« AnteriorContinuar »
establishment of the Jews shall bring the fulness of the Gentiles into the church."it will receive its perfect accomplishment. But during the whole period of the Mosaic covenant; from the day when the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is thejinger of'God\ to the moment 'when the Roman centurion exclaimed, Truly this Man was the Son of God: the deliverances miraculously wrought amidst the chosen race shook successive kingdoms and generations of unbelievers with terror; and concurred with the conspicuous purity of the Jewish religion to extort from reluctant idolaters the tribute of praise to Jehovah.
In the narrative of which the portion of Scripture already recited forms a part, we perceive the Omnipotent gaining to himself from among the heathen an acquisition which his mercy never despises, the acquisition of a faithful worshipper. I propose, in the first place, to state and briefly to illustrate the circumstances of the transaction: and, in the second place, to point out some of the methods, in which we may derive benefit from the consideration of them.
I. The kingdom of Syria bordered upon
Israel. In consequence of disputes respecting
their boundaries and various other causes, there
..,..- . . arose arose frequent wars between the two nations* About the time of which we are speaking, some troops of Syrians had effected a success ful incursion into the land of Israel: and* according to the cruel custom of those daysr had carried back with them into captivity ^such of the inhabitants as they had been able to seize. Among them was a young womany who became a servant in the family of Naaman. Naaman was captain of the host, general of the whole army, of the king of Syria.. He was a mighty man in valour. He was also a great man with his master, and honourable; because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria. But in the midst of his grandeur and high renown, he was subjected to a very severe affliction. He was infected with the leprosy; a loathsome disorder not uncommon in the East. The Israelitish maiden felt compassion for his distress. Her mind, fondly reverting to her native foil, dwelt on the wonderful works which God had there wrought by the hand of Elifiha. She thought that this minister of heaven; on whose prayer the son of the Shunamite had been restored 10life, would be enabled to heal the disease of her master. She saidunto her nsiftres; Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria :for he would recover him of hit
leprosy. Naaman was informed of her expressions: and speedily commencing his jour* ney to Samaria, conveyed with him for the prophet a present of immense value; and a letter from the king of. Syria to the king of Israel desiring, in,authoritative language, that Naaman might be healed. The king of Israel perused the letter with astonishment and alarm. He rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive; that this man doth fend unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? And he concluded that the purpose of the Syrian monarch was to seek a" pretence for quarrelling and entering into war with him. When Elisha heard the news, he reproved the king of Israel for yielding to fear, instead of humbly confiding in God, who was ready to protect all that put their trust in him; and had even then raised up a prophet in Samaria able to cure the leper. /.<?/ Naaman, he added, come unto me: and he smll know that there is a prophet in .srael. Naaman accordingly proceeded with his chariot ""and attendants to the door of Elisha: and there received a message from the prophet, directing him to go and wash himself seven times in the river Jordan, and assuring him that his leprosy should thus be immediately removed. The haughtiness ofNaaman burst
into open fury, when heheard the message. He instantly departed. He considered the.river Jordan as utterly contemptible in comparison with the "rjvers'ofhis own country. Heexpected tod that the prophet should instantly have ap* pearedbefore him with ceremonious deference: and that he should have performed the cure publicly in the sight of the people, and in a manner calculated to render the highest honour to so great a man as the captain of the host 'of 'the king of Syria. Naaman was wroth, and "went away, and said; Behold J thought, be'will surely come out to me, and Jld'ttd, and call^'mi the name of the Lord hit Godjhhdflrikthis hand over the plate, and fa*' c&vc'r the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpary risers of Damascus, better than all the waters cf'Jfrael? May I not wajh in them, and he': dvfrn ? -So he turned, and went away in a rage. Happy was it for him that he had some at>' teodants of a "spirit different from his own. They came near, and said unto him; My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing: wouldefl thou not have done: it f How much rather then, when he faith; WxfiJ and be clean ?- Here was the language of reason and kindness. The language of reason unaccompanied by kindness will often fail of making an impression. It has no effect
sect on the understanding, because it touches not the heart. The language of kindness unassociated with reason will frequently be unable to persuade: because though it may gain upon the affections, it wants that which is necessary to convince the judgement. But let reason and kindness be united in your discourse; and seldom will even pride or prejudice sind it easy to resist. Thus it was with Naaman. His pride and prejudices yielded at once. He went forward to the river Jordan; dipped himself seven times; and ascended out of the water perfectly healed of his disease. He hastened back to the prophet in the fervor of gratitude and piety. He was eager to load Elistia with costly gifts: But Elistia sought not by healing Naaman to enrich himself. His object was to promote the glory of God. Urged again and again with the most importunate earnestness, he steadily refused to receive a reward. Naaman avowed his conviction that the God of Israel was the God of all the earth: and solemnly protested that from that moment he renounced the worship of idols, and would adore the true God alone. He returned into Syria completely changed not in outward appearance merely, but in heart. *,
Vol. I. R II. I pro*