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dispraise themselves; but if you dispraise them too, then they will be angry; if you fall in with their own dispraises, and
say, It is true : then they will be angry. But a true believer, you cannot speak or think so meanly of him, but he will say, True, Lord, true.
" Lord.” Observe here, she calls Christ, Lord, when Christ calls her dog. Lord, says she, though thou speakest dishonourably of me, yet I will speak honourably of thee : though I am a dog in thy mouth, thou art a Lord in my mouth. A gracious heart, and a true believer, will speak and think honourably of Jesus Christ, even then, at that time, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall suffer the greatest dirt and reproach to be thrown upon him : True, Lord.
“ But the dogs eat the crumbs.” True faith finds out a promise in the very refusal, in Christ's refusal: finds out encouragement in the bowels of discouragement. True, Lord, bread is for children; that is the loaf, the piece that is cut off the loaf; but the crumbs do as well belong to a dog, as the loaf belongs to the child. And, Lord, thou sayest I am a dog, therefore a crumb does belong to me. True faith, it gathers in upon Jesus Christ, and gathers in upon him by that very hand that seems to put the soul away from him : it makes advantage of a discouragement, and gathers it upon Jesus Christ even by that hand that does thrust it away. dogs eat the crumbs.”
Again, You may observe here, that the least of Christ is highly prized with a true believer: a gracious heart, a true believer does highly prize and value the least of Christ. A crumb, a crumb; oh, if I may have but a crumb; a crumb shall be welcome; Lord, a crumb of mercy is welcome: the loaves are for children, but if I can get a crumb I will praise God for it, I will be contented. The least, the worst of Christ in the eye of a believer is highly valued, and he sets a great price upon it.
Lastly, All this is said by a woman. Women usually are not of that boldness, but more easily dashed out of counte
Faith rises above our nature and above our natural disposition. Faith had gotten into this woman's heart, and she forgets her own disposition, she come like any man with boldness upon Jesus Christ, follows him, and will never let
him alone. Faith rises above our own dispositions and above our natures.
From all this you may observe here, if you be tempted with consideration of your own unworthiness, how you should give an answer unto those temptations. Do as this woman did : If I be a dog, Lord, yet I am thy dog; and if I be a dog, Lord, yet crumbs belong to me; and if I be never so great a sinner, mercy and grace is for sinners, and I come to mercy. Oh, still, still hang upon Jesus Christ, still hang upon Jesus Christ, and never let him go. Ab negando promittit, he does promise in denying. There was honeycombs found in the body of the lion. Do but hang upon Jesus Christ, hang upon him by faith, and you will find honeycombs in the midst of all those temptations and discouragements that you do meet withal. And though for the present he does seem to give a denial unto all your prayers, yet at the last he will own your prayers, he will own your faith, and he will say unto thee, man or woman, “ Great is thy faith : be it unto thee even as thou wilt."
I come to the victory after this combat. “ Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith : be it unto thee even as thou wilt." Here, now, the Lord does give a testimony of her faith, and he does give her the mercy desired. First, he commends her faith, and, secondly, he commends the greatness of her faith,“ O woman, great is thy faith.”
Why does he rather commend her faith than other graces ? She had other graces.
Here is humility in this woman to be seen; here is a great deal of wisdom in this woman to be seen; here is prayer; here is perseverance in prayer. Christ commends none of these, but commends her faith. Why does he rather commend her faith than any other grace?
Faith does commend Christ above all the other, and therefore Christ will commend faith above all other duties or graces. Faith honours Christ, and Christ will honour faith. It is faith that gives a being to, and is the root of all other graces.
He commends that. It is only faith that brings Christ and the soul together; and therefore he does commend faith above all other graces.
If the Lord Jesus Christ does commend faith so, why should we not all labour especially to strengthen our faith.
Get faith, you that have it not; and strengthen it, you that have it. Get humility, patience, wisdom; be much in prayer, and continue in prayer; but above all things get faith. Faith is the grace commended by Jesus Christ above all other graces; therefore we should labour above all for to get faith, and to strengthen faith. It is observed from this place, that Christ commends none but the gentiles, the faith of the gentiles. He says concerning the centurion, “I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel;" he was a gentile. And here he says concerning this woman, “woman, great is thy faith ;” and she was a gentile. Whatever, therefore, thou hast been; though a Canaanite, though a sinner, though a great sinner; get faith, labour to strengthen thy faith, and the Lord Jesus Christ will own thy faith at last. Though for the present he seems to hide himself from thee, yet he will own it at the last, and he will commend it at the last.
He commends here the greatness of her faith. Wherein was the greatness of her faith? Faith consists in the knowledge of Christ, assent unto the truth, a relying upon God in Christ in time of temptation; it is a coming to Jesus Christ, an adherence to him. But the greatness of her faith lay in this, that in the midst of all these temptations, yet she did hang on Christ, and would not be beaten off by any of these discouragements or temptations. Here was the greatness of her faith.
The strength of faith does not lie in the assurance of our salvation, or of God's love, or of the mercy that we desire in prayer; one may have strong faith, and yet no assurance ; I say, not only faith, but strong faith. This woman had no assurance, that we read of, not assurance of the thing that she begged, that the Lord would hear her prayer; she had no assurance of it, only she hung upon Christ, and would not away. And when he put her away, she gathered in upon him; in the midst of all temptation and opposition still she did hang upon him. So, then, a man may have faith, and strong faith, although he have no assurance.
And, upon this account, how many are there that have strong faith, that think they have no faith all. Some think they have no faith because they cannot say, Christ is mine, mercy is mine, heaven is mine; but yet, if in the time of your temptation ye can hang upon Christ, and will not away from
Christ, but will still hang upon him, still wait upon him; you have not only faith, but you may have strong faith, a great faith, as this woman had. And let me tell you this for your comfort : at the last the Lord will make a report of your faith unto your own heart; yea, he will make a report answerable to your temptation; for you may observe here, that as the wound was made, so the plaster was laid. You have three great temptations : answerably, now, the Lord Jesus Christ does testify of this woman. First of all, “ He answered her not a word,” would not own her, would not speak to her: now, says he, “ O woman.” Then he said that “ he was not sent but unto the lost sheep:” now he does own her for a sheep, and he says she hath faith. Before, he
" It is not meet to cast children's bread to dogs :" this did argue that she was a dog, one most unworthy: now, he says, that she is most worthy; O woman, thou hast not only faith, but thou hast a great faith ; " O woman, great is thy faith.” So that, I say, still hang upon Christ; in all your temptations, in the midst of all your discouragements, still hang upon Christ; and the Lord Jesus, he will not only make a report of your faith unto ye, but, according as your temptations rise, so shall the report of your grace be from the Lord Christ unto your poor soul : therefore hang upon Christ.
He does not only here give a testimony of her faith, and the greatness of her faith, but now he does give the thing: 66 Be it unto thee as thou wilt.” Christ can deny nothing to a true believer. A believer may have what he will of Christ at last. Christ cannot hold : though he do hide himself from his brethren, as Joseph did, for a time, he cannot hold it out always, he cannot hold out the siege always, but he will give up himself to a poor believer; O poor believer, be it according as thou wilt; thou wouldest have grace, thou wouldest have this or that mercy, be it unto thee even as thou wilt.
I will only take one lesson from all and so conclude.
And the great lesson that we should all learn from this whole story is, to believe in the face of all discouragement, of all opposition, all temptation; still to hang upon Jesus Christ. The very reading of this story provokes us hereunto. Whatsoever your temptations be, whatever your discouragements be, yet hang on Christ, never away, still wait
You say, it may be, But I fear Christ and the promise does not belong to me.
But did Jesus Christ ever say unto ye with his own mouth, “I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep,” and thou art none? He said so to this woman, and yet she did hang upon him, and he commended her for her faith.
But you will say unto me, I have been at prayer, I have prayed long, and I hear nothing of all my prayers.
This woman did pray to Christ, he answered her not a word, and yet she did hang upon him, yet she did beliere : and she is commended for her believing.
You will say, I am one that have been a great sinner, an unclean wretch, even as a dog ; surely there is no hope and no mercy for me.
Did the Lord Jesus Christ ever himself say to you, as he said to this woman, seeming to call her dog? yet she did hang upon him, yet she did wait upon him, yet she did believe, and the Lord commended her for her faith.
I pray, indeed, but it is my necessities make me go unto God in prayer; and when I go unto God in prayer, my necessities put me on.
And was it not so with this woman? Her daughter was grievously vexed with a devil, and thereupon her necessity drave her unto Christ; and yet, poor woman, she is welcome.
But I do not go unto Jesus Christ: I go not unto Christ at all.
But Jesus Christ yet will come to you. This woman did not come to Jerusalem, Christ went down unto the coasts of Tyre and Sidon ; Christ came to her, and yet she believed: this stood with faith, and Christ commended her faith. I have no assurance of Christ's love and
towards me. Tell me, Had this woman any assurance of this mercy that she prayed for? She only brings in her wants, propounds them to Jesus Christ, lays them at his feet, hangs upon him ; and this was her faith, and she is commended for her faith, and the greatness of her faith : “O woman, great is thy faith.” So that, do but now hang on Christ, though thou hast not assurance of thy salvation, or of the love of God, yet in the face of all temptations, and all discouragement, hang on Christ, never away, never be beaten off by