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THE ASCENT OF ELIJAH.
LONG, and successfully, hath Elijah fought the good fight of faith, and now, after his victories, God will send him a chariot of triumph. How full of joy was the foul of the prophet, when he was in immediate expectation of blessedness! With what contempt did he look on that earth, which he was so shortly to leave! With what rapture did he cast his eyes towards that heaven, which was about to receive him !
As the last public act of his mislion, he visits the fons of the prophets--those whom God had yet selected from an apoftate nation, to keep alive his sacred truth.
Elisha resolves to accompany his master in all his journey. Thrice is he diffuaded from this act of zealous friendfhip-thrice he persists, in spite of intreaty, and even command. Elijah, who expected his own assumption into heaven, knew not what witnesses might be permitted to behold it-his modest humility fought an unnoted and silent departure. But shall we not pardon the holy disobedience of this faithful disciple? “ As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul “ liveth, I will not leave thee !" His master may be withdrawn from him, but he will not depart from his master-he knew when to expect a blessing--he was anxious to obtain the reward of all his . service.
The fons of the prophets both at Bethel and Jericho are aware of what shall befal Elijah. His departure wasan event of such importance, that it was necessary to usher it in with tidings of preparation.
Elisha has neither leisure nor inclination to hold converse with his brethren-his whole thoughts, as well as his eyes, are fixed on his departing master. Together do this wonderful pair arrive at the banks of Jordan-while, at an awful distance, fifty of the consecrated band
pursue their footsteps, and gaze on them with respectful veneration. Miracles are not designed for obscurity : God will have witnesses to his marvellous acts. When the Saviour of mankind arose from the dead, he was seen of more than five hundred brethren at once: when he ascended into heaven, he arose from the mount of Olives in the view of many eyes--eyes which were fixed on that aftonishing sight with such intenseness, as not to be recalled from it even by the approach of angels.
How exact was the parallel between those mighty prophets, who were afterwards seen in glory with their Lord upVol. II.
on Mount Tabor! Both received visions on Horeb-to each of them God appeared there in fire, earthquakes, and other forms of terrour. Both resorted to the wilderness were sent on embarfies from Heaven to rebellious kingsdispensed miraculous food-were zealous for the extermination of idolatryquenched the drought of Israel divided the waters-finished their glorious labours near the banks of Jordan. The body of Elijah is translated—that of Moses is bidden--what one effects by his rod, the other can accomplish by his mantle. With this he smites the river, and bids its waves retire before his feet, that he may without delay ascend his celestial chariot.
Now, when Elijah feels himself treading on his last earth, he no longer addresses his faithful associate with words of discouragement. « Ask what I shall “ do for thee, before I be taken from
« thee.” The holy prophet waits not long for a reply-out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. “I
pray thee, let a double portion of thy
spirit fall upon me.” Elisha demands neither wealth, nor safety, nor ease, nor honour-he holds no blessing comparable with his master's spirit. No ambition mingled itself with the fervent request. He knew that the times into which he was fallen required no common exertions--he knew that the fucceffor of Elijah must be endued with the spirit of miracles, as well as that of prophecy. We cannot be too desirous of spiritual gifts, especially such as enable us to promote the glory of God in our respective stations. Our wishes are the touchstone of our hearts—such as we feek to be, we are. The worldling covets earthly things; the Christian, those which are divine: