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THE SECOND BOOK OF THE KINGS, commonly called, THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE KINGS, l. 1-18.

Ahaziah's captains are destroyed by fire from heaven. i Then Moab rebelled against loins. And he said, It is Elijah Israel after the death of Ahab. the Tishbite. 2 And Ahaziah fell down through 9 Then the king sent unto him a lattice in his upper chamber a captain of fifty with his fifty. that was in Samaria, and was And he went up to him: and, sick : and he sent messengers, behold, he sat on the top of an and said unto them, Go, enquire hill. And he spake unto him, of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron Thou man of God, the king whether I shall recover of this bath said, Come down. disease.

10 And Elijah answered and 3 But the angel of the LORD said to the captain of fifty, If I be said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, a man of God, then let fire come go up to meet the messengers down from heaven, and consume of the king of Samaria, and say thee and thy fifty. And there unto them, Is it not because came down fire from heaven, there is not a God in Israel, that and consumed him and his fifty. ye go to enquire of Baal-zebub 11 Again also he sent unto him the god of Ekron?

another captain of fifty with his 4 Now therefore thus saith the fifty. And he answered and LORD, Thou shalt not come said unto him, O man of God, down from that bed on which thus hath the king said, Come thou art gone up, but shalt surely down quickly. die. And Elijah departed. 12 And Elijah answered and 5 And when the messengers said unto them, If I be a man of turned back unto him, he said God, let fire come down from unto them, Why are ye now heaven, and consume thee and turned back?

thy fifty. And the fire of God 6 And they said unto him, came down from heaven, and There came a man up to meet consumed him and his fifty. us, and said unto us, Go, turn 13 And he sent again a captain again unto the king that sent of the third fifty with his fifty. you, and say unto him, Thus And the third captain of fifty saith the LORD, Is it not because went up, and came and fell on there is not a God in Israel, that his knees before Elijah, and bethou sendest to enquire of Baal- sought him, and said unto him, zebub the god of Ekron ? there. O man of God, I pray thee, let fore thou shalt not come down my life, and the life of these from that bed on which thou art fifty thy servants, be precious in gone up, but shalt surely die. thy sight.

7 And he said unto them, 14 Behold, there came fire down What manner of man was he from heaven, and burnt up the which

came up to meet you, and two captains of the former fifties told you these words?

with their fifties: therefore let my 8 And they answered him, He life now be precious in thy sight. was an hairy man, and girt with 15 And the angel of the Lord a girdle of leather about his said unto Elijah, Go down with him : be not afraid of him. And shalt surely die. he arose, and went down with 17 So he died according to the him unto the king.

word of the Lord which Eli16 And he said unto him, Thus jah had spoken. And Jehoram saith the Lori), Forasmuch as reigned in his stead in the sethou hast sent messengers to en- cond year of Jehoram the son of quire of Baal-zebub the god of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; beÉkron, is it not because there is cause he had no son. no God in Israel to enquire of 18 Now the rest of the acts of his word ? therefore thou shalt Ahaziah which he did, are they not come down off that bed on not written in the book of the which thou art gone up, but chronicles of the kings of Israel?

LECTURE 596.

Of profiting by warnings. Even sickness cannot teach Ahaziah the folly of consulting a false god, and despising the counsel of the Holy One of Israel. Even

sickness, helpful as it is sometimes found in turning sinners unto God, is far from always leading them to see the error of their ways. Many a wicked Christian, on his deathbed, is ever sending out his thoughts on superstitious errands, and clinging to all conceivable ways of safety but the right one. Oh how much at such a season do these owe to God, if some true prophet, and faithful messenger of the Lord, should then compel them to hear those words of warning, and threats of judgment, which even yet, if duly listened to, with meekness and contrition, might possibly work godly sorrow and genuine repentance! Oh how far better to be told, in what jeopardy of death they actually are, death here and death hereafter, how far better than to be promised peace when there is none; if the truth thus told may by any possibility be a means to save them from dying everlastingly!

But what if it should only harden their hearts? Can any thing be conceived more horrible, than for the wicked to be so bent upon fulfilling their own will, and enjoying their own godless way, as that they hate and persecute the ministers of the truth? Let such take warning, if any warning can reach unto them, from the end of those whom Ahaziah made the instruments of his wrath; the captains of fifty who presumptuously endeavoured to take Elijah the Tishbite by force. There sat that holy man of God, alone, “on the top of an hill;" where he might easily be surrounded by the numbers sent to take him, and whence there seemed no prospect of escape. And confidently the first captain called on him to surrender in their king's name, “ Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.” A summons this, which no good subject would one moment disobey, unless warranted by express command from heaven. This however was Elijah's case. He was, as here addressed, “a man of God.” He had a commission as God's prophet, and a command received from God by direct inspiration, superseding his allegiance

to Ahaziah. In reference to this authority, he "answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty.”. And in proof of bis having God's warrant for these words, “there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty."

But this awful miracle could not stay the fury of the king. So much the more urgently he sent by a second captain, and bade Elijah “come down quickly.” Nay, and after this captain and his fifty bad been consumed in like manner by fire from heaven, he sent again a third captain, and third company of men, on the same wicked and hopeless errand. Dreadful indeed are the passions of them that bear rule, when long pampered by guilty indulgence, and at length firmly opposed ; dreadful, not so much to others, as to themselves. They fret, they storm; they persist in endeavouring to enforce their own purposes, however manifestly opposite to the will of God. Whilst the objects of their mad persecution, if wrongfully oppressed, and devoutly trusting in the strength of the Most High, are seated in security on an eminence, which no force of man can reach. With Elijah they either stay apart from their oppressors, or go forth and meet them face to face, whichsoever be their duty for the time being. When the foods of persecution are at the highest, and the waves thereof rage most horribly, with the Psalmist they can thankfully reficct, “the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier.” Ps. 93. 5. And though like Paul and Silas they should be taken by force, and bound with chains, they can make their dark prison to resound with the praises of the Lord; whilst the hearts of those who oppress them are distracted with cares, terrified with alarms, and wrung with unavailing remorse.

If all these awful warnings were thrown away on Abaziah, it is pleasing to think, that they were not lost on all of those, whom he dispatched to execute his wicked will. “The third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life and the life of these fifty thy servants be precious in thy sight.”. The prayer ascends from earth. The voice of mercy is heard from heaven. “ The angel of the Lord said unto Elijah, Go down with him : be not afraid of him.” The third captain and his fifty are spared. The wicked king Ahaziah who sent him, after hearing his own sentence from Elijah's lips, dies, according to the word of the Lord. Let us be wise in time; and take the warnings which God sends us for our good; and resolve instantly to surrender and resign our own wilful thoughts and works to his most holy will and pleasure. In whatsoever we have resisted his commands, let us at once conform to them unreservedly. In whatsoever we have reason to fear his judgments, let us earnestly deprecate his wrath. In whatsoever we have already experienced his mercy, let us give thanks for our deliverance unto Him.

PART IV. 0. T.

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And

Elijah is taken up into heaven. 1 And it came to pass, when Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord would take up Elijah the Lord hath sent me to Jorinto heaven by a whirlwind, that dan. And he said, As the LORD Elijah went with Elisha from liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I Gilgal.

will not leave thee. And they 2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, two went on. Tarry here, I pray thee; for the 7 And fifty men of the sons of LORD hath sent me to Beth-el. the prophets went, and stood to And Elisha said unto him, As view afar off: and they two stood the Lord liveth, and as thy soul by Jordan. liveth, I will not leave thee. So Š And Elijah took his mantle, they went down to Beth-el. and wrapped it together, and 3 And the sons of the prophets smote the waters, and they were that were at Beth-el came forth divided hither and thither, so to Elisha, and said unto him, that they two went over on dry Knowest thou that the LORD ground. will take away thy master from 9 And it came to pass, when thy head to day? And he said, they were gone over, that Elijah Yea, I know it ; hold ye your said unto Elisha, Ask what I peace.

shall do for thee, before I be 4 And Elijah said unto him, taken away from thee. Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; Elisha said, I pray thee, let a for the Lord hath sent me to double portion of thy spirit be Jericho. And he said, As the upon me. Lord liveth, and as thy soul io And he said, Thou hast liveth, I will not leave thee. So asked a hard thing : nevertheless, they came to Jericho.

if thou see me when I am taken 5 And the sons of the prophets from thee, it shall be so unto that were at Jericho came to thee; but if not, it shall not be so. Elisha, and said unto him, 11 And it came to pass, as they Knowest thou that the LORD still went on, and talked, that, will take away thy master from behold, there appeared a chariot thy head to day?' And he an- of fire, and horses of fire, and swered, Yea, I know it ; hold parted them both asunder; and ye your peace.

Elijah went up by a whirlwind 6 And Elijah said unto him, into heaven.

LECTURE 597.

The revelation of immortality: This is one of the most striking passages in the Old Testament, to point attention to man's immortality; and to lead the reflecting Israelite, however thankful he might feel for the corn and wine and oil of Canaan, to look for a better country, that is to say, an heavenly one. We know indeed beyond dispute, from the Epistle to the Hebrews, that by faith the holy men of old did so interpret God's precious promises; did not only live in the enjoyment of much earthly happiness, but also “ died in faith, not having received the promises, but baving seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Heb. ll. 13. And we 'may reasonably think, that whatever ground of assurance for these hopes might be given them in the words of the Most High, they would derive much additional conviction, from the wonderful act, of God's taking up a man whilst yet alive, from earth, to dwell with Him in heaven.

In this removal of Elijah there is indeed a very manifest revelation of another world. We are told that at a certain time « the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind.” We find that Elisha was so far aware of what was about to happen, that he would by no means part company with Elijah. We hear the sons of the prophets both at Bethel and at Jericho foreshewing the same wonderful event. We see fifty of them standing to view afar off. And when Elijah in company with Elisha had gone through Jordan, by a miracle, “on dry ground,” we observe the one speak of his departure to the other, saying, “ Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee;" upon which the other replied, " I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.' These were the words of persons fully expecting, that the one, who was in place of parent to the other, was about to depart this present life. And Elisha's request was as if he asked for an eldest son's proportion of a dying father's property. For thus it was written in the Law, that the father must acknowledge the firstborn, “ by giving him a double portion of all that he hath.” Deut. 21. 17.

All parties then were looking for Elijah to leave this present world. All expected him to leave it in no common way. And the attention of Elisha was quickened by the assurance, that hard as was the thing which he had asked, it should be given him, if he saw Elijah, at the moment of departure.

" And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” Thus Elijah, like Enoch, was translated that he should not see death. He was taken up into heaven alive." And Elisha saw it.” Ver. 12. And he was therefore able to give testimony all the time he lived to that which his own eyes had seen. He was able to speak as an eyewitness to the fact, that Elijah was truly removed in the flesh from this world which we inhabit, and taken up by a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, until he could be seen no more. With a body like unto our own he disappeared from earth. With a manifestation of supernatural interference, he “went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” Who that saw it could fail to reflect, There is then another world where man can live? Who that hears of it, and knows it to be true, can forbear to long most earnestly, Oh that I might live in that world of joy and glory, to all eternity ?

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