Page images
PDF

every day. ‘Is not the light of nature better than scripture ? Are not the waters of Greece and Rome, the learning and eloquence of their philosophers, better than the plain preaching of the gospel ? We ought, say they, to be sober and honest.; but what doth such a plain and simple ordinance as the Lord's Supper signify What can bread and wine do ’ So foolishly and absurdly do men argue. They are, like Naaman, the worst enemies to themselves; and their leprosy of sin is never likely to be cured till God's method is tried ; that will be found easy and successful i stash and be clean. May we learn then, with humility to comply with all that God appoints; not go about to establish our own righteousness, but cheerfully submit to that method of justification and healing, which God hath appointed and ...i 4. Learn hence a holy tenderness of conscience. Naaman was afraid of displeasing the God of Israel, from whom he had received such favours. If the prophet had forbidden him to go into the house of Rimmon, he would not have gone. Let us be afraid of every sinful compliance, and not think to make reserves in our covenant with God, but guard against all appearance of evil. 5. We should not overburden young converts with excess of rigor. Carry the grand point, bring them to God, and have religious habits contracted; and by degrees they will leave off some lesser evils, when they have had larger experience of the reasonableness and advantage of religion. 6. We learn the evil of covetousness. Having food and rainent, det us there with be content. They that will be rich, fall into tem/itation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and fierdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil ; which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the Jaith, and fierced themselves through with many sorrows, 1 Tim. vi. 8, 9, 10. All this was illustrated in Gehazi. We here see what Imischiefs it breeds, and leads on from one lie to another. 7. What a melancholy thing was it for such a wicked servant as Gehazi to be in good Elisha's family. In Naaman's family were some wise and good servants, though they were strangers to the God of Israel; but in the prophet's, this naughty, detestable ser. vant. Though he had heard his master's prayers and instructions, and had seen his miracles, yet he acted in this base and scandalous imanner. Let servants read over this story often ; observe what a disgraceful figure Gehazi makes, and be upon their guard against a covetous spirit and a lying tongue. Though masters do not see them, though they have not the gift of prophecy, to know when they have done wrong, yet God observes them. Let those especially who dwell in families where God is worshipped, the sabbath sanctified, and religious instructions are given, be sensible of their privileges. If servants in religious families are wicked, they must be very wicked ; great is their guilt now, and great will be their misery another day, if they go on in their evil ways. Let us all pray that God would remove from us the way of lying, and teach us th: way of truth.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. VI.

Elisha causeth the iron to swim ; discloseth the counsels of the Syrians ; brings an host of them to Samaria, and saves them there ; afterward Samaria is besieged, and in great distress.

1 N D the sons of the prophets, being increased in number, said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell 2 with thee at Gilgal is too strait for us. Let us go, we pray thee, unto the wood near Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell ; they were floor, and contented with a very flain habitation. And he 3 answered, Go ye. And one said to Elisha, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants, to assist us with thy advice. 4 And he answered, I will go. So he went with them. And 5 when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood. But as one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water ; and he cried, and said, Alas, master 1 for it was borrowed, and if it is 6 lost I shall abuse the kindness of my friend who lent it me. And the man of God said, Where fell it And he showed him the place., And he cut down a stick, and cast [it] in thither ; and 7 the iron did swim.” Therefore said he, Take [it] up to thee. And he put out his hand and took it. Every instance of this kind increased their reverence for the firofthet and their regard to his instructions. 8 Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and the king took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place [shall be] my camp ; the filace where I will set some soldiers for an ambush to surfirize the Israelites, and firobably seize the king. 9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place : for thither the Syrians 10 are come down. And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him, and warned him of, to see if there was any reason for the caution, and saved both himself and his soldiers there, not once nor twice, but frequently. 11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing ; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not show me which of us [is] for the king of Israel 2 He thought there was some secret treachery, and that his counsels 12 were betrayed. And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king : but Elisha, the prophet that [is] in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber. JWaaman had sfiread his fame, he had heard of his other miracles, and suffiosed nothing could exceed his hower and knowledge. 13 And he said, Go and spy where he [is,) that I may send and fetch him. This was a foolish design, as if the firofthet, who knew all his schemes, should be ignorant of this. And it was told him, saying, Behold, [he is] in Dothan, a little city near Samaria.

* The Jews say that he cut a stick in the shape of an handle, and when he threw it into the water the head of an act was miraculously joined to it.

14. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: 15 and they came by night, and compassed the city about. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, as all good servants should do, and was gone forth to his work, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant, terrified at the sight, ran to his master, and said unto him, Alas my master : how shall we do? This servant was but newly come to his master, and fierhafts had seen but few of his miracles, 16 and was therefore the more alarmed. And he answered, Fear not : for they that [be] with us, [are] more than they that [be] with them ; but the young man could not believe this, till he had 17 clear information. And Elisha therefore prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man ; and he saw ; and, behold, the mountain [was] full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha, of angels in that afflearance, God’s host, who then became visible, as they did at Christ’s resurrection. 18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LoRD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness, such a dazzling of their sight, as that they could not distinctly see the men they sought for, according to the word of Elisha. Then they inquired of Elisha where the 19 firofthet was ; And Elisha said unto them, This [is] not the way which you must go, neither [is] this the city where you shall meet with him : follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. This was literally true ; but instead of this, by a stratagem which did them no harm, and might firoduce the greatest 20 good, he led them to Samaria. And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these [men,) that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw ; and, behold, [they were] in the midst 21 of Samaria, surrounded with the king and soldiers. And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, with great eagerness, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite [them?] shall I smite [them?] 22 And he answered, Thou shalt not smite [them :] wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow in cold blood 2 set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master, and tell him what kind23 mess they have received." And he prepared great provision for them : and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel that year, as the Hebrew word may signify.f 24 And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.

• The Syrians had thus a proof of the power of the god of Israel, in confounding their sonsis: et his mercy, in sparing their lives; and had such, an opportunity of knowing him. and such obligations to serve him, as might have made it the happiest day in their lives.

+ £ither this band came no more, out of gratitude; or, they came no more in this clanJestineo till they brought their whole army sometime after, perhaps upon some new *.9°ocation.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

And there was a great famine in Samaria : and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was [sold] for fourscore [pieces] of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five [pieces] of silver. They were reduced to the last extremity, so that an ass’s head, which was forbid to be eaten, was sold for near ten founds, and Hess than a flint offetches or tares, which was only fit for doves to eat, the worst of vegetables, was sold for about twelve shillings and sir/ience. And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, to examine the guards and view the works, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. And he said, frobably in a violent fiassion, If the LoRB do not help thee, whence shall I help thee 3 out of the barn floor, or out of the wine press 2 can I fill the barns and storehouses out of nothing 2 And the king said unto her, when his fiassion began to cool a little, What alleth thee : And she answered, telling him a sorrowful tale indeed ; This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him, and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him : and she hath hid her son to save his life, or to eat him alone. Thus was that terrible threatening fulfilled, Deut. xxviii. 53. And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, [he had] sackcloth within upon his flesh, he affleared in sublic in deef mourning. Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day; either because he did not let him destroy the Syrian bands, or he thought he had deceived him by assuring him as helf, which did not come ; or he thought he could have saved them, but would not. But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him ; he was reading lectures to the students, or to some of the magistrates who came to him, exhorting them to courage and fatience ; and [the king] sent a man from before him to execute Elisha : but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer, this son of wicked Ahab, hath sent to take away mine head 2 he knew his intention before he came ; look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door, let him not enter; [is] not the sound of his master’s feet behind him ; he immediately follows to contradict the order. And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him : and he, that is, the king, said, Behold, this evil [is] of the Lord ; what should I wait for the Lord any longer ? Probably Elisha had fromised the king relief, but he thought he had deceived him, and that it was better to deliver it up to the Syrians, than be starved and ruined ; therefore in the beginning of the next chafter, Elisha fixes the time for their deliverance.

REFLECTIONS.

1. To T is a great comfort to good men, that the schools of the prophets increase ; and we should pray that they may do so more and more. It is a good hearing that there is not room for them; it bodes well to the church. And therefore we should pray the Lord of the harvest, that he would incline them to prepare for the work, that the harvest may be furnished with numerous and suitable labourers. 2. Hence we are taught a useful lesson, to be careful of that which is borrowed. Many neglect this and abuse the kindness of their friends, their horses, goods, or books. There are those who either never return, or abuse, what they have borrowed : this is highly base and ungrateful, as well as dishonest, and is contrary to that golden rule of doing to others as we would be done by. 3. How desirable is it to have God on our side, when we are engaged in military affairs | He can discover all the secret stratagems of the enemy, and bring confusion upon their plots and designs. 4. How happy are the servants of God in having angels for their guard; and what a constant source of consolation is it in times of danger, that greater is he that is with them, than all who are against them. If God be for us, who shall be against us 2 When without are Jightings, and within are fears, angels are our guard ; he gives them charge concerning us, to kees us in all our ways. Happy those who can by the eye of faith see this. 5. See the dependence of the human mind upon God, and his power of infatuating it at pleasure. He can take away the senses and understanding in a moment. Have we not therefore the greatest reason to bless him for the continuance of these, and to remember that it is in him we live, and move, and have our being. 6. See what a lovely virtue clemency is ; and how well moderation and mercy become all, especially the Lord’s prophets. It is prudent even upon secular principles, to be gentle toward our enemies, when we have them in our power, especially when resentment is sacrificed to religion; agreeable to such repeated advices as these ; if thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. xii. 20. 7. How much are we indebted to God for plenty and security We here see the terrible consequences of famine; they were glad to eat the vilest things, and were obliged, (lamentable necessity) to boil even their own children for food. Humanity and natural affection were lost in the cravings of appetite. Blessed be the Lord, who maketh fieace in our borders, and feedeth us with the finest of the wheat ; that there is no breaking in of enemies, and no such comflaining as this in our streets. 8. The judgments of God often make the wicked worse, and lead them to the most absurd, instead of reasonable conclusions. v. 31. Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of

« PreviousContinue »