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E. Mother, I know where Syria is ; it lies rather to the north of the land of Canaan.
M. It does, my son, extending to the east of Mount Lebanon, which, you know, formed the northern boundary of the Holy Land.
And now can you tell me what the chief town of Syria was?
E. Let me see, mother ; just let me look on the map.
Is this it? is it Damascus ? M. Yes; Damascus was the capital of the Syria of which we are now speaking : for at different times the name was given to different portions of country in that part of Asia. The Syria which had Damascus for its capital was once conquered by David; but the kings who followed Solomon were unable to keep it under their power; and it was now governed by a king of its own, who was not subject to the king of Israel.
Now, in the days of Elisha, there was a very great man in Syria, called Naaman. He was the captain of the armies of the king of Syria, and much valued by his master, and held in great honour by all around him; because he had gained great victories for his country, and delivered her from her enemies on every side. For “ Naaman was a mighty man in valour."
Great, honourable, and mighty, beloved by his king and his country ; yet Naaman was far from happy : nay, even the poorest servant of his house was happier than he; for Naaman was a leper. I think I have told you before, that a leper is a person afflicted with a very shocking disease, called leprosy, which covers the whole body, and makes the
you very much.
flesh as white as snow. It is a sickness which nô medicine can cure; Naaman had, no doubt, searched far and wide for any physician who might be able to heal him; but there was none; he remained still a leper. And such he must have been all his life long, had it not been for the gracious providence of God.
E. Did Naaman know any thing of the true God, mother?
M. No, my child, he was a heathen; he knew not God; but God cared for him, and, when all other help had failed, he came to his assistance himself. The story I am going to tell you will, I am sure,
interest We soon learn, when we begin to read the word of God with attention, that his ways are full of wonder. He often brings about our greatest blessings in some very simple manner, and at a time, perhaps, when we least expect them. The wife of Naaman was waited upon by a little maid, who had been carried away captive from the land of Israel, in the war between the Syrians and the Israelites. Poor little captive girl! I dare say she had not been thought much of in the house of Naaman, among the crowd of servants who attended upon him. I dare say she had wept much at being torn away from her own people, and taken to live among strangers. She knew not that God had sent her there to be the means of bringing a great blessing upon
the house of her master. E. How was that, mother? M. Why this little maid, when in the land of Israel, had either seen herself, or heard others talk of, the prophet Elisha, and of the astonishing miracles which he worked ; and when she saw in what a sad state her master was, she wished very much that the good prophet could see him. Full of this thought, she one day said to her mistress, “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria ! for he would recover him of his leprosy." Her words were told to Naaman: and Naaman told them to the king his master. Now, as I told you before, Naaman was a great favourite with the king, and when the king heard that there was a prophet in Samaria who could recover him from the dreadful disorder under which he had so long suffered, he was very anxious that Naaman should go to Elisha. After thinking some time, the king determined to write himself to the king of Israel on the subject, and to send Naaman with the letter. And Naaman departed, taking with him a rich present for the king: and when he was come to the land of Israel, he
gave his master's letter to the king. The words of the letter were these :-“ Behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy." And it came to pass that when the king of Israel' had read the letter, he rent his clothes, and said, “ Am I God, to kill and to make ali that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against
E. Why was he so unhappy about it, mother? could he not send for the prophet Elisha directly?
M. He had forsaken the true God, my son, himself, and never once thought of his almighty power, and of the wonderful works which He was often pleased to do by the hands of his prophets. Therefore the message of the king filled him with grief and alarm ; for he thought that he asked him to cure his servant, merely that he might quarrel with him for not granting his request.
Had the king of Israel served God sincerely, he would have had none of these terrors; for he would immediately have spread the case before God, and have begged him to direct him how he should act. But though he did not seek for help from above, it pleased God to show forth his great power both before him and the king of Syria also.
E. Tell me how that was, mother.
M. As soon as the prophet Elisha heard what trouble the king of Israel was in, he sent to the king, saying, " Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes ? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” This was a most welcome message to the king, who gladly sent Naaman from his palace to the humbler dwelling of the prophet. So Naaman came with his horses and his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, “Go, wash in Jordan seven times, and thou shalt be cleansed."
E. How happy he must have been, mother, when he heard these words !
M. You will wonder very much, Edward, when I tell you, that, instead of rejoicing when he heard Elisha's message, he was exceedingly angry with the prophet, and went away from his house in a rage.
E. What was the matter, mother?
M. Naaman, my son, was a great and proud man, and accustomed in his own country to be treated with great respect. He thought, therefore, that the prophet might at least have come out to speak to him himself, and have shown some outward honour to a person who held so high a place in the court of the king of Syria. Whereas Elisha, as the minister and prophet of the Most High God, was far greater than Naaman, and ought rather to have been treated with all possible reverence himself.
Naaman also thought that the means taken for his cure would have been very different from what Elisha told him to do. He expected that he would have stood solemnly before him, and have called upon the name of the Lord, and that he would strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. And then, in the pride of his heart, he scorned to believe that there was any good to be expected from merely washing in the river Jordan. Why might he not as well have washed in any of the rivers of his own country, instead of taking so long a journey ? “ Are not Abana, and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them and be clean ? So he turned and went away in a rage.”
Thus spake this haughty Syrian. Thus foolishly did he turn away from the blessing offered him by