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in the light which none can approach, but who takest care of all the things that thou hast made, and hast in a most especial manner manifested thy love to us, thy children of the human race !
What is man, O Lord! What are we, that thou shouldst thus be mindful of us and cherish us ? Thou tookest us yesterday out of the dust, and designest us to be partakers of thine own immortality and blessedness !
O suffer not our manifold sins and unworthiness to defeat thy gracious purposes; but be pleased to perfect the work that thou hast begun, and purify and fit us for thyself.
And as thou, O heavenly Father, who knowest the frail materials of which we are composed, hast placed us in the midst of powerful and allạring temptations, dangerous to our feeble virtue and powers :
Give us, we pray thee, strength from above equal to the trials that we are to encounter with.
And aid us especially, to be always upright before thee, and to act the sincere part in this passing world, in bearing testimony to thee and to thy holy truth at all convenient seasons; that others may thereby be encouraged and
brought forward therein, and the virtue and true happiness of all thy creatures may be effectually promoted.
Finally, O Lord our God, as it hath pleased thee, according to thy sovereign wisdom, to assign to us our different capacities, stations, and employments in this world, enable us, whilst the short day of our trial lasts, to serve thee in them, and to employ our opportunities and abilities which thou bestowest, in the purification of our own natures, and striving to be instruments of the most lasting good to others; that, in the end of time, we may share in the unspeakable recompense of an endless bliss, which, not of debt, but of thy free bounty and goodness, thou hast promised to thy faithful servants by Christ our Lord !
2 KINGS v. 17, 18, 19.
And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray
thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant benceforth will offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and be leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon; when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmor, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. And be said unto him, Go in peace.
These last words contain the short reply of Elisha, a prophet of God, to the very important question put to him; in the solution of which we are all of us much concerned, particularly in the consequences that have been drawn from it.
I shall first consider this history, and then lay before you some remarks.
Naaman, a great military officer and a person of the first distinction under the king of Syria, was ‘led by the fame of the prophet Elisha to apply to him for the cure of his leprosy, a most dreadful disease, especially in those Eastern countries, under which he laboured in a very high degree.
He seems to have had in him the seeds of a singular probity and generosity of mind, with a turn to serious reflection ; but being withal of a warm aspiring disposition, which had been fed by great success in war, and the rank he held, he was in danger of forgetting his feeble condition of humanity, and becoming wholly corrupted by pride and ambition.
This is visible in the resentment which he shows at the prophet's not treating him as,
he thought, became a man of his quality and consideration.
Ver. 9, &c. “So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying; Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again unto thee, and thou shalt be: