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forth bitter water," defiling the soul, polluting our lives, and bringing us to perdition, we must apply the remedy in the proper place. We must go to the fountain head of the evil. We must begin at the heart. The salt of God's grace must be put there. It is not the change of a few outward actions that makes the Christian, it is the change of heart. We must begin here, and this will affect all our thoughts and desires, and these will affect our words and actions. Indifference to sin, and no sense of guilt, enmity to God and ignorance of Christ, are at the root of all evil in a man's life; whether that evil shows itself chiefly in the neglect of spiritual duties, or in the doing of outward crimes. It is when the Spirit convinces of sin, and faith in Christ reconciles to God, and Christ becomes the great object of life, that then the fountains of sin are changed, and the waters of holiness flow forth, sweetening both our life to ourselves, and our intercourse with others.
The next event recorded in Elisha's history is his cursing the children that mocked him. "As he was going by the way there came forth little children out of the city and mocked him, and said, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head." These were
godless children, making a mock both of sin and of holiness. Perhaps they were set on by others. Without doubt they encouraged one another. One, or even a few, will often fear to do what the countenance of a multitude makes easy to do.
They made a jest at the person of Elisha, laughing at his bald head. They ridiculed also the idea of Elijah's ascent into heaven. Having heard it said he was gone up, they jeeringly bid Elisha go up also into heaven after him, and then they should have a good riddance of them both.
Elisha "turned back and looked upon them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord, and there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them." Such was their punishment for mocking God's servant. This was not the prophet's revenge, but God's judgment upon them. He pronounced a curse on them. Not as an angry wicked man might have done, cursing and swearing, but "in the name of the Lord," solemnly pronouncing a curse upon them. This was his part. God then took up the cause. He sent but two wild beasts, and they females, but yet they were equal to the work of judgment, forty and two of them were left
mangled and torn. A warning to all who thought lightly of God's servants and God's name. A judgment on parents who illtaught their children. "Fools," says Solomon, "make a mock at sin ;" and fools too mock holy men; for a hatred of sin, and reverence for holy men and holy things, always go together. "They that hate the righteous shall be desolate." But of the godly, it is said, "He maketh much of them that fear the Lord."
Another miracle of Elisha's (see chap. iv. 38-41.) was the curing the poisoned pottage. It was a time of famine. The sons of the prophets were sitting before him and seething pottage. One of them gathered wild gourds, and put pieces of them into the pot. They knew not their nature. They proved to be poisonous. They cried out and said, "O man of God, there is death in the pot." Elisha asked for meal; poured it in and said, "Pour out for the people that they may eat, and there was no harm in the pot."
Another miracle was this. (see chap. vi.) "The sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, this place is too strait for us. Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there where we may dwell."
He said to them, "go ye." But they wished him to go with them. Doubtless they felt the value of his presence. He went with them. One drops into the water an axe head. The axe had been borrowed, what should he do? He applied to the man of God, "who cut down a stick ; and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. Therefore said he, take it up to thee, and he put out his hand, and took it."
In both these miracles we see the sons of the prophets happy in the possession of a friend who could help them in a wonderful way in all their straits, and in the greatest difficulties. Thus when their food (and food was scarce, for it was a time of dearth) had become poisoned, one little exclamation, one short appeal to their master, was enough to remove the poison, and to make the food eatable.
Oh that the sons of God had such faith in their Divine Master, who promises to be an ever present help in time of trouble. Elisha did his miracles by faith in the power of God, but Christ in His own power as God. Not one of the sons of men ever applied to Christ when upon earth in vain. Whatever it was he helped them. To turn water into wine; to cast out devils; to open
the eyes of one born blind; to cure an incurable disease; to make the deaf and dumb hear and speak; to raise the dead ;for all these things men had but to ask, and Christ spoke the word, and it was done. And why these few at that one time helped, but to show the people of God at all times how ready, how able to help Christ ever is. Shall the sons of the prophets apply to a man of God and expect and get help, and shall we be slow to apply to the Son of God for the help we want! Elisha had but a little measure of the Spirit. Christ has it
not by measure.
But you say, perhaps, will Christ work a miracle for me now? If my axe drop into the water, will He make the iron head to swim ?
But let me ask, what is a miracle? It is a great wonder. A making a new thing, different from what we are accustomed to see; or, as we say, making a thing act contrary to its nature; as to make iron swim. But now, suppose God makes things answer the end we want, in a way we could not see beforehand, yet without the use of uncommon means, without an extraordinary exertion of His power, is not this as much a wonder and a miracle as if He made a new and un