Images de page

thus, treasures of things new and old would be brought forth by sanctified intellects.

The special employments, however, in which the sons of the prophets are exhibited to us in Scripture history, are those of prophecy and sacred song. In 1 Sam. x. we find a whole company of such disciples meeting Saul on the hill of God, near Kirjath-jearim, with “ a psaltery, a tabret, a pipe, and a harp,” before them; and themselves prophesying. And, in 1 Sam. xix. we see king Saul, on another occasion, at Ramah, meeting an assembly of the sons of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel set over them. It is evident, from both these passages, that the art of sacred melody was diligently cultivated in those retired nurseries of piety; and that this art was devoted, according to its original appointment, to the praise of God and the cheering and beautifying of civil and domestic life. Ancient traditions tell us much of the great attainments of these sons of the prophets in the lovely art of sacred song, and how affectingly they thus poured forth the harmony of their souls. By what is called their prophesying, in 1 Sam. x. and elsewhere, we understand an outpouring of the language of the heart in song or in prose, under the special influence of the Holy Spirit; and these effusions we must conclude to have been always of the sublimest and holiest nature.

Now, if the final object of these excellent schools was not precisely to form prophets and seers—for such, the Lord alone forms and calls—yet the Lord was pleased to have ready such assemblies of his saints, from which, when he aw good, he might select a mes

essenger for himself, endowed with. all human preparatives, whenever these were deemed requisite. It is highly probable that most of the prophets proceeded from these institutions ; at least, the shepherd Amos seems to point out his vocation to the office as an exception to the rule, when he says, in ch. vii. 14, 15, “ I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit : and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” At any rate these institutions provided the country with many enlightened teachers, many worthy, well-instructed, and faithful heads of families, and judges. And, even had they not done so, still their very existence answered a high and holy purpose. They were the depositories of israelitish light and justice ; they shone as luminaries in a crooked and perverse nation; and reproved apostasy more severely by their example, than could have been done by the most powerful language. Their quiet but mighty. influence served to oppose the inroads of surrounding heathen darkness. They were also a spiritual asylum, wherein spiritual mourners might find instruction, comfort, and peace. And who shall say what streams of living waters, from those fountains of Israel, refreshed and fertilized the country at large ! O my

brethren ! what sorrow fills my heart, upon turning from the picture of these ancient and piously devoted seminaries back to our own times, to contemplate the establishments for instruction, which modern wisdom has devised, and of which it boasts. Oye sons of Israel, how much better were ye provided for, than most of our youth in the present day! and yet we are

-CHRISTIANS! Where are institutions at present to be found, in which another spirit rules than that of the world and the profane ? Where can we behold flourishing seminaries, in which a christian's hope for his children would flourish also ? Alas, they do but rarely, very rarely indeed exist; notwithstanding our systems of education, those boasts of the age we live in. In what, then, consists the vaunted perfection of such systems ? Is it in those fragments of classical literature which are crammed into our youths; or in those ornamental accomplishments to which our daughters are made to sacrifice their health and mental cultivation Or, is it in the almost general separation of modern instruction from the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation ? Or, is it in the more popular manner in which individual branches of knowledge are treated, apart from all deeper investigation, apart from their general connexion, and above all, apart from the knowledge of God as their chief end and perfection? Or, does the excellence of our modern education consist in purely heathenish conceptions of liberty, morality, and justice, as accredited to our youth in many seminaries, by blind leaders, who never study the sacred oracles with half the diligence, zeal, and respect with which they study the classic writers of ancient Greece and Rome? And here I cannot refrain from inserting the remark of an enlightened writer upon


present state of education in Germany. “ Education,” he says, “ is become a system of seduction. Young men, and even school-boys and apprentices, are trained into instruments of faction and rebellion, and are found the most active associates of tumult and revolt in the present day. Yes, the most audacious blasphemies and execrations are uttered in the ears of listening youths, and even of children, against clergy, magistrates, and public institutions, while the minds of the young are thus easily excited, and drink in these iniquities like water. A monstrous ignorance of the word of God, an affecting and deplorable want of Scriptural knowledge, exists far and wide; for, during the last thirty years, our youths have been beguiled of all the blessings of holy things in our public and private seminaries ; yes, in our very universities ; and those who have most distinguished themselves in perpetrating these spiritual robberies, have become the most reputable, popular, and best rewarded. The most vapid and superficial talking passes for religious and moral instruction ; and schoolbooks full of subtle omissions, or of the most daring attacks upon religion, are introduced by authority. Instruction in historythat memorial of Divine justice and human sins—is commonly abused to the implanting of national pride, and the dissemination of the most pernicious principles and doctrines.”

If we do not yet find this gloomy description fully realized every where, we have to ascribe it exclusively to an invisible Watcher, who has hitherto set bounds to the floods of Belial. Let us commend to Him, who still cherishes thoughts of peace towards us and not of evil, our places of tuition, both high and low; may he reform, consecrate, and renew them! It is true, that greater importance has been attached in some places to religious instruction, and the hours devoted to it have been doubled. But this alone will not cure the evil. Another spirit is wanting in our schools and seminaries to complete, animate, and sanctify every branch of instruction. We ought, therefore, to pray for the outpouring of the Spirit of Christ; and, God be thanked ! we never shall seek it in vain. We have Divine promises in abundance, which encourage us to look forward, in prayer, for better days. Particularly would I refer you to that prophecy of Zechariah, which shall assuredly come to pass : “ In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts : and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein : and in that day there shall be no more the canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts,” chap. xiv. 20, 21. What a glorious prospect is here presented to us, of the future condition of the church and of the world! The beauty and lustre of holiness shall then be spread over all we possess, and over all that surrounds us. The Spirit of the Lord'shall be universally diffused, and every object will partake of a Divine consecration. The sciences will then be the handmaidens of religion, and their alpha and omega will be the glory of God in Christ. The arts will return to their primary destination, and be again devoted to the service of the living God.

66 The Lord will hasten it in its time.”

III. It must have been gratifying to Elijah, to behold these sons of the prophets coming forth to meet him ; and to hear, from their voices, an echo to his own ardent prayers, which, when his faith was weak, he had supposed to have no counterpart. It must have increased his own self-humiliation, to witness such green spots still remaining in the moral desert, whereas he had thought the prophets all slain, and himself standing quite alone in Israel. He would now feel self-abased at the distrust he had expressed respecting the success of his labours. Truly his labours had not been in vain in the Lord. For here, notwithstanding the malignant influence of an Ahab and a Jezebel, and the apostasy of a whole nation, these blooming plantations of truth had thriven amidst storm and tempest, in those parts of the country where Satan's seat had more especially been set up. It must have cheered the heart of the prophet to associate, with his hope of heavenly glory, the thought of leaving behind him such goodly bands of champions on the side of the God of Israel.

On his coming with Elisha to Bethel, the sons of the prophets are already aware of the loss that awaits them. Probably the Lord himself had made it known to them, that they might know for certain how the course of this great man would end, and that their minds might the more willingly submit

, having the comfortable assurance, that the Lord of the church himseli had taken him from them. With such feelings, as on this occasion, they had never before saluted their paternal master. How much did they need to establish their hearts in order to suppress all rising turbulence of feeling! For a delicate sense of propriety told them they ought not to let the master perceive that they knew of his approaching removal. They venture to disclose only to Elisha the secret of their mournfully affected souls, whilst beckoning him aside, and whispering with a trembling voice into his ear, “Knowest thou, that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to-day ?” But Elisha, as if putting a still stronger seal upon their lips, signified to them that they should keep the matter to themselves. «« Yea, I know it,” said he softly to them ; “ hold ye your peace !” This happened at Bethel, and the same thing was repeated at Jericho. These are pleasing scenes, extremely delicate, and characteristic. Surely, even in the kingdom of God, there is something which the world calls discretion, and this must at least be reckoned amongst the odours and beauties which Sharon's roses and lilies shed around them.


“The king's daughter is all glorious within." In these sublime words, the inspired psalmist speaks of the true church of God on carth, Psa. xlv. 13. “ A christian is the highest style of man;" however little the world may acknowledge this. “ The world” cannot receive the Holy Spirit, neither can it comprehend that which is Divinely great and glorious, it knows not how to appreciate the nature and actions of him who is born of God.

Great is the christian in his repentance, for his repentance is an open rupture with sin and Satan. Great in his desires, for the supreme good alone is able to satisfy his heart. Great in his prayers, when he shakes off the dust of the earth from his feet, when with his “ Abba, Father !” he mounts up to the heart of Jehovah ! Great in his hopes, for he is looking for nothing less than a participation of the glory of the Divine Redeemer. Great in his tears, for they are tears of a fallen king, who mourns for the loss, and longs for the restoration or his crown.

Great in his joy, for it is derived from another and a better world, and its objects are beyond the skies ! Yea, much inore might be said of the greatness of a true christian ; much more might be added in confirmation of this scripture, that “the king's daughter is all glorious within.”

There is nothing more beautiful under heaven than the divine work of grace in a renewed soul. Consider it as it appears in a Moses, an Elijah, or a Paul, and


with me, when I call the moral miracles, recorded in the Bible, far more wonderful than the physical ones ; when I say,

that I look upon the inward excellency and glory of these eminent servants of God with far greater amazement, than upon the most splendid scenes and actions of their outward life. Indeed, the grand events of their external history almost cease to be surprising, when we consider the dignity and elevation of their inward characters. Let us bear this in mind, while we reflect upon the gigantic act with which we see the prophet Elijah concluding the wonderful chain of his miracles

« PrécédentContinuer »