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seer, and now is not a little troubled to see dent. Not in his own defence would the prohimself, in succession, haunted with that phet have been the death of so many, if God bold and ill-boding spirit.
had not, by a peculiar instinct, made him an Behold the true son of Jezebel! The instrument of this just vengeance. The anguish of his disease, the expectation of divine justice finds it meet to do this for death, cannot take off his persecution of the terror of Israel, that he might teach Elijah: it is against his will that his death-them what it was to contemn, to persecute bed is not bloody. Had Ahaziah meant any a prophet, that they might learn to fear him other than a cruel violence to Elijah, he whom they had forsaken, and confess that had sent a peaceable messenger to call him heaven was sensible of their insolences and to the court; he had not sent a captain, with impieties. If not as visibly, yet as certainly, a band of soldiers, to fetch him: the instru- doth God punish the violations of his ordiments which he useth, carry revenge in their nances; the affronts offered to his messenface. If he had not thought Elijah more gers, still and ever, not ever with the same than a man, what needed a band of fifty speed; sometimes the punishment overtakes men to apprehend one ? and if he did think the act, sometimes dogs it afar off, and seizhim such, why would he send to apprehend eth upon the offender, when his crime is him by fifty ? Surely Ahaziah knew of old, forgotten. Here, no sooner is the word how miraculous a prophet Elijahı was; what out of Elijah's mouth, than the fire is out power that man had over all their base of heaven. O the wonderful power of a deities, what command of the elements, of prophet! There sits Elijah in his coarse the heavens; and yet he sends to attack mantle, on the top of the hill, and commands him. It is a strange thing to see how wil. the heavens, and they obey him: “ Let fully godless men strive against the stream fire fall down from heaven." He needs no of their own hearts, hating that wbich they more but say what he would have done: know good, fighting against that which they the fire falls down, as before upon the saknow divine. What a gross disagreement crifice in Carmel, so now upon the soldiers is in the message of this Israelitish captain ! of Ahaziah. What is man in the hands of his “ Thou man of God, the king hath said, Maker! One flash of lightning bath consucome down." If he were a man of God, med these one and fifty: and if all the hosts how hath he offended ? and if he hath justly of Israel, yea of the world, had been in their offended the anointed of God, how is he a rooms, there had needed no other force. man of God? and if he be a man of God, What madness is it for him whose breath and have not offended, why should he come is in his nostrils, to contend with the Aldown to punishment ? Here is a kind | mighty! The time was, when two zealous confession, with a false heart, with bloody disciples would fain have imitated this fiery hands. The world is full of these windy revenge of Elijah, and were repelled with courtesies, real cruelties. Deadly malice a check: the very place puts them in mind lurks under fair compliments, and, while it of the judgment; not far from Samaria was flatters, killeth. The prophet hides not this done by Elijah, and wished to be done himself from the pursuit of Ahaziah: rather by the disciples. So churlish a rejection he sits where he may be most conspicuous, of a Saviour seemed no less heinous, than on the top of a hill. This band knows well the endeavour of apprehending a prophet: where to find him, and climbs up, in the “ Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to sight of Elijah, for his arrest. The steep- come down from heaven, and consume them, ness of the ascent, when they drew near to as Elias did ?" The world yielded but one the highest reach, yielded a convenience Elias ; that, which was zeal in him, might both of respiration and parley: thence doth be fury in another : the least variation of the captain imperiously call down the pro-circumstance may make an example dan. phet. Who would not tremble at the gerous; presently, therefore, do they hear, dreadful answer of Elijah? “ If I be a man “ Ye know not of what spirit ye are." It of God, then let fire come down from hea- is the calling that varies the spirit : Elijan ven, and consume thee and thy fifty." What was God's minister for the execution of so shall we say ? that a prophet is revengeful? severe a judgment; they were but the ser. that soldiers suffer while a prophet strikes ? | vants of their own impotent anger; there that a prince's command is answered with was fire in their breasts which God never imprecation - words with fire ? that an un- kindled. Far was it from the Saviour of armed seer should kill one and fifty at a men to second their earthly fire with this blow: There are few tracks of Elijah that heavenly. He came indeed to send fire are ordinary, and fit for common feet : his upon earth, but to warm, not to burn; and artions are more for wonder than for prece- if to burn, not the persons of men, but their
corruptions. How much more safe is it for not so much for the prophet's yieldance, as us to follow the meek prophet of the New for his own life. This was the way to offer Testament, than that fervent prophet of violence to the prophet of God, to the God the Old! Let the matter of our prayers be of that prophet, even humble supplications. the sweet dews of mercy, not the fires of Wemust deprecate that evil which we would vengeance.
avoid ; if we would force blessings, we must Would not any man have thought Aha entreat them. There is nothing to be gotriah sufficiently warned by so terrible a ten from God by strong hand; anything by judgment ? Could he choose but say, It suit. The life of the captain is preserved: is no meddling with a man that can speak Elijah is by the angel commanded to go lightning and death? What he hath said down with him speedily, fearlessly. The concerning me is too well approved, by prophet casts not with himself, What safety what he hath done to my messengers : can there be in this journey? I shall put myGod's hand is with him ; mine shall not be self into the hands of rude soldiers, and, by against him. Yet now behold, the rage of them, into the hands of an enraged king: Ahaziah is so much the more kindled by if he did not eagerly thirst after my blood, this fire from heaven ; and a more resolute he had never sought it with so much loss. captain, with a second band, is sent to fetch | But so soon as he had a charge from the Elijah to death. This man is in haste, and angel, he walks down resolutely, and, as it commands not only his descent, but his were, dares the dangers of so great a hosspeed : “ Come down quickly.” The charge tility. He knew that the same God, who implies a threat; Elijah must look for force, had fought for him upon the hill, would not if he yield not. There needs no other wea- leave him in the valley: he knew the an. pon for defence, for offence, than the same gel, which bade him go, was guard enough tongue, the same breath. God hath fire against a world of enemies. Faith knows enough for all the troops of Ahaziah. Im- not how to fear, and can as easily contemn mediately doth a sudden flame break out of the suggestion of perils, as infidelity can heaven, and consume this forward leader, raise them. and his bold followers. It is a just presage The prophet looks boldly upon the court, and desert of ruin, not to be warned. Worwhich doubtless was not a little disaffected thily are they made examples, that will not to him, and comes confidently into the bedtake them.
chamber of Ahaziah, and sticks not to speak What marble or Aint is harder than a over the same words to his head, which he wicked heart ? As if Ahaziah would de. had sent him, not long since, by his first spitefully spit in the face of Heaven, and messengers. Not one syllable will the pro. wrestle a fall with the Almighty, he will phet abate of his errand. It is not for a needs yet again set a third captain upon so herald of heaven to be out of countenance, desperate an employment. How hot a ser- or to mince aught of the most killing mes. wice must this commander needs think him- sages of his God. self put upon! who can but pity his straits? Whether the unexpected confidence, both There is death before him, death behind of the man and of the speech, amazed the him: if he go not, the king's wrath is the sick king of Israel; or whether the fear of messenger of death; if he go, the prophet's some present judgment (wherewith he might tongue is the executioner of death. Many a suspect Elijah to come armed, upon any act hard task will follow the service of a prince of violence that should be offered) over. wedded to his passion, divorced from God. awed him; or whether now, at last, upon Unwillingly, doubtless, and fearfully, doth the sight and hearing of this man of God, this captain climb up the hill to scale that the king's heart began to relent, and check impregnable fort; but now, when he comes itself for that sin for which he was justly near to the assault, the battery that he lays | reproved, I know not; but sure I am, the to it is his prayers; his surest fight is upon prophet goes away untouched: neither his knees : “ He went up, and came and the furious purposes of Abaziah, nor the fell upon his knees before Elijah, and be- exasperations of a Jezebel, can hurt that sought him, and said unto him, O man of prophet, whom God hath intended to a God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life fiery chariot. The hearts of kings are not of these fifty thy servants, be precious in their own; subjects are not so much in thy sight." He confesses the judgment that their hands, as they are in their Maker's. befel his predecessors; the monuments of How easily can God tame the fierceness of their destruction were in his eye, and the any creature, and, in the midst of their terror of it in his heart: of an enemy, there most heady career, stop them on the sud. lore, he is become a supplicant, and sues, den, and fetch them upon the knees of their humble submission! It is good trusting God | so eminent and clearly illuminated spirits. with the events of his own commands, who The mercy of our provident God will neither can, at pleasure, either avert evils, or im- be confined nor excluded; neither confined prove them to good.
to the places of public profession, nor exAccording to the word of the prophet, cluded from the depraved congregations of Ahaziah dies : not two whole years doth his own people: where he hath loved, he he sit in the throne of Israel, which he now cannot easily be estranged; rather, where must yield, in the want of children, to his sin abounds, his grace aboundeth much brother. Wickedness shortens his reign : 1 more, and raiset) so much stronger helps he had too much of Ahab and Jezebel, to as he sees the dangers greater. expect the blessing, either of length or pros Happy was Elisha in the attendance of perity of government. As always in the so gracious a master, and the more happy other, so ofttimes in this world, doth God that he knows it. Fain would Elijah shake testify his anger to wicked men. Some live him off at Gilgal; if not there, at Bethel ; long, that they may aggravate their judgment; | if not yet there, at Jericho. A private others die soon, that they may hasten it. message, on which Elijah must go alone,
is pretended from the Lord. Whether shall
we say the prophet did this for the trial of CONTEMPLATION V. THE RAPTURE OF the constant affection of his careful and ELIJAH.
diligent servant; or, that it was concealed
from Elijah, that his departure was revealed Long and happily hath Elijah fought the to Elisha? Perhaps he, that knew of his wars of his God; and now, after his noble own reception into heaven, did not know and glorious victories, God will send him what witnesses would be allowed to that a chariot of triumph: not suddenly would miraculous act; and now his humble mo. God snatch away his prophet without war-desty affected a silent and unnoted passage: ning, without expectation; but acquaints even Elisha knew something that was hid him, before-hand, with the determination from his master, now upon the threshold of his glory. How full of heavenly joy was of heaven. No mere creature was ever the soul of Elijah, while he foreknew, and made of the whole counsel of the Highest : looked for this instant happiness! with some things have been disclosed to babes what contempt did he cast his eyes upon and novices, that have been closed up to that earth, which he was now presently to the most wise and judicious. In natural leave! with what ravishment of an inward speculations, the greater wit and deeper pleasure did he look upon that heaven judgment still carries it; but, in the reve. which he was to enjoy! For a meet fare- lations of God, the favour of his choice well to the earth, Elijah will go visit the sways all, not the power of our apprehen. schools of the prophets before his depar- sion. The master may both command and ture: these were in his way; of any part of entreat his servant's stay in vain. Elisha the earth, they were nearest unto heaven. must be pardoned this holy and zealous disIn a holy progress, therefore, he walks bis obedience : “ As the Lord liveth, and as last round, from Gilgal, near Jordan, to thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." His Bethel, from Bethel to Jericho, from Jeri. master may be withdrawn from him; he will cho to Jordan again. In all these sacred not be withdrawn from his master. He colleges of divines, he meant to leave the knew that the blessing was at the parting; legacy of his love, counsel, confirmation, and if he had diligently attended all bis life, blessing. How happy a thing it is, while and now slacked in the last act, he had lost we are upon earth, to improve our time the reward of his service. The evening and gifts to the best behoof of God's praises the day, and the chief grace of the church; and, after the assurance of our theatre is in the last scene: “ Be faithful own blessedness, to help others to the same to the death, and I will give thee a crown heaven! But, O God, who can but wonder of life.” at the course of thy wise and powerful ad- That Elijah should be translated, and ministrations! Even in the midst of the what day he should be translated, God degeneration and idolatries of Israel, hast would have no secret: the sons of the prothou reserved to thyself whole societies of phets at Bethel, at Jericho, both know it, holy prophets; and, out of those sinful and and ask Elisha if he knew it not: “Knowrevolted tribes, hast raised the two greatest thou that the Lord will take away thy miracles of prophets, Elijah and Elisha, in master from thy head this day?" and he an immediate succession. Judah itself, answered, “ Yea, I know it, hold ye you under a religious Jehoshaphat, yielded not peace.” How familiarly do these prophets
interknow one another! how kindly do they Jordan must be crossed by Elijalı in his communicate their visions ! Seldom ever way to lieaven. There must be a meet pa. was any knowledge given to keep, but to rallel betwixt the two great prophets, that impart: the grace of this rich jewel is lost shall meet Christ upon Tabor, Moses and in concealment. The removal of an Elijah | Elias : both received visions on Horeb; to is so important a business, that it is not fit both God appeared there in fire, and other to be done without noise. Many shall have forms of terror: both were sent to kings; their share in his loss; he must be missed one to Pharaoh, the other to Ahab: both on the sudden: it was meet, therefore, that prepared miraculous tables; the one of the world should know his rapture should quails and manna in the desert, the other be divine and glorious. I do not find where of meal and oil in Sarepta : both opened the day of any natural death is notified to heaven; the one for that nourishing dew, so many; by how much more wonder there the other for those refreshing showers : was in this assumption, by so much more both revenged idolatries with the sword; shall it be fore-revealed. It is enough for the one upon the worshippers of the golden ordinary occurrents to be known by their calf, the other upon the four hundred Baevent : supernatural things have need of alites: both quenched the drought of Ispremonition, that men's hearts may both be rael; the one out of the rock, the other out prepared for their receipt, and confirmed in of the cloud : both divided the waters, the their certainty. Thrice was Elisha entreat- one of the Red Sea, the other of Jordan : ed, thrice hath he denied to stay behind both of them are forewarned of their dehis now departing master; on whom both parture; both must be fetched away bevond his eyes and his thoughts are so fixed, that Jordan: the body of Elijah is translated ; he cannot give allowance so much as to the body of Moses is hid : what Moses doth the interpellation of a question of his fellow by his rod, Elijah doth by his mantle; with prophets : together, therefore, are this won that he smites the waters, and they, as derful pair come to the last stage of their fearing the Divine Power which wrought separation, the banks of Jordan. Those, with the prophet, run away from him, and that were not admitted to be attendants of stand on heaps, leaving their dry channel the journey, yet will not be debarred from for the passage of those awful feet : it is being spectators of so marvellous an issue. not long since he mulcted them with a ge. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets went neral exsiccation : now he only bids them and stood to view afar off. I marvel there stand aside, and give way to his last walk, were no more: how could any son of the that he might with dry feet mount up into prophets stay within the college walls that the celestial chariot. day, when he knew what was meant to The waters do not now first obey him : Elijah? Perhaps, though they knew that they know that mantle of old, which hath to be the prophet's last day, yet they might oft given laws to their falling, rising, standthink his disparition should be sudden and ing: they are past over, and now, when insensible; besides, they found how much | Elijah finds himself treading on his last he affected secresy in this intended depar-earth, he proffers a munificent boon to his ture : yet the fifty prophets of Jericho will faithful servant : “ Ask what I shall do for make proof of their eyes, and with much thee, before I am taken from thee." I do intention essay who shall have the last sight not hear him say, Ask of me when I am of Elijah. Miracles are not purposed to gone : in my glorified condition, I shall be silence and obscurity: God will not work more able to bestead thee; but, Ask before I wonders without witnesses; since he doth go. We have a communion with the saints them on purpose to win glory to his name, departed, not a commerce: when they are his end were frustrate without their notice. enabled to do more for us, they are less Even so, O Saviour, when thou hadstapt to be solicited by us: it is safe suing raised thyself from the dead, thou wouldst where we are sure to be heard. Had not be seen of more than five hundred bretbren | Elijah received a peculiar instinct for this at once; and when thou wouldst raise up proffer, he had not been thus liberal : it thy glorified body from earth into heaven, were presumption to be bountiful on anthou didst not ascend from some close val. other's cost, without leave of the owner. ley, but from the mount of Olives; not in The mercy of our good God allows his fa. the night, not alone, but in the clear day, vourites not only to receive, but to give; not in the view of many eyes, which were so only to receive for themselves, but to confixed upon that point of thine heaven, that vey blessings to others: what can that man they could scarce be removed by the check want, that is befriended of the faithful ? of angels.
Elisha needs not go far to seek for a suit; it was in his heart, his mouth: “ Let a | the master, when he comes, shall find so double portion of thy spirit be upon me." | doing. Every prophet must be a son to Elijah; O the singular glory of Elijah! What but Elisha would be his heir, and craves the mortal creature ever had this honour, to happy right of his primogeniture, the double be visibly fetched by the angels of God to share to his brethren. It was not wealth, his heaven? Every soul of the elect is atnor safety, nor ease, nor honour, that Elisha tended and carried to blessedness by those cares for the world lies open before him; invisible messengers; but what flesh and he may take his choice; the rest he con | blood was ever graced with such a convoy? temneth; nothing will serve him but a large There are three bodily inhabitants of heameasure of his master's spirit. No carnal ven : Enoch, Elijah, our Saviour Christ; thought was guilty of this sacred ambition. the first before the law, the second under Affectation of eminence was too base a con- the law, the third under the Gospel; all ceit to fall into that man of God. He saw three in a several form of translation. Our that the times needed strong convictions ; blessed Saviour raised himself to and above he saw that he could not otherwise wield the heavens, by his own immediate power: the succession to such a master; therefore he ascended as the Son, they as servants : he sues for a double portion of spirit; the he as God, they as creatures. Elijah asspirit of prophecy to foreknow, the spirit cended by the visible ministry of angels; of power to work. We cannot be too Enoch insensibly. Wherefore, O God, hast covetous, too ambitious, of spiritual gifts, thou done this, but to give us a taste of such especially as may enable us to win what shall be? to let us see that heaven most advantage to God in our vocations. was never shut to the faithful ? to give us Our wishes are the true touchstone of our assurance of the future glorification of this estate: such as we wish to be, we are. mortal and corruptible part? Worldly hearts affect earthly things; spi. Even thus, O Saviour, when thou shalt ritual, divine. We cannot better know what descend from heaven with a shout, with the we are indeed, than by what we would be. voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet
Elijah acknowledges the difficulty, and of God, we that are alive and remain shall promises the grant of so great a request, sus- be caught up, together with the raised bopended yet upon the condition of Elisha's dies of thy saints, into the clouds, to meet eye-sight: “ If thou see me when I am thee in the air, to dwell with thee in glory. taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; Many forms have those celestial spirits but if not, it shall not be.” What are the taken to themselves, in their apparitions to eyes to the furniture of the soul? what men: but, of all other, most often hath the power is there in those visive beams to | Almighty made his messengers “a flame of draw down a double portion of Elijah's fire;" never more properly than here. How spirit? God doth not always look at effi-| had the Spirit of God kindled the hot fires cacy and merit in the conditions of our of zeal in the breast of Elijah! How had actions, but at the freedom of his own ap. this prophet thrice commanded fire from pointments. The eye was only to be em heaven to earth! How fitly now at last do ployed as the servant of the heart, that these seraphical fires carry him from earth the desires might be so much more intended to heaven! with the sight. Vehemence is the way to What do we see in this rapture of Elijalı, speed, both in earth and in heaven. If but but violence and terror, whirlwind and fire? the eyelids of Elisha fall, if his thoughts two of those fearful representations which slacken, his hopes are dashed. There must the prophet had in the rock of Horeb. Nebe fixedness and vigilance in those that de ver any man entered into glory with ease; sire double graces.
even the most favourable change hath some Elijah was going on and talking, when equivalency to a natural dissolution. Althe chariot of heaven came to fetch him : though, doubtless, to Elijah this fire had a surely, had not that conference been need lightsomeness and resplendence, not terror; ful and divine, it had given way to medi- this whirlwind had speed, not violence. tation, and Elijah bad been taken up rather | Thus hast thou, O Saviour, bidden us, from his knees, than from his feet. There when the elements shall be dissolved, and can be no better posture or state, for the the heavens shall be flaming about our ears, messenger of our dissolution to find us in, I | to lift up our heads with joy, because our than in a diligent prosecution of our calling. redemption draweth nigh. Come death! The busy attendance of our holy vocation come fire! come whirlwind! they are wor, is no less pleasing to God, than an imme. thy to be welcome, that shall carry us to diate devotion. Happy is the servant whom | immortality!