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IV. “ And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” This Divine injunction, I could wish, in a certain sense, that you would also lay to heart. It has reference to all who are situated in some respects as Elijah. The cave, from which he was bidden to go forth, may remind us of the darkness and perplexity in which our own hearts have involved us. Happy he who perceives it, and whose eyes are opened to see the spiritual darkness and corruption generated from his own bosom! But he must not think to bury himself in this. It would be perverse and injurious so to do. Many amongst us however have often done so ; they have imprisoned themselves in the mere thoughts of their own hearts, and we hear nothing from some, but complainings of the deadness, depravity, poverty, and helplessness of their souls: truths, all good and salutary in themselves, but wretchedly misapplied to paralyse every spiritual and benevolent exertion. O, go ye forth froin such a cavern of darkness, and stand upon the mount before the Lord ! You will find neither life, light, nor peace in your own hearts. Go forth, in spirit, from your gloomy cell to the mount: behold the Lamb of God: look up to him who was suspended on the cross for the ungodly; contemplate his spirit, his love, his merits! It is this which makes the believer courageous, joyful, and strong ; and imparts new life to his spirit.
The same may be said to those who are troubled with evil thoughts, and incited to evil actions. He that busies himself in the painful consideration of such things, who lingers amidst the dark horrors of these temptations, looking only at the fiery darts which crowd upon him; he who stays in such a cavern as this, is liable to be swallowed up in despair. But let us go forth out of the cave ! let us stand upon the mount before the Lord, where Jesus presents himself, having been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin, and we shall find him in all points able also to succour them that are tempted. In the mount, the Lord shall be seen, as having “ spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly,” and as cended on high, having led captivity captive, and received gifts for men.” Contemplate this mighty Conqueror, in whom you have also overcome ; bring all your wretchedness before him, roll your
burden upon him, and he shall sustain you ; courage and strength shall be given to you; you shall have victory and triumph over the world, the devil, and the flesh. The same may be said to all who suffer under the
of temporal trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, disgrace, or any other adversity. Do the waves of this world thus toss you?' Look
not with Peter at the storm, instead of looking to Him who can rebuke it ; look not with Martha to the grave of corruption, instead of to Him who is the resurrection and the life: this is only to imprison ourselves spiritually in our own gloomy cave. There can be neither joy nor peace in doing this. Go forth ! go forth ! stretch out the hand of faith toward the mighty and outstretched arm of Divine love ; spread the wings of hope ; stand forth
the mount whereon is laid the sure foundation of Zion. Hereby you will learn something of the paternal heart of Him, who, though his ways are mysterious, nevertheless doeth all things well, and you will gain a prospect of that better country where “ they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters ; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Whatever our circumstances may be, to place ourselves on every occasion before the Lord, with an open heart, without reserve or guile, is the grand secret of happiness and peace while we continue in this world. Yes, and when the outward man itself perisheth, and the eye grows dim in the shadow of death, the soul shall hear a voice behind it, saying, “Go forth, and stand on the heavenly mount before the Lord ! ”
XIII.-MANIFESTATION ON MOUNT HOREB
The children of God in this world are in close and wonderful connexion with Christ their Head, and with each other. This connexion consists not merely in the unity of their sentiments, faith, and conduct ; the communion of saints is a deep and blessed mystery, and is very properly placed in the creed as one of the articles of the christian faith.
Our blessed Lord speaks of believers as one, even as He and the Father are one. In various places of Scripture they are represented as composing one body, united to their glorious Head, Christ Jesus. Thus St. Paul says, 1 Cor. xii. 26, 27, “ Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” “If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it ; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” He also extends this representation further still, and calls the union amongst them a mystery
Now those, to whom this mystery is in any measure unfolded, find it a great, an invaluable treasure. Oh, it is one of the most consoling, one of the most refreshing truths of the whole gospel, that all who believe are one. But it may be asked, In what degree are they one? We occasionally hear persons complain
“I cannot certainly deny that God has drawn me to himself; but still I dare not apply to myself this or that particular consolation, or promise. It may belong to others, but not to me." These are foolish ideas, my friends. They go upon this supposition, that every
christian stands alone ; and that one has no participation in what another possesses. Whereas, according to the Scriptures, every christian is an inseparable part of the whole body. The gracious promises of God are given to his church as a body. Therefore, the question is not, “ Am I a beginner in religion, or an advanced and experienced pilgrim ? Am I strong in the inward man, or weak and infirm ?” The Divine inheritance does not depend upon the measure of our strength, or the degree of sanctification we have attained. Only ask whether thou mayst number thyself with the poor and de
spised house of Israel; and, if thou canst answer in the affirmative, then, whether thou art the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, or the least—the last or the first—thou hast equally a right to apply to thyself whatever good has been announced to the people of God in any part of the Bible. If you read, for instance, that the Lord declares concerning his church, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it ;” include yourself in this promise, and say, “ I am invincible !” for what is said to the whole, has reference also to yourself who are a part. If you
read of the city of God, that “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved ; God shall help her, and that right early;" think, “ God is with me, I shall not be moved, he will help me early ;" for you are as much a part of the city of God as Abraham, John, and Paul were. See, my friends, it is thus we must learn to regard ourselves—not as insulated individuals, standing alone; but as parts of one whole, and members of one body. And, when one brother receives some blessing from the Lord, we must not say to ourselves, “ This has happened to such a one, but he is quite unconnected with me.” brethren, we must then rejoice, and think, “ This benefit has accrued at the same time to me; the Lord has also been thus kind and gracious to me; I have also received, in what has. been bestowed upon my brother, a new seal and pledge of the loving-kindness of my God towards me ; for I and my brother are one; we belong to one and the same glorious body, and if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it."
You see, my friends, what abounding consolation is contained in that single truth—that we are all one body; and what a new and delightful meaning the histories of all the saints of God must gain by it, with reference to ourselves ! Let the consciousness, therefore, of this mysterious unity and fellowship accompany us to the scene which we are now about to contemplate, and lead us to rejoice in the glorious and gracious manifestation of God granted to the prophet Elijah upon mount Horeb, as an exhibition of kindness vouchsafed not to him alone, but to us also, as members with him of one body in Christ.
I KINGS XIX. 11-13.
And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.”
Need I say, my friends, that it is a majestic scene to which we are now approaching? It is an event as richly significant, and as abundantly consolatory, as any we meet with in the annals of God's servants. Let us,
I. Consider it in its historical course ; and then, II. Inquire into its immediate object.
I. “ Go forth,” it had been said to Elijah," and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” The prophet hears it, and leaves his cave: and no sooner is he gone forth, than signs occur, which announce to him the approach of the Almighty. The sacred historian here, indeed, depicts in simple language a most sublime
The first sign was a tremendous wind. Just before, probably, the deepest silence had prevailed throughout this dreary wilderness. Suddenly all is in the most dreadful uproar about him. The mountain-tempest breaks forth, and the bursting rocks thunder as if the four winds, having been confined there, had in an instant broken from their prisons to fight together. The clouds are driven about in the sky like squadrons of combatants rushing to conflict. The sandy desert is like a raging sea tossing its curling billows to the sky. Sinai is agitated, as if the terrors of the law-giving were renewing around it. The prophet feels the majesty of Jehovah ; it is awful and appalling. It is not a feeling of peace, and of the Lord's blissful nearness, which possesses Elijah's soul in this tremendous scene; it is rather a feeling of distressing distance ; " a strong wind went before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.” The terrors of an earthquake next ensue. The
foundations of the hills shake and are removed. The mountains and the rocks, which were rent by the mighty wind, threaten now to fall
upon one another. Hills sink down and valleys rise; chasms yawn and horrible depths unfold, as if the earth was removed out of its place. The prophet, surrounded by the ruins of nature, feels still more of that Divine majesty which “ looketh upon
the earth, and it trembleth." But he still remains without any gracious communication of Jehovah in the inner man. The earthquake was only a second herald of the Deity. It went before the Lord, “ but the Lord was not in the earthquake.'
When this had ceased, an awful fire passes by. As the winds had done before, so now the flames come upon
every side, and the deepest shades of night are turned into the light of day. Elijah, lost in adoring astonishment, beholds the awfully sublime spectacle, and the inmost sensation of his heart must have been that of surprise and dread; but he enjoys as yet no