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2 KINGS V. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.
And his servants came near, and spake unto him and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith unto thee, wash and be clean?-Then 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.—And 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: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.-And Naaman said, Shall there not, then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant
two mules burden of earth?-For thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice, unto any other God, but unto the Lord.
HE conversion of a sinner is represented in scripture under various similitudes, expressive of the greatness of the change that is wrought in him. Sometimes it is called a change into the image of God: "We are changed into "the same image from glory to glory." Sometimes it is called a resurrection from the sleep of death: "Awake, thou that sleepest, arise from "the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." And in other places it is described as "a new ઠં creation," as a "putting off the old man, "which is corrupt, and putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.'
And this is the change we are going to consider in Naaman, concerning whom the words of the text are spoken, after he had washed in the waters of Jordan. From a fierce and intractable idolator, he became a meek and zealous worshipper of the one true God. The sacred historian describes him, as enraged at the seeming incivility of the man of God, and returning to his own country, without so much as conde
scending to try the easy remedy prescribed for his recovery. But when his servants saw him thus blind to reason, and acting contrary to his own interest, they had the wise resolution tó argue the case coolly with him;-" they came near, and spake unto him and said, My fa"ther, if the prophet had bid thee do some
great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? "How much rather then, when he saith unto "thee, wash and be clean?" They soften the boldness of their address to him, we see, by giving him the honourable title of my Father, which was a term of respect usually given in the East to all superiors, such as kings, magistrates, and prophets, to denote a reverence for, and dependance upon them; but, at the same time, they were very far from flattering him in his obstinacy or resentment: they represent to him, that the advice was that of a prophet acting under the influence of God; that he might have prescribed to him some hard or painful remedy, and that, even then, it would have been his duty to submit to it: how much more, therefore, was it so, when he only required him to wash and be clean ?
Naaman was not so stupified with rage, but that he could hear the voice of reason: he therefore yielded to the advice of his servants,
and determined at least to try the prescribed remedy, which he had undertaken so long a journey to obtain: "He went down, and dipped "himself seven times in Jordan, according to "the saying of the man of God." And well was he repaid for his obedience and recollection: "For his flesh came again like the flesh of a "little child, and he was clean.”
There can be no doubt, I think, but that this sudden and perfect cure was the effect of a divine influence then communicated to the river. For, if the waters of Jordan had possessed any natural virtue of curing the leprosy, the many lepers we read of in Israel, would not have failed to use a remedy so salutary, and so near at hand, But we find no other instance than this before us, of the cure of this horrible disorder, till that Son of God came into the world, by whom "the
lepers were cleansed, and the dead raised," And indeed our Saviour plainly intimates, that this was a miraculous cure, when, to convince the people of Nazareth that they were unworthy of the benefit of miracles, because of their infidelity, he tells them, "that there were many "lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the pro
phet, and none of them was cleansed, save "Naaman the Syrian."
This cure, then, was the work of heaven, the effect of a supernatural virtue. And it And it appears that Naaman considered it as such: for he was so affected with it that he was immediately converted to the worship of the God of Israel, whose goodness and power he had so wonderfully experienced.
Being thus cured, then, of his leprosy, and finding a ray of heavenly light dart into his soul, his first care was to acquit himself to his benefactors, the God of Israel, and his servant the man of God, and to pay those acknowledgements of gratitude, which were so justly due to them. A conduct how different this from theirs, who earnestly beg mercies and deliverances from heaven, but when they have received them, often too soon forget the hand from whence they come; who, like the nine lepers in the Gospel, think not of returning back to give glory to God, but go their way, and forget what manner of men they were.
Not so the wiser Syrian leper.' He knew, that the only way to draw down new blessings upon his head, was to make a proper use of those he had already received. However desirous, therefore, he might be to pay his duty to his royal master, or to receive the congratulations of his friends,