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sinner, but would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. Blessed be his holy name, who caused bis own Son to die for your offences, and rise again for your justification; that so He might merit for you such an eternal weight of glory, as you could never have dared to hope for, much less have expected to merit for yourselves. And to Him, also,
, be everlasting praise and glory, who, when He took away his Son from earth to be your continual advocate in heaven, did not leave you comfortless, but sent down his Holy Ghost to comfort and to strengthen you, to enable you both to will and do what is right and good. So that you know in whom you have trusted; you know that your Redeemer and Intercessor liveth; and when temptations assail, or dangers threaten you, in your Christian course, you know where to apply for help; and thus in your Creator's mercy the heavenly treasures are not only of all treasures the most desirable, but, if it be not your own fault, the most certain to be obtained; for if God by his Spirit be with you, who shall be against you? Covet earnestly, then, this best of gifts on earth, the grace of God's good Spirit; use it aright, when God shall have granted it to your prayers ; quench not the Spirit, grieve it not, and then shall ye be sealed by it unto the day of redemption.
5 See Eph. iv. 30.
2 Kings v. 12. “ Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all
the waters of Israel ? may I not wash in them, and be clean ? So he turned and went away in a rage.”
In the chapter from which these words are taken, you have an account of two very remarkable miracles wrought by God's prophet Elisha. The first is the cleansing of Naaman, a Syrian courtier, from his leprosy: the second, the smiting of Gehazi, the prophet's own servant, with that leprosy. I shall make the first of these histories the subject of my present discourse, reserving the second for a future opportunity.
The chapter begins with some account of Naaman, on whose behalf the miracle was wrought.
“Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria : he was also a mighty man in valour. But he was a leper.” No man's greatness, you see, can exempt him from the most loathsome calamities incident to human life. This world is not a resting-place for any of us; and God hath accordingly so ordered things, that no man's condition shall be absolutely
what he would himself have it be. The most prosperous have always some exception to their happiness. The Lord to his great Apostle Paul sent a "thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to” buffet him!. And Naaman, this prime favourite of his prince, this successful warrior, is made a burden to himself by a disgusting and painful malady. However, God hath a merciful meaning in these inflictions; and, if men sought Him as they might do, they would be overruled for good. St. Paul soon found occasion even to glory in his infirmity; and, as we shall see in the sequel, Naaman's leprosy was the occasion of more good to him, than he could ever have derived from his conquests or his honours. “And the Syrians," so the narrative proceeds, “had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy."
As in the former verse, where it is said the Lord gave deliverance to Syria by Naaman, we learn, that all things are of Him, and that He girdeth even those who know Him not; so here we see somewhat of the workings of his overruling providence. It chanced (as we should say ignorantly) that the Syrians made captive this little maid; and it chanced that she was brought into the family of Naaman: chance, however, it was not, but Divine appointment; the Lord had a service upon which He chose to send her. She was, it appears, a true Israelite. Young as she was she had heard of, and had considered, the wonderful works of God. She was willing, as became her, both to declare God's glory among the heathen, and to be an instrument of good unto her master. For though she was a captive, and brought into Naaman's service without her own concurrence, yet this put no check
upon cise of her charity; she was desirous, as she had oppor
2 Cor. xii. 7.
tunity, to do good unto all men: and, as the Jews were commanded to do afterwards in Babylon , he thought it right to seek the peace and welfare even of the land of her captivity.
“And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.”
Observe here, how much a man who is really suffering under affliction, will do upon the smallest hint or peradventure of relief. Upon the mere word of this little Israelite, Naaman immediately sets forth upon his journey ; nor will he leave any means untried by which he may induce the prophet to befriend him. The more to show his respect and reverence, he goes in great state and pomp: he takes a letter of recommendation from the king his master, so to secure the king of Israel's interest; and he will by no means go emptyhanded. It would be well if they who are spiritually diseased, would hearken thus readily to the tidings brought them of the soul's physician; it would be well if they would seek his face as diligently: for seeking they should surely find, and knocking it should be opened unto them.
The king of Israel, however, was not so well acquainted with Elisha as the Syrian monarch supposed he must be; and he receives the letter sent him with much suspicion and alarm; " And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? Wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how
? See Jer. xxix. 7.
he seeketh a quarrel against me?” In this plain request, which only meant that he should lay his commands upon the prophet to do what he could in Naaman's case, he discovers blasphemy against God, and a bad design upon himself. But there was no ground at all for these surmises; and if he had bethought himself of Elisha and of his power, he would have understood the letter at once, and have known what he had to do; but his confusion arose from his having made himself a stranger to the prophet: the captive maid had the man of God more in her thoughts than the king. We may observe, also, upon his behaviour, how often men create a great deal of uneasiness to themselves, by misinterpreting the words and actions of their neighbours. It is charity to ourselves to think no evil; and not the wisdom which some seem to Suppose, to be always suspecting a plot against us, where there is nothing that may reasonably excite suspicion.
Though the king of Israel had forgotten Elisha, and had conferred no honours upon him for his past services, which, as we read in the preceding history, had not been small, yet Elisha will not forget his prince; but makes, unasked, a proffer of his help as soon as he hears of the king's distress. “ And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes ? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
“So Naaman came with his horses, and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.” Elisha, knowing him, perhaps, to be a proud man, and willing to let him see that before the great God all men stand upon the same level, does not come out or pay him any compliment; but simply sends him a plain message directing him how to obtain a cure. “ Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” Certainly there was no