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be, and what brings him here?” But who shall describe their joyful surprise, as they recognise in the solitary traveller, now approaching with quicker steps towards the son of Shaphat, the very man whose name and

deeds had resounded through the whole country—Elijah the Tishbite !

The sacred historian says that he found Elisha ; whether this implies that he knew him before, or whether he was enabled thus to find him, by special Divine direction given him for the purpose, we are not informed. But of this we may be certain, that Elijah had not for a long time found a more gratifying acquaintance than this. Elisha was the first child of

God, whom, after a long period of solitude, he had the happiness to meet; he found in the person of the son of Shaphat, the first and the chief of the seven thousand, and the first seal of the promise granted him at Horeb on behalf of his people. The simple and pious Elisha was the man, in whose sphere of action the still small voice of God's tender mercy and love would be heard by the children of Israel, so as to turn them to the Lord their God. He was the first messenger of Jehovah, who should sow the fruit of righteousness in peace upon the land, which his predecessor had broken up by judgments; yea, who should bind up the hearts that were broken. Even his name expresses the character of his Divine commission. It signifies, “ My God is salvation ;" and the history of his ministry is given, as it were, in this one word. His labours, compared with those of his predecessor, appear upon the whole peculiarly evangelical. He goes about in meekness, and his peaceful course is marked with benefits and blessings; nor is it accompanied by the dreadful majesty of divine and burning jealousy, but by the mild and amiable light of Jehovah's condescending love. He stretches out his right hand, not to close heaven, but to bring down its showers of blessing. His office is evidently that of a deliverer, sent to announce that “the Lord is gracious.”. A new period was therefore to commence with Elisha's mission; a season of Divine loving-kindness, after the days of judicial punishment; a time of the “still small voice.” Élijah seemed to be aware of this ; and it may be easily imagined with what delight he must have embraced Elisha, as the man who was to be instrumental in fulfilling his best hopes for Israel.

Elijah found him behind the plough. It is not without meaning that this is mentioned in the history. Here then we have a pleasing picture of a man, who, notwithstanding the gifts with which he

was endowed, continued lowly in his own eyes, and led a humble and unassuming life. How many, gifted like him,

would have thought themselves too good for the plough, and born to a sphere of life above that of a simple farmer; would have persuaded themselves, that they must not withhold their talents from mankind, that they must go forth into the field of public labour, to enlighten and guide the world. But such thoughts did not enter the mind of Elisha. His pretensions went not beyond his plough and his husbandry; he saw his vocation in these quiet and rural occupations, and well satisfied with this, he “minded not high things.” How much more amiable and beautiful is such a disposition than the opposite one, which is now so frequently met with among christians ! “ Labour for the kingdom of God,” is become the watchword of the day; we certainly rejoice at it, but with very mingled feelings. There is too much vanity and self-complacent pushing forwards, which, alas ! may be seen on this field of activity. No sooner does any one imagine he has found himself possessed of talents and gifts ever so small, than he hesitates not to regard himself as a pillar of the church of God. The condition and calling in which he has hitherto been, is no longer the proper one for him. He immediately begins to think, if not to talk, of a higher station, to which he imagines himself born. We ought undoubtedly to let our light shine before men ; but then every one should do so in the situation in which Providence has placed him. Nor does God intend, by this command to let our light shine before men, to refer simply to the office of the ministry, or to

any official teaching in his church. It is not merely thy lips, christian, but thy life, which is to be the lamp. It is thy general character and conduct which are to edify thy brother and glorify God. He intends that all thy thoughts, words, and works, should silently testify that thou art born of God, and that the peace of God dwells in thy heart. Then it is that thou throwest around thee that gracious radiance which the Saviour means when he bids thee let thy light shine before men; then it is that thou preachest the gospel, as the power of God unto salvation, more effectually, than can be done by thy words. And remember that those spiritual lights have the purest radiance which are the least conscious of their own brightness; and that those divine flowers diffuse the sweetest fragrance which make the least display.

That excessive pressing of religious men into public notice, which characterizes the present day, is only another sign of the spiritual poverty of the times. There is a great dearth of truly great and noble spirits in our modern christendom. No eagle pinions at present soar in our firmament; hence the smaller birds, the minds of inferior cast, having no living standard by which to discern their own littleness, are emboldened to regard their own modicum of talents and indowments, as an evidence of a divine vocation to great and exalted things. Happy would it be for Zion were that vain activity, which is not of God but of the world, confined to the world itself, and not obtruded within her sacred enclosures ! Happy would it be for her people, were there not so mournfully prevalent among them an idolatry of worldly instrumentality, and mere human talents! Why is it, that God so frequently calls home his most excellent servants and evangelists, in the bloom of life, from their useful labours, but—as one purpose at least—to secure them from the peril of that idolatrous admiration, with which these mortals are wont to be extolled, in what are called the religious periodicals; and to let the survivors know, that the pillars of His temple are not flesh; that wisdon does not die with any creature ; and that none but Himself is the basis, the support, and the builder up of his kingdom.

When Elijah has found Elisha, he takes his prophet's mantle from off his own shoulders, and throws it over those of the son of Shaphat. What must have been the feelings of the plain and unassuming husbandman upon this occasion! for he well understood this significant action, and could view it as nothing less than a consecration to the prophetic office, and a call to be the assistant, follower, and representative of the Tishbite. It is to be lamented, that, in the present day, the christian ministry is too exclusively and systematically confined to persons who have undergone a certain mode of education; which was never the case with the church in its purest times. May God raise up and put forth amongst us more of those who are taught rather by the unction of the Spirit of God, than by the mere external apparatus of scientific institutions ! Not that these are to be despised or neglected; far from it ! but they furnish, after all, only the exterior of a christian minister's qualifications. II. After Elijah had cast his mantle over his successor, he without uttering a word; and this he appears

to have done to render more impressive the meaning of his symbolical action. Elisha well understood it. He lays the reins on the necks of his oxen, leaves them standing with the plough in the midst of the field, and hastens after the man of God. We do not find that he either resisted the call with a variety of objections, or made many words about the too great honour done him, or about his own incapacity for the office ; no, the matter was briefly and speedily settled. He thought not about himself; but about the heavenly Caller, and his power

went away

and
grace.

He leaves in God's hands the dignity and burden of his office; and receives the prophetic commission with the same equanimity as he had taken in hand the plough or the mattock. Oh lovely simplicity, and serenity of a humble and child-like spirit !

Elisha, however, had more to leave than his team and field. His father and mother were living, and them he felt bound, first of all, to inform of his high calling, and to desire their prayers and parental blessing. Accordingly he runs after Elijah, and requests of him a short interval, saying, “ Let me,

I

pray thee, kiss my

father and my mother, and then I will follow thee !' How very differently does the son of Shaphat begin his prophetic career from what is related of Elijah! Him we find descending from the mountains of Gilead, as if he had come from another world; and his first prophetic utterance is that of a delegate of Omnipotence:—“As the Lord, the God of Israel, liveth, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.His family connexions are concealed from us. Not a word is mentioned of his father and his mother, nor is there any where an allusion to his genealogy or relationship. The softer feelings of human tenderness and domestic alliances seem unknown to his elevated soul, and he steps forth, gigantically conspicuous above his age and generation. There is an imposing majesty in his whole character, which keeps every thing about him, as it were, at a distance ; he resembles mount Sinai itself in his relation to the israelites. Elisha's character is quite of another kind, and in the circumstances of his coming forth into public notice, he appears

The sacred history conducts us to his house and family. We are made acquainted with his occupation and connexions. We behold him at his plough as a common husbandman, as one whose feelings and experience are the same as our own; who participates in all our relative circumstances ; who, like ourselves, is closely allied by blood, affection, and tenderness, to the circle in which he lives; who is a stranger to none of the sensibilities of our common nature; who can feel the pain of separation and taking leave of friends ; and in whose bosom beats, in every respect, the heart of an ordinary member of the family circle. We can venture familiarly to approach him, and we feel our hearts drawn to him in so doing. Now, all this was suited to the official character which Elisha was to sustain in Israel. While Elijah was as another Moses, a vindicator of the Divine holiness, and an ambassador of Divine wrath against all who violate his law, and therefore appeared as he did ;

as any real con

other man.

Elisha, on the contrary, was appointed as an evangelist and representative of Jehovah's loving-kindness, and was to shine before men in a very different light, not to threaten and terrify, but to allure, persuade, and convert. Hence God sent him to the tabernacles of his brethren as one of themselves, and stationed him as a friend, in whom the most timid might feel confidence, and whose humane and affable intercourse might operate benignly on the minds of men.

Elisha shows himself to have been a beloved and affectionate son ; and we at once feel our hearts drawn out towards any one in whom we perceive such features of character. Partings in some respect like that which Elisha had now to undergo, but far more bitter and painful, are those which take place when a love to Christ in one part of a family, and an opposite feeling in the other, divides and causes variance between parent and child, brother and brother, friend and friend. What is

every version to God, but a virtual taking leave of worldly connexions --a hastening away out of their moral atmosphere, a withdrawing from the

jurisdiction of their thoughts, opinions, and influence, into a totally different, and, to them, strange and distant province ? Though such a separation is a most felicitous one for those who renounce the course of this world, still it has its pain and bitterness ; for alas, it is uncertain whether he who forsakes all for Christ, may not now have become separated for ever from those who are dear to him by nature’s ties, and may have to miss them in heaven ; and what can be more painful than this ! He who has never experienced such parting pangs, either does not naturally love his worldly connexions, or else he is not yet effectually separated from them; and though in his exterior religious habits he may be different from them, he is not really so in the dispositions of his heart.

It happens occasionally, that this spiritual parting takes place with much anger and strife; not only on the part of those that remain behind—who can be surprised at this ? —but even of those who, as they say, are desirous of leaving the world. It seems to me, however, that it is incomparably more in accordance with the nature of a true conversion, that the separation take place on the part of the converted, with affectionate regrets, as in Elisha's case; and, I confess, that where I see any thing else, it wounds me like an arrow, and so contracts my heart towards a new brother, that I cannot ardently welcome him, I have seen many a soul turn from the world and come to the Lord ; but oh ! what separations were they, when the persons were in truc earnest about their conversion! It was just as if their first love

I

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