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works which he did. There can be no doubt that Naaman went away with a far greater respect for the prophets of the Lord, and a higher opinion of their religion, when he saw how nobly Elisha acted, seeking only the honour of God, and the good of his fellow-creatures. But, unhappily, this was not the way that Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, felt. Although it was his lot to dwell under the prophet's roof, to follow him everywhere, and to see his holy life as well as his miracles, yet he was far from acting in the same noble manner.
The glory of God, as we have seen, was dearer to Elisha than any thing on the earth besides. But not so with Gehazi: his thoughts were all for himself, how he could best become rich and great. When, therefore, he saw the Syrian depart from his master's door, without leaving any of his treasure behind, he felt greatly disappointed, and was determined, if possible, to get something still.
" As the Lord liveth,” said this covetous man, “ I will run after this Syrian, and take something from him.” So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he waited for him, and even got out of his chariot to meet him ; glad to show his honour for the prophet, by the respect which he paid even to his servant.
He was, however, surprised to see Gehazi running after him, and anxious to know if all was well. Something might have happened in the short time that had passed since he left Elisha's door.
E. What did Gehazi tell him, mother?
sent after him to beg him for two changes of raiment and some silver, not for himself, but for two of the sons of the prophets, who had just come to him in great distress.
E. But was that true ?
M. No, my son, it was a shocking falsehood, made up merely to deceive Naaman, and to make him think it likely that he was really sent by Elisha. Naaman might easily believe, that although the man of God cared not for riches for his own sake, he might be very glad to be able to help his fellowcreatures.
You see again, in the case of Gehazi, how quickly one sin is followed by another. Gehazi began by admiring the treasures of Naaman; before he has time to think of what he is about, his lips have been defiled with falsehoods, and his hands with unlawful gains.
E. Then Naaman gave him some of his treasures ?
M. Yes; Naaman gave him twice as much in money as he had ventured to ask for, and two changes of raiment, and sent two of his own servants to carry them home for him.
And as soon as they had come near his master's door, Gehazi took the things from them, and put them away secretly in the house. Then he went into the presence of his master, that Elisha might not suspect any thing from his absence.
But Elisha knew all that had passed. God had made known to him the sin of his servant; and the
first words he said to him were, “Whence comest thou, Gehazi ?”
E. Oh! mother, how ashamed he must have felt then! I hope he was very sorry for what he had done, and that he begged the prophet to forgive him.
M. Foolish man! he still hoped to deceive his master, forgetting that Elisha was a prophet, and that God could enable him to read even his secret thoughts. He was unwise enough to answer, • Thy servant went no whither." What, then, must have been his terror, confusion, and shame, when the prophet said to him, “Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee?" And what must have been the misery of his soul when he heard his master pronounce upon him the dreadful punishment of his sin!
E. What was that, mother?
M. The prophet's awful words were these ; “ The leprosy of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and to thy seed for ever.” 66 And Gehazi went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.' Poor wretched man ! his covetousness and falsehood had, indeed, procured him riches; but what are they without God's blessing! What are riches if they bring his anger with them! Gehazi may keep them if he likes, but how shall he enjoy them? He remains a miserable leper all his life long : nor could he even have the comfort of hoping that his family might enjoy them after him, for his children were to be lepers also throughout all generations.
Let us take heed, therefore, my child, and beware of covetousness: the happiness of our lives does not depend upon the abundance of things which we possess, but upon the blessing and favour of the Almighty. We may be very happy if we serve God sincerely, even though we are poor : and we shall be sure to be miserable in the midst of riches, if we have done any thing wrong in order to attain them.
FIFTY-THIRD SUNDAY EVENING.
SAMARIA BESIEGED BY THE SYRIANS.
M. Not very long, Edward, after the cure of Naaman by Elisha, we read in the Bible that the king of Syria made war against the king of Israel. In this time of terror and distress, the king of Israel had great reason to rejoice that there was still a prophet in the land, for Elisha watched over his king and his country, and many times delivered them from
E. How did he do that, mother?
M. By the wonderful power which God had given him, of reading even the thoughts of his fellowcreatures : for the king of Syria could not form a single plan for attacking Israel, but Elisha knew what he was going to do, and informed the king immediately of it. By this means he saved himself several times, “ and the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing ;" he could not understand how it was that his enemy always escaped out of his hands, even when he thought he was quite sure of him; and he began to suspect that there must be some one about him who was false to him, and the friend of the king of Israel, who managed to let him know all his master's plans. Therefore the king of Syria called all his servants together, and inquired among them, to find out, if possible, who it was that betrayed him.
E. Were his servants able to tell him?
M. One of them assured him that it was none of his own people who did this thing, but Elisha, the prophet of Israel, who knew even what passed in the king of Syria’s chamber. When the king heard this, he desired his servants to watch Elisha, and to let him know where he was to be found, that he might send and take him prisoner. "And it was told him, saying, Behold he is in Dothan;" a small city not far from Samaria. Then the king sent horses and chariots, and a great army, to surround the city of Dothan; and they came by night, and placed themselves about it on every side. And when the servant of the man of God, who had risen early, and gone out, saw the enemy round the city, he was greatly alarmed, and hastening back to Elisha, he said unto him, “ Alas, my master, how shall we do ?”
E. Was Elisha frightened, mother?