« السابقةمتابعة »
dwell among mine own people."-We live in comfort in our present residence, and have no wish for preferment. Upon this, she retires.
But the prophet was not satisfied. He was still bent on some requital, in token of his gratitude. In doubt, however, himself, what that requital should be, he refers the question to his servant. Gehazi, by some means, had learned the desire of this husband and wife, that they might become parents, and, accordingly, he informs his master. The Shunammite is immediately called; and when, at length, she presents herself at the door, the announcement is made that, in due time, she shall be the happy mother of a son.
And it so came to pass. She folds the promised son in her arms. She cherishes him, and watches over him, till, at length, he is able to accompany his father and the reapers to the field. There, however, he suddenly falls sick.
They bore him to his mother, and he lay
How beautiful he lies,
It was indeed a strange providence. What could it mean?
The mother makes no preparation for his burial, and asks none of others; but, having laid him on the prophet's bed, she proceeds, with the reluctant concurrence of her husband, to Elisha, at Carmel. "All shall yet be well," said she to her husband; "I cannot now fathom the counsels of God, but the issue of this dispensation will, in some way, be well."
While her faith thus sustained her in her affliction, her maternal solicitude hastened her in her journey to Carmel.
As she approached the residence of Elisha, he perceived her, and bid Gehazi run and inquire, "Is it well?"
Her errand, however, was not with Gehazi; and hence, simply replying to his question, "It is well," she urges her way into the presence of the prophet. Before him she prostrates herself, and, in the anguish of her heart, clasps his feet. Gehazi, supposing that his master would not be pleased to see her thus prostrate, attempted to raise her. But Elisha waited to hear from her the cause of her trouble.
Her painful story was soon told. Nor was it told to a heart devoid of sympathy. Alive to all her grief and solicitude, Elisha immediately bids Gehazi gird up his loins, and, without pausing by the way, to hasten to Shunem, and lay his staff on the face of the child.
This expedient, however, did not fulfill the wishes of the mother. She evidently had no confidence in the means of restoration adopted, and this she plainly intimates, by assuring Elisha that she would not leave him. He must himself go
He yields; and, on their way, they meet Gehazi, returning with the intelligence that the staff had not restored the child! And could Elisha have reasonably anticipated that it would? Certainly not, if, as Bishop Hall suggests, he had adopted this course “out of human conceit, and not by divine
We cannot believe, however, that such a motive actuated the prophet. Rather would we hope that it was the result of a sudden sympathetic feeling-right in itself-but from which he acted hastily, and, therefore, improperly, without a due consultation of the will of God, and without humble, fervent, importunate prayer. Be this, however, as it may, the prophet himself passes on, and finds, on reaching his own chamber, the child lying on his bed a corpse.
He would feel rebuked; he had tempted God, in thinking to raise to life the child by the staff in Gehazi's hand. God
must be honored, or his interposition cannot be expected. No undue expedients may be adopted in attaining such important ends.
Sensible now that a great work is before him, the accomplishment of which lies with God, the prophet bethinks himself what the circumstances require. He excludes all—even the parents-that he may seem to be duly humble, and that no one may interrupt his communion with God, or witness the struggles of his faith.
He bows at the footstool of the Eternal. He acknowledges his nothingness. He confesses his presumption. He pleads that God would still vouchsafe his blessing, and honor himself and servant by restoring the life of the child.
The manner in which that child is restored; the various actions of the prophet; his walking to and fro, and the slowness of the restoration-all would seem to indicate, that, either for the reasons specified, or for others connected with the previous conduct of the prophet, it was only by unwonted, importunate, agonizing prayer, that God was moved to re store the child. With what gratitude and joy, however, must Elisha have, at length, seen the accomplishment of his wishes-an answer to his prayer! The child lives.
The man of God came forth, and led the child
If we compare the manner in which Elisha raised this child with that of Jesus, on similar occasions, we cannot fail to be struck with this remarkable difference: every part of the prophet's conduct expressed a consciousness of inability in himself, and entire dependence on another; but Jesus
wrought by his own power; "He spake, and it was done." "Young man, I say unto thee, arise !"-"Talitha cumi.". “Lazarus, come forth!" Prophets and apostles all speak in the name and by authority of God, or of Jesus, but Jesus himself is dependent upon none. In his own name, and by virtue of his own power, he raises the dead, imparts sight to the blind, restores to tranquillity the foaming billows and the raging tempest.
Was the prophet presumptuous in sending Gehazi with his staff? Had he such a conceit of his power with God, that he needed only to send his servant with his staff, and the miracle would be performed? If so, he was properly rebuked. Let all, whether ministers or private Christians, be admonished of the propriety of due humility in the discharge of their duties; especially during revivals of religion, when the spiritually dead are raised to life, should all be ready to exalt God, and hide themselves. But have not revivals, in some cases, been retarded, and, perhaps, cut short, by the pride of ministers or people? Have they not sometimes magnified their own importance, or the importance of some one or more measures, which they themselves have suggested? Have they not leaned upon their own staff, rather than upon the power of God? or set greater value upon some balm of their own preparation, than upon the balm of Gilead? Let it never be forgotten, that he that exalteth himself, when God only should be exalted, will be - humbled.
But, perhaps, tne prophet, in the fullness of his sympathy, and in the haste of his heart to impart relief to the pious Shunammite, neglected to consult God; neglected to pray and humble himself, before he sent his staff. If so, who will not say that he was signally in fault? He might feel for the woe of one who had shown such kindness as had the pious Shunammite; but, in his ardor to help her, he should not have forgotten the honor due to God; he should not, by the
very means by which he would have extended relief, have retarded it.
In like manner, let not ministers and Christians, in their zeal and sympathy for sinners, or for the furtherance of a revival, neglect those means, which, alone, can secure their object. Has it not often, however, occurred that, while souls have been anxious; while spiritual distress has been prevailing on every side, and inquiries have been pouring forth from the bosoms of hundreds, has it not often happened that a throne of grace has been nearly neglected, and dependence has been placed on some staff of Elisha? on some new and extraordinary measure? on some human expedient, by which to raise the spiritually dead to life? We should never lose sight of the real power by which sinners are made alive unto God. Whatever instrumentalities are employed, ministers and Christians must get behind the curtain, and pray. Pray first-pray fervently: then go yourself, if you are able; but if, in the providence of God, you cannot go, you may then safely send Gehazi.
Finally, ministers may well sympathize with parents who have children dead in trespasses and sins. Oh! ye servants of the living God, know you what joy you may convey to the parental bosom by your prayers for a beloved child! For every child whom, by the grace of God, you shall raise to life, you shall receive the grateful love of father and mother here, and will add to the brightness of your crown of glory in the world to come.