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Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried to Him, saying, Have mercy, on me, O lord, you Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil, etc.
Q. WHAT do you here understand by Jesus departing into the coasts of Tyre and Zidon?
A. According to the sense of the letter, by Jesus departing into the coasts of Tyre and Si-don is to be understood, that as to His body, or bodily presence, He really entered into those coasts. But whereas all that the blessed Jesus did; all His journeyings, His sojournings, and His resting-places were significative and representative of spiritual and celestial things relating to His church and kingdom; and as all places in the land of Canaan, and bordering upon that land, were in like manner significative and representative; therefore by Jesus departing into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, is to be understood a state into which He entered as to His humanity, in its progress towards union with His divinity, corresponding to the spiritual signification of Tyre and Zidon.
Q. And what do you conceive to be the spiritual signification of those two places?
A. These places, as being near the sea, and in the boundaries of the land of Canaan, were figurative of the knowledges, both interior and exterior, necessary for introduction into the church, or heaven, represented by the land of Canaan, Tyre being figurative of interior knowledges, and Zidon of exterior. As therefore the descent of the blessed Jesus into Egypt, when He was a child, was figurative of His instruction in the scientifics of the church, with a view to the glorification of His human nature, or to making it divine; in like manner His departure here recorded into the coasts of Tyre and Zidon, denotes His further instruction in the knowledges represented by those two places. Frequent mention is accordingly made in the Psalms and in the prophetic writings, both of Tyre and Zidon, and in all cases with reference to their internal spiritual signification as above stated.
Q. But it is written, that Behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried to Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, You Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil——what do you here understand by a woman of Canaan coming out of those coasts?
A. According to the sense of the letter, by a woman of Canaan coming out of those coasts, is to be understood such a woman coming out of the coasts of Tyre and Zidon; but according to the spiritual or internal sense of the history, is to be understood the affection of truth in the church; for by Canaan is signified and represented the church; and by a woman, the affection of truth which constitutes the church; and by this woman coming out of the coasts of Tyre and Zidon is further denoted the affection of truth emerging from the knowledges in which it was principled, and advancing to that state of purification and conjunction with the supreme good, to which those knowledges point.
Q. And what do you conceive to be implied in the words which follow, where it is written? And cried to Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, you Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil?
A. By crying to Him, is to be understood the vehement affection from which she spoke; and by saying, is further to be understood the expression of that affection in her thought; and that this thought was grounded in a full persuasion of the divinity and divine humanity of the blessed Jesus whom she was addressing, is plain from the words which she applies on the occasion, Have mercy on me, O Lord, You Son of David. For by the exclamation, Have mercy on me, O Lord, is manifestly expressed an acknowledgement of the divinity of the being to whom it was directed, and by the additional appellation of You Son of David; is marked with equal emphasis the acknowledgement of His humanity. It is added, my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil, to denote that the vehemence of her affection, and the piety of her exclamation, were grounded in the painful sentiment, that the heavenly good of love and charity, which had been produced in her mind, was infested by the infernal opposite principles of evil and of defilement, for by daughter is signified such heavenly good, which had been produced from the affection of truth; and by being grievously vexed with a devil, is denoted the infestation excited by infernal evil and defilement.
Q. But it is said that he (Jesus ) answered her not a word, And Hisdisciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away; for she cries after us——what do you here understand by Jesus answering her not a word?
A. According to the literal idea, the expression means that He was silent; but the spiritual idea involved in silence is that of astonishment, since this sentiment maybe so great as to take away the use of speech. Thus it is written in the book of Revelations, (Rev. 8:1). that there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour, to denote the astonishment, or amaze-merit of the angelic host, at learning what was the state of the church, as it had been discovered in the preceding chapter. The silence, therefore, of the blessed Jesus on the present occasion, was the silence of astonishment, occasioned either by the faith of the supplicant woman who was addressing Him, and which He afterwards so highly commended, or by the consideration of the state of her unhappy daughter, who was grievously vexed with a devil.
Q. And how do you understand the following words, where it is said, that His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away, for she cries after us?
A. By the disciples are here to be understood those, who have received the knowledge of truth in their understandings, but are not yet equally principled in the good of love and charity in their wills; and it is the nature and disposition of such persons to judge others from the spirit of truth or faith alone, and not from a principle of heaven-born love or charity. When therefore these disciples observed that the woman of Canaan was urgent with her entreaties in favour of her daughter, they would have sent her away without the blessing which she solicited, because she herself was not a disciple, or instructed in the doctrines or opinions which they had learned, and because she troubled them with her cries. And thus it is at this day that they, who are principled in the doctrine of faith alone, assigning it a pre-eminence over charity and good works, decide on the merits of others from their opinions more than from their practices, and reprobate all who do not receive their creed, whatever respect they may pay to the commandments of God.
Q. But it follows that He (Jesus ) answered and said, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel — what do you conceive to be the purport of these words?
A. These words, in appearance, seem to justify the disciples, who requested that He would send the woman away ; but that this is only an appearance, and that the blessed Jesus therefore did not mean to vindicate His disciples, is evident from the concluding part of the history, in which we read that he granted the woman's request. In like manner it is evident from the words themselves, that Jesus did not intend absolutely to reject the petitions of the distressed woman, but only to try her faith, and thus to purify and strengthen it. For when he says, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He intended to teach His followers in all ages, that the grand end and design of His coming into the world was to assist and save those who were principled in some degree of heavenly good, but who, for want of the knowledge of the truth, are in danger of being deprived of that good; all such being signified by the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not therefore to be understood that by the lost sheep of the house of Israel, are meant only the Jews, or they who were of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh; but the expression includes all those who were of the seed of Abraham according to the Spirit, that is to say, who possess the heavenly faith and love by which the patriarch was distinguished. Jesus Christ accordingly declares concerning the publican Zaccheus, who was by birth a Gentile, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as He also is the son of Abraham, (Luke 19:9). evidently teaching that every one is a son of Abraham, who, like the publican Zaccheus, is principled in that faith and love which seek to see Jesus who He is, (verse 3).
Q. And what do you learn from the succeeding words, where it is written, Then came she and worshiped Him, saying, lord, help me?
A. I learn from these words that a true faith and love is not to be discouraged by any apparent rejection of its petition, or by any seeming repulsion on the part of the almighty. For notwithstanding the silence of the blessed jesus in the first instance, and the subsequent reply, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, the distressed woman, who is the subject of this history, still persists in her adoration of her redeeming lord, and in her supplication for his divine aid, thus instructing all future supplicants to persevere patiently in all their spiritual purposes, and not to be dispirited, whatsoever apparent difficulties and obstructions may present themselves.
Q. And what do you learn further from the reply which the blessed Jesus makes on the occasion, and which is expressed in these words, It is not worthy to take the children's meat, and to cast it to dogs?
A. By the children, are here to be understood those of the church, who receive and cherish the heavenly principles of goodness and truth in their hearts and lives; and by their bread is to be understood the holy Word which contains these principles, according to which idea it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of god, (Deut. 8:3. Matt. 4:4). By dogs again are here to be understood the Gentiles, or those who are out of the church where the Word is taught and received, and according to this sense the term is again applied in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, where it is written concerning the latter, that the dogs came and licked his sores, denoting that the ill effects resulting from false principles, which in the parable are here called sores, were healed by the externally good affections of the Gentiles, or of those who were not in possession of the Word. Yet dogs are frequently spoken of in the scripture in a bad sense, as denoting concupiscencies and appetites, agreeable to which sense it is written in the book of Psalms, For dogs have compassed me, (Ps. 22:16). and in the Revelations, speaking of the holy city Jerusalem, For without are dogs, (Rev. 22:15). When the blessed Jesus therefore said, It is not worthy to take the children's meat, and to cast it to dogs, He taught an important lesson of divine truth, namely. that the holy word ought not to be imparted to those who are not in a disposition to receive it; as He says also in another place, Give not that which is holy to the dogs, (Matt. 7:6). There is reason, however, to believe, that in the reply which he here makes to the distressed supplicant, He meant to try and to exercise the principles of her faith and love, by presenting another apparently discouraging remark, and by such trial and exercise to purify the principles which were the subject of His operation. And that this was its effect, is evident from the answer made by the supplicant, where she says, Truth, lord, but the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table, for these words are evidently words of humiliation, and at the same time of adoration of the divinity of the great saviour, also of assent to the truth which He delivered, implying likewise that such is the divine bounty, that all receive from it more or less of spiritual nourishment, and that consequently the Gentiles, who are here called dogs, derive benefit from the revealed Word, and though not fed to the full like the children, yet, partake of the crumbs, which fall from the plentiful table of the great creator and preserver,
Q. But it is written in the conclusion, that Jesus answered and said to her, 0 woman, great is your faith; be it to you even as you will. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour——what instruction do you learn from these words?
A. I learn from these words the blessed effect of patient perseverance in good desires and good purposes, and how, sooner or later, all difficulties and discouragements fall down before it; I learn further to distinguish this good effect by the three characters here given of it, first, as discovering to the woman the quality of her faith, and that it was a faith grounded in love and charity, signified by a great faith, for the term great is always applied in reference to that heavenly principle, or to its opposite. Secondly, as discovering further that the quality of every one, and his condition hereafter, depend altogether on the state of his will or love, signified by the words, Be it to you even as you will. And thirdly, as promoting the deliverance of the affection of good in the church from the infestations of infernal evils, signified by the words, And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Q. What then is the general instruction which you learn from this miracle?
A. I learn in the first place, that when the affection of truth in the church, by the acquirement of heavenly knowledge, is succeeded by the affection of good, which is the affection of heavenly love and charity, this latter affection is presently infested by evils, and by the infernal spirits who are in connection with those evils, and who seek to destroy it. I learn further, that in this state of infestation, the Omnipotence of the great redeemer is sought for and supplicated, as the only power capable of removing the infestation. I learn again that the aid of this Omnipotence, according to appearance, is not immediately granted, and that many apparent difficulties and discouragements are wont to present themselves against it; Lastly, I learn that these apparent difficulties and discouragements only tend to the purification and confirmation of the good desires and purposes, which they seemed to oppose; and that finally, through the divine mercy and power of the incarnate god, which had been solicited, all apparent obstacles are removed, the quality of heavenly good in the devout supplicant is made manifest, the ruling love is discovered to be the arbiter of man's eternal state, and infernal infestation is no longer suffered to assault and vex the troubled spirit. I am resolved therefore, that under all the infestations of evil spirits which are permitted to molest me, I will follow the example of the devout woman, whose great faith is recorded in the above history, and therefore, whatsoever discouragements may be thrown in my way, whether they be real or apparent; and Howsoever my god and saviour may delay the fulfilment of my desires and petitions, I will not cast away my confidence, but will still patiently persevere, until I hear from His divine lips the consolatory words, Great is your faith; be it, to you even as you will. amen.
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