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of our good God allows his favourites, not only to receive, but to give ; not only to receive for themselves, but to convey blessings to others. What can that man want, that is befriended of the faithful?

Elisha needs not go far, to seek for a suit. It was in his heart, in his mouth ; Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. -Every prophet must be a son to Elijah; but Elisha would be his heir; and craves the happy right of his primogeniture, the double share to his brethren. It was not wealth, nor safety, nor ease, nor honour, that Elisha cares for. The world lies

open

before him; he may take his choice: the rest he contemneth; nothing will serve him, but a large measure of his master's spirit.

No carnal thought was guilty of this sacred ambition. Affectation of eminence was too base a conceit, to fall into that man of God. He saw, that the times needed strong convictions ; he saw, that he could not otherwise wield the succession to such a master; therefore he sues for a double portion of spirit: the spirit of prophecy, to foreknow; the spirit of power, to work. We cannot be too covetous, too ambitious, of spiritual gifts; such especially, as may enable us to win most advantage to God in our vocations. Our wishes are the true touchstone of our estate. Such as we wish to be, we are. Worldly hearts affect earthly things ; spiritual, divine. We cannot better know what we are indeed, than by what we would be.

Elijah acknowledges the difficulty, and promises the grant of so great a request ; suspended yet upon the condition of Elisha's eyesight : If thou see me, when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee ; but if not, it shall not be. What are the eyes, to the furniture of the soul? What power is there in those visive beams, to draw down a double portion of Elijah's spirit? God doth not always look at efficacy and merit in the conditions of our actions, but at the freedom of his own appointments. The eye was only to be employed, as the servant of the heart, that the desires might be so much more intended with the sight. Vehemence is the way to speed, both in earth and in heaven. If but the eye-lids of Elisha fall, if his thoughts slacken, his hopes are dashed. There must be fixedness and vigilance, in those that desire double graces.

Elijah was going on, and talking, when the chariot of heaven came to fetch him. Surely, had not that conference been needful and divine, it had given way to meditation ; and Elijah had been taken up, rather from his knees, than from his feet. There can be no better posture or state, for the messenger of our dissolution to find us in, than in a diligent prosecution of our calling. The busy attendance of our holy vocation is no less pleasing to God, than an immediate devotion. Happy is the servant, whom the master, when he comes, shall find so doing.

Oh the singular glory of Elijah! What mortal creature ever

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had this honour, to be visibly fetched by the angels of God to his heaven? Every soul of the elect is attended and carried to blessedness by those invisible messengers; but what flesh and blood was ever graced with such a convoy?

There are three bodily inhabitants of heaven, Enoch, Elijah, our Saviour Christ: the first, before the Law; the second, under the Law; the third, under the Gospel : all three, in a several form of translation. Our blessed Saviour raised himself to and above the heavens, by his own immediate power : he ascended as the Son; they, as servants : he, as God; they, as creatures. Elijah ascended by the visible ministry of angels ; Enoch, insensibly. Wherefore, O God, hast thou done thus, but to give us a taste of what shall be ? to let us see, that heaven was never shut to the faithful? to give us assurance

of the future glorification of this mortal and corruptible part? Even thus, 0 Saviour, when thou shalt descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump of God, we, that are alive and remain, shall be caught up, together with the raised bodies of thy saints, into the clouds, to meet thee in the air, to dwell with thee in glory.

Many forms have those celestial spirits taken to themselves, in their apparitions to men; but, of all other, most often hath the Almighty made his messengers a flame of fire : never more properly, than here. How had the Spirit of God kindled the hot fires of zeal, in the breast of Elijah! How had this prophet thrice commanded fire from heaven to earth!

How fitly now, at last, do these seraphical fires carry him from earth to heaven!

What do we see in this rapture of Elijah, but violence and terror, whirlwind and fire ; two of those fearful representations, which the prophet had in the rock of Horeb? Never any man entered into glory with ease. Even the most favourable change hath some equivalency to a natural dissolution. Although, doubtless, to Elijah, this fire had a lightsomeness and resplendence, not terror; this whirlwind had speed, not violence. Thus hast thou, O Saviour, bidden us, when the elements shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be flaming about our ears, to lift up our heads with joy, because our redemption draweth nigh. Come death, come fire, come whirlwind; they are worthy to be welcome, that shall carry us to immortality.

This arreption was sudden; yet Elisha sees both the chariot, and the horses, and the ascent; and cries to his now changed master, between heaven and earth, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof Shaphat, of Abel-meholah, hath yielded this title to Elijah; the natural father of Elisha, to the spiritual. Neither of them may be neglected ; but, after the yoke of oxen killed at the farewell, we hear of no more greetings, no more bewailings, of his bodily parent; and now, that Elijah is taken from him, he cries out like a distressed

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guard.

orphan, My father, my father; and when he hath lost the sight of him, he rends his clothes in pieces, according to the fashion of the most passionate mourners.

That Elisha sees his master half way in heaven, cannot take away the sorrow of his loss. The departure of a faithful prophet of God is worthy of our lamentation.

Neither is it private affection, that must sway our grief, but respects to the public: Elisha says, not only, My father, but the chariot and horsemen of Israel. That we have foregone a father should not so much trouble us, as that Israel hath lost his Certainly, the view of this heavenly chariot and horses, that came for Elijah, puts Elisha in mind of that chariot and horsemen, which Elijah was to Israel. These were God's chariots ; Elijah was theirs. God's chariot and theirs are, upon the same wheels, mounted into heaven. No forces are so strong, as the spiritual. The prayers of an Elijah are more powerful, than all the armies of flesh. The first thing that this seer discerns, after the separation of his master, is, the nakedness of Israel in his loss. If we muster soldiers, and lose zealous prophets, it is but a woeful exchange.

Elijah's mantle falls from him, in the rising. There was no use of that, whither he was going ; there was, whence he was taken. Elisha justly takes up this dear monument of his glorified master; a good supply for his rent garments : this was it, which, in presage of his future right, Elijah invested him withal, upon the first sight, when he was ploughing with the twelve yoke of oxen; now it falls from heaven to his possession. I do not see him adore so precious a relique : I see him take it up; cast it about him.

Pensive and masterless doth he now come back to the banks of Jordan ; whose stream he must pass, in his return to the schools of the prophets. Erewhile, he saw what way that river gave to the mantle of Elijah. He knew that power was not in the cloth, but in the spirit of him that wore it; to try therefore, whether he were no less the heir of that spirit, than of that garment, He took the mantle of Elijah, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah ? Elisha doth not expostulate and challenge, but pray. As if he had said, “ Lord God, it was thy promise to me by my departed master, that, if I should see him in his last passage, a double portion of his spirit should be upon me.

I followed him with my eyes, in that fire and whirlwind; now therefore, O God, make good thy gracious word to thy servant: shew some token upon me for good : make this the first proof of the miraculous power, wherewith thou shalt endue me : let Jordan give the same way to me, as it gave

to

my master.” Immediately, the stream, as acknowledging the same mantle, though in another hand, divides itself, and yields passage to the successor of Elijah.

The fifty sons of the prophets, having been afar off witnesses of these admirable events, do well see, that Elijah, though translated in body, hath yet left his spirit behind him. They meet Elisha, and bow themselves to the ground before him. It was not the outside of Elijah, which they had wont to stoop unto, with so much veneration : it was his spirit; which, since they now find in another subject, they entertain with equal reverence. No envy, no emulation, raiseth up their stomachs against Elijah's servant; but, where they see eminent graces, they are willingly prostrate. Those, that are truly gracious, do no less rejoice in the riches of others' gifts, than humbly undervalue their own. These men were trained up in the schools of the prophets ; Elisha, at the plough and cart; yet now they stand not upon terms of their worth and his meanness, but meekly fall down before him whom God will honour. It is not to be regarded, who the man is, but whom God would make him. The more unlikely the means is, the more is the glory of the workman. It is the praise of a holy ingenuity, to magnify the graces of God, wherever it finds them.

These young prophets are no less full of zeal, than reverence ; zeal to Elijah, reverence to Elisha. They see Elijah carried up in the air, they knew this was not the first time of his supernatural removal ; imagining it therefore possible, that the Spirit of God had cast him upon some remote mountain or valley, they proffer the labour of their servants to seek him. In some things, even professed seers are blind : could they think God would send such a chariot and horses, for a less voyage than heaven?

Elisha, knowing his master beyond all the sphere of mortality, forbids them. Good-will makes them unmannerly: their importunity urges him, till he is ashamed: not his approbation, but their vehemence, carries at last a condescent: else, he might perhaps have seemed enviously unwilling, to fetch back so admired a master ; and loth to forego that mantle. Some things may be yielded, for the redeeming of our own vexation, and avoidance of others' misconstruction, which, out of true judgment, we see no cause to affect.

The messengers, tired with three days' search, turn back, as wise as they went. Some men are best satisfied, when they have wearied themselves in their own ways: nothing will teach them wit, but disappointments. Their painful error leads them to a right conceit of Elijah's happier transportation.

Those, that would find Elijah, let them aspire to the heavenly Paradise. Let them follow the high steps of his sincere faithfulness, strong patience, undaunted courage, fervent zeal. Shortly, let them walk in the ways of his holy and constant obedience: at last, God shall send the fiery chariot of death, to fetch them up to that heaven of heavens, where they shall triumph in everlasting joys.

88

CONTEMPLATION VI.-ELISHA HEALING THE
WATERS; CURSING THE CHILDREN;

RELIEVING THE KINGS.

2 KINGS II, III. It is good making use of a prophet, while we have him. Elisha stayed some while at Jericho : the citizens resort to him, with a common suit: their structure was not more pleasant, than their waters unwholesome; and their soil, by those corrupt waters: they sue to Elisha for the remedy.

Why had they not, all this while, made their moan to Elijah? Was it, that they were more awed, with his greater austerity? Or was it, that they met not with so fit an opportunity of his commoration amongst them? It was told them, what power Elisha had exercised

upon the waters of Jordan ; and now they ply him for theirs. Examples of beneficence easily move us, to a request and expectation of favours.

What ailed the waters of Jericho ? Surely, originally they were not ill affected. No men could be so foolish, as to build a city, where neither earth nor water were useful. Mere prospect could not carry men to the neglect of health and profit. Hiel, the Bethelite, would never have re-edified it, with danger of a curse, so lately as in the days of Ahab, if it had been of old notorious for so foul an annoyance. Not therefore the ancient malediction of Joshua, not the neighbourhood of that noisome lake of Sodom, was guilty of this disease of the soil and waters, but the late sins of the inhabitants : He turneth the rivers into a wilderness, and water-springs into a dry ground; a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. How oft have we seen the same field both full and famishing ! How oft, the same waters both safe, and by some irruption or new tincture, hurtful! Howsoever natural causes may concur, heaven, and earth, and air, and waters follow the temper of our souls, of our lives ; and are therefore indisposed, because we are so.

Jericho began now to make itself capable of a better state, since it was now become a receptacle of prophets. Elisha is willing to gratify his hosts. It is reason, that any place should fare the better for the presence of divines.

The medicine is more strange, than the disease; Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. Why a cruse? why new? why salt in that new cruse? How should salt make water potable ? Or, if there were any such virtue in it, what could a cruseful do to a whole 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 new cruse. God, who wrought this by his prophet, is a

As he will not bind his power to means, so will he

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free agent.

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