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thou, O Saviour, pass the bounds of thine own peculiar people. Thou wouldst move, but not widely; not out of thine own sphere, wherein thy glorified estate exceeds thine humbled, as far as heaven is above earth. Now thou art lift up, thou drawest all men unto thee: there are now no lists, no limits of thy gracious visitations ; but as the whole earth is equidistant from heaven, so all the motions of the world lie equally open to thy bounty.
Neither yet didst thou want outward occasions of thy removal ; perhaps the very importunity of the Scribes and Pharisees, in obtruding their traditions, drove thee thence, perhaps their unjust offence at thy doctrine. There is no readier way to lose Christ, than to clog him with human ordinances, than to spurn at his heavenly instructions. He doth not always subduce his spirit with his visible presence; but his very outward withdrawing is worthy of our sighs, worthy of our tears. Many a one may say, “ Lord, if thou hadst been here, my soul had not died.” Thou art now with us, O Saviour, thou art with us in a free and plentiful fashion ; how long, thou knowest ; we know our deservings, and fear. O teach us how happy we are in such a guest, and give us grace to keep thee. Hadst thou walked within the Phenician borders, we could have told how to have made glad coustructions of thy mercy in turning to the Gentiles : thou, that couldst touch the lepers without uncleanness, couldst not be defiled with aliens; but we know the partition-wall was not yet broken down, and that thou who didst charge thy disciples not to walk into the way of the Gentiles, wouldst not transgress thine own rule. Once we are sure thou camest to the utmost point of the bounds of Galilee; as not ever confined to the heart of Jewry, thou wouldst soinetimes bless the outer skirts with thy presence. No angle is too obscure for the gospel : “The land of Zabulun, and the land of Naphthali, by the way of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people which sat in darkness saw great light.” The sun is not scornful, but looks with the same face upon every plot of earth; not only the stately palaces and pleasant gardens are visited by his beams, bút mean cottages, but neglected bogs and inoors. God's word is, like himself, no accepter of persons; the wild Kern, the rude Scythian, the savage Indian, are alike to it. The mercy of God will be sure to find out those that belong to his election in the most secret corners of the world, like as his judgments will fetch his enemies from under the hills and rocks. The good Shepherd walks the wilderness to seek one sheep strayed from many. If there be but one Syrophenician soul to be gained to the church, Cbrist goes to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon to fetch her. Why are we weary to do good, when our Saviour underwent this perpetual toil in healing bodies and winning souls ? There is no life happy, but that which is spent in a continual drudging for edification.
It is long since we heard of the name or nation of Canaanites : all the country was once so styled ; that people are now forgotten; yet, because this woman was of the blood of those Phenicians, which were anciently ejected out of Canaan, that title is revived to her. God keeps account of pedigrees, after our oblivion, that he may magnify his mercies by continuing them to thousands of the generations of the just
, and by renewing favours upon the unjust. No nation carried such brands and scars of a curse, as Canaan. "To the shame of those careless Jews, even a faithful Canaanite is a supplicant to Christ, while they neglect so great salvation. She doth not speak, but cry: need and desire have raised her voice to an importunate clamour. The God of mercy is light of hearing, yet he loves a loud and vehement solicitation; not to make himself inclinable to grant, but to make us capable to receive blessings. They are words and not prayers, which fall from careless lips. If we felt our want, or wanted not desire, we could speak to God in no tune but cries. If we would prevail with God, we must wrestle; and, if we would wrestle happily with God, we must wrestle first with our own dulness : nothing but cries can pierce heaven. Neither doth her vehemence so much argue her faith, as doth her conpellation, “O Lord, thou Son of David.” What proselyte, what disciple could have said more? O blessed Syrophenician, who taught thee this abstract of divinity? What can we Christians confess more than the deity and the humanity, the messiahship of our glorious Saviour? his deity as Lord, his humanity as a Son, his messiahship as the Son of David. Of all the famous progenitors of Christ, two are singled out by an eminence, David and Abraham, a king, patriarch ; and though the patriarch was first in time, yet the king is first in place; not so much for the dignity of the person, as the excellence of the promise, which, as it was both later and fresher in memory, so more honourable. To Abraham was promised multitude and blessing of seed, to David perpetuity of dominion. So as, when God promiseth not to destroy his people, it is for Abraham's sake; when not to extinguish the kingdom, it is for David's sake. Had she said, “ The Son of Abraham,” she had not come home to this acknowledgment. Abraham is the father of the faithful, David of the kings of Judah and Israel : there are many faithful, there is but one king; so as in this title she doth proclaim him the perpetual king of his church, the rod or flower which should come from the root of Jesse, the true and only Saviour of the world. Whoso would come unto Christ to purpose, must come in the right style; apprehending a true God, a true man, a true God and man: any of these severed from other, makes Christ an idol, and our prayers sin. Being thus acknowledged, what suit is so fit for him as mercy ? “ Have mercy on me.” It was her daughter that was tormented, yet she says,
" Have mercy on me.” Perhaps her possessed child was senseless of her misery; the parent feels both her sorrow and her own. As she was a good woman, so a good mother. Grace and good nature have taught her to appropriate the afflictions of this divided part of her own flesh. It is not in the power of another skin, to sever the interest of our own loins or womb. We find some fowls that burn themselves, while they endeavour to blow out the fire from their young; and even serpents can receive their brood into their mouth, to shield them from danger. No creature is so unnatural, as the reasonable that hath put off affection.
On me, therefore in mine; “ For my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” It was this that sent her to Christ; it was this that must incline Christ to her. I doubt whether she had inquired after Christ, if she had not been vexed with her daughter's spirit. Our afflictions are as Benhadad's best counsellors, that sent him with a cord about his neck to the merciful king of Israel. These are the files and whetstones that set an edge on our devotions, without which they grow dull and ineffectual : neither are they stronger motives to our suit than to Christ's mercy. We cannot have a better spokesman unto God than our own misery: that alone sues and pleads and importunes for us. This which sets off men, whose compassion is finite, attracts God to us.
Who can plead discouragements in his access to the throne of grace,
when our wants are our forcible advocates all our worthiness is in a capable misery. - All Israel could not example the faith of this Canaanite; yet she was thus tormented in her daughter. It is not the truth or strength of our faith that can secure us from the outward and bodily vexations of Satan, against the inward and spiritual, that can and will prevail : it is no more antidote against the other than against fevers and dropsies. How should it, when as it may fall out, that these sufferings may be profitable? and why should we expect that the love of our God shall yield to forelay any benefit to the soul? He is an ill patient that cannot distinguish betwixt an affliction, and the evil of affliction. When the messenger of Satan buffets us, it is enough that God hath said, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
Millions were in Tyre and Sidon, whose persons, whose children were untouched with that tormenting hand; I hear none but this faithful woman say, “ My daughter is grievously vexed of the devil.” The worst of bodily afflictions are an unsufficient proof of divine displeasure. She that hath most grace, complains of most discomfort.
Who would now expect any other than a kind answer to so pious and faithful a petition? and, behold, he answered her not a word. O holy Saviour, we have oft found cause to wonder at thy words, never till now at thy silence. A miserable suppliant cries and sues, while the God of mercies is speechless. He, that comforts the afflicted, adds affliction to the comfortless by a willing disrespect. What shall we say then ? is the fountain of mercy dried up? O Saviour, couldst thou but hear! she did not murmur, not whisper, but cry out; couldst thou but pity, but regard her that was as good as she was miserable! If thy ears were open, could thy bowels be shut? Certainly it was thou that didst put it into the heart, into the mouth of this woman to ask, and to ask thus of thyself. She could never have said, “ O Lord, thou Son of David,” but froin thee, but by thee. “None calleth Jesus the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” Much more therefore didst thou hear the words of thine own making; and well wert thou pleased to hear what thou thoughtst good to forbear to
It was thine own grace that sealed up thy lips. Whether for the trial of her patience and perseverance, for silence carried a semblance of 'neglect
, and a willing neglect lays strong siege to the best fort of the soul: even calin
tempers, when they have been stirred, have bewrayed impetuousness of passion. If there be any dregs in the bottom of the glass, when the water is shaken, they will be soon seen. Or whether for the more sharpening of her desires, and raising of her zealous importunity. Our holy longings are increased with delays : it whets our appetite to be held fasting. Or whether for the more sweetening of the blessing, by the difficulty or stay of obtaining: the benefit that comes with ease is easily contemned ; long and eager pursuits endear any favour. . Or whether for the engaging of his disciples in so charitable a suit. Or whether for the wise avoidance of exception from the captious Jews. Or, lastly, for the drawing on of an holy and imitable pattern of faithful perseverance; and to teach us not to measure God's hearing of our suit by his present answer, or his present answer by our own sense. While our weakness expects thy words, thy wisdom resolves upon thy silence. Never wert thou better pleased to hear the acclamation of angels, than to hear this woman say, “O Lord, thou son of David;" yet silence is thy answer.
When we have made our prayers, it is an happy thing to hear the report of them back from heaven : but if we always do not so, it is not for us to be dejected, and to accuse either our infidelity or thy neglect, since we find here a faithful suitor met with a gracious Saviour, and yet he answered her not a word. If we be poor in spirit, God is rich in mercy; he cannot send us away empty: yet he will not always let us feel his condescent, crossing us in our will, that he may advance our benefit.
It was no small fruit of Christ's silence, that the disciples were hereupon moved to pray for her ; not for a mere dismission, (it had been no favour to have required this, but a punishment; for if to be held in suspense be miserable, to be sent away with a repulse is more,) but for a merciful grant. They saw much passion in the woman, much cause of passion : they saw great discouragement on Christ's part, great constancy on hers. Upon all these they feel her misery, and becoine suitors for her unrequested.' It is our duty, in case of necessity, to intercede for each other; and by how much more familiar we are with Christ, so much more to improve our entireness for the relief of the distressed. We are bidden to say, Our Father, not mine; yea, being members of one body, we pray for ourselves in others. If the foot be pricked, the back bends, the head bows down, the eyes look, the hands