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We have the peculiar ordinance of Christianitythe Lord's Supper; and what is your judgment of this institution? He enjoins, in the plainest terms, on you his disciples, "Do this in remembrance of me." And while doing this, at his table, in token of your love to him, he fulfils his promise to you; "I will manifest myself." Have not some of you, by faith, beheld him on these interesting occasions? Have not you seen " the King in his beauty," while you have "sat under his shadow with great delight; and his fruit has been sweet to your taste?" Yes; and you have been constrained to say, "Lord, it is good for us to be here."
In all your attendance on the ordinances of religion, take particular heed to the spirit of minds: pray in faith; and wait in humble hope. Your best Friend will not deny his presence, nor withhold the token of his special love.
You that habitually neglect what is divinely appointed, what think you of the text; "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me?"-" Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." But "if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha *.”
NAAMAN THE LEPER.
2 KINGS V. 13.
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 to thee, Wash and be clean.
SCRIPTURE incidents are remarkably instructive. They cast much light on human nature, and unfold the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence. The historical part of the Old Testament is particularly useful in this view; it teaches us much of man, but more of God; and is doubtless included in those "Scriptures which are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
The words before us were addressed by the servants of Naaman, an officer in the Syrian army, to their master. We propose to consider the interesting OCCASION on which they were spoken-and the spiritual IMPROVEMENT of the subject.
I. The OCCASION of the words.
We learn this from the preceding verses, which we shall briefly notice. Naaman was a person of distinction and respectability: "Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria; he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper." Matthew Henry remarks: "Every man has some but or other in his character:" there is something which detracts from what is excellent and desirable. It was so in the case of this Syrian officer: he was the favourite of his prince, the benefactor of his country, valiant in arms, and the instrument of Divine Providence in eminent public service; yet not exempt from painful trial. "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, nor the rich man glory in his riches*:" these all fail, and are subject to much alloy. Some bodily infirmity, or domestic affliction, may counterbalance his advantages, and embitter his enjoyments. Naaman, with all his honour, his influence, and royal favour, was the subject of a loathsome, distressing disease.
The second and third verses state the circumstance which led to Naaman's cure. The Syrians had been at war with the Israelites, and had taken captive a young female, who was received into Naaman's family, and employed as a servant. "And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid, and she waited on Naaman's wife." In this young person there appears much that is amiable; a good temper, a feeling heart, sincere and unaffected piety. Knowing the affliction of her master, she was anxious
* Jer, ix. 23.
for his recovery. She thought of the Prophet Elisha; and no wonder, as he resided in her native country. Hitherto the prophet had not cleansed any lepers in Israel; but from what she knew of his other miracles, she inferred his ability, and, from what she understood of the disposition of his heart, she was persuaded of his readiness to heal her master. She ventured, therefore, to communicate her thoughts and feelings. "And she said unto her mistress, Would God," or I earnestly wish, " my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria; for he would recover him of his leprosy."
This is highly instructive to us. Learn from itHow mysterious and wise are the dispensations of Providence! The taking captive of this "little maid" was among the afflictive calamities of war; an event which originated in the wickedness of man, but was overruled for the glory of God, and made subservient to the benefit of the very person who was chiefly instrumental in her captivity. As in the instance of Joseph and his brethren, their cruelty to him led the way to his munificence and kindness to them.
Learn also how important it is that children should know something about good men in the places where they live. This young girl, it is not unlikely, personally knew the prophet Elisha, at least she had heard him much spoken of; but had she been inattentive to what she heard, had she forgotten the goodness of his heart and the kindness of his actions, she would not have recollected him on this occasion.Let young persons seek the acquaintance of worthy characters; get to know them, and be known by them.
* Luke xxiv. 7.
What you hear of bad people, the less you regard it the better, except for your caution; but what you hear of wise and pious men, treasure it in your memory, hold it in your heart, bear it about with you, and let it influence your spirit and behaviour whereever you go.
Again learn-No station in life excludes from doing good. This young female might have excused herself by thinking she was but a child—a servanta captive slave in a foreign land-what could she do? But you perceive her useful service! Thus, in every situation, we may all be helpful to others. "No man liveth to himself." The youngest, the meanest, has relative duties, and is not without the opportunity of discharging them in various ways. Children may be greatly useful to their parents; and servants no less so to their employers. Indeed, the comfort and prosperity of families depend, in no small degree, on the disposition and conduct of inferior members. Seek the inclination of heart to be useful, and the means will not be wanting.
Once more learn-Kind behaviour to servants generally insures a valuable recompence. This "little maid" was much attached to the family in which she served; but had her master been morose and cruel, had her mistress been haughty and imperious, this attachment would not have been felt. However she might have pitied her master as an afflicted man, she would not have been so desirous of his cure, or have had courage to name a prophet of Samaria to effect it. It is lovely when affection in families is mutual, when servants are docile and obliging, and their employers condescending and kind.