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severe message he sent to him by hispr ophet; neither must we overlook the mercy of God in this instance, for there is the greatest reason to suppose, that though Ahaziah was threatened with death for sending to enquire of a dumb idol, yet if he had humbled himself, and sought the living God, the sentence might have been reversed; instead of doing so, he defied the LORD, and sent three different parties of soldiers to seize the prophet by violence, and bring him into his presence.

Ahaziah was well acquainted with the person of Elijah, and judged, from the description his messengers gave, that it was certainly he who sent them back. The captains who commanded the two first bands, seem to have had the same bad principles with their sovereign; for instead of addressing Elijah with reverence, they impiously presumed to command the servant of the Lord JEHOVAH to attend their wicked prince: this was such an open defiance of God, as called for immediate vengeance. We must not suppose that Elijah had the command of the elements, and could deal forth destruction according to his own will and pleasure on all who offended him by personal insults; neither would so good a man have taken such severe revenge for private injuries done to himself, because he would in such a case have acted contrary to his duty; but on this occasion he spake as the Lord inspired him, who caused him to pronounce those words before the judgment was inflicted, in order to prove that he was, as he professed to be, the man or prophet of God, who would not suffer his servants to be persecuted as such with impunity, since forbearance would have given room for idolaters to triumph, and would have brought disgrace on true religion. In respect to these judgments, there was no cruelty; on the contrary, the captain who humbly deprecated the wrath of God was spared, and Elijah was ordered to accompany him; by which means this officer was secured from the punishment which the king would most likely have condemned him to, if he had returned without executing his royal commands.

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Elijah did not endeavour to conceal himself from Ahaziah; for repeated deliverances had taught him to repose confidence in the LORD; neither did he seek to gain respect by his outward appearance; for his best attire, as we may judge by the messenger's description, was a hairy garment, fastened with a leathern girdle ; yet, in this mean garb, how truly honourable was he; enlightened by the Holy Spirit, sustained by miracles, and commissioned to reprove kings!

Elijalı did not enter the apartment of the monarch as a prisoner, but in the spirit and power of the Lord, boldly to perform the prophetic office, by declaring to Ahaziah's face, the sentence he had been commanded of God to pronounce upon him. The fear of the LORD fell on this wicked king and all present, which restrained them from offering violence to Elijah ; who soon saw the accomplishment of his prophecy in the death of Ahaziah, who reigned only two years.

SECTION LXIII.

THE TRANSLATION OF ELIJAH THE PROPHET.

From 2 Kings, Chap. ii.

And it came to pass when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee: for the Lord hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, 1 will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el.

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And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to-day; and he said, Yea, I know it ; hold you your peace.

And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.

And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head today? and he answered, Yea, I know it; hold you your peace.

And Elijah said unto him, 'Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee, And they two went on.

And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.

And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it toge. ther, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over ‘on dry ground.

And it came to pass when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing; nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

And it came to pass as they still went on, and talked, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses

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of fire, and parted them both asunder: and Elijah wens up by a whirlwind into heaven.

And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. and he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan, and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah ; and when he had also sniitten the waters, they parted hither and thither; and Elisha went over.

And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master; lest peradventure the spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.

And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.

And when they came again to him (for they tarried. at Jericho) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?

ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS..

It appears that the LORD had made known to Elijah, that he should soon be removed from this world; on which account he visited the sons of the prophets in their schools or colleges, in order to admonish, instruct, @ 5

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and bless them, before his departure: the thoughts of losing the advantage of his direction and example must have filled them all with great concern; but Elisha was particularly affected on this occasion, for he not only honoured Elijah on account of his high office, but also entertained great affection and esteem for him, as a man of singular virtue and piety, the loss of whose company he should most likely have daily cause to deplore; he therefore resolved to attend him to the last, being desirous of receiving as much advantage as possible from his conversation ; for this reason he was displeased with the interruption of those, who could only tell him what he already knew to his sorrow.

Considering the great massacre which Jezebel had a few years before made of the prophets, it is surprising to read of their being such numbers of them at this period. But it was an act of God's particular provie dence“ to preserve the schools, * where men trained and employed in the exercises of religion and devotion and to which good people resorted, to solemnize the appointed feasts with prayer and praises, when they had not conveniences for sacrifice or to incense, and were prevented from going to the Temple at Jerusalem: and thus religion was kept up in a time of general apostasy."

It is likely that those who stood to view afar off were desirous of attending Elijah; but kept at a distance when they found that Elisha wished to be alone with his master: they were however sufficiently near to be eye witnesses of the event.

" Itt may be supposed, that the dividing of the river Jordan was ordered of the LORD, for an assurance to Elijah, that He would as certainly translate him to a • Henry's Annotations,

+ Ibid.

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