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“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain ; and it rained
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ELIJAH THE TISHBITE.
to whom, as the organs and instruments of the living
God, we are indebted for the preservation of our light, IT is a splendid description, my beloved, which the and the defence of the true sanctuary. They also Lord gives us of his true church here upon earth, glitter on the turret, to the joy of us-a late posteaddressing it in the Song of Solomon.* “Thy neck rity, and for our consolation as well as for our enis like the tower of David, built for an armory; couraging example. Here, the sword of Noah, of whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields the preacher of righteousness; there, that of Moses, of mighty men.” He compares it with that strong the tortured man; here, the armour of Daniel; there, tower which David built on mount Zion. Thus also that of Judas the Maccabee ; here, that of Paul the stands based upon a rock the church of God; and stanch warrior ; there, that of Peter, the man of rock; " that rock is Christ," and his blood. It rests upon here, the helmet and breastplate of Huss and Wickthe power and word of God. The triune God, who liffe; and, there, the tournamental accoutrements lives for ever, holds it in his hands, and the gates of of Luther, Calvin, and Zuinglius ; all zealous ashell shall not prevail against it.
sertors of the honour of God, all valiant defenders The tower of David was built for an armory, of the fortress of Zion. whereon hung, in thousands, the shields of his cham
And, behold! amongst those spiritual weapons of pions. And when has the tower of the church of heroes, there is one which strikes the eye with its Christ been seen unprotected. The marksman of particular lustre : it has achieved many a deed of hell has, for thousands of years, bent his bow towards faith for the glory and kingdom of God, and was it, and discharged his shafts of hellish fire against it ; two-edged and piercing as ever a sword could be yet, to this day, it stands uninjured. Here, one during a heavy and calamitous time, and is covered shield suffices for a thousand; this one covers it en- with sweat and gore. Whose is the powerful weapon? tirely, shining with dazzling brilliancy: Where is It is that of Elijah the Tishbite, of the man great in the spear that will pierce it. Its shield is the Alpha word, and deed, and wonders, who broke forth like a and Omega, and no rust shall ever corrode it. But flame, and whose word burned like a torch, and who the tower of David was also emblazoned with was so glorious and distinguished by grace that, when various weapons of powerful and mighty men. They the only glorious One walked on earth, the Jews said, were weapons of vanquished enemies, set out as “It is Elijah." The life of Elijah, in his inward trophies of valour ; or they were weapons of cham- emotions and in his outward conduct, is an inexhauspions, crowned with victory, who fought for Zion; tible source of confirmation of faith, encouragement, preserved for posterity as spirit-stirring memo- and solace. Therefore, we intend to unroll to your rials.
view the history of this man of God in a series of Thus also is the living tower of the church of God discourses. We will accompany him at times into covered with the like ornament for the spiritual eye. the streets of the royal city, and to the thrones of Behold, behold! there they hang on the battlements, princes ; at times into the desert and the inhospitable conquered and broken, the weapons of many thou- wilderness ; at times to the open and turbulent thesands of vanquished men of power.
atre of his action ; at times into the retired chamber, sword of the murderer from the beginning, the old and the solitary nook of tears ; and learn of him how serpent; there, the poisonous sting of death, the the Lord guides his people, and how the power of dire king of terrors; here, the artillery of the seven God is strong in the weak. May the Spirit of the hills ; there, the shivered spears and battle-axes of Lord of Lords regard in mercy these our contemmany false prophets, and erroneous minds, together plations, and grant that many an oppressed heart be with their conquered standards: and the number of comforted by them, and many a staggering knee be broken hostile lances, and of vanquished adversaries,
strengthened. brought forth by the hero to public show, increase from year to year.
1 KINGS, XVII. 1. But, let us not overlook, on the tower, the heroic “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of weapons of those who stood in battle for Zion, and Gilead, said unto Ahab, 'As the Lord God of Israel liveth,
before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these * Chap. iv. 4.
years, but according to my word.'”
Thus commences the history of our prophet, con- is, father of many nations ; or it denoted the peculiar cisely and emphatically, placing us at once into the position of a towards God, as the name midst of his life, so that we have already, in his first Enoch, the consecrated, David, the beloved ; and appearance, the whole man as he is, respecting his so on. outward deportment, and internal character. The Therefore it is not to be wondered at, that in manner in which Elijah is introduced in history Israel the name a person bore was also included in is remarkable. The preceding chapters dig as it the sphere of his more serious contemplations, and were through the wall, and disclose to us the wicked that he used to investigate and to inquire what the nesses and abominations in which Israel was deeply Lord might have intended to say and to declare by plunged at that distressing period. And, behold, his name. The names served to the people as meclouds and mists envelop the whole country; images morandum tablets, and like the small bells on the of Baal and Ashturoth grin at us in every direction; garments of the priest, reminding them of the Lord heathenish temples and idolatrous altars cover the and his government, and prompting them to all manholy soil; all the hills smoke from unhallowed sacri- ner of wholesome reflections. People gained confices; all the mounts re-echo the blasphemous yells solation and strength, warning and encouragement, of the priests of falsehood. The people swallow in- from their name; and to many the name grew even iquity like water, and in shameless rites rage around unto a rope by which they were drawn to God. the golden calves. Alas, how deeply has sunk the I am well aware that a man who extends his relisplendour of Israel! how little is the seed of Abra- gious investigation as far as to niceties and details ham to be recognized !--the light, how dark has it such as those of a name is .condemned and laughed become ; how insipid the salt ; and the gold, how dim! at before the tribunal of our enlightened people as a A black heavy night all around--yea, nothing but shallow-minded person, and as an absurd and sunight-without a single consoling star in the skies. perstitious trifler. To our sorrow may it be said that Here on a sudden we hear, “ And Elijah said ;" as if even amongst professed Christians the faith in the dropped from the clouds ; to be compared to a light- God who counts the hairs of our head, and who ning flash of God. Like a blazing torch hurled by the wishes to be great in small things, has in practice hand of Jehovah, this man enters into the dire scene become a rare jewel. But in whomsoever this childof night, fatherless and motherless, without lineage, like faith holds yet its tabernacle, whosoever does like Melchizedek. There he stands, in the midst of not distinguish between great and small things, and devastation in the wide world, alone with his God: brings down the Almighty into every place about almost the only grain of salt in the general rotten- him, and beholds him sitting by his side under the ness, the only leaven that has to leaven the whole fig tree or the vine, he is blessed, and has much joy mass : and, in order that it may be immediately known and peace, and divine delight at all times : and who he is, he commences his course almost like a whereever he be, he beholds tokens, and hears voices God, with an astonishing deed of faith, by shutting of God, in names, in dreams, in thoughts, in vicisup, in the name of his Lord, the heavens upon Israel, situdes, and all around him is the language of God, and changing the firmament into brass and iron. and the rustling of his feet upon the mounts; and, God be praised! the night is no longer so dreary, the Lord his God lisps and prattles with him in all for a man of God is present, which makes it safe as manner of signs and figures, now thus, now otherif the moon had risen above it.
wise, like a mother witli her infant, and is not Let us now dwell for awhile in our contemplation ashamed of the childish idiom. upon what is recorded to us in our present paragraph Our prophet is called Elijah, which is, interpreted, respecting this man of God, and direct our atten- my God of power,” or, “the Lord is my strength ;"' tion, 1.–To his name and to his circumstances. a beautiful and a great name ; and he bore it in 2.—To bis character. 3.—To the prophetic denun- deed, and in verity. He was a man like myself and ciation with which he makes his appearance. thyself; nothing in himself, and yet the strength of
The man with whom we are occupied is called God was his : he had no power, yet deeds of omniElijah.
potence proceeded from his hands; he lay in the We do not consider it a frivolous pastime, in dust, a worm, and yet participated in the authority treating of men of God like Elijah, to pay some re- and government of God, a king ; and had the power gard to the name they bear, and to inquire into its to close and open the clouds, to command the dead meaning and import. In Israel, where the nomen that they live, the living that they perish, and to clature was not at the disposal of human wilfulness, hold judgment upon the enemies of God. Hence but stood under the immediate guidance of God, in he might justly be called Elijah, which implies, you a manner that the Lord often ordered expressly and will say, « God strengthens me?" By no means : directly, “Thus is the child to be named ! there “ God himself is my strength.” Here is a diffewas not a single name without meaning ; not a name rence ; for it does not mean the same, my beloved, if was there void of some positive signification, with you say, “ God guards me with his shield,” or if ouť some real purport. Hence, if it was in one in- you may assert, “God is my shield !" If he guard stance a precious promise and divine assurance, it me with his shield, nothing shall injure even a hair was, in another, a serious warning or a holy maxim, of my head, and misfortune at which I tremble or some other memento, which every man carried cannot approach me. But, if God be my shield, with him in the name he had received. The names I thrust my head into the turbulent storm as if the amongst the people of God either denoted the cha- heavens were calm and serene, and rejoice in God racter and the predominant disposition of a man, even in the midst of tumult, as if I were not in it. like the name Abel, insignificancy, humility; or a Peter, when he went out of prison, freed of his fetters, divine calling, like the name Noah, consoler; or a and all the bolts flew back before him, could shout man's fate upon earth, like Maria, bitterness; or it for joy, on his way, “ The shield of the Lord surincluded a promise which was bestowed upon a man, rounds me.” Stephen, under the deadly shower of like the name of the son of Terah, Abraham, which stones of his enemies, exclaimed, with his angelic
countenance, "God is my shield !” It does not Amorites. It was situate not far from the place signify the same condition, if a person says, “God where once the devils entered into the herd of swine, comforts me,” and if another may declare, “God and it may be conjectured that no Jew was tempted to is my comfort." If the Lord comfort me, I am put up his residence between these hills, unless by the light and glad, and happy in my heart, and into the most urgent circumstances. It may have been an sorrow of my soul flows sensation of joy, that indigent household, perhaps an expelled Jewish cheering spirit. If God be my comfort, the heart family, where the infant Elijah was born and bred. can be riven, and sad, and parched ; I do not des- Tishbe, his birth-place, was most likely nothing pair, but am comforted and of good cheer, and pur- more than an unfrequented miserable village of the sue my way in the turmoil, and am calm. I do not mountains; and, in all probability, our boy saw but possess it in the feelings, but I possess it in the little of schools, colleges, and the pomp of the world. naked faith in the God who has once sworn to me However, it is a rule adopted of yore, by our God, to be my God; I have it in the faith which has and to choose those by whom he intends to accomplish possesses also what I neither see, nor taste, nor great things from out the dust rather than from feel.
regal thrones, that it may be manifested how every It is not one and the same thing, my beloved, thing depends upon his choice, and be understood to say, “ God gives me peace," and to affirm, " God that it is not the flesh that has accomplished this or is my peace." If God give me peace, the proud that object, but that the honour is due entirely to waves of my soul subside, the storm is abated, and him. By reason of which he also prepared, at that the burning flames are extinguished ; calm and time, at Gilead, the eye-salve which should cure the soft breezes, as from the summit of Horeb, pervade eyes of the daughter of Zion, and brought up under my heart, and spices spread their perfume in my special care in the murderous den of the Amorites garden. But, if tempestuous clouds still encompass the man with whom he intended, as with a bludgeon, the horizon of my soul, and it thunder and lighten to scatter altars, to judge kings, and to destroy the here and there, and conscience may murmur, and priesthood of Baalim. If we translate “ Tishbite" the flesh rebel, and thoughts accuse, and the fiery into English, it means a converter. How congruent shafts of the wicked one whiz through the alarmed is also this appellation with the whole life and the soul, I suffer affliction, but do not alarm myself; peculiar calling of our prophet. We know nothing am in fear, but despair not; and, lifted in the chariot of the juvenile days of Elijah, and his former life and of faith above the tumult, throw my arms round actions, save that an old, no doubt fictitious, yet the glorified wounds of my Lord, and save myself very ingenious tradition, gives us the following narin the reflection that he is “God, Amen,” and that rative : -At the birth of Elijah, his father, Sobach, he keeps his covenant and faithfulness unto the is said to have had a vision. He beheld several men thousandth generation. I anchor the poor weather- in white shining garments around his little son, who beaten bark of my heart in the haven of faith, at was wound by them with great reverence in fiery the free grace of God, and by the rocks of inviolable linen, and presented with burning flames in lieu of promises, then the Lord is my peace. The same food. The priests then interpreted this vision to the distinction bear also the expressions, “God strength effect that the house of Elijah would, in time, stand ens me,” and “God is my strength.” If God in great splendour, and he himself would judge Israel strengthen me, I am something through his grace, with the fire of his mouth.—And what prophecy and feel a divine power within me by means of could have been more punctually fulfilled than this which I am capable of something, and feel armed one ! and equipped with courage and the spirit of joy in With a word of faith and power, Elijah enters upon my soul, and disregard walls and barriers, and have the stage of history. “ And Elijah,” we hear, " the a clear and unimpeded passage, and fear nothing. Tishbite, said. And where, and when, and to whom, But, as long as I am nothing, and find nothing but does he speak? Lo, behold! The voice of one crying futility and weakness within my soul, and a trem- in the wilderness. Since the death of Solomon, misbling at the sight of danger that surrounds me, and fortune had rushed in upon Israel precipitously, as of the tremendous mountains of difficulties that lie on the wings of the vulture, and no impediment was before me, and yet, if nature even recoil, I go cheer- strong enough to keep off any longer the flood of fully to meet them, hoping, contrary to reason, feel- general depravity. The arbitrary declaration of Reing, and hope, in the naked faith in Him who is hoboam, the son of Solomon, on his succession to everlastingly nigh, who will go along with me, and the throne, that, as his father had punished the to whom it is a trifle to rebuke the waves in the sea people with the whip, he would scourge them for the with a single word, and to plough down mountains future with scorpions, created great discontent, and, into plains, and I proceed by faith on the waves of in consequence, ten of the tribes revolted, renounced natural fea without courage, a hero strong in their submission to him, constituted themselves a weakness, brave in despair ; then I can boast, "God separate kingdom, and chose the field-marshal Jerois my strength," and my feet are placed upon a rock. boam for their king. Only the two tribes Benjamin A wonderful thing is faith, that enshrines omnipo- and Judah remained subject to the reigning king, tence, that brings God and a worm into unity, and and forthwith to the house of David, and from this gives the sceptre of the omnipotent into the hands period formed the kingdom of Judah : on the other of babes.
hand, the ten rebellious tribes called themselves the Elijah could not boast much of his pedigree, rank, kingdom of Israel. The kings of the realm of Judah, and mother country. He was a native, as we per- who possessed the south of the promised land, receive from the text, of the mountains of Gilead, on sided in Jerusalem and on Zion. The kings of the the other side of Jordan ; which region, if even rich realm of Israel, which comprised the northern proin all kinds of plants, herbs, spices, and salves, was, vinces, kept their seat in the fortress Thirza, situated for the most part, inhabited by blind heathens, and on a mount, and subsequently in the city of Samaria. covered with the idolatrous abominations of the oth ese realms were