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of their officers, king; and marched directly to attack the usurper in the capital. Zimri, finding his opponent too powerful, threw himself into the palace, and setting it on fire, there ended his short reign of seven days ! ple, notwithstanding his death, divided in favour of the two pretending families; Omri's party prevailed; he himself reigned twelve years, and left the crown to his son Ahab, the most abandoned prince who had yet possessed it. Ahab's wife was the daughter of the king of Sidon, a woman remarkably insolent and cruel, by whose means idolatry was extended to a degree beyond any former erainple.

In this melancholy state of Israel, the celebrated prophet Elijah, an inhabitant of Gilead, was commissioned to go to the wicked Ahab, and tell him, that neither rain nor dew should descend upon his dominions for three years, and the inhabitants should be grievously afflicted by famine. To establish his own confidence in the divine ori. gin of his mission, the prophet was directed to repair to the brook Cherith, which falls into the Jordan, where he should be fed miraculously by ravens! In this retirement he remained, receiving daily the promised sustentation, until, for want of rain, the brook was dried up.

Another message then directed him to go to Zarephath, a city of Sidon, where a widow woman was prepared to entertain him. At the gate of Zarephath, Elijah found the poor widow he was seeking, collecting a few sticks to dress her last handful of meal !

CATHERINE. You seem to intimate, that the Sidonians felt the effects of a famine, which was sent to punish Ahab; but they were not his subjects.

Mrs. M. As it very naturally happens in the common

course of events, that the innocent must suffer by the vices of their immoral associates, the Sidonians might have participated in the famine inflicted on a country adjacent, and with which they had much intercourse, had they themselves been a virtuous people; but it was far otherwise · with Sidon. *

Having a fine port on the Mediterranean, she had become wealthy by a flourishing trade with many nations, and vice, too frequently the offspring of excessive affluence, had contaminated every fibre of her body. Ahab had married the king's daughter, and, at her instigation, altars were erected in Samaria to Baal, the god of the Sidonians, and a multitude of priests were maintained for the ministration of his profane rites. Thus obnoxious to divine wrath for the guilt of their own sins, and their example and influence in corrupting Israel, we need not wonder that they should share in the distress of that unhappy country. And how severely it was felt, we may imagine froin the answer of the widow of Zarephath to Elijah, when he applied to her for a little water and a morsel of bread : “ As the Lord liveth,” said she, “ I have but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse, and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and

my son, that we may eat it and die !" But how was her despair converted into joy, when he directed her “ to go first and prepare him a cake, and after that make some for herself and son; for the barrel and the cruse should not fail until the Lord should send rain upon the earth !" Trusting in the gracious promise, she did as she was commanded, and received the reward of her faith in a continued supply for herself-for her son-and for the pro

* So called from Sidon, the grandson of Ham, from whom descended the Canaanites.

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phet! And a yet more affecting instance of divine favour confirmed her confidence in the God of Israel :

this son, her only child, fell sick and died, and was restored to the sorrowing mother on the prayer of Elijah !

Meanwhile the famine raged with desolating sweep throughout the land of Ahab, and yet no symptom of penitence had invoked the mercy of the righteous Judge. The violent temper of the queen, on the contrary, exasperated into madness, and determined to reach Elijah, the innocent predicter of the calamity, directed her servants to destroy all the prophets in Israel! But, happily for them, Obadiah, the governor of the royal household, was amongst a few, who, in the worst of times, remained untainted by the prevailing corruptions, and he contrived to preserve the lives of many, by concealing them in caves, and secretly sustaining them with bread and water.

FANNY. Your words, mother, would imply a considerable number of these inspired messengers; but I do not remember to have read of many at any one period ?

Mrs. M. The term here, and in other places of Scripture, is to be understood of the disciples of the more emi. nent prophets; or the pupils of those seminaries that were founded by Samuel. They appear to have lived together in societies, retired in some measure from the world, although not wholly exempted from labour, but chiefly devoting themselves to the study of the sacred books, and the instruction of the public. By exterminating the whole body, the queen would not only be revenged on the principal object of her malice, but would remove an impediment to the universal adoption of her vile religion. A well educated and active ministry must ever be a powerful restraint

upon vice.

Elijah, however, eluded the search of Jezebel, and, at the conclusion of the appointed three years, was directed to shew himself openly to the king--to foretel an approaching rain, and, by working a miracle in his presence, and in the presence of the people, to convince them of the fallacy of their lying oracles, for whom they had abandoned the God of their fathers.

Three years, without fresh supplies, had emptied the granaries of Samaria;* and a drought, uninterrupted even by the moisture of a scanty dew, had burnt up every herb, and dried every fountain of the exhausted earth; when Ahab began to tremble at the frightful sentence that seemed to have gone out against every living creature. Instead of being humbled before the just Avenger, he rather followed the presumptuous suggestion of expiring hope, that the lives of his cattle might yet be redeemed by the discovery of grass and water, in some favoured spot; and in search of these sequestered treasures, he would explore his dominions !—Taking one section to himself, he dispatched Obadiah into another : but not far had the latter proceeded, when he was met by the prophet; who told him to go back, and tell his master where Elijah might be found. This step, in the eyes of the pious governor, was no less than transferring to himself the fate denounced upon Elijah. The omnipotence of Jehovah would interpose for the preservation of his faithful servant-whilst he should himself be sacrificed to the disappointment of Ahab! But Elijah assuring him that he would follow him to the presence of the king, Obadiah consented to return; and the prophet, in a short time, was brought to his defence against the charge of having

* The capital of the ten Tribes,

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occasioned all the calamity of his country! Confident of the event, he boldly denied the reproach; and challenged the king to gather all his wicked counsellors, the ministers of his false gods, and he should see who had brought upon him and his people the chastisement they had suffered. The heroic offer to oppose himself singly to the host of Baalim's priests, was not to be refused. On Mount Carmel, therefore, four hundred retainers of Jezebel's court, and four hundred and fifty of a meaner class of priests, were eollected, to try the efficacy of their incantations against the inspired messenger of Heaven. Each party having prepared his sacrificial victim for the great experiment, Elijah called upon the people to arouse from their guilty indecision, and enlist under the banner of him who should prevail. “ If the Lord be God,” said he, “ follow him but if Baal-then follow him.” Elijah then waited patiently from morning to noon, whilst the profligate ministers of Baal cried aloud to their patron, gashing themselves all the while, after their savage manner, till they were covered with blood--but Baal was not to be conciliated! - Call aloud,” said Elijah, with cutting irony, his pious indignation now excited by their horrible superstitions, “ for he is a god : either he is talking-or he is pursuing -or he is on a journey–or, peradventure, he sleepeth, and must be awakened.” Vainly, however, were their impious invocations continued till the time of the evening sacrifice. At that hallowed hour, the divinely-commissioned agent, turning to the assembled people, invited their attention, whilst, with twelve stones, alluding to the twelve tribes of Israel, he rebuilt an altar, which, in better days, had stood on Carmel, and made a deep treneh around it. Then laying his sacrifice on the consecrated pile, he bade them to drench it with water until the trench should

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