Printed by Hugh Gaine, at the Bible and Crown,
And Elisha saw it, and he cried, "My Father, my Father, the Chariot of Israel and the Horsemen thereof; and he saw him no more."
THERE is something so tender and pathetick in these Words of ELISHA, that they must ever catch the Attention of those who can be pleased with the warm Effusions of a grateful Heart. Since the Time of his Appointment to the prophetic Office, he had cheerfully followed the Steps of his Master ELIJAH; he had waited on him with the Gratitude and Affection of a Son, and had been treated, in his Turn, with the Care and Tenderness of a Parent. A long Reciprocation of kind and friendly Offices had endeared the good old Prophet to his young Attendant; and as a Dissolution of the dearest Connections is productive of the greatest Pain, a Separation from him was attended with the most pungent Distress.
WHEN the Heart has been long solaced with the social Endearments of Life; to [3/4] find these pleasing Ties of Friendship and Affection suddenly broken asunder, to see the kind Support upon which we have leaned for Comfort and Direction snatched away, demands from Humanity the Tribute of a Sigh. Heaven has implanted the social Passions in our Bosoms, and expects we should feel like Men. The Words of the Text were spoken by the young Prophet as his Master ELIJAH was rising from him by a Whirlwind into Heaven. While he stands amazed at the glorious Appearance of the Convoy of Angels, who flew with the Splendor and Rapidity of a Chariot with Horses of Fire, he pours forth the Fullness of his Soul; by the Repetition of my Father, my Father, acknowledges the Excellency and Superiority of ELIJAH and testifies his own Gratitude and Esteem; and in Allusion to the Manner of his Departure, by stiling him "the Chariot of Israel and the Horsemen thereof," intimates that he had been, by his Exhortations and Prayers, the Strength and Ornament of his People, as a Nation is secured by the Numbers of their Chariots and Horses.
LET us take a View of the whole Transaction; it may lead us to some useful Reflections.
 ELIJAH knew that the Time of his Departure was near. The Office which he had so long sustained, he continued to exercise till a short Time before his Assumption into Heaven. As the last Evidence of his paternal Care, he had been with ELISHA to Gilgal, to visit the College of Prophets which was there. From the Reflection that he was soon to be taken away, the Authority of a Teacher, together with the Tenderness of a Father's Love, must have made this his last Interview uncommonly endearing. For the same benevolent Purpose they visited Bethel and Jericho. "As they came to Jericho, the Sons of the Prophets that were there, came to ELISHA and said unto him; knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy Master from thy Head to Day? And he answered, Yea I know it; hold ye your Peace." To prove the Attachment and Fidelity of his Disciple, ELIJAH says to him, "Tarry here, I pray thee." But when shall our Esteem be manifested, if not at the Hour of final Separation? When the Spirit is Taking a last Adieu, it commonly pours forth all it's Sensations without Reserve; and expects, in Return, from the Objects of it's Regard, the same strong and undisguised Professions of sincere Affection. Therefore ELISHA said unto [5/6] him, "As the Lord liveth, and as thy Soul liveth, I will not leave thee." A Resolution becoming the Man who felt the Weight of the Obligation which his Master's unsolicited Kindness had laid upon him. "So they two went on together."
WHEN we are going to quit this Body of Death, the Desire of leaving our Remembrance behind us is a pure Dictate of Nature. At this Time, it is a Consolation to leave some Pledge of our Affection to the persons who lie nearest to our Hearts, that when we are no more, our Names may be mentioned with Honor; or that the Effects of our good Works may continue to shine before Men, long after we are removed from the Scene of Action. With this View, and under such Impressions as these, among his last Words, ELIJAH said to his Son, "Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee." His Answer was wise, similar to that of SOLOMON returned to almost the same Question. He requests not Riches, nor Pleasures, nor Long Life, nor the Life of his Enemies; but he replies, "Let a double Portion of thy Spirit be upon me;" that he might know how to discern between Good and Evil; that he might be qualified to instruct the [6/7] People committed to his Care; and shew himself a worthy Disciple of so great and good a Teacher.
HIS Desire was granted, upon this Condition. "If thou see me, says the Prophet, when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee." Therefore we are expressly told in the Text, "ELISHA saw it, when he cried, my Father, my Father, the Chariot of Israel, and the Horsemen thereof." And as the strongest Assurance that his Hopes were not disappointed, "He took up also the Mantle of ELIJAH that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the Bank of Jordon; and he took the Mantle of ELIJAH that fell from him, and smote the Waters, and said, where is the Lord God of ELIJAH; and when he also has smitten the Waters, they parted hither and thither." So he went on to the Discharge of his Duty, with the Spirit and Power of his Master.
1. FROM the Text we infer, that good Men are the Strength, as well as the Ornament of every Society. ELIJAH was called "the Chariot of Israel, and the Horsemen thereof." If Righteousness is the Glory, and Sin the Disgrace of any People; then he who most effectually exerts himself in [7/8] the Cultivation of the one, and the Suppression of the other, is the best Friend of the Community to which he belongs. What is it that can turn this beautiful Scene, the Workmanship of Heaven, into a Place of Torment and Confusion? What is it that can obstruct the Movements of the best regulated Governments, and shake them with intestine Tumults to the very Centre? Envy, Ambition, Resentment, are the Cruel Fiends which sometimes entirely clog the Wheels, and sometimes fire them with Phrenzy. For the Truth of this Assertion, I may appeal to your own Observation. Have you not seen all the marks of Subordination totally confounded? Have you not seen Thousands flying in Confusion from their Spheres? All the social Ties of Life rent asunder? Envy blasting the Laurels of true Glory with her malignant Breath, and Ambition proudly insulting modest Merit as she lies prostrate in the Dust? What a different Prospect would the World present, could each one be persuaded to conduct himself soberly and righteously in his own proper Employment! Then might every Man sit in Peace under his own Vine and under his own Fig-tree. Then would all the Heartfelt Blessings of social Love attend us. Then would Harmony preside over every Movement. Heaven would smile with [8/9] Approbation, and pour down Blessings on such a Society to prosper all its Attempts. Every Man ought to remember that the Interest of the Commonwealth at large is in some Measure affected by his particular Deportment. It is those only who resemble ELIJAH that may lead Israel to Glory, and true Happiness. View the good Man in every Situation. Is he a Teacher?--only to mention the Name, calls to your Remembrance the Loss we have just sustained--his Instructions are concise and clear; his Exhortations warm and affectionate; his Reproofs grave and gentle: His Conduct is calm and easy; his Heart vibrates with the sound of another's Joy or Woe; his Ear is ever open to the Cry of the Widow and the fatherless; his Hand is ever ready to relieve them. Such a Teacher will be attended to with Respect, and followed with Affection.
Is he a Ruler? "He bears not the Sword in vain. He is a Terror to evil Works, and a Praise to them that do well. He distributes Justice without Partiality; yet tempers Justice with Mercy. He is a Protection to the innocent; a Security to the injured; and a Relief to the distressed."
 Is he a Subject? Modesty and Moderation mark all his Conduct. "He studies to be quiet, and faithfully to do his own Business. As far as it is possible, he lives peaceably with all Men. He renders to all their Dues; Tribute to whom Tribute is due, Honor to whom Honor."
Is he a Parent? He is watchful, tender and affectionate; wishing rather to be obeyed from Love than Fear. If he corrects, it is with Lenity; if he indulges, it is with Prudence. "His Children never want a Blessing which he can procure; nor feel a Calamity which he can prevent. He brings them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord, convinced that to make them happy, they must first be good. He prudently provides for them every temporal Comfort and Convenience, but in such a Manner as to secure if possible, their everlasting Welfare.
Is he a Master? He will treat his Servants as Creatures of the same Nature with himself. He will not view them as if they were only formed to be subservient to his Humour and Caprice. He will give them all things that are just and equal: He will pardon their Inadvertencies; admonish without Bitterness; punish without Cruelty; [10/11] instruct by his Precepts, and guide them by Example.
THESE are some of the Duties in which the Man of Virtue and Religion will exercise himself. The Happiness of Mankind greatly depends upon the faithful Discharge of them. Were they punctually, and universally performed, this World, instead of being a Scene of Disquietude and Confusion, would be changed into a Paradise of Delight; an Emblem of the perfect, uninterrupted Peace and Tranquillity of Heaven.
2. WE also infer from the Text, that when such blessed Examples of Virtue and Piety are snatched from the Earth, we ought to emulate the excellent Pattern they have set before us. When his Master was just going to be taken from him, the last request of ELISHA was, "let a double Portion of thy Spirit be upon me." In vain do we lament the Death of our Friends, if we are not improved by the Misfortune; in vain do we pretend to honor them, if we disregard their virtuous Example. Tho' Monuments may be raised to perpetuate their Memory; tho' Eloquence may strew the Flowers of Panegyric round them; tho' Fame may swell her Trumpet with their Names, the Dead know it not; the [11/12] Living, the Living alone can be profited by these Testimonies of Applause. Such Marks of Honor and Affection should incite those who remain to emulate the Glory of the deceased. For this Reason, we dwell with Pleasure on their Praises. For this Reason, the Page of History is filled with noble Characters, Patterns of every Virtue which can adorn Human Nature. Have they reached the Summit of Glory and Excellence; and shall we sit down inglorious at the Bottom of the Mount? Have they surmounted all the Obstacles which arose to impede them; and shall we be dispirited at every trifling Difficulty which may spring in our Way? No! While we revere the Memory of those who are gone, let us evince the Sincerity of our Respect, by pursuing the Path with Ardour, which they have marked before us.
3. WHEN a Friend is separated from us by Death, a pleasing Assurance that he is translated to the Happiness of Heaven, ought to raise our Hopes and Desires to the pleasures of that blessed Place. And if we would discover the Disposition of Men whose Conversation is in Heaven, "we must live like Strangers and Sojourners below; for here we have no continuing City." We must not suffer the Allurements of Pleasure to beguile us from [12/13] the Way, lest we should sit down too easy in the Land of our Pilgrimage, instead of pressing forwards to our native Home.
LET our Hopes be fixed above, and we shall bear the Misfortunes of Life with Patience and Resolution. They cannot be of long Continuance. If sustained with Christian Fortitude they will work out for us an exceeding Weight of Glory; and after our Trials are concluded, Reflection on past Uneasiness will enhance present Felicity.
INFLUENCED by such Expectations, we are not to repine at any of the Dispensations of Providence; since there will be a Day of final Retribution, when every seeming Inequality will be properly adjusted; injured Innocence crowned with Glory, and Triumphant Vice consigned to eternal Infamy and Despair.
WE are to conquer the Terrors of Death, which can only kill the Body, but not affect the immortal Soul; and for this Purpose we are to make use of every Opportunity which may tend to impress upon our Minds a Sense of heavenly Things. When the Heart is oppressed with Sorrow, it is commonly more attentive to the Calls of Religion. At such a Season, the [13/14] Voice of Pleasure cannot be heard; the Gratifications of Sense lose their Sweetness. If this be the Case, let me entreat you to make a proper Improvement of the late Misfortune we have sustained by the Death of our worthy and venerable Rector. This melancholy Event has led me into the present Train of thinking. We knew and loved the Man; we feel and lament the Loss; We particularly who, as Ministers of the Church, were more intimately connected with him, and more immediately under his kind, and tender Direction. The Calamities of the Times, which none have escaped, preyed upon him with peculiar Violence. He saw the Church, in which he gloried and the School which he had so long fostered with parental Care, brought to Desolation. He saw his Property sacrificed by the Violence of unrighteous Men. He saw his Friends reduced, from Ease and Affluence, to all the Perplexities of Want. He saw his Country, once flourishing like the Garden of the Lord, now bleeding under the Scourge of Civil Dissension. His tender Mind, and delicate Frame could not bear the melancholy Prospect. When assaulted by Disease he sunk under the afflictive Burden; languished a few Days, waiting for his Dissolution with the most perfect Resignation; and then quitted this Scence of Turbulence [14/15] and Misery, "for a better and more peaceful Habitation, not made with Hands, eternal in the Heavens."
WE know that the Praises of the Dead are commonly considered as the partial Suggestions of Flattery, and an overweaning Affection; and we know that exaggerated Praise is, in Effect, real Reproach. We shall therefore only speak the Dictates of a Heart glowing with the warmest Gratitude and Love; yet influenced at the same Time, by the most invincible Regard to Truth. If, as St. Paul says of Faith, Hope, and Charity, the greatest of these is Charity; he possessed the greatest of all Christian Virtues in the most eminent Degree. That Love to God, the merciful Parent of all, which ever fired his Bosom, taught him to view the whole human Race as his Friends and Brethren. In Imitation of his blessed Master, it was his Business and Delight to do Good. His sympathetic Soul melted at the Sound of another's Woe. His Ear was never shut to the City of Affliction. When he saw the wounded on the Ground, he never passed by on the other Side. Many a Time has he been a Friend to him who had none to help him, and caused the Widow's Heart to sing for Joy. Many a Time has he soothed the Bed of Languishment, while even Children, in [15/16] Astonishment and Love, have lifted their little Hands to supplicate a Blessing on his Head. Numbers who are now present know that this is the Truth. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain Mercy." If "even a Cup of cold Water in the Name of a Disciple shall not lose its Reward," how great must his Recompense be, whose Heart was so compassionate; whose Bounties were so extensive!
"BLESSED are the Peace-Makers, says our Saviour, for they shall be called the Children of God." And no one more justly deserved that amiable Appellation. The Gospel which he preached, is a Gospel of Peace; and he enforced by his Example, what he inculcated in his Doctrine. The natural Sweetness of his Disposition, improved by a Sense of Religion, introduced Harmony and Love wherever his Influence could extend. Conscious of a divine Complacency in his own Bosom, he wished to cherish the same Temper in all with whom he conversed.
As a Subject, ye all know how much he has suffered for his Loyalty. He was well convinced, that the Fear of God, and the Honor of the King were Duties inseparably connected. When separated from you, he returned to the Care of his [16/17] Church and to the People whom he loved, with the most imminent Danger of his Life. He sustained Insult, Persecution, and Loss, rather than make any sacrifice which neither Honor, nor Conscience would allow.
As a Husband, Father, and Friend, he was tender, affectionate, and sincere. Happy in himself, he made all around him happy. In the domestic, social and the Christian Virtues, he was equally worthy our Imitation and Praise.
AFTER this imperfect Delineation of the Character, when I look back, and consider that he is gone forever; I can but exclaim with ELISHA; "My Father, my Father, shall we see thee no more!" Yes, he was a Father to the Fatherless. He provided for the poor and needy. By his tender Care and Protection, he was a Father to those necessitous Children now sitting before you. By his Prayers, his Precepts, and his Exhortations, he was a Father to you all. To me he was a Father in the tenderest Sense of the Word. He watched over my Childhood; he instructed my Youth. Many are the Dangers which his friendly Arm has warded off; many are the Blessings which his generous Affection has procured. Never, before this melancholy [17/18] Occasion, have I had the least Reason to mention his Name with Sorrow or Regret. Pardon the heart-felt Sigh; forgive the gushing Tear which Love and Gratitude shed over his Grave.
HEAVEN grant, that we may all make a proper Use of this, and every other Dispensation of Providence, so that altho' separated by Death, we may meet again to enjoy an Eternity of Happiness in the Mansions of Glory.