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to them, that they could not believe it bad now taken place, but sought him three days throughout the vallies and mountains of Israel, before they could assent: thus giving weight to their testimony, by a scrupulous examination of the reality of the miracle.
Elisha was not surprised, but grieved, at the loss of his excellent master. Rending his garments, he took up the mantle which had fallen from the prophet as he arose,
and smiting with it the waters in the name of “ the Lord God of Elijah," again they parted, and he repassed the Jordan on dry ground !
Ahaziah reigned but two years, and was succeeded by his brother Jehoram, both idolators, though not altogether so vile as their father. Jehoram's reign of twelve years was marked by the defection of the Moabites, who had been tributary to Israel since the time of David. Being wounded in a war with the Syrians, he retired to Jezreel under the care of his physicians, leaving the army before Ramuth-Gilead. Here Jebu, one of his captains, who was raised
for the destruction of the house of Ahab, and had been annointed by Elijah, was a second time consecrated privately, by a messenger from Elisha. The errand of the young prophet being communicated by Jehu to the army, they immediately proclaimed him king, and united with him in executing the righteous vengeance of heaven on the whole house of Abab and on Jezebel. But although Jehu had the semblance of great zeal for the ancient reli. gion, he seems rather to have gratified a cruel temper of his own; for whilst he slew the priests of Baal, the golden calves of Jeroboam remained !
But let us turn awhile from these revolting scenes to the refreshing theatre of Elisha, whose benevolent miracles were the glory of those last-mentioned reigns. Not fewer in number nor less resplendent than those of his inspired teacher, he discovered that the mantle of Elijah had indeed fallen upon him!
We have not time to notice every exercise of his divine gift; leaving many for your future entertainment, let us now view him compassionately listening to the poor widow of a prophet, who complained, that being unable to pay the creditors of her late husband, they were about to satisfy themselves by the sale of her two sons !
CHARLES. Would the law have protected them in so unfeeling a measure ?
Mrs. M. The law of Móses did expressly forbid such unlimited power over an indigent debtor of their own nation. They might compel him to serve them for wages,
, but their intercourse with the heathens, who even sacrificed their children to their false deities, had confounded their notions of right. All his injunctions of tenderness for the widow and the orphan were forgotten; Elisha therefore questioned her as to the possibility of discharging her debt. But she declared that her whole substance was reduced to a single pot of oil! Go then, said he, and borrow empty vessels, not a few, and fill them all from thy pot. Without hesitation she obeyed, and soon returned delighted, to tell him that every vessel was running over, and yet her own was not empty! Thus the happy mother was provided with sufficient to support herself and deliver her children from the merciless creditors !
This miracle, together with other acts of beneficence, so exalted the fame of Elisha, that good people considered themselves honoured by his presence. A wealthy couple living at Shunem, whom he sometimes visited in his excursions, built an apartment on purpose, and furnished it with every convenience for the accommodation of Elisha and his servant. Desiring to express his sense of their singular attention to his comfort, the grateful prophet enquired of his hostess in what way he could most acceptably requite their kindness. Should he recommend them to the notice of the king, or the commander-in-chief of the army? Already blest with affluence, and not emulous of any courtly distinction above her neighbours, she declined the offered favour and professed her entire satisfaction in her present circumstances by one expressive sentence—" I dwell among mine own people.” Considering then, that yet she had no child, he told her that in the following year, that blessing, so ardently desired by the Israelitish women, should augment her domestic happiness. Hardly could her joy and surprise subside into confidence even in Elisha : but the word of inspiration was fulfilled in the precious gift at the appointed time, a gift which was to reward the virtue of the mother, and add another august evidence of the divine mission of the prophet.
At what age we do not learn, but while yet a child, this darling boy was one day brought to his mother from the field where he had been taken sick as he played beside his father. Solicitude and care were ineffectual-his disorder continued to encrease, and in a very few hours he expired in her arms !
It is one of the amazing ordinations of Providence that maternal love, the most subduing of all feelings that touch the human heart, does yet stimulate to active exertion, in circumstances the most deeply overwhelming! Whether this weeping Shunamite persuaded herself that one latent spark of life yet lingered in her beloved child, or whether
she had heard of the widow of Sarepta, some species of hope seemed to point to the prophet Elisha. Concealing from her husband the sad event, she only entreated that a servant might be spared from the harvest to attend her to their benefactor, and laying her son in the chamber of Elisha, she hastened to his dwelling on Mount Carmel. Rushing unceremoniously into his presence, her distracted air bespoke some unusual distress; but the almost reproachful expostulation—“ Did I desire a son of my lord -did not I say, do not deceive me?” told the whole dreadful tale! His resolution was instantaneous; bidding his servant to go on before and lay his staff on the face of the boy, he followed the panting mother to his lodging at Shunem, There shut up alone with the breathless object of bis affectionate solicitude, the prayer of faith was accepted, and the enraptured mother was presently called to receive her reanimated son!
CHARLES. Were these benevolent works of Elisha confined to his own nation?
Mrs. M. Not altogether. He prophesied in Damascus, and performed a celebrated cure on a diseased nobleman of Syria.
CHARLES. Why then did they not embrace the religion of the Hebrews, when they saw the divine power that attended its ministration ?
Mrs. M. That was by no means a necessary consequence of allowing a due portion of honour to the God of the Hebrews. The heathen nations, whilst each had his own tutelar god, did not scruple to do homage to those of their neighbours. The Israelites were stigmatized as an unsociable people, because such intercommunity was forbidden by their law. A more exclusive conversion to the
God of Israel seems to have been effected in the Syrian officer, to whom I just now alluded. Naaman, a man of distinction in the court of Syria, was a leper, a species of distemper still prevalent in the east, but happily unknown to our temperate regions. “A little maid," who had been
” carried away amongst the captives, in a predatory incursion into Israel, became the servant of Naaman's wife. Seeing the affliction of her master, she humanely exclaimed—“ Would to God my lord were with the prophet in Samaria ! for he would recover him of his leprosy.". The idea thus suggested, being reported to the king, he wrote a letter, and dispatched Naaman with a princely present to the king of Samaria. The letter addressed wholly to the king, without any mention of the prophet, was considered only as an artifice to involve him in a new quarrel with Syria, and he expressed his vexation by tearing his robes, and impatiently askingąAm a God to kill and make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy ?” Elisha hearing of the king's embarrassment, desired that Naaman might come to his house, and there learn that there was a prophet in Israel. At the door of Elisha, and still sitting in his chariot, he received only an order to go and wash himself seven times in the waters of Jordan. Accustomed to the delusive tricks of his own priests, and expecting something of the same sort from Elisha_his personal appearance at least the application of his hand, or an invocation to the God of Israel-he rejected the simple prescription, with proud indignation. “ Are not Abana and Pharpar rivers of Damascus,” he exclaimed, " better than all the waters of Israel-may I not wash in them, and be clean?" Health, however, was the one thing desired, and the suffer