Page images
PDF
EPUB

manner than with his eternal hatred, it is evident He cannot be tempted; He is infinitely incorruptible. God is also (B), non-tempting—“neither tempteth He any man." Every reve. lation of Him manifests his desire that we should become "partakers of His holiness." Another way in which James shows all good is from the Creator, is, 2. From the positive character of God. The text leads us to regard (a), His essential purity. He is the Father of lights. He is the origin of all lights-material, mental, and moral. He is the central sun of the universe, from whom every ray of beauty, truth, and goodness, proceeds. (B) His general benevolent activity in the world. God is here described as ever active, and ever active in bestowing all the good gifts the world receives. In God, activity means beneficence. (y) His special efforts to subdue evil in man. All goodness in man is His offspring. Through the instrumentality of his word, He has generated all that is holy in character. “Of his own will begat He us," &c.

[ocr errors]

II. ALL EVIL IS FROM THE CREATURE.

Whence, then, comes evil if not from God? All comes from the creature, and much from the creature, man. The text gives us the biography of evil in man. We have, (1.) The genesis of evil. Here are three things in its production. (e) Feeling—"lust.” A forbidden thing is first desired. (8) Thought. “Conceived." Man, unlike the brute, has the power of thinking upon his feelings, and thus either of intensifying or weakening them. Thought kindles incipient feelings into passions. (7) Volition “bringeth forth.”, Volition is the bringing of the emotion into an action. Sin is not a quality, not a mysterious entity ; but an 'act-a“ transgressing of the law.” (2.) The maturity of evil. "When it is finished.” Sin is finished when the transgressing volition has passed, and still more finished when the act has been so repeated as to become a habit. You see the sin of lying, intemperance, &c., “finished " in some men. That is completed, consolidated by habit. (3.) The issue of evil,

« Bringeth forth death”-not the death of existence, nor even of consciousness, nor yet of obligation, but the death of freedom of self-respect, happiness, and all the privileges of being. Bristol.

U. R. THOMAS,

[merged small][ocr errors]

SUBJECT: The History of Naaman's Disease and Cure; illus

trative of certain Forces in the Life of Man.

Analysis of Homily the Seben Handred and forty-Ninth. “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. 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. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now, when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent bis clcthes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? Wherefore con sider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that 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. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean, But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and

[ocr errors]

recover the lepet. 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,” &c., &c.—2 Kings, v. 1-27. ITAAMAN, in a worldly point of view, was a great man;

one of the magnates of his age. But he was the victim of a terrible disease. He was a leper. Leprosy was a terrible disease—hereditary, painful, contagious, loathsome, and fatal. In all respects it resembled sin. His disease and his cure, as here sketched, manifest certain forces which have ever been, and still are, at work in society, and which play no feeble part in the formation of character and the regulation of destiny.

I. THE FORCE OF WORLDLY POSITION. Why all the interest displayed in his own country, and in Israel, concerning Nasman's disease? The first verse of this chapter explains it. " Now Naaman captain of the host of Syria was a great man" &c. Perhaps there were many men in his own district who were suffering from leprosy, yet little interest was felt in them. They would groan under their sufferings, and die unsympathised with and unhelped. But because this man's worldly position was high, kings worked, prophets were engaged, nations were excited for his cure. It has ever been a sad fact in our history that we magnify both the trials and the virtues of the grandees, and think but little of the griefs and

graces of the lowly. If a man in high position is in trial, it is always “ a great trial,” of which people talk, and which the press will record. If he does a good work it is always "a great work," and is trumpeted half the world over. This fact indicates-first, the lack of intelligence in popular sympathy. Reason teaches that the calamities of the wealthy have many mitigating circumstances, and therefore the greater sympathy should be towards the poor. It indicates-secondly, the lack of manliness in popular sympathy. There is a fawning servility most dishonourable to human nature in showing more sympathy to the rich than to the poor in suffering.

II. THE FORCE OF INDIVIDUAL INFLUENCE. “And the Syrian 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. And she said unto her mistress, would God, my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! för he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord saying, Thus anl thus said the maid, that is of the land of Israel. This little girl, who had been torn from her native country and carried into the land of strangers by the ruthless hand of war, told her mistress of a prophet in Israel who had the power to heal lepers. This led the king of Syria to persuade Naaman to visit Judæa, and to give the leprous captain an introduction to the king; who, in his turn, introduced him to the prophet, who effected his healing.

The influence of this little slave girl should teach us three things. First, The magnanimity of young natures. Though she was an exile in the land of her oppressors, instead of having that revenge which would have led her to rejoice in the sufferings of her captors, her young heart yearned with sympathy for one of the ruthless conquerors. A poor child, a humble servant, a despised slave, may have a royal soul. Second, The power of the humblest individual. This poor girl, with her simple intelligence, moved her mistress ; her mistress, the mighty warrior ; then Syria's king was moved, by him the king of Israel is interested, and then the prophet of the Lord. Thus this little maid may have been said to have stirred kingdoms. No one, not even a child kliveth to himself." Each is a fountain of influence. Third, The dependence of the great upon the small. The recovery of this warrior resulted from the word of this captive maid. Some persons admit the hand of God only in what they call great events. But what are great events ? Great and small are but relative terms. And even what we call small often sways and shapes the great. One spark of fire may turn all London into a whiff of smoke.

III. THE FORCE OF SELF-PRESERVATION, “And the king. of Syria said, " Go to; go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the King of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee that thor mayest recover him of his leprosy." It would seem that Naaman at once consulted Benhadad, the King of Syria, on the subject suggested by the captive maid, and having obtained an introduction to the king of Israel hurried off, taking with him.“ ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment "--great wealth which he was prepared to sacrifice in the recovery of his health. The instinct of self-preservation is one of the strongest in human nature. “ Skin for skin ; all that a man hath will he give in exchange for his life." Men will spend fortunes and traverse continents in order to rid them. selves of disease and prolong life. This strenuous effort for recovery from disease reminds us of ! First : The value of physical health. This man had lost it, and what was the world to him without it?. Bishop Hall truly says of him, “The basest slave in Syria would not change skins with him.” Health-this precious blessing is so lavishly given, that men seldom appreciate it till it is lost. 1: Secondly: The neglect of spiritual health. This man was evidently morally diseased, that is, he neither knew of the true God nor had sympathy with Him. He was a moral invalid. A worse disease than leprosy infected his manhood and threatened the ruin of his being. Yet there is no struggling after spiritual recovery. This is a general evil. Ir IT. IV, THE FORCE, OF CASTE-FEELING. " And the King of Syria said, Go to; go, and I will send a letter to the king of

Israel.” Why did the King of Syria send Naaman with the letter to the Monarch of Israel? Was it because he was given to understand that that king would work the cure ?

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »