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Be assured, then, of these things. If, professing to devote yourselves to God, you make reservation of any one known sin, in which you determine to indulge yourselves still, that reserve convicts your profession of hypocrisy. You must cast away all your transgressions, and make you a new heart and a new spirit altogether: you must “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset you." There is, indeed, no sin which God will not forgive, upon your repentance and forsaking of it, provided you draw near by faith in his Son's name; but if you would ask for a dispensation to go on in any evil habit, either of omission of duty, or commission of transgression, either in a great point, or in a smaller, you mock God, and deceive yourselves; you are still sowing to your flesh, and as you have sowed, so shall you also reap.
Such as know not how to quit worldly profit or preferment, when they may not retain it without sinning against God and wronging their own consciences, know not as yet what the pearl of great price is worth; they know not the value of the Divine favour, they estimate not Christ aright. Finally, they who hate evil, as sincere Christians ought to do, will abstain from all appearance of evil; and though they covet not human admiration, they will not willingly consent that their good should be evil spoken of. They will not, therefore, for any cause, so much as bow themselves in the house of Rimmon; they will not only be on the Lord's side, but will boldly declare for God, and declare against his enemies. These are the ways of real Christian men; this is the walk of those who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. “ If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee;" and hating even the garment that is spotted with the flesh, disdaining guile or compromise, without partiality and without hypocrisy,“ have respect unto all the commandments." This is, in the true sense, to offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods but unto the Lord. This is that to which the love of Christ, and a due sense of your obligation to Him, ought in all reason to constrain you; this is that religious integrity which God will accept in Christ; and these are those honest purposes which his grace will enable you to fulfil. God helps no man to surrender half his heart; but if you mean to give Him all, doubt not but He will make you his, for “ " the prayer of the upright is his delight*.
THE PUNISHMENT OF GEHAZI.
2 Kings v. 27.
“ The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever.
And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow."
When Naaman, the Syrian, (as I showed you in my last discourse,) perceived himself to be healed of his leprosy, he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, praying that he might be suffered to testify his thankfulness, by presenting to him some suitable gift: “ Now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.” Elisha, however, for good reasons, chose to decline his offers; and he answers with much vehemence, “ As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.”
But the prophet had a servant, named Gehazi, a man of another spirit from his master. He approved not of his disinterestedness, and his wicked heart immediately conceived a plan, by which, at the expense of Naaman's substance, and his master's honour, he hoped to enrich himself. The remainder of the chapter records the circumstances of his sin, and its miraculous and awful punishment.
Naaman, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, an unenlightened heathen, a stranger to the
Scriptures of God, had many servants; and we read how wise and good they were : Elisha, a holy prophet, a man of God, had but one servant, and he proved a wicked liar. They who heard of Elisha at a distance, honoured him, and received spiritual benefit from what they heard : but he that stood continually before him, to hear his wisdom, received no good impressions either from his doctrine or his miracles. One would expect that Elisha's servant should be a saint, but even Christ Himself had a Judas among his followers. The means of grace cannot make men gracious. The best men, the best ministers, have often had those about them, who, through no fault of theirs, have been their grief and shame. Where God is nigh in men's lips, He is sometimes far from their reins; and then, the more the light shines around them, the more gross is the darkness that reigns within ; and accordingly “ many shall
; come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven;" when “ the children of the kingdom shall be cast out!" The noble Syrian, as we read', having closed his conference with Elisha, “ departed from him a little way.” But he was not suffered to proceed far upon his journey. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought : but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well? And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments. And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and
Matt. viii. 11, 12.
? 2 Kings v. 19.
laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him. And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed. But he went in, and stood before his master.” Here is the sin of this hypocrite; and now observe its complicated baseness.
That “love of money,” which is the prolific “root of all evil *;" that “covetousness which is idolatry at the bottom of it. His heavenly-minded master beheld Naaman's treasures with a holy indifference. His desires were of a nature which wealth could not satisfy; his consolations of a kind which riches could not enhance. He was drawing water with joy out of the wells of salvation, and looking for “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God 5.” But Gehazi had imbibed no portion of the prophet's spirit; for other lords, far different from the Lord Jehovah, had dominion in his earthly mind; "and they that will be rich," as the sequel shows, “fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition
Gehazi blamed his master, and perhaps insolently despised him, for what he took to be his folly, in refusing gold when he might so readily have obtained it; and though he might easily have seen, and perhaps did see, into the good man's motive, that he meant by such disinterestedness to gain upon Naaman's esteem, to possess him with a favourable opinion of Jehovah's worshippers, and so to draw him to true religion and benefit his immortal soul, this consideration made no difference. It appeared to him enthusiasm, it was over-righteousness, a weak good nature in his master, if he was influenced by such views as these, to forego solid profit.
“ As the Lord liveth,” he exclaims profanely, “I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.” Such is the wisdom of the world ; a wisdom
1 Tim. vi. 10. 5 Heb. xi. 10.
4 Col. iii. 5.
1 Tim. vi. 9.