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yet more miraculous. I know not how the seven hundred resolute followers, he rushes sight of the means abates our admiration of into the battle towards the king of Edom, the effect: where no causes can be found as if he would bid death welcome, might out, we are forced to confess omnipotency. he but carry with him that despited neigh. Elijah relieved Israel with water, but it was bour; and now, mad with repulse, he re. out of the clouds, and those clouds rose turns; and, whether as angry with his des. from the sea; but whence Elisha shall fetch tiny, or as barbarously affecting to win his it, is not more marvellous thian secret. cruel gods with so dear a sacrifice, he of.
All that evening, all that night, must the fers them, with his own hands, the blood faith of Israel and Judah be exercised with of his eldest son in the sight of Israel, and expectation. At the hour of the morning sends him up in the smoke to those hellish sacrifice, no sooner did the blood of that deities. O prodigious act, whether of rage oblation gush forth, than the streams of or of devotion! What a hand hath Satan water gushed forth into their new channels, over his miserable vassals! What marvel and filled the country with a refreshing is it to see men sacrifice their souls in an moisture: Elijah fetched down his fire at unfelt oblation, to these plausible tempters, the hour of the evening sacrifice; Elisha when their own flesh and blood have not fetched up his water at the hour of the been spared? There is no tyrant like to the morning sacrifice. God gives respect to his prince of darkness. own hours, for the encouragement of our observation : if his wisdom hath set us anv peculiar times, we cannot keep them with CONTEMPLATION VII. - ELISHA WITH THE out a blessing: the devotions of all true
SHUNAMITE. Jews, all the world over, were in that hour combined. How seasonably doth the wis The holy prophets under the Old Testadom of God pick out that instant, wherein ment did not abhor the marriage-bed: they he might at once answer both Elisha's pro did not think themselves too pure for an phecy, and his people's prayers ?
institution of their Maker. The distressed The prophet hath assured the kings, not widow of one of the sons of the prophets of water only, but of victory. Moab hears comes to Elisha to bemoan her condition. of enemies, and is addressed to war : their Her husband is dead, and dead in debt: own error shall cut their throats. They rise death hath no sooner seized on bin, than soon enough to beguile themselves: the her two sons, the remaining comfort of her beams of the rising sun, glistening upon life, are to be seized on by his creditors, those vaporous and unexpected waters, car- | for bondmen. How thick did the miseries ried, in the eyes of some Moabites, a sem. of this poor afflicted woman light upon her! blance of blood. A few eyes were enough Her husband is lost, her estate clogged with to fill all ears with a false noise; the de- debts, her children ready to be taken for ceived sense miscarries the imagination: slaves. Her husband was a religious and “ This is blood; the kings are surely slain, worthy man; he paid his debts to nature, and they have smitten one another; now he could not to his creditors: they are therefore, Moab, to the spoil.” Civil broils cruel, and rake in the scarce closed wound give just advantage to a common enemy; of her sorrow, passing an arrest worse than therefore must the camps be spoiled, be- death upon her sons : widowhood, poverty, cause the kings have smitten each other. servitude, have conspired to make her perThose that shall be deceived are given over fectly miserable. Virtue and goodness can to credulity: the Moabites do not examine pay no debts. The holiest man may be either the conceit or the report, but fly in deep in arrearages, and break the bank ; not confusedly upon the camp of Israel, whom through lavishness, and riot of expense they find, too late, to have no enemies but (religion teaches us to moderate our hands, themselves. As if death would not have to spend within the proportion of our es.. hastened enough to them, they come to tate), but through either iniquity of times, fetch it, they come to challenge it: it seizeth or evil casualties. Ahab and Jezebel were upon them unavoidably; they are smitten, lately in the throne : who can marvel that their cities razed, their lands marred, their a prophet was in debt? It was well that wells stopped, their trees felled, as if God any good man might have his breath free, meant to waste them but once.
though his estate were not: wilfully to overNo onsets are so furious as the last as- lash our ability, can::ot stand with wisdom saults of the desperate. The king of Moab, and good government; but no providence now hopeless of recovery, would be glad can guard us from crosses. Holiness is to shut up with a pleasing revenge: with | no more defence against debt, than against
death. Grace can keep us from unthrifti- busily pestering her house with empty tubs, ness, not from want. Whither doth the which they knew she had nothing io fill : propliet's widow come to bewail her case they knew well enough, she had neither but to Elisha ? Every one would not be field, nor vineyard, nor orchard, and there. sensible of her affliction, or if they would | fore must needs marvel at such unprofit. pity, yet could not relieve her: Elisha able diligence. If their curiosity would be could do both; into his ear doth she unload inquiring after her intentions, she is comher griefs. It is no small point of wisdommanded secresy. The doors must be shut to know where to plant our lamentation ; | upon herself, and her sons, while the oil is otherwise, instead of comfort, we may meet increasing. No eye shall see the miracle with scorn and insultation.
in working ; enough shall see it, once None can so feelingly compassionate the wrought. This act was no less a proof of hard terms of a prophet as an Elisha; he her faith, than an improvement of her esfinds that she is not querulously impatient, tate ; it was an exercise of her devotion, as expressing her sorrow without murmuring well as of her diligence; it was fit her doors and discontentment, making a loving and should be shut, while her heart and lips honourable mention of that husband who were opened in an holy invocation. Out had left her distressed; readily, therefore, of one small jar was poured out so much doth he incline to her succour: “ What oil, as by a miraculous multiplication filled shall I do for thee? Tell me what hast thou all these empty casks. Scarce had that pot in thine house?" Elisha, when he hears of any bottom, at least the bottom that it had her debts, asks of her substance. Had her was to be measured by the brims of all those house been furnished with any valuable vessels; this was so deep, as they were commodity, the prophet implies the neces-high; could they have held more, this pot sity of selling it for satisfaction. Our own had not been empty. Even so the bounty abundance can ill stand with our engage of our God gives grace and glory, according ment to others : it is great injustice for us to the capacity of the receiver: when he to be full of others' purses. It is not our ceuseth to infuse, it is for want of room in own which we owe to another : what is it the heart that takes it in. Could we hold other than a plausible stealth, to feed our more, O God, thou wouldst give more : if riot with the want of the owner ? He that there be any defect, it is in our vessels, not could multiply our substance, could know in thy beneficence. How did the heart of it: God and his prophet love to hear our this poor widow run over, as with wonder, necessities out of our own mouths. “ Thine so with joy and thankfulness, to see such handmaid hath not any thing in the house a river of oil rise out of so small a spring ! save a pot of oil.” It is neither news nor to see all her vessels swimming full with so shame for a prophet to be poor : grief and beneficial a liquor ! Justly is she affected want perhaps hastened his end; both of with this sight; she is not transported from them are left for the dowry of his careful her duty. I do not see her run forth into widow. She had not complained, if there the street, and proclaim her store, nor callhad been any possibility of remedy at home; ing in her neighbours, whether to admire or bashfulness had stopt her mouth thus long, bargain : I see her running to the prophet's and should have done yet longer, if the door, and gratefully acknowledging the faexigence of her children's servitude had not vour, and humbly depending on his direcopened it. No want is so worthy of relief, tions, as not daring to dispose of that which as that which is loathest to come forth. was so wonderfully given her, without the “ Then he said, Go borrow thee vessels | advice of him, by whose powerful means abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty she had received it. Her own reason might vessels, borrow not a few; and when thou have sufficiently suggested what to do: she art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon dares not trust it, but consults with the thee, and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out oracle of God. If we would walk surely, into all those vessels, and thou shalt set we must do nothing without a word; every aside that which is full.”
action, every motion must have a warrant : She that owed much, and had nothing. we can no more err with this guide, than yet must borrow more, that she may pay | not err without him. all. Poverty had not so discredited her The prophet sets her in a right way: with her neighbours, that they should doubt “Go sell the oil, and pay thv debts, and live, to lend her those vessels empty, which they thou and thy children, on the rest." The had grudged full. Her want was too well first care is of her debts; the next of her known: it could not but seem strange to maintenance. It should be gross injustice the neighbours, to see this poor widow so to raise means for herself, and her charge, ere she have discharged the arrearages of all needful helps for himself. What mon her husband. None of the oil was hers, bad there been for the charity and bene till her creditors were satisfied; all was herscence of others, if the prophet should bure that reinained. It is but stealth to enjoy a always maintained himself out of power? borrowed substance : while she had nothing, The holy man is so far sociable, as nat it was no sin to owe; but, when once her | to neglect the friendly offer of so kind a vessels were full, she could not have been benefactor : gladly does he take up bis Dea guiltless, if she had not paid, before she ! lodging, and, as well pleased with so quiet stored. God and his prophets were bounti- a repose, and careful attendance, he sends ful: after the debts paid, they provide not his servant Gehazi with the message of bis only against the thraldom of her charge, but thanks, with a treaty of retribution : " Beta against the want. It is the just care of a hold, thou hast been careful for us, with religious heart to defend the widow and all this care: what is to be done for thee? children of a prophet from distress and wouldst thou be spoken for to the king, o penury.
to the captain of the host ?" An ingenuous Behold the true servant, and successor disposition cannot receive favours without of Elijah: what he did to the Sareptan | thoughts of return. A wise debtor is dewidow, this did to the widow of a prophet. sirous to retribute in such kind as may be That increase of oil was by degrees, this most acceptable to his obligers. Without at once; both equally miraculous ; this so this discretion, we may offer such requitals much more charitable, as it less concerned as may seem goodly to us to our friends, himself.
worthless. Every one can choose best for He that gives kindnesses, doth by turns himself; Elisha, therefore, who had never receive them. Elisha hath relieved a poor been wanting in spiritual duties to so hoswoman, is relieved by a rich. The Shuna. pitable a friend, gives the Shunamite the mite, a religious and wealthy matron, invites election of her suit, for temporal recomhim to her house; and now, after the first pense also: no man can be a loser by his entertainment, finding his occasions to call favour to a prophet. It is good hearing him to a frequent passage that way, moves that an Elisha is in such grace at the court; her husband to fit up, and furnish a lodging that he can promise himself access to the for the man of God. It was his holiness king in a friend's suit. It was not ever that made her desirous of such a guest : thus: the time was, when his master heard. well might she hope that such an inmate “ Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" would pay a blessing for his house-rent. 0 | Now the late miracle which Elisha wrought, happy Shunamite, that might make herself in gratifying the three kings with water and the hostess of Elisha! As no le:s dutiful victory," hath endeared him to the king of than godly, she imparts her desire to her Israel: and now, who but Elisha? Eren husband, whom her suit hath drawn into a that rough mantle finds respect amongst partnership in this holy hospitality : blessed those silks and tissues. As bad as Jehoram of God is that man, whose bed yields him was, yet he honoured the man of God. He an help to heaven! The good Shunamite that could not prevail with an idolatrous desires not to harbour Elisha in one of lier king in a spiritual reformation, yet can carry wonted lodgings; she solicits her husband a civil suit. Neither doth the prophet, in a to build him a chamber on the wall apart; sullen discontentment, fly off from the court, she knew the tumult of a large family untit because he found his labours unprofitable, for the quiet meditations of a prophet: re but still holds good terms with that prince. tiredness is most meet for the thoughts of a whom he cannot reclaim, and will make use, seer. Neither would she bring the prophet not withstanding, of his countenance, in to bare walls, but sets ready for him a bed, matters whether of courtesy or justice. We a table, a stool, and a candlestick, and what may not cast off our due respects even to ever necessary utensils for his entertainment. faulty authority, but must still submit and
The prophet doth not affect delicacy; she persist, where we are repelled. Not to his takes care to provide for his convenience. I own advancement doth Élisha desire to imThose that are truly pious and devout, prove the king's favour, but to the behoof, think their houses and their hands cannot | to the relief, of others. If the Shunamite be too open to the messengers of God, and have business at the court, she need no are most glad to exchange their earthly | other solicitor. There cannot be a better commodities for the others' spiritual. Su- office, nor more beseeming a prophet, than perfluity should not fall within the care of a to speak in the cause of the dumb; to be. prophet, necessity must: he, that could pro- friend the oppressed, to win greatness unto vide oil for the widow, could have provided the protection of innocence.
The good matron needs no shelter of the good, not by iteration, but by the effect : great: “I dwell among mine own people;" the Shunamite conceives, and bears a son as if she said, The courtesy is not small in at the set season. How glad a mother she itself, but not useful to me: I live here was, those know best that have mourned quietly, in a contented obscurity, out of under the discomfort of a sad sterility. The the reach either of the glories or cares of a child grows up, and is now able to find out court; free from wrongs, free from envies. his father in the field, amongst his reapers : Not so high as to provoke an evil eye, his father now grew young again with the not so low as to be trodden on: I have pleasure of this sight, and more joyed in neither fears nor ambitions : my neighbours this spring of his hopes, than in all the are my friends, my friends are my protec-crops of his harvest But what stability is tors, and, if I should be so unhappy as to there in these earthly delights? The hot be the subject of main injuries, would not beams of the sun beat upon that head which stick to be mine advocates : this favour is too much care had made tender and delifor those that either affect greatness, or cate; the child complains to his father of groan under oppression; I do neither, for his pain. Othat grace could teach us, what “ I live among my own people." O Shu-nature teaches infants, in all our troubles namite, thou shalt not escape envy! Who to bemoan ourselves to our heavenly Facan hear of thine happy condition, and not ther! He sends him to his mother : upon say, why am I not thus? If the world her lap, about noon, the child dies, as if he aford any perfect contentment, it is in a would return his soul into that bosom from middle estate, equally distant from penury, which it was derived to him. The good from excess: it is in a calm freedom, a Shunamite hath lost her son; her faith she secure tranquillity, a sweet fruition of our had not lost. Passion hath not robbed her selves, of ours. But what hold is there of of her wisdom: as not distracted with an these earthly things ? how long is the Shu- / accident so sudden, so sorrowful, she lays namite thus blessed with peace? Stay but the dead child upon the prophet's bed, she a while, you shall see her come on her locks the door, she hides her grief, lest that knees to the king of Israel, pitifully com-consternation might hinder her design. She plaining that she was stripped of house and hastens to her husband, and, as not daring land; and now Gehazi is fain to do that to be other than officious in so distressful good office for her, which was not accepted an occasion, acquaints him with her jourfrom his master. Those that stand safest ney, though not with the cause, requires upon earth have but slippery footing; no of him both attendance and conveyance; man can say that he shall not need friends. she posts to Mount Carmel. She cannot
Modesty sealed up the lips of the good so soon find out the man of God as he hath Shunamite; she was ashamed to confess found her: he sees her afar off, and, like her longing. Gehazi easily guessed that her a faithful guest, sends his servant hastily to barrenness could not but be her affliction : meet her, to inquire of the health of hershe was childless, her husband old. Elisha self, her husband, her child. Her errand gratifies her with the news of a son: was not to Gehazi ; it was to Elisha : no “ About this season, according to the time messenger shall interrupt her, no ear shall of life, thou shalt embrace a son.” How receive her complaint but the prophet's. liberal is God, by his prophet, in giving Down she falls passionately at his feet, and, beyond her requests : not seldom doth his forgetting the fashion of her bashful strangebounty over-reach our thoughts, and meet ness, lays hold of them, whether in an us with those benefits which we thought humble veneration of his person, or in a too good for us to ask. Greatness and in- fervent desire of satisfaction. Gehazi, who expectation make the blessing seem incre- weil knew how uncouth, how unfit this dible: “ Nay, my lord, thou man of God, gesture of salutation was for his master, do not lie to thine handmaid." We are offers to remove her, and admonisheth her never sure enough of what we desire; we of her distance. The merciful prophet easily are not more hard to believe, than loath apprehends that no ordinary occasion could to distrust beneficial events. She well knew so transport a grave and well-governed mathe prophet's holiness could not stand with tron; as, therefore, pitying her unknown wilful falsehood : perhaps she might think passion, he bids “Let her alone, for her it spoken by way of trial, not of serious soul is vexed within her, and the Lord hath affirmation. As unwilling, therefore, that hid it from me, and hath not told me." If it should not be, and willing to hear that extremity of grief have made her unmanpleasing word seconded, she says, “ Do not nerly, wise and holy Elisha knows how to lie to thine handmaid.” Promises are made pardon it: he dares not add sorrow to the afflicted; he can better bear an unseemli- | She imagined that the servant, the staff, ness in her greetings, than cruelty in her might be severed from Elisha; she knew, molestation. Great was the familiarity that that wherever the prophet was, there was the prophet had with his God; and as power. It is good relying upon those helps friends are wont mutually to impart their that cannot fail us. counsels to each other, so had the Lord Merit and importunity have drawn Eli. done to him. Elisha was not idle on mount sha from Carmel to Shunem. He finds his Carmel: what was it that he saw not from lodging taken up by that pale carcass: he thence? not heaven only, but the world, shuts his door, and falls to his prayers. This was before him. Yet the Shunamite's loss staff of his, whatever became of the other, is concealed from him, neither doth he was long enough, he knew, to reach up to shame to confess it. Ofttimes those that heaven, to knock at those gates, yea, to know greater matters may yet be ignorant wrench them open. He applies his body to of the less: it is no disparagenient to any those cold and senseless limbs : by the ferfinite creature not to know something. By vour of his soul, he reduces that soul; by her mouth will God tell the prophet, what the heat of his body, he educeth warmth by vision he had not: “ Then she said, out of that corpse: the child sneezeth seven Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not times, and, as if his spirit had been but hid say, do not deceive me?" Deep sorrow is for the time, not departed, it falls to work sparing of words : the expostulation could afresh; the eyes look up, the lips and hands not be more short, more quick, more pithy. move. The mother is called in to receive Had I begged a son, perhaps my importu. a new life in her twice-given son: she comes nity might have been yielded to in anger: in, full of joy, full of wonder, and bows hertoo much desire is justly punished with loss: self to the ground, and falls down before it is no marvel if what we wring from God those feet which she had so boldly laid hold prosper not. This favour to me was of thine of in Carmel. O strong faith of the Shuown motion; thy suit, O Elisha, made me namite, that could not be discouraged with a mother : couldst thou intend to torment the seizure and continuance of death; rais. me with a blessing? How much more easy ing up her heart still in an expectation of had the want of a son been, than the mis- that life, which to the eyes of nature had carriage! barrenness than abortion! Was been impossible, irrevocable! O infinite there no other end of my having a son, goodness of the Almighty, that would not than that I might lose him ? O man of | suffer such faith to be frustrated, that would God, let me not complain of a cruel kind- rather reverse the laws of nature, in returnness! Thy prayers gave me a son, let thy ing a guest from heaven, and raising a corpse prayers restore him ; let not my dutiful re- from death, than the confidence of a bespects to thee be repaid with an aggrava | lieving heart should be disappointed! tion of misery: give not thine handmaid | How true an heir is Elisha of his master, cause to wish that I were but so unhappy not in his graces only, but in his actions! as thou foundest me: 0 woful fruitfulness, Both of them divided the waters of Jordan; if I must now say that I had a son! the one as his last act, the other as his first:
I know not whether the mother or the Elijah's curse was the death of the captains prophet were more afflicted; the prophet and their troops; Elisha's curse was the for the mother's sake, or the mother for her death of the children: Elijah rebuked A hab own. Not a word of reply do we hear from to his face ; Elisha, Jehoram : Elijah sup. the mouth of Elisha; his breath is only spent plied the drought of Israel, by rain from hea. in the remedy: he sends his servant with ven; Elisha supplied the drought of the three all speed to lay bis staff upon the face of kings, by waters gushing out of the earth; the child, charging him to avoid all the de- | Elijah increased the oil of the Sareptan; lays of the way. Had not the prophet sup-Elisha increased the oil of the prophet's posed that staff of his able to beat away widow: Elijah raised from death the Sarepdeath, why did he send it ? and if upon that tan's son; Elisha, the Shunamite's : both supposition he send it, how was it that it of them had one mantle, one spirit ; both of failed of effect? Was this act done out of them climbed up one Carmel, one heaven. hunian conceit, not out of instinct from God? or did the want of the mother's faith hinder the success of that cure? She, not CONTEMPLATION VIII. --ELISHA WITH regarding the staff, or the man, holds fast
NAAMAN. to Elisha; no hopes of his message can loose her fingers : “ As the Lord liveth, | Of the full showers of grace which fell ünd?s thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." | upon Israel and Judah, yet some drops did