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confirmed her faith. “ Now I certainly know," said she, “ that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.” To this part of the sacred history, as well as to the resuscitation of the Shunamite's son by Elisha, St. Paul alludes in these words : Women received their dead raised to life again.
The modesty of the Prophet, in this memorable display of power, claims our notice. No word of self-exultation drops from his lips. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother : and Elijah said, “See, thy son liveth.”
Here we have a type of the lowliness of mind, so eminently characteristical of the blessed Saviour ; who, in his miracles, avoided every appearance of seeking the praise of men.
Of stubborn perseverance in idolatry, a crime for which the Jewish law provided no expiation, we have a melancholy example in the conduct of Ahab. The famine still raged with unabated fury. It's calamitous effects, not limited to the human race, had extended to the cattle, the horses, and the mules. With a view to provide herbage for them, Ahab explores in person one part of his dominions, while his first minister, Obadiah, by his direction examines a different district. During this investigation, Elijah is commanded by God, in the third year, to present himself to the King of Israel.
The portraiture of an upright man is here exhibited to our view. In the midst of a corrupted people, Obadiah preserved his integrity pure and untainted :
Nor number nor example with him wrought
Promoted to the most honourable department in the state, he debased himself by no mean or servile compliances. One principle uniformly guided his life; the fear of God* ;' an expression, frequently used in Scripture to denote an uninterrupted endeavour to fulfil the demands of moral and religious duty. The encomium, which he assumes to himself; “1, thy servant, fear the Lord from my youth,” is perfectly consistent
* This principle, powerfully instilled into his mind in the outset of life, inspired him with the most ardent zeal for God and for Religion. Hence he was encouraged to evade compliance with the savage mandate of Jezebel, when she caused the Prophets of the Lord to be slain. He rescued one hundred of them from her violence, concealed them in caves, and at the hazard of his own life secretly furnished them with provisions.
with that simplicity, of which many instances occur in the early ages of the world.
Upon the appearance of Elijah, as he was executing the commission above-mentioned, Obadiah instantly knew him; and acknowledging his superior authority, fell on his face and said, “ Art thou my Lord Elijah?” “ I am,” was the reply; “ Go tell thy Lord, behold, Elijah is here.” Nothing can more vividly depict the tyranny of the prince, than the account given by Obadiah, in his subsequent answer, of the oath exacted from his people that . Elijah was not to be found in his dominions, nor more forcibly portray the apprehension of the minister, than the enumeration of good acts which he had performed in contravention of the royal Edict, and his apprehension lest the spirit of God should carry away Elijah ; assured as he was of the danger he should incur, if Ahab should find himself disappointed in his expectation of seeing the Prophet. To dissipate his terrors, Elijah thus addresses him : “ As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him to-day.” And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, “ Art thou he, that troubleth Israel ;* by causing this drought, or grievous famine, to
* Acts xvi. 20. This troubleth' may allude to Elijah's exertions previously to the period, at which the historian commences his narrative.
prevail in the land ?” And he answered, “ I have not troubled Israel; but thou and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.”
It is the criterion of a true Prophet, to utter the words of inspiration with an undaunted mind. The charge objected to him he firmly disavows, referring the afflictions of the land to their true source. The abrupt transition from this charge to Elijah's subsequent command renders it probable, that Ahab denied the justice of the inference; and that Elijah, in order to convince him of his error, urges him to send and gather to him all Israel unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal, four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves (or, of Astarté) four hundred, which ate at Jezebel's table. Ahab, struck with the majesty of the Prophet's appearance, or affected by the miseries of the famine, or (still more probably) confident in the superior efficacy of the prayers of his own priesthood, immediately assented to the proposal.
No religious institution could be more inimical to polytheism than that, which God delivered to Moses. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is onc Lord.
To support this momentous truth, Elijah challenges an impartial trial. The occasion leads us to be spectators, as it were, of the important contest. The theatre, on which the competition takes place, is Mount Carmel. The combatants are, on one side Omnipotence, and Baal on the other. Elijah, unsupported by man, pleads the cause of God; while a powerful company of priests assert against him the pre-eminence of their idol.
The people of Israel, halting between two opinions, whether to follow Baal or to serve the God of their forefathers, are required by Elijah to determine their ensuing worship by the event. He bids them look upon him as the sole remnant of God's Prophets in Israel ; without human confederate, and dependent on Jehovah alone for the miraculous result which he expected. But “ the prophets of Baal,” he added, “are four hundred and fifty men. Let them then provide two bullocks, and selecting one, prepare it for sacrifice, and put no fire under. I myself will prepare the other in the same manner: and call ye on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord ; and the God, that answereth by fire, let him be God.” They accept the test. The wood is prepared; the altar erected, and a victim cut in pieces is laid upon it by the priests of Baal, who invoke the name of their god from morning until noon ; “ O Baal, hear us.” No response is given; no exertion of divine power