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friends, he thought, that there was a superior duty due to the God of heaven, who had restored him.
“ He, therefore, returned to the “ man of God, he and all his company, and
came and stood before him.”
Here his first care was to acknowledge the sovereignty of the God of Israel over all the false and pretended gods of the Gentile world : “Now " know I,” says he, “ I experimentally know,
by this great miracle which has been wrought upon me, that there is no God in all the
earth, but in Israel.” Thus, whilst with his heart he believed unto righteousness, with his mouth also he made a noble confession unto salvation; and that not in private, before the prophet only, but before all his servants and company; declaring, that "s he would henceforth “ offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice to any “ other God but unto the Lord.”
His next care was to reward the prophet, the man of God: “Now, therefore,” says he, '" I
pray thee take a blessing of thy servant.' And here we may remark the change which is wrought in him by the miraculous cure he had received. He, who before went away in a rage, because he thought the prophet was wanting in a proper respect to him, now calls himself his servant: "I pray thee,” says he, “take a blessing “ of thy servant.” In fact, he now thought him the minister of the true God, the instrument which heaven made use of in effecting his cure, and that, therefore, no respect could be too great for him.
For the same reason, he offers him a present, as a mark of his gratitude; and that, if we may judge from the reward he formerly brought with him, no inconsiderable one. But Elisha, who was much more solicitous for the honour of his God, than intent upon his own advantage, strenuously refused it : “ As the Lord liveth, be“ fore whom I stand, I will receive none. And
he urged him to take it, but he still refused “it:" probably to convince him, that the servants of the God of Israel were not like the mercenary priests of the heathen gods, but, like the great master they served, had a pleasure in doing good to mankind, hoping for nothing again.
Naaman, not being able to prevail upon the prophet to accept his present, proposes a pretty remarkable question to him, which has been the subject of much conjecture amongst the learned : “ Shall there not then, i pray thee,
“ be given to thy servarit two mules burden of 4 earth?"
Some have thought that this question took its rise from the remains of superstition in Naaman, and that he concluded that there was more intrinsic holiness in the earth of Israel than in that of Syria.
The Jewish commentators fancy, that he de sired to have this present out of Elisha's house, or even from under his feet; thinking, perhaps, that there was a peculiar sacredness in every thing the prophet had touched, or that be. would infuse a peculiar virtue into it. by his blessing, as he had done into the waters of Jordan.
Others pretend to find here an instance of veneration and devotion to holy things, and that he desired this earth, as a sacred relique of the prophet to make an object of worship in his own house.
There are others, again, who think he desired it to build a monument in his own country, agreeably to the custom of those times, as a public testimony of gratitude, and a memo'rial of the mercy he had received in the land of Israel.
But, not to have recoursé to mystery, or to waste your time in confuting opinions, which have no foundation in the sacred text, it will be sufficient to say, that the reason of this question is very clearly explained in the words immediately following it: “ Shall there not, I
pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules “ burden of earth?" And why? “ For thy ser
vant will henceforth offer neither burnt-offer
ing nor sacrifice to any other god, but unto “ thc Lord.” It is plain, therefore, that his intention was to build an altar with it to the God of Israel. He probably was not ignorant, that by the Jewish law he was not permitted to offer sacrifices to God out of the Holy Land, which God had particularly chosen for the place of his worship. Since, therefore, his duty to his prince would not suffer him to reside in the Holy Land, he at least wished to have an altar in Syria, formed of that holy ground to which God had assigned the blessing of his peculiar presence, that he might daily testify his gratitude for the mercy he had received, that he might openly declare his renunciation of idolatry, and that he might keep up a communica
tion, by a similitude of worship, with the choset people, the Israel of God.
The present time will not allow me to enter upon the conclusion of this history; as it contains a point of nice and difficult discussion. I shall, therefore, content myself with making two or three observations upon that part of it, which we have already considered.
And ist, Naaman's cure and conversion, we see, was a miracle of God's peculiar mercy to him. But let us reflect what were the methods, which God made use of to bring him to a fit disposition for receiving this great mercy: were they not pain and disease, the miseries of a worn-out and afflicted body? The Almighty, doubtless, could have found out other ways of converting this honest Syrian, and of bringing him into his covenant. But he chose disease and aflliction, as the surest way to bring him to a sight of himself: it was a nauseous and inveterate leprosy that carried him into Judæa, to receive the salvation of his soul, as well as the healing of his body.
See here, then, an instructive lesson, by which We may be taught the usefulness and efficacy of