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places. Of His fulness His disciples received.
St. Peter detected Ananias; St. Paul speaks as if he could have been in spirit at Corinth, while in the flesh he was absent. And in all ages the Catholic Church is promised an instinctive perception of Christian truth, detecting the grosser or the more insidious forms of heresy, though at a distance, as if by some subtle sense ; and thus transmitting the faith of the Gospel pure and inviolate to the latest times. “The anointing,” says St. John, “which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye
need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him!.” Now observe how this spiritual perception was granted in figure unto Elisha. When Gehazi, after taking the silver and raiment from Naaman, stood before Elisha, the prophet said to him, “Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee?” At another time he was enabled to reveal to the king of Israel all the plans of the king of Syria : “The heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not show me which of us is for the king of Israel ? And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the Prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber •.” When the king of Israel determined to put him to death, and sent a messenger for that purpose, « Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and the king sent a
11 John ü. 27. ? 2 Kinga v. 26. • 2 Kings vi. 11, 12.
man from before him; but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head ? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door; is not the sound of his master's feet behind him'” Further, when he saw Hazael, the captain of the king of Syria, "he settled his countenance steadfastly, until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept. And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord ? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel ';" he saw in his face his future fortunes. Still more remarkable are his words when he could not discover the trouble which weighed upon the Shunammite, as implying that such ignorance was unusual with him. “Her soul is vexed within her: and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me 3."
4. A further power vouchsafed to Elisha, in which he seems to have surpassed Elijah his predecessor, was the power of inflicting spiritual censures and judgments. I mean, that the punishments he awarded were accomplished, not by earthly, but by supernatural means. Elijah indeed called down fire from heaven on the messengers of Abaziah ; but his great judgment upon the worshippers of Baal was effected by the sword. But Elisha's recorded judgments and censures were of a supernatural kind, bringing out into clearer view that characteristic of the spiritual priesthood which was to come, which Elijah only obscurely betokened. For instance, when he passed through Bethel, little children * 2 Kings vi. 32. ? 2 Kings vü. 11, 12. 8 2 Kings iv. 27.
came out of the city and mocked him, saying, “Go up, thou bald head !” __"and he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the Name of the Lord; and there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them !.” When Gehazi was convicted, he smote him with leprosy'; when the Syrians encompassed him, he “prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray Thee, with blindness. And He smote them with blindness, according to the word of Elisha!?” And when the unbelieving lord scoffed at his prophecy of plenty during the siege of Samaria by the Syrians, he said, “Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof;" and accordingly, he was trampled to death in the gate by the people, as they went out to profit by the plenty, when this came to pass by the Syrians fleeing and leaving their camp behind them. This seems to be the meaning of the words, “Him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay." In like manner, under the Gospel, St. Paul smote Elymas with blindness; and St. Peter pronounced God's judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira, who, like Gehazi, were guilty of covetousness and lying; and St. Paul bade deliver the incestuous Corinthian to Satan. Nay, to all the ministers of Christ is committed the awful power of retaining and remitting sins, according to the words, “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.'
5. Further : Elisha's person seems to have been gifted
1 2 Kings ii. 23, 24. 3 2 Kings v. 27. 3 2 Kings vi. 18. 4 2 Kings vii. 2.
6 John X. 23.
with an extraordinary sanctity and virtue. Even the touch of his relics after his death raised a dead man. Our Saviour had this power, as all others, in its fulness; virtue went out of Him. And His Apostles inherited it in their measure. We are told that “the people brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them !.” And of St. Paul,—that “God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them Here, moreover, we see the superiority of the Apostles to Elisha; for on one occasion, when the Shunammite's son was dead, Elisha apparently tried the like means, but was not answered. He sent Gehazi forward with his staff, to lay it on the child's face; "and Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing *;" though it may be that the employment of the hypocritical Gehazi was the cause of the disappointment, if it was one.
6. Further; there is much in Elisha's miracles-nay, and in Elijah’s in a degree-typical of the Christian sacraments. Naaman's cleansing in Jordan is a manifest figure of Holy Baptism, in which the leprosy of the soul is washed away by water. Again, the multiplying of the oil is, like the miracle of the loaves, a type of Holy Communion, in which Christ is given to us again and again without failing, all over the world,—to all who 1 Acta v. 15.
Acts xix. 11, 12. * 2 Kings iv. 31.
believe,-to each of them wholly and entirely, though He is on the right hand of God in heaven. At another time, Elisha multiplied twenty loaves of barley and some corn, so as more than to suffice for one hundred men.
7. Again, I might say much on what I alluded to in the beginning of these remarks—I mean, Elisha's close connexion and intercourse with matters of this world, in which he resembles Christ and His Church. Elijah, like the Baptist, lived out of the world; but Elisha was intimately connected with the great political movements (as we now call them) of the day. It was through him that Jehoshaphat and Joram gained the victory over the Moabites. It was through him that Jehu was raised to the throne, and Jezebel and Joram slain. He interfered in the counsels of Benhadad, king of Syria; and his last act in his “sickness, whereof he died," was to promise Joash king of Israel three victories over the Syrians'. Yet he pretended to no earthly power in all this; he acted from God, and on supernatural claims; thus answering to our Lord's account of His kingdom, as being not of this world, else would His servants fight'.
8. Lastly, it is well to notice the dignity and state which he assumed in his dealings with men, high and low; in which he was a fit type of that Holy Church Catholic to whom it is promised, “The nation and kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish ; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.”
For instance, consider his conduct to the Shunammite. She was "a great woman," as Scripture tells us, wealthy and honourable ; he was a poor man and a wanderer, 1 2 Kings xiii. 14–19.
9 John Avii. 36.