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largely from Him. Not so with Elisha. He asked for a double portion of God's Spirit, and his faith is rewarded. Endued with powers from on high, he enters on his ministry; having received gifts he is eager to dispense them. How, with many, the character and the credit which arise from it, are the objects sought after! The form of godliness has no cross attached to it. The power of godliness, whilst leading into trial, yet gives strength to endure it. “Partakers of the sufferings, so also of the consolation." We lose sight of this.
Far different was the conduct of the sons of the Prophets. It is written in verse 7, “And fifty men of the sons of the Prophets, went and stood to view AFAR OFF, and these two stood by Jordan.” Confidence in God brings His servants to draw nigh unto Him. If the sick and afflicted participated in the blessing, they must draw near to Jesus. “Then drew near publicans and sinners for to hear Him” (Luke xv.).
“But the sons of the Prophets stood to view afar off.” Faith honours God, and is bestowed that we may honour Him. Faith apprehends His resources, and is encouraged to apply to Him. We can gather the state of heart of these sons of the Prophets, by their unbelieving request, as recorded in the 16th verse. Lest, peradventure, the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, 'Ye shall not send; and when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not; and when they came again to him (for he tarried at Jericho) he
them, Did not I say unto you, Go not?” Unbelief led them to stand afar off when Elijah was taken to God; and unbelief led them to search for him
after his rapture.
And now we have Elisha in Jericho. We read, in 1 Kings, chap. xvi. and verse 34, “ In his days [Ahab's] did Hiel, the Bethelite, build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram, his first-born, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake by Joshua, the son of Nun.” Thus marked was the presumption of Abiram
with the indignation of God, on his rebuilding Jericho. “Yet where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Rahab, the harlot, found favour of God, and was spared on the general destruction of Jericho (Joshua vi). The city was raised from its ruins in the presumption of man, and again should be a landmark of the grace of God to poor sinners. How blessed His ways, finding out! Elisha, endued with a double portion of God's Spirit, is residing at Jericho. There was need in the city: there is grace and power to meet it. “And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee,
I the situation of the city is pleasant, as my lord seeth; but the water is naught, and the ground barren." How the soil of the human heart answers to this. God made man in His own image. “How is the fine gold become dim!” “ The water is naught, and the ground of the human heart barren.” “The imagination of a man's heart is only evil, and that continually." "All flesh has corrupted its way." But there is help in Israel concerning this thing. Our Lord Jesus said to the woman of Samaria by the well of Sychar, “Whosoever shall drink of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." There is bitterness in the cup of human existence. Very "smooth” do men find the ways of the world; vanity also, and vexation of spirit. The water is naught, and the ground “causeth to miscarry.” (see margin). Whatever is right in purpose is resisted by the will. Blessed announcement
6. When we were yet witnout strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly"! (Rom. v. 6.)
“ And [Elisha] said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters, there shall not be from thence any more death; or barren land. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.”
He had received blessings, which he lives to dispense. He desired a double portion of God's Spirit, and now he
ways are the
makes use of it. His
of God-how ignorant we are of Him. “Our foolish hearts are darkened. Professing ourselves to be wise, we become fools.” Yet “ the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” hath shined in Jesus. Blessed heralds of His coming were such witnesses as Elisha. Blessed proofs do they give us of His ways. Alas ! how sin has defaced our apprehension, and blinded our judgment. Oh for the faith of Elisha in the goodness of God, to bestow upon us all that we need. "He is able to supply all our need out of his fulness in Jesus." It is to be desired for its own sake, but far more for the blessing of others. God, happy in giving, would have His children like-minded. He would fill us, that we might overflow to others, according to that word in John vii. 38, • He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." The inhabitants of Jericho accredit God's servant, and bring their need before him. The presence of God is with His servant; and their wants are supplied “ The waters were healed.” Very different the reception he met with at BethelUnbelief had hardened their hearts. The form of godliness was attached to the place. It was in Bethel that Abraham had raised up an altar. It was there that Jacob renewed his vows unto the Lord. Luz (departure) was its name at the first, Bethel “ the house of God” it was now called. But now, with the latter name still attached to it, its former character is sustained, “ the form of godliness denying the power. “Jesus came to His own, and His own received Him not.” So it was with Elisha: we read, 66 And he went
from thence into Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up thou bald head.”
Alas! if these children could thus treat the aged, what character had their parents? Double infamy attaches to them.
God's prophet despised, God's word set at nought-how certain the consequences ! “ He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned."
There was blessing for the inhabitants of Jericho; there is wailing, lamentation and woe, for the shall he reap."
dwellers in Bethel. The mouths of the children were full of cursing and bitterness. The tenderest of hearts once bid them welcome—“ Suffer little children to come unto me.” How bitter the sorrow to behold such hardened in sin, the living epistles of their parents' iniquity. “God is not mocked. " As a man soweth, so
In Leviticus xxvi. 21, it is written, “And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children.” The witness for God's grace was also the witness of righteousness; "and Elisha turned back and looked on
6 them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tore forty and two children of them. And he went from thence to Mount Carmel, and from thence he returned unto Samaria.” “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Tim. iii. 16.)
“God is a living and a present God. If His people on earth (where alone they can) have forgotten God, even the Father in heaven, and ceased to walk in the light of a risen and ascended Lord—so owning the gracious presence of the Spirit—they may, as men, have wrecked themselves and their circumstances in time; but God is God still, and in Him is their hope.
“ And here (I take it) a question arises, . How are we to get on in this state of things ?' We cannot walk as though there had been no wreck: the vessel, if not in atoms, or gone even into the separate pieces of which it was formed, is not what it was, or what God made it at first; neither would it become us, as those connected with the sin of marring it, to deny this. Moreover, God is not now walking in that path. His testimony is not now in the unshattered church of Pentecost; but it is in grace and mercy, shown in a people preserved, spite, and in the midst, of the wreck. To make the wreck, or the perception of it, the centralising point, were madness and sin. If the mercy of God in preserving in Christ Jesus, and entire separation from the sin (moral and spiritual) around, are our solace _The obedience of faith' will solve all our difficulties."
RUDIMENTS OF THE WORLD. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven,"
THE Lord Jesus, in his conversation with Nicodemus, assumes his own singular place, as the authoritative teacher, and at the same time as the great doctrine of God. These are inseparable, and we may almost say reciprocal truths. The knowledge of Him as the great doctrine of God, necessarily leads to the acknowledgment of His authority as a teacher; and if he really be owned as a teacher come from God, then, as a necessary consequence, He will be owned as the grand comprehensive doctrine of God. It is thus that the Apostle speaks, “But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be ye have heard him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus, etc.” The Lord, as the teacher, teaches Himself, and he that hath an ear hears Him, and by faith receives Him into the heart. He is the truth. Reality is only to be found in Him. Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie; to be laid in the balance, they are altogether vanity.”
Verily, every man in his best estate is altogether vanity." In death we learn the reality of man.
66 In Adam all die." But so emphatically is Jesus “the truth," that
a Ps. xxxix. 5. The note of Bythner on this passage is interesting--"Ta ovuttavta paralotns. Sept: quoad omnia vanitas, ita ut vanitas et miseria, quæ per alias creaturas frustatim spargitur, in uno homine aggregata videatur: sicque homo evadit compendium omnium vanitatum, quæ. in creaturis extant. Cum inanimis, subjacet mutationi, corruptioni; cum animatis, alterationi, morti; cum sensilibus, lætitiæ, mærori; cum angelis (qui non servarunt suam originem, sed reliquerunt suum domicilium) inconstantiæ,etc.
1 Sicque in barathrum peccatorum ruit.” Blessed contrast—"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever!" VOL. II. PT. III.