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light upon their neighbours. If Israel bel advise that journey unto the man of God, the worse for her nearness to Syria, Syria by whom both body and soul might be is better for the vicinity of Israel. Amongst cured! True religion teacheth us pious and the worst of God's enemies, some are singled / charitable respects to our governors, though out for mercy. Naaman was a great war- aliens from the commonwealth of God. rior, an honourable courtier, yet a leper. No man that I hear blames the credulity No disease incident to the body is so nasty, of Naaman. Upon no other ground doth so loathsome, as leprosy. Greatness can the king of Syria send his chief peer, with secure no man from the most odious and his letters to the king of Israel, from his wearisome condition. How little pleasure hands requiring the cure: the Syrian sup. did this Syrian peer take to be stooped to posed, that whatever a subject could do, a by others, while he hated to see himself! sovereign might command; that such a Even those that honoured him, avoided ! prophet could neither be out of the knowbim; neither was he other than abhorred | ledge, nor out of the obedience to his prince. of those that flattered him; yea, his hand | Never did he dream of any exemption, but could not move to his mouth, without his imagining Jehoran, to be no less a king of own detestation; the basest slave of Syria prophets than of people, and Elisha no less would not change skins with him, if he a subject than a seer, he writes : “ Now might have his honour to boot. Thus hath when this letter is come to thee, behold, I the wise God thought meet to sauce the va have herewith sent Naaman my servant to lour, dignity, renown, victories of the famous thee, that thou mayest recover him of his general of the Syrians. Seldom ever was leprosy." Great is the power of princes ; any man served with simple favours: these every man's hand is their's, whether for compositions make both our crosses toler skill, or for strength; besides the eminency able, and our blessings wholesome. of their own gifts, all the subordinate ex
The body of Naaman was not more taint cellencies of their subjects are no less at ed with his leprosy, than his soul was tainted their service, than if they were inherent in with Rimmon; and besides his idolatry, he their persons. Great men are wanting to was a professed enemy to Israel, and suc- their own perfections, if they do not both cessful in his enmity. How far doth God know and exercise the graces of their in. fetch about his purposes! The leprosy, the feriors. hostility of Naaman, shall be the occasions The king of Israel cannot read the letter of his salvation: that leprosy shall make without amazement of heart, without rendhis soul sound; that hostility shall adopting of garments, and says, “ Am I a god, him a son of God. In some prosperous to kill and to make alive, that this man inroads that the Syrians, under Naaman's sends to me, to recover a man of his leproconduct, have made into the land of Israel, sy? Wherefore consider, and see, I pray a little maid is taken captive: she shall at-you, how he seeketh a quarrel against me!” tend on Naaman's wife, and shall suggest if God have vouchsafed to call kings gods, to her mistress the miraculous cures of it well becomes kings to call themselves Elisha. A small chink may serve to let in men, and to confess the distance wherein much light : her report finds credit in the they stand to their Maker. Man may kill; court, and begets both a letter from the | man cannot kill and make alive ; yea, of king, and a journey of his peer. While the himself, he can do neither: with God, a Syrians thought of nothing but their booty, worm, or a fly, may kill a man; without they bring happiness to the house of Naa. God, no potentate can do it; much less can man: the captivity of a poor Hebrew girl any created power both kill and revive ; is a means to make the greatest lord of since to restore life is more than to bereave Syria a subject to God. It is good to ac- | it, more than to continue it, more than to quaint our children with the works of God, give it: and if leprosy be a death, what with the praises of his prophets. Little human power can either inflict or cure it? do we know how they may improve this | It is a trouble to a well affected heart to knowledge, and whither they may carry receive impossible commands : to require it: perhaps the remotest nations may that of an inferior which is proper to the light their candle at their coal. Even the Highest, is a derogation from that supreme weakest intimations may not be neglected; power whose property it is. Had Jehoram a child, a servant, a stranger, may say that been truly religious, the injury done to his which we may bless God to have heard. Maker, in this motion, as he took it, had How well did it become the mouth of an more afflicted him, than the danger of his Israelite to extol a prophet, to wish the own quarrel. Belike, Elisha was not in the cure of her master, though an Aramite, to i thoughts of the king of Israel; he might
have heard that this prophet had made would be a meet subject of mercy, must be alive one whom he killed not. Himself, thoroughly abased in his own conceit, and with the two other kings, had been eye. must be willingly pliable to all the conditions witnesses of what Elisha could do; yet now of his humiliation. Yet, had the message the calves of Dan and Bethel have so often carried in it either respect to the person, or taken up his heart, that there is no room probability of effect, it could not have been for the memory of Elisha: whom he sued unwelcome; but now it sounded of nothing to in his extremity, now his prosperity hath but sullenness and unlikelihood : " Go and forgotten. Carnal hearts, when need drives wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh them, can think of God and his prophet; shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be when their turn is served, can as utterly clean.” What wise man could take this neglect them, as if they were not.
for any other than a mere scorn and mockYet cannot good Elisha repay neglect and ery? « Go, wash." Alas! what can water forgetfulness. He listens to what is done at do? it can cleanse from filthiness, not from the court; and finding the distress of his leprosy. And why in Jordan? what differs sovereign, proffers that service which should that from other streams ? And why just have been required: “Wherefore hast thou seven times? what virtue is either in that rent thy clothes ? Let him come now to channel, or in that number? Naaman can me, and he shall know that there is a pro- no more put off nature than leprosy. In phet in Israel.” It was no small fright from what a chafe did he fing away from the prowhich Elisha delivers his king. Jehoramphet's door, and says, Am I come thus far was in awe of the Syrians, ever since their to fetch a flout from an Israelite? Is this last victory, wherein his father Ahab was the issue both of my journey, and the letters slain, Israel and Judah discomfited: nothing of my king ? could this prophet find no man was more dreadful to him than the frowns to play upon but Naaman? Had he meant of these Aramites. The quarrel, which he seriously, why did he think himself too good suspected to be hatched by them, is cleared to come forth unto me? why did he not by Elisha; their leper shall be healed; both touch me with his hand, and bless me with they and Israel shall know, they have ne- his prayers, and cure me with his blessing? glected a God, whose prophet can do won. Is my misery fit for his derision ? If water ders. Many eyes, doubtless, are fastened could do it, what needed I to come so far upon the issue of this message. But what for this remedy? Have I not oft done thus state is this that Elisha takes upon him ? in vain? have we not better streams at He doth not say, “ I will come to him ;" home, than any Israel can afford? “ Are but, “Let him come now to me.” The not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damas. three kings came down once to his tent: it cus, better than all the waters of Israel ?" is no marvel if he prevent not the journey Folly and pride strive for place in a natural of a Syrian courtier. It well beseems him heart, and it is hard to say whether is more that will be a suitor for favour, to be ob- 1 predominant-folly in measuring the power sequious: we may not stand upon terms of of God's ordinances by the rule of human our labour or dignity, where we expect a discourse and ordinary event; pride, in a benefit. Naaman comes richly attended scornful valuation of the institutions of God, with his troops of servants and horses, and in comparison of our own devices. Abana waits in his chariot at the door of a pro- and Pharpar, two for one; rivers, not wa. phet. I do not hear Elisha call him in; for ters, of Damascus, a stately city, and incomthough he were great, yet he was leprous; parable; are they not? who dares deny neither do I see Elisha come forth to him, | it? better, not as good, than the waters, and receive him with such outward cour not the rivers, all the waters, Jordan, and tesies, as might be fit for an honourable all the rest of Israel, a beggarly region to stranger: for in those rich clothes the pro- | Damascus. Nowhere shall we find a truer phet saw an Aramite, and perhaps some pattern of the disposition of nature : how tincture of the late-shed blood of Israel. she is altogether led by sense and reason, Rather that he might make a perfect trial how she fondly judges of all objects by the of the humility of that man, whom he means appearance, how she acquaints herself only to gratify and honour, after some short at- with the common road of God's proceedings, tendance at bis door, he sends his servant how she sticks to her own principles, how with a message to that peer, who could not she misconstrues the intentions of God, how but think the meanest of his retinue a bet- she over-conceits her own, how she disdains ter man than Gehazi's master.
the mean conditions of others, how she upWhat could the prophet have done other braids her opposites with the proud com. to the lacquey of Naaman's man? He, that parison of her own privileges.
Nature is never but like herself. No, washing away of sin? If God's institution marvel if carnal minds despise the foolish-shall put virtue into our Jordan, it shall ness of preaching, the simplicity of sacra- scour off the spiritual leprosies of our hearts, ments, the homeliness of ceremonies, the and shall more cure the soul than cleanse seeming inefficacy of censures. These men the face. look upon Jordan with Syrian eyes, one How joyful is Naaman to see this change drop of whose water, set apart by divine of his skin, this renovation of his flesh, of his ordination, hath more virtue than all the life! Never did his heart find such warmth streams of Abana and Pharpar.
of inward gladness, as in this stream. It is a good matter for a man to be at Upon the sight of his recovery, he doth tended with wise and faithful followers. not post home to the court, or to his faMany a one hath had better counsel from | mily, to call for witnesses, for partners of his heels, than from his elbows. Naaman's | his joy, but thankfully returns to the proservants were his best friends; they came to phet, by whose means he received this him, and spake to him, and said, “ My mercy: he comes back with more contentfather,-if the prophet had bid thee do some ment, than he departed with rage. Now great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? will the man of God be seen of that rehow much rather then, when he saith to covered Syrian, whom he would not see thee, Wash, and be clean." These men | leprous: bis presence shall be yielded to were servants, not of the humour, but of the gratulation, which was not yielded to the profit of their master. Some servile the suit. Purposely did Elisha forbear be. spirits would have cared only to soothe up, fore, that he might share no part of the not to benefit their governor, and would praise of this work with his Maker; that have encouraged his rage by their own: Sir, God might be so much more magnified, as will you take this at the hand of a base fel. the means were more weak and despicable. low? was ever man thus flouted ? will you | The miracle hath its due work. First doth let him carry it away thus ? is any harmless Naaman acknowledge the God that wrought anger sufficient revenge for such an inso- it, then the prophet by whom he wrought lence ? Give us leave at least to pull him it : “ Behold, now I know there is no God out by the ears, and force him to do that in all the earth, but in Israel.” O happy by violence, which he would not do out of Syrian, that was at once cured of his le. good manners : let our fingers teach this prosy, and his misprision of God! Naaman saucy prophet, what it is to offer an affront was too wise to think that either the water to a prince of Syria. But these men loved had cured him, or the man : he saw a Di. more their master's health than his passion; vine power working in both, such as he and had rather therefore to advise, than vainly sought from his heathen deities; flatter; to draw him to good, than follow with the heart, therefore, he believes, with him to evil: since it was a prophet from the mouth he confesses. whom he received this prescription, they While he is thus thankful to the Author persuade him not to despise it ; intimating, of his cure, he is not unmindful of the inthere could be no fault in the slightness of strument: “ Now, therefore, I pray thee, the receipt, so long as there was no defect take a blessing of thy servant.” | Naaman of power in the commander ; that the vir came richly furnished with ten talents of tue of the cure should be in his obedience, | silver, six thousand pieces of gold, ten not in the nature of the remedy. They per- changes of raiment: all these, and many suade and prevail. Next to the prophet, more, would the Syrian peer have gladly Naaman may thank his servants, that he is given to be delivered from so noisome a not a leper. He goes down, upon their disease: no marvel if he importunately entreaty, and dips seven times in Jordan : offer some part of them to the prophet, his flesh riseth, his leprosy vanisheth. Not now that he is delivered; some testimony the unjust füry and tetchiness of the patient of thankfulness did well, where all earthly shall cross the cure ; lest, while God is recompense was too short. The hands of severe, the prophet should be discredited this man were no less full of thanks than Long enough might Naaman have washed | his mouth. Dry and barren professions of there in vain, if Elisha had not sent him. our obligations, where is power to requite, Many a leper hath bathed in that stream, are unfit for noble and ingenuous spirits. and hath come forth no less impure. It is Naaman is not more frank in offering his the word, the ordinance of the Almighty, | gratuity, than Elisha vehement in refusing which puts efficacy into those means, which lit: “ As the Lord liveth, before whom I of themselves are both impotent and im- stand, I will receive none." Not that he probable. What can our font do to the I thought the Syrian gold impure; not that he thought it unlawful to take up a gift, | court shall know that he sacrifices upon where he hath laid down a benefit: but Israelitish earth to the God of Israel; they the prophet will remit of Naaman's purse, shall hear him protest to have neither heart that he may win of his soul. The man of nor knee for Rimmon. If he must go into God would have his new convert see cause the house of that idol, it shall be as a ser. to be more enamoured of true piety, which vant, not as a supplicant ; his duty to lus teacheth her clients to contemn those world master shall carry him, not his devotion 10 ly riches and glories which base worldliness his master's god; if his master go to woradore; and would have him think, that these ship there, not he. Neither doth he say, miraculous powers are so far transcending “ When I bow myself to the image of Rim. the valuation of all earthly pelf, that those mon," but, “in the house :" he shall bow glittering treasures are worthy of nothing to be leaned upon, not to adore , yet had but contempt in respect thereof. Hence not Naaman thought this a fault, he had it is that he, who refused not the Shuna- not craved a pardon; his heart told him, that mite's table, and stool, and candlestick, will a perfect convert should not have abided not take Naaman's present. There is much the roof, the sight, the air of Rimmon ; use of godly discretion in directing us when that his observance of an earthly master to open, when to shut our hands.
should not draw him to the semblance of He, that will not be allowed to give, de- an act of outward observance to the rival sires yet to take: “ Shall there not, I pray of his Master in heaven; that a sincere thee, be given to thy servant two mules' detestation of idolatry could not stand with load of earth? for thy servant will hence- so unseasonable a courtesy. forth offer neither burnt-offering nor sa-l Far, therefore, is Naaman from being a crifice to other gods, but unto the Lord.” | pattern, save of weakness ; since he is yet Israelitish mould lay open to his carriage, more than half a Syrian ; since he willingly without leave of Elisha; but Naaman re-accuses himself, and, instead of defending, gards not to take it, unless it may be given deprecates his offence. As nature, so grace, him, and given him by the prophet's hand. rises by many degrees to perfection. It is Well did this Syrian find that the man of not for us to expect a full stature in the God had given a supernatural virtue to the cradle of conversion. Leprosy was in Naawater of Israel ; and therefore supposed he man cured at once, not corruption. might give the like to his earth: neither The prophet, as glad to see him but thus would any earth serve him but Elisha's, forward, dismisses him with a civil valedic. else the mould of Israel had been more tion. Had an Israelite made this suit, he properly craved of the king, than the pro. | had been answered with a check. Thus phet of Israel.
much from a Syrian was worthy of a kind Doubtless it was devotion that moved farewell; they are parted. this suit. The Syrian saw God had a pro Gehazi cannot thus take his leave : his priety in Israel, and imagines that he will heart is mauled up in the rich chests of be best pleased with his own. On the sud- | Naaman, and now he goes to fetch it. The den was Naaman half a proselyte : still prophet and his man had not looked with here was a weak knowledge with strong the same eyes upon the Syrian treasure; intentions. He will sacrifice to the Lord; the one with the eye of contempt, the other but where? in Syria, not in Jerusalem : with the eye of admiration and covetous not the mould, but the altar, is what God desire. The disposition of the master mar respects, which he hath allowed nowhere not be measured by the mind, by the act of but in his chosen Sion. This honest Syrian his servant. Holy Elisha may be attended will be removing God home to his country; by a false Gehazi: no examples, no counhe should have resolved to remove his home sels, will prevail with some hearts. Who to God: and though he vows to offer nc would not have thought that the follower sacrifice to any other god, yet he craves of Elisha could be no other than a saint ? leave to offer an outward courtesy to Rim- yet, after the view of all those miracles, this mon, though not for the idol's sake, yet man is a mirror of worldliness. He thinks for his master's : “ In this thing the Lord his master either too simple, or too kind, to pardon thy servant, that when my master refuse so just a present from a Syrian; himgoeth into the house of Rimmon to wor- self will be more wise, more frugal. Desire ship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and hastens his pace; he doth not go, but run I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the after his booty: Naaman sees him, and, as Lord pardon thy servant in this thing." true nobleness is ever courteous, alights Naaman goes away resolute to profess him- from his chariot to meet him. The great self an Israelite for religion: all the Syrian lord of Syria comes forth of his coach to
salute a prophet's servant; not fearing that thus hope to blind the eyes of a seer? Hear he can liumble himself overmuch to one of then thy indictment, thy sentence, from Elisha's family. He greets Gehazi with the him whom thou thoughtst to have mocked same word wherewith he was lately demit- with thy concealment: “ Whence comest ted by his master: “ Is it peace?" So sud-thou, Gehazi ?" Thy servant went no whiden a messenger might seem to argue some ther. He, that had begun a lie to Naachange. He soon receives from the breath- man, ends it to his master : whoso lets his less bearer, news of his master's health and tongue once loose to a wilful untruth, soon request : “ All is well; my master hath grows impudent in multiplying falsehoods. sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be Of what metal is the forehead of that man, come to me, from mount Ephraim, two that dares lie to a prophet? what is this young men of the sons of the prophets : / but to outface the senses? “ Went not my give me, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and heart with thee, when the man turned agairi two changes of garments." Had Gehazi from his chariot to meet thee?” Didst thou craved a reward in his own name, calling not, till now, know, O Gehazi, that profor the fee of the prophet's servant, as the phets have spiritual eyes, which are not gain, so the offence had been the less; now, confined to bodily prospects ? didst thou reaching at a greater sum, he belies his mas- not know, that their hearts were often ter, robs Naaman, burdens his own soul. | where they were not ? didst thou not know What a round tale hath the craft of Gehazi that thy secretest ways were overlooked devised, of the nurber, the place, the qua- by invisible witnesses? Hear then, and be lity, the age, of his master's guests, that he convinced : hither thou wentst, thus thou might set a fair colour upon that pretended saidst, thus thou didst, thus thou spedst. request, so proportioning the value of his | What answer was now here but confusion? demand, as might both enrich himself, and Miserable Gehazi! how didst thou stand yet well stand with the moderation of his pale and trembling before the dreadful tri. master! Love of money can never keep bunal of thy severe master, looking for the good quarter with honesty, with innocence. woful sentence of some grievous judgment Covetousness never lodged in the heart for so heinous an offence! “ Is this a time alone; if it find not, it will breed, wicked to receive money, and to receive garments, ness. What a mint of fraud there is in a and (which thou hadst already purchased worldly breast! how readily can it coip in thy conceit) oliveyards, and vineyards, subtile falsehood for an advantage !
and sheep, and oxen, and men-servants, How thankfully liberal was this noble and maid-servants?" Did my mouth refuse, Syrian! Gehazi could not be more eager in that thy hands might take ? taking, than he was in giving : as glad of 80' Was I so careful to win honour to my happy an occasion of leaving any piece of God, and credit to my profession, by deny. his treasure behind him, he forces two ta ing these Syrian presents, that thou mightlents upon the servant of Elisha, and binds est dash both in receiving them ? was there them in two bags, and lays them upon two no way to enrich thyself, but by belying thy of his own servants : his own train shall | master, by disparaging this holy function in yield porters to Gehazi. Cheerfulness is the eyes of a new convert? Since thou the just praise of our beneficence. Bounti- ! wouldst needs therefore take part of Naaful minds are as zealous in over-paying good man's treasure, take part with him in his turns, as the niggardly are in scanting re- leprosy: “ The leprosy of Naaman shall tributions.
cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for What projects do we think Gehazi had ever." O heavy talents of Gehazi! O the all the wav? How did he please himself horror of this one unchangeable suit, which with the waking dreams of purchases, of shall never be but loathsomely white, noi traffic, of jollity! and now, when they are somely unclean! How much better had come to the tower, he gladly disburdens and been a light purse and a homely coat, with dismisses his two Syrian attendants, and a sound body, a clear soul! Too late doth hides their Icad, and wipes his mouth, and that wretched man now find, that he hath stands boldly before that master whom he loaded himself with a curse, that he hath had so foully abused. 0 Gehazi, where clad himself with shame : his sin shall be didst thou think God was this while ? | read ever in his face, in his seed: all pas Couldst thou thus long pour water upon sengers, all posterities, shall now say, Be the hands of Elisha, and be either ignorant hold the characters of Gehazi's covetous. or regardless of that undeceivable eye of ness, fraud, sacrilege! The act overtakes Providence, which was ever fixed upon thy the word: “He went out of his presence hands, thy tongue, thy heart ? couldst thou a leper as white as snow." It is a woful