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health, and were ready to use every means within their reach for his welfare ; and amongst this household, in the good Providence of God, the little captive maid of Israel stands forth in prominence.
Thus we have brought to our attention, in the portion of scripture which has been read this morning, a servant of a prophet, and a servant of a heathen nobleman. The first must be last, and the last first; for the man with all his favours stands sadly deformed, in the presence of the feeling and amiable captive of Israel.
We will read her character first :
The first trait of it, which strikes me, is—freedom from all vindictive feeling. This clearly appears on the face of it. There was much in the circumstances through which she had passed to call forth a feeling of vengeance, if such existed in her disposition. The hostile band that had forced her roughly and rudely away from her home. That natural antipathy to enemies which is apt so readily to show itself. The gall of bitterness arising from detention as a slave, or a captive. These were well calculated to move her to a feeling of vengeance, or at least of moroseness ; but it does not appear that she was thus disposed. When she saw her poor afflicted master, she did not say within herself—“'Tis a judgment from God upon him ; would that they all had the leprosy!" Or, when she companied with her fellow-servants, and talked in a more unreserved manner than when in the presence of
her mistress, she would not indulge in those unseemly allusions, or unbecoming remarks, which kindle bitter. ness rather than foment peace and good-will. So deeply concerned was she for the poor sufferer, that she said to her mistress- “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria, for he would recover him of his leprosy." She would have opened for the benefit of the enemy of her country that precious store of blessings which Israel alone possessed. The teaching of one greater than the prophets would have come well to her—"love your enemies ;" for she loved her's ; and the experience of an inspired Apostle would have tallied well with her experience—“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” She was content.
We hear of no grumbling, no repining, no murmuring. Cheerful and welldisposed she did service, no doubt, with singleness of heart as to the Lord and not unto men. And herein what an example she is to all servants. If you ever feel aggrieved; if the burden of your
heavily upon you; if you think yourself overtaxed with service, remember the little captive maid of Israel, and be silent, and be thankful. She doubtless prayed, and prayed too for her master. To the God of Israel, to the God of heaven, she made supplication in behalf of this afflicted worshipper of Rimmon. As God blessed the house of Potiphar, captain of the guard of the king of Egypt, for the sake of Joseph the captive son of Jacob; how know we but that the blessing of heaven rested upon Naaman and his house, because of the little captive maid that had been brought thither in His overruling Providence. Her wish was fulfilled. The cure was accomplished ; notwithstanding the illjudged way made use of by the king of Syria ; notwithstanding the pride of his great captain. In the good Providence of God, the maid saw her master return home in health. She saw also that the weight which pressed down the soul of her mistress had departed, and the gloom that cast a shadow upon
her face had melted away, and she was glad. And how know we what happiness came to the whole household through the humble instrumentality of a captive maid. Let us learn from this to be kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love.
The character of Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, comes in strong contrast to that which we have been just considering. Naaman the Syrian is a principal means of bringing to our notice both the one and the other. His leprosy calls forth the sympathy and kindness of the captive maid; and his riches draw out the covetousness of Gehazi. The stern and holy character of Elisha had no charms, it is to be feared, in the eyes of his servant. The coarse prophetic mantle, and rough usage, and homely fare may indeed do for Elisha, but it suited not the tastes of Elisha's servant. He was dreaming of garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and men-servants, and maid-seryants. He would enrich himself on his mas
ters self-denial. Foolish man! as if Elisha had no discernment. As if the honour of God was of no importance, everything must give way to his covetous
As soon as the wonderful cure had been effected, and Naaman was departing to his home in peace and happiness, then the Evil One began to work in this son of disobedience. “My master hath spared this Syrian," he says within himself, “but I will run after him and take somewhat of him; yes, as the Lord liveth, I will." He confirms his evil determination with a solemn oath. One evil begets another, and he rushes on as if headlong to destruction. See, my brethren, how strong the current of covetousness is; like a flood, or an avalanche. “When Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well! And he said, All is well. . My master hath sent me ;” he continues, (thy master never sent thee, thou wicked servant !) “ there be come to me from Mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets ;” (see, my brethren, how the man lies !) “give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver and two changes of raiment.” The servant of a false God, the worshipper of Rimmon, having too much singleness and simplicity of character to suspect any imposition, and delighted with an opportunity of shewing his gratitude for the signal mercies conferred on him, immediately made answer—“ Be content,” be easy on that score, “take two talents, and he urged him," (he did not need much urging,) "and bound
two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.” These two talents were a considerable sum, nearly £700 according to our way of reckoning, without taking the value of the garments into the account. And now he goes on his way.
Now he rejoices in the possession of riches, and at the success of his scheme. He has already purchased in thought many valuable things. The men shall leave them at the tower, thinks he; and at night I will fetch them thence. I shall leave the service of my master, and set up for myself. How like the fool of the parable is this upstart, freshly adopted son of Mammon—“Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." I suppose the great weight of these newly-acquired riches crushed his conscience down so that it could not speak. He became all at once so bloated with pride, and inflated with vanity, so great in his own eyes, that all thoughts of his master, or his master's Master, the Holy One of Israel, became as nothing unto him. With that boldness and effrontery which none but a wicked servant can command, he went in and stood before his master. I wonder how he felt; I wonder how he looked. Did his heart smite him at all, do you
brethren; did he quail in any measure before the searching scrutiny of his holy master ? We can only conjecture ; but it must have been a striking interview. " Whence