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the prophet. Let us, my child, learn something from this part of his history. We are surprised at his foolish conduct in refusing to be healed only because he could not be cured exactly in the manner which he thought best. But are we not often too much like Naaman ? Are we not always too much inclined to have things our own way, instead of humbly submitting to what God commands? supposing that nothing great can come to pass without much exertion on our part. It is hard to raise up the thoughts to God, and to believe that He can bless us in any way he chooses, and save us as well by few as by many, as well by simple as by mighty
There are many, for instance, among the unbelieving part of the world, who are too apt to despise the waters of baptism, as Naaman did those of Jordan, only because God is pleased to receive us into his church, and for Christ's sake to give us his Holy Spirit, by a rite so simple as that of pouring water upon us in his name: and that without requiring any great things of us, especially if we were baptized, as most Christians have been, in early infancy.
Still worse than this, there are even those who despise that of which the waters of baptism are only a figure,—even the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: persons who think it strange that God should forgive them and accept their services, not for any
merit of their own, but because of what our Saviour suffered. Such unbelievers are like Naaman, too proud and wayward simply to believe and obey what God tells them, and to rest sure that in so doing, they shall be cured of the disease of sin, that leprosy of the soul, which is far more loathsome, and far more dangerous, than that which afflicted the Syrian captain.
Such then was Naaman's unbelief. He looked only to the means used for his cure, not to the command of God, which can bless to us any means, however simple, however unlikely.
E. Then, mother, Naaman went back again to Syria without being cured? What a pity!
M. No, my son ; happily for him, his servants were in this case wiser than himself. They felt for their master, and were grieved to think that he should have come so far in vain, and that he should go back again to his own country as he came out of it, a leper, to remain in that miserable state for ever : and that because he would not try the prophet's simple remedy. So they came up to him and said, “ My father, if the prophet had bade thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather, then, when he saith to thee, Wash and be clean."
These were wise words, and Naaman listened to them. He went down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
E. Oh how glad he must have been that he listened to the advice of his servants !
M. Glad, indeed, my child ; and thankful, I rejoice to say, for what had been done for him. He is now no longer a leper, and, O better still, no longer unbelieving. The miracle wrought upon his body has also worked a cure as wonderful in his soul; all his high thoughts of himself are gone; he sees and adores the hand of the living God.
He returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came and stood before him. And he said, " Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel.” Nor did the grateful Naaman think it enough to show his thankfulness by words. He entreated the prophet to allow him to leave such a present with him as should prove, at least in part, how deeply he felt the kindness that had been done to him. The once haughty Syrian cannot now sufficiently honour the servant of the living God.
Hear his humble words“ Now, therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant."
E. And did he give Elisha great presents, mother ?
M. He would, my son, have left with him gladly all the treasures which he had brought with him from his own land, but Elisha would take nothing from him. His great wish was to glorify his Master in heaven, by making his Almighty power to be felt. He had no desire by the miracles which he worked to buy riches for himself.
The blessings he had to give were such as all the gold of Arabia could not buy. He was more than rewarded for what he had done, when he heard Naaman
66 Now know I that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel ;" when he thought that he would go back to his own country declaring the great things God had done for him : and that, led by him, his family and many of his countrymen might be brought to the knowledge of the true God. This was reward enough for a mind like Elisha's.
E. Did Naaman go away when he found that the prophet would take nothing from him?
M. Yes; he set out on his way home, carrying with him the blessing of the prophet. But before he went, he gave Elisha another proof that he had not only been healed in his body, but in his soul also ; for he begged to be allowed to carry away with him some of the earth under his feet, intending to build of what he looked upon as holy ground, an altar to the Lord God of Israel ; declaring that from that time he would never offer a sacrifice unto any other god, but unto the Lord only.
FIFTY-SECOND SUNDAY EVENING.,
GEHAZI, OR THE COVETOUS SERVANT.
E. Does the Bible give us any account of Naaman after he got back to his own country?
M. No, my son ; we hear nothing of him after he left the land of Israel; we can only fancy the joy of his wife and family, of his king, and of all his friends, when they found he was no longer a
leper: we can imagine, too, how kindly the little maid was treated who had told her mistress of the prophet ; and we may hope that Naaman did not forget what great things God had done for him, and that he and his family from that time worshipped the God of Israel. All this we may imagine and hope : but we cannot speak with any certainty of these things, as the Bible tells us nothing upon the subject.
E. Then have you quite done with the history of Naaman, mother?
M. There is one thing more which I must mention to you before we quite take our leave of this mighty Syrian captain. You remember how Elisha refused to take any present from him ?
E. Yes, mother ; but I do not quite see why he did not take some of the riches that Naaman offered him ; for Elisha seems to have been very poor; and if he had been rich, he might have been more comfortable himself, and he might, you know, have done so much good.
M. So it seems to you, my son; but Elisha knew well, that by taking a reward from Naaman, for the cure which he had wrought upon him, he should do far more harm than good. If he had enriched himself by the miracles which he worked, people might have thought that his mind was set upon the things of this world, and that he only worked miracles for his own benefit, instead of for the glory of God, which was the great thing he had at heart, and the great end to which he wished to direct the thoughts of those who saw the wonderful