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from the hand of God, it must be fought in the manner which he enjoins. If you seek but the smallest of his gifts; pursue the appointed track: turn not aside to the right hand nor to the left. Would you atchieve the greatest, even salvation? Seek it through that channel which he has ordained. You cannot attain it through any other. The mercy of God will be exercised, the grace of God will be bestowed, in his own method, and in that only. If you will not accept his bounty in the way and under the qualifications which he proposes ; you never will obtain it. Could not the Omnipotent have removed the leprosy of Naaman by various means ? But the waters of Jordan were the instrument which he thought fit to appoint. If Naaman had obstinately persevered in refusing to make use of them; he never would have been healed. He might have bathed in Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus of which he so highly boafted : he might have consulted the most skilful physicians : he might have applied the most celebrated remedies : he might have practised every method which his imagination could devise for the recovery of his health : and all would have been entirely in vain. He would have remained a distempered and a misérable
object, grievous to himself, and offensive to others : he would have gone down to his grave a leper as white as snow. If you wish to be saved ; remember that you can be saved only through Christ. There is salvation in no other. And, if you would be saved through him ; remember that he will be no Saviour to you, unless through the grace of God it be your constant study and endeavour to believe what he has commanded you to believe, and to practise what he has commanded you to practise. It is a very afflicting and a very alarming truth, that in most congregations there are many professed Christians, who will not take Christianity as they find it in the Scriptures. Puffed up with felfrighteousness, or proudly confiding in their own imaginations and reasonings, they shut their eyes against the plainest declarations of Jesus Christ : and frame to themselves such ideas of the divine method of salvation as the gospel not only does not authorise, but positively contradicts. Some men become arrogant and daring enough to think that they have but little occasion for the atoning blood and mediation of Christ: that their lives have been in the main fufficiently good: and that if God were not to admit them into the glories of heaven, their exclufion would
scarcely be less than partiality and injustice. Others, who have not so far lost the sense of their own radical guilt and deep unworthiness, take the gospel piecemeal. They would be surprised and offended, were any doubt expreffed as to their reverence of the Scriptures. But what is the method in which such a person treats the Scriptures ? Some parts he perceives to accord with the opinions which he has formed concerning the duties of religion. Those he mentions with respect. Other parts he discovers to be in a certain degree at variance with his private sentiments and prepoffeffions. Of them he speaks with less regard. « These things," he remarks,“ may “ prove thus, or they may not. It is a very “ doubtful matter. It is probable that we “ misunderstand the paffage ; and that the “ true meaning is very different from that ¢ which is commonly assumed.” But towards other paliages, which are absolutely irreconcilable with some favourite prejudice of his own, he uses no ceremony or moderation. “ This " position,” he pronounces at once, “ cannot “ be. This precept is intolerable. To follow " this direction is impoflible: and to attempt " to follow it would not only be ineffectual, ” but would be to expose mysulf to continual “ disadvantages, mortification, and ridicule. . 247 " It clearly was never intended that in the “ present state of the world we should obu “ serve these rules. At least it is very evi“dent that we need not be at all strict as " to the observance of them.” He proceeds in the same manner with respect to doctrines : and such as do not satisfy his preconceptions, and coincide with his theories, he makes no scruple of neglecting, nor of explaining away, nor even of openly denying. Now one part of the character of a good man, as it is delineated in the Scriptures, is to walk humbly with his God. Do such persons walk humbly with their God? Is not their conduct the counterpart of that of Naaman, while his mind was enslaved by pride ? A part of the measures neceffary for his cure he was willing to adopt. He did not helitate to undertake a journey even as far as Samaria tothe prophet. But when he was directed to proceed to the river Jordan, and wash himself in the stream; heimmediately rebelled. He thought the direction unreasonable, absurd, and degrading; and refused to pay any regard to it. My brethren! Be afsured that the whole of the Scriptures is the word of God, If it is your duty to obey one part, it is your duty to obey every part And thole persons who presumptuously take upon themselves to separate those things which God has R4
joined together; to detach and select from the sacred writings fome doctrines, and some precepts, as proper to be received, and to reject others as unworthy of God and not designed to be binding upon man; are in the utmost danger of finding themselves at the day of judgement as fatally disappointed of salvation, as Naaman would have found himself disappointed of a cure, if he had perlevered in refusing to depart and dip himself seven times in Jordan.
3. Receive instruction, in the next place, from the unfeigned repentance, and pious gratitude of Naaman. He came in hafte from the river, and presented himself before the prophet. He openly acknowledged that there was no God but the God of Israel. He solemnly renounced the idolatrous wor. fip to which he had been accustomed; and declared that from that moment he would adore the true God and Him only. He who had so lately regarded with contempt all the waters of Canaan ; now humbly requested permission to carry back with him into his own country two mules' burthen of earth from the land of lirael, that he might raise with it in Syria an altar tu Jehovah. You have inherițed a corrupt nature, infected with a disease far more loathsome, far more dangerous, than