« PrécédentContinuer »
lives, but to save them !” It seems as if he had intimated that the days of severity were past, and that those of mildness had succeeded them. The discipline of mount Sinai no longer bears the rule ; but patience and love. Elijah was a herald of Divine justice, and therefore he necessarily appeared with lightning and thunder on his lips; but ye are messengers
grace, who must gain the hearts of sinners by the gospel of the tender mercy of God; and thus your feet must be “beautiful upon the mountains.' And, as the patience wherewith the vessels of wrath are endured, has ever since shown that a hand once pierced sways the sceptre of the world's government, and that a Friend of sinners sits on the throne of dominion; so ought the New Testament church to exhibit a' faithful likeness of the gentle and patient Lamb of God, in whose blood they have been made clean, and who, through enduring and suffering, entered into glory. The lovely image of the compassionate Son of man ought always to be visible in his meinbers. It therefore infinitely more becomes us, as followers of the Lamb, to
pray for the enemies of his righteous cause, than to invoke God's displeasure upon them. It is unspeakably more befitting us, in patience and meekness, to heap coals of fire on the heads of our adversaries, and to overcome them by the power of love ; than to call down the wrath of the Almighty upon them. In short, our whole disposition and conduct ought to evince that we are the disciples of Him who “ came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them ;” and that, by the cross of Christ, a fountain of love has been disclosed, which has taught us to bear all things, to believe all things, and endure all things; a love which many waters cannot quench.
III. The captain, having humbly besought Elijah that his soul, and the souls of his fifty, might be precious in his sight, was spared. For God resisteth only the proud and the perverse; but giveth grace to the lowly. The Lord said to Elijah, “ Go down with him : be not afraid of him.” What a command! what a mission! He was now to enter into the very midst of the enemy's camp, and repeat to the enraged king, at Samaria, the judgment of Heaven. But the command and implied promise of his God lifts him up, as on eagle's wings, above
He leaves the lonely hills, and hastens, at the captain's side, to the royal city.
As a conqueror enters the gates of some captured fortress, amidst the waving of victorious banners, so did Elijah enter the city of Samaria. He knew, that in the assembling crowds around
nim there were few who were not his adversaries; yet he walks through them with a dignity which curbs the insolence of the boldest blasphemer. The king, perhaps, is impatiently inquiring whether there be any news of the arrival of his prisoner ; when, lo! the door of his apartment opens; and who can describe Ahaziah's amazement at beholding the object of his hatred—the man with the hairy mantle and the leathern girdle, himself approaching his couch? Yet Elijah utters no hard word, no triumphant taunt. He knows that in this ungodly man he still beholds his lawful monarch and chief magistrate. Elijah knows that the powers that be are ordained of God;" and hence, though he is the Lord's prophet, and standing before an apostate and idolatrous king, he
in no wise trespasses upon the respect due to royal dignity. He adheres strictly and literally to the message intrusted to him by the Lord; and, without adding to it or taking from it, he declares, “ Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron ; is it not because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word ? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die!” Elijah, having thus spoken, departed. But the words he had uttered remained behind. “He died,” says the sacred historian, “according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken.” The church of God on earth had one destroyer less, and hell one victim more!
“ In Judah is God known,” sings the sacred psalmist : “his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion. There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah. Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains stout-hearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands. At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep. Thou, even thou, art to be feared : and who
stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah. Surely the wrath of men shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. Vow, and pay unto the Lord your
God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared. He shall cut off the spirit of princes : he is terrible to the kings of the earth,” Psalm lxxvi. Hallelujah! To him be the glory and the kingdom for ever and ever! Amen.
prey. The XXI.-THE WORK-DAY EVENING.
Sacred history may be regarded as a Divine prediction, which is as yet only in part fulfilled. When we are grieved with the present sad and gloomy state of things, we may well resort to these pleasing oracles, which set forth
in type as well as in prophecy the representation of future and better times. For with reference to all that formerly took place that was beautiful or glorious, in the land where Israel sojourned, it may be said, “ The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be," Eccl. i. 9. From the history of Eden, down to that of the glorious pentecostal church, every happy event recorded shall ultimately be renewed in a far more glorious manner. May this certainty cheer and animate us as we approach, in the history of Elijah, one of the most glorious events to which Divine grace ever gave birth before the christian era.
2 KINGS II. 1-6. “And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven
by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el. And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth,
and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.' The prophet has finished his work upon earth, and the stormy labours of the day are followed by a beautiful evening, tinged with the golden light of another and a blissful world. He is like the mariner, who, after a long and perilous voyage, is now in sight of his harbour, and joyfully hastens to strike his topmasts, and take in his sails. He walks for a few days longer,
as if already within hearing of the music of heaven ; now gratefully recount some of the fruits of his labours, for they begin to manifest themselves more clearly to his view. The events we are now about to consider will form a pleasing contrast to his past history, and will serve to remind us of that happy period, when the enigmas of this life will all be explained in the most satisfactory manner, and its temporary discords resolved into the most exquisite harmony.
Three points in the passage before us are especially worthy our notice: 1. Elijah's desire for retirement; Il. His visits to the schools of the prophets; and, III. The reception he meets with there.
I. Elijah had withdrawn from more public notice into the secluded neighbourhood of the Jordan. We find him at present in the little town of Gilgal, not far from Jericho, on that memorable spot, where Joshua, after the miraculous passage of the river, set up the twelve stones, and dedicated them as a lasting memorial of the Divine mercy
and faithfulness; that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.” If ever these ancient words had deeply affected Elijah, and inspired his mind with renewed vigour, it must surely have been now; when his own situation, in many respects, so strikingly resembled that of his forefathers. If those massy stones were still remaining, as in all probability they were, how must he have felt at the sight of them! He also might erect his Ebenezer near them, and consecrate it with tears of sweet and humble thankfulness. For how frequently had he himself been led by the hand of the Almighty through an overflowing Jordan !
The prophet has now completed his pilgrimage. He knows it by a Divine revelation. The horses of fire and the flaming chariot stand already prepared behind the clouds to fetch him away; nor has the Lord concealed from him the distinguished manner in which he is about to be taken home. He therefore goes from Gilgal to Bethel, to bid a last farewell his dear children, the sons of the prophets. He hoped to have made this journey alone; but scarcely had he taken his staff, when Elisha appears ready to join him. However much he wished to be alone at this time, he loved his faithful friend too dearly to reject his society at once. They therefore set out together ; but they had not gone on long, before Elijah is unable to conceal his desire for solitude. He therefore says to him, “ Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel.” But no! Elisha cannot this time accede to the wish of his venerable master. “ As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth,” replied he, “I will not leave thee;" and they proceed together on their way. Twice again—at Bethel and at Jericho—Elijah repeats his request with increasing urgency,“ Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan.” But all such entreaties were of no avail. Elisha persisted in affirming, "I will not leave thee.”
This urgent wish of Elijah to be alone is not difficult to explain. He knew what a great distinction the Lord intended for him, such as from the beginning of the world had never been conferred on any saint of God but once; and what was even Enoch's triumph compared with that of the Tishbite ? Elijah was not only to be translated into heaven by a way which
passed not through the gates of death ; but this translation was also to take place visibly, with a glory never before witnessed. A whirlwind was to accompany it ; nay, a fiery chariot from another world was provided to fetch the prophet home. He probably knew the day and the hour when this would occur. Only consider this deliberately, and you will be ready to wonder that he did not sink under the weight of such an expectation. How must he have felt, when, lifting up his eyes to the heavens, and looking at the stars in the firmament, he would say to himself, “ Behold, in a few days I shall be passing through those heavens, far beyond the Orion and the Pleiades, far beyond the sun and the moon; and then—oh then I shall enter into the very sanctuary of heaven, into the eternal light of day, where the triune Jehovah sitteth on his throne, where the angels strike their harps, and the patriarchs dwell in their peaceful tabernacles. Then I shall see all the ancient fathers—Noah and Enoch, Methuselah and Melchizedek, and the father of the faithful, and Moses, and the psalmist, the man after God's own heart ; and dwell among them for ever! I shall hear them speak of the times of their pilgrimage and of a thousand tokens of God's loving-kindness ;-yea, and I shall behold the King of kings and Lord of lords, even Jehovah himself !” Is it any wonder, that in the midst of such thoughts, even the company of his dearest friend was too much for him ? Especially when he reflected
upon who he was, that the Lord should vouchsafe to him such a distinction, and when, with the exaltation that awaited him, he also remembered his past life, which, though the Lord had enriched it with great glory, was yet but the life of a poor sinner, stained by many sins and defects; how must such reflections have induced him to seek to be alone with his God! He had had much spiritual experience since he had