« السابقةمتابعة »
ing Syrian was at length persuaded by his attendants, to make the easy experiment, which having done, he returned to Elisha with the grateful confession of the supremacy of the God of Israel! Resolving now to abjure the false deities of his own country, yet knowing only the foolish superstitions of paganism, he requested two mules' load of the sacred earth of Israel, wherewith he might erect an altar for sacrifice to the only Being whom now he would worship! But his office in the court of Syria obliging him to attend his master in the temple," and bow himself down to the god Rimmon," Naaman deprecated before he left the prophet, the suspicion that might thence be cast on the sincerity of his conversion.
FANNY. Elisha, I suppose, could not sanction such apparent inconsistency, in the Syrian, as assisting in the rites of idols—whilst he professed to believe only " in Jehovah ?”
Mrs. M. He merely bade him go in peace-trusting, probably, that his mind would be subsequently enlightened in his duty. If Naaman did ignorantly suppose, as some have imagined, that his dependent situation might excuse his apparent homage to an idol, it is but the transcript of our hearts, who are far better instructed. We have all the same fraudulent plea for some darling indulgence some “besetting sin," for which we say with Naaman, “The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing !"
Two years after this event, Samaria was besieged by the Syrians, with excessive rigour. Provisions became so dear, as to be entirely beyond the reach of the poorer people, so that the bitterest curse which Moses had declared should befal their apostacy was now felt. Distracted mo
thers, in the madness of their hunger, devoured their own infants !*
Lamenting the miseries of his people, but not repenting his own sins—the procuring cause, the king put on a sackcloth under his royal rohes, and walked out on the wall of Samaria. Whilst he ruminated on the sad state of his city, though he knew not yet the crisis to which it had arrived—the voice of a woman, entreating most piteously for help, reached his ear. “ If the Lord do not help thee,”
" said he despondingly, “ whence shall I help thee.” Enquiring however into the occasion of her appeal, he learnt that the petitioner and another female, in the agonies of hunger, had agreed to prolong their lives a little space, by eating their own children! Her child had been accordingly devoured—but now she claimed the promise of her companion—the infant had been concealed, and the mother refused to produce him !
This shocking story inflamed the king's grief into rage Land Elisha must be the sacrifice! Messengers were instantly sent to arrest him, but too tardy for the impatient vengeance of Jehoram, he followed them himself to strike the fatal blow. But his intended victim met him boldly, and charged all the guilt on his own head !
The hour of relief to the sufferers was nevertheless at hand, and the inspired Elisha declared that Samaria should revel in abundance on the morrow. One of the King's attendants repelled the prophecy with scorn—such a thing would be impossible unless food were rained down from heaven into their hands! - Thou shalt see it,” replied Elisha, “ with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof !”
* Deut. 28, 57. 600 years before this event.
CHARLES. How indeed could such a supply take place so soon as the very vext day?
Mrs. M. By means of an event unexpected, indeed, but very far from incredible. A supernatural noise in the night was made to disturb the besieging camp—the air was filled with terrific sounds---chariots and horsemen, and the hosts of confederated nations, seemed to approach .--darkness increased the universal panic, and the Syrians, unprepared for resistance, fled precipitately for their lives, leaving their tents stored with provisions and gold. Four men, who, being infected with the leprosy, were lodged without the walls, had concluded that death from the enemy's hand was not more to be dreaded than that which awaited them from famine, and perhaps they might be preserved by going over to them. To the Syrian camp, therefore, they went by the dawn of day, and found it completely abandoned ! After satisfying their hunger, and concealing such articles of plunder as they chose for themselves---they returned with the joyful news to the city. The famishing inhabitants rushed out in crowds to the providential banquet: the charge of the gate was accidentally given to the incredulous lord who had despised the prediction of Elisha---and there he received the punishment of his infidelity, for he was trampled to death by the impetuous multitude, whom no authority at such a moment could restrain.
Such substantial benefits following the prediction of Elisha, he commanded some reverence even from Jehoram himself—for we are ever ready to do homage to the talents that promote our own interests. One day, whilst he talked with Gehazi, the prophet's servant, of the miracles which his master had performed, and was listening to the inte,
resting story of his having restored the son of the Shupamite to life, the mother herself appeared in the presence of the king! Before the pressure of the famine, she had refred, by the advice of the prophet, into the country of Philistia, to avoid the approaching evil. Returning when that was past, and after an interval of seven years, she found her house and land in the possession of another, and now came to the king to entreat his interposition for the recovery of her property. Gehazi fortunately being present, and pleading the friendship of his master for the Shunamite, she received at once the royal order, and was reinstated in her lands.
Elisha flourished in Israel more than fifty years, and although his ministrations produced no permanent effect upon their morals, he was yet highly respected by the people. Indeed it was impossible to withhold their assent to the divinity of his mission, because his prophecies, relating chiefly to the events of his own times, were fulfilled before their eyes.
Nor did his wondrous influence entirely cease with his life. Some months after his death, his decaying corpse was seen to re-vivify a dead body, which but touched it accidentally!
CHARLES. Accidentally! was not the dead body put into the grave of the prophet, in the expectation of this happy consequence ?
Mrs. M. Nothing similar to this miracle had ever occurred, to give birth to such a hope. The funeral of a man was proceeding to another place of burial, when the attendants were alarmed by the sudden appearance of a band of plundering Moabites. Consulting only their own safety, they hastily put the corpse into the sepulchre of Elisha, which chanced to be at hand, and would have fled from the apprehended violence of the marauders---but astonishment must have rivetted them to the spot, when they saw their friend awakened from the sleep of death, on touching the bones of Elisha!
Elisha lived to see his prophecy against the house of Ahab, executed by Jehu ; and Hazael, the Syrian, according also to the prediction, became the oppressor of Israel-.-dismembering the kingdom of the land of Gilead, and treating the inhabitants with great barbarity. The posterity of Jehu possessed the throne of Israel, to the fourth generation, agreeably to the promise made to him, as the reward of his obedience in some important particalars. In the reign of Jehoash, the grandson of Jehu, a successful war was carried on against Ben-hadad, the son of Hazael, and the cities which his father had taken were recovered---but the history of the ten tribes is but the continued history of vicissitude and war---of idolatry, usurpation, and murder : preparing the way by rapid steps to that complete extermination, which had often been foretold.
About thirty years, from the deposition of Jehu's family, including the reign of four kings---all of whom (excepting one) were subjects, and obtained the crown by putting their respective sovereigns to death,---bring us down to the reign of Hoshea, another assassin and usurper.
In the preceding reign, Tiglath-pileser, the king of Assyria, had taken some of the finest provinces of Israel, and carried the inhabitants into captivity. His son and successor, Shalmaneser, attacked the remainder, and laid Hoshea under tribute. Confederating with Egypt, which was now very powerful, the king of Israel vainly hoped to