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state of our hearts by nature, declares to us as plainly that "there is a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness," that the Lord Jesus Christ is able and willing to cleanse us by His blood, and by His Spirit ; and so to wash our guilty hearts, that they shall be whiter than snow.
How thankful we should be that these things have been made so clear and plain to us ;-that we live in a time when even a little child may understand many a great truth, which would have been like parables and dark sayings to the wisest among the Jews! For all this knowledge we are indebted to our Great Prophet Jesus Christ. He is the Sun of righteousness who dispels the darkness of the world. He is the light as well as the life of men. In His light it is that we see light so clearly, where in old times the great and the learned groped in darkness. It is the light of the Gospel which has scattered like the morning cloud those many errors which human tradition had brought into the world. Christ has plucked up the unwholesome weeds; and planted in their stead the blessed doctrines of God's heavenly word.
We shall never think then of being proud of our superior knowledge, but trace all to the goodness and grace of God, in causing our lot to be thrown in a Christian and a Protestant country, and in a Church so scriptural, where the light shines upon us almost as soon as we are born. How thankful should we be for all these blessings! how glad that we were dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ in Baptism; that His name was named over us, and His cross marked upon our foreheads, when we were yet unconscious infants; and that we have been instructed in the blessed
truths of His Gospel from the earliest days of childhood! We have only to compare our lot, I say not with the heathen who "sit in darkness and the shadow of death," but with the thousands of our fellow creatures who have been brought up in error, like the disciples of the Pharisees in our Lord's time, or like those who belong to the Roman Catholic Church in the present day, and we shall see unbounded reason to pray to God to give us hearts more sensible of His goodness to us.
See Matt. xv. 1-20. Mark vii. 1-23.
THIRTY-FOURTH SUNDAY EVENING.
THE WOMAN OF CANAAN.
E. What are we to talk about this evening, dear Mamma? You are not going, I suppose, to tell me any more just yet about the errors of the Pharisees?
M. No, Edward; that was a subject on which it was necessary to give you some information; though I dare say it might not interest you very much. But, I have a very different matter for this evening's conversation. Instead of the Pharisees, "the strictest sect of the Jews," I have to tell you of a heathen person who came to our Lord to heal her daughter. For so great was the fame of Jesus, that even the heathens heard of Him, and applied to Him for relief. E. And they came, I suppose, a great way for that purpose?
M. That was not necessary. For if you look on the map, you will see that Galilee, where our Lord
chiefly exercised his ministry, was quite to the north of the holy land, bordering upon Syria, whilst on the sea coast lay Tyre and Sidon, cities whose names you know very well.
E. O yes, Mamma, I have not forgotten Hiram king of Tyre, who assisted David and Solomon in building the temple.
But it was
M. And that, you know, was more than a thousand years before the coming of our Lord; so that Tyre was in our Saviour's time an ancient city. in fact much older than Solomon's day. More than four centuries before, it is spoken of in the book of Joshua' as a "strong city." Sidon was older still, for Tyre was the daughter or colony of Sidon, and "the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, replenished it," or supplied its wants out of their abundance, as we learn from the prophet Isaiah'. probably took its name from Canaan's eldest son, who was called Sidon, and, perhaps, built it; certainly it is one of the most ancient cities in the world. It is mentioned by the patriarch Jacob, as well known in his time; and, in Joshua's day, was called the great Sidon, being, so to speak, the London of the ancient world, though afterwards Tyre became much the greater of the two. I was anxious to tell you all this; because Tyre and Sidon are very important cities both in ancient and modern history, and I should wish to draw your attention particularly to them.
E. I suppose they are not such great cities now, Mamma?
M. No, indeed: could you behold them now, you
1 Ch. xix. 29.
2 Ch. xxiii. 2. 12.
3 Gen. xlix. 13.
would see little to answer to the description I have been giving you. You would find Tyre a mere collection of ruins, inhabited by a few wretched fishermen; a place, as the prophet Ezekiel foretold, twentyfour centuries ago, "for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea'." Sidon is also now a dirty place, full of ruins, although a great trade is still carried on there. Some travellers say, that it is pleasantly situated, and surrounded with rich gardens. The old city of Tyre had been destroyed before our Saviour's time; but the new one was still a place of some importance, though not what it had been in ancient times.
E. And what, Mamma, was their religion? Was it nothing but heathenism?
M. The Tyrians, as a people, worshipped Hercules, as he is called by the Greek writers, or Baal, as the Scriptures call him. But there were among them some proselytes, or converts to the Jewish religion. Accordingly, St. Luke tells us, that among the multitudes, which came to hear Christ, and to be healed by Him of their diseases, part were from the sea coasts of Tyre and Sidon. Mixed, indeed, with the judgments, which we find spoken in the Bible against Tyre, for its luxury and pride, are some predictions of a more gracious kind; as in the words of the Psalmist, who foretold, that, when Christ should set up his kingdom, "the daughter of Tyre should be there with a gift:" or in the language of Zechariah, who, when he predicts the taking of Tyre by Alexander the Great, adds, "But he that remaineth shall be for
1 Ezek. xxvi. 5.
our God." Isaiah too has said of Tyre, that "her merchandise shall be holiness unto the Lord;" that is to say, employed in His service, which is exactly what the Psalmist meant, by her being before the king with a gift. These prophecies were fulfilled in the time of the Gospel by the conversion of the Tyrians to Christianity, and the establishment among them of a Christian Church; which was at one time distinguished for fortitude under persecution, at another for the magnificence of its Christian temple. Even so early as St. Paul's time, we read', that he was led to tarry seven days at Tyre because he found disciples of his Master's there. But this was thirty years beyond the time of which we are now going to talk, when our Lord paid a visit to the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and met with the poor heathen woman, whose character will, I think, interest you very much.
The evangelist draws our attention to her striking story in a very marked manner, as if he felt that it deserved very particular notice. After telling us that our Lord drew near to the borders of Tyre and Sidon, he says, “And behold a woman of Canaan came out of those coasts."
E. I do not quite like to stop you, Mamma, just as you begin her history; but I cannot understand why she is called a woman of Canaan?
M. I like your question very much; for it shows that you think and attend carefully to every part of the narrative. Canaan you know was the ancient name of the whole of this country, and the woman is called a Canaanite, to show that she did not belong to
1 Acts xxi. 4.