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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, a patriarch; and though the patriarch were 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 insufficient 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! couldest thou but hear? she did not murmur, not whisper, but cry out; couldest 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 from 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 thoughtest good to forbear to answer. 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 calm 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 soon be 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 pursuit endears any favour. 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 a holy and inimitable 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 a 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 become 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 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 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 up into 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 doth 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