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stir, the tongue calls for aid; the whole man is in pain, and labours for redress. He cannot pray or be heard for himself
, that is no man's friend but his own. No prayer without faith, no faith without charity, no charity without mutual intercession.
That which urged them to speak for her, is urged to Christ by them for her obtaining; “ She cries after us.”. Prayer is as an arrow; if it be drawn up but a little, it goes not far; but if it be pulled up to the head, flies strongly, and pierces deep: if it be but dribbled forth of careless lips, it falls down at our foot; the strength of our ejaculation sends it heaven, and fetches down a blessing. The child hath escaped many a stripe by his loud crying; and the very unjust judge cannot endure the widow's clamour. Heartless motions do but teach us to deny: fervent suits offer violence, both to earth and heaven.
Christ would not answer the woman, but doth answer the disciples. Those that have a familiarity with God shall receive answers, when strangers shall stand out. Yea, even of domestics some are more entire. He that lay in Jesus's bosom could receive that intelligence which was concealed from the rest. But who can tell whether that silence or this answer be more grievous ? “ I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” What is this answer, but a defence of that silence and seeming neglect? While he said nothing, his forbearance might have been supposed to proceed from the necessity of some greater thoughts ; but now his answer professeth that silence to have proceeded from a willing resolution not to answer; and therefore he does not vouchsafe so much as to give to her the answer, but to her solicitors, that they might return his denial from him to her, who had undertaken to derive her suit to him; “ I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Like a faithful ambassador, Christ hath an eye to his commission. That may not be violated, though to an apparent advantage : whither he is not sent, he may not go. As he, so all his, have their fixed marks set; at these they aim, and think it not safe to shoot at rovers. In matter of morality, it is not for us to stand only upon inbibitions, avoiding what is forbidden, but upon commands, endeavouring only what is enjoined. We need no other rule of our life than the intention of our several stations : and if he, that was God, would take no further scope to himself than the limits of his commission, how much doth it concern us frail men to keep within compass? or what shall become of our lawlessness, that live in a direct contrariety to the will of him that sent us?
Israel was Jacob's name, from him derived to his posterity: till the division of the tribes under Jeroboam, all that nation was Israel; then the father's name went to the most, which were ten tribes ; the name of the son, Judah, to the best, which were two. Christ takes no notice of this unhappy division : he remembers the ancient name which he gave to that faithful wrestler. It was this Christ with whom Jacob strove; it was he that wrenched his hip, and changed his name, and dismissed him with a blessing; and now he cannot forget his old mercy to the house of Israel
, to that only doth he profess himself sent. Their first brood were shepherds, now they are sheep, and those not guarded, not impastured, but strayed and lost. O Saviour, we see thy charge, the house of Israel, not of Esau ; sheep, not goats, not wolves ; lost sheep, not securely impaled in the confidence of their safe condition. Woe were to us if thou wert not sent to us. He is not a Jew which is one without. Every Israelite is not a true one. We are not of thy fold, if we be not sheep; thou wilt not reduce us to thy fold, if we be not lost in our own apprehensions. O Lord, thou hast put a fleece upon our backs, we have lost ourselves enough : make us so sensible of our own wanderings, that we may find thee sent unto us, and may be happily found of thee.
Hath not this poor woman yet done? can neither the silence of Christ, nor his denial silence her? is it possible she should have any glimpse of hope after so resolute repulses? Yet still, as if she saw no argument of discouragement, she comes, and worships, and cries,“ Lord, help ine.” She which could not in the house get a word of Christ, she that saw her solicitors, though Christ's own disciples, repelled, yet she comes. Before she followed, now she overtakes him ; before she sued aloof, now she comes close to him : no contempt can cast her off. Faith is an undaunted grace, it hath a strong heart, and a bold forehead: even very denials cannot dismay it, inuch less delays. She came not to face, not to expostulate, but to prostrate herself at his feet : ber tongue worshipped him before, now her knee. The eye of her faith saw that divinity in Christ which bowed her to his earth.
There cannot be a fitter gesture of man to God than adoration.
Her first suit was for mercy, now for help. There is no use of mercy but in helpfulness. To be pitied without aid, is but an addition to misery. Who can blame us, if we care not for an unprofitable compassion?
The very suit was gracious. She saith not, “ Lord, if thou canst, help me,” as the father of the lunatic; but professesthe power, while she begs the act, and gives glory where she would have relief.
Who now can expect other than a fair and yielding answer to so humble, so faithful, so patienta suppliant? what can speed well, if a prayer of faith from the knees of humility succeeds not? and yet, behold, the further she goes, the worse she fares : her discouragement is doubled with her suit. “ It is not good to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.” First, bis silencc implied a contempt, then his answer defended his silence; now his speech expresses and defends his contempt. Lo, he hath turned her from a woman to a dog, and, as it were, spurns her from his feet with an harsh repulse. What shall we say? is the Lamb of God turned lion? Doth that clear fountain of mercy run blood ? O Saviour, did ever so hard a word fall from those mild lips? Thou calledst Herod fox, most worthily he was crafty and wicked; the Scribes and Pharisces a generation of vipers, they were venomous and cruel ; Judas a devil, he was both covetous and treache
But here was a woman in distress, and distress challenges mercy; a good woman, a faithful suppliant, a Canaanitish disciple, a Christian Canaanite, yet rated and whipt out for a dog by thee who wert all goodness and mercy! How different are thy ways from ours! Even thy severity argues favour. The trial had not been so sharp, if thou hadst not found the faith so strong, if thou hadst not meant the issue so happy. Thou hadst not driven her away as a dog, if thou hadst not intended to admit her for a saint; and to advance her so much for a pattern of faith, as thou depressedst her for a spectacle of contempt.
The time was when the Jews were children, and the Gentiles dogs, now the case is happily altered. The Jews are the dogs, (so their dear and divine countryman calls the concision,) we Gentiles are the children. What certainty is there in an external profession, that gives us only to seem,
not to be; at least, the being that it gives is doubtful and temporary. We may be children to-day, and dogs to-morrow. The true assurance of our condition is in the decree and covenant of God on his part, in our faith and obedience on
How they of children became dogs, it is not hard to say; their presumption, their unbelief transformed them ; and, to perfect their brutishness, they set their fangs upon the Lord of life. How we of dogs become children I know no reason. But,“() the depth!” That, which at the first singled them out from the nations of the world, hath at last singled us out from the world and them. “ It is not in him that willeth, nor in him that runneth, but in God that hath mercy.” Lord, how should we bless thy goodness, that we of dogs are children ! how should we fear thy justice, since they of children are dogs! O let us not be high-minded, but tremble. If they were cut off who crucified thee in thine humbled state, what may we expect who crucify thee daily in thy glory?
Now, what ordinary patience would not have been overstrained with so contemptuous a repulse? how few but would have fallen into intemperate passions, into passionate expostulations ? Art thou the prophet of God, that so disdainfully entertainest poor suppliants ? is this the comfort that thou dealest to the distressed ? is this the fruit of my humble adoration of my faithful profession? Did I snarl or bark at thee, when I called thee the “Son of David ?" did I fly upon thee otherwise than with my prayers and tears ? and if this term were fit for my vileness, yet doth it become thy lips? Is it not sorrow enough to me, that I am afflicted with my daughter's misery, but that thou, of whom I hoped for relief, must add to mine affliction in an unkind reproach? But here is none of all this. Contrarily, her humility grants all, her patience overcomes all, and she meekly answers, “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table." The reply is not more witty than faithful. O Lord, thou art truth itself; thy words can be no other than truth: thou hast called me a dog, and a dog I am; give me therefore the favour and privilege of a dog, that I may gather up some crumbs of mercy from under that table whereat thy children sit. This blessing, though great to me, yet to the infiniteness of thy power and mercy is but as a crumb to a feast. I presume not to press to the board, but to creep under it. Deny me not those small offals, which else would be swept away in the dust. After this stripe, give me but a crumb, and I shall fawn upon thee, and depart satisfied. O woman, say I, great is thine humility, great is thy patience : but, “ O woman,” (saith my Saviour,) great is thy faith.” He seeth the root, we the stock. Nothing but faith could thus temper the heart, thus strengthen the soul, thus charm the tongue." O precious faith! O acceptable perseverance ! It is no marvel if that chiding end in favour : “Be it to thee even as thou wilt.” Never did such grace go away uncrowned. The beneficence had been strait, if thou hadst not carried away more than thou suedst for. Lo, thou, that camest a dog, goest away a child ! thou, that wouldst but creep under the children's feet, are set at their elbow ! thou, that wouldst bave, taken up with a crumb, art feasted with full dishes ! The way to speed well at God's hand, is to be humbled in his eyes and in our own. It is quite otherways with God, and with men. With men we are so accounted of, as we account of ourselves. He shall be sure to be vile in the sight of others, which is vile in his own. With God nothing is got by vain ostentation, nothing is lost by abasement. O God, when we look down to our own weakness, and cast up our eyes to thy infiniteness, thine omnipotence, wliat poor things we are ! but when we look down upon our sins and wickedness, how shall we express our shame! None of all thy creatures, except devils, are capable of so foul a quality. As we have thus made ourselves worse than beasts, so let us, in a sincere humbleness of mind, acknowledge it to thee, who canst pity, forgive, and redress it; so setting ourselves down at the lower end of the table of thy creatures, thou the great Master of the feast mayst be pleased to advance us to the height of glory.
The Deaf and Dumb Man cured. Our Saviour's entrance into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon was not without a miracle, neither was his regress; as the sun neither rises nor sets without light. In his entrance he delivers the daughter of the faithful Syrophenician, in his egress be cures the deaf and dumb. He can no more want work, than that work can want success. Whether the patient were naturally deaf and perfectly dumb, or imperfectly dumb,