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could do this; but if the swine had been so many mountains, these spirits, upon God's permission, had thus transported them. How easily can they carry those souls which are under their power to destruction! Unclean beasts that wallow in the mire of sensuality, brutish drunkards transforming themselves by excess, even they are the swine whom the Legion carries headlong to the pit of perdition.
The wicked spirits have their wish, the swine are choked in the waves. What ease is this to them ? Good God, that there should be any creature that seeks contentment in destroying, in tormenting the good creatures of his Maker! this is the diet of hell. Those fiends feed upon spite towards man, so much more as he doth more resemble his Creator : towards all other living substances, so much more as they may be more useful to man. The swine ran down violently ; what marvel is it if their keepers fled ? that miraculous work, which should have drawn them to Christ, drives them from him. They run with the news, the country comes in with the clamour: “ The whole multitude of the country about besought him to depart.” The multitude is a beast of many heads; every head hath a several mouth, and every mouth a several tongue, and every tongue a several accent; every head hath a several brain, and every brain thoughts of their own ; so as it is hard to find a multitude without some division ; at least seldom ever hath a good motion found a perfect accordance: it is not so infrequent for a multitude to conspire in evil. Generality of assent is no warrant for any act. Common error carries away many who inquire not into the reason of aught, but the practice. The way to hell is a beaten road, through the many feet that tread it. When vice grows into fashion, singularity is a virtue.
There was not a Gadarene found that either dehorted his fellows or opposed the motion. It is a sign of people given up to judgment, when no man
makes head against projects of evil. Alas! what can one strong man do against a whole throng of wickedness ? yet this good comes of an unprevailing resistance, that God forbears to plague where he finds but a sprinkling of faith. Happy are they who (like unto the celestial bodies, which being carried about by the sway of the highest sphere, yet creep on their own ways) keep on the courses of their own holiness against the swinge of common corruptions; they shall both deliver their own souls, and help to withhold judgment from others.
The Gadarenes sue to Christ for his departure. It is too much favour to attribute this to their modesty, as if they held themselves unworthy of so divine a guest. Why then did they fall upon this suit in a time of their loss? why did they not tax themselves, and intimate a secret desire of that which they durst not beg? It is too much rigour to attribute it to the love of their hogs, and an anger at their loss; then they had not entreated, but expelled him. It was their fear that moved this rash suit; a servile fear of danger to their persons, to their goods ; lest he, that could so absolutely command the devils, should have set these tormentors upon them; lest their other demoniacs should be dispossessed with like loss. I cannot blame these Gadarenes that they feared ; this power was worthy of trembling at. Their fear was unjust: they should have argued, “This man hath power over men, beasts, devils; it is good having him to our friend; his presence is our safety and protection.” Now they contrarily misinfer, “Thus powerful is he, it is good he were further off.” What miserable and pernicious misconstructions do men make of God, of divine attributes and actions! God is omnipotent, able to take infinite vengeance of sin; oh that he were not ! he is provident, I may be careless ; he is merciful, I may sin ; he is holy; let him depart from me, for I am a sinful man. How witty sophisters are natural men, to deceive their own souls, to rob themselves of a God! O Saviour, how worthy are they to want thee, that wish to be rid of thee! Thou hast just cause to be weary of us, even while we sue to hold thee: but when once our wretched unthankfulness grows weary of thee, who can pity us to be punished with thy departure? who can say it is other than righteous, that thou shouldest regest one day upon us, “Depart from me, ye wicked.”
THE FAITHFUL CANAANITE.
It was our Saviour's trade to do good; therefore he came down from heaven to earth, therefore he changed one station of earth for another. Nothing more commends goodness than generality and diffusion; whereas reservedness and close-handed restraint blemishes the glory of it. The sun stands not still in one point of heaven, but walks his daily round, that all the inferior world may share of his influences both in heat and light. Thy bounty, O Saviour, did not affect the praise of fixedness, but motion : one while I find thee at Jerusalem, then at Capernaum; soon after, in the utmost verge of Galilee; never but doing good. But as the sun, though he daily compass
the world, yet never walks from under his line, never goes beyond the turning points of the longest and shortest day; so neither didst thou, O Saviour, pass the bounds of thine own peculiar people. Thou wouldest 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 visitation ; but as
the whole earth is equi-distant 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. On 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 constructions of thy mercy in turning to the Gentiles: thou, that couldest touch the lepers without uncleanness, couldest not be defiled with aliens : but we know the partition wall was not yet broken down, and thou that didst charge thy disciples not to walk into the
of the Gentiles, wouldest 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 wouldest sometimes bless the outer skirts with thy presence. No angle is too obscure for the Gospel : “The land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali, 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, but mean cottages, but neglected bogs and moors. God's word is, like himself, no acceptor 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, Christ 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 was now forgotten; yet because this woman was of 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 suppliant 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 compellation, “O Lord, thou Son of David.” What proselyte, what disciple, could have said more? Oh, blessed Syrophenician, who taught thee this