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before an idol, whatsoever his mind or intention was in that act, and, therefore, it is not likely that the prophet should give his consent to Naaman's doing it.

To this I answer, that that prohibition was obligatory (upon Israelites, but not upon strangers. They, who were descended from the stock of Abraham, were tied down to the observation of the whole law; as were also the adopted Jews, or Proselytes of the Covenant: but the Gentile strangers, or Proselytes of the Gate, were confined only to the worship of the true God, and the practice of the moral duties contained in the seven precepts supposed to be delivered to Noah. Naaman, therefore, being only a Proselyte of the Gate, might innocently keep his office at court as Joseph did in Egypt, and Daniel in Babylon ; and also perform the civil duties of his office in the temple of Rimmon, so long as the service was paid to the man and not to the idol; so long as he was clean from that professed reverence, which constitutes the essence of spiritual adoration.

It has, again, been said, in opposition to this interpretation, that if this sort of indulgence were allowable to Naaman, there would have been no occasion for Daniel' in the court of

Nebuchad

Nebuchadnezzar, or for old Eleazar among the officers of Antiochus, to have exposed themselves to those dreadful torments, to which they were condemned: the one might have fallen down before the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and the other lave eaten swines’ flesh, so long as they did it, not out of a principle of idolatry, but only in obedience to the king's cummand.

To this I answer, that the cases are by na, means similar. These several acts were expressly required of Daniel and Eleazar as a formal renunciation of the true God, and an acknowledgment of idolatry: every compliance, with them, therefore, would have been in the highest degree sinful. But Naaman’s was barely. the discharge of a civil duty, without any such idolatrous conditions. On the contrary, he clearly professes his design of not keeping his religion a secret from his master, by declaring his conversion publicly, before all his servants, and by carrying into Syria two mules burden of earth, to build an altar to the God of Israel. And it seems as clear, from these circumstances, that he did not imagine that his master would deny him the free use of his own religion, or expect from him any idolatrous conditions :-his request, therefore, is not that God would pardon hiin for dissembling his faith, and paying an outward reverence to the Syrian idol, to avoid persecution; but only that he might be allowed to accompany his master to the house of Rim mon, and to perform those offices of respect to him, which belonged to the favorite, on whose hand the king, according to the eastern custom, condescended to lean.

I proceed, secondly, to shew, that Naaman's conduct affords no countenance or justification to those, who deny or dissemble their religion, to avoid persecution, or to promote their temporal interests.

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And here the point in question is not, whether we are always obliged to declare what religion or persuasion we are of, when nobody asks us; or, whether we may not lawfully conceal it, when we are asked by those, who have no right to do it: for, I suppose, the strictest casuist will allow, that there are many cases, in which we may innocently be silent. Nor, again, are we required to invite persecution or rush into danger: on the contrary, we may lawfully use every innocent expedient to avoid it.

The point in question is, whether, in a country, differing from us in religious principles, we

may

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may be justified in disseinbling our own religion; -whether we can with a good conscience join in such religious worship as we know to be contrary to the word of God; that is, in short, whether a man may be a Papist at Rome, a Protestant in England, and a Mahometan or Idolater at Constantinople or Japan, provided he retains the purity of the Christian Faith in his heart.

And here it cannot be denied, that they who would justify this kind of dissimulation by the practice of Naaman, must suppose that the holy scripture is strangely contradictory to itself, and allows in one place what it expressly forbids in another : for, if there be any sin clearly and expressly forbidden in scripture, it is that of hypocrisy and dissimulation in religious worship: and if there be any duty clearly and expressly commanded in scripture, it is that of bearing witness to the truth by an honest and open profession of our faith, whenever we are called upon to make it by lawful authority. We are not allowed to halt between Baal and the Lord. We are not to serve God and mammon. God will have the whole, or none, of our service. How can we, therefore, imagine that Elisha, who acted by the Spirit of God, should countenance and allow in Naaman what the same Holy Spirit, in every

other

other place, forbids ? Were this the case; had either Naaman requested, or the prophet granted, leave, to pay an outward worship to the idols of Syria, whilst he inwardly acknowledged the God of Israel; the one would have been a false prophet, who prophesied deceits; and the other an ungrateful proselyte, who knew God, only to dishonour him by a base and servile compliance with the corruptions of his idolatrous master.

But, in reality, there is not the least shadow of such dissimulation in Naaman's conduct; not the least appearance of temporising, with a view to preserve the profits of his employment, or the favour of his prince.

For, 1st, we clearly see, he makes a general renunciation of all those false gods, whom he before worshipped, and declares that he will henceforth know no God, but the Lord only.

2dly, He publicly declares his resolutions, without any disguise or reserve, in the presence of the prophet and his own servants.

3dly, He desires to carry away with him some of the earth of Israel into his own country, to build an altar unto the Lord, and that he might

thereby

VOL. I.

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