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in comparison, registered their votes in favour of Sir James Anderson in the Stirling burghs. The leading Free Churchmen of Glasgow, many of whom are the old Tories who fought for West India slavery and the corn laws, and all kinds of legalised robbery, naturally enough, it will be supposed, polled for the Tory, Blackburn. And in the Ayr burghs, the Free Church influence was given in favour of the Conservative, Boyle, and in opposition to Crawford, the liberal Voluntary.
Two remarks suggest themselves to our minds. First, This is a dangerous policy. If the principle of an established church be so important in the eyes of Free Churchmen, that they cannot vote for a parliamentary candidate who is opposed to it, it must teach us to look upon it also in this light, and to support no candidate who is a Free Churchman. Somehow or other, it almost uniformly happens, that a Free Churchman is more offensive and dogmatic in promulgating his views of the Church Establishment principle and of the Voluntary principle than a member of the Established Church. We state the fact simply, without comment. If the Voluntaries had pursued the same policy as the Free Church, Moncreiff would not have been returned for the Leith burghs, nor Dunlop for Greenock. We may learn a lesson of tactics from our opponents. Two can play at this game; and though the first who begins it may have the advantage for the time, it does not follow that the advantage can be maintained, after the sleight of hand has been discovered. And second, an opportunity may soon be given us of carrying our new lesson into practice. It appears to us, that Lord Derby cannot long keep his seat, even though his supporters should be more numerous than they seem to be in the coming Parliament. There is a public opinion out of doors which must operate fatally against him. His opponents may carry against him a vote of no confidence, and this compels his resignation. When a liberal ministry is in power, there may be a necessity for a new election, for the purpose of strengthening their hands, unless the Derbyites should, through fear of this, throw down their arms, and promise not to obstruct the government. A new election may thus not be far from us; and we hope, when this comes round, Voluntaries will be upon their guard, and not pledge themselves to Free Church candidates, until they see whether the old game is to be played over again. The Free Church policy has been hitherto too much of this character-take all and give nothing. This must be corrected, both for their sakes and our own. We shall know our ground better next time, and fight our battle with more skill.
Printed by THOMAS MURRAY, of 2, Arniston Place, and WILLIAM GIBB, of 12, Queen
Street, at the Printing Office of MURRAY and Gibb, North-East Thistle Street Lane, and Published by WILLIAM OLIPHANT, of 21, Buccleuch Place, at his Shop, 7, South Bridge, Edinburgh, on the 28th of July 1852.
UNITED PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE,
FOR SEPTEMBER, 1852.
NAAMAX: OR, HUMILIATION THE PATH TO DIVINE FAVOUR.
The story of Naaman is familiar to most readers of the Divine word. It occupies the fifth chapter of the Second Book of Kings. An incident like this, occurring under the providence of God, has not been inserted in the sacred volume without a reason. We may be sure that in some way it is fitted to promote the great design of revelation. What is the instruction which God would have us gather from it-What special lesson is it designed to teach? It seems to us that the single point on which the whole light of the story converges is this, the necessity of humbling ourselves, that we may become subjects of the Divine mercy.
Naaman was a proud man-naturally perhaps; and the position to which he had attained, the glory he had acquired, and the favour in which he was held by his royal master, tended to nurse the feeling. God had set his heart on him to save him, but in order to this it was necessary that his lofty looks should be humbled, and his haughtiness bowed down, and it is interesting and edifying to mark how simply, and by what an insensible process, this result was brought about.
I. In the midst of all his greatness he is visited with an aflictive and loathsome disease—a disease so revolting in its character, and pestiferous in its influence, that among the Jews the Divine law made it a ground of exclusion from society. How mortifying to Naaman to have his glory dimmed by a sickening eclipse like this! To be changed by a foul and corroding distemper into an object of loathing and aversion even to his friends! And then how helpless he was under it! By him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria, but puissant as he had proved himself in battle, he could not deliver himself from this hated disease. The friendship of the monarch had raised him high in place, and loaded him with many honours, but for the cure of this malady the sceptre itself was impotent. The court physicians had brought to bear upon it all their skill
, and tried the effect of every remedy, but without success. The powerful aid of the gods themselves had been solicited in vain. To all human appearance Naaman was an incur
VCL. VI. NO. IX.
able leper. There is no evidence from the narrative that his leprosy had the effect of producing in him true humility. The probability rather is, that it fretted and vexed him. Yet it was a sad fact, that he was a lepera fact which he could neither get quit of nor conceal—and though it did not abase him, at least it gave him less reason to be proud. An irritating sense of humiliation must have been experienced, which, though he knew it not, was working toward the accomplishment of that purpose of
of which he was the object.
Here let us for a moment stop to notice the merciful design with which God conducts his government of the world. It is not simply that He cares for men, and exercises control over all that affects their person, their circumstances, and their connections in life; but it is, that He so adapts his dispensations to them, as to make them natural means of græce ; so that nothing befalls an individual which has not some tendency to promote his salvation, if only he make a proper use of it. On this we do not dwell, as it is somewhat aside from the special object we have in view.
II. A second step in the progress of the Divine dealing with Naaman, is seen in the instrumentality by which the first light was shed upon his case. After all had been tried that wealth and rank could command, a little Hebrew maid-occupying in his household the mean place of a slave-thinks she knows how master might be cured. But will the proud nobleman stoop to hear anything this creature has got to say ? Let the information she has to give be what it may, will he condescend to act on it? Is his fate to hang on the word of a humble adviser like her? Had it been one of his soldiers, who, during the late wars had heard something of the prophet of Samaria, this would have been listening to a companion in arms.
Had it been an opulent Syrian merchant, who, in doing business with the Jews, had heard reference made to Elisha, this would have been respectable. Had it been some Hebrew captain, who, becoming acquainted with the affliction of his former antagonist, and respecting him for his manly valour, had sent to apprize him of the miraculous power vested in his country's seer, this would have been highly flattering. Light shed upon his condition by such means, would have been in the ordinary course of things, and self-respect would in no way have been disturbed. But was the second man in all Syria to set out upon a doubtful journey at the bidding of a slave girl? Yet the hint of the little maid threw the household of Naaman, and the court itself, into commotion. There might be something in it. Probably it directed the leper to the true means of restoration to health, and the intelligence itself must be looked at, rather than the quarter from which it comes.
Here let us remind our readers who this girl was. She belonged to the people of God, and had been brought up within the bosom of the visible church. Her parents had been at pains to give her religious instruction—to train her up in the fear of God, and to teach her respect for his servants. Had they neglected her religious education, she would not have been able to give Naaman the information which proved so essential to his welfare. A hint to parents. Teach your children to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent; and then, if they are removed from you, it may be to become strangers in a strange land, they will have their fathers' God with them as their own refuge and strength, and will be able to speak a word in season to them that are weary.
What encouragement the example of this little girl gives us to do good in
way that presents itself! A word spoken in due season, how good is it? If at any time you find yourself in circumstances in which you
feel that you have a word to say, which some one would be the better to hear, withhold it not. It may prove a ray of light from heaven to an erring and troubled spirit. It may fall as seed into a soil where it will bring forth fruit unto eternal life.
Let not instruction be despised, from whatever quarter it come. The voice that addresses us may be a child's voice, and yet it may have a message from God to us. The instrument may be humble, and yet, in the purpose of God, it may have a part to perform which has a vital connection with our everlasting happiness. A child, a servant, a stranger, nay, even a scoffer and a fool, may say what we through all eternity shall have cause to bless God that we have heard.
III. But what was the information given by the captive maid ? In it we see the temper of Naaman encountered by a third trial. “Would God my lord were with the prophet.” It is not, “ Would that the prophet were with my lord.” Tad the proposal been to send for Elisha, or to command his attendance at the Syrian court—which, as matters stood between the two nations, might have been done—this would have been gratifying to the haughty spirit of the nobleman. But the proposal was, that he should make a journey to Samaria ; that he should travel into the very heart of the enemy's country, and there beg his life at the hands of a prophet of the people he had lately humbled with his sword. How could the scorn and elation of a conqueror submit to this? Was not this to give to his defeated foes a triumph over him, far more important than the triumph he had gained over them? Was not this to concede to the God of Israel a preeminence over all other gods besides ? Thoughts like these he would find it hard to digest. In his secret soul he must have wished it had been otherwise. But health was precious; life was dear; and these he was willing to purchase at almost any cost.
Still he is not humbled. Nor has he even any idea of the abasement to which the unseen Disposer of events is conducting him. If the journey to Samaria is inevitable, dignity must be compromised as little as possible; and the expedition must be gone about in a style befitting his rank. The poor prophet was too inconsiderable a person to have direct correspondence with, and the cure of the leprosy must be made the subject of negotiation betwixt the two courts, A despatch, consequently, is addressed by the king of Syria to the king of Israel. * Naaman provides himself with royal presents, and orders a princely attendance. If the work could have been done after this kingly fashion, no sense of humiliation would have been connected with it; and the recovered leper would have returned in the full blow and triumph of his pride. But the work could not be done after this kingly fashion, and it was not.
The feeble monarch of Israel misapprenended his royal brother's design, and was thrown by ine reading of his letter into undignified distress. The news quickly spread, and Elisha hearing of the king's dilemma, immediately relieved him. “Let the leper come 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 prophet Elisha.”
And now it is that we see the proud spirit of the Syrian meet with its sorest triai. In all the greatness of his own importance he sits in his chariot, expecting that he will be the obicct even of exaggerated respect, and that his case will command all the attention the man of God can bestow upon it. But, instead of this, no prophet appears, not even an invitation is given him to descend and enter the lowly dwelling. A servant is sent out to say, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean."
In this message there was more than one thing offensive to Naaman. The disrespectfulness of it was unpardonable! What! was not a man of his rank and consequence entitled to be waited on by the prophet in person? Insufferable insolence, to address him through a menial! Then the cure prescribed !-why, it was a direct insult. Had the prophet come out and prayed over him, or exerted the direct action of miraculous power, this would have been treating him and his disease with the deference and seriousness they deserved. But to bid him go and wash himself in a river, was not to be thought of. Was it for this he had travelled so far, and put himself to so much inconvenience ? If water could cure him, surely there were rivers at home better than any in Israel! “ So he turned, and went away in a rage."
It is by this rage that we are to measure the pride of the man, and his need for abasement. But the lion is in the hunter's toils, and he feels it. Even already the discipline through which he is passing has had some effect. By successive steps, the fiery captain has been brought down to a position which has taught him his helplessness; and even his present madness has that method in it that can be reasoned with. From the course he has pursued, it is evident there is almost nothing he will not do to be delivered from his malady. Appreciating truly his condition and state of mind, his servants venture to expostulate with him : “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather, then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean ?" This had so much of common sense in it, that it fully recovered him from his paroxysm, and prevailed with him to act on the prophet's advice.
Now behold him on his way to the Jordan, silent and thoughtful, almost arrived at the lowest depth in the valley of humiliation. Laying dignity aside, he enters the healing flood: and while time after time he dips himself in these waters, what a marvellous and mysterious process goes on! The bodily disease passes away, but the soul also undergoes a change-and when he comes up from the last dip, he is a new creature-old things have passed away, all things are become new. He is no longer proud, but very humble--no longer an idolater, but a worshipper of the true God. Clothed with the ornament of a meek and a quiet spirit, and filled with pious and grateful emotions, he returns to Elisha : first, to express his thankfulness for the cure he has received; but next, and chiefly, to make a profession of the true religion. How well, in reflecting on what had happened, might he Lare exclaimed, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” This was more than he had dreamt of. He had sought only a bodily cure ; but besides it, God in great mercy hau bumbled and saved him. And we can imagine that, as time rolled on, and the blessedness of the spiritual change more and more discovered itself, all thoughts of what had been effected for the frail earthly tabernacle would be lost in overflowing gratitude for the redemption of the precious and immortal soul.
Reader, how stands the case with you? God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Are you possessed of that broken and contrite heart to which the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity looks ? Do you pride yourself on your personal appearance; on your talents,—on your connections in life,ếon your wealth and rank ? Ah! forget not that in the sight of Heaven you are a guilty and depraved creature, and that, if you would be saved, you must count all things loss, for the excellency of the