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23. But be answered ber not a word.
And bis dif ciples came and' bejeugbt bim, saying, send ber away,
for file crieth after us. 24. He repły'd, that
24. But be answered and said, I am not sent, but unts the Benefit of his Mira- tbe lef Skeep of i be bouse of Israel. cles and Doctrine was a Privilege at present intended for Jews only ; not for Gentiles, such as this Woman was. (See Mark vii. 26. and Margin there.)
25. Then came she and worshipped bim, saying, Lord belp me.
26. But be answered and said, It is not meet to take the Children's bread, and cast it to dogs.
27. And she said, Truth Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs qubicb fall
from tbeir Mufler's table. 28. This saying thews 28. Then Jefus answered and said unto ber, o quothee qualified for the man, great is by fairb; be it unto thee even as obou Mercy thou haft so wilt. And ber Daughter was made whole from that importunately begged. very bour, (Mark vii. 29.)
COM M E N T.
HAT Prayer is a Duty more especially to be at
tended upon at this Season, the very Nature of it infers. The joining it so often with Fasting in
Scripture, the Helps it hath been proved Ab-Wednesday.
to receive from such Abftinence, and the necessity of applying to God, for some Graces out of our own Power, puts it beyond a Doubt. Such in particular, I have said, is that Purity, so earnestly recommended in the Epistle for the Day. But, in regard it does not always happen, that our Petitions are granted so foon, either as we make them, or as we expect a return to them: Nothing could be more proper and methodical, than, for the Church on this occasion, to encourage our Importunity, and Continuance in Prayer. Nothing could more encourage this, than so successful an Instance of it, as the Miracle related in the Gospel now before us, when considered in all its parts, will appear plainly to contain.
An afflicted Mother here implores Christ's Help, with all the tender Concern, becoming that Relation; with all the Vehenience, that we can suppose her excited to, by a Calamity so terrible, as a Daughter grievously vexed with a Devil. Her Cries are silently passed over, though so loud and troublesome, that our Lord's Disciples, either in compassion to the sadness of her Case, or desirous to be eased of so clamorous an Importunity, turn Advocates for her. The Answer they received was very discouraging, and feem’d to imply a Resolution, not to grant a Favour, which was irregular, and beside both the Methods, and the Design, of his present Mission. This notwithstanding, she pursues her Request. But, instead of any Signs of relenting, is answered with a Proverb, upbraiding her Unworthiness, seemingly chiding her Presumption in conceiving any Hopes of it; and indeed carrying such an appearance of hardheartedness and scorn, as one would rather have expected out of the Mouth of a haughty Pharisee, than from the meek and merciful Jesus. Still she desists not, is content to be reckoned as a Dog, in comparison of the Jews, who had the Honour of being treated as Children. But from hence she forms an Argument, to put in for a Dog's Portion at least. One Miracle in Her behalf, bearing but the Proportion of a Dog's share, to the numberless Mercies of that kind, wrought for and among the Jews: The Crumbs that fall, compared to Their full Table. And then our Lord' at last does, not only gratify that Application, which before he in appearance disallowed, but even commend, and do it signal Honour. For it was in appearance only, that he disallowed it before, and those Repulses were all for the Petitioner's Advantage. This is the Substance of the Scripture in hand, describing a Managery very usual with Almighty God, who is often thought to hide his Face from us,
succeed at all, will suffice, either to discourage the making of new, or to discontinue our old, Addresses of this kind.
Now, whence is all this, but from the Eagerness of our Desires, and the Value we fondly hold those Advantages in, which we so industriously court, so obfti*nately pursue? And, whence that Hastiness and Impatience, that Weariness and Fainting, that sitting down in Despair, and quickly concluding our Petitions rejected and unprofitable, so usual in our Applications to Almighty God; but from a Difesteem of the Mercies we sue for, want of a due Sense of their Consequence, of their Necessity, to us, and thereupon an Indifference, whether they come or no? But especially, Why this false, this blameable Modesty in One Cafe, Why that indefatigable Confidence in the Other ; where the Persons address’d to are of Dispositions so very different? Why that never giving over to hope and to beg, where we are frequently deceived, and forced Dependencies are troublesome? And why this desisting so quickly, with One, who never did or can deceive us; with One, to whom our Trust is always pleasing, and our Importunity it self serves more effectually to recommend us?
That thus it is with Men, our own Experience, that thus with God, the Scriptures already produc'd on this occasion, may abundantly convince us. And the difference, so remarkable between them, may without any great Difficulty be accounted for. In God, we know, there is no end of Goodness, no end of Power; In Men, both these are shut up within very narrow bounds. To press Them is therefore shocking, because this is, by a side Wind, to upbraid them, either with want of Ability, or of Sincerity, or of Inclination to do good. And these are Qualities, which every one is desirous either to have, or at least to be thought to have. So that, whatever implicitely
dedies, or, by natural Construction, calls these into question, carries with it a Reproach, not easy to be born. But God, who is Power, and Truth, and Love it felf is above all such Reflections. Our Neceflities cannot exhaust him, and therefore our Requests for the supply of them cannot offend him. He that made us, needs not be changed, by any Arguments we can use, to draw his Kindness and Affection to us : And therefore his very Withholdings and Delays are kindly meant. And the continuing to ask is a Demonftration of our being satisfied, that they are so. For letting alone any farther Application is a natural consequence of taking our former Usage ill. But repeating the same with Confidence argues a Spirit easy and relign'd, confeffes his Goodness, and our own Unworthiness; clears us of any unbecoming Resentments, and speaks us contented to wait his good leisure, for the satisfying our most earnest and important Desires, and even, as we may think, most reasonable Expectations. For such without question they are, if granted at last. Which makes it necessary therefore to consider, in the
II. Second place, What account may be given of God's delaying to answer those Prayers, which he never intended absolutely to deny. Now this may be done,
1. With a design to increase our Virtue, to render it more conspicuous, and so to prove us more fit for, and worthy of, the Blessings we apply to him for. Thus it was plainly in the Subject of this Day's Gospel. Had the Canaanitish Woman been gratified upon her first Suit: She had not made so noble a Figure in the History of our Saviour's Miracles. And the easiness of obtaining a Favour, to which, as a Stranger to Ifrael, She had no manner of Claim, had been Matter of Offence to the Jews. But the frequent Repulses She fo bravely sustained, took off all
ground ground of Exception, justified our Lord in going out of his common Method, and made this Greek a Pattern even to Christians of all future Ages. In like manner, does our heavenly Father deal with his Children upon all occasions.
all occasions. He tries those Tempers by suspending his Mercies, which Indulgence, and Readiness to give, are apt to spoil. He makes us feel our dependance, and trains us up to Patience and Relignation, to Trust and Constancy. For indeed we are not fit to receive, till perfectly satisfied, that He is the properest Judge, when, as well as how, and what, to give; and that, in all these regards, he proceeds upon Reasons, not only wise in themselves, but beneficial to Us.
2. These Delays are very useful, in order to keep up the Value of the Good things we ask. Of which, though that very Act of asking testify fome Esteem, yet will this naturally rise, by continuing longer without them. In these Bodies we live so much by Sense, that nothing affects us strongly, which does not make some considerable change in our Condition: Nor are we moved by Objects from without, according as they are in themselves, but according as We apprehend of them. So that it is not only the Want, but the feeling we have of that Want more especially, that recommends the Blessing of a Supply to us. Hence, without doubt, it is, that we resent in so very different a manner, the Mercy of a constant State of Health, and that of Recovery from a dangerous Fit of Sickness; Ease, and Safety, and uninterrupted Prosperity on one Hand ; and Deliverance from exquisite Pain, imminent Destruction, or some very afflicting Calamity, on the other. No Man in his Reason will say, that the former are not better and more desirable in themselves : and yet every Man must allow, that the latter are more welcome, and Matter of greater Joy, to Us. Insomuch, that even the