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JQA Diary, volume 45 10 May 1846


Neal Millikan Religion
Washington Sunday 10. May 1846—

10— V—

Thom. George.

In the Hall of the House of Representatives this morning I heard the Revd. Dr. Welsh of Albany, preach, from 2. Kings 5.12. “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean. So he turned and went away in a rage” The Discourse was a curious exemplification, of the manner in which Democracy and demagoguism have crept into the Pulpit in this Country— The story of the cleansing of Naaman the Syrian is one of the most beautiful narratives of the Old Testament, but this preacher from Albany, turned it to political account. Its object in the Scripture is by a miraculous event, to display, the superiority of the religion of the Hebrews, over that of the Heathen Nations even of the conquerors of the Jews.— This is the perpetual object of all the Scriptures of the Old Testament— 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 valour but he was a leper—A maurauding party of his Army had invaded the Land of Israel and carried off 563captive, a little maid, who waited on Naamans wife, and she said to her mistress would God, my Lord were with the Prophet, that is in Samaria, for he would recover him of his leprosy— So Naaman goes with a Letter from the King of Israel to the King of Syria with presents of immense value and the King thought, he sought to quarrel with him, but Elisha the prophet, went to the King of Israel, and requested he would refer Naaman to him. So Naaman came with his horses and Chariot and stood at the door of the House of Elisha, but did not condescend to see him, but sent a Messenger to him, directing him to go and wash in Jordan, and promising, that this would cleanse him from his leprosy— Thereupon Naaman flies into a passion and draws the comparison between the rivers of Damascus, and the waters of Israel.— selected by the Preacher for his text—and concludes by going away in a rage— Upon reflexion however by the advice of his Servants, he concludes to go and dip himself seven times in Jordan and is cleansed from his leprosy— He then returns to Elisha, the man of God, and acknowledges, that there is, no God, in all the Earth, but in Israel—and offers to Elisha magnificent presents; which he refuses. There is a sequel to the story, not less interesting than the tale itself, but of which Dr. Welsh took no notice, nor can I for want of time. But the Democracy of Dr. Welsh consisted in contrasting, the rank and pomp and grandeur of the Syrian Field Marshal, with the poverty and humility of the Hebrew Prophet— He commented much, upon the scorn, with which, the Grandee treated, the direction, of Elisha, and after many invidious contrasts, between the great and noble of the Earth, with the lowly condition of the Prophet, he finally concluded his Discourse by assuring his Auditory, that they might depend upon it, there was no aristocratic way to Heaven. After dinner I attended at the Second Presbyterian Church, where the Revd. Matthew Hale Smith, preached from Psalms 77–19—“Thy way 564is in the Sea, and thy path, in the great waters[”]—a sermon, upon the condition of Sailors— Immediately after the close of the Service, a Meeting of the Members of the Society was held, of which I, was Chairman and presented a resolution of thanks, for his four Lectures addressed to young men, to young ladies, to married persons, and to parents—with a request, of a copy of them, for publication. The resolution was unanimously adopted, the ladies of the Society according to the practice of this church, voting as well as the men. The meeting, occupied not more than a quarter of an hour, and was then adjourned— At half past seven in the evening I attended at the Unitarian Church, where the Revd. Samuel. K. Lothrop, Minister of the Brattle Street Church in Boston, preached from Genesis 37. part of the 15 verse. “What seekest thou,” This is a question put by a certain man to Joseph, when he was wandering in the field sent by his Father Israel, in search of his brethren, who were feeding their fathers flock in Shehem but Mr. Lothrop dismissed all notice of this context, but taking the simple question “What seekest thou,” by itself and applying it, specially to his Auditory, said he would address each one of them, with that question, and inquire what they were seeking— He said it was probable, that the ready answer of every one would be, he was seeking for happiness—and then he proceeded to shew, that happiness, was not, in itself, the proper object of search for the Christian— That this proper object was, the development of his own character; the pursuits of life; of which happiness would be the ultimate result: the practise of the virtues, and the control of his own passions, which would lead to happiness, and which require An earnest examination and search, for practical application, to the duties of human life— On returning home I found Lieutenant Thom, of the Topographical Engineers here—on a visit to the ladiesMrs. Smith left us yesterday to go to her sister Mrs. Frye’s