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troubles are frequently sent to the children of God in order to humble them, and to show them more plainly their helplessness and their unworthiness. But these should be made further arguments for enforcing our suit. They should increase our importunity, and lead us to cast ourselves more humbly and more entirely upon the Lord, and to commit ourselves more simply to His disposal. And thus our trials will be made to answer the best purposes. We shall be enabled to say with the Psalmist, It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes. When this poor woman was brought to the lowest state of self-abasement, to acknowledge her utter unworthiness of the least blessing, and her willingness thankfully to receive what was rejected by others, the crumbs that fell from the master's table; then her faith was commended, and all her desire was granted. Thus before honour is humility.10 It is the pleasure of the King of glory to exalt those who are little in their own eyes.
We may also learn from this account, that it becomes those who are sensible of the value of spiritual blessings, to pray not only for themselves, but for others; and especially for those who are nearly connected with them in the bonds of natural affinity. This poor woman
Psalm cxix. 71.
10 Proverbs xv. 33.
sought relief for her daughter from the oppression of the devil. The state in which her daughter was, gave her great trouble and uneasiness. Are there any of our near and dear friends and relatives, who may be considered to be in a similar state as to their spiritual concerns, who are taken captive by the devil at his will?11 Does this greatly trouble us? Are our minds distressed about it? Do we suffer any thing in consequence of it? Are parents tried by their children, in consequence of Satan having the dominion over them, and exercising his tyrannical power by stirring up their evil passions, and inciting them to wicked practices? You have encouragement here to seek help from the Lord Jesus, to implore His gracious interference to deliver you from the misery which is thus brought upon you and them from the oppression of the enemy of souls. Be as importunate with Him as this poor woman was, and you will not seek His aid in vain. Her prayer returned into her own bosom. Her daughter obtained the relief that was sought. And her own faith was confirmed and commended. The like faith will obtain the like blessing. It is not a vain thing to seek the Lord. They who follow Him wholly will obtain His blessing; though it may for a time seem to be delayed. In the end they shall reap, if they faint not.
112 Timothy ii. 26.
Lastly, this account of the woman of Canaan should lead us all to self-examination, to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith, to put the inquiry to our own consciences whether we have such faith in Christ as she had. He is not indeed personally among us to heal our bodily diseases; but He is spiritually present in the midst of His waiting people, to heal the diseases of our souls, if we call upon Him in spirit and in truth. Do any complain that they pray often, but derive no benefit from their prayers? That they go mourning day by day without obtaining relief, notwithstanding their continuance in prayer? That they pray to God in secret, in their families, and in public, but all to no purpose ? What can be the reason of this? Is the Lord's arm shortened, that it cannot save? Hath He no power to deliver? 13 This most assuredly is not the case. The cause then must be in yourselves. Consider more attentively what is the subject of your petitions. Is it that you may be delivered from the oppression of the devil? That the enemy of your souls may not have the ascendancy over you, but that the glory of God may be promoted in you and by you? Is this the real desire of your hearts? Are you importunate at the throne of grace for these blessings to be granted to you? Are you
12 2 Corinthians xiii. 5.
13 Isaiah lix. 1, 2.
Wait on the
humbled before God, sensible of your utter unworthiness to receive any blessing from Him, and yet hungering and thirsting after righteousness? If so, still resolve with Jacob, I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me. With purpose of heart cleave unto the Lord. Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; and your heart shall rejoice in partaking of the blessings of His grace. He will say, as in the text, Be it unto thee, even as thou wilt. Lift up then the hands that hang down, confirm the feeble knees. Let the fearful heart be strong. Fear not. Wait on the Lord, and He will strengthen, and help, and uphold you with the right hand of His righteousness. He will put a new song into your mouth. He will be your strength, and your song, and your salvation. In the mean time, walk in the footsteps of His flock, feed beside your Shepherd's tent. Be thankful for the privileges with which you are favoured, and make use of them, seeking to derive from them the benefit which He has promised to bestow; and look forward in hope that in a little time faith shall be turned into sight, and you shall sit down in the kingdom of God, where you shall see Him as He is, and your heart shall rejoice with a joy that shall never be taken from you.
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT.
THE DUMB DEMON DISPOSSESSED.
Luke xi. 28.
BUT HE SAID, YEA, RATHER BLESSED ARE THEY THAT HEAR THE WORD OF GOD, AND
THIS observation was made by our blessed Lord, as you have heard in the Gospel for this day, on the occasion of a woman, who had heard and admired His doctrine, and was astonished at His miracles, expressing her persuasion of the happiness that must be the portion of one who had been so highly favoured as to be the mother of so great and good, and so wise a Son. Solomon had said on the same subject, The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice, and he that begetteth