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if he were unmoved by the dismal story; and regardless of the wretched mother's cries," he answered her not a word."
It is certain that the most benevolent of men are not equally inclined at all seasons to give attention to a stranger's concerns, or to be touched with the recital of a stranger's distress. A suppliant to our charity, whose case deserves attention, sometimes meets with a cool or with a rough reception, because he applies in an unlucky moment. Since our Lord was made like unto his brethren, may something analogous to this fretfulness, which more or less is incident to the very best of men, be supposed in him, to account for the singularity of his conduct in this instance? Were his spirits exhausted by the fatigue of a long journey made afoot? was his mind ruffled by his late contentions with the captious Pharisees? was he wearied out by the frequency of petitions for his miraculous assistance? was he disgusted with the degeneracy of mankind in general, and with the hardened incredulity of his own nation? was his benevolence, in short, for the moment laid
asleep, by a fit of temporary peevishness? God forbid that any here should harbour the injurious, the impious suspicion; a suspicion which even the Socinians (not to charge them wrongfully) have not yet avowed, however easily it might be reconciled with their opinions. The Redeemer, though in all things like unto his brethren, was without sin: The fretfulness which is apt to be excited by external circumstances, whatever excuses particular occasions may afford, is always in some degree sinful. Benignity was the fixed and inbred habit of his holy mind; a principle not to be overcome in him, as in the most perfect of the sons of Adam, by the cross incidents of life. We must seek the motives of his present conduct in some other source not in any accidental sourness of the mo
This was the first instance in which his aid had been invoked by a person neither by birth an Israelite nor by profession a worshipper of the God of Israel. The miracle which he was presently to work for the relief and at the request of this heathen
suppliant was to be an action of no small importance. It was nothing less than a prelude to the disclosure of the great mystery which had been hidden for ages, and was not openly to be revealed before Christ's ascension, — that through him the gate of mercy was opened to the Gentiles. When an action was about to be done significant of so momentous a truth, it was expedient that the attention of all who stood by should be drawn to the thing by something singular and striking in the manner of the doing of it. It was expedient that the manner of the doing of it should be such as might save the honour of the Jewish dispensation, that it should mark the consistency of the old dispensation with the new, by circumstances which should im ply, that the principle upon which mankind in general were at last received to mercy was the very same upon which the single family of the Israelites had been originally taken into favour,—namely, that mankind in general, by the light of the gospel revelation, were at last brought to a capacity at least of that righteousness of faith which was the thing so valued in Abraham that it
rendered him the friend of God, and procured him the visible and lasting reward of special blessings on his posterity. It was fit that she who was chosen to be the first example of mercy extended to a heathen should be put to some previous trial; that she might give proof of that heroic faith which acts with an increased vigour under the pressure of discouragement, and show herself in some sort worthy of so high a preference. The coldness therefore with which her petition was at first received was analogous to the afflictions and disappointments with which the best servants of God are often exercised; which are intended to call forth their virtue here and heighten their reward hereafter. It is one of the many instances preserved in holy writ, which teach the useful lesson of entire resignation to the will of God, under protracted affliction and accumulated disappointments,―upon this principle, that good men are never more in the favour and immediate care of God than when in the judgment of the giddy world they seem the most forgotten and forsaken by him,
Our Lord's attendants, touched with the distress of the case penetrated by the woman's cries - perhaps ashamed that such an object should be openly treated with neglect (for what had hitherto passed was upon the public road) — and little entering into the motives of our Lord's conduct, took upon them to be her advocates. "They besought him, saying, Send her away, for she crieth after us." Send her away, that is, grant her petition, and give her her dismissal. That must have been their meaning; for in no instance had they seen the prayer of misery rejected; nor would they have asked their Master to send her away without relief. If our Lord had his chosen attendants-if among those attendants he had his favourites, yet in the present case the interest of a favourite could not be allowed to have any weight. He had indeed belied his own feelings had he seemed to listen more to the importunities of his friends than to the cries of distress and the pleadings of his own compassion. The interference of the disciples only served him with an occasion to prosecute his experiment of his suppliant's