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issue of a matter so interesting to himself, lost no time, but “ came,” we are told, “ with his " horses and his chariot, and stood at the door “ of the house of Elisha;” perhaps expecting that the prophet would come out to meet him, or rather unwilling to go in, till he had first acquainted him with the reasons of his coming.
The favourite of a great king humbly waiting at the door of a prophet, will probably seem a little strange in these days; and perhaps it will seem still stranger, that the prophet did not go out to meet him, but only sends a messenger to inform him what he must do to effect the cure of his leprosy. There are, however, several sufficient reasons to be assigned for this part of the prophet's behaviour. He might not care to approach near a leprous man, with whom the Jews were expressly forbidden to have
communication ;-„he might be willing to humble the pride of Naaman, and to shew him, that the greatest men ought to lay down their pride, and become like little children before the God of Israel, if they expected to enjoy his assistance and help;-he might intend to try his faith ; or, perhaps, to convince him, that his recovery was a thing so easy to the God of nature, that there was no occasion for more, than to speak a word at a distance, to effect it. However this might,
be, the prophet did not think fit to speak to him himself, but only directs him by a messenger, to wash seven times in the river Jordan, with a promise that, if he did so, he should be cured of his leprosy. Not that these waters had any peculiar virtue in them; but it was the prophet's intention, by the simplicity of the means prescribed, to shew more strongly the miraculousness of the cure. Nor again, was there any peculiar charm in the number seven times; it might be only mentioned as a trial of his faith and submission, that he should wash in Jordan so many times, or out of a customary use of that number, which was held in great veneration among the Jews, from the septenary day of rest from their labours, in commemoration of the creation, and of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Little, however, was this order relished by Naaman. For the sacred historian tells us, “ He was wroth, and went away, and said, “ I thought, surely he will come out to me, and “ call upon the name of his God, and strike his “ hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are • not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, ** better than all the waters of Israel ? May I ro not wash in them, and be clean ? So he turned Y and went away in a rage.
Thus it is ever with the foolish vanity of men! They slight common and easy things, and admire only what is difficult and rare: they reject the means which heaven prescribes for their welfare, if they happen not to suit with their own fond conceits and ridiculous prepossessions.
But in this answer Naaman more particularly shewed his pride and his superstition. Accustomed to the homage and respect of a king's favourite, he could ill brook the treatment he met with from the prophet, so very unlike the servile adulation of an eastern court. " I " thought,” says he, “ he will surely come " out, and stand and call on the name of his " God.” He, therefore, was disposed to reject the prophet's advice, because it was not sweetened with that complaisance and respect to his greatness to which he had long been accustomed.
But this was not all. Habituated to the false pomp and pageantry of superstition, he expected some soleinn rites or ceremonies to have accompanied the promised cure.."
"I thought,” says he, “he will surely come out to me, and call
upon the name of his God, and strike his " hand over the place, and recover the leper."
As if the invocation or touch of the prophet had more power than the command of God! But thus it ever is. Superstition deals in outward pomp and ceremony: it requires altars, reliques, processions, and gods to go before the people. The waters of Jordan were too plain and simple, without some parade of external rites, to satisfy the superstitious Syrian: instead, therefore, of going towards Jordan, in obedience to the man of God, he contemptuously prefers the rivers of Damascus to all the waters of Israel, and then turned, and went away
in a rage.
I shall conclude
upon of Naaman's history, with this one important observation ; that it is our wisest way, in all cases, to submit to the methods and disposals of Providence, without presuming, like Naaman, to call in question the fitness and wisdom of them. God is in heaven, we on earth. Whilst, therefore, the limited view of mortality takes in but a small part of created things, the unbounded eye of Omniscience surveys the whole. God is, therefore, the best and only true judge of what is fitting and convenient for us. We are not, however, to sit still, expecting miracles, like that of Naainan, to be wrought in our favour. For though we are not to resist, yet we are surely to co-operate, as far as in our power, with the
of Providence for our conversion and cure. Our modern pretenders indeed to inspiration, tell us of sudden illapses and momentaneous illuminations, by which the conversion of sinners is wrought. But such operations are neither agreeable to the usual course of Providence, nor the tenor of scripture: it is much, therefore, to be feared, that they are the delusions of those spirits, which are not of God. It will, therefore, be our safer way to rely on the merits of Christ, rather than on those deceitful assurances of salvation, which are held out to their ignorant followers, by false teachers ;—to co-operate with the grace of God in working out our own salvation by sincere repentance and active holiness, rather than to trust to a pretended justification, which is wrought in us we know not why, and which acts in a way we cannot explain, and, therefore, is much to be suspected to be the production of a distempered brain, or heated imágination, of an artful delusion or mercenary invention, rather than the good work of God to promote our salvation.