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• This arreption was sudden; yet Elisha , therefore, whether he were no less the heir sees both the chariot, and the horses, and of that spirit, than of that garment, he took the ascent; and cries to his now changed the mantle of Elijah, and smote the wamaster, between heaven and earth, “ My ters, and said, “ Where is the Lord God father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and of Elijah?” Elisha doth not expostulate the horsemen thereof.” Shaphat of Abel. and challenge, but pray; as if he had said, meholah hath yielded this title to Elijalı, “Lord God, it was thy promise to me by the natural father of Elisha, to the spiri- my departed master, that if I should see him tual: neither of them may be neglected; in his last passage, a double portion of his but, after the yoke of oxen killed at the spirit should be upon me: I followed him farewell, we hear of no more greetings, no with my eyes in that fire and whirlwind : more bewailings of his bodily parent; and now therefore, O God, make good thy granow, that Elijah is taken from him, he cious word to thy servant; show some token cries out, like a distressed orphan, “ My unto me for good: make this the first proof father! my father!" and, when he hath lost of the miraculous power wherewith thou the sight of him, he rends his clothes in | shalt endue me; let Jordan give the same pieces, according to the fashion of the most way to me that it gave to my master.” Impassionate mourners : that Elisha sees his mediately the stream, as acknowledging the master half way in heaven, cannot take same mantle, though in another hand, diaway the sorrow of his loss. The depar- vides itself, and yields passage to the sucture of a faithful prophet of God is worthy cessor of Elijah. of our lamentation : neither is it private. The fifty sons of the prophets, having affection that must sway our grief, but re- been afar off witnesses of these admirable spects to the public. Elisha says not only, events, do well see that Elijah, though trans. “ My father," but, “the chariot and horse-lated in body, hath yet left his spirit behind nien of Israel." That we have foregone ahim: they meet Elisha, and bow themselves father, should not so much trouble us, as to the ground before him. It was not the that Israel hath lost his guard. Certainly the outside of Elijah which they had wont to view of this heavenly chariot and horses, stoop unto with so much veneration; it was that came for Elijah, puts Elisha in mind his spirit, which, since they now find in of that chariot and horsemen which Elijah another subject, they entertain with equal was to Israel. These were God's chariots, reverence: no envy, no emulation, raiseth Elijah was theirs: God's chariot and theirs up their stomachs against Elijah's servant, are, upon the same wheels, mounted into but, where they see eminent graces, they heaven. No forces are so strong as the are willingly prostrate. Those that are truly spiritual; the prayers of an Elijah are more gracious, do no less rejoice in the riches of powerful than all the armies of flesh. The other's gifts, than humbly undervalue their first thing that this seer discerns, after the own. These men were trained up in the separation of his master, is the nakedness schools of the prophets, Elisha at the plough of Israel in his loss. If we muster soldiers, and cart; yet, now they stand not upon and lose zealous prophets, it is but a woful terms of their worth, and his meanness, but exchange.
meekly fall down before him whom God had Elijah's mantle falls from him in the rising: honoured: it is not to be regarded who the there was no use of that whither he was man is, but whom God would make him. going; there was, whence he was taken. The more unlikely the means are, the more Elisha justly takes up this dear monument is the glory of the workman : it is the praise of his glorified master: a good supply for of a holy ingenuity to magnify the graces of his rent garments. This was it which, in God wherever it finds them. presage of his future right, Elijah invested These young prophets are no less full of him withal upon the first sight, when he zeal than reverence; zeal to Elijah, reve. was ploughing with the twelve yoke of oxen; rence to Elisha. They see Elijah carried up now it falls from heaven to his possession. | in the air ; they knew this was not the first I do not see him adore so precious a relic: time of his supernatural removal: imagiI see him take it up, and cast it about him. ning it therefore possible, that the Spirit of Pensive and masterless doth he now come God had cast him upon some remote moun. back to the banks of Jordan, whose stream tain, or valley, they proffer the labour of he must pass in his return to the schools of their servants to seek him. In some things, the prophets. Erewhile he saw what way even professed seers are blind: could they that river gave to the mantle of Elijah; he think God would send such a chariot and knew that power was not in the cloth, but horses for a less voyage than heaven? in the spirit of him that wore it. To try, Elisha, knowing his master beyond all the sphere of mortality, forbids them; good- so foul an annoyance: not therefore the an. will makes them unmannerly; their impor-cient malediction of Joshua, not the neightunitv urges him till he is ashamed: not his bourhood of that noisome lake of Sodom, approbation, but their vehemence, carries was guilty of this disease of the soil and the at last a condescent, else he might perhaps waters, but the late sins of the inhabitants : have seemed enviously unwilling to fetch “ He turneth the rivers into a wilderness, back so admired a master, and loath to and water-springs into a dry ground; a fruit. forego that mantle. Some things may be ful land into barrenness, for the wickedness yielded for the redeeming of our own vexa. of them that dwell therein." How oft have tion, and avoidance of others' misconstruc we seen the same field both full and famishtion, which, out of true judgment, we see ing! how oft the same waters both safe, no cause to affect.
and, by some eruption, or new tincture, The messengers, tired with three days' hurtful! Howsoever natural causes may search, turn back as wise as they went. concur, heaven and earth, and air and wa. Some men are best satisfied when they have ters, follow the temper of our souls, of our wearied themselves in their own ways: no- lives, and are therefore indisposed because thing will teach them wit but disappoint. we are so. Jericho began now to make it. ments. Their painful error leads them to self capable of a better state, since it was a right conceit of Elijah's happier transpor- now become a receptacle of prophets. Eli. tation. Those that would find Elijah, let sha is willing to gratify his hosts; it is rea. them aspire to the heavenly paradise ; let son that any place should fare the better for them follow the high steps of his sincere the presence of divines. The medicine is faithfulness, strong patience, undaunted more strange than the disease: “ Bring me courage, fervent zeal: shortly, let them walk a new cruse, and put salt therein." Why in the ways of his holy and constant obe- a cruse ? why new? why salt in that new dience; at last, God shall send the fiery cruse? How should salt make water pochariot of death to fetch them up to that table? or, if there were any such virtue in heaven of heavens, where they shall tri it, what could a cruseful do to a whole umph in everlasting joys.
current? or, if that measure were sufficient, what was the age of the cruse to the force
of the salt? Yet Elisha calls for salt in a CONTEMPLATION VI.-ELISHA HEALING THE new cruse. God, who wrought this by his
WATERS,-- CURSING THE CHILDREN,-RE- prophet, is a free agent ; as he will not bind LIEVING THE KINGS.
his power to means, so will he, by his power,
bind unlikely means to perform his will. It is good making use of a prophet while Natural properties have no place in we have him. Elisha staid somewhile at miraculous works: no less easy is it for Jericho; the citizens resort to him with a God to work by contrary, than subordi. common suit : their structure was not more nate powers. pleasant than their waters unwholesome, The prophet doth not cast the salt into and their soil by those corrupt waters: they the channel, but into the spring of the sue to Elisha for the remedy. Why had waters. If the fountain be redressed, the they not all this while made their moan to stream cannot be faulty; as, contrarily, the Elijah? Was it that they were more awed purity and soundness of the stream avail with his greater austerity? or was it, that nothing to the redress of the fountain. Re. they met not with so fit an opportunity of formation must begin at the well-head of his commoration amongst them? It was the abuse. The order of being is a good told them what power Elisha had exercised guide to the method of amending. Virtue upon the waters of Jordan, and now they doth not run backward. Had Elisha cast ply him for theirs. Examples of beneficence the salt into the brooks and ditches, the reeasily move us to a request and expectation medy must have striven against the streain of favours.
to reach up to the spring; now it is but What ailed the waters of Jericho? Surely, one labour to cure the fountain. Our heart originally they were not ill affected: no men is a well of bitter and venomous water; could be so foolish as to build a city where our actions are the streams: in vain shall neither earth nor water were useful: mere we cleanse our hands, while our hearts prospect could not carry men to the neglect are evil. of health and profit. Hiel the Bethelite The cruse and the salt must be their would never have re-edified it with the own; the act must be his, the power God's. danger of a curse, so lately as in the days “ He cast the salt into the spring," and said, of Abah, if it had been of old notorious for “ Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these
waters; there shall not be from thence any not heard of this : God had crowned that more death or barrenness." Far was it from head with honour, which the Bethelitisn Elisha to challenge aught to himself. Be- children loaded with scorn. Who would fore, when he should divide the waters of have thought the rude terms of waggish Jordan, he did not say, Where is the power boys worthy of any thing but neglect! Eli. of Elisha, but, Where is the Lord God of sha looks at them with severe brows, and, Elijah? And now, when he should cure the like the heir of him that called down fire waters of Jericho, he says not, Thus saith upon the two captains and their fifties, Elisha, but, Thus saith the Lord, “ I have curses them in the name of the Lord. Two healed these waters.” How careful is the she-bears out of the wood, hasten to be man of God that no part of God's glory his executioners, and tear two-and-forty of should stick to his own fingers ! Jericho them in pieces. O fearful example of Dishall know to whom they owe the bless-vine justice! This was not the revenge of ing, that they may duly return the thanks. an angry prophet, it was the punishment of Elisha professes he can do no more of him- | a righteous judge. God and his seer looked self than that salt, than that cruse: only through these children at the parents, at all God shall work by him, by it; and what | Israel ; he would punish the parents' mis. ever that Almighty hand undertakes, cannot | nurturing their children, to the contempfail, yea, is already done: neither doth he say, I tuous usage of a prophet, with the death of I will heal, but, “ I have healed.” Even those children which they had mistaught. so, O God, if thou cast into the fountain He would teach Israel what it was to misof our hearts but one cruseful of the salt use a prophet; and, if he would not endure of thy Spirit, we are whole; no thought can these contumelies unrevenged in the mouths pass between the receipt and the remedy. of children, what vengeance was enough for
As the general visitor of the schools of aged persecutors ? the prophets, Elisha passeth from Jericho Doubtless some of the children escaped to that other college at Bethel. Bethel was to tell the news of their fellows. What a place of strange composition : there were lamentation do we think there was in the at once the golden calf of Jeroboam, and streets of Bethel ! how did the distressed the school of God; true religion and ido- mothers wring their hands for this woful latry found a free barbour within those walls. orbation! and now, when they came forth I do not marvel that God's prophets would to fetch the remnants of their own flesh, plant there; there was the most need of what a sad spectacle it was to find the fields their presence, where they found the spring. strewed with those mangled carcasses ! It head of corruption : physicians are of most is an unprofitable sorrow that follows a use where diseases do abound. “ As he judgment. Had these parents been as care. was going up by the way, there came forthful to train up their children in good dis. little children out of the city, and mocked cipline, and to correct their disorders, as him, and said to him, Go up, thou bald. they are now passionate in bemoaning their head; Go up, thou bald-head.” Even the loss, this slaughter had never been. In very boys of Bethel have learned to scoff vain do we look for good of those children, at a prophet; the spite of their idolatrous whose education we have neglected. In parents is easily propagated : children are vain do we grieve for those miscarriages such as their institution ; infancy is led al- which our care might have prevented. together by imitation; it hath neither words Elisha knew the success, yet doth he nor actions, but infused by others; if it not baulk the city of Bethel. Do we not have good or ill language, it is but bor. | wonder that the furious impatience of those Towed, and the shame or thank is due to parents whom the curse of Elisha robbed those that lent it them.
of their children, did not break forth to What was it that these ill-taught chil-some malicious practice against the prodren upbraided to the prophet, but a slight phet? Would we not think the prophet natural defect, not worthy the name of a might misdoubt some hard measure from blemish, the want of a little hair ; at the those exasperated citizens! There lay his best a comely excrement, no part of the way; he follows God without fear of men, body. Had there been deformity in that as well knowing that either they durst not, smoothness of the head, which some great or they could not act violence. They knew wits have honoured with praises, a faultless there were bears in the wood, and fires in and remediless eye-sore had been no fit heaven, and if their malice would have venmatter for a taunt. How small occasions tured above their courage, they could have will be taken to disgrace a prophet! If they no more power over Elisha in the streets, co‘ild have said aught worse, Elisha had than those hungry beasts had in thg way. Whither dare not a prophet go when God, The three kings of Israel, Judah, Edom, calls him? Having visited the schools of together with their armies, are upon foot: the prophets, Elisha retires to Mount Car- they are no sooner come into the parching mel, and, after some holy solitariness, re- wilds of Edom, than they are ready to die turns to the city of Samaria. He can never for thirst. If the channels were far off, yet be a profitable seer, that is either always the waters were farther : the scorching or never alone. Carmel shall fit him for beams of the sun have dried them up, and Samaria; contemplation for action: that have left those rivers more fit for walk than mother city of Israel must needs afford him entertainment. What are the greatest mo. most work'; yet is the throne of Ahaziah narchs of the world, if they want but water succeeded by a brother less ill than him to their mouths? What can their crowns, self, than the parents of both. Ahab's and plumes, and rich arms, avail them, when impiety hath not a perfect heir of Jeho. they are abridged but of that which is the ram: that son of his hates his Baal, though drink of beasts? With dry tongues and he keeps his calves. Even into the most lips, do they now confer of their common wicked families it pleaseth God to cast his misery. Jehoram deplores the calamity into powerful restraints, that all are not equally which they were fallen, but Jehoshaphat vicious. It is no news to see lewd men asks for a prophet. Every man can bewail make scruple of some sins; the world were a misery; every man cannot find the way not to live in, if all sins were affected by out of it: still yet I hear good Jehoshaphat all: it is no thank to Ahab and Jezebel speak too late; he should have inquired that their son is no Baalite. As no good for a prophet ere he had gone forth: so is traduced from parents, so not all evil: had he avoided these straits. Not to conthere is an Almighty band that stops the sult at all with God, is Jehoram's sin; to soul current of nature at his pleasure; no consult late, is Jehoshaphat's: the former idolater can say that his child shall not be is atheous carelessness, the latter forgetful a convert.
oversight. The best man may slacken good The affinity betwixt the houses of Israel duties; the worst contemns them. and Judah holds good in succession : Je. Not without some specialty from God, horam inherits the friendship, the aid of doth Elisha follow the camp; else, that Jehoshaphat; whose counsel, as is most had been no element for a prophet. Little likely, had cured him of that Baalism. It did the good king of Judah think that God was a good war whereto he solicits the good was so near him ; purposely was this holy king of Judah. The king of Moab, who had seer sent for the succour of Jehoshaphat been an ancient tributary from the days of and his faithful followers, when they were David, falls now from his homage, and re- so far from dreaming of their delivery, that fuses to pay his hundred thousand lambs, they knew not of a danger. It would be and hundred thousand rams with fleeces, wide with the best men, if the eye of Divine to the king of Israel: the backs of Israel Providence were not open upon them, can ill miss the wool of Moab; they will when the eye of their care is shut towards put on iron to recover their cloth. Jeho- | it. How well did Elisha in the wars! The shaphat had been once well chid, well strongest squadron of Israel was within that frighted, for joining with Ahab against Aram; breast: all their armour of proof had not so yet doth he not stick now again to come much safety and protection as his mantle. into the field with Jehoram, against Moab: Though the king of Israel would take no the cause is more favourable, less danger. | notice of the prophet, yet one of his courous : Baal is cast down; the images of the tiers did : “ Here is Elisha, the son of Shafalse gods are gone, though the false images phat, which poured water on the hands of of the true God stand still; besides, this Elijah.” This follower of Jehoram knows rebellious Moab had joined with the Syrians Elisha by his own name, by his father's. by formerly against Judah, so as Jehoshaphat | | his master's. The court of Israel was prois interested in the revenge.
fane and idolatrous enough; yet even there After resolution of the end, wisely do God's prophet had both knowledge and these kings deliberate of the way. It is honour; his very service to Elijah was agreed to pass through Edom : that king- enough to win him reverence. It is better dom was annexed to the crown of Judah; to be an attendant of some man, than be well might Jehoshaphat make bold with his attended by many: that he had poured own. It was, it seems, a march far about water on Elijah's hands was insinuation in the measure of the way, but nearest to enough that he could pour out water for their purpose : the assault would be more those three kings. The three kings walked filsy, if the passage were more tedious. down by the motion of Jehoshaphat, to the man of God: it was news to see three kings | him; another when he speaks of himself. going down to the servant of him who ran That it might well appear his dislike of before the chariot of Ahab. Religion and sin stood with his honour of sovereignty, necessity have both of them much power Jehoshaphat goes away with that respect of humiliation; I know not whether more: which Jehoram missed: no less doth God either zeal, or need, will make a prophet and his prophet regard religious sincerity, honoured.
than they abhor idolatry and profaneness. How sharply dares the man of God to What shall not be done for a Jehoshaphat? chide his sovereign, the king of Israel! The for his sake shall those two other princes, liberty of the prophets was no less singular and their vast armies, live and prevail. than their calling; he that would borrow | Edom and Israel, whether single or contheir tongue, must show their commission. I joined, had perished by the drought of the As God reproved kings for their sakes, so desert, by the sword of Moab: one Jehodid not they stick to reprove kings for his shaphat gives them both life and victory. sake. Thus much freedom they must leave It is in the power of one good man to oblige to their successors, that we might not spare a world: we receive true, though insensible the vices of them, whose persons we must favours, from the presence of the righteous. spare.
Next to being good, it is happy to converse Justly is Jehoram turned off to the pro. | with them that are so: if we be not betphets of his father, and the prophets of his tered by their example, we are blest by their mother. It is but right and equal, that protection. those, which we have made the comfort Who wonders not to hear a prophet call and stay of our peace, should be the refuge for a minstrel in the midst of that mournful of our extremity. If our prosperity have distress of Israel and Judah? who would made the world our god, how worthily not have expected his charge of tears and shall our deathbed be choked with this prayers, rather than of music? How unexprobration! Neither would the case bear reasonable are songs to a heavy heart! It an apology, nor the time an expostulation; was not for their ears, it was for his own Jehoram cannot excuse; he can complain : bosom, that Elisha called for music; that he finds that now three kings, three king. his spirits, after their zealous agitation, doms, are at the mercy of one prophet; it might be sweetly composed, and put into a was time for him to speak fair. Nothing meet temper for receiving the calm visions sounds from him but lamentations and en- of God. Perhaps it was some holy Levite treaties : “ Nay, for the Lord hath called that followed the camp of Jehoshaphat, these three kings together to deliver them whose minstrelsy was required for so sacred into the hand of Moab." Jehoram hath so a purpose. None but a quiet breast is much grace as to confess the impotency of capable of Divine revelations; nothing is those he had trusted, and the power of more powerful to settle a troubled heart that God whom he had neglected : every | than a melodious harmony: the spirit of sinner cannot see and acknowledge the prophecy was not the more invited, the hand of God in his sufferings. Already prophet's spirit was the better disposed, by hath the distressed prince gained something pleasing sounds. The same God, that will by his misery: none complain so much as reveal his will to the prophet, suggests this he, none feel so much as he ; all the rest demand, “ Bring me a minstrel.” How sutler for him, and therefore he suffers in many say thus, when they would put God them all.
from them! Profane mirth, wanton music, The man of God, who well sees the in- debauches the soul, and makes no less sufficiency of Jehoram's humiliation, lays room for the unclean spirit, than spiritual on yet more load : “ As the Lord liveth melody doth for the divine. before whom I stand, surely, were it not | No prophet had ever the spirit at comthat I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat mand. The hand of the minstrel can do the king of Judah, I would not look toward nothing without the hand of the Lord: thee, nor see thee." Behold the double while the music sounds in the ear, God spirit of Elijah! The master was not more speaks to the heart of Elisha: “ Thus saith cold with the father, than the servant was the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches; with the son. Elisha was a subject and a ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see prophet; he must say that as a prophet, | rain, yet that valley shall be full of water," which he might not as a subject; as a pro. &c. To see wind and rain, in the height phet he would not have looked at him, of that drought, would have seemed as whom as a subject he would have bowed wonderful as pleasing ; but to see abunto. It is one thing when God speaks by dance of water, without wind or rain, was