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now filled their hearts to the very brim: “Oh that my dear father
my dear mother, would but accompany me! Oh that my brother, or my friend, would choose the same good part !” How tenderly did they entreat them to be reconciled unto God ! What anxiety to perceive any traces of the work of grace in their dear relatives! What inward sighs and supplications, “O Lord, be merciful to them also, and save their souls, as thou hast done mine ! ” Every one must be counted happy, whom the hand of mercy leads forth from the multitudes of the blind and dead into the kingdom of light; but more happy is he, who, when God awakens him, needs not to bid farewell to his dearest friends on earth, but can say to them, “ You went before me; I am now, by God's grace, following after you. My name is inscribed with yours in the same book of life, and your Lord and Master is now mine!” Oh what a blessed welcoming and embracing then commences ! They were once divided, but are now united for ever! O ye converted parents of unconverted children, ye believing children of unbelieving fathers or mothers, oh that such a joyful day may soon dawn upon your dwellings !
Elijah had no objection to Elisha's request. « Go," said he, “ and return again, for what have I done to thee ? ” tural endearments of his paternal roof would not be found any temptation to him ; for the Lord himself had stirred him up; and what had Elijah done to him, except to communicate the outward and visible sign? Family connexions have often stood in the
of many a converted person ; but Elisha's father and mother evidently appear to have been no such hinderance to him. They were probably devout persons. And though it required no little self-denial to give up a faithful and affectionate son, perhaps their only son, the joy and prop of their old age, especially with considerable danger of his falling a sacrifice to the idolatrous hand of power, still they readily complied, and doubtless said, “ The will of the Lord be done!
While Elijah was proceeding on his way towards the wilderness of Damascus, Elisha went and took a yoke of oxen, probably those he had been accustomed to drive, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. This action appears signiticant, as if Elisha hereby meant to seal his covenant with the Lord, to take a solemn leave of his previous station, life, and occupation, and to testify his entire and voluntary resignation and dedication of himself to God, who had called him to his office. A similar procedure must spiritually take place in our houses and in our hearts, if we desire to enter into life.
that forsaketh not all that he hath,” says Jesus,
iny disciple.” Whatever thou lovest out of Him, or more than him, must be given up. Is mammon thy idol ? Renounce it, otherwise Satan holds thee by a golden chain. Is it credit and reputation among men ? Away with it, and seek the honour which cometh from God only. Is it wisdom and understanding? Renounce them, and become a fool for Christ's sake. Is it a life of ease, fashion, or pleasure ? Burst these silken but slavish bonds, and crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. We cannot be God's people unless we are so entirely, with all that we have and are. But this is not all. The
very instruments of the oxen must be given up, the very garments spotted by the flesh must be hated; every weight, every besetting encumbrance must be laid aside and hewn in pieces. A whole and entire sacrifice is what the Lord desires for his altar; and his watchmen cry, “ Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing ; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord !”
The parting meal with which Elisha now entertained the people, while on the one hand it was hospitable and cheerful, had in it on the other hand something solemn and sacred. Elisha, as the ruler of the feast, seems willing to leave with them his parting blessing, in a manner best suited to give them a cheerful idea of the Lord's service. It may be imagined how Elisha felt
this occasion. The mysterious memento, which Elijah had left with him, and his own consciousness of the prophetic call, had put his mind upon the stretch. However dear to him were his beloved parents and connexions, he embraces them, and leaves them. As to his future provision for this world, he casts all his care upon the God who feeds the ravens, and clothes the lilies of the field. Thus he sets out with a light heart and a cheerful countenance. 66 He arose and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”
In like manner must we all be ready to follow the Lord Jesus. He has cast upon us his mantle. If we are his disciples indeed, our hearts are so touched and animated by his Spirit, that we can prefer nothing in the world before him, nor can we suffer any other object to rival him in our hearts. Oh, may God grant, that we may all realize him as our God and our Saviour; -may
the wings of his mercy be spread around us, that we may finally enter into an eternal and sabbatical rest !
A WOMAN of Canaan is mentioned, in the New Testament, as remarkable for her humble acknowledgment of unworthiness, and for the greatness of her faith in Christ, Matt. xv. 21–28. She said, “ Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table." By these words she surmounted the last obstacle, which Jesus had placed before her as a trial of her faith. And as the brightness of the sun is reflected in a dewdrop, so the whole glory of the gospel and the inmost state of all true christians shines forth in these words of the woman of Canaan.
“ Truth, Lord,” said the woman ;-and, O my friends, how much is implied in this one word “truth.” You know that the Saviour had been just speaking of “ dogs," which he placed in contrast to the children of the house. The woman answers,
Truth, Lord,” and thus confesses herself liable to the Lord's accusation. But she adds “yet,” and indeed, my brethren, in these few words the glory of the gospel shines forth in all its brightness. Though the two words stand in close connexion here, yet we shall find, on closer consideration, that there lies much between them. A cross is between them, surrounded by all the terrors of Divine wrath ; an altar, streaming with the most precious blood that ever flowed on earth; a Lamb, that taketh away the sins of the world; and a Surety, who has taken upon himself the punishment which was due unto us. Yes, blessed be God! though “of a truth” we deserve the Divine wrath and indignation, and are in danger of the judgment and the coun, cil, “yet” a throne of grace has been erected, and an eternal redemption has been obtained. Help has appeared for the miserable, life for the dead, grace for rebels, and righteousness for sin
Such are the feelings of all, who are indeed of the fold of the good Shepherd. A deep sense of their own misery, accompanied by a sure confidence in God's mercy through Christ Jesus, is the characteristic of all true believers ;—and thus it is the glory of the blessed gospel, that to the humbling and self-con: demning “ truth, Lord,” we can add a joyful “yet.”
Do you inquire, why I have commenced this discourse with these reflections on the conduct of the woman of Canaan ? I have done so partly to diffuse at least one cheering sunbeam over the awful nightpiece which we are about to consider, and partly to enable
you to form a better judgment of that other woman of Canaan, whose character will be depicted in the history before
There too, in the case of Ahab, we shall also hear of a “ truth, Lord,” but entirely different from that of the firstling of the gentiles at the coast of Sidon ; for it is not accompanied by a humble and believing “yet," it does not lead the sinner to the cross of his Saviour.
1 KINGS XXI. 17-21. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise,
down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession ? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, 0 mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy
posterity.” ABOUT the time when Elijah called Elisha from the plough, and consecrated him to be a prophet, a terrible war broke out between Syria and Israel. The syrian king, Benhadad, with an enormous host, which was aided by thirty-two tributary allies, took the field, quite unexpectedly, against Ahab, but by God's help he was defeated and compelled to terms of peace.
Where Elijah abode, during these tumultuous times, we are not informed. It is only after the disturbances are over, that we find him re-appearing in the narrative, and this as an ambassador of God. He was sent to Samaria, to reprove king Ahab for his sin. This mission of Elijah is the subject of our present consideration. We will notice, I. Its occasion; II. Its object; and, III. Its immediate consequences.
I. “ The word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria : behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.” The crime which Ahab had committed against Naboth, was the occasion of the prophet's present mission to him. We are already acquainted with king Ahab, the weak instrument of others, who always suffered himself to be governed by circumstances, and just what these made of him, such was he. Thus at one time he could show himself ever: kind and generous ; as in his behaviour to the vanquished syrian monarch, so that a prophet was even commissioned to reprove him for his ill-timed lenity: “ Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people," 1 Kings xx. 42. He could also, the very next moment, according as he was externally wrought upon, perpetrate the most infamous cruelties, especially when it could be done without endangering his person. Under better influence, Ahab would
probably have been a better king ; but, led as he was by such a woman as Jezebel, and by such a host of sycophants as his court was composed of, he necessarily became the very tool of iniquity. As he was very effeminate and luxurious, he left the affairs of his government, in a great measure, to Jezebel his wife, and was glad when he could pursue his pleasures with undisturbed ease.
After the war was finished he had retired to his country residence at Jezreel. To pass away the time, he amused himself with beautifying and enlarging his sumptuous palace and gardens. Adjoining the latter was a vineyard, which belonged to the paternal inheritance of Naboth the jezreelite. Ahab having thought that his grounds would be much improved by the addition of this piece of land, set his heart on obtaining it. Accordingly he sent for the proprietor, told him his wishes, and offered him either an exchange of land, or the value of it in money.
But Naboth could not properly part with his vineyard, because, by the law of Moses, no israelite was permitted to sell his inheritance. All land was to be considered as the Lord's property, and held only as a fief under him. It was indeed allowed to be exchanged, but even then it was to be restored in the year of jubilee. This was the Divine command, and Naboth would not deviate from it, nor would he make an exchange, because he foresaw that the idolatrous king would pay no regard to the year of jubilee, or the laws respect
Therefore he answered, “ The Lord forbid it that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.” He was not afraid of confronting the idolatrous monarch as a worshipper of the God of Abraham; and we rejoice to see here another individual of that seven thousand, who had not bowed the knee to Baal.
The king was not prepared for such a refusal as this. He could not endure to have his favourite plans frustrated, and especially by one who pertinaciously, as it seemed to him, and in despite of his royal authority, adhered to the ancient law, and