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me with their lips ; but their heart is far from me: bot in rain do they worship me, preaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
Our Lord having thos sharply rebuked the Pharisees, he turned to the people and explained to them the nature of the argument, and desired ihem to reflect on the absurdity of the doctrine of the Scribes and Pharisees. « Not that wbich goeth into the mouth defileth a man : but that which cometh out of the mouth that defileth a man,” said he; and appeal ed to the common sense and understanding of mankind, for the apparent troth of this observation, desiring them to judge what contemptible bypocrites those persons must be, who could professediy neglect the great duties of morality, which are of universal and eternal obligations, and at the same time, value themselves on the exact and seropulous performance of such trifle as washing of hands.
The Pharisees were highly offended at our Lord, because he spake in a degrading manner of their traditions, of which having complained with some warmth, the disciples came and informed their master. Jesus re. plied, that they need not give themselves any pain aboat the offence which that setof men had taken at his words, for both themselves and their doctrine would soon be destroyed, for neither of them were of God. “ Every plant,” said he, “which mý heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. "And if the blind Tead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch.”
But the disciples themselves did not fully understand, nor were they entirely satisfied with his doctrine ; and Peter having desired his Lord to explain it to them, the divine instructor proceeded to inform them, that the meats being of a corporeal nature, could not defile the spirit of a man or render him polluted in the sight of God; no real guilt can be contracted this way, except the meats are used to excess, or in direct contradiction to the command of God; and then the pollution proceeds from the man, who suffers himself to be prevailed on to transgress a positive command, and not from the meat, which, aš the good creature of God, is lawful to be received. Thus, that which entereth in at the mouth, doth not defile the man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, proceedeth from a wick ed heart, such as “ evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashen hands, defileth not a man. Discourses like these could not fail of exceedingly offending the proud, self-conceited Pharisees, and raising their resentment to its highest pitch: for these, and such like obser'vations of our Lord, tended to strip them of that outside shew of sanctity and superior strickness, with which they veiled their deformity, and rendered themselves so venerable in the esteem of the 'vulgar Jews. These discourses therefore, and the general opposition the proad Pharisees met with from the Son of God, excited them, with the utmost pride and envy, dot only to oppose his doctrines and degrade his miracles, but to attack his reputation and plot against his life. Our great Redeemer thought it unnecessary to continue the contest with such hardened hypocrites, and de termined opposers of the trath, and immediately departed out of the country.
JESUS, at the repeated Request of the Woman of Canaan, cures her daughter: Restores the Faculty of Speech to a dumb Man at De. capolis : Miraculously feeds the Multitude a second Time in the De. sert: Warmly exhorts his Disciples to beware of the Leaven of the Scribes and Pharisees : Restores Șight to a blind Man, near the City of Bethsada : After which, he departs into the Towns of Cæsarca, Philippi, where he approves and commends the Faith of Peter.
THE Lord of life having departed from Galilee, to evade the crų. el and malicious designs of the pharisees, he retired to the borders of Pales. tine, and approached near to those two famous maritime cities Tyre and $idon : but so great was the veneration of the common people, such the La me he had acquired by his kind and beneficent actions, and so many the benefits which multitudes had received from his all-healing goodness, it was not possible he should be concealed. And though he was now in the territories of the Gentiles, he soon found himself solicited to lend that assis. Lance to the helpless and miserable, for which he was so famous in the land, of Israel.
The first, amongst the inhabitants of these Heathen cities, which implored the assistance of the Son of God was an unhappy parent, whosa only daughter had an anclean spirit, and was grievously vexed with a devil.” Various were the discouragements which lay in the way of the afflicted matron; she was a Canaanite, one of that detested race with which the Jews would have no dealings, and with whom they disdained to con verse, and had every reason to fear, ihat her petition would be disgusting to one of the most eminent of the sons of Israel ; but notwithstanding all these circumstances, she, as an humble petitioner, ihrew herself upon the tender mercies of the benvolent Son of God: strong necessity orged her on, grief and growing distress caused her to be importunate; such dreadful sorrow, such pressing distress surrounded her, it is no wonder that she would take no denial, but pursued, with repeated: petitions, the only person who was able to help. Accordingly, in the deepest humility of mind, with the most respectful reverence and submission, and the most ardent, earnesto and powerful address, she came and fell at the feet of our great Redeemer; she besought him, and cried, “ Bave mercy on me, o Lord, thou Son of - David.” The earneslness of this woman's petition, and her calling our Lord the Son of David,” plainly indicate that "she believed him to be the Messiah: she seems to have received that faith, which was always honoored by the Son of God, and always recommended the persons who, possessed it to his first regard; and one wouid have expected, that such petition would not have been rejected by that bountiful and merciful Redeemer who “ went about doing good,” and who kindly invited, the weary and heavy laden, to come to him with the promise of relief.
This woman, being a native of Syrophenicia, was, no doubt, educated in. all the idolatrous superstition of the Greeks ; but had been enabled to believe in the Son of God, and earnestly and vehemently to apply to him for relief. And there is no reason to doubt, but that divine person, who had, enabled her to believe his ability to heal her daughter, and thus, with all her heart and soul, to implore his assistance, beheld ber with an eye of tender pity and stood determined to grant her request.
But we find, that our Lord did not think proper to let her know his kind intentions towards her at first. He made no reply to her petition, nor dida he seem to take the least notice, either of her, or her distress ; but this silence, and seeming disregard, did not intimidate her so far as to induce her, to desist, but excited her to press her petition with the more earnest pessim She continued her cries with a vehemence which would take go denial, lill OF JESUS CHRIST. the disciples were affected with her grief, and became her advocates; and they, however strongly they had imbibed the prejudices of their nation against the Gentiles, besought their Master to dismiss this troublesome petitioner, to grant her request, and send her away.
But Jesus soon silenced his disciples, with an answer agreeable to their own prejudices ; "I am not sent,” said he," but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” To this the whole train readily assented, they had an high opinion of the peculiar privileges and nigh prerogatives of the Jews, and looked upon the Gentiles as absolutely unclean, and unworthy the least favour from the God of Israel: so that they were entirely satisfied with this answer, and urged the matter no further.
But the woman herself was not so easily prevailed on to give up her reguest : it was her own cause; she had no hopes of relief from any other quarter; and that divine power which had wrought faith in her heart, and given her a full persuasion, that Jesus was the Messiah, and able to help her, ha i also given her strength and perseverance in her request. She took some encouragement, from observing herself the subject of conversaţion between Christ and his disciples, and though conscious of her unworthiness to approach so illustrious a person, yet fully convinced of his divinity, she worshipped him, and prayed, " Lord help me.”
Our Lord now condescended to speak to this humble and earnest petitioner : but his words were seemingly sufficient to have discouraged every future attempt ; & though she had conceived so high an opinion of the person, & condescending goodness of our Lord, his reply seems suficient to have inspired her with bitter dislike and aversion. It is not meet," said he,“ to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.” Intimating, that the Jews were the children of God, to whom all the privileges and blessings of the covenant of Abraham belonged ; and, as the Gentiles were vile and contemptible, they could not expect to share those blessings with the sons of Israel. This answer however severe, did not speak the language of the petitioner's humility, and therefore, it did not excite her resentment, or cause her to go murmuring away; but, acknowledging the justice of his remark, she meekly replied : « Truth, Lord ; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table.” Thus continuing the similitude which our Lord had laid down, she artfully introduced her own' case, and beautifully and meekly urged her petition at a time when, it might have been expected, she would have declined it with murmuring resentment.
Our Saviour, having thus given the woman an opportunity of manifesting the strength and steadiness of her faith, and declaring what just notions she had of her own unworthiness, and the power and goodness of our great Redeemer, he now beheld her with a gracious smile, commending her faith, and wrought the cure which she had so warmly and successfully solicited in behalf of her daughter; “O woman,” said he, « great is thy faith ; be it'unto thee even as thou wilt.” These gracious words were no sooner spoken, than the great event followed ; and the affectionate parent had reason to rejoice, for “ her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
This affecting and interesting relation, should excite every person in distress, especially those who are in distress of soul, to be ardent, constant, and perservering in their addresses to our great Redeemer. Whatever may be the nature of our distress, and however impossible it might seem to us, that our comfort should be restored; yet there is the highest encourage ment to seek that great person, who is mighty to save, and in his own time and way, will deliver all that commit their case to him, that believe in his name, and come to him for deliverance. Nor ought we to be dis. couraged by the most humbling views which we may have of our own unworthiness: the Syrophænician woman was an Heathen and an idolator, but yet she was not prevented by those considerations, from imploring the
pily of the Son of God: she sought it perseveringly and she found it.-Thus, how lost soever we may, suppose our condition to be, how desperate soever our case, we ought not to despair : the most hạmbling and abas ing sense of our unworthiness, ought not to keep us from the great Sar. iour of sinners, but falher urge us ts follow him with our petitions, and ardently and vehemently implore his relief.
And further, from the success of this afflieted parent, we may be excited to perseverance in our petition, though we do not meet with the desired teleif, after a long continuance in our supplications: the person whose case we are considering, for some time met with no answer, and was af. terwards repeatedly denied ; but still she persisted, and at last prevailed: so, though the Lord stands at a distance from us, leaves us to our sorrows, does not answer our prayers in the time, or the way we might expect; still we are encouraged to continue our address: he is not offended at our importunity, he is not angry at our wants, por weary of our cries : but the language of his words are, that we ought always to pray, and not to faint. Nor ought we to be weary of this pious practice though the Lord may seem to deny our request; though instead of removing our affliction and distress by hi's gracious smiles, he seer to frown upon us, and lays fresh burdens on our souls ; though, at the time when we expected deliverance, we meet with new distresses; &, though the Lord follows us with stroke after stroke, ånd lays one affliction upon another ; still we ought to continue our petitions, to lay them at his feet, to take no rest till he answers our prayers, and to determine, that we will not let him go until he bless us. may rest assured that whosoever is enabled, like the Canaanitish woman, thus ardently, vehemently, humbly, and perseveringly, to continue their supplications to the Son of God, will sooner or later, like her, find the desired relief,
Jesus being returned from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and taking a tour through the region of Decapolis, a man was brought to him who was deaf and dumb. The divine Physician was always ready to relieve such objects of affliction and distress as applied to him; but, as the multitude thronged about him, expecting he would soon set up his kingdom, he thought proper to take the diseased person and his relations aside from the throng; he then put his fingers in his eurs, and touched his tougue, that the deaf man, who could not be informed by language, might mark the great person who was his benefactor. He then “ looked up to heaven, and sighed, and said unto him, Epaphatha, that is, Be opened : and straight way his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed and he spake plain. And he charged them, that they should tell no man.” This injunction, however, was very little regarded; for, the man and his relations were so elated with the benefit they had received, that they published it in every part of the country.
The vast crowds that gathered about our exalted Redeemer, were such as it was a trouble to hear; he, therefore, to avoid such prodigious numbers of people as the fame of his miracles had brought together, retired to a desert mountain near the sea of Galilee. But the solitary shades of the wilderness could not long conceal the great Benefactor of the human race: multitudes who were related to helpless objects of distress, soon discovered the place of his retreat, and brought to him from all quarters, the sick, the lamę, the blind, the damb, and the maimed. The compag. sionate Saviour of sinners was moved at the sight of so many piteous objects.; he graciously released them from their several complaints, and restored them to health and strength. Miracles like these could not fail of exciting the veneration and wonder of the numerous spectators: but above all, the restoring the dumb to the faculty of speech, filled the beholders with astonishment; for, it inust be observed that he not only conferred on these persons the faculty of hearing, and pronouncing sounds, but is.
Kantaneously conveyed into their minds the whole language of their coun. try: they were instantly acquainted with the various words it contained, their significations, their forms, their powers, and their use, and, at once acquired the habit of speaking properly and Agently. This surely was sufficient to have convinced the most ignorant and stupid of the human race, that such works could be effected by nothing. less than the mighty power of God; and, we are informed, that “ the multitude wondered when they taw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see, atid they glorified the God of Israel.”
The attending to the various cares our great Redeemer performed, de fained the multitude three days in the desert ; during which time, they had tonsomed all the provisions which they brought along with them into this solitary retreat: no refreshment was to be procured in the desert, and the kind, compassionate Jesus would not send them away fasting, lest any who had followed him so far from their habitations, should faint by the way; and, therefore, he again exerted his almighty power to feed the multitude in the wilderness.
With this view, our exalted Saviour called his diseiples unto him, and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they continge with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint by the way." The disciples, tho' they had lately bad so plaiti a manifestation of divine power on a like occasion, seemed to wonder at the proposal: “ Whence," said they," should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitade?” Their divine Master did not rebuke them for their unbelief, but calmly asked them, Ноя Diany loaves have ye? To which they replied, « Seven, & a few small fish
Our great Redeemer then“commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the Inultitude ; and they did all eat, and were all filled: and they took ap the troken meat that was left, seven baskets full. And they that did eat, were four thousand men, besides women and children.”
It is not unworthy of remark, that the blessed Jesus, during the course of his public ministry, very frequently wrought his wonderful works, and published his divine discourses in the silent retreats of the wilderness, and the solitary shades of the desert. Here he was followed by great numbers, who were diseased either in body or mind, and who came after him with a sincere desire of receiving benefit, either from the miraculous powers of healing which he possessed, or from the heavenly doctrines which he taught, and, were sincerely desirous of receiving instruction, and would indure the hardships to which they were frequently exposed in the wilderness, where they were sometimes two or three days without food: so that we may observe the wisdom of our great Redeemer, who took this method to collect together, the honest plain-hearted part of the nation, who were more likely to be affected with his miracles, and profit by his instructions, than the proud rulers of the people, or the haughty and opulent inhabitants of the crowded cities, and it may be further remarked, that our heavenly Instructor chose these desert places and obscure retreats, that he might have the opportunity of conveying his divine doctrines to the persons whose hearts were prepared to receive them, without opposition from the proad self-conceited Scribes and Pharisees. How happy were people, who thus sat under the divine instructions of the Son of God! who left the busy, bustling scenes of foliy and dissipation in the crowded city, and retired to the silent and 'solitary shades of the desert, to attend to those things which concerned their everlasting peace; thus exchanging the loud roar of laughter and folly, for the calm dictates of eternal wisdom; and, giving up the " bread that perisheth,” fo: thát “ which endureth to everlasting lite.