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On the Admonition Administered to Elijah, For His Despondency

On the Admonition Administered to Elijah, For His Despondency

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. Benjamin M. Palmer, D. D.


1 KINGS, XJX. 9.

And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there ; and behold,
"the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him,
What dost thou here., Elijah ?"
BY REV. Benjamin M. Palmer, D. D.


1 KINGS, XJX. 9.

And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there ; and behold,
"the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him,
What dost thou here., Elijah ?"

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 08, 2014
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O THE ADMOITIO ADMIISTERED TO ELIJAH, FOR HIS DESPODECYBY REV. Benjamin M. Palmer, D. D. 1 KIGS, XJX. 9. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there ; and behold, "the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What dost thou here., Elijah ?" X HE prophet Elijah lived in troublous times. God, in his wise providence, raised him up in Israel, at a period when the whole nation had become idolatrous. Ahab, the reigning monarch, was such a monster in iniquity, that he is said to have sold himself to do wick- edly. Corruption and degeneracy were the order of the day at court; and the spirit and manners that predomi- nated in the palace, were greedily imbibed, and faithfully imitated, by all orders of men in the nation. Jehovah was set at defiance ; his authority denied ; his institu- tions discarded ; his servants discouraged, and driven into corners ; and the impious and idolatrous worship of Baal, was triumphantly established throughout the land. So scarce had vital piety become, and so rare was the exhibition of true religion, that only seven thousand persons, of all the ten tribes, could be found, who ad- hered to the Lord : and these were so overawed and de- terred, that Elijah knew not of their existence, until informed of it by the Lord himself. We may judge, fi*om all these circumstances, how very arduous a task was allotted to the prophet. To revive and reform reli- gion, among a people, with whom scarce the shadow of 343 it seemed to remain ; to stand up in vindication of a
 
cause, whose adherents, comparatively few in number, did not venture openly to appear ; to reprove vices, and to censure practices, which were as universal as they were deeply rivetted ; what a work was this for one, of whom the Scripture testifies, that he was "a man subject *' to like passions with ourselves" ! God, however, or- dered him on this unpleasant embassy ; and sent him to this unequal combat. Alarmed at the prospect of diffi- culties and dangers, which, great as they unquestionably were in themselves, were greatly augmented in the pro- phet's imagination, his soul sickens and dies within him. He flies into retirement, with paleness in his countenance, and despair in his heart. What is particularly remark- able, however, is, that he should adopt this course, after he had prosecuted his work with some success ; and had, though left entirely alone, in a religious experiment, sig- nally defeated, and caused to be slain, fourhundred and fifty of the prophets of Baal. Jezebel, King Ahab's wife, to re- venge the slaughter of these false prophets, threatened Eli-  jah with a similar fate. This induced him to retire into the wilderness, and there pour out the desponding prayer, *' O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than " my fathers." Afterwards, he betook himself to a cave, indulging siill the same disconsolate spirit. It was in tliis situation, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, " What dost thou here, Elijah?" This was an important question. Elijah had abandoned his duty, through a cri- minal fear of man. He was spending too long, in useless solitude, the time that he ought to have appropriated to public duty, and to active usefulness. It is a question so full of meaning, and so useful to be considered by every person as put to himself, that it will lay the foundation for many pertinent remarks, and much salutary improve- ment. It is a question, addressed to the conscience of 344 the sinner and of the saint, that should excite both to a
 
due self-examination. It is a question, which every indi- vidual would do well to put to himself daily, and to see whether an answer can be given to it, that will satisfy conscience, and that will satisfy God. To aid its proper application, we shall, therefore, refer it to various charac- ters among men, to various states of the mind, and pur- suits of life. And there is reason to apprehend, that it will find us all, more or less, like Elijah, out of the way of duty. We ask the question. Firsts of the secure sinner. What dost thou here, in this state of complete un- concern about thine own felicity, making no inquiry, what thou shalt do to be saved ? Placed upon earth but For a day, destined to a speedy removal to another region, where change will never be known, what hast thou done, or what art thou doing, towards rendering that state so happy, as not to admit the desire of change ? Alas ! nothing is doing. From infancy to youth, from youth to manhood, from manhood to old age, in all these states, multitudes are found at ease in Zion. Day has succeeded day, and year followed year, and still thou art at the same spot, as to religious and divine things. othing done for eternity ; no inheritance laid up in Heaven ; no treasure there. Gallio-like, thou hast cared for none of these things. The inquiry never occurs, or, if it does, excites no con- cern, " Am I prepared to die ? Have 1 repented, and " done works meet for repentance ? Have I believed, " and brought forth the works of faith?" A thousand thoughts have passed through thy mind ; but, among them all, has never been reckoned, the thought of an hereafter : a thousand plans have been pursued ; but, that of laying up a good foundation for the time to come, has not been among the number. Is it not time to hear the order, and obey it, *' Arise, O sleeper, and call upon "rhyOod"? 345

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