Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

woman whose history we have considered, but in ten thousand other instances; a power which turns the current of the soul, and makes filthiness itself pure as the “ crystal river before the throne of God and the Lamb ?"

3. See the necessity of repentance, of faith, and of love. If like this woman you would be pardoned, you must exercise the

graces which she displayed. When the gospel proclaims forgiveness, it does not represent guilt as less enormous than we had imagined. On the contrary, it points to Calvary, to the infinite atonement there offered, and in the agonies and blood of the Son of God, shows us what we have deserved. At the view of this sacrifice we must be humbled; from it we must learn to loathe ourselves for our transgressions; we must take it as our only plea for pardon; believing in the Saviour, our hearts must glow with love for his perfections and his mercies. Abandoning our transgressions, we must express our love by publicly owning this Saviour, by seeking him in all his ordinances, by the constant exercise of gratitude, by sacrifices for him, by continual attempts to honour him; and after having done all in our power, by weeping at his feet as unworthy. Thus live, and he whom you thus serve will testify his approbation, not merely before a company of pharisees, but before the assembled uni

verse.

4. Let the self-righteous tremble. Alas! the race of pharisees is not extinct. The name has ceased among us, but the temper still is found. How many, because they are not chargeable with gross sins ; because they are regular in their external conduct, and give some alms to the poor, and are exact in

their performance of the outward duties of religion, suppose they have little need of the grace of the Redeemer; and love him feebly; and censure all who warmly express their affection as hypocrites or enthusiasts; who, while they approve of zeal in every thing else, condemn it only in religion. Alas! to this temper, which so much resembles that of Simon, no promise of pardon is made. The soul must be bowed down under a sense of sin, and animated by love, before it will hear that joyful declaration, “ Thy sins are forgiven; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

5. Finally, Christian, let this history more endear thy Saviour to thee. The kind friend of man, he with love conducts the erring into the way of truth, and consoles and refreshes the heavy laden, penitent sin

The most holy of beings, he is also the most gracious. Thou hast tasted his pardoning love; thou hast partaken of his mercies. Praise, love, adore him daily, with greater constancy and zeal.

ner.

SERMON LIV.

LIFE OF CHRIST.

No. XXI.

THE SYRO-PHENICIAN WOMAN.

Mat. xv. 28.

Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great

is thy faith : be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that

very

hour.

Jesus came to break down the separating wall between Jew and Gentile ; to offer an atonement sufficient for the sins of the world ; and to announce a system of religion suited to every people and to every land. Though his personal ministry was devoted to the Jews, to whom he had been promised, in whose prophetical writings his character, his office, the time of his advent, had been foretold; who, as they had been the depositary of that great truth, the unity of the Godhead, amidst the general idolatry of the nations, had also been pointed out as the source whence the fuller and more attractive revelations of God by the Messiah should be diffused through the world. Yet, like the ancient prophets, he had often foretold the vocation of the Gentiles; had declared that many should come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of God.” As his ministry upon earth was hastening to a conclusion, he gave an emblem, a pre•lude of this calling of the Gentiles, in the blessings which he bestowed upon the Canaanitish woman. He consecrated her as part of the first fruits of this vocation. He taught his disciples, by his mercy to her, the blessings that his salvation would communicate to the perishing. On this account, as well as from the more direct instructions which it conveys, her history deserves our serious attention.

The blessed Redeemer had departed, for a short time, from Galilee, and came to the northern borders of Palestine, in the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon. It was a tract of country inhabited partly by Jews, and partly by the descendants of those Canaanites who were not entirely expelled when the Israelites took possession of the land. The female in our text was one of these last, one of that nation lying under the curse, and not enjoying the privileges of the covenant. She is called by Mark a Syro-Phænician, a name given to the Canaanites who resided in Syria, to distinguish them from those who dwelt in Africa, and were termed Lybo-Phoenicians, or Carthaginians. But there were some of this nation, odious for its crimes, who repented, were converted, and became worshippers of the true God, such as Rahab and others. This, however, was not the case with the woman whose history we are considering. She was, says the Evangelist, “a Greek,” a word which, in the New Testament, is often used as synonymous with idolater. The reason is well assigned by Bishop Horsley; " Because idolatry, in its worst form, the worship of the images of dead men prevailed more among the Greeks than the nations of the east; such

idolaters, of whatever country they might be, were, by the Jews of the apostolic age, called Greeks; just as among us, any one who lives in the communion of the Roman Church, though he be a Frenchman, or a Spaniard, is called a Roman Catholic.”

Such was the character of this woman. She was probably a widow, and had an only daughter, to whom she was tenderly attached, and who was grievously vexed by a devil.” This deplorable state, against which all human resources were impotent, was announced according to the frequent representations of the scriptures, by extraordinary symptoms, and by frightful convulsions. Those whom these spirits tormented, afflicted in body and in mind, were a prey to violent assaults of rage and phrenzy. Sometimes they wandered in deserts, or retired to remote sepulchres. Sometimes, in order to restrain their fury, it was necessary to bind them in chains. I have remarked to you, in the course of these lectures, that it was consistent with the wisdom of God to permit Satan, during the residence of the Saviour upon earth, to exercise a greater dominion over the bodies of men than he has since been allowed to exercise; that by his forcible expulsion the superior authority of the Son of God might be manifested. This proud and malignant enemy to human happiness and holiness, knowing that the time of his defeat, by the sacrifice of Jesus, was rapidly advancing, redoubles his rage, and makes his most furious assaults. As at the end of the world, he shall, by divine permission, come from his prison in great wrath, and with all his power, that the last act of God's justice upon him, may be the more striking, because the malice and fury of Satan had been unrestrained; so when Jesus “ came to destroy the works

« PoprzedniaDalej »