any outward privilege though it be never so great ? Who would be discouraged in regard of any unworthiness though it be never so much?
But what says the woman? Says she,“ Have mercy upon me, O Lord thou Son of David, my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” “ Have mercy upon me, O Lord, thou son of David.” Why does she call him the Son of David, and not rather the son of Abraham ; and not rather the son of Adam ; and not rather the Son of Man? as Christ was often called; why does she here call him the Son of David ?
We find in Scripture, that Christ and David did often exchange names. “ And David your king shall reign over you,” Jer. xxx. 9. A promise is made to the Jews yet to be converted; that is, Christ, David your king, and not Abraham, shall reign over you; but David your king. David was the king of the people of God, and was to feed them: and so Jesus Christ is king of the church, and feeds the people of God. Abraham was not a king, David a king; and therefore, thou Son of David, and not thou Son of Abraham. And then, Messiah ordinarily among the Jews was called David. And therefore this woman here says, “ O Lord, thou Son of David.”
She does first of all acknowledge his Deity; and therefore she calls him Lord, “ O Lord :” she does acknowledge his humanity, and incarnation; and therefore she says, “ Thou
Son of David.” Her faith was rightly planted; here now ye have her faith in the mustard seed; look but down a few verses, and you find it grown up into a great tree, that the birds of the air, and the saints may come and build their nests in the branches of her faith, But here it is planted. She had in her own country, some that by exorcism did undertake for to cast out devils : she does not go to them: she had her own gods in her own country, she leaves them, and she singles out Christ, and she singles out that name, title, and attribute of Christ, wherein was most of the covenant, and most of the promise: and her faith now, being thus rightly planted, it rises up unto great perfection, she comes on with boldness.
But stay, 0 woman, a little, thou art a great sinner, thou art a Canaanite, and so a dog, and what dost thou coming unto Jesus Christ? I know what I do, might she say, I do not come to Peter, I do not come to James, I do not come to John; but I come to Christ, and I come to mercy, to mercy itself. I do not plead mine own righteousness, or mine own patience, or my humility, or prayer, or perseverance in prayer; but I plead mercy, “ Have mercy on me, O Lord.” Behold a miracle in the midst of a miracle, says Chrysostom. The angels in heaven cover their faces in beholding the glory of Jesus Christ; and a poor woman here on earth comes with boldness: the cherubims and seraphims in heaven, says he, fear before Christ; fear above, and faith below ; fear in angels, faith and boldness in a poor woman, she comes with boldness.
If faith be true and right, it lays aside all one's own righteousness, and comes.unto naked mercy; passes by all other helps and means, singles out Christ, that name and title of Christ that hath most of the covenant, and of God's love in it.
She does not only come with boldness, but she comes with prayer, “ Have mercy upon me,” &c. She comes praying, for she came believing. Faith and prayer well go together. Prayer is the issue of faith. Faith is prayer in the coal, and prayer is faith in the flame; she comes praying. And mark also, she comes with love; and such love, as makes another bcdy's infirmity and weakness one's own : for she does not say thus, “ My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil,” have mercy on my daughter ; but have mercy on me : her