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regard nothing, but Himself-privileged as we are to know Him, the Resurrection and the Life, unknown to saints in any former dispensation, in an intimacy of communion. May we acknowledge indeed, and mourn, the sins which have turned our joy into lamentation; but may neither these, nor anything, be allowed to hide from the view of faith “God who quickeneth the dead, and calleth things which be not as though they were."
PRINCIPLES AND PERSONS.
PETER was an Apostle--the Apostle of the circumcision; he was also a most fervent disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ; one dear to the whole church in his day, as one able to exhort the elders, himself an elder, to feed the fock of God—not as being lords over the heritage, but as being ensamples to the flock.
Paul--he, too, was an Apostle-the Apostle of the Uncircumcision. What a character of his discipleship and service do we find in the Second Epistle to Corinth.
While the Spirit was walked in, by both, and the truth of the gospel (Gal. ii. 14) honoured,—though each of them might have a line and a measure peculiar to himself,—there was no conflict between them. But what if either of them put his apostleship, and the personal influence which attended God's grace and gifts in him, to a use, which neither grace nor righteousness, even in the feeblest saint, could justify — and even turned all that attached to himself, as an individual, against God, the Lord, and the Spirit,—so destroying the foundation on which poor sinners (saved by grace alone) were resting? What then? Impossible," many would say: alas, it was possible then, and similar things must therefore be possible now. Peter did so at Antioch, and Paul withstood him. Faith must act as God acts in such cases; and disavow the acts and oppose the course: such a conflict may fairly be said to be one between God and Satan. Yet I may remark, that though the real question was really one of PRINCIPLES, and not of persons, then, as at every time when the flock of God is in danger, principles are exhibited in and illustrated by, men: and so Paul became at Antioch, through grace, the vindicator of grace against the human righteousness, which another lent the sanction of his name to. The question always is, “ Where is God, and Christ, and the Spirit in this controversy?”.
“ WHERE IS THE LORD GOD OF ELIJAH?"
2 Kings ii. The chapter under consideration is replete with instruction. The communion of saints and the object of it is unfolded. Two eminent servants of God are introduced to us in circumstances unequalled in interest: the one on the eve of his rapture to God in His glory: the other thirsting for a double portion of God's presence and power upon earth. How glorious the destiny of the one, how perfect the aim of the other-God, the object of fruition to each. Blessed was their fellowship with one another, thrice blessed the bond of their union. On the eve of separation in time, yet bound up in the bundle of life for eternity.
How striking the grace of God in his dealings with the people of Israel. He would not leave Himself without a witness. When His worship was corrupted, the priesthood defiled, the place of His Holiness set at nought ; when darkness, gross darkness, covered the land, how suddenly is Elijah introduced on the scene. When darkness was upon the face of the deep, God said, “Let there be light.” And now in the worse than Egyptian gloom which hid Him from the eyes of the people, His witness is prepared in the secret of His presence, and burst upon the nation with words of power, and the spirit of power, “As the Lord God of
, Israel liveth before whom I stand;" He was to the nation as one forgotten. They had thought He was as a dead man, out of sight. The testimony of Elijah was to the living God, in opposition to the formality of ordinances or their superstitious idolatry. So Paul to the Thessalonians, commends them that they had turned from idols to serve the living God. So, writing to Timothy, he exhorts them that are sick to trust in the living God.
An age of apostasy can have much of the shew of religion. “Having the form of godliness, but denying
the power.” Such is prophetically announced in the New Testament, as the sign of the last times. But, blessed be God," when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against him." So it was in the work of Elijah, “ A man of like passions as we are,” yet endued with the Spirit from on high, he stood alone in his testimony borne up in the strength of the Almighty, a swift witness against the evil around him; yet bearing a marvellous testimony to God's grace and faithfulness to a remnant amongst it. “He abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself." Happy resting place for his poor distracted people! The darkness which covered the earth, served but to display the light of His Holiness more strikingly. “The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. xvi. 4).
The path of Elijah in service is not the object of this paper. He was introduced abruptly on the scene of his labours, and makes his exit in a manner equally striking: His mission was in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. His course is fulfilled, and the version of His service attained. Our chapter briefly announces his departure. " And it came to pass, when the Lord would take away Elijah into Heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarıy here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the Prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to-day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace (iv. v. and vi.)
The conduct of Elisha is the subject of our meditation. Perseverance in the pursuit of an object is laudable, or the contrary, according to the character of that which is sought. Just as all the praise of union is in the subject; if gocd, it is commendable; if sinful, it is of the Devil. Whenever unity is pleaded for, and the truth of God made to bend to it, instead of it to the truth of God, there is sin. The course of Elisha is striking; The rapture of
his master was at hand, and he knew it. God had communicated it to His Prophets; they were expecting the event. “Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal; and Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee, for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel.” And Elisha resolutely persisted in bearing him company. Attachment to his master would vindicate his refusal to leave him. This is beautiful in its place. But Elisha was eager to learn more of Elijah's Master. He had dwelt with the servant of God, and rejoiced in the Grace and Power bestowed upon him, but his desires were quickened after the Lord God of Elijah. If such beauty and power was seen in the measure of God's gift to him, how earnestly might he desire a double portion! To "covet earnestly the best gifts” is enjoined as a precept, as well as to be “ zealously affected in a good cause. This pre-eminently characterises Elisha. There are these trials of his constancy at Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho; but he was proof against the most urgent entreaties. “And now they reach Jordan, and Elijah took his mantle and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.”
The goal is reached; his faith shall be rewarded. “And it came to pass when they were gone over,
that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask, what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." The secret of his heart is discovered first led to desire, then encouraged to expect, he asks largely, as assured of the power and goodness of God to dispense freely.
Elijah said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on and talked.” What a picture is this, and yet how interesting, on the verge of separation yet eternally united. Their topic upon Earth, the communion of Heaven. Their conversation in Time, the theme of Eternity, God, the blessed union of both. “ They still went on and talking"-how faith exalts poor humanity into calm, quiet dignity of deportment. Since the time of Enoch, had it not happened that one
alive in the body was caught up into Heaven. Yet great as was the event, and large as was their expectation, communion with God lifted them above it. They “still went on and talked.” So it is, expectations from God find their answer in Him. The consciousness of being nobody, leaves the soul free to act above circumstances, and, leaning upon God to do away with human weakness. The one who could thus hold fellowship with his companion, on the eve of such a change, was the only man fit for it. Man bas hard to struggle, to acquire equanimity of soul in seasons of excitement; the power of God bestows it. “Behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into Heaven. And Élisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof." And he saw him no more: yet, how stable his soul, how stedfast his purpose !
“and he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back and stood by the bank of Jordan. And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah ? And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither, and Elisha went
How well he understood the word, " that in God's favour is life, and his loving-kindness is better than life.” How eager
to ascertain that he was the possessor of that. He was not content with the cloak of Elijah, his office and ministry; as the hart panted after the waterbrook, so his soul thirsted after God, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” It was the presence of God in the midst of His Saints, which brought about that excellent beauty and order which we read of in the acts of the Apostles,
- Great grace was upon them all, and the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul. “The kingdom of God is not in word only, but in deed and in power." " The Gospel was preached with the Holy
“ Ghost sent down from Heaven."
Alas! Lord, how are our expectations to-day? How far short sre we from honouring God by expecting