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in the sight of God: no real guilt can be contracted
this way, except the meats are used to excess, or in
direct contradiction to the command of God; and then the pollution proceeds from the man, who suffers himself to be prevailed on to transgress a positive command, and not from the meat, which as the good creature of God, is lawful to be received. Thus, that which entereth in at the mouth, doth not defile the man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, proceeding from a wicked heart, such as evil thoughts, 7murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemes: these are the things which defile a man; but to eat with unwashen hands, defileth not a man. Discourses like these, could not fail of exceedingly of. fending the proud, self-conceited Pharisees, and raising their resentment to its highest pitch: for these, and such like observations of our Lord, tended to strip
them of that outside shew of sanctity and superior .
strictness, with which they veiled their deformity, and rendered themselves so venerable in the esteem of the vulgar Jews. These discourses therefore, and the general opposition the proud Pharisees met with from the Son of God, excited them, with the utmost pride and envy, not only to oppose his doctrine and degrade his miracles, but to attack his reputation, and plot against his life. Our great Redeemer thought it unnecessary to continue the contest with such hardened hypocrites, and determined opposers of the truth,and immediately departed out of the country.
Jesus, at the repeated Request of the woman of Canaan cures her daughter: Restores the Faculty of Speech to a dumb Man at Decapolis: Miraculously feeds the Multitude a second Time in the Desert : Warmly erhorts his Disciples to beware of the Leaven of the Scribes and Pharisees : Restores Sight to a blind Man, near the City of Beth saida: After which, he departs into the Towns of Caesarea-Philippi, where he approves and commends the Faith of Peter. -
THE Lord of life having departed from Galilee, to evade the cruel and malicious designs of the Phari. sees, retired to the borders of Palestine, and approached near to those two fampus maritime cities Tyre and Sidon: but so great was the veneration of the common people, such the fame he had acquired by his kind and beneficent actions, and so many the benefits which multitudes had received from his all-healing goodness, it was not possible he should be concealed.
The first amongst the inhabitants of these Heathen cities, which implored the assistance of the Son of . God, was an unhappy parent, whose only daughter had an unclean spirit, and was grievously vered with a devil. Various were the discouragements which lay in the way of the afflicted matron; she was a Canaanite, one of that detested race with which the Jews would have no dealings, and with whom they disdained to converse, and had every reason to fear, that her petition would be disgusting to one of the most eminent of the sons of Israel; but, notwithstanding all these circumstances, she, as an humble petitioner, threwherself upon the tender mercies of the benevolent Son of God: strong necessity urged heron, grief and growing distress caused her to be importunate; such dreadful sorrow, such pressing distress surrounded her, it is no wonder that sh:
would take no denial, but pursued, with repeated petitions, the only person who was able to help. Accordingly, in the deepest humility of mind, with the most respectful reverence and submission, and the most ardent, earnest, and powerful address, she came and fell at the feet of our great Redeemer; she besought him, and cried, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David. The earnestness of this woman's petition and her calling our Lord the Son of David, plainly indicate, that she believed him to be the Messiah; she seems to have received that faith, which was always honoured by the Son of God, and always recommended the persons who possessed it, to his first regard; and one would have expected, that such a petition would not have been rejected by that bountiful and merciful Redeemer, who went about doing good, and who kindly invited the weary and heavy-laden, to come to him with the promise of relief.
This woman being a native of Syrophoenicia, was no doubt, educated in all the idolatrous superstition of the Greeks; but had been enabled to believe in the Son of God, and earnestly and vehemently to apply to him for relief. And there is no reason to doubt, but that divine Person, who had enabled her to believe his ability to heal her daughter, and thus, with all her heart and soul, to implore his assistance, beheld her with an eye of tender pity, and stood determined to grant her request.
But we find, that our Lord did not think proper to let her know his intentions towards her at first. He made no reply to her petition, nor did he seem to take the least notice, either of her, or her distress; but this silence and seeming disregard, did not intimidate her so far as to induce her to desist; but excited her to press her petition with the more earnestness. She continued her cries with a vehemence which would take no denial, till the disciples were affected with her grief, and became her advocates; and they, however strongly they had imbibed the prejudices of their nation, against the Gentiles, besought their Master to dismiss this troublesome petitioner, to grant her request and send her away.
But JESUs soon silenced his disciples, with an answer agreeable to their own prejudices; I am not sent said he, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. To this, the whole train readily assented; they had an high opinion of the peculiar privileges and high prerogatives of the Jews, and looked upon the Gentiles as absolutely unclean, and unworthy of the least favour from the God of Israel: so that they were entirely satisfied with this answer, and urged the matter no further.
But the woman herself was not so easily prevailed on to give up her request: it was her own cause; she had no hopes of relief from any other quarter; and that divine power which had wrought faith in her heart, and given her a full persuasion, that Jesus was the Messiah, and able to help her, had also given her strength and perseverance in her request. She took some encouragement, from observing herself the subject of conversation between CHRIST and his disciples, and, though conscious of her unworthiness to approach so illustrious a person, yet fully convinced of his divinity, she worshipped him, and prayed, Lord, help me.
Our Lord now condescended to speak to this humble and earnest petitioner: but his words were seemingly sufficient to have discouraged every future attempt; and though she had conceived so high an opinion of the person and condescending goodness of our Lord, his reply seems sufficient to have inspired her with bitter dislike and aversion. “It is not meet,” said he, to take the childrens' bread, and to cast it to dogs.' . Intimating, that the Jews were the children of God, to whom all the privileges and blessings of the covenant of Abraham belonged; and, as the
Gentiles were vile and contemptible, they could not expect to share those blessings with the sons of Israel. This answer, however severe, did but speak the language of the petitioner's humility, and therefore, it did not excite her resentment, or cause her to go murmuring away; but, acknowledging the justice of his remark, she meekly replied: “Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table.” Thus continuing the similitude which our Lord had laid down, she artfully introduced her own case, and beautifully and meekly urged her petition, at a time when, it might have been expected, she would have declined it with murmuring resentment.
Our Saviour, having thus given the woman an opportunity of manifesting the strength and steadiness of her faith, and declaring what just notions she had of her own unworthiness, and the power and goodness of our great Redeemer, now beheld her with a gracious smile, commending her faith, and wrought the cure which she had so warmly and successfully solicited in behalf of her daughter; ‘O woman,’ said he, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” These gracious words were no sooner spoken, than the great event followed ; and the affectionate parent had reason to rejoice, for her ‘daughter was made whole from that very hour.’
This affecting and interesting relation, should excite every person in distress, especially those who are in distress of soul, to be ardent, constant and persevering in their addresses to our great Redeemer. Whatever may be the nature of our distress, and however impossible it might seem to us, that our comfort
should be restored, yet there is the highest encouragement to seek to that great Person, who is mighty to save, and in his own time and way, will deliver all that commit their case to him, that believe in his name, and come to him for deliverance. Nor ought we to
be discouraged by the most humbling views which we