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been employed in the Lord's service; but surely never could his thoughts have been so exalted as at present. What wonder was it, he should wish to pour out his soul alone with God? The vessel of a human bosom was too narrow for it, though it were the bosom of a friend. How much had he to reflect upon, to confess, to mourn over; and how much cause too for thanksgiving and praise! Whether Elisha comprehended this, we know not. He would certainly have done his master an acceptable service had he complied with his request and remained behind. Nothing however could induce him to do so. firmly resolved not to leave him.
But there was still something else, which induced Elijah to wish for the absence of his friend; a something, which, if this man of God had not already won our best affections, could not fail to incline our hearts to him. It was humility, which infiuenced Elijah in wishing to decline the company of his friend. O thou noble Tishbite, how does thy greatness cause us to be ashamed of ourselves ! Who dost desire to be nothing, that God may be every thing, and dost tremble at the thought of being taken for any thing more than a dim shadow of the glory of Jehovah! Concealing the secret of thy approaching triumph within thy own bosom, thou fleest the eye of witnesses, and art anxious to veil thy glory, lest any one should praise and admire, instead of the Sun, the little dew-drop, in which his image is reflected! And yet thou hadst not seen Him who spake: “I am meek and lowly in heart ;"_“I seek not my own honour, but His, that sent me.' We indeed have seen and known the Beloved of the Father: and yet how much more is there of His image to be seen in thee, than in us !—“Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel !”—Yes, we understand thy request, and are ashamed for ourselves !
Oh I know not any thing more lovely, than those christians, who are thus humble in their own eyes; who are so deeply conscious of their great unworthiness, that they fear, with a holy anxiety, lest what is the fruit of free and unmerited grace be in any wise attributed to themselves and their own godliness! Oh that there were also among us many such truly modest and humble characters! For these find favour even with the unconverted world.
Thrice—at Gilgal, at Bethel, and at Jericho-did Elijah, with increasing importunity, entreat his companion to leave him; the Lord having directed him first to one place and then to another. Thrice does Elijah receive the same decided reply, “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” Elijah was therefore obliged to yield to the determination of his friend. And doubtless he was the more ready to acquiesce in it, as he might infer, from Elisha's language, that the Lord had revealed to him the secret of his approaching exaltation, and that he had received Divine direction to accompany his departing master to the borders of Jordan, perhaps that he might afterwards be able to bear testimony of this wonder to the world. It appears likely that this was the case, and that it was this which induced him to say, “ As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul livetli, I will not leave thee.” The great and glorious things which the Lord performs amongst men must not be hidden in a corner. In due time they must be published upon the house-tops, and contribute to make known the honour of Hiin who will fill heaven and earth with his glory. Hence it often happens, that he places secret witnesses about his children, even where they think themselves unobserved by any human eye. Thus, many a pious spirit enters heaven, supposing that no one knew any thing of his life and experience, and even ignorant himself of the glory which God had shed around him. But after such holy persons have left this world, every thing comes to light; the Lord removes the veil which concealed their real character, and it is made known to the praise of his grace, as well as for the encouragement of surviving brethren, how mighty the power of God was in their weakness, and how much the Lord had accomplished in them and through them. Hence the memory of the just becomes blessed even on earth, and they live in the affectionate recollections of many.
“ Their works do follow them.” They leave a sweet savour here below, and cheer and animate many surviving imitators. Such were the characters of two individuals lately deceased, well known to many of you—the worthy Jaeniké of Berlin, and the faithful Krafft of Cologne. How many admirable things respecting both these persons have come to light since their departure! What a number of the loveliest actions of their lives did we hear for the first time at their graves! Oh, I hope there are still many amongst us, who, like Abel, will begin to speak loudest when dead; and who at present have the fairest and brightest side of their life “hid with Christ in God.”
II. Elijah and Elisha went on from Gilgal together. Their course was directed first to the little town of Bethel.
The sons of the prophets at Bethel went out to meet them ; and the same thing happened when they arrived at Jericho. These were remarkable and highly gratifying occurrences, especially at a time when faith seemed almost extinct in Israel, and “the ways of Zion mourned.” And who were these sons of the prophets ? Let me briefly attempt to answer this inquiry. When Moses, looking upon Israel, exclaimed with delight, “ Behold how wise and understanding they are, and a glorious people !” none will be disposed to question the truth of these words, but those who are acquainted with no other education, than what was taught in the schools of Athens, and who know not any higher standard of judgment, than that which is afforded by the show of heathen wisdom and genius. God had reserved to himself the education and instruction of the people of Israel. In their divinely appointed institutions we see the ground-plans and models, according to which, the Almighty, in the jubilee or millennial age of his kingdom, will call into being that grand renovation which awaits the earth and all that is upon it, whether animate or inanimate. And as in the history of this dise tinguished people all the institutions of human society find their best models, so do those of instruction in particular. Scholastic institutions, according to the modern system, do not appear to have been known in Israel, at least until the babylonish captivity. But instead of these, home and school were one, and in the place of paid teachers, instruction was poured forth from the tender hearts of father and mother. The child learnt to lisp the name of Jehovah under the vine and the fig-tree, before the door of the peaceful dwelling. There the sacred histories of antiquity, recounted with the eloquence of affection, passed before its admiring soul. There the ideas of God and of the great ends of human life, were gradually impressed upon the tender mind. There it early learnt that which is eternally true and beautiful, and good for the human mind to know; and this was learnt, in the animated imagery of sacred historic record, by many an israelitish child, almost before it had become conscious that its years of tuition had arrived. Thus it was pleasantly initiated into Israel's wisdom, hopes, and prospects, and guided into a way of thinking, feeling, and anticipating, which penetrated upwards through the clouds of heaven, and forwards through the bounds of time. Having enjoyed the benefit of such a popular education in the highest sense of the word, many a young israelite came forth from the paternal dwelling, vigorous in body and in mind, with an eye open to every thing that is worth observing; susceptible, like good ground, of the best cultivation ; and carrying in his hand, from his very home, the key of Scripture, of history, and of nature. The stars of heaven, the trees and flowers of the field, preached
to him; and the instructive voices of the levites and prophets, which were constantly heard through the country, found in his mind a ready attention.
Now, if among those youths there was one who was pressed in spirit to penetrate deeper into the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and to search after the wisdom which cometh from above, as the vocation of his life, and to become a teacher of Israel; the schools of the prophets, which, since the time of Samuel, appear as the fairest blossoms of israelitish history, were open to receive him. These were a kind of missionary seminaries of a superior order ; and owed their origin chiefly to the contrast of a mournful state of ecclesiastical declension and moral disorder. The decrepit character of the superannuated high priest Eli, surrounded by his degenerate sons, too clearly indicates the state of things at that period. Such were the
persons who ought to have been the crown of the nation, and the guardians of the sanctuary. A speedy and powerful remedy was therefore requisite, to prevent the moral degeneracy from becoming universal
. This remedy God sent in the person of Samuel, who shines as a bright luminary in those gloomy days. With his appearance commences a new epoch in the history of the Old Testament church. He united in himself the offices of judge, prophet, and priest ; at a happy moment he put his hand to the helm of the shattered church and state, and was the means of preserving both from destruction. By him those seminaries of the prophets appear to have been first set on foot, which contained the promise of better things in Israel, and served as a security to the well-being of the country, in ministering to that righteousness which exaltetn a nation, and probably furnishing it with a succession of able counsellors and leaders. For this purpose he appears to have gathered about him companies of pious, intelligent, and studious young inen, who were called the sons of the prophets ; who also became Israel's brightest ornament, and the repository of her intellectual treasures.
The Scriptures mention four of these interesting seminaries : two in the time of Samuel ; one at Kirjath-jearim, where the ark of the covenant was kept at that time, 1 Sam. x. 5. 10; another at Ramah, where Samuel is expressly mentioned as “ appointed over them,” 1 Sam. xix. 18–24; and two more in the time of Elijah and Elisha, at Jericho and at Bethel. There were, probably, other such seminaries established by Elijah at Samaria, Gilgal, and elsewhere. There, or very near these towns, were settled, as little colonies, these servants of
the Lord; the unmarried ones, as it should seem,
household together, and the rest in families apart at their own cottages, The pupils of these establishments had to maintain themselves by their labour, as husbandmen or mechanics. This was not thought strange in Israel, much less contemptible. Indeed, it has ever been the practice of that nation to teach their children some trade, even though they might be destined to learning and sacred offices. Many of their most respected rabbis have been even surnamed according to their civil professions, as “Rabbi Judah, the baker;" « Rabbi Isaac, the smith ;"
“ Rabbi Johanan, the shoemaker,” &c. Nor was it ever imputed to Paul or to Aquila, by their enemies, as any thing degrading, that, besides their ministerial office, they were tentmakers. That the sons of the prophets carried on such occupations, is evident from 2 Kings vi. 4, where we find them with the axe and tools, cheerfully engaged in constructing their dwellings.
The study which chiefly occupied these sons of the prophets was doubtless that of the Divine word; and the tongues of their teachers were as pen
of a ready writer,” who had himself searched into the deep things of God. Their instructions were doubtless something else than what passes for theological learning and knowledge in the present day. Undoubtedly they were employed upon the positive meaning and practical import of Divine revelation. If sacred history were the subject of their discourse, it was for the purpose of tracing in some edifying manner the footsteps of Jehovah; or of concluding from things past upon those which were future. The mysteries of the aaronic priesthood and of the ceremonial law, we may suppose, formed another subject of instruction in the schools of the prophets. Thus, the bleeding Lamb of God, that was to bear and take away the sins of the world, would be presented to them in the exposition of the sacrificial institutions. They searched in the mines of that "hidden wisdom,” of which David speaks in the 51st Psalm; and ere the wondering hearers were aware of it, the hieroglyphics of the tabernacle were beautifully explained and unfolded before their eyes. Moreover, as their religious and civil codes were intermingled, especially under the theocracy, the one would not be studied without the other ; neither can we suppose that the cultivation of their own language would be neglected, especially as it was the most sacred tongue in the world. Their studies would also be connected with devotion ; very differently from the popular studies of modern days. The spirit would be sought after, and not merely the letter. The depths of true wisdom would be sounded; and