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Thoroughly In Earnest

He was quite willing to go one hundred and fifty miles, and to take
the advice of this little maid. A good many people say:

"Oh, I don't like such and such a minister; I should like to know
where he comes from, and what he has done, and whether any bishop
has laid his hands on his head."

My dear friends, never mind the minister; it is the message you
want. If some one were to send me a telegraph message, and the news
were important, I shouldn't stop to ask about the messenger who
brought it. I should want to read the news. I should look at the
message, and not at the boy who brought it.

And so it is with God's message. The good news is everything, the
minister nothing. The Syrians looked down with contempt on the
Israelites, and yet this great man was willing to take the good news
at the hands of this little maiden, and listened to the words that
fell from her lips. If I got lost in New York, I should be willing
to ask anybody which way to go, even if it were only a shoeblack;
and, in point of fact, a boy's word in such a case is often better
than a man's. It is the way I want, not the person who directs me.

But there was one drawback in Naaman's case. Though he was willing
to take the advice of the little girl, he was not willing to take
the remedy. The stumbling-block of pride stood in his way. The
remedy the prophet offered him was a terrible blow to his pride. I
have no doubt he expected a grand reception from the King of Israel,
to whom he brought letters of introduction. He had been victorious
on many a field of battle, and held high rank in the army; perhaps
we may call him Major-General Naaman of Syria, or he might have been
higher in rank even than that; and bearing with him kingly
credentials, he expected no doubt a distinguished reception. But
instead of the king rushing out to meet him, he, when he heard of
Naaman's arrival and his object, simply rent his mantle, 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."

Elisha heard of the king's trouble, and sent him a message, saying:

"Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? Let him come now to me, and
he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel."

I can imagine Naaman's pride reasoning thus: "Surely, the prophet
will feel very much exalted and flattered that I, the great Syrian
general, should come and call upon him."

And so, probably, full of those proud thoughts, he drives up to the
prophet's humble dwelling with his chariot and his splendid retinue.
Yes, Naaman drove up in grand style to the prophet's abode, and as
nobody seemed to be coming out to greet him, he sent in his message:

"Tell the prophet that Major-General Naaman of Syria has arrived,
and wishes to see him."

Elisha takes it very coolly. He does not come out to see him, but as
soon as he learns his errand he sends his servant to tell him to dip
seven times in the river Jordan, and he shall be clean.

That was a terrible blow to his pride. I can imagine him saying to
his servant:

"What did you say? Did I understand you aright? Dip seven times in
the Jordan! Why, we call the river Jordan a ditch in our country."

But the only answer he got was, "The prophet says, Go and dip seven
times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall become like the flesh of a
little child."

I can fancy Naaman's indignation as he asks, "Are not Abana and
Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?
May I not wash in them and be clean? Haven't I bathed myself
hundreds of times, and has it helped me? Can water wash away

So he turned and went away in a rage.

It isn't a bad sign when a man gets mad if you tell him the truth.
Some people are afraid of getting other people mad. I have known
wives afraid to talk to their husbands, afraid of getting them mad.
I have known mothers who were afraid to talk to their sons because
they were

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