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To the only honour and glory of God my Saviour ; and
to the benefit and behoof of his blessed Spouse, the
TO THE READER. THOSE fer spare hours, which I could either borrow or steal from the many employments of my busy Diocese, I have gladly bestowed upon these, not more recreative than useful, Contemplations, for which I have been, some years, a debtor to the Church of God: now, in a care to satisfy the desires of many and my own pre-engagement, I send them forth into the light. My Reader shall find the discourse in all these passages more large; and in the latter, as the occasion gives, more fervent: and if he shall miss some remarkable stories, let him be pleased to know, that I have purposely omitted those pieces, which consist rather of speech than of act, and those that are in respect of the matter coincident to these I have selected. I have so done my task, as feuring, not affecting length; und as careful to avoid the cloying of my reader with other men's thoughts. Such as they are, I wish them, as I hope they shall be, beneficial to God's Church ; and in them intend to set up my rest : beseeching my reader that he will mutually exchange his prayers for and with me, who am the unworthiest of the servants of Christ,
THE FAITHFUL CANAANITE. IT
was our Saviour's trade to do good : therefore he came down from heaven to earth; therefore be changed one station of earth for another. Nothing more commends goodness, than generality and diffusion, whereas, reservedness and close-handed restraint blemish 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 wildly; not out of thine own sphere: wherein thy glorified estate exceeds thine humbled, as far as heaven is abova 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. Oh teach us how happy we are in such a guest, and give us grace to keep thee. Hadst thou walked within the Phoenician 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 way 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 Zabulon and the land of Nepthali, 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 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 Syrophænician sou. 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 the blood of those Phænicians, 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 bave raised her voice to an importunate clamour. The God of Mercy is light of bearing ; 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 froin 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? O blessed Syrophænician, 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, 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 excel. lence 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 purpoke, must come in the right stile; apprehending a true God, a true divided part
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 bave taught her, to appropriate the afflictions of this of her own flesh. It is not in the
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 vered 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 ber 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 patien , that cannot distinguish betwixt an afAliction 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.
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 Duvid, 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 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 pursuit endears 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 a 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 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
moved to pray for her: not for a mere dismission; it bad 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 parı; great constancy on hers. Upon all these, they feel