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in deserts and mountains, in dens, and in caves of the earth, to save himself from the cruel violence of his enemies, who sought to kill him, only because he told them the truth, and called upon them to forsake their sins. But the time was now come, when all his sorrows were to be at an end; when he should neither weep, nor hunger, nor thirst, nor be weary any more; when he should no longer be vexed by the wickedness of those around him, nor grieve over the sins of his own heart. The Almighty was about to reward his faithful servant for all his sufferings, by taking him away from this world of trouble, and that in a very wonderful manner, even as he had done the holy Enoch so many years before.
E. What, mamma! was Elijah taken up into heaven without dying? Oh! go on, and tell me about it.
M. It pleased God, my love, to make a vast difference between him and other men; for “the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, without suffering him to die like the rest of mankind.” I will tell you all that is written in the Bible about this very interesting event.
Elijah knew beforehand the good pleasure of the Lord towards him. He knew that he was not to die, but to be taken up into heaven alive. The time was now come, and he went with Elisha to the river Jordan, from the banks of which he was to be taken up. Elisha, as you heard before, was to be prophet after Elijah. He was greatly attached to him, and could not be persuaded to leave him, but followed him to the very end, that he might hear his last words and receive his parting instructions and blessing,
and see, if possible, what became of his beloved master.
When Elijah found that he should grieve Elisha if he sent him away, he allowed him to continue with him, and to witness the closing scene of his useful life. So they went on together, first to the city of Jericho, and then to Jordan. And as they stood by the river's side, Elijah took his mantle and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they too went over on dry ground.
And now they must part: Elisha has followed close till now his master's steps; but they will walk no more together upon earth. Elisha must now look forward to the time, when he shall be allowed to join Elijah and the other holy prophets who are gone before him into heaven.
Elijah had now done with this world, and his mind must have been very full of the great and glorious change which a few more moments would make for him. Yet was he not so wrapped up in his own exceeding happiness, as to forget the friend and companion whom he would leave behind to struggle on for a few more years, with such sorrows and difficulties as he had felt before him. It came to pass that when they were gone over the river, that he stopped and said unto Elisha, “ Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee.”
E. Oh, mamma, I dare say he asked Elijah to take him with him.
M. No, my love, he did not ; he knew that it was God's will that he should remain upon earth, and he did not wish to depart till he had finished the work
which God had given him to do: he only wished for such a measure of divine grace as should enable him to follow the example of Elijah. He wished also to be as great a prophet as he had been, that he might serve God as faithfully, and be as useful in the world. Therefore he told Elijah that his great wish was, that God would give to him a double portion of that holy spirit of prophecy by which he had been taught and governed. Double, I mean, when compared with what most of the prophets had, and such as would make him equal even to Elijah ; that so he might be helped abundantly to perform those duties which would fall to him to perform after Elijah was gone.
E. I am very glad, mamma, that he made such a wise and holy choice, for I am sure God would not refuse such a prayer as that.
M. No, my love; there can be no doubt that such a prayer must have been pleasing to God, coming as it did from one whom he had especially chosen to succeed Elijah. It was but right and necessary, that he should ask for extraordinary supplies of the Holy Spirit to enable him to discharge so great and difficult an office.
We, my child, are not prophets; but from Elisha's prayer we may learn to ask, not for the honours, riches, and pleasures of the world, but for grace to do our duty in whatever station of life it may please God to call us to: for we have all of us duties to perform, and some of them which we find very hard because of our evil hearts within.
E. What did Elijah say, when Elisha begged for a double portion of his spirit?
M. "Thou hast asked a hard thing; nevertheless,
if thou see me when I am taken up, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so." You will ask, perhaps, why Elisha was to lose so great a blessing, in case he should not happen to see the prophet's ascension into heaven : my answer to such a question is a very simple one, that such was the will of God: the prophet having no doubt acted by divine instruction, for God is pleased very often to make great things depend upon some such simple act of obedience on our part; to teach us most probably that the blessings we desire are not our own, to be had just when we like, but his gracious gifts, to be given as he thinks best.
E. Now, mamma, tell me about Elijah's going up into heaven.
M. I will, my love; we read in the Bible, that as he and Elisha still went on and talked, behold, there appeared chariots of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder. Elisha was left in this world, but Elijah was taken away, and went up by a whirlwind into heaven,
E. And did Elisha see him go, mamma? I hope he kept his eyes fixed upon him as he went up.
M. He did behold the glorious sight, and to prove to Elijah that he really saw the chariots of fire, and the horses of fire, he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof."
E. What did he mean when he said that?
M. I think he must have meant, that it was far better for Israel to trust in God than in chariots and horses, such as their enemies used in war. For see what God could do, when he saw fit, for those who trusted in him. He could send them chariots and