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Alas! what can one strong man do against a whole throng of wickedness? Yet this good comes of an unprevailing resistance, that God forbears to plague where he finds but a sprinkling of faith. Happy are they who (like unto the celestial bodies, which being carried about with the sway of the highest sphere, yet creep on their own ways) keep on the courses of their own holiness against the swinge of common corruptions; they shall both deliver their own souls, and help to withhold judgment from others.
The Gadarenes sue to Christ for his departure. It is too much favour to attribute this to their modesty, as if they held themselves unworthy of so divine a guest. Why then did they fall upon this suit in a time of their loss? why did they not tax themselves, and intimate a secret desire of that which they durst not beg? It is too much rigour to attribute it to the love of their hogs, and an anger at their loss; then they had not entreated, but expelled him. It was their fear that moved this harsh suit; a servile fear of danger to their persons, to their goods, lest he that could so absolutely command the devils should have set these tormentors upon them, lest their other demoniacs should be dispossessed with like loss.
I cannot blame these Gadarenes that they feared. This power was worthy of trembling at. Their fear was unjust; they should have argued, “This man hath power over men, beasts, devils; it is good having him to our friend; his presence is our safety and protection.” Now they contrarily misinfer, “Thus powerful is he; it is good he were farther off.”
What miserable and pernicious misconstructions do men make of God, of divine attributes and actions ! “God is omnipotent, able to take infinite vengeance of sin; 0 that he were not! He is provident, I may be careless; he is merciful, I may sin ; he is holy, let him depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” How witty sophisters are natural men, to deceive their own souls, to rob themselves of a God ! ( Saviour, how worthy are they to want thee that wish to be rid of thee! Thou hast just cause to be weary of us even while we sue to hold thee; but when once our wretched unthankfulness grows weary of thee, who can pity us to be punished with thy departure? who can say it is other than righteous, that thou shouldst regest one day upon us, Depart from me, ye wicked.
THE HISTORY OF
THE SECOND VOLUME.
To the only honour and glory of God my Saviour; and to the benefit and
behoof of his blessed Spouse, the Church; I do in all humility devote myself and all my Meditations. The weak and unworthy Servant of both,
BOOK IV. .
TO THE READER. Those few 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 preengagement, 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 remark. able 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 fearing, not affecting, length; and 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 bis prayers for and with me, who am the unworthiest of the servants of Christ.
THE FAITHFUL CANAANITE.—Matthew xy. It was our Saviour's trade to do good: therefore he came down from heaven to earth ; therefore he 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 above 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, drave 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. O teach us how happy we are in such a guest; and give us grace to keep thee. Hadst thou walked within the Phænician 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, couldst 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, wouldst 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 Nepthalim, 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 soul 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