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that of Naaman ; infected with fin, the leprosy of the heart. How may you 'be preserved from the mortal effects of your malady?, By one method only : by a method analogous to that by which Naaman was healed : by flying for help to the great prophet of Israel, Jesus Christ the Lord. He has opened in his gospel a fountain for the washing away of guilt. He has made atonement for fin by the shedding of his own blood. He promises pardon to every, penitent." He promises to his followers the aid of all-sufficient grace. He invites, he exhorts you to accept deliverance, to'be cleansed, to be made whole. Have you hitherto despised the call ? Naainan gave ear to the counsel of his servants. We are oursilves your servants for Jesus's fake. Noro then we are ambassadors: for Christ, as though God did beseech you by : us. We pray jou in Christ's stead; be je reconciled to God (c). Or do you profess that you have already listened to your Saviour's voice, and known the riches of his redeeming love? We befeech zou then that he receive not the grace of God in vein (). The change in Naaman was total. And what faith the apostle? If any man be in Cirisi, be is a new creature. Old things are passed away: behold : 0) 2 Cor. iv. 5. v. 26. (11) 2 Cor. vi. 1. ...
all things are become new (e). Art thou, like Naaman, purified from unbelief, from pride, from hardness of heart? Hast thou renounced, like Naaman, thy former idols ? Like Naaman, halt thou dedicated thyself to the living God? Like Naaman, dost thou respect and love those objects, which heretofore thou contemnedit; the commands of God, the ordinances of God, the altar of God, the fervants of God ? If thou wouldest know thy real state, turn not away from searching questions. Does conscience constrain thee to, silence? Does thy heart fecretly delight in the pursuits of the old Adain? This Syrian Thall rise up in the day of judgement and fhall condemn thee. The leprosy ftill clcaveth unto thee. Fly to the fountain of living waters, the fountain that is opened for fin and uncleanness, the fountain that cometh forth of the house of the Lord (f); left thy leprosy cleave unto thee for ever.
4. Finally, let Naaman admonish you to tenderness of conscience. In this thing the Lord pardon tly servant ; that when my master gocth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I. bow myself in the house of Rimmon; when. I bow
(e) 2 Cor. v. 17. (f) Jor: ii. 13. Joel, iii. 18. Zech. xiii. !.
down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy fervant in ihis thing. . .' • It is not a little singular, that these words of Naaman, which originated in 2 scrupulous desire to avoid every degree of offence against God, should have been interpreted into an application for a license to conimit idolatry. It is still more extraordinary that the reply of Elisha, Go in peace, should have been regarded as an allent to such a request. As though the Syrian convert, who in the preceding moment had folemnly declared that he knew that there was no God in all the earth but in Israel; who had fpontaneously averred that he would thenceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto Jehovah alone ; would inftantly solicit permission to worship an idol! As though the prophet of the Most High would have been feduced from his allegiance by a worldly fear of dealing too strictly with so recent and so dignified a profelyre, to countenance and sanction a crime which it was the object of his life to oppose (8)! As though he would not instantly have replied : I hy. heart is not right in the fight of God.
(8) See in particular the indignant boldness with which he reproved his own idolatrous fovereign. 2 Kings, iii. 1. 3. 13, 14.
What fellowship bath righteoufness with unrighteousness? What communion bath light with darkness ? 'What agreement bath God with idols ? Repent therefore of this thy wickedness; and pray to God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee (b). The commission of idolatry entered not into the imagination of Naaman or Elisha. The of fice which Naaman held in his own country required that at certain seasons' he should attend his master to the Temple of the Syrian deity Rimmon. On those occasions the king leaned upon Naaman. This apparently trifling circumstance is recorded, we presume, as an 'explanation of the whole transaction. How could the king bow down before his God, unless Naaman, on whom he leaned, should bend himself forward also ? But when Naaman had discontinued his former facrifice to Rimmon, and to every other idol; when he publickly professed another faith, the exclusive belief of another God; when he publickly offered-up his facrifices to Jehovah on the altar constructed with the soil, which he had openly brought for that especial purpose from the land of Israel : was it possible that the act of his bending forward merely in avowed accommodation to his master, who (1) A&ts, viii. 21, 22, 2 Cor. vi. 14–16.
leaned upon him, could be deemed an act of homage to Rimmon, a participation in the crime of idolatry? Naaman, however was not without apprehensions that it might not. be lawful on any account, and under any circumstances, to adopt in the temple of an idol a posture similar to that, which others employed as a sign of reverence. And while he expressed his hopes that the proceeding which he had described would not be offenfive to God; he expressed them with enquiring solicitude, and with evident tokens of deference to the prophet's expected determination.
What foever, faith the apostle, is not of faith, whatsoever is performed without a full perfuafion of its lawfulness, is fin (i). If you are duly solicitous to preserve a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man; you will turn an inquisitive eye on your general conduct, and especially on those parts of your proceedings which may bear the appearance of evil. The self-righteous feel no scruples : the careless examine none, The former have no diffidence; the latter no spirit of investigation. But the man of the truly Christian temper is the man who feareth always: the man who, because he (i) Rom. xiv, 23.