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We may take another view of this part of our subject. One truth aids another truth; and one duty another duty. Detach private devotion from public, or public worship from private, and both sustain an injury. Separate practice from principle, or principle from practice; faith from works, or works from faith; promises from commands, or commands from promises and in the same proportion you diminish and destroy the effect of the whole. The flame burns by keeping these things together.
things, and heard him gladly." But he cherished a criminal passion which destroyed all these fair beginnings. Felix heard Paul. It was his own desire. He wished to be gratified by a relation of the peculiarities of "a sect everywhere spoken against." But Paul, instead of indulging his curiosity, addressed his conscience. He "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." And "Felix trembled." The judge on the bench trembled before the prisoner at the bar. It was not the Apostle's eloquence alone that produced this effect. But instead of aiding this impression, the trembler dismisses the preacher-"Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." This season never arrived. He afterward saw the Apostle, and conversed with him often, but he never experienced again the feelings he had subdued.
Fourthly. FIRE MAY BE QUENCHED BY WITHHOLDING FUEL. A real Christian will soon feel the disadvantage of disregarding the means of grace. Were he indeed a mere professor of religion, he would be sensible of no such injury; he has no divine principle to Let the hearers of the gospel remember watch over and to cherish. You may keep this. Beware how you stifle your convicin a painted fire without fuel-but a real one tions, and "do despite unto the Spirit of cannot be maintained without it, unless by a grace." Seek ye the Lord while he may be miracle. But we have no reason to expect found, call ye upon him while he is near. miracles! Is the Divine assistance intended He has said, "my Spirit shall not always to sooth our sloth, or to encourage our exer- strive with man. Behold, now is the accepttion? Is it to be expected in a state of re-ed time; behold, now is the day of salvation." missness and indifference, or in the use of means?"The hand of the diligent maketh rich." "For all these things will I be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them." "Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors." " They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Thus directed and encouraged, believers repair to his word, to his throne, to his house, and to his table; and are not disappointed. They find him in his ordinances, and they know by blessed experience, that he attends to their complaints, enlivens their devotion, "helps their infirmities, and supplies all their need from his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." They who desire soul prosperity, who would not only have life, but have it more abundantly, will be found most regular, and serious, and diligent, in the use of those means which God has appointed for this very purpose, and by which he increases their faith, confirms their hope, and makes all grace to abound towards them.
respective duties, "as being heirs together of the grace of life, that their prayers be not hindered."
We cannot quench what we have not. The exhortation therefore, supposes the possession of the Spirit, and, therefore, I have thus far considered it in reference to Christians. Yet the words may be taken in a more general way. There is a common work of the Spirit that accompanies the preaching of the word, the effect of which may be entirely lost. Thus we read that when Herod "heard John, he did many
THE ASCENSION OF ELIJAH. 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.-2 Kings ii. 11.
"By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath passed upon all men, because all have sinned." Death is called "the way of all the earth;" and the grave, "the house appointed for all living." No distinction of age, of rank, of character has secured the possessor from the stroke of mortality. The young as well as the old, the rich as well as the poor, the honourable as well as the obscure, the learned as well as the illiterate, have successively gone down to the dust and seen corruption. Yea, the righteous themselves die. Though infinitely dear to God, and distinguished by inestimable privileges, even they are not exempted from the afflictions of life, or the necessity of dissolution.
This invariable law of mortality has however been dispensed with in two cases. Enoch lived before the Flood. "By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Two thousand one hundred and twenty-one
years after, we behold, in like manner, Elijah the Tishbite received up into glory. "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."
Observe, First, How he was employed at the time of his removal: they were "going on and talking." Without this information, many would have concluded, that after he had received the intimation of his speedy departure, he was engaged alone in meditation and prayer. But it is a mistaken sentiment, that a preparation for heaven is to be carried on only by abstraction, contemplation, devotion. No inconsiderable part of it consists in diligence in our stations and endea vours to be useful to our fellow-creatures to the last. "Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing." It is observable that our Saviour ascended, while he was addressing his disciples. "He led them out as far as Bethany; and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."
by the instrumentality of a luminous cloud approaching and enclosing him, and then rising with a rapid curling motion? Or was he removed by the ministry of angels, disguised under these brilliant forms? This seems more probable. For "are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister unto them that shall be heirs of salvation!" Is it not said that "He shall send forth his angels and gather together his elect from the four winds, from the one end of heaven to the other?" Is it not said that Lazarus died, "and was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom?"
Though these glorious beings "excel in strength, they do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." And we know that they have been often held forth under the allusions here employed. "Of the angels he saith, who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the holy place."
Let us hasten to something less questionable and more important. Let us take several views of this wonderful transaction.
A little of the conversation is recorded. "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." A vail is thrown over the remainder of this interesting discourse. Perhaps it turned upon the heavenly world; perhaps it respected the state of the church he was going to leave; perhaps it furnished instruction and consolation to his successor in office. However this may be, the conversation was doubtless such as became the solemnity of the occasion. For what could be more awful and impressive! He knew that he was standing on the verge of eternity, and expected every moment the signal of his leaving this world. And could he be vain Could he trifle? And since "you know not the day nor the hour in which the Son of man cometh, what manner of persons ought|| Baal, and whose lips had not kissed him. But you to be in all holy conversation and godli- though this was a considerable number, comness! Let no corrupt communication pro- pared with his conclusion, it was nothing ceed out of your mouth, but that which is compared with the bulk of the country. The good to the use of edifying, that it may min-nation was gone astray from God; idolatry ister grace unto the hearers. If any man of universally prevailed; all classes pleaded for fend not in word, he is a perfect man, and idols. able also to bridle the whole body."
I. Let us consider it as A GRACIOUS REcoMPENCE OF SINGULAR PIETY. Not that Elijah was perfect. We are expressly told that he was a man of like passions with us. And we read that once he was afraid, and fled, and wished in himself to die. But in judging fairly of a person, you are to bring forward the whole of his character; and to remember that casual infirmities no more destroy the effect of general excellency than the hills and valleys of the earth destroy its globosity, or a few motes or clouds a solar day. The circumstances also in which he lives should be fairly weighed; for the power and degree of religion are to be often estimated by the unfavourableness of our situation, and the difficulties we have to overcome.
Elijah was a man whose religion was uncommon. "He was jealous for the Lord of Hosts:" and faithful and steadfast in his adherence to the true worship of God, in times of peculiar defection and degeneracy. He was indeed mistaken, when he said, “I am left alone:" there were seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to the image of
Secondly. Observe how he was conveyed from earth to heaven. "There appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." Was he removed
He had therefore to oppose numbers. And numbers take off the two common restraints, of fear and shame; and constantly present to the eye familiar and seducing examples. It is no easy thing to avoid following a multitude to do evil.
He had also to oppose superiors, whose influence is peculiarly corrupting. He lived under the reign of the worst of all the bad kings of Israel. "For Ahab, the son of Omri, did evil in the sight of the Lord, above all that were before him. And Ahab made a grove. And Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger, than all the kings of Israel that were before him."
He had also to oppose the established ministers of religion. Behold him encountering the whole priesthood of Baal. Behold him challenging to a public trial four hundred and fifty of his sycophant prophets-and with unparalleled firmness, ordering them all to be put to death-though he knew the altar was defended by the throne. Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal: let not one of them escape. And they took them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there."
All this naturally drew upon him reproach. Ahab called him "the troubler of Israel." Jezebel abhorred him, and bound herself in an oath to slay him. But God often appeared for him: he gave him the keys of the clouds; he fed him with ravens; he commanded strangers and foreigners to entertain him; he destroyed captains and their men for his sake and at last he made an exception in his favour, and took him to heaven without dying; carrying him more than a conqueror in a chariot of triumph through the air. And thereby said to a careless and depraved age, and to us also upon whom the ends of the world are come-"Them that honour me I will honour, but they that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Bear your faithful testimony to my cause by your words and actions. Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Dare to be singular. Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you; and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. If you are losers my service, you shall not be losers by it. Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. Verily, there is a reward for the righteous; verily, he is a God that judgeth in the earth."
and of happiness besides this earth-that it was to be obtained by leaving this worldand that even the body was to share in it.
II. Let us consider it as AN INTIMATION OF THE FUTURE HAPPINESS THAT IS RESERVED FOR THE SERVANTS OF GOD. Instances and facts strike the mind much more powerfully than abstract reasonings. By the example of Elijah's ascension it was seen that there was another state of being after this lifethat there was another place of residence
This was a circumstance of importance. Nothing of the kind could be inferred from nature. Men were seen to perish by accidents and diseases and decays. They were laid in the grave: cold and silent they remained there. Wives had gone to the tombs of their husbands; children to the tombs of their mothers--but in vain had they implored their return. In time the body became a mass of putrefaccion; and dissolving into its original element, could no longer be distinguished from other dust.
But man is an incarnate being. The body is a constituent and an essential part of human nature. Man was embodied in his primeval state, and will be embodied in his final state. A state of separation, therefore, is a state of imperfection; and whatever happiness may be enjoyed in a disembodied state, it will not be, it cannot be complete before the morning of the resurrection. To this therefore the sacred writers lead us forward: and while they clearly allow an intermediate separate existence, they tell us that we "shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just;" that "when the chief Shepherd shall appear, we shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." When Paul would relieve the minds of bereaved Christians, he reminds them that their connexions will rise again: and in reference to himself he says, "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."
Yes, the body will be a partaker of endless happiness with the soul; and even "in our flesh shall we see God." And here was a specimen of it. Here they saw a man carried up into heaven embodied. Here they saw what transformation of the body was capable of experiencing--it could become light, agile, unsusceptible of danger; it could retain identity, and yet drop those properties which render it a prison and a burden; and become a fit companion for the skies. This was a beaming forth of that glory which has been more fully revealed under the gospel dispensation, and especially in the glorification of the body of our Saviour, which is to be the model of our own. "For he shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
III. We may consider this translation as a SUBSTITUTE FOR DEATH. In some such way
as this, it is probable, would men have passed from earth to heaven had they never sinned. In some such way as this will those living at the last day be qualified for glory. "Behold, says the Apostle, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." Elijah died not, but he was changed. And in whatever way we pass into heaven, a change analogous to death and the resurrection must pass upon us. The reason is obvious. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." Were the body removed with its present animal properties, it would require food and sleep and medicine even in heaven. The eye would be unequal to the splendour of the glory, the ear to the melody of the sounds, the taste to the exquisiteness of the joy, the powers to the constancy of the work. Our senses and organs are adapted to our present state, but not to our future condition. We now see how little we can bear. When an angel appeared to Daniel, he was instantly seized with a stupefaction which he could not resist. When John in his exile saw Jesus, though he had been familiar with him, and had leaned on his bosom, he "fell at his feet as dead." And by the way, this regulates the dealings of God with his people, while they are in the body. Moses asked for a sight of God, which would have proved his death-"Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live." The disciples, in the mount of transfiguration, "fell asleep." It was not so much a moral, as a natural infirmity: the animal frame was overpowered with the glory of the scene. Were He to afford to his people such discoveries and communications as they may sometimes desire, it would unhinge them from earth, indispose them for the duties of their stations, and disorder their whole frame.
tracted, and that it was perfectly harmless who could put it into his bosom without shuddering?
Let it be remembered, that such feelings as these do not argue an inferior degree of religion. Even the apostles themselves were not strangers to these sensations. "For in this, said they, we groan earnestly; desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. If so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." They wished to enter heaven without dying.-But to us this is impossible. To death as an inevitable doom we all look forward. It is the way, and the only way to the city of habitation.
Let us not however blaspheme death. Let us rather see what there is to reconcile us to it. Let us compare Elijah's mode of removal with our own, and see whether the difference be so marvellously great.
You have to die. But consider the names attached to death by him who perfectly knows the nature of it. He tells us, "If a man keep my sayings, he shall never see death"-it ought to be called something else so qualified and softened is it with regard to him. Call it a departure-the departure of a prisoner from his prison, of a traveller from his inn, of a scholar from his school-" The time of my departure is at hand. I long to depart." Call it a sleep-sleep is inviting to the wearied labourer, who has borne the burden and heat of the day.
"They sleep in Jesus and are blest: How sweet their slumbers are; From suff'ring and from sin releas'd, And freed from every care!" "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth."
You have to die. But the sting of death is removed-for "the sting of death is sin" "and he bore our sins in his own body on the tree." Death stung him; but, as it is fabled of the bee, left his sting in him. It is harmless now. It may terrify, but it cannot injure.
You have to die. But God promises to be with you there. "For he hath said, I wil NEVER leave thee nor forsake thee"-and therefore be assured he will not leave you m this time of need. To this the promise is peculiarly made: "I will be with him in trouble." Hence David triumphs, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they com fort me."
You have to die. But the soul will be inmediately disposed of infinitely to your advantage. Death will carry you from the same vain world, the same vexing world, the same defiling world-as Elijah's chariot car
ried him. Death will carry you to the same | They slew a rest, to the same fulness of joy, to the same bezek prison glorious company as Elijah's chariot carried inflict a pur him. Absent from the body, you are present vere—“ Th toes." Thi with the Lord.
You have to die. But the body will certainly follow. Though you do not take it along with you, but leave it in the grave, it shall not be lost there. He will come and inquire for your dust. It is redeemed. Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousBut if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
You have to die. But by death you may glorify God, more than by such a removal as Elijah's. It affords opportunity to display the influence of divine grace under suffering, to bear witness to the goodness of the Master you serve; to commend the ways of godliness; to convince some, to encourage others. One dying Christian has often made many in love with death. While witnessing such a scene, they have been ready to say, "Let us go away that we may die with him."
It matters therefore little how the believer departs from this world to a better.
But the event is always worthy of our observation. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace."
And whether he ascend to heaven in a whirlwind, or be removed by a fever or a dropsy, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"
THE PUNISHMENT OF ADONI-BEZEK IMPROVED.
you have b score and their grea under my requited
his wife and
a gallows be to-morrow decai may Smerrily nd the gal
But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, 80 God hath requited me.—Judges i. 6, 7. DESTRUCTION had long been denounced apon the inhabitants of Canaan for their sins. At length the measure of their iniquity is full; and the Jews are appointed to be the executioners of the Divine vengeance. Moses dies before they enter on the dreadful task; but Joshua succeeds him, and becomes the scourge of this devoted race. But even he dies before the complete reduction of the promised land. Immediately after his death, Judah and Simeon assemble their forces, and attack the nemy at Bezek, and gain a dreadful victory.
ing away the ye smoke of the Lot's wifedivine of salt
me hold it up to view, anu mark the principal contents of the represe... ation.
I. See in it THE INSTABILITY AND UNCERLook at TAINTY OF WORLDLY GREATNESS. this man-and behold in what slippery places God sets the mighty and noble. How great was he in the field-where armies fled before him! how great in the palace-where a num ber of vanquished princes fed under his table! But behold him now-dethroned, insulted, dismembered; and his present extremity of wretchedness imbittered by the recollection of the prosperity that once crowned his head. "And seekest thou great things to thyself? Boast not thyself of to-morSeek them not. row; for thou knowest not what a day will bring forth."
From the eagerness with which mankind pursue the distinctions of life, we should conclude, not only that they were very valuable in themselves, but that no kind of precariousness attached to them. We should suppose that they were able to ensure durable possession-and God, who in his word always gives "Their inward language to actions, tells us, thought is that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations: they call their lands after their own names." But let not the strong be secure; let not the honourable be vain; let not the rich be high-minded. Connect certainty with the motion of the wind, or with the waves of the sea-but do not trust this treacherous, this changeable world. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." "Riches make to themselves wings and fly away.” "Man being in honour abideth not; he is like the beasts that perish." What is all history but a narrative of the reverses to which all earthly things are liable, however firmly established they once appeared to be: of the revolutions of empires; the destruction of cities; of the mighty put down from their seats; of counsellors led away spoiled, of politicians disgraced, generals banished, and monarchs put to death!
II. See in it JUDGMENT OVERTAKING THE
SINNER IN THIS LIFE.