« PreviousContinue »
none, but the Israel, the Zion of God, to whose protection I commit her, well knowing that he will be
a wall of fire about her, and the glory in the midst." A seed shall serve him, far more numerous than in my day, (for most have bowed the knee to Baal,) and it shall be counted to the Lord for a generation.” Yea, to leave the world, makes me leap for joy, for sinners shall no more create me sorrow,
and I myself shall henceforth cease to sin. There I shall join the church of the first-born, who are written amongst the living in Jerusalem; and then, O how shall I sing to the eternal name, and never cease, and never tire! My bliss shall know no bound, my rapture no restraint, my gladness no alloy, my day no night, my sky no cloud, my light no shadow, my glory no decay, my praises no interruptions, my delight no cloy, my strength no weakness, my pleasures no period, my eternity no end. Eternity! let it just now begin.
Elisha. O how should I rejoice to enter with thee, though through the dark passage of death, into that triumphant state !
Elijah. A triumphant state indeed, where God dwells in the full display of his glory, and where, not as below, the holy of holies stands eternally open, for all the worshippers of God, who, with freedom, enter in. Trouble is debarred the seats of tranquillity, and pain finds no place in the regions of immortality. No passion disturbs the soul, and perfect love casts out all fear. There the glories of Immanuel enlighten the unbounded extent of Paradise. My dear Elisha, in a little time you would not know your aged friend, Elijah! Now I am wrinkled with
age and sorrow, as you know I have been jealous for the honour of my God, who is now about to translate me to bis ineffable glory; but then, a smile, known to none but the inhabitants of bliss, shall settle on my countenance for ever, and make my face shine as an angel of God. O the hidden treasures of eternity! These, in all their variety and abundance, shall the glorified saints possess. O the vastness of that glory, which eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, nor the heart of man conceived, that waits to be revealed! I stand on the borders of the heavenly Canaan, on the confines of eternity, and glance at all the glory which in a little time shall be mine. With holy transport I shall enter his temple, where every one eternally talks of his glory. I pant for the approaching opportunity to prostrate myself before the highest throne, wholly dissolved in love. Let the hour shorten into a minute, the minute into a moment, and the moment be no more !—It is done. The heavens divide, the fiery chariot, quick as lightning, rolls: my blessing on Israel, on Zion, on thee, my dear Elisha. Welcome my only Lord God. Heaven opens around me, glory overflows me, and the transforming beams unfold, and bear me hence, to everlasting day.
Elisha. “My father ! my father! the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof !”
Thus with a prosperous soul, the holy prophet ascended; Elisha caught his mantle, walked in his steps, and served the Lord God of Elijah. May this too be the happiness of my soul. Amen.
It would be foreign to the author's design, to extend the list of prosperous souls from the Holy Scriptures: and therefore instead of dwelling much on the excellencies of particular characters, which might fill a volume, he would content himself with a few more general remarks; referring the reader, at the same time, to the New Testament itself, which should be read daily.
The evangelists and apostles were called by divine grace, and hence alone arose their soul prosperity, and those principles and motives by which their pious conduct was afterwards influenced.' When they were called by our Saviour, " they left all and followed him." His love was shed abroad in their hearts, by the Holy Ghost, and their renovated souls were drawn out after him who came to redeem them from death, and from all iniquity. It is true they had not perfectly clear ideas of his design in coming, or of the nature of his kingdom, till after his resurrection: but nevertheless they were his property and his servants, and he gradually introduced them into the knowledge of those divine and holy mysteries, which the angels desire to look into; and at which after their furthest possible glance, they may fall down in humble adoration, and cry, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
The love of Christ constrained his disciples to forego all worldly advantages, to brave all dangers, to endure all hardships, even death itself, rather
than deny and forsake him, on whom all their hopes of immortality were suspended.
There was a holy amiableness in the character of John, whom Jesus is said to have loved in a particular manner. His super-eminent excellence brightly reflected the divine image, and therefore more notice is taken of it and of him on account of it, by his divine Lord and master. He leaned on Jesus' bosom, his soul caught the heavenly flame, and prospered exceedingly. When in his epistle he wrote to Gaius, as to a man like minded, he addressed him thus, “ Beloved, I wish above all things, that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” By this it was intimated to Gaius, that if his outward circumstances did but prosper in proportion as his soul prospered, he would indeed be a highly favoured man, and have reason to say with David, “ Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name, and forget not all his benefits.”
But what shall be said of Thomas and Peter ? The former was unbelieving, and the latter denied his Lord and Master with sinful oaths and curses. Did their souls prosper ? Certainly not at that time. Their sin sprang from the depravity which remained in them, and which doubtless was strengthened by the temptations of Satan.' Our Lord told Peter, in particular, that Satan " desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat." He succeeded, indeed, so far, as to hold him awhile in nis snare; a gracious look, however, from Jesus effected his deliverance, and he “escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowler.” It is true, Peter was sadly criminal in this
matter; his fall was an act of apostasy, and a forfeiture of all that he ever hoped for from Christ ; yėt, notwithstanding this, it was overruled for good. It destroyed his self-confidence, humbled his pride, and increased his vigilance and circumspection as long as he lived. He had probably been too forward, in avowing his attachment to Christ; and had, perhaps an idea, that he was our Saviour's warmest friend. His language on one sad occasion, seems to imply this: “ Though all men should forsake thee, yet will not I.” In this indeed they all united, but Peter was the foremost, and the most confident. Doubtless they spoke as they felt; but alas! what is man? They all forsook him and fled, and Peter denied his having any knowledge of him," with oaths and curses. Like Hazael, they little suspected how much evil their hearts contained, nor did they well know, at present, that their strength was "perfect weakness."
Thus many a soaring professor, infiated with spiritual pride, has suddenly been cut down at a stroke. God has permitted such to fall from their height, that they might know their own weakness, and be deeply humbled before him. “ A man's pride will” surely “bring him low, and “before honour is humility.” This was eminently the case with Peter, as may be seen by his admirable epistles, and determined zeal and perseverance in the service of Christ, to the very last.
The apostle Paul was an example of true heroism, and of highly elevated prosperity of soul. His conversion was miraculous, and its immediate effects on himself must excite our admiration. He instantly