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Elijah the Prophet of the Latter Days.
“ And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the
mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire, a still small voice.” -I KINGS xix. II, 12.
T. JAMES reminds to “take the Prophets, who have
spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction and of patience.” And he presently adds, “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are; and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit!”
Elijah was the foremost, and in one sense the beginning of the Prophets ; and, whereas he is so prominent in the Old Testament, he is not less prominent in the New; for he has come to the Church, as if over again, in the person of St. John the Baptist, of whom it was
1 James y. 10. 17, 18.
prophesied before his birth, that he should go before our Lord, "in the spirit and power of Elias,” to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers ;” and whom we twice commemorate in the course of the year ;-at one time praying that "after his example we may constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake;" at the other, that, as he was sent as a messenger, to prepare Christ's way, so the ministers and stewards of His mysteries may so turn "the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at His second coming we may be found an acceptable people in His sight."
As then St. John is a great saint in the Christian Church, and though not united to her communion in this world, and but a "friend of the Bridegroom," took his rank in it upon his martyrdom ; so may we say that, with St. John, Elias also, at least “in spirit and power," and as a pattern, is received into her catalogue of saints, and becomes one of her “burning and shining lights.” Nay, if it be true, as has very generally been thought, that the prophecy about his coming was not exhausted in the Baptist, but that Elijah is still to come in his own person at the end of the world, then more awfully still, and in a special manner above all other of the ancient saints, is Elijah connected with the Church of Christ, though the fire from heaven and the slaughter of the idolaters belong exclusively to the Elder Covenant. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord;" and whereas, in one sense, all days
resemble that last day, whereas Christ is ever coming, the love of many ever failing, and iniquity ever abounding (because there is ever distress of nations with perplexity, and rumours of Christ in the desert and in the secret chambers, “Lo here! and Lo there!"), in this respect Elias is ever entering upon his mission, and in his power and spirit the ministers of Christ must ever labour. And in truth he has not been forgotten, nor his Carmel, as the history of the Christian Church bears witness.
Let us then, in this disordered, dreary time, when the heaven above us is so dark, and its stars so hidden-let us, as shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night, and soon to be visited by their Lord, consider whether the history of Elijah will not supply us with as clear and satisfactory rules how we ought to “walk in these dangerous days," as might have been anticipated from the place which the Prophet holds in the Christian Church. And if so it be, as we trust it is, that among us the truths of religion are not so fearfully depraved as they were in the kingdom of Ahab, then this consideration will, as we shall find, make the argument only so much the stronger which is deducible from it, and the pattern which Elijah sets us only the more binding.
Now I need hardly say what great Prophets were Elijah and those that followed him,—such as Elisha, Micaiah, and the sons of the Prophets ; especially Elisha; so much so, that their miracles almost anticipate our Lord's, as a sort of harbinger and first-fruits of His mighty works, and a type of His doctrines. Was there not some great grace shed in those schools, in which the [s. D.]
loaves were multiplied, the oil failed not, fire came down from heaven, lepers were cleansed, the dead were raised, and one was taken up into heaven without death, and another, after death, by the very contact of his bones, restored life to the dead? Was there not great grace there, where future events were predicted and the secrets of the heart read from afar ? Was there not
there almost of the Gospel, where we find the Gentiles visited, Sacraments shadowed forth, and the resurrection and immortality of the flesh begun? Whatever be meant by “the spirit and power of Elias,” though the gift of physical miracles be not included in it, as the Baptist's history leads us to think, yet it cannot but be something great; it must at least have a secret inward greatness, if its outward manifestations at the first were so extraordinary
Now there is this remarkable fact concerning Elijah and his brethren, that he, who on the Mount of Transfiguration spake with Moses about their common Lord's passion, was not in communion with the Church of Moses in his lifetime, did not worship at the Temple, was cut off from them with whom was "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose were the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever." A most remarkable fact certainly, which, while it gives us great comfort, as regards those religious bodies at this day who are deprived of the ordinary channels of grace, is not without its element of encouragement even
i Rom. ix. 4, 5.
for us, who, though not without the Apostolical line and the possession of the Sacraments, are separated from the great body of the Church. Now let us dwell on this fact.
It is indeed a most remarkable and gracious provi. dence, that these great Prophets, Elijah and the rest, should have been vouchsafed to revolted Israel; nay, and that they themselves, as their history shows, should have made no effort to set right what had gone so wrong; nay, should not even themselves have paid that honour to the Mosaic worship which had been enjoined upon all the descendants of Israel. You will
You will say that they wrought miracles ; doubtless; but that beforehand was a reason rather why they should have enforced a still stricter obedience to the Law, not a reason for their being silent about it. Hear what Moses had said to them: “When ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause His Name to dwell there. Thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord.” “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God.” “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” If, then, God sent a Prophet with the power of miracles, this was a reason · Deat. xi. 10, 11. Exod. xxij. 17. Deat. xü. 82.