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of himself, and to faith in him! Has he not spoken to us without end, in nature and in the Scriptures ; by creation, providence, and revelation; by arguments and figures ; by prophets, apostles, and ministers ; by signs and wonders of every kind, in the most intelligible manner, condescending to our weak capacities, as a most merciful Father; and yet, how few are there that really know him! How few give him the glory! O ye untoward and perverse generation of this world, come near—come near! Behold not only the testimony by which the Lord answered Elijah upon Carmel
, but likewise all the testimonies in which Jehovah has made himself known. We will place some of them before you, so that you may once more see and remember them. He has given living testimonies of himself, by thousands ; and that which he gave in these last days, when he spake unto us by his Son, was not the last. Look at the altar of his church built upon himself as its pillar and basis, and on the twelve living stones of the apostles. Look at the sanctuary of God, its stability, its age, its extent, where the life and light of the Holy Spirit, that fire of the Lord, never goes out day or night ; is not this spiritual temple an abiding proof that Jehovah liveth ? Look at every stone of this building-every converted sinner. Here was a ruined altar, but see, it is restored : here was also a surrounding trench of thousandfold sins, insnarements, connexions, and obstacles, which closed the entrance against the Lord; but lo ! his fire has penetrated. Here were also stonesma hard heart and an unteachable mind; here was also wood and earth-deadness, carnality, and darkness; but the flame of Jehovah has consumed the earth, the wood, and the stone, and dried up the floods of ungodliness ; and the desolated ruin is become a memorial of the glory of God. Yet how few believe our report; and to how few is the arm of the Lord thus revealed in the present day! Nevertheless, whether men believe it or not, they shall be surrounded with the testimonies of Israel as with a wall, so that only two things will remain to them—either to cry, “ The Lord he is the God !” or, as real children of Belial, to declare that they will have nothing to do with Jehovah. It will thus at least come to a decision. Whosoever this day returns home from mount Carmel, without caring to have it said in his heart, “ The Lord, he is the God !” let him hesitate no longer to take his place in the ranks of those who are of their father the devil, the god of this world, who blindeth the eyes of them that believe not.
The people on mount Carmel gave glory to the God of Israel; but the priests having hardened their hearts from his fear, and remaining still prophets of Baal, they were therefore ripe for destruction. And Elijah said unto the people, “ Take the prophets of Baal ; let not one of them escape.” The people are ready enough to do it; for they now perceive the abominable deception which these destroyers of souls had practised
upon them. They fall upon them, drag them down, at Elijah's command, to the brook Kishon, and assist the man of God in destroying them. However painful this execution must have been to the tender and compassionate heart of the prophet, and how many thousand times soever he would have preferred being God's instrument of these men's conversion rather than of their destruction, yet, because the honour of God demanded it, he could deny his human feelings, and be obedient, notwithstanding natural tenderness and gracious compassion. I say, obedient; for in the law of God, given by Moses, Deut. xiii. 6, 9, it is expressly said, “ If any one will entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers, thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people." This express command of Jehovah the prophet was obliged unhesitatingly to obey, however much his feelings might rise against it ; for he was appointed of God to contend zealously for the law, to re-establish the statutes of Jehovah in Israel, and to restore the tables of mount Sinai to their ancient honour. And it is not fit that a servant of the Lord should in such a case confer with flesh and blood. “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth,” is the language of the obedient spirit.
Christ has introduced another dispensation under the New Testament; and the summary punishments of the Old Testament have been exchanged for long-suffering. Hence the righteous and the wicked grow on together until the harvest; but were the same mode of procedure adopted now as in the days of Moses and Elijah, there would be no end of the slaughter; so numerous are the votaries of Baal, even in the midst of a church which is called protestant and evangelical. But the woe pronounced against them “will surely come, it will not tarry beyond “ the appointed time.” He that cometh from Bozrah, travelling in the greatness of his strength, who is red in his apparel, will
put in motion the wine-press of his wrath. His glittering sword is bathed in heaven, he hath bent his bow and made it ready, for the overthrow and destruction of all seducers.
Go on, ye hirelings and wolves, in your thousand places of concourse, and persuade your poor flocks to sacrifice unto other gods than Him whom Abraham called his Lord, and whose goings were heard on the mountains of Israel. Go on, ye corrupters of youth, ye blind leaders of the blind, and amidst the plaudits of the ignorant and ungodly, despise the sovereignty of the Ancient of days, that ye may imagine on his throne a being of your own defining, that ye may dream the Almighty to be such a one as yourselves. Go on, ye people of rank and fashion, and proudly sneer at the true incarnate Jehovah of the Bible, and pay your worship to the wisdom of the day! Alas! the angel is already flying through the midst of heaven, and crying, “ Woe! woe!
Woe to the inhabitants of the earth!” The sword is already drawn to slay you, the pile of Tophet ordained of old is already erected, on which, forsaken by your imaginary gods, you will become flaming monuments for ever of the Divine justice, and of all holy vengeance. Oh it is fearful indeed to fall into the hands of the living God; for he is a consuming fire. I beseech you to lay it to heart: he is a jealous God, and a consuming fire!
But thou, Israel, take the harp, rejoice and be glad! thy God liveth! Carmel and Golgotha, heaven and earth, vie with each other, in showing forth, “ Thy God liveth!” Join in the song, O Israel ! and cry aloud as with the voice of a trumpet, laying one hand on thy heart, and lifting up the other on high, " My Lord, he is the God!”. The everlasting King! This shall be known in all the earth! Amen.
IX.-THE PRAYER ON MOUNT CARMEL
We have already had three remarkable instances, in Elijah's history, of the efficacy of the fervent prayer of a righteous man. First," he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” Secondly, he prayed for the restoration of the widow's son, and the child was restored to life. Thirdly, he prayed for the answer by fire to consume the sacrifice, and to decide the controversy with Baal and his priests. And now we have him praying again, and the heaven gives rain, and the land once more brings forth her fruit. Let us this day learn the blessing of walking with God, and conversing with the Keeper of Israel by continual prayer.
1 KINGS XVIII. 41-46. “And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a
sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.”
The fire has borne its testimony; the waters now speak. In how many
and various ways does our gracious God testify of himself, that he is the living God of providence. This, also, is done in answer to the prayer
of Elijah. Here is, I. The preparation for prayer; II. The prayer itself; and, III. The answer to it.
I. We are to imagine ourselves at the foot of mount Carmel, in the plain below, where the prophets of Baal were slain. Those idolatrous priests have fallen by the hand of Elijah and his new followers, and their blood is mingled with the brook Kishon ;
and praise redounds to God, who is holy in all his ways, and who is glorified by the overthrow of his enemies, as well as by the hallelujahs of his friends. Three years and a half had the heavens been shut
from yielding a drop of water to the thirsty land of Israel. What an appearance must the face of the country now have presented ! All vegetation parched and burnt up; man and beast reduced to skeletons, and all flesh faded like the grass. They who had now become believers in God must have been filled with unusual terror. They had attained to the knowledge of him amidst the thunders of his judgments; he had appeared as in flames of fire. Therefore for the sake of these poor trembling sheep, our prophet was heartily desirous that his Lord and God should again show his goodness and loving-kindness. He longed earnestly, that for the glory of God, and the people's good, the brazen skies should now dissolve in abundance of rain, and the season of famine and distress terminate. For this purpose it was necessary that Elijah should speak to God. The prayer of faith was to him what the staff was to Moses, with which he divided the Red and struck water from the flinty rock. Ahab appears
to have remained with the people by the brook Kishon, and to have witnessed every thing, even the slaying of his priests—not without a partial assent, for Ahab was evidently a weak, capricious tyrant, destitute of character, and governed and moulded by present circumstances. The miracle on Carmel, and the enthusiastic cry of the people, “ The Lord, he is the God!” had made a momentary impression upon him; so that he might have even thought at the time, “ Be it so, that Jehovah is God!” But his heart was not changed; no true faith had taken possession of it. Many a one may receive impressions from what is taking place around him, so as to be moved by them for a time; but soon recover his former state of mind, and go on afterwards just as if nothing had happened. Such was the case with Ahab, and others, at the fiery testimony on Carmel Elijah, about to retire for prayer, wished to be relieved from
of Ahab and his attendants, and he said unto him, “ Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.” In these words we cannot help discerning a wellmerited reproof to the wretched monarch. It looks as if he had
Thy carnal ease is thy principal care ; now take it ; it will not much longer be disturbed by drought and famine." It implied also that the king's presence was not wanted; especially while Elijah was about to converse with his God. And does it not convey a touching reproof to any of us, if the