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ye perish from
but rather that he should repent and live.” We still behold the open arms of a deliverer, which are kindly extended towards us. But, as every thing has its time and its season, therefore, “ work out now your own salvation with fear and trembling ; for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure." “ Kiss the Son, lest he be angry,
and the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." One of two events must follow our pilgrimage through this world ; either an ascent to heaven, or a descent to hell. There is no middle state in eternity. Therefore, “ O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, receive our prayer." Amen.
2 KINGS II. 13-15.
“He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back,
and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah ? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him."
We come this day to an interesting act; the will of the departed prophet is unsealed, and Elisha is the heir of an inheritance, the like of which the world had seldom seen. Let us contemplate the happy man somewhat more closely in the enjoyment of his heritage, and consider Elisha, I. With Elijah's mantle; II. With Elijah's God; III. With Elijah's spirit; and, IV. In Elijah's office.
I. At the moment when Elijah was taken up in his fiery chariot, his prophet's mantle, unloosed by an invisible hand, fell from his shoulders, and floated down before Elisha. Although this was a trifling circumstance in itself, yet it is too significant to be overlooked. With his mantle Elijah had for ever thrown off the burden of his commission. When formerly he cast his mantle upon
Elisha at Abel Meholah, it was but as a preparatory vocation to the prophetic office. But Elisha, on inheriting this mantle, is henceforth called to take the place of his great master, and to carry on his work. This singular legacy was therefore very significant to Elisha. The mantle came flying towards him heavily laden. But with the onerous commission he thus received, was connected the encouraging circumstance, that it came accompanied by such a precious memorial of his paternal master. It was now no longer the mantle of the redoubted reformer, but the robe of a blessed heir of heaven, borne thither on the wings of the cherubim. It would remind him, and others, of the kindness and love of God to sinful men,
expressed in a most unusual manner. The ascension of its owner to heaven had rendered it a truly festal garment; and thus it would contribute to refresh the spirit of Elisha in his arduous office; and, at the same time, to identify him as that gracious messenger of
who was to announce to the house of Israel, like the
rainbow after a storm, Jehovah's good-will towards men. It was also a significant circumstance to Elisha, that the official garment he was henceforth to wear was cast to him, as it were, out of the open heavens. What else could he perceive in it, but an immediate investiture and vocation on the part of the living God? And indeed, every priestly mantle ought to carry the same significance now. I mean, that every clergyman, teacher, missionary, or whoever else labours in God's vineyard, ought to be able to say, with Elisha, “I have received my commission from Heaven—my call is of God.” But, in the present day, people commonly make the mantle themselves, esteeming it as an idle tale that any thing should fall from heaven but rain or snow, and looking upon the sacred office of a minister as upon any other profession, which may
be taken pleasure, or for the sake of a maintenance. The parents decide for their child that he shall be a clergyman. The vain youthful student, especially if he be conscious of possessing some little talent, immediately thinks himself fit for the sacred office. How many young men proceed to universities to enter
the study of divinity, without even the most distant thought of asking counsel of God, in order to learn by the directions of Scripture, by circumstances of Providence, and their own qualifications, whether it be his will to employ them in the work of the ministry! And when arrived at the university, how seldom do they meet with any pious counsellor, such as Elijah was to Elisha, to take them aside, and inquire whether they had any
other proof of their call to the ministry than their own notion and fancy, and the counsel of flesh and blood. Hence it is, that we have now the mournful example of many a flock in christendom, among whom grievous wolves fill the shepherd's office, to the subversion and ruin of souls. Is it then to be wondered at, that the common mariner should occasionally seize the helm, when the pilot knows not how to govern the ship? The persecutors of such would do well to consider, that they are only opposing what they themselves have contributed to bring into existence.
II. After Elisha had taken up the mantle in the name of the Lord, he commences his return to Jericho, doubtless much affected, and yet comforted; for not only Elijah's mantle, but Eli
6 Show me a
jah's God remains to him. Of this he cannot doubt ; but where is the faith which no longer requires a seal ? token for good," saith the psalmist; and what ejaculation of his is oftener repeated than this? Elisha returns to the eastern bank of Jordan. He beholds the stream at his feet, and over it he must pass. Elijah is no longer at his side, and his mantle alone is not sufficient. Elijah's God must manifest Himself. We inay easily suppose that he now heartily prayed, if not in David's words, “ Show me a token for good;" yet in the language of deep submission and humble dependence on the Divine power and faithfulness. He takes the mantle of Elijah, folds it together as his master had done, and with it he smites the waters of Jordan, saying, “ Where is the Lord God of Elijah? What shall we say to this ? It may sound strange in the ears of some: nevertheless it was a right way of proceeding ; and “ He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints, according to the will of God,” Rom. viii. 27. The Lord was the portion of Elisha's inheritance, and not the prophet's mantle and commission only; and his faith could say, “ Thou shalt maintain
my lot.” Thus Isaac inherited the portion of his father Abraham ; and to Jacob God declared himself as the God of Abraham and of Isaac. To believers also of subsequent times he revealed himself as the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob; and thereby promised to them the blessings he had bestowed on those patriarchs ; assuring them that he would bear them in his hands with the same faithfulness. Hence the Old Testament saints, when praying, directed their petitions to Jehovah as the God of their fathers.
And to whom do we direct our prayers ? Thrice happy are we, my brethren, who have seen and known the “ God manifest in the flesh,” to whom we can pray with a degree of confidence, which the saints of Israel did not possess. We know, that whatever the Lord of glory did for men in the days of his flesh, was to be a type and a pattern of what he will now do for all who diligently seek him. Oh how does it strengthen our faith, that we may say, when sin oppresses us, when affliction casts us down, or when poverty and want come upon us, “Where is the God of the penitent malefactor? where is the God of Martha, and Mary, and of Lazarus ? where is the God of Pau), and of Peter, and of Mary Magdalene? where is the Lord, who after his resurrection, on the shore of the lake of Galilee, prepared a fire of coals, and bread and fish likewise, for his disciples, and who more than once fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes ?” Yes, “ this God is our God for ever and ever : he shall be our guide even unto death.” 66 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever !” Lo, he is “ with us always, even to the end of the world." Amen.
Surely it is something very great and blessed, that we are permitted to call the God of all the favoured individuals mentioned in the New Testament, our God. But the privileges of true christians may be expressed in yet stronger language than this, because of their mystical union with the only begotten Son of God. They can say, “Where is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ?” For what is it that Christ himself saith of them in his prayer, to his Father ? “ That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us : that the world
believe that thou hast sent me, and that thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me,” John xvii. 21. 23. Oh, incomprehensibly glorious and adorable mystery of godliness ! God indeed manifest in our flesh! We are therefore as true believers, who keep his commandments and do those things which are pleasing in his sight, warranted by his own express word, to expect, hope, and desire of God the supply of all our real necessities, as confidently and as assuredly as Christ himself
, with respect to his human nature, was thus warranted during his sojourn upon earth. Think only, with humble and adoring gratitude, what unsearchable riches of blessing are implied in such a privilege as this. And shall it ever cease? No more than the love of the Father to Christ himself can cease. Such is his love to those who believe in his name. Live, my beloved brethren, daily in the faith of such a truth as this ; and it will enable you to overcome every difficulty in the path of duty ; to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint.
III. No sooner had Elisha smitten the waters of Jordan, than the manifestation of the Lord God of Elijah is vouchsafed. The stream of the river is again parted by an invisible hand, the course of the upper part of it is arrested by an unseen barrier, and the prophet descends with a firm and sure step upon its dry gravelly bed. It would be vain for me to attempt to describe to you the feelings which he must have experienced on this occasion. A deeply humble and contrite person, periences some sudden and evident answer to prayer ; or a young and modest minister of God, who may have been tempted tremblingly to doubt whether he had received a Divine call to his office, but who sees in the first loaded fishing-net he draws