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miserable enough already, but was going to be bereaved of her children, which were the only comfort and support of her life :-That upon her coming to Elisha with this sad story, he was touched with compassion for her misfortunes, and had used all the power and interest which he had with his God to relieve and befriend her, which, in an unheard of manner, by the miraculous increase of her oil, which was the only substance she had left, he had so bountifully effected, as not only to disentangle her from her difficulties in paying the debt, but withal, what was still more generous, to enable her to live comfortably the remainder of her days. She considered, that cha rity and compassion was so leading a virtue, and had such an influence upon every other part of a man's character, as to be a sufficient proof, by itself, of the inward disposition and goodness of the heart; but that so engaging an instance of it as this, exercised in so kind and seasonable a manner, was a demonstration of his,-and that he was, in truth, what outward circumstances bespoke, a holy man of GOD. As the Shunamite's principle and motive for her hospitality to Elisha, was just, as it sprung from an idea of the worth and merit of her guest, so likewise was the manner of doing it kind and considerate. It is observable, she does not solicit her husband to assign him an apartment in her own house, but to build him a chamber on the wall apart,- -she considered, that true piety wanted no witnesses, and was always most at ease when most private; —that the tumult and distraction of a large family were not fit for the silent meditations of so holy a man, who would perpetually there meet with something either to interrupt his devotion, or offend the purity of his manners :-That moreover, under such an independent roof, where he could take shelter as often as his occasions requir

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ed, she thought he might taste the pleasure which was natural to man, in possessing something like what he could call his own,-and, what is no small part of conferring a favor, he would scarce feel the weight of it, or at least much seldomer in this manner, than where a daily invitation and repetition of the kindness perpetually put him in mind of his obligation. If any thing could still add to this-it was-that it did not appear to be the dry offer of a faint civility, but that it came directly from the heart. There is a nicety in honest minds, which will not accept of a cold and suspected offer, and, even when it appears to be sincere and truly meant, there is a modesty in true merit which knows not how to accept it; and, no doubt, she had one, if not both these difficulties, to conquer in their turns. For we read that, she constrained him, and, in all likelihood, førced his acceptance of it, with all the warmth and friendly openness of an humane and hospitable temper. It is with benefits as with injuries, in this respect, that we do not so much weigh the accidental good or evil they do us, as that which they were designed to do us ;-that is, we consider no part of them so much as their intention. And the prophet's behavior consequent upon this, shows, he beheld it thro' this medium, or in some such advantageous light as I have placed it.

There is no burden so heavy to a grateful mind, as a debt of kindness unpaid ;- -and we may believe Elisha felt it so, from the earnest desire which he had, upon the immediate receipt of this, to discharge himself of it, which he expresses in the text, in the warmest manner ;- << Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care: What shall be done for thee?-wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or the captain of the host?"-There is a degree of honest impatience in the words, such as was natural to a good man, VOL, III,


who would not be behind-hand with his benefactor,

But there is one thing, which may seem strange at first sight, that, as her station and condition in life were such, that she appeared rather to have abounded already, than stood in want of any thing in this world, which such an application could supply, why the prophet should not rather have proposed some spiritual advantage, which as it would have better become the sanctity of his character on the one hand, so, on the other, it would have done a more real and lasting service to his friend.

But we are to reflect, that in returning favors, we act differently from what we do in conferring them - In the one case, we simply consider what is best,-in the other, what is most accepta ble. The reason is, that we have a right to act according to our own ideas of what will do the party most good, in the case where we bestow a favor; but, where we return one, we lose this right, and act according to his conceptions who has obliged us, and endeavor to repay in such a manner as we think is most likely to be accepted in discharge of the obligation. So that, tho' we are not to imagine Elisha could be wanting in religious duties, as well as wishes to so hospitable a friend, we may yet suppose, he was directed here by this principle of equity-and that, in reflecting in what manner he should requite his benefactress he had considered, that, to one of her affluent condition, who had all the reasonable comforts of an independent life, if there was any passion yet unsa. tisfied, it must certainly be ambition: That tho' in general, it was an irregular appetite, which, in most cases, it was dangerous to gratify, yet in effect it was only so far criminal, as the power which it acquired was perverted to bad and vicious purposes, which it was not likely to be here, from the specimen she had already given of her disposition

which showed, that, if she did wish for an increase of wealth and honor, she wished it only as it would enable her more generously to extend her arm in kind offices, and increase the power, as well as the opportunities, of doing good.

In justice to Elisha's motive, which must have been good, we must suppose, he considered his offer in this light; and what principally led him to propose it, was the great interest which he had with the king of Israel at that time, which he had merited by a signal service; and, as he had no views for himself, he thought it could not be employed so well as in establishing the fortune of one, whose virtue might be so safely trusted with It. It was a justifiable prepossession in her favor, tho' one not always to be relied on; for, there is many one, who, in a moderate station, and with a lesser degree of power, has behaved with honor and unblemished reputation, and who has even borne the buffetings of adverse fortune well, and manifested great presence and strength of mind under it, whom, nevertheless, a high exaltation has at once overcome, and so entirely changed, as if the party had left, not only his virtue, but even himself behind him.

Whether the Shunamite dreaded to make this dangerous experiment of herself,or, which is more likely, that she had learned to set bounds to her desires, and was too well satisfied with her present condition, to be tempted out of it, she declines the offer, in the close of the text,-" I dwell among mine own people ;"- -as if she had said, "The intended kindness is far from being small; but it is not useful to me; I live here, as thou art a witness, in peace, in a contented obscurity;not so high as to provoke envy, nor so low as to be trodden down and despised. In this safe and middle state, as I have lived amongst my own people, so let me die, out of the reach,

both of the cares and glories of the world.—It is fit, O holy man of GoD! that I learn, some time or other, to set bounds to my desires; and if I cannot fix them now, when I have already more than my wants require, when shall I hope to do it?-Or, how should I expect, that even this increase of honor or fortune would fully satisfy and content my ambition, should I now give way to it?"

So engaging an instance of unaffected moderation and self-denial, deserves well to be considered by the bustlers in this world ;—because, if we are to trust the face and course of things, we scarce see any virtue so hard to be put in practice, and which the generality of mankind seem so unwilling to learn, as this, of knowing when they have enough, and when it is time to give over their worldly pursuits,-Aye! but nothing is more easy, you will answer, than to fix this point, and set certain bounds to it" For my own part, you will say, I declare, I want and would wish no more, but a sufficient competency of those things which are requisite to the real uses and occasions of life, suitable to the way I have been taught to expect from use and education."-But recollect how seldom it ever happens, when these points are secured, but that new occasions and new necessities present themselves, and, every day as you grow richer, fresh wants are discovered, which rise up before you, as you ascend the hill; so that every step you take-every accession to your fortune, sets your desires one degree farther from rest and satisfaction :-That something you have not yet grasped, and possibly, never shall,-the devil of a phantom, unpossessed and unpossessable, is perpetually haunting you, and stepping in betwixt you and your contentment. Unhappy creature to think of enjoying that blessing with out moderation!-or imagine that so sacred a temple can be raised upon the foundation of wealth

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