« PreviousContinue »
would carry him through, as he did Elijah besore him. So he smote the waters.
2. We have what he said when he smote the waters: Where is the Lord God of Elijah P It is a vehement exclamation for the presence of that God that was with Elijah: Where is, &c.; or a most ardent prayer for it: Where art thou? as some read it; for' neither is nor art is in the original. He inquires no more aster Elijah, he has no petitions to that faint when once he was departed; that had been impious; what he had to ask of him, he asked while he was on earth. He does not sit down and weep, and pore on the loss of Elijah, as if there had been no more hopes of good days since he was gone; but he betakes himself to Elijah's God. Though Elijah was gone, his God still remained. Elijah's experience of good from Elijah's God, kindled in Elisha's heart a surprising desire aster him, and sills him with hope of good entertainment at that door where Elijah had come so good speed; for these are not words of dissisidence, but of mighty earnestness, and strong faith; as appears by considering,
3. The issue of the whole, which was according to his wish. God was present with him the same way he had been with Elijah before, Jordan is divided, &c. These words (he also) some make Elisha's answering to himself, and read them, even he, viz. Elijah's God, yet endures; but though there is no doubt Elisha believed this, yet that reading does violence to the points and stops, without regarding of which there can be no certain sense of.any language; therefore our tranflation is preserable; and these words (he also) are emphatical, to shew the freedom of God's grace, which is tied to none, but open and free
to all that come to him for it in the way that others received it. From these words, I take this
Doctrine, That the consideration of God's presence with his people in former days, should bring the succeeding generation to the same God for the same entertainment.
In speaking to which, I shall,
I. Instance a sew os these experiences of God's people in former days.
II. Show how we should come to God for the same entertainment
III. Give the reasons of the doctrine.—And,
IV. Add the improvement.
I. I shall instance a sew of the sweet and desirable experiences of the Lord's people, which should bring us to the gracious Giver for the fame, and such like; and I shall instance none but these of Elijah, who, you must remember, was a man subject to like passions as we are, James, v. 17. and to these I think the text leads me. Some instances of sweet entertainment this holy man had; such as,
i. The God of Elijah gave him the sweet experience of keeping warm and lively in a very cold and dead generation; so that he was best when others were worst. His zeal for God burnt most vigoroufly when the generation was turned most coldrise, halting betwixt God and Baal, like true sire that burns most keenly in the winterfrost, when a chill and cold air was the only air about him. By the warm blowings of the Spirit from above upon him, he was kept warm within. When nothing but deadness was on every hand, the Spirit of life from above kept him lively. So it was with Ncah in the old world: Gen. vi. 9. "Noah was a just man, and persect in his generation." And Lot, 2 Pet. ii. 8. "For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawsul deeds."
But where is the Lord God of Elijah in these dregs of time, wherein proseflbrs generally are carried away with the stream of impiety from all their liveliness and tenderness that sometimes have been among them, when the more wickedness sets . up its head, piety is made to hide its head the more? a svul evidence that God is gone from us, when the standard of wickedness makes such advances, and that of shining holiness is retreating, and can hardly get hands to hold it up. I will tell you twO fad experiences, common at this day.
(1.) The sulsilling of that scripture, Matth. xxiv. 12. "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." It is a time when atheism, deism, and immorality, make prodigious advances, and practical godliness is under a deep decay.1 I doubt if ever Satan had more hands at work to overthrow revealed religion, and to r32e the foundations of it, than at this day l and this esfort of Satan's against the church, has joined with it a most lamentable decay of the vitals of practical religion in those that are called by the Lord's name; so that we are like to be exposed to this surious attack, wanting the best piece of cur armour against it; that is, an experience and seeling of the power of truth on our own souls: Ah ! where is the Lord God of Elijah?
(2.) What heat there is, strikes all outward, while in the mean time folks are key-cold within; fed sign of a distempered body. It is not hard
to discern severals shewing a great deal of concern in the lamentable occurrences of our day; but how hard is it to sind a man that is truly awakened to the exercise of godliness by all the alarming dispensations of our day, that is moved with sear, and busy preparing an ark for the evil day, labouring to get the particular controversy between God and his foul removed, putting out of his way the stumbling-block of his iniquity, and setting matters in order for the day of the Lord? Nay, Sirs, though some talk in their fleep, it seems we will all fleep together, till God's heavy hand give us a searsul awakening: Where is the Lord God of Elijah P
2. 'she God of Elijah gave him the sweet experience of the power of prayer: James, v. 17. « Eiias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space os three years and six months; and he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." He was mighty in prayer ; by his prayers the bottles of heaven were opened, the key of the clouds turned, nay, the bands of death loosed, 1 Kings, xvii. He was a great favourite of Heaven, whose cries pierced the clouds, got in to the throne, and returned, like Noah's dove, with an olive-branch of. peace in his mouth. Such experience of the power of prayer had Jacob: Hos. xii. 4. "Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed," Gen. xxxii. Many times the Lord's people, when closed up on every side, have found a sweet outgate, their souls flying upward in prayer. The prayers.of the saints have been the great ordinance of the church, have frustrated the plans of enemies, and turned them back on their own heads.
But where is the God of Elijah, while the trade with heaven by prayers is so very low? Alas for the dead, cold, and flat prayers, that come from the lips of prosessors at this day! so weak and languishing, that they cannot reach heaven. Sometimes the Lord lets loose enemies on his people, torses them from vessel to vessel, and then the way betwixt heaven and them was well occupied. They had still some particular suits lying before the throne, and they could have given a good account of their receipts. But long ease has made them lose their tongue; so that the experience of many in that point now can hardly be named, unless they turn back to former days. There is one experience of Elijah's, which, I sear, is not uncommon among praying folk at this day, and that is, a restraint laid on them, that they cannot wrestle with God for the averting of wrath from the generation of God's wrath, i Kings, xvii. 3. *—9. . Such a fad experience had Jeremiah also, before the1 Babylonish captivity, Jer. xiv. 11. and xv. 1. And though God doth not so reveal his mind now in particular cases, yet I suppose that it will be sound, that those who live near God, and have the spirit of prayer in • such cases, may sind something equivalent thereto in their liberty and considence with the Lord, and that according to the subject of their requests: Ezek. xxxvi. 37. "Thus faith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inq'uired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." .
3. The experience of the sweet fruits of depen.dance on the Lord, and of a little going far, with his blessing: 1 Kings, xvii. 16. "And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord." Elijah saw so very sew for God in his day, that he thought