2 Kings 5:1
Now Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man in his master's sight and highly regarded; for through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. And he was a mighty warrior, but he was a leper.
The Captive Israelitish MaidC.H. Irwin 2 Kings 5:1-3
The Story of Naaman: 1. the Disinterested MaidenJ. Orr 2 Kings 5:1-7
Alloy in GrandeurMatthew Henry.2 Kings 5:1-19
Greatness Secondary to Goodness2 Kings 5:1-19
NaamanCanon Hutchings.2 Kings 5:1-19
Naaman the SyrianF. Whitfield, M. A.2 Kings 5:1-19
Naaman, the LeperC. Bullock.2 Kings 5:1-19
Naaman, the SyrianM. G. Pearse.2 Kings 5:1-19
Namman the SyrianMonday Club Sermons2 Kings 5:1-19
Some Modern Lessons from an Ancient StoryHomiletic Review2 Kings 5:1-19
The Buts of LifeJ. Greenhough, M. A.2 Kings 5:1-19
The Conquest of DisadvantagesH. H. Henson, B. D.2 Kings 5:1-19
The Fruits of AdversityE. F. Chapman, M. A.2 Kings 5:1-19
The History of Naaman's Disease and CureHomilist2 Kings 5:1-19
The Method of GraceW. Mincher.2 Kings 5:1-19
History of Naaman's Disease and CureD. Thomas 2 Kings 5:1-27
There are four personages that stand out with special prominence in this chapter, from each of which important lessens may be learned. These are - the little Hebrew maid; Naaman, the commander-in-chief of the Syrian army; the Prophet Elisha; and Gehazi, the prophet's servant. We shall speak first of the little maid.

I. THIS LITTLE MAID DID NOT FORGET HER RELIGION WHEN SHE WENT FROM HOME. We see that, though in a foreign land, she still thought of her fathers' God and of his prophet. That is an important lesson in these days, when traveling has become so common. The motto with a great many professing Christians seems to be that when they are at Rome, they must do as Rome does. When they travel on the continent, they keep the continental Sunday, just as if the same God was not looking clown upon them there as at home, just as if the Lord's day was not the Lord's day everywhere, and as if there were not good Christian people on the continent who valued the day as a day of rest and worship. Mr. Ruskin wrote some pointed words lately in reference to the way Christian people seem to forget their religion when they go abroad. He asked them to count up their expenditure on railway fares and sight-seeing, on guides and guide-books, on luxuries and photographs; and then to ask themselves how much they had spent in donations to the poor Churches of France and Belgium, or of the Waldenses in Italy. Happily, all travelers are not like this. Many Christian tourists like to find a Sunday blessing, and to hear a word of refreshing, in some little country church among the hills of Scotland or of Switzerland, or in the quiet chapel amid the pleasure-seeking crowds of Paris. But how many there are who look up their religion when they turn the key in their house-door, and, however careful they may be of taking guide-books and other provisions for the journey, never dream of putting a Bible in the trunk! No matter where we go, let us take our religion with us, as Joseph took his into Egypt, as Daniel took his into Babylon, as this little Hebrew maid took hers into Syria. This little maid had strong inducements to give up her religion. No doubt it would have pleased her master and mistress if she had worshipped their gods. They might have said that her worship of any other God was an impertinence, a sort of suggestion that they were doing wrong. But she listens to the voice of conscience and of duty rather than to the voice of worldly policy and expediency. It is a message to all who are in the employment of others. Never sacrifice principle for place. Never sacrifice the favor of God for the favor of man. Your employer pays for your labor; he does not buy your conscience. If ever attempts are made to tamper with your conscience, be it yours to answer, "We ought to obey God rather than man." Trust God for the consequences. Trust him to provide for you. "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

II. THIS LITTLE MAID DID NOT RENDER EVIL FOR EVIL. She had been torn from her home and from her native land by the rude hands of Syrian soldiers. Perhaps her father had fallen beneath the enemy's sword. Yet we do not find her cherishing a spirit of vindictiveness or revenge. Instead of rejoicing to see her captor suffer, she pities him. She longs that he may be healed of that terrible and loathsome disease. Have we never exulted in the sufferings of others? Have we never felt a secret thrill of gratification when some misfortune has befallen one with whom we were at variance? Such a spirit, the spirit of revenge, however natural it may be, is not the spirit of Christ. He bids us do unto others as we would wish them to do unto us. The Christ-like spirit is to love our enemies, to bless them that curse us, to do good to them that hate us, and to pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us.

III. THE LITTLE MAID WAS BUT YOUNG; YET, BY DOING WHAT SHE COULD, SHE BECAME A BLESSING TO OTHERS. She did not say to herself, "I am but young; there is nothing I can do" She did not wait for some great thing to do. But she just did the work that lay nearest her. She saw a way in which she might be useful, and she took the opportunity at once. 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." That was all. She just told of where the blessing of health was likely to be found.

1. This is a lesson for young people, for the children. None of you is too young to do something for Jesus. Jesus has some work for every one of you to do. It may be his work for you that you should conquer some sinful passion, some evil habit. It may be his work for you that you should stand up for him and his Word among bad companions; or that by your own quiet and gentle life, and loving disposition and kind deeds, you should show how good it is to be a Christian. Do the work that lies nearest. If you are at school or college, and find your studies irksome, and long to get free to work at your own will and pleasure; if you are learning your business, and find it a drudgery; - remember that just here Christ has a work for you to do. These difficulties have to be mastered. Master them, and then you will show your fitness for mastering far greater difficulties. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much."

2. It is a lesson for young and old. What are you doing to be a blessing to others? Is there not some sick person to whom you might read, some poor family that you might visit occasionally with some of the comforts of life, some tempted one to whom you might speak a word of help and encouragement, some backslider to whom you might speak a word of kindly warning, some careless, godless one whom you might urge to flee from the wrath to come? And if you can do but little for the sinner and the godless yourself, perhaps you can do as the little maid did - tell them where blessing is to be found, and invite them to come to the house of God. There is no need for rivalry between different Christian communities. There are godless people enough to fill all the places of worship, if only Christian people would stir themselves and go out into the streets and lanes, into the highways and hedges, and, by the power of irresistible persuasion, compel them to come in. Don't trouble yourself by thinking of your own fitness or unfitness. Are you willing to be of use in Christ's work? Are you anxious to be a blessing to others? That is the great question. If so, Jesus will do the rest. He will make you a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the Master's use.

IV. THE SECRET OF THIS LITTLE MAID'S FAITHFULNESS AND USEFULNESS WAS HER STRONG AND SIMPLE FAITH. She could be faithful to God, because she believed in God. She believed that God would take care of her when she was faithfully serving him. She could be useful to others because, though she was a captive and had no means to help them, she knew of One who had. She had faith in God. She knew that God was with Elisha, and therefore she had no doubt about Elisha's success. Yes; it is faith we want, if we are to be useful. We say we believe a great many things. But how do we believe them? Where is our faith in God's promises shown in our patience under difficulties and trials and discouragements? Where is our faith in God's promises shown by our liberality to his cause? Where is our faith in God's promises shown by our work done for Christ? If our faith in God is real, it will show itself in every detail of our daily life; it will overflow in acts of usefulness and love. - C.H.I.

Now Naaman, captain of the host of the King of Syria.
I. THE FORCE OF WORLDLY POSITION. Why all the interest displayed in his own country, and in Israel, concerning Naaman's disease? The first verse of this chapter explains it. "Now Naaman, captain of the host of Syria, was a great man," etc. 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 trims and the virtues of the grandees, and think but little of the griefs and graces of the lowly.

1. This fact indicates 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.

2. It indicates the lack of manliness in popular sympathy.

II. THE FORCE OF INDIVIDUAL INFLUENCE. The influence of this little slave girl should teach us three things.

1. The magnanimity of young natures.

2. The power of the humblest individual.

3. The dependence of the great upon the small.

III. THE FORCE OF SELF-PRESERVATION. 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 themselves of disease and prolong life. This strenuous effort for recovery from disease reminds us oral. 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."

2. The neglect of spiritual health.

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." He, forsooth, was too great to know a prophet — too great to correspond with any one but a king.

1. Caste-feeling sinks the real in the adventitious. The man who is ruled by it so exaggerates externalisms as to lose sight of those elements of moral character which constitute the dignity and determine the destiny of man. He lives in bubbles.

2. Caste-feeling curtails the region of human sympathies. He who is controlled by this feeling, has the circle of his sympathies limited not only to the outward of man, but to the outward of those only in his own sphere. All outlying his grade and class are nothing to him.

3. It antagonises the Gospel. Christ came to destroy that middle wall of partition that divides men into classes. The Gospel overtops all adventitious distinctions, and directs its doctrines, and offers its provisions to man as man.

V. THE FORCE OF GUILTY SUSPICION. "And it came to pass when the King of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, 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, consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me?" The construction that the monarch put upon the message of his royal brother was, instead of being true and liberal, the most false and ungenerous. Where this suspicion exists, one of the two, if not the two following things, are always found.

1. A knowledge of the depravity of society. The suspicious man has frequently learnt, either from observation, testimony, or experience, or all these, that there is such an amount of falsehood, and dishonesty in society, as will lead one man to take an undue advantage of another.

2. The existence of evil in himself. The suspicious man knows that he is selfish, false, dishonest, unchaste, and he believes that all men are the same.

VI. THE FORCE OF REMEDIAL GOODNESS. Though the king could not cure, there was a remedial power m Israel equal to this emergency. That power, infinite goodness delegated to Elisha. The passage suggests several points concerning this remedial power.

1. It transcends natural power. "When Elisha, the man of God, had heard that the King of Israel had rent his clothes,... 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." The monarch felt his utter insufficiency to effect the cure. Natural science knew nothing of means to heal the leper.

2. It offends human pride.

3. It clashes with popular prejudice. "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean?"

4. It works by simple means.

5. It demands individual effort. "Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God." Naaman had to go down himself to the river, and to dip himself seven times in its waters.

6. It is completely efficacious. "His flesh came again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean."


1. The subject of the new conviction. What was the subject? That the God of Israel was the only God. He felt that it was God's hand that healed him.

2. The developments of this new conviction. A conviction like this must prove influential in some way or other. Abstract ideas may lie dormant in the mind, but convictions are ever operative. What did it do in Naaman?(1) It evoked gratitude. Standing with all his company before the prophet, he avowed his gratitude "Now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.(2) It annihilated an old prejudice. Just before his cure he despised Judaea. Jordan was contemptible as compared with the rivers of Damascus. But now the very ground seems holy. He asks of the prophet liberty to take away a portion of the earth.(3) It inspired worship. Thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice, but unto the Lord."


IX. THE FORCE OF SORDID AVARICE. Gehazi is the illustration of this in his conduct as described in vers. 20-22. In his case we have avarice —

1. Eager in its pursuits.

2. This avarice is in one associated with the most generous of men. He was the servant of Elisha.

3. This avarice sought its end by means of falsehood.

X. THE FORCE OF RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE. There is justice on this earth as well as remedial goodness, and Heaven often makes man the organ as well as the subject of both. Elisha, who had the remedial power, had also the retributive. Here we see retributive justice in —

1. Detecting the wrongdoer.

2. Reproving the wrongdoer.

3. It punishes the wrongdoer.


1. There is not a man or woman living, however happy or prosperous, in whose description sooner or later we do not come to a "but." There is always some drawback here, some drop in every cup that needs extraction, some thorn in every path to be removed. And even though this "but" were not in our health and circumstances, it is always in our nature. Leprosy is God's one great disease in the Bible to represent sin. It meant exclusion from the camp and distance from our fellowmen. Hideous and revolting in itself, it poisoned the springs of man's existence. Hence it strikingly represents that sin which is in man, and, in the absence of everything else, is the terrible "but" which mars and spoils the fairest earthly picture. Like man by nature, Naaman carried within him that disease which none but God could heal.

2. Contrast with this great man and honourable, the little maid. Torn away from her home and friends by rude hands, and probably amid the bitter tears of parental affection, she had been taken captive and sold as a slave. But amid all these discouraging circumstances she possessed a secret to which Naaman, with all his greatness, was a stranger. She knew of God and God's healing grace. Naaman felt the disease, she knew the healing. This made all the difference between her and Naaman. This makes all the difference between a Christian and one who is not. This makes the mighty difference between one man and another.

3. God disposes each lot in life. Naaman has his own peculiar sorrow, and so has the little maid hers. They are widely different. Yet God measures out to each one their position and circumstances, their blessings and afflictions, as will best show forth His glory. God had been leading her, through that strange way, to do for this great man and honourable what he could not do for himself, nor any one in the royal court of Benhadad. "The Lord had need of her" for this His great work. Before passing on, notice another truth. Nanman's heavy trial had no power to subdue his haughty spirit. Sorrow of itself can never sanctify. Men may pass through God's hottest furnaces and only come out harder than ever. It is only when the Holy Spirit uses our sorrows — when we put them into His hands to use — that they will ever be made a blessing to us. Let us learn again, from the difference between Naaman and this little maid, that inequalities of social position are divine, and are means of blessing. We have seen two characters here, both of them representative — Naaman and the little maid. Let us now look at a third — Benhadad, King of Syria. In him we have man in his loftiness and arrogance. Nothing can be done, he feels, but through him. He prepares his litter, his gold and silver and raiment. All this is worldly religion — man's proud thoughts about God's ways. And yet all he does is but "labour lost." There is yet another character — Joram, King of Israel. Here is a man who knows about the true God, knows the revelation of His will, knows of the true Elisha at his very door, and yet, with all this knowledge, unable to take his true place and act God's part in directing the poor leper to the healer in Israel. Here is the man of religion, of true religion, of many privileges above others around him, yet all lost, and he utterly unable to direct the diseased one to the saviour prophet!

4. Let us now turn to the saviour prophet, Elisha, and his dealing with the poor leper. The King of Syria prepares a great price — £7500 value of our money. Naaman sets out with it on his journey, and King Jehoram acquiesces m it. Thus the idea of each is that the healing is to be obtained by a price. It is the latent thought of every man by nature. "Without money and without price" is God's Word, and this narrative of the healing of Naaman, and Elisha's dealings with him, are an illustration of this. And what is Elisha's message? "Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean." How simple, how plain! Then what am I to do with the £7500 and the raiment? Has it no value? None whatever in the eyes of Elisha. None whatever before God. Take it back with thee as the dregs of the sinner's righteousness, and learn that all thou art to receive, all that is to set thee free from sin and death and make thee a new creature in Christ Jesus, is of the free sovereign grace of God. Thus we see the pride of the natural heart. "Are not Abana and Pharpar better?" Here is the leper taking his own way of healing, and regarding it as better than God's. "He turned and went away in a rage." Here is the despising of God s remedy and the enmity of the natural heart showing itself. And Naaman was right. Abana's waters were clear and beautiful. Jordan's were clayey and muddy. There was nothing for Sight in all this. It was only for faith. It was God choosing the base things of this world to bring to nought the mighty. Is it not so still? "What is this blood of Christ?" the sinner says. "What! are all my prayers, my good deeds, my sacraments, all my honest efforts to do my best and to please God to go for nothing? But the grace that can provide for a leprous soul can plead with a reluctant heart. It can use a ministry as well as open a fountain; and this ministry is, like the remedy, simple and artless, and exactly suited to its end, for one is divine as the other. Like the "little maid" before, it is the "servants" now, for such are God's means at all times. Human righteousness and greatness, and all nature's fond conceits are set aside completely.

5. Observe the effects of the healing. the form in which it was manifested: "his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child." This is the new birth. It is put before us m this form in other parts of Scripture: "if there be a Mediator with him, the One above the thousands of angels to show man (God's) righteousness, then He is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found the ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth" (Job 33:23, 24). Here the same truth is brought before us. Again we have it in the New Testament: "Except a man be born from above he cannot enter the kingdom of God." "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new."

6. Observe, in the next place, the manifestation of this new nature in the conduct of Naaman. From this point it is seen there is a great change in him. His spirit, his tone, his language, his whole bearing seems from this moment to form a striking contrast to all that has gone before, so much so that, had his name not been mentioned, we should have said it could not possibly be the same man. "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." Observe the fruits of the new nature here, in their order. Naaman stands with all his company before Elisha. It is not now the proud and haughty Naaman, but the subdued and humbled one. Here is the first-fruit of the Holy Spirit in his character. He was humble because he was washed. Secondly, he makes a goodly confession of the one and only God. He had learnt the true God through the virtue of His grace exerted on himself — through the health and salvation he had received from Him. This is the only way the soul can ever learn Him. Thirdly, he presses his gifts upon Elisha, not now to purchase the healing, but because he has been healed. He has been forgiven much, therefore he loves much. Fourthly, he "will henceforth know no other God." To this end he seeks materials to raise an altar to the true God. And fifthly, he has now a renewed conscience, quick and sensitive about any, even apparent, departure from the God who had so blessed him.

(F. Whitfield, M. A.)

Monday Club Sermons.
There is scarcely a story in all Scripture of deeper interest than this of Naaman, the Syrian.

I. THE CHARACTER AND CONDITION OF NAAMAN. There is no mention of Naaman in the Bible, save in this connection. There is, however, a Jewish tradition as old as the time of Josephus, which identifies him as the archer whose arrow struck Ahab with his mortal wound, and thus gave deliverance to Syria. Whether this be true or not, some brave deed of Naaman had lifted him into special prominence, and crowned him with exceptional honour. But he was a leper! This made him loathsome and a burden to himself. Here we learn that no honour, no valour, no victory, can place men beyond the reach of the sorest calamities of life. These are as likely to visit the rich as the poor; are as likely to fall on princes as on peasants. No king is always happy; no prime minister of state but has his fears and sorrows, Naaman stood next the king, but he was a leper, afflicted more than many a slave in Syria. There is no possession so vast, no position so high, no attainment so conspicuous, no employment so congenial, no association so sweet, as not to have its "but," revealing sorrow, or some great unmet want. There is, however, "a skeleton in every home." Each heart has, and knows, its own bitterness. One reaps advantage of one kind here, another of another kind there, but every man reaps disadvantage of one kind or another. The good and ill of life are far more evenly distributed than most imagine.

II. THE CHARACTER AND SERVICE OF THE LITTLE MAID. She was by birth an Israelite, carried captive into Syria. There she became a servant in Naaman's household. In her early home, and among her own people, she had become familiar with the worship and history of Israel. It is possible that she had met the prophet Elisha. Those homes of Israel were schools for the household. The children there were trained to believe in, and worship, the God of their fathers. History with them was sacred. With scepticism and atheism those Israelitish homes were not darkened and afflicted as our homes are. Egypt, Sinai, Samaria were all alive with Divine deliverances, which old and young alike appreciated. God was among the people, and this the children understood. The confidence of children is remarkable in the beneficence of God and in the influence of the good with Him. Children may be, not only our greatest comforters, but our wisest teachers and our divinest helpers. In their simple, childish faith they often put us to shame, and in their generous desire to serve others, often rebuke our indifference.

III. THE MIRACULOUS CURE. It appears that Naaman somehow heard of the desire and faith of this little maid in his home, and was encouraged to make trial of the prophet. It appears further, that, aside from the maid, none was more anxious for the cure than the king. Through the instrumentality, — possibly of some one overhearing the conversation of this maid with her mistress, or possibly of some one informed by this woman, and sent by her, or, it may be of Naaman himself, the king learned of the wish and the faith. It is more than probable that both Naaman and the king had heard of Elisha as a worker of wondrous miracles; for his fame must have reached to the farthest bounds of the kingdom. But be this as it may, the leper sighs for help, and is ready for the experiment of seeking Elisha. Poor man! There he stood at the prophet's door, a leper, full of large expectations; yet dictating as to the manner of the cure, and falling into a frenzy because it was not to be effected with pomp and parade such as he thought became his rank and station. Why the prophet bade him go to Jordan instead of the waters of Damascus, he could not understand. He seems to have forgotten that Jordan belonged to the God of Israel, and that, in a miraculous cure, relation to God was of far more importance than the depth or beauty of the stream. Besides, Jordan was the river appointed; and if Naaman is to be cured by Divine power he must obey the Divine will. He was, however, proud and haughty — style and rank were offended. What now? Jordan has become a healing stream for this afflicted man. No longer shall he compare that river with the waters of Damascus. No longer shall Elisha be regarded as an enemy, or as indifferent to his welfare. To be cured of such a disease in such a manner was enough to convince Naaman of the power of God, and of Elisha as a true prophet of God. Experience is a wonderful teacher. This cure had been effected by consciously supernatural means. This he was ready to confess.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

I. In turning to the story of this Naaman, the first thing that I would notice is A CONTRAST IN SERVICE. We set him before us dwelling in the stately palace of the king, the commander of the king's armies; with authority to speak to the whole nation, and all men are ready to obey him: with troops of horses and hosts of chariots, and servants that wait upon him and minister to him. Altogether, in council and in camp, the foremost man in Syria. And as brave as he was wise, of whose valour many a stirring tale was told. Here is greatness: great in himself, great in his position, great in his possessions, great in his achievements, great in his authority: no element of greatness is lacking. Then do you notice how beside this word great there is set the word little; and alongside of this mighty man of valour is put the record of this captive maid? Poor little thing, her story is a very sad one. A troop of Syrians marching one day into Israel — fierce fellows, burning the homesteads of the villagers, before whom the frightened people fled to the mountains or caves — had come to some cottage, and there, it may be, tending a sick mother, too feeble to escape, or guarding some little one of the family whom she would not forsake, this girl is taken captive and carried away by the soldiers. They sell her as a slave to Naaman's wife. A stranger in a strange land, with the memory of her bitter griefs — in thought and feeling, and hope and religion, severed from those about her, so she must wait upon her mistress and do her bidding, with none to befriend her. We can think of her sighing in her loneliness. "Ah, me; if I were only King of Syria, or even this great lord, I would set right the wrongs of the poor folks, and bid the cruel soldiers stay at home. I would have no burning cottages, no ruined homes, and no poor captive men or maidens if I were king. How good it must be to be so great! But I am only a little maiden; what can I do? here there are so many troubles? It is dreadful to be so weak and little." And yet this little maid it is who brings deliverance to the great man of Syria, for in her are two things that are never little — a kind heart and faith in God. So, in the great world, with its sorrows, there is always room for loving-kindness and for faith in God. It is not greatness that the poor world wants mostly, not chief captains or men of valour; but love. The little, and the least, with love and faith, can always find a place for service; a service that is always blessed, and shall have its golden wages. Our measure for service is not in position, nor in gifts, nor in greatness, but in love. Her tender love and simple faith do set this little maid alongside of this great captain. Take it, I pray you, for whom it is meant, and give thanks to God. Say it and sing it within yourself: "If in this great world I can do nothing else, I can do this — and since I can do this I will envy none. Wherever I am I can keep a simple faith in God and a kind heart." Thank God, little one, that He has a place for thee.

II. NOTICE THE WISDOM OF NAAMAN. He no sooner hears that there is a chance of his being cured than he sets off for the prophet. He does not despise the suggestion because it is a prophet of Israel who has the power. If this is a chance of his being cured he will go forth and seek it. He might very naturally have said, "I will get my master, the King of Syria, to write a letter to the King of Israel, and he can send the prophet to see me. The prophet is much better able to travel than I am; and it is altogether more fitting that he should come here. It is an enemy's country, and the people may oppose my coming, and I am ill fit to journey. I will send my horses and chariots, and a company of soldiers for his escort, and I will pay him well for his coming." So he might have said, but that will not do. He will go himself. There must be no delay. If there is a chance of being cured he will do his best to avail himself of that chance. At once everybody in the place is set to work to hasten his going. Now do not let this Naaman the Syrian rise up in judgment against us. We have heard that in Jesus Christ is our salvation; that there is One who is able to break the power of our sin, to rid us from its loathsomeness, and to make us whole. To us the testimony concerning the salvation which is in Christ Jesus comes from ten thousand who have found in Him their deliverance from the curse and power of sin, the cleansing from its foul leprosy. Think if he should bid his musicians sing of this: Elisha, and chant his greatness, and week after week should sit and listen to the story of the captive maiden. "I like to hear her," says he, "she is so much in earnest, and her gestures are so graceful, and her words so well chosen." O fool! and all the time the leprosy is eating into him with horrid cruelty, deeper and deeper, and every day he is growing more hideous and scarred, and his case becomes more desperate. And the longer he delays the more he questions about going at all. And now the King of Syria comes to see him. "Well, have you been?" he asks. "Been where?" saith Naaman. "Why, to the great prophet that can heal thee of thy leprosy," cries the king, wondering. "No," saith Naaman, "I have not exactly been to him, you know. But I have heard all about him, and have got quite familiar with his name and history, and what he has said and done." "But surely," cries the astonished king, "it were as well never to have heard of him if you do not go." Then one day the tidings spread, "Naaman is dead"; died of his leprosy. Dead! and he knew so much about the prophet. And in the palace is heard the wail of the little maiden, "Would God my lord had gone to the prophet that is in Samaria." Alas! it is only in religion that men play the fool like this: only in the deeper and more dreadful leprosy of the soul! Can you imagine any greater folly, hearing of Christ as the Saviour, year in and year out, and yet never coming to Him?


(M. G. Pearse.)

Men who are called to like positions in our own day are generally the objects of envy. Doubtless, Naaman was such an object in the eyes of many. But how greatly were they mistaken in the estimate they formed. Naaman knew, before others knew, that the leprosy had marked him as its victim. The small spot, herald of the approaching disease, was upon him; the worm was at the root of the gourd; the cancer was beginning to prey upon his very vitals; the heart was already feeding upon its own bitterness. Naaman, the illustrious, — Naaman, the captain of the king's hosts, — Naaman, with all his greatness, must henceforth carry about with him a monitor of his own weakness, yea, his own sinfulness. And, upon the face of the record, do we not read this lesson, —

I. THE SINFULNESS OF PRIDE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD? All pride will be humbled in like manner. "God resisteth the proud" (James 4:6) always, at all times, and in all cases. "He that exalteth himself shall be abased" (Luke 14:11). Pride is the idolatry of self. Where pride reigns, God cannot reign, but God will judge. Let each beware of pride. Pride does not help a man to fill his station; it leads him to overstep his station. Humility ennobles, for it is a Divine grace; but pride degrades, for it is earth-born, a satanic spirit. If the proud man does not seek the throne of grace, and humble himself there, pride will prove his ruin.

II. Another truth, of which the experience of Naaman may remind us, is this, — OUR ENTIRE AND ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE UPON GOD. We are not the arbiters of our own destiny. We cannot determine our own future. Even to-day's bread is dependent on God's bounty. "As He will," is the law of our condition, absolutely and without qualification. Naaman, the captain of the host of Syria, the mighty man of valour, was no exception to this law. In his leprosy he carried about with him a silent but a faithful monitor of the supremacy of God. There was manifestly a will above his will, — a will that had determined his affliction, irrespective of himself.

III. But there is yet another, and a principal lesson, which the experience of Naaman enforces, — THE INSUFFICIENCY OF EARTHLY GOOD TO CONFER HAPPINESS UPON THE POSSESSOR. Naaman possessed fame, and honour, and friends, and wealth; but he was a leper. I ask, Is there not always some "but," or some "if," to act as a drawback on the earthly portion? Has the man ever lived who, being "of the earth, earthy," living for this world only, could say he was so happy as not to need something to be added or to be taken away? It has even become a proverb, "Man never is, but always to be, blest." "Is the child happy?" asks one of our Puritan Fathers. "He will be, when he is a man. Is the peasant satisfied? He will be, when he is rich. Is the rich man satisfied? He will be, when he is ennobled. Is the nobleman satisfied? He will be, when he is a king. Is the king satisfied? Listen! for one is speaking, 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'" Each is devising a portion for himself, in which he thinks happiness will be found; but none attain happiness. Riches may be pursued and acquired; but riches cannot confer happiness. It is a true testimony, which all experience confirms: "They that increase riches, increase sorrow with them." There is always some "but" attached to the best estate. The knowledge that God is our God for ever and ever — that we are reconcried to Him by faith in Christ Jesus — that He will be our guide, the director of our steps, even until death, — this is the knowledge which alone discovers to us the secret of happiness — this is the knowledge which places in our possession the key which may be said to open to man a Paradise regained.

(C. Bullock.)

Homiletic Review.
This whole story of Naaman, ancient as it is, is not one out of relation with our present lives. It is a story which can easily teach us some most valuable modern lessons.


1. Consider the addition.

(1)Captain of the host of the King of Syria.

(2)A great man with his master.

(3)And honourable.

(4)Because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria.

(5)He was also a mighty man in valour.How many items in this addition, and how large the sum of their values — high military command, great favour at court, splendid reputation, success, great personal bravery.

2. Consider the subtraction — one vast damaging item, but he was a leper. Take a New-Testament instance, that of Paul (2 Corinthians 12).(1) Addition. Rapture (ver. 2). Presence in Paradise (ver. 4). Vision of the unspeakable glories (ver. 4). Abundant revelations (ver. 7).(2) Subtraction — thorn in the flesh (ver. 7). Are not those instances more or less exactly parallel in our own lives? You can add together many a favouring circumstance and possession: then here is sure to come the subtracting — but. Why is this? Why, in our common lot, must there be this universal subtraction from our addition? If this life were all, and were intended to be all, it would be cruel. But there is another life. These subtractions from our additions are allowed, lest we should somnolently settle into the feeling that this life is all.

II. THAT OF FAITHFULNESS TO ONE'S RELIGION IN STRANGE PLACE AND CIRCUMSTANCE. The little Hebrew maid (vers. 2-4) how unlike her are those professing Christians who, moving to a new place or city, will not use their church letters but drop into the sad throng of non-churchgoers!


1. Behold the ancient picture — the letter; the presents worth USD50,000; the ostentatious arrival before the prophet's door; the message; the reply and rage (vers. 11-12).

2. Behold the modern counterpart. Simple was the remedy the prophet ordered — the washing in the Jordan. So simple is the Gospel — personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. But men, thinking their thoughts, making beforehand plans for God, say, "Are not the Abana and Pharpar of my moralities better?" or, "Are not the Abana and Pharpar of my penances better?" or "Are not the Abana and Pharpar of some shining experience I have imagined better?"

IV. THE WISDOM OF DOING FIRST WHAT GOD SAYS (ver. 14). Have you not been delaying, and thinking, and imagining, and holding to your way long enough? Now, in the beginning of this New Year, will you not wisely submit to God, as Naaman did? Will you not accept Jesus Christ and so, in the only possible way, find forgiveness for your sin?

(Homiletic Review.)

There is much modern application in these Old Testament circumstances. There is so much humaneness in the Bible which makes it always a new book. Principles know nothing of years. Truth is not hampered by time. The Scriptures are as old as eternity, and yet as new as every morning. The Gospel in the narrative may thus be developed.

I. THE GOSPEL APPEALS TO THE MAN, NOT HIS ACCIDENTS. The prophet's message was to the leper, not to the courtier. Naaman came with his horses and with his pageantry. He came in a lordly air, but the prophet did not even meet him. The true man is never moved by glitter. Some of us would have bowed as sycophants; it would have been the reddest-letter day of our lives, if the premier of Syria had stood at our door. Even if a trinket, or a book, be given to us by a royal hand, we transmit it as an heirloom. There is a nobility of office, but there is a higher nobility of character. There is a kingliness of name, but there is also a kingliness of nature. We should not judge by appearance, but judge by righteous judgment. The prophet saw through all the haughtiness of Naaman, leprous man. God sees through all life's accidents — all our intelligence, parade, wealth, and respectability — a heart of corruption and sorrow. He sees that the "imagination of the thoughts of man are evil continually." The message is to man, not to his circumstances. It speaks to us as sinners. It speaks, not to contingencies, but to the human nature that is in us all. It was man that fell, and to man the message is sent. "He came to seek and to save that which was lost."

II. THE GOSPEL MESSAGE AND CONDITIONS ARE ALWAYS SIMPLE. It speaks in a language all can understand. It speaks to the heart, and the heart has but one language, the wide world over. The tongue speaks many a vernacular, and the lips chatter many dialects, but the heart's voice never varies. The great universal heart beats in us all. The Gospel sees us fallen, and it sends forth the common message and a universal welcome. "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden." The message is one, but its emphasis is varied according to our deafness, and its strokes to our hardness. The stone is hard, and the sculptor's mallet must be heavy, and his chisels sharp. The wound is deep, and the corrosive must burn, and the instrument probe deeply. The jewel is encased in adamant, and the lapidary must select his instruments accordingly. Our prejudices are great, our hearts are haughty, and the conditions are adapted. Christianity is to us what we are. Loving in disposition, it "speaks in a still small voice." Impenitent in heart, it speaks in thunder-tones. Some are so deaf that they can only hear thunder; others are so divinely sensitive, they can hear angels' whispers, and God's steps on the wind. According to our heart-life, God is either a Father, or a consuming fire. A revengeful God is the creation of a wicked life. The Gospel speaks to the heart, and of necessity must temper its voice to its disposition and difficulties. It is a message so simple that a child can understand it, and yet its inexhaustibleness challenges the highest mind. So plain, that the "wayfaring man" need not Stumble; and yet its sublimity creates a sensation new in angel bosom. Its simplicity reveals its wonders, as its stoop manifests its height.

III. THE GOSPEL CONDITIONS ARE REPULSIVE TO HUMAN PREJUDICES. We might swear that it is night when the sun shines, but the light would only prove our insanity. We may curse the Book, but its truth is inviolable. We may blaspheme the Gospel, but the loudness of our voice may only reveal the perfectness of our idiocy. How presumptuous is man?

1. How we presume on God's ways? "I thought he would surely come out to me," etc.

2. How we presume on God's means? "Are not Abana and Pharpar... better than all the waters of Israel?"

3. How we presume on God's patience? "And he turned away in a rage."

4. How we presume on self-sufficiency? "Some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it?" The conditions of the Gospel may arouse our resentment, but to resist is to be blind to our best interests. The prophet said: "Wash and be clean"; and Naaman turned away in a rage. Christ says: "Sell all thou hast and give to the poor"; and the young man went away sorrowing. The Gospel says: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"; and we are disgusted with the conditions. The Cross to the "Jew may be a stumbling-block," and to the "Greek, foolishness," but to as many as believe, it is the "power of God unto salvation." The answer to all our prejudices is, that it is God's appointed way. There is no royal road. The conditions are, believe and live, and the authority is, "he that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." Our prejudices may recoil, and we may turn away in wrath. But we turn our face from the sun only to see our shadow.

(W. Mincher.)

Let us cast our eyes upon Naaman himself; and then upon the method of his restoration.


1. Official.

2. Personal

3. Bodily. "But he was a leper" — the one drawback, and that a terrible one.


1. First notice the providence of God. It was by means of a little captive maid.

2. Thus, what must have seemed a great calamity to the little maid's friends and to herself — to be captured and carried away into an idolatrous country — became a blessing.

3. Then we have the picture of Naaman, with his equipage and servants, in state at the door of Elisha, and the prophet sending a message to him with the command in the text.

4. Let us see the moral and spiritual purposes of Elisha's treatment. The spirit of pride had to be subdued. The prophet's method is unexpected, but not without design. There is no prayer or personal contact, only a message by a servant.

5. But for the kindly expostulation of the servants, Naaman would have returned into his own country a leper, as he set out from it.


1. From instances of natural virtue in the heathen world, we learn that nature, though fallen, is not totally corrupt. We must keep a middle course between and Calvin.

2. What weak and often unworthy means God uses for making known His truth! — the enslaved Israelite maid!

3. How children should strive to remember what they were taught in youth about God and His ministers, that it may be a blessing to themselves and to others!

(Canon Hutchings.)

The great discovered this when a young man. His father, a heathen, had said to the lad, "Be great." His mother, Monica, a devoted Christian, had whispered, "Be good." "I will be both," he answered, "but great first." And when, after years of folly and then of philosophy, he resolved to "be good," he found himself a slave to sin. Not till he cast himself wholly on Divine power and grace did he gain the "new heart." Then, the things he had once been afraid to lose he cast from him with joy. "Thou expellest them," he cried, in an ecstasy of joy, "and comest in Thyself instead of them." Thus Augustine the sinner became Augustine the saint.

But he was a leper.
How many might be tempted to envy him, how many of his fellow-men might be tempted to say, within themselves, "Would that I were in his place, would that I could have done with all these anxious cares, and weary disappointments which I meet with every day! Would that I could be free from all this drudgery, and see, at any rate, some result of all my toil! Here am I fighting every day against difficulty and hardship, yet gaining never a victory; here am I passing the best part of my days in obscurity, with never a prospect of rising in the world; there seems to be nothing for me but toils and cares from morning till night, from year's end to year's end. Would that I could be successful in life as Naaman was, could reach a high and honoured position as he did! Yet stay, Naaman has his drawback, he is not by any means the happy man you take him to be. "But he was a leper." Do not these words — five in English, but only two in the original Hebrew — seem to throw a deep, dark shadow over the whole life of Naaman? We cannot possibly know, as well as Naaman did, all that those words meant. None but a leper can truly know the meaning of leprosy. Yet we do know that it was something terrible; that it was a serious affliction; that it made life dark, gloomy, unbearable. There is, in fact, something in the life-history of every man which gives, or should give to him, lowly views of himself, which is intended to keep down his pride, and to remind him that this world is a pathway leading to a country where alone there is nothing to mar our pleasure, no interruption to our happiness, where alone there is no drawback. There is a "but" in the history of every soul on this side of the grave. That rich man you see, and upon whose wealth you may often have looked with envious eye, is the victim of some serious disorder; death is, as it were, staring him in the face. That strong and healthy man, who seems able and willing to do battle in the great world, who possesses an energy equalled by few, and surpassed by none, is yet a poor man; there is a large family depending upon him; many mouths to be filled, many backs to be clothed; and that strong, willing worker, heaves a sigh as he thinks that his earnings will prove miserably inadequate to the needs of his household. And, if you trace the matter right through, you will find that this drawback is a very common experience, known and felt not only by the poor, but also by the well-to-do; not only by those low down in the world, but also by those occupying high positions. And yet there is a value in these drawbacks; they are not so utterly hopeless as many would feign imagine; we are apt to look upon them as a great evil, with not a single redeeming feature. Not a few might feel disposed to ask, "Why should these things exist at all? Why cannot I be allowed to pass through life without having to encounter all these difficulties — these things which interfere so greatly with my happiness? Life is short, why should it be made miserable? Why should I not be able to enjoy, to my heart's content, these days and weeks, these months and years, which are passing all too quickly away?" These are the questions which probably are going forth from thousands of hearts to-day; they seem practical questions; let us deal with them in a practical way. Let us bear in mind that these things come to us not by chance, they are sent. That difficulty of yours, that matter which is costing you so many weary days, and sleepless nights, that great heart-sorrow, that heavy burden has not visited you at random as it were, but has been sent to you; that is the first thought, the first fact to be carefully remembered. And the Sender; Who is the Sender? God, the God who loves you with an amazing love, pities you with wondrous pity, sends you that very thing which is the cause of much vexation, and which you could heartily wish had never been sent. Brethren, it seems strange, almost like a contradiction, but it is neither. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:19, 13). This is the kind action of a loving Father; He is training us and educating us for heaven. Never let us forget that, and honestly let us ask ourselves what would be the result if we had everything just as we wished. If, in this life, there were no difficulties, or trials, or sorrows to meet, what feelings and thoughts would take possession of us? Should we be filled with earnest longing to reach the heavenly city? Much of the choicest, holiest portions of a man's character is formed in those seasons of his life which call forth the pity of those about him. When they are pitying, heaven is rejoicing; rejoicing that the feet are turned Zionwards, that the wanderer is returning home. Brethren, let it be so with us. Remember "they who suffer with Christ shall also reign with Him," and that, "All things work together for good to those who love God."

(E. F. Chapman, M. A.)

1. Among the figures of the Old Testament there is hardly any more interesting or more attractive than that of Naaman the Syrian. He belongs, indeed, to a class of persons which never fails to arrest notice and evoke admiration, the class of those who, afflicted by physical disadvantages which are commonly incapacitating, have such constancy of purpose, such strength of will, such nobility of character, that they triumph over their infirmities, and take rank among the leaders of mankind. Habitual suffering does incapacitate for exertion; physical infirmity disables the will and abashes the courage. Marked out from the rest by defects, repulsive or ludicrous, or practically disadvantageous, men are humbled and cowed by a consciousness of inferiority, which not rarely becomes a vague sense of wrong, a dreary feeling of unmerited exile from the common society, and along with these, an embitterment of character, which, in its turn, adds yet further obstacles to frank fellowship with ordinary folk. The annals of the English monarchy, for instance, contain no worthier names than those of Alfred, the traditional founder of our constitution, and of William III., its champion and restorer, and both those admirable sovereigns were chronic invalids. Our literature has no greater name than that of Milton, who was a blind man when he wrote his principal poem; no name more venerable than that of Johnson, who from childhood was afflicted with a repulsive malady. It would be hard to find among modern politicians a name more justly honoured than that of Henry Fawcett, whose sight was destroyed by a lamentable accident when he was twenty-five years old, but who "bore the calamity with a superlative courage," and won for himself a niche in the Temple of Fame. These show the class to which Naaman belonged, the class of the intrinsically heroic, to whom, whatever their creed or career, the description of Scripture seems properly to belong, "who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power Of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, waxed mighty in war, turned to flight armies of aliens."

2. It is matter of common experience that the class of heroes which Naaman represents, is a very large class; we all have known and could name from among our acquaintance persons who belong to it. Nay, in some sense, we all ought ourselves to come within it, for there is none of us, however fortunately placed, who is altogether without some disadvantage, which is capable of daunting and" disabling us. Of course — if you will — this is the tritest of moralisations. But he knows little of human life as it proceeds in its cycles of customary work and common association, who has not discovered that immense injury to character, and waste of energy, and loss of happiness arise from the single cause of that sustained resentment of disadvantage which is one of the commonest of human faults. Perhaps there are reasons why, under the circumstances of modern life, such resentment should tend to increase among us. It is matter of common observation that among all classes there is a passion for enjoyment, which easily induces disgust of work and discontent with all limitations of liberty. Religion, we shall all agree, is the source of fortitude and the spur of moral effort. When religion loses authority over the will, and fails to move the heart, men fall inevitably under the empire of circumstance, having nothing outside themselves to sustain them under misfortune, nothing beyond the native resources of character.

3. The disadvantage in Naaman's case was one for which we may believe that he was not personally responsible; the hideous disease by which he was stricken may have been inherited, or contracted by accidental contact with persons similarly afflicted, or the result of privations endured in his campaigns. He could not, in any case, blame himself as the cause of his calamity. In this respect the valorous Syrian represents a great multitude of afflicted persons. I notice that Mr. Samuel Laing ascribes the prevalence of pessimistic theories among us to this very circumstance. "In ruder states of society," he says, "such weaklings were got rid of by the summary process of being killed off, while with the more humane and refined arrangements of modern times they live on and "weary deaf heaven with their fruitless cries." It must be allowed that weak health and chronic pain ordinarily tend to induce such gloomy and morbid mental dispositions, and it is impossible not to feel compassion for those who, however deluded, are still the victims of their own undeserved misfortunes; but here, as in all other human affairs, there is an extraordinary latent power in man himself, which, if brought into action, can turn back the natural tendency of his circumstances, and bend those very circumstances to new and higher interests. The magnanimity of the ancient Stoics rises in the case of the sickly and crippled Epictetus to a genuine piety. "Dare to look up to God," he says," and say, Deal with me for the future as Thou wilt: I am of the same mind as Thou art; I am Thine; I refuse nothing that pleaseth Thee; lead me where Thou wilt; clothe me in any dress Thou choosest; is it Thy will that I should hold the office of a magistrate, that I should be in the condition of a private man, stay here or be in exile, be poor, be rich? I will make Thy defence to men in behalf of all these conditions." There is a ring of personal affection in such words which argues that the Stole philosopher was (though he knew it not) a Christian in spirit. St. Paul s curiously similar language includes the confession of a discipleship which Epictetus could not own. "I know how to be abased."

4. But, though physical afflictions that are undeserved may bring a sore strain to bear on the character, and can hardly fail, save in the case of a few extraordinary persons, to cast a gloom over the mind, and give a melancholy tinge to the whole life, still it is not in such calamities that the most disabling and daunting influences are found. There are men among us, richly endowed with gifts of intellect, of character, of fortune, who are held in a state of degrading idleness by the disabling memory of some moral treason in the past. Men wonder at them, knowing nothing and suspecting nothing — but to their own consciousness the sinister fact stands out with threatening prominence. They have lost faith in themselves; self-respect, the backbone of character, is broken. I might borrow the words of the text to describe such a man — "a mighty man of valour, but a leper."

(H. H. Henson, B. D.)

There you have a romance and a tragedy summed up in a single verse. You only need a little imagination to fill in the details, and lo! you have a book of human life, with its prides and humblings, its grandeurs, and its shames. The writer tells you in the same breath of this man's glory and of his awful cross. "But!" Ah, if we could only get rid of that little word, how happy we should be! Alas! it is always popping in to disturb our self-congratulating reflections, It drops into human speech at every turn. It is found at every stage of human experience. I hear it every day in the common talk of the people about me. I catch my own lips dropping it unawares times without number. There is always something to qualify our congratulations, praises, and thanksgivings. Fortune has dealt well with you, but! You have had a smooth and prosperous career, but! Your husband is almost perfection, but! Your children are doing well, but! That friend of yours has many admirable qualities, but! Your employer is generous and considerate, but! Your partner is honest and capable, but! Your church is orthodox and peaceable, and pre-eminently respectable, but! Your minister is a wonderful preacher, but! There is always that little or big cloud athwart your sunlight, always the wasp in the honey-cup, always the seamy side to your bliss, always the dull leaden background to the shield whose face is all gold. Mercy and judgment meet, and the darkness and the light make up one picture in every human lot. Naaman was a great man, and honourable, but he was a leper. Now sometimes we forget this other side in our thoughts of others, and frequently we make too much of it in thoughts of ourselves. And if the other side relates to character, we reverse the process, making too much of it in others and overlooking it in ourselves.

I. REMEMBER THAT EVERY NAAMAN HAS HIS CROSS. The side of the shield which he shows to the world is perhaps polished gold, but he who walks behind it sees the heavy iron casing. How foolish we are to envy the great their greatness, the rich their riches, the honourable their honours, and the wise their wisdom, and to fancy that because they have more of these things than we they are necessarily happier and more contented. And how blind we are to overlook our own blessings and joys, and repine because others seem more fortunate than we. Uneasy is the head that wears any sort of crown. Where Fortune drops its choicest honours, it imposes its heaviest burdens, and the path which is lined with roses has most of the prickly thorns of care. The more brilliant the sunlight, the darker the shadows. The more a man gets his own way, the more he frets when he cannot get his own way. You cannot climb high to pluck the choicest fruit and flowers without getting many a prick and bruise. The man who wears purple and fine linen before the world has often underneath, if you could see it, rough sackcloth and chafing cords; and there is a cloud of cares weighing like midnight on many a heart in which outward fortune seems constantly to smile. In the old ballad the queen tides by on her gallant palfrey, with cloth of gold and glittering jewels, and splendid array of attendants, and the village maiden, looking out of her lattice window, sighs, "Oh! to be a queen!" while the queen, looking up, sighs far more deeply, and whispers to her heart, "Oh! to be free from all this burden, and like that happy careless maiden!" Yes; there are cold blasts on the heights which those below never feel. And many a time, when all the things of the world go well with a man, his inner life is any. thing but right with God. The leprosy of doubt, or the leprosy of sin has crept over all his thoughts, and corrupted his human affections, and put a withering blight upon his world, and he knows nothing of the peace and gladness in which your simple faith walks continually.

II. YOU ARE NOT LIKELY TO FORGET YOUR OWN CROSS. No; but do not make too much of it. No doubt there is a seamy side to your life. It is not all sunlight. But it is not well to keep the seamy side always uppermost and talk as if tears and cares and worries were your meat and drink continually. Why cannot we let our cheerful thoughts have free course sometimes without stopping them with that everlasting "but"? "Yes; I have many things to be grateful for, but I" That word often expresses the concentrated essence of ingratitude. It is a volume of murmurings and fretfulness bound up in three letters. Do not make too much, I repeat, of that other side. Your house is not so large as you desire. No; but maybe there is far more love and happiness in it than in many a bigger house. Your children are not all shaping as you would wish. No; but some of them, let us hope, bring brightness to your homes and put music into your hearts continually. Your business prospects are not brilliant maybe. No; but you have never lacked a sufficiency of comforts, and your way has always so far been made clear. We should be far happier and far more generous-hearted men if we did not make so much of that "but" in thinking of and discussing those who love us and whom we love. They please us in many things, but! Ah, well, magnify the many things, and let that other side go by.

(J. Greenhough, M. A.)

Naaman was a mighty man, but he was a leper. Every man has some "but" or other in his character — something that blemishes and diminishes him — some alloy in his grandeur — some damp to his joy: he may be very happy — very good; yet, in something or other, not so good as he should be, nor so happy as he would be.

(Matthew Henry.)

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2 Kings 4:44
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