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the Lord is directing him, or about the purpose intended by this strange journey. Forty days and nights he travels on, without rest or intermission, through the silent wilderness —a miraculous journey, which was performed in the strength of the food, with which God, by his angel, had refreshed him. To help by many means or by few, or with no means at all, is one and the same thing to Him, who upholdeth all by the word of his power. He, who multiplied the loaves and the fishes at his pleasure, could give to a little all the virtue of much. In short, Elijah had no need, during the whole journey, of either refreshment or rest. The hot wind during the day did not exhaust him, nor the difficulties of the night fatigue him. Thus he bore about with him, in the renewed courage of his spirit, and in the unexhausted strength of his limbs, an abiding seal and pledge, that the Lord was with him, and that the hand of the Almighty sustained him.
The desert, over which Elijah travelled forty days and nights, was the same through which the tribes of Israel travelled during forty years, under the convoy of the cloudy and fiery pillar. Surely this, if any, was holy ground. It had been traversed by the feet of the mighty, it was rich with the most stupendous associations of thought, and with the most interesting recollections. Here the whole miraculous history of the ancient fathers would revive before him in the liveliest colours. Fresh images and scenes from that age of wonders would recur to his mind at every step, and the very profound silence around him would as in the consideration of the sublime things, of which these spots had been once the theatre. As often as he descended into a green and palmy vale, he alighted in spirit upon some resting-place of his fathers. As often as the shade of an overhanging rock received him, it was as if the incense of the sanctuary breathed around him; for the prayers of the pilgrims of God had hallowed these shades. Here or there, he would think, perhaps Moses had rested and taken counsel in the sacred circle of his elders; and the leader of Israel would still seem kneeling before the Lord, and speaking to him, “as a man talketh with his friend." Thus one heart-elating thought would follow another. The history of the forty years journey would attain a form and a vitality beyond what he had hitherto realized. At one time he would seem to be gathering the manna with the ancient fathers ; at another to be standing with the wounded before the brazen image of the serpent, and feeling with them the return of health. Presently he would be in spirit at the altar which Moses built, and called it “ JehovahNissi,” the Lord my banner; and then again he would hear the desert resound with loud thanksgivings and solemn hymns of praise to the faithfulness and truth of Jehovah. Every new scene on which he entered, would bring before him some new event and feature of those journeyings which were irradiated with the glory of God; and whatever consolation and encouragement is comprised in these histories, would rush upon him with sublime and overwhelming wonder, or exhilarate him with a spring of hope and joy, that seemed to give wings to his feet, and banish the last remains of fear and care from his spirit. Assured that he was pursuing his way under the shadow of the same Almighty hand which once covered the whole host of Israel, he would cheerfully pursue his journey, not doubting that he was led by the right hand of Him who under the juniper tree had given him the direction to depart, and had endued his feeble frame with a strength, which no fatigue of the journey was able to diminish, and that as soon as the end was attained, he should be bidden to rest and lay down his travelling staff in peace and safety.
O faith, faith! thou blessed companion of the children of God! Thy wondrous power deprives the wilderness of its horrors, and the deepest solitude ceases to be solitary under thy guidance! All that earth and heaven possess of beauty is thine, and with the treasures of heights and of depths thou enrichest thy possessors ! That which is distant is brought near by thee; thou developest hidden things, and awakenest past events to new life. Thou mergest the gloom of the present into the bliss of the future, and paintest the sky of many a departing sun with the dawning radiance of a better world. In the midst of sublunary changes, thou anticipatest a peaceful paradise. Thou peoplest our bereaved family circles with holy and heavenly company; thou dost associate both worlds in close connexion, and unitest things past, present, and to come. In thy light the sacred narratives seem acted over again, and our own personal history becomes a sacred record of Providence. Thou hast the power of realizing the dead as if they were alive ; the patriarchs are our contemporaries, although their ashes
repose in the sepulchre of near six thousand years. By thy voice they still converse with us, although to human ears they speak no more; by thy realizing aid they visit us in our darkness with kindness and consolation ; by thy light we see a cloud of them as witnesses encamped around us; and whatever grace they experienced is, through thee, appropriated to ourselves. Thou nourishest us with the promises made to
Abraham, sustainest us with the strong consolation of the oath divinely sworn unto Isaac; thou givest us the staff of Jacob to support our steps ; thou enablest us with Moses' rod to divide the sea, and with David to leap over the wall and rampart! O faith, faith! thou doorkeeper of every sanctuary, thou master over all the treasures of God! may He who is thine Author draw near unto us; and He who is thy Finisher. bend down himself towards us !
XII.-ARRIVAL AT MOUNT HOREB.
MANY a true christian has enjoyed luminous intervals in his life, which may be called his moments on Tabor. Such an interval was that experienced by Moses, when, overpowered by holy zeal for the honour of God, and carried away by the ardour of a superhuman love, forgetting himself, he broke out in the astonishing words : -“ Yet now if thou wilt forgive them their sin ; and if not, blot
I pray thee, out of thy book !” And such, if we follow the common translation of the passage, Rom. ix. 3, appears to have been the case with the apostle Paul, when he said, he could wish that himself were accursed from Christ for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh. If our cool, sober, calculating people of the present day are unable to comprehend ecstatic expressions like these, it is no wonder, neither is it any proof that holier men were not sincere in their wonderful desires. An infant is incompetent to enter into the ideas of a valiant warrior ; still there were such men as Gideon and David. Even Moses or Paul themselves, after the Divine ecstasy of the moment was over, might feel astonished at the elevation to which their souls had been raised. For in such moments they were transported far above their ordinary feelings.
You know, besides Paul and Moses, a third who was all along actuated thus ; who said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished !" He actually carried his desire into effect ; “ He was willingly made a curse for us.” Many who call themselves christians shake their heads at this truth ; they do not believe that the love of the Lord Jesus went so far as to undergo the penalty belonging to the sins of the world. Were these adversaries of the atonement in the right, it would follow, that the disciples, Moses and Paul, were above their Master in love to mankind. Therefore, from this
very love on the part of his disciples, we can show that they are in the wrong. For, from whom did those disciples derive their fervour of love ? Was it from themselves ? Certainly not! It was from their Saviour's fountain of love. Out of his fulness did they receive. As then the stream is, such must the fountain be; and what we perceive in the copy,
must be found in the original. Had there not been in the heart of Jesus a love which could desire to become an anathema for sinners, how could it ever have been found in his disciples?
The recollection however of such love as this, in Moses or in Paul, is not altogether advantageous to the prophet Elijah, in comparing the scene of his life which we are now about to contemplate ; for it presents a striking contrast to the conduct of those two saints.
I KINGS XIX. 9-11.
“ And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the
word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah ? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts : for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.”
Here we have the man of God again before us, in circumstances which are overruled to increase his humility and experience of the life of God in his soul. The particulars which this portion of Elijah's history brings before us are well worth our attentive consideration.
Here is, I. The night's lodging in the cave; II. The Divine reproof; III. The prophet's complaint ; and, IV. The direction to appear before the Lord.
I. The prophet's efforts to restore Israel to the faith of their fathers had apparently failed. The mighty miracle on Carmel seemed to have produced no other fruit than redoubled hatred on the part of the idolaters ; Jezebel's murderous intentions had been brought to ripeness by this event. The prophet having been informed of this, fled without Divine direction. “He went whither he would, to save his life.” His distress increased with every step, and reached its height upon his arrival in the wilder
He thought himself forsaken of God, and having become weary of life, he prayed for death ; whereupon God, by an angel, sent him refreshment in body and spirit. He learnt that he was still conducted of God, and that the Divine thoughts towards him were thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give him an expected end, Jer. xxix. Il. In the strength of the food of which he had partaken, and of the joyfully surprising angelic message, he entered upon the “ hard journey,” and traversed the desert