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Naaman The Syrian PDF Print E-mail
Written by John R. Respess   

 

TEXT—2 Kings, v. 1—16.

Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria; he was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and bad brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel And be departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes and said, Am I God, to kill and 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 us.

[And so on to the 16th verse.)

THE text contains some of the things that “were written aforetime,” and “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”— (Rom. xv. 4.) If, therefore, we shall learn anything from the subject before us, save the bare historical facts, it will be from investigating it in its figurative meaning. And I suppose it would hardly be necessary to prove that the scriptures of the Old Testament are almost wholly figurative; the altars and offerings, the tabernacle and temple, the priests and priestly garments, in fact Abraham and his seed, the land of their bondage, their travel thence to the land of Promise, and the land itself, are all types of Christ, his Church and God’s dealings with her. And if we are enabled, in the investigation of this subject, to discover the true analogy between what is herein taught and that which is taught by Christ and his Apostles, and which has been written by the finger of God, upon our own hearts, then we shall have comfort and hope; for we may thereby be assured, at once, both of the divine origin of the scriptures and of our hope.

NAAMAN then, as a figure, represents a sinner; for he was a leper, and leprosy represents sin; for, under the law, it was held to be an unclean disease. If an Israelite had the leprosy, he was not permitted to eat of the holy things until he was cleansed. But Naaman does not merely represent a sinner, be represents more; he represents a sinner who has been chosen to salvation, the truth of which will be evident in the investigation of this subject. In his case as in the case of all sinners who have been chosen and cleansed of their sins, is displayed the power and wisdom of God in the effectual work of his Spirit and word in their hearts, bringing them in subjection thereto, that they may live. Herein, then, is taught the doctrine of ELECTION, a doctrine very repulsive to the carnal mind, but one which abases man, exalts Christ, and glorifies God. “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them were cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian.”—(Luke iv. 27.) And when they of the synagogue heard these things, they were filled with wrath. Those who sought to be justified by the law in the days of Christ wore filled with wrath when he taught them the doctrine of God’s discriminating grace. And if you, reader, object to that doctrine, and are enraged against it, you may fear that you belong to the synagogue, and that you are seeking to establish your own righteousness more than you are the salvation of your soul. We often hear the saying that it would be unjust in. God to save one sinner and not to save all sinners; or to give them all a chance to be saved; to cleanse one leper and to leave others uncleansed; and yet those who talk that way, profess to believe the scriptures—and with ten thousand chances of salvation they would never embrace the first one until they are changed. Go abroad into the world and note what it is that men love; go into the great cities and behold the pursuits of the children of this world; go into their costly palaces that have been dedicated, as they say, to the man of sorrows; see the great and. mighty, the noble, rich, and the chief captains thronged together there in their purple and fine linen, and imagine what a reception Christ, the carpenter’s son, would have with such a congregation, when he should ascend the rostrum and proclaim, “Woe unto you, scribes, pharisees, hypocrites! ye make clean the outside,—ye appear unto men to fast from sin,—ye work to be seen of men,—ye flaunt your righteousness in the face of heaven,—you exalt your fleshly wisdom, and ye know not that ye are naked, blind, poor and miserable.” Would they not crucify him again? yea, verily. How shall such people be saved short of God’s eternal purpose? Give them a chance will the natural, unchanged heart accept a chance to be broken and humbled! no, indeed. And those people just described are no worse, naturally, than the rest of the family of Adam.

To be saved, then, is to be saved from themselves. They must be cut off from the old stock, clean off; and. therefore the WORD should be preached to them that will do it. “Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”—(Jer. xxiii.) Therefore, preach the doctrine of Election, special Redemption, Effectual calling and final Perseverance. This doctrine is illustrated in the subject before us. Did not God choose Abraham when there were others that he did not choose; and he blessed him and multiplied his seed, and overcame and destroyed their enemies, and gave them a land for which they did net labor. * * * *

Naaman, then, represents an unconverted sinner—a sinner dead in trespasses and in sins—for he was a Syrian. And as he was saved so are sinners now saved; and the reason he was saved is the reason why sinners are now saved; and the effect upon him is the effect upon converted sinners now; they are humbled as little children, and made to testify “that there is no god in all the earth, but in Israel;” that is, there is no salvation in any works of the flesh, the best and most perfect that can be wrought by man; and that the man of the most perfect morals is no more apt to be saved than the man of the worst morals; that good morals do not procure the love of God, and bad ones do not hinder it. The Gadarene was saved, as well as the guileless Nathaniel. And we would not be understood as underrating morality, but we would not also overrate it. Morality is a great good, but it is a blessing that pertains wholly to this life. This will be illustrated in the subject before us.

The misfortune with the world today is, that it is believed and taught, that a moral man, a rich noble, learned and great man, is more apt to be saved than a poor, ignorant, unlettered, and unknown man; that children brought up in Sunday schools are more apt to be saved than those who have not these advantages, so-called. These are serious errors; and they are proved to be so in the subject we have before us. There is no God in all these advantages, they pertain to this life, and as such are blessings; but when we attempt to make them efficacious in the salvation of the soul, we are substituting them for Christ; and are thus perverting them, and turning them into a curse. But some will he ready to say, then let us continue in sin that grace may abound; but that is an old charge, answered by the Apostle Paul many centuries ago; there is a great salvation in morality; the moral man escapes many afflictions that are visited upon the immoral.

The Jewish leper is represented by a converted sinner; one who has either not taken up the cross in obedience, or who has for some disorder (leprosy) been excluded from the church.

But Naaman would now be represented by a high-minded moral man—for he was a great man with his master; an honorable and valorous man—His master (ruler, the spirit that prompted his works) was the king of Syria (the flesh) and not the King in Zion; and all he had done, however good, was prompted by the King of Syria—the spirit of the flesh, the prince of the power of the air that worketh in the children of disobedience. He would be represent by a good neighbor; one who was ever ready to help the poor and visit the sick, just and exact in his dealings, prompt to pay his debts, temperate in eating and drinking, one who provided an honest living, who was no busy-body in other’s matters. He was a man of valor and moral courage—who had the courage to stand alone….and yet with all this, he was a leper…a sinner. A Christian ought to be what this man was…but this man was no Christian.

In a larger sense, Naaman represents a man whose life had been devoted to study so that he could speak with the tongue of men and angels; who was of a world-wide reputation as a lover of his fellow-man; who had reared hospitals ands poor houses; had endowed institutes oh higher learning; who for the love of liberty, had labored through weary years as a statesmen of his country; with no spot upon his good name; and to whom none would dare to make a dishonorable proposition; and had the moral courage to stand to his honest convictions; though he should thereby lose his high position; be driven in disgrace from his country; and incarcerated in  prison. He might be all this and yet not be a Christian; he might do all these things, and more, even to giving his body to be burned; and yet, after all, be but a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. Because he might do all these things through a fleshly spirit, to save his soul by them, to be seen of men, seeking their praises with not a particle of the love of God in all his sacrifices. But he would be a great man with his master (controller, ruler), the king of Syria, or the flesh.

But, Naaman, more particularly, represents a moral man—The legalist who believes that he merits salvation for his good morals, until the time of his hearing the words of the Jewish maid; after which he turns his eyes toward the other country. He now, for the first time, begins to see that ha must go out of Syria (the flesh), to be healed; to realize that his good morals will not cleanse him of that wretched disorder. Syria was his native land; it is the home of the flesh; in it there dwells no good thing; and for it there is no promise but death. In that land all is gross darkness, spiritually; no sun shines there, with his healing beams; no balm grows there, to cure the sick. There is no stream flowing in Syria, whose waters will cleanse the leper; there is not even a fountain of that sort of water there. Syria is not a land of that sort of rain, the former rain and latter rain. There are streams in Syria, but they flow from corrupt fountains, and the waters are muddy and bitter. There are doctors there, but under their treatment the patient grows worse. The herbs of that country are no better than wild gourds; but there is a balm for the sick, and a physician to cure them, but they are in another country; and there is a healing stream; but it flows in the land of promise, or faith. And to that land the leper must go, to be cleansed of his leprosy. In other words, we must go out of the flesh; and the works of the flesh; out of our own efforts and righteousness; before we shall realize Christ or the healing. We must go, like Abraham, from our native land, to the land of promise; and there must be a great necessity to move us to this course. Our healing or salvation, being appointed; the means to bring us to the place of healing, is also appointed. As before said, God had chosen Abraham, and therefore sent his word to him: “Get thee out of thy father’s house, and from thy country, and thy kindred, into a land that I will shew thee.” And the word was effectual. Abraham went out from his native land. And for like reasons, Ruth was separated from the polluted land of Moab, and brought to Bethlehem; to the feet and bed of Boaz. And it was also the Election of God, that provided the word of the Jewish maid, to reach the ears of the suffering leper, Naaman, in the land of Syria. It reached him in spiritual darkness, ignorance and helplessness; and it enlightened him, and turned his face towards Israel.

“Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance to Syria; he was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper.” See what a great man he was in the flesh, or Syria: he led the king of Syria’s host—for Syria has her king, called by the apostle “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Paul, before his conversion, was another Naaman, he was also a great and honorable man with his master, a man of valor, could stand by and see Stephen stoned to death; but he, too, was a leper. Ho kept the law, and as touching its ceremonial righteousness was blameless; but he persecuted the disciples of Christ even unto strange cities, honestly believing that he was doing God’s service whilst compelling them to blaspheme. But alas! for fleshly righteousness, how greatly he was misled by it; and had no change been wrought in him by a holier and more powerful spirit than the one by which he was controlled, whilst leading the host of persecution, his sincerity of belief, his delusion in the righteousness of his course, would not have palliated in the least his sin in the great day. Don’t hug that delusion to your breast—that if you are honest in your belief, that it matters not what you believe, for it is a snare of the devil, it is the egg of the cockatrice, and will hatch into vipers in your bosom, and poison your life.

So Naaman was a great man in his country, great with his king, the leader of his host, the same as to say, a man whose morals were perfect in every particular, in which there is a deliverance or salvation, Naaman had this. “The Lord by him had given deliverance to Syria.” And there is a deliverance in good morals and it is of the Lord, too, but it is a Syrian or fleshly deliverance, and may be attained too, by the sinner as well as by the saint, by the Syrian or Jew. It is a common salvation, as the rains of heaven that fall upon the just and the unjust. But we should always remember that good morals, the very best possible, never procures spiritual deliverance, never saves or cleanses the soul. And the danger of substituting the works of the law, or of the flesh, for Christ, is very strongly enforced by him in his reproof to the Pharisees when he tells them—“Verily I say unto you, the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you;” because the Pharisees relied upon their fleshly works, or the righteousness of the law for the salvation of their souls, when they were simply designed for their fleshly salvation.

As has already been said, there is a deliverance in good morals, which should be highly esteemed by all men, and by none so much as by the Christian—For the Christian is commanded to pray for these things in his rulers, that he maybe enabled to lead a peaceable and quiet life in godliness and honesty. But it is useless to enlarge upon the many great blessings that accrue to all men in individual and national morality. But a nation of moralists may be no better, as it relates to the spiritual man, than the Jews who rejected and crucified Christ. And to the individual, there is no more help in his good morals, than there was help for Naaman in Syria. And many have thought that because we reprobate the law in the salvation of the soul, that we are, in consequence thereof, licensed to immorality, that our doctrine is pernicious, and ought to be suppressed. No doubt but that Paul believed this, when he verily thought he was doing God service in trying to destroy it. He no doubt supposed, that when Christ and his disciples were teaching that the works of the law would not give eternal life, that they could do nothing to gain that eternal life, that they must be born again, that they could do nothing to procure the new birth, that they were helpless and depraved, that they were snapping asunder by such teaching all moral restraints, and persuading men to do evil; and hence, with great zeal, Paul set out to stop such doctrine, by persecuting and destroying those who believed and taught it. But we contend that, whilst none can nor will be saved by any works of righteousness which they have done, that nevertheless those who are born of the Spirit of Christ, walk as he walked in their spiritual man; in their walk and in their heart they magnify the Law and make it honorable, but not under the spirit of the flesh (king of Syria), but under the Spirit of Christ; and against such there is therefore no law. Therefore our doctrine is no cloak for murder, adultery, lying, fraud, extortion, and the like; for he who should glory in the doctrine of grace, because he supposed it delivered him to do such abominations as the above, would be fully as far from the Kingdom of heaven as publicans and harlots. Whilst, therefore, Christianity will beget morality, of the highest type, the highest type of morality will not beget the least spiritual emotion. But, as said before to the individual, there is no more help for him in his fleshly works than there was help for Naaman in Syria; but on the contrary, if he should trust in his good works for the salvation of his soul, be is that much the worse off by them; worse even and farther from Christ than publicans and harlots that have no such fleshly righteousness, to mislead them. For this confidence in the flesh is that from which we must be converted before we feel the cleansing of our leprosy. And that doctrine which teaches you or your children to trust in the works of the flesh, is injurious to you and to them; though it be taught you by popes, cardinals, bishops, elders, circuit-riders, doctors of divinity, editors, by the learned or unlearned, by your parents, or by any other person, fly from it as you would from the edge of the sword, and from the pestilence; because it sets Christ aside, and rivets your bondage to the flesh, and delivers you over into the service of Satan. When such religion as that prospers, transgressions are increased amongst men and they wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. The outside is made clean, hypocrites are honored, folly is set in great dignity, servants are upon horses (servants of sin), and princes (the best men) are walking as servants upon the earth; pride, covetousness, envy, deceit, fraud, selfishness, disobedience to parents, oppression of the pool-, false-swearing, and ungodliness of all sorts, spring up and are nurtured by it. The simplicity of the gospel is ridiculed, pulpits are converted into stages, upon which pedants with affected twaddle, deliver themselves of their vomit, to the high entertainment of appreciative audiences. Under the influence of such religion, even the children are not what they seem to be. It is sowing to the flesh, and we shall reap corruption, it is “sowing dragon’s teeth, and armed men shall spring up.” No blight, frost, rust or mildew shall cut off that harvest, it will spring forth, and mature a hundred fold in wars, and in individual and national calamities; and the innocent will suffer with the guilty. Look at the late war in this country, and the moral and physical desolation that has followed in its track! And it may be traced back to a false religion. Houses have been plundered, women dishonored, harvest-fields laid waste, cities burned and sacked, and the government overturned. These things take place when this sort of religion is in the zenith of its glory.—“It riots in corruption,” “and judgment is turned away backward, and justice stand eth afar off. For truth has fallen in the street and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth, and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth. They trust in vanity and speak lies; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity.”—(Isaiah.) Are not these days upon us, and have we not had, and yet have an abundance, a superabundance of that sort of religion? And are we not yet convinced that it is not the religion of Christ? Then let us quit it, for it is idolatry and let us go to Jesus and be cleansed.

Naaman was a great leper in a far off land from Zion, yet being one whom God designed to bring into Zion, and cleanse of his sins, the means to that end are provided; and they are timely and. effectual. Therefore we find that the “Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive, out of the land of Israel, a little maid, and she waited on Naaman’s wife.”

This was a Jewish maiden. No Syrian maid could have borne that message to Naaman; it would have been a fleshly message borne by a Syrian maid. The word came not from Syria, but from Israel—not of the flesh but of the spirit. But the Jews did not send the little maid to Syria to hunt out Naaman and tell him of the Prophet in Israel; it was not according to their law to affiliate with the uncircumcised; and they did not probably know of his leprosy, and if they had, they had leprosy of their own that was past their art of healing. And they could only have looked upon the leprous Syrian as an enemy to their country; nor did the Syrians, when they captured the maid, do it that she might bear the message of cleansing to Naaman; it was far from their heart to honor the Prophet of Israel by the raid, capture and captivity of the little maid. Nor did the Jews, when they were at last overcome by their fleshly righteousness, by long continued departures from the truth, expect that they would be broken off for the Gentiles to be grafted in. And it was far from the purpose of Herod, Pilate and the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, when they with wicked bands crucified Christ, to honor God and bring deliverance to thousands of millions, who have since heard the message, and been cleansed by the healing stream. But the Syrians did honor the Prophet in Israel, though it was not their design to do so. The Jews would not have sent the little maid to Syria any sooner than Jews now (Christians, or spiritual men), would induce another to sin that good might come of it. Nor would the Jews— Jews in spirit—have ever crucified Christ; Lad there been none on earth but his disciples, then Christ would never have been crucified; and if he had not been crucified, the scriptures would not have been fulfilled; he would not have been victorious over death, hell and the grave, and have brought life and immortality to light. And if there had been no Syrians (sinners) the little maid would not have been captured, and Naaman would not have been cleansed, but he would not have been a leper. But Christ must be crucified; and when it was done, it was in a war against God, his word and the statutes of Zion. Yet it was overruled by the Lord, but not prompted by him, and made to subserve his purpose: so was the wickedness of the people who crucified Christ overruled nor are we to deem their wickedness any less reprehensible because God defeated the accomplishment of their designs: for they were just as guilty as though they had not miscarried in their purposes; and if they failed it was not their desire to fail, and their damnation is just, as will be the damnation of all impenitent sinners; for they are not prompted by God’s Spirit to do as they do, for his Spirit prompts to good, and never to evil. Therefore none under the influence of God’s Spirit can sin, for sin is the prompting of an evil spirit. By the Spirit of God we ascribe holiness to him in all his works, and ascribe sin to ourselves. This is the worship of God. Nor did the carnal Jews and Gentiles at Iconium, when they combined with their rulers to stone and despitefully use Paul and Barnabas, design to send them to Lystra and Derbe to preach the gospel there. And when they whipt Paul and Silas, it was not that the jailer and his household should hear words from them and be saved, but to suppress their words altogether.

But the little maid was in Naaman’s house in due time to open his eyes to the prophet in Israel. Salvation is of the Jews. Through her captivity salvation is come to the leprous Syrian; and so all  Israel shall be saved, as it is written, “There shall come out of Zion the deliverer, and shall turn ungodliness from Jacob that is, the deliverer shall not come out of Syria, or out of the flesh, or of our own works of righteousness; or even out of our faith, if it were possible that faith should be the product of Syrian soil. But Syrian soil does not grow such fruits as faith; for instead of faith being an effort of the flesh it is, in its effects at least, a triumph over nature. Faith comes from the same country that the little maid came from, and when it takes up its abode in the flesh, it is ever pointing as the little maid to the Prophet in Israel—the Lord Jesus Christ.
The little maid’s words were words in season—“Would God my Lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria, for he would recover him of his leprosy.” Thus she spake to her mistress, Naaman’s wife, and the words were conveyed to the ears of the sick man—the man who had used all the medicines of Syria in vain; for he had employed all the means that could be employed by any man in Syria—the best and most learned Syrian doctors, the most famous and. costly Syrian drugs, until he had suffered many things of many physicians, as many have suffered in a similar condition since; and like the woman who at last went to Christ after she had spent her living, he grew worse under their treatment, and had quite despaired of ever being cured, when the words of the little maid fell upon the ears of the dying man like cold water upon a thirsty soul—they opened up, a faint hope, at least, to him who thought else to die in despair. But it was a last resort, a humiliating one to Syria (the flesh)—Christ is the last resort of a sinner. It is true that none will ever go to him as long as they can find ease elsewhere; for Naaman had reason to believe that the Jews looked upon him as no small enemy; he had set their power at nought; he had, under orders of his king, waged war against them, as all sinners have against the laws of God. But then he was rich (moral), and thought to propitiate favor with his riches; he was great and would go in his chariot; he was honorable and brave—the captain of the king’s host, and hence he could not divest himself of the thought that the prophet would be more favorable to his suit than to one of meaner advantages: and these thoughts clung to him, as his leprosy, until he was healed, and then such thoughts as these were gone also. Naaman, prior to this time, had no ears to bear spiritual words. His necessities were great, the leprosy was killing him; all his power bad failed, all things in Syria had failed him, and to Israel, that land of enemies (to his flesh), he must go. And he is now prepared by his necessities and the word of the little maid to go out of Syria, as Joseph’s brethren were prepared to go to Egypt for corn when their own stores were exhausted. The heavens above them were brass, the earth beneath was iron, there were no supplies at hand; and every time they went to the crib they took some away, and that much less was left ; and they got poorer and poorer, and more and more helpless, until at last the last sack was taken, even the husks, and they knew and felt that their was no resource. But as long as there was a single sack of corn in the crib, they could not feel wholly destitute, and could not therefore pray the prayer of the destitute, but they must pray that prayer before help would come. Christ comes to the sinner only when he can do no longer without him. And when Joseph’s brethren realized their utter destitution, then the word came that there was corn in Egypt. Blessed news! It was not the news that made them feel their needs; they felt their need of corn before the news came to them that there was corn in Joseph’s country. For had there been one who had a crib full of corn (full of his own righteousness), when the news came that there was corn in Egypt, it would have been no good news to him, but rather unwelcome news, inasmuch as it would have lessened his own wealth by reducing the price of corn. This is why the old and modern Pharisees hate the doctrine of grace; Christ reduced the price of their corn down to nothing, by telling them that they could do nothing; that he came to save sinners (those destitute of corn), when they thought he ought to save those who were righteous. There are those in these days who teach and believe that a man with a crib full of corn is more apt to be saved than the poor destitute one, and they say, meet Christ on the half way ground—that is, do something to induce Christ to save you; but all their words will not keep one from coming to Christ when the spirit of necessity reaches his heart nor will it induce one to come to Christ—they may come to something they call Christ, but it is not a sense of their needs that brings them, any more than it would be a sense of need that would cause the man with a full corn crib to go to Egypt after more—he might go, but it would be to increase hi~ riches (righteousness), and his labor would not be prompted by hunger—and his labor might be outwardly as great, or greater, than the labor of Joseph’s brethren, but it would be prompted by a very different spirit; as the man who pulled down his barns and built greater ones to bestow his fruits, labored, perhaps, as hard as the poor fellow who from sense of hunger gleaned the fields for his daily bread, but with a very different spirit.

No man is going to Christ as long as he can do without him—no man who is really poor is proud of it—a really poor man is ashamed to confess his poverty, and that his smoke-house is destitute of meat and his crib of corn, but a rich man would not mind saying he had no corn in his crib, because he knows that he can have it there when he wants it. And the penitent sinner confesses his sins with real grief and shame, whilst the impenitent (rich) confesses it with pride as they made sport with blind Samson. When the widow of Sarepta was out to pick up two sticks to cook the last meal she had that she and her son might eat it and die, then, and not till then, did she receive the word of the Prophet—“Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.” Thenceforth she lived upon the word of the Lord—an unwasting and unfailing righteousness—and who would live after that upon his own failing righteousness! But when Christ sends his word to the heart the dead, sinner rises like Lazarus; nor will the evil words of man hinder the effect of his word—“ Is not his word as a hammer that breaketh the stone in pieces?” and the word and doctrine of men will be in comparison but as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor. Joseph’s brethren were, as christians are and have been since, reduced to poverty and destitution before the welcome word came. As we hear them often when they come to the church, in telling their experience, say, the more I prayed the worse I got, until I thought there was no help for me, when unexpectedly I was enabled to rely upon Christ. They did not, of course, get worse and worse the more they prayed, but they began with the idea of obtaining salvation by their prayers, and they were being taught to look to another source, to go to another country for help—to go out of themselves—and before they would do this they must become destitute, take out the last sack of corn even to the last grain, and then the welcome news came, and they could appreciate it to, as the power of God and wisdom of God in their salvation—“He (God) will, regard the prayer of the destitute and not despise their prayer” Joseph’s brethren would never have gone to Egypt for corn if there had been corn in their own cribs any sooner than the righteous (self righteous) will repent and seek Christ.

And Naaman went out of Syria, but he took the precaution in his fleshly wisdom to take a letter from his king to the king of Israel—But the little maid pointed him to the prophet of Israel and not to the king.

“And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel saying, now when this letter is come unto thee, behold I have therewith sent Naaman my servant unto thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy!” But as already said, the little maid directed him to the prophet, and not to the king: and he went therefore to the king of Israel, under the spirit of his fleshly king, who seemed to demand of the king of Israel, the cleansing of Naaman’s leprosy, as a matter of justice that because he had been a good servant in Syria and deserved favor of his king, that therefore he was entitled to favor from the king of Israel, whom he had never served, but to the contrary, bad been injurious to him. As one now who had been moral, studious, industrious, temperate, and had acquired therefore, great learning, reputation and wealth, should suppose that because he was favored in this life (Syria) for his good parts, that therefore he should be favored with eternal life. And when such a one is quickened by hearing the spiritual word (the word of the Jewish maid), he will not and cannot at first divest himself of the fact of his past morality and therefore appeals to the king of Israel, to the laws of Israel, to be justified, when in fact those laws condemn him; for he is carnal, though he has the germ of spiritual life—the root of the matter in him.

Yet, he applies to the king of Israel under the prompting of the fleshly king, as a sinner appeals to God for salvation, when God’s laws condemn him for being a sinner; as if a murderer should demand of the judge pardon for his crime, whose duty it was to pronounce against him the sentence of the law. Had Naaman came to the king of Israel under the Spirit of God, instead of the spirit of the flesh, he would have come confessing his sins, as the murderer would come into court and plead guilty. And thus Naaman would have been honoring Israel, and the laws of Israel; for he who confesses before God in spirit, that he is a sinner, and that God’s law that condemns him is just, has got the spirit of that law in his heart, the spirit of holiness, and is a subject of mercy in Christ. Israel was under a good king when she lived right, and under a bad one when she lived wrong; as a Christian is under a good king when he does his duty, and under a bad one when be neglects it. But let the king of Israel be good or bad, in that respect, he cannot save the Syrian leper. God has never committed the power of soul saving to the church—that belongs exclusively to God himself. There is a moral salvation in the Church, and the believer has experienced a salvation in joining the Church. But the salvation of the soul is a different thing. And that the church, nor all the churches, and even churches of Christ at that; cannot bestow upon one single individual.

But the king of Israel at the time of which we are writing, was not a good king, that is, Israel was not living as she ought to have lived; but no odds for that, the leper must go to the prophet, to the prophet be was directed by the spiritual word, and by the prophet he was cleansed, not being hindered by the disorders of Israel, nor being moved to do it by Naaman’s worldly greatness, morality and wealth. Naaman experienced here what the king expressed, “am I God to kill and to make alive ?” This king, of the house of Ahab, was not a prophet. David was a prophet, priest and king, and as such, was a figure of Christ. He was anointed three times, and out of a horn. Saul was the first king of Israel, after him, David; “that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual.” Saul was a head and shoulders higher that any other man in Israel; but even under him, with all his moral excellence (head and shoulders higher), Israel could not stand before Goliath, but fled from him forty days, until David came into the struggle and overcame for them. Saul’s kingdom was bright and brittle; he was anointed out of a vial, indicating that his kingdom should pass away, and his seed should not reign. Saul had no previous preparation by trials and afflictions, and hence, could not sympathize with the erring; for he knew no weakness, having had no trials. But David, when he came in to reign, was made perfect by sufferings, and was able, therefore, to save or succor those who had, through sin, been brought to the gates of death. But Saul was the anointed of God, and therefore, David would not put forth his hand against him, and even slew the man who, to gain his favor, reported that his hand slew Saul. From this we may learn, that the law of God is not to be violated with impunity; and that we gain no favor of Christ by such acts of presumption, but, on the contrary, wrath. The law is the anointed of God, but the word of healing is not in it, and never was in it. And Christian duties do not cleanse or save the soul, but they are not, therefore, to be set aside. Christ did not abrogate the law, but he fulfilled it; and we, who walk in him, fulfill it also.

The extra labor the Syrian had in going to the king of Israel was under the prompting of the flesh (king of Syria). Nor is the extra labor that convicted sinners now have in coming to Christ, prompted by the spirit of the gospel, it is a distrust of it. The gospel directs us to trust in Christ, but our fleshly spirit (the king of Syria) says, that we must do some good thing before Christ will receive us; and also, to take all our Syrian riches—bags of gold, and talents of silver, and changes of raiment; but they were an encumbrance to Naaman, and will always be, when they are perverted to such a use. They are useful and profitable to men in Syria (this life), but they are worthless in the spiritual land—the kingdom of Faith. I have frequently felt unfit to say grace at my table—was not good enough! what folly; and seeking to set it in dignity. But we are told to come boldly—matters not how unworthy we are or ignorant, how poor or despised—to “Him who hath saved us and called us, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

If Syrian wealth (fleshly righteousness) could have cleansed anybody, it certainly would have been efficacious in Naaman’s case, for he had as much of it as Paul had; and he testifies that he was blameless in that sort of righteousness. But this wealth would have cured him as well in Syria, had it possessed curative properties—as it would in Israel. And it was carried back to Syria by Naaman who was cleansed without money and without price. It was necessary that he should learn that very important lesson, that the cure was without money and without price, in order to render the praise—indeed and in truth—to the prophet in Israel
Naaman went to the king of Israel, as convicted sinners go to the minister or the church for their prayers; and to prayers of their own because Christians pray; to meeting because Christians go, and give alms because they do; seeking to get into a worthy frame by worthy deeds; and the spirit that prompts his works is a different spirit to the one that prompts the works of the converted sinner. Whenever a saint or sinner resorts to the law, or to Christian duties, for the salvation of his soul, he is sure to be under a fleshly spirit. He goes to the king of Israel by direction of the king of Syria, and if he is not a quickened sinner, born of the Spirit of holiness, heard the spiritual word, he will find rest; but if quickened, as Naaman was, he will find wrath, as he did. If deceived by a fleshly maid, he will find rest before he gets to the prophet, and turn back to Syria; and his last state will be worse than the first. Naaman found that the king of Israel was not God, to kill and to make alive; that he had no power to cleanse a leper—a Syrian leper— any more than the law and Christian duties can give a sinner a new heart. I heard, once, of a minister who set a number of people on a bench, at a meeting of some sort, to praying, “Lord have mercy upon me,” “Lord have mercy upon me!” and in a little while, he went to them and asked them if they felt any better: they replied that they did not but after awhile he asked them, and they said they felt better, and better, and better, until they were converted. These people never got poor and poorer, and more and more helpless until they became destitute, but richer and richer, better and better, until they were perfectly pleased with themselves, and had got religion by their own efforts. But the widow, before the prophet came to her, got lower and lower in her meal barrel, poorer and poorer, until her own stores were exhausted; then, the prophet came to her, and brought the word—the meal that could never fail, the righteousness of Christ. Then she lived upon the bread, that came from heaven, whereof, if a man eat, he shall never die—not the manna that the fathers ate in the wilderness, that could not be kept.

And Naaman is realizing that his fleshly righteousness does not heal him, but ho grows more and more hopeless; every step he takes from Syria, only divests him more and more of the trust in himself; and when he came to the point, to lose all help in himself, he was out of Syria, and from under the fleshly spirit, and was that much nearer the healing stream. But he couldn’t believe it yet, for he believed that he was further from it than when he started, and he was ready to say, as Job before him said, “he hath set darkness in my paths;” but he was walking in a new land, in a “way that he knew not ;” and the Lord would soon “make darkness light before him, and crooked things straight.” The more he prayed, the worse he felt, because ho started with confidence in his prayers, and, hence, as be lost that confidence, he felt more and more destitute; and had there been no better remedy provided for him, than lay in the power of the king of Israel, he would have certainly returned to Syria an uncleansed leper.

But where God begins a good work, it will be carried on to completion. He begins it to finish it; the cost has all been counted up, before the first lick was ever struck. He knew how much opposition of the flesh, the world and the devil had to be overcome, in bringing Naaman to the healing stream. A man may begin to build a house and fail to complete it for lack of means or power, or be deterred by enemies, and driven off; but the infinite power of God is brought to bear in the salvation of a sinner; and when he is cleansed, he ascribes his salvation to God, from the beginning to the end, as the Alpha and Omega.

In due time, the leper is brought from under even the king of Israel to the prophet. “Let him come now to me, and he shall know (said Elisha) that there is a prophet in Israel” The leper was now prepared to go to the prophet; he had no letter from the king of Syria to the prophet, but the word of the little maid was to the prophet. “So Naaman came with his horses and his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha, And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt ho clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, he will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place and recover the leper.”

The cleansing was not to come as Naaman expected it, for he expected it to come in a way that would honor him, but it could not come in that way and cleanse him. What a comfort it is to know that we received the cleansing in a way that we were not looking for, and in a way at war with the flesh. “This is the worm-wood and the gall; my soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me, therefore, have I hope.” The leper expected the prophet to do some great thing for him; to stand and call on the name of the Lord; to strike his hand over the place, and such-like carnal and fleshly things. There is no doubt that that was the way it was done by the Syrian doctors of divinity. Naaman would have felt much gratified, by such works and would have felt that he was conferring a great favor on the prophet by affording him an opportunity to make such demonstrations in his behalf. As some person, whose life has always been correct, might suppose that the Lord would be greatly pleased to save so good a person! What an awful mistake! But it was the leper who must be humbled and not the prophet; Christ is to be exalted in cleansing sinners and not the sinner. That is the great difficulty now, and it was when Christ was here. The Jews would not receive him because he did not come according to their fleshly expectations for, had he come that way, they would have received him; but he could not come that way and have glorified God; nor could they have glorified God in so receiving him. The world has ever since, been trying to set up and sustain a doctrine, that will enable a sinner to receive Christ without a change (in Syria), as though such a reception would be of any benefit to them. Men have been endowed with worldly (Syrian) learning, in order to present Christ so forcibly and attractively that men would naturally love him; as though men would naturally love that which breaks their proud hearts and separates them from nature—which is nothing more than exalting Syria (the world and the flesh)—and abasing Christ. And this doctrine the world and flesh love, because the love of Christ is not in them. And if the prophet’s messenger had preached such doctrine to Naaman, he would have gladly received it, and not been wroth and gone away; but he would never have been cleansed by it.

That is the reason there is so much leprosy in the world now. There are so many messengers bearing fleshly messages. So many preachers preaching false doctrine, building up the flesh, and teaching people that there is something in Syria that will cure them; that they can do something good; that there is a spark of grace in the flesh (Syria), that may be kindled into a divine blaze that will consume sin. And numbers of those a believing it never leave Syria at all, but remain there and die in their sins. These modern, nonscriptural means have really had, it seems, a tendency to turn men away from Christ, and to keep them away, rather than lead them to him; for we all know that men are practically worse. Can the rush grow up without mire? Can politicians enact unrighteous laws and be sustained, if the people were not fallen into corruption? Murder, theft and false-swearing are things of common and almost daily occurrence; men’s obligations are almost valueless. The creditor has become subject to the debtor, the lender to the borrower. And are there not all sorts of “rings,” as they are called, for pubic plunder? The laws of the land are infected with the leprosy of the people it is sapping the vitals and eating out the spirit of free government. Has this vice and immorality sprung from the teachings of Christ? We know it has not. The people have been mislead, morally, politically and religiously, the blind teachers have led them into a ditch. These means which have sprung up in Syrian soil amongst the doctors and wise men, are offshoots of the flesh, watered with tears of deceit, nurtured and uphold by worldly a wisdom and wealth, and bear fruit to the praise of men, and not of God; and are, and have been, in the long run, an injury to the human family. They choke the growth of truth; they presage moral darkness and its thousand evils; and where they get a stronghold, the light of the gospel will be withdrawn; the plentiful places turned into a wilderness, and the house be left desolate. We have reaped corruption, this whole people, and grown worse and worse morally, notwithstanding the Boards, Union Sunday Schools, Tract Societies, Theological Schools, and things of like character, have been in full blast all the while. Then who will leave them and go to Christ; who will leave the treacherous light of the flesh for the pure light of the new heavens? But men will not do it, and yet charge God with injustice!

O man! Turn away from the deceitful wisdom of this world, and be content to do that which the prophet of heaven points out to you. Teach your children morality by precept and example, but don’t teach them vanity—they have enough of that with all you can do to check it. Encourage them in reading the scriptures, and read them to them; but as you value their souls, don’t teach them—nor suffer others to do it, that their good works will save them, only from some of the afflictions of this life. Keep them away from places, as much as possible, where such things are taught. This is bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Your little daughter has learned nearly a dozen chapters in the Testament, which is good; but that acquisition will be an injury to her, if she is led to believe that she merits divine favor for her diligence in learning those chapters; or that she is any more likely to be saved on that account, than the little ragged girl on the street. It is right for the children to be taught to read the scriptures; but never substitute the Bible for Christ. Bibles are good books, the best by far of all books, the only inspired book in the world; but they are not to be worshiped; God alone is to be worshiped. And he who, out of love to Christ, gives a Bible to a poor disciple of Christ, is giving him a cup of water and is doing a good deed, for which he, the giver, should be thankful as well as the recipient of the favor. But many have lived and died in faith who never read a sentence in a Bible; and many, I have no doubt, who have read the Bible in more than one tongue, have died and been banished from God. Abel died and went to heaven before there was a Bible; when one chapter would have comprised the whole bf God’s revelation to men. And let us be content with working in God’s sight, seeking and being filled with his praise, and the flesh will be humbled thereby; and not go and attach ourselves to a band of Syrians to rob Zion of her glory, and place the crown on the head of the Syrian; but let us crown “Jesus, Lord of all.” Paul took wages of the church to preach the gospel at other places, but he formed no society for that purpose. A society involves an outlay of money, and to get that Syrian means must be resorted to; and the cause of Christ is thus invariable weakened. The rich, who have the money, must be pandered to, the doctrine softened, the practice made congenial to the flesh; and thus Israel is overcome and carried captive by the flesh (Syria). And preachers must be educated to please itching ears of the worldly great which involves another outlay of money in building up religious schools. Of course an educated preacher can’t live as cheaply as a common “homespun” fellow; he is not educated to that point; he can make more money at something else, as it is almost a matter of money. And to get more money they must have more members, and to get them they must resort to other Syrian means; and therefore a Tract Society is formed, Sunday Schools instituted as ‘effectual’ means of soul-saving. Protracted meetings are held, and everything is put under tribute to their religion. If the doctor wants practice, the lawyer and politician clients and votes, the merchant customers, the school-master pupils, the editor subscribers, he must be religious, or at least he must not oppose their good works. And I have heard that one denomination had already been complaining that it did not have its full share of federal offices. Cannot the people see whither they are drifting? Can’t they see that the government will be, ere long, under priestly domination? for the people are already under it. Subscribe for a newspaper for a year, and you will see, in the most of them, truckling enough to the religion of the day. Almost any of them can treat their readers to a delicate tit-bit, in the way of a Hardshell Baptist sermon; because they know that they are unpopular, and oppose the fashionable religion of the day; and that they will lose no favor, but gain favor by making fun of them. Miserable worshipers of Mammon!

If Christians had been content with their fleshly abasement and the exaltation of Christ, believing the word of God and the word of his prophet, they would have been established in the truth and been prosperous. There would have been no division amongst them, and they would have presented a solid and unbroken front to the enemy; and Syria would bend the knee to Israel; and one Israelite would chase a thousand Syrians, and two put ten thousand to flight. Let all believers, therefore, come to the CHURCH of Christ, and unite with her, doing away with all the traditions of men, and the Syrian can never overcome them. Let those who have done wrong, and been wrong, make the necessary atonement for the cure of their disorder, bow to the word of the prophet in Israel, and they shall be healed.
“Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?“ How natural, fleshly and Syrian-like! Because at war with the word of the prophet of Israel. The word said Jordan—and why not Jordan before Abana and Pharpar? Because the word cuts us off from the fleshly waters of Syria, that we maybe the circumcision who worship God in the Spirit (Zion), rejoice in Christ Jesus, and not in our gold and silver (fleshly righteousness), and have no confidence in the flesh (Syria). Naaman’s heart was at war with the word ; but the word must triumph ere he is cleansed. There was a congenial way to his flesh, in Abana and Pharpar, that seemed right to him; but the word of the prophet of Israel was not there. He had ceased to trust in his king, or in the king of Israel; but he was still holding on to Syria, to Abana and Pharpar; but these must be given up before he is cleansed. Those streams might and would honor the flesh, but they would not honor the word and cleanse the leper. But Jordan (it might be objected) is but water, as Abana and Pharpar are water; but in Jordan the word has the victory, whilst in Abana and Pharpar the flesh has the victory. One might pray the publican’s prayer and say, “God be merciful to me, a sinner,” with the spirit of the Pharisee who boasted of his righteousness; and suppose you that the words would make a difference between him and the Pharisee? Of course none would, in these days, use the Pharisee’s words in prayer, because his prayer was condemned; but there are, no doubt, thousands who have confessed with their lips and said, God be merciful to me, a sinner, with impenitent hearts, thinking the mere confession meritorious in the sight of God which was but offering the sacrifice of the wicked, and was an abomination in the sight of God; and which was going up and not down, and washing in Abana and Pharpar; a coming in the flesh (Syria), under which influence the cleansing can never come ; because it is not coming to Christ away from the flesh. So if Naaman had gone down into Abana and Pharpar seven times—and the word said seven (but seven in Jordan)—or even if he, to make up for his lack in going to Jordan, had gone down into Abana and Pharpar, both, seven times seven, it would never have cleansed him;’ for he could never have done it with the spirit of the word in his heart.

Let not those who have, in a practical sense, gone into Abana and Pharpar (it may have the seeming of going down, but it is flesh-exalting), let them not suppose that by doing more to put away their sins and hide them from God; for God knows what it takes to cleanse you, and the prophet knew what it would take to cleanse Naaman; and nothing else would do it, for nothing else would humble the proud heart; and until that is humbled the leprosy reigns. For every thing you do in Abana and Pharpar is a sin—a sin, and must be atoned for from the first to the last, from baptism down. Why do men spend so much time and labor to convince their fellows that it will do as well to go to Abana and Pharpar as to Jordan? How can a Christian rest short of the truth? How strange it is that men can be so easily convinced in regard to the concerns of eternity, and yet, are so particular and watchful in regard to the things of time. 

Christian, pause! See if you are honoring the word in all you do in your doctrine, order and self-denial. Search the word, and be not led about by those who make merchandize of you. I care not if you be great in this world; Naaman was great. And what is your greatness to be accounted of in the presence of Him be fore whom all nations are but a drop in the bucket; nothing, yea, less than nothing and vanity. Be more solicitous to inscribe your name in Christ than in Syrian marble; for in him is durable riches and honor, the other is but the corrupt breath of time and soon vanishes away forever. And beware of that popular phrase “Religious liberality, religions charity.” Don’t be afraid of being called a bigot, because you contend earnestly for the truth as it is in Christ. There are no two right ways; there are no two churches of Christ, it is impossible. There may be two or more wrong ways, as Abana and Pharpar, but there is but one Jordan. Worldly respectability is no test of the church of Christ; it is evidence against her. That doctrine and order which the world loves, you may set it down that God hates it. And never conform to error in religion above all things. A man who contends that he is right, and -who will not admit that any who differ with him can be right is, in these days, of false and fashionable religion, called a bigot; and those who call him no are as tenacious of their opinion that any way will do—as Abana and Pharpar—as he is that none will do but Jordan—the way that is pointed out in the word. It is a shrewd device of Satan to throw dust into the eyes of Christians; and when I hear a man talking that way, I think that he either has no religions convictions, or he has suppressed them for love of the world, or has been deceived by Satan and his ministers.

But Naaman’s necessities were great and prevailing. His servants were his necessities—they were his constant attendants and they were with him when be left Syria, and with him when he approached the door of the house of the prophet. Let praise be to him who teaches us our needs. The leper knew that nothing in Syria had hitherto been any benefit, otherwise he would have returned uncleansed. “To whom else can we go? for with thee are the words of eternal life.” But (it might be objected) what if Naaman had not heeded the words of his servants who entreated him to go down into Jordan, would he have been cleansed? Of course not; that is what we contend for, that a man of himself, will not do it; for Naaman after he got to the door of the prophet would have turned back had not his servants been with him. “And his servants came NEAR and spake to him and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then when he saith to thee wash and be clean?” His necessities were greater than his pride—they drew near; in his wrath they were not so nigh—they spake to him and calmed his wrath, they entreated, persuaded and prevailed over him—their words, their whisperings he could not away with—he could hear nothing but their words and to them he could not be deaf; and urged on by them he went down into Jordan. But he merited no praise for heeding the voice of his necessities, any more than you or I would be worthy of praise for swallowing a bitter and loathsome draught when about to die.

The words of the little maid pointed to the prophet in Israel— they did not make him feel the need of a cure—he felt that already, and his necessities urged him away from Syria; they accompanied him from the king to the prophet. He felt them more at times than at other times; and when he was ready to give up in despair and quit, they drew near to him. These servants are necessary for me yet: it is necessary for me to have affliction. It was the voice of these servants that made me go to the church, that has kept me separate from the world, that checks ambitious thoughts and dispels worldly aspirations. They made me willing, even anxious to be, a Primitive Baptist preacher—make me confess my faults and esteem the reproaches of Christ as greater than worldly honors. But what are our sacrifices and sufferings? were they ten thousand times more than they are, they would not save us—I have no doubt that many have made greater sacrifices than ever Paul did, and under the spirit of the flesh at that, leaving Abana to go to Pharpar; never having been separated in spirit from a dependence on the flesh; never having been hid in the healing stream of grace from Syria and Syrian streams—and even from the king of Israel—and lastly from their necessities even, convictions and penitence, to arise to Christ and nothing but Christ. That is why so many are, like Naaman, ready to go back to Syria, because they want to be saved by their convictions, penitence; by a big experience—something that will keep them up instead of down—something to rely on besides Christ.

The words spoken pointed out the remedy for his disease, the last and only remedy; so hard to get to and distasteful to the flesh, but when taken so instantaneous in its results!

Reader, are you, in any sense, leprous? Though you are a believer, yet there may be leprous spots upon you. Have you the leprous idea that Abana and Pharpar will do as well as Jordan; that there is something good in the flesh; that any church, so called, will do; that you may please yourself, your wife, children and friends by any mode of baptism! Know you not that your baptism must hide you seven times (perfectly) from the streams of Syria? To be immersed, even, by that church which holds in any fundamental sense to the flesh and the works of the flesh, is no more than dipping in Abana and Pharpar, and is sowing your field with divers seeds, and making your garment of wool and linen, and being unequally yoked with the flesh. It is unlike the baptism of the Holy Ghost which you received when you felt that your faith embraced Christ to the exclusion of all your own works. Beware of those spots! they will spread upon you so that you will not be able to render praise to your Saviour, which is to the Christian of more value than rubies, and more to be desired than gold that perisheth, and is sweeter than the honey comb. You must be cleansed of the leprous doctrine of free will, for it is that fountain that sends forth the corrupt water that beslimes the earth with mire and filth; that keeps so many believers knee deep in mud, poisons the air they breathe, and keeps them weak and sickly; and it burdens them with heavy and heavier burdens the weaker they get, until, by grace divine, they are made free, and enabled to walk in joy, and find Christ’s yoke easy and his burden light. O that you may be led to seek the healing stream that flows from that blessed “fountain filled with blood,” go to the Old Baptist, and find and feel that all your guilt has been washed away. How thankful should Naaman have been and was, that he was not allowed to exercise his free fleshly will, for that would have taken him back to Syria. And some say, but what if you had not prayed, or heard that man preach that time, or got sick or some other event, which seemed to be accidental, had it not occurred, would you have ever been a Christian? Probably not, but those things were not accidental any more than it was an accident that Naaman heard the spiritual words, and was moved by his needs to seek the prophet in Israel. These things wrought upon him because he was prepared for them, and he was prepared for them because God purposed his salvation. They were means adapted to the end by the Spirit: the same words probably had no effect upon any one else at the time, and probably no other felt any need. And they were no more accidents then it was an accident for Joseph’s brethren to be quickened by their necessities to a joyful hearing that there ‘was corn in Egypt, and to be prompted by their hunger to seek it.

Therefore Naaman went down into Jordan. “Then he went down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God, and his flesh came again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”

The leper is humbled at last! and the prophet of Israel is honored; the leper is cleansed and he is as a little child. And Naaman in the joy of his heart wanted to pay the prophet for cleansing him. “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. But he said, as the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none; and he urged him to take it, but he refused.”.
The prophet would receive no pay from the cleansed leper even, for he must be taught that it is free; end it was a great favor to him to be taught this very important lesson; for he was thereby enabled to feel more deeply the obligation he was under to the prophet; and also from the estimate put upon his riches by the prophet, he learned the true value of them—that they had not nor would advance him in the favor of the prophet. This he learned after he was cleansed. There is in me even now at times a disposition to offer my works unto the Lord as reasons why he should bless me: and sometimes complain in my heart that he is a hard master, reaping where he has not sown—because he keeps me down. Naaman could therefore wonder at his cleansing and ascribe it wholly to the Lord. And knowing now that his Syrian riches were of no profit to him in Israel (and we all know that), he should not henceforth put himself under any yoke of bondage to acquire them, as though they would avail him one iota. And lastly, when he should get back to Syria, as assuredly he would, he would be prepared to testify in the face of the Syrian doctors of divinity, that his riches availed him nought in his cleansing, neither before nor after it; and thus he would be enabled to resist their falsehoods by his own experience, and at the same time comfort those who had not his riches, or fleshly worldly advantages and righteousness. There are no doubt many who have experienced faith in Christ who are unable to resist the wise men of the world, when they are putting them under task masters to heap up treasures of fleshly righteousness to carry to Christ. Some poor leper might hear that Naaman was cleansed and say, No wonder, for he was a great man, honorable, rich, learned and brave; was a good child to his parents, never used profane language, never drank to excess; was a good husband or wife, a good father, good citizen, upright in his dealings; and therefore it is not to be wondered at that he was cleansed; but as for me, there is no hope, for I have been lacking in all these things—and so poor that I haven’t even a shekel— not a tear—can’t meet Christ on the half-way ground even, not even to make one step towards him. And Naaman could encourage such a one as that by saying, I did indeed have an abundance of Syrian wealth, but it does me no good in the spiritual land—I went depending upon it, and now you will not go because you haven’t got it; and you are easier to convert than I was—you are nearer the kingdom. For though I had all that wealth, yet I told you it done me no good.

You need not believe those fellows when they tell you that a child brought up in a Sunday school is more apt to be saved than one without these, so called advantages; that wealth thus acquired will make your way to the prophet easier, for the prophet did not receive a solitary cent of all my wealth. And when preachers come along and tell you to go to work, and get even one shilling to meet Christ with, you may set it down that they are not tailing you what the word tells you. And I tell you, if you are poor, have been immoral, go to Him—don’t -wait to work for a shilling—he does not want your poor shilling—go boldly to him, for it is without money and without price, as Naaman experienced, and as the prophet announced long ago—“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that bath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Oh, it is free! free! Christ said he came to call sinners, not the righteous, to repentance. But the world preaches it this way O sinner, Christ came to call you to repentance, and now repent that he may call you—work and get rich and he will save you. Here we have work and grace woven together, patch work that will not hold together and hide the sinner’s nakedness. Who would we praise or worship for our salvation? We would never know whether the God was in Syria or in Israel that cleansed us. And that doctrine will either make a man stand idle all the day or set him to working out an impossible task—what does Paul say about it?
“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh, if any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more; circumcised the eighth day; of the stock of Israel; of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to ma those I counted loss for Christ; yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Teens my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law~ but that which is through faith of Christ—the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Phill iii.

Paul had the same righteousness that Naaman had when he was cleansed—the righteousness of faith and not of the flesh.
What wonder and amazement must have filled the heart of Naaman at the mercy of the prophet. Why should he be cleansed? for it was not because of his moral goodness, for that had failed, and had been rejected— then might he wonderingly say:

“Why was I made to hear his voice,
And brought to enter in,
While others make a wretched choice,
And perish in their sin?“

Surely it is free and amazing grace. And therefore now in spirit and in word he could sing:

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.”

And surely if there is anything that humbles the heart, it is a sense of God’s mercy to our unrighteousness. And if anything is calculated to make us bear the ills of life, it is the faith we have in Christ and his eternal love to us.
And if any doctrine will enable us to endure the contradiction of sinners, it is this doctrine in the heart. And therefore whilst our morality would not save our souls, it does not by any means follow that we should, after we have become Christians, live in licentiousness, and use it for an occasion to the flesh; for now our Godly walk and conversation should not by any means be less than that of the mere moralist, but we should show forth in our daily lives the praises of our dear Redeemer—and as our good works whilst in the flesh, glorified our flesh, so now, much more, our good works glorify Christ. Our motive now is different; our works are prompted by love. And it is in vain for any man to trust in Christ, for he is not the minister of sin.

Therefore there should be no railing for railing, no doing evil for evil, no envying, evil speaking, lying, cheating, defrauding, covetousness and drunkenness. Christians should exemplify in their daily lives, the holiness of the spirit of Christ, which dwells in them. They should bear about them the marks of the Lord Jesus.  They should not sin against each other by disorderly conduct, for Christ is no cloak for sin. They should so as to be ready to leave on short notice. They should work so as to leave nothing unfinished when the summons comes that calls them to lay their armor by. The minister should not have to regret at death that his work was unsatisfactory, that he is too distrustful of God to do all his duty. The wealthy member should not close his eyes on money stored away which has been withheld from objects that both the word and spirit have directed his sympathy to. He may have to charge himself in death with having burdened the poor minister in withholding his carnal things from him.

We are taught in the forgoing:
How a sinner is saved.
Why he is saved.
The effect of it all.

And that is all that is really essential for us to know in regard to our eternal salvation. May the Lord add his blessing.

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Purpose

The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.