A CALL NEEDED
Elijah found Elisha behind the plough. It is not without meaning that this is mentioned in the history. Here then we have a pleasing picture of a man, who, notwithstanding the gifts with which he was endowed, continued lowly in his own eyes, and led a humble and unassuming life. How many, gifted like him, would have thought themselves too good for the plough, and born to a sphere of life above that of a simple farmer; would have persuaded themselves, that they must not withhold their talents from mankind, that they must go forth into the field of public labour, to enlighten and guide the world. But such thoughts did not enter the mind of Elisha. His pretensions went not beyond his plough and his husbandry; he saw his vocation in these quiet and rural occupations, and well satisfied with this, he “minded not high things.” How much more amiable and beautiful is such a disposition than the opposite one, which is now so frequently met with among Christians! “Labour for the kingdom of God,” is become the watchword of the day; we certainly rejoice at it, but with very mingled feelings. There is too much vanity and self-complacent pushing forwards, which, alas! may be seen on this field of activity. No sooner does any one imagine he has found himself possessed of talents and gifts ever so small, than he hesitates not to regard himself as a pillar of the church of God. The condition and calling in which he has hitherto been, is no longer the proper one for him. He immediately begins to think, if not to talk, of a higher station, to which he imagines himself born. We ought undoubtedly to let our light shine before men; but then every one should do so in the situation in which Providence has placed him. Nor does God intend, by this command to let our light shine before men, to refer simply to the office of the ministry, or to any official teaching in his church. It is not merely thy lips, Christian, but thy life, which is to be the lamp. It is thy general character and conduct which are to edify thy brother and glorify God. He intends that all thy thoughts, words, and works, should silently testify that thou art born of God, and that the peace of God dwells in thy heart. Then it is that thou throwest around thee that gracious radiance which the Saviour means when he bids thee let thy light shine before men; then it is that thou preachest the gospel, as the power of God unto salvation, more effectually, than can be done by thy words. And remember that those spiritual lights have the purest radiance which are the least conscious of their own brightness; and that those divine flowers diffuse the sweetest fragrance which make the least display.
That excessive pressing of religious men into public notice, which characterizes the present day, is only another sign of the spiritual poverty of the times. There is a great dearth of truly great and noble spirits in our modem Christendom. No eagle pinions at present soar in our firmament; hence the smaller birds, the minds
of inferior cast, having no living standard by which to discern their own littleness, are emboldened to regard their own modicum of talents and indowments, as an evidence of a divine vocation to great and exalted things. Happy would it be for Zion were that vain activity, which is not of God but of the world, confined to the world itself, and not obtruded within her sacred enclosures! Happy would it be for her people, were there not so mournfully prevalent among them an idolatry of worldly instrumentality, and mere human talents! Why is it, that God so frequently calls home his most excellent servants and evangelists, in the bloom of life, from their useful labours, butÂ—as one purpose at leastÂ—to secure them from the peril of that idolatrous admiration, with which these mortals are wont to be extolled, in what are called the religious periodicals; and to let the survivors know, that the pillars of His temple are not flesh; that wisdom does not die with any creature; and that none but Himself is the basis, the support, and the builder up of his kingdom.
When Elijah has found Elisha, he takes his prophet’s mantle from off his own shoulders, and throws it over those of the son of Shaphat. What must have been the feelings of the plain and unassuming husbandman upon this occasion! for he well understood this significant action, and could view it as nothing less than a consecration to the prophetic office, and a call to be the assistant, follower, and representative of the Tishbite. It is to be lamented, that, in the present day, the Christian ministry is too exclusively and systematically confined to persons who have undergone a certain mode of education; which was never the case with the church in its purest times. May God raise up and put forth amongst us more of those who are taught rather by the unction of the Spirit of God, than by the mere external apparatus of scientific institutions! Not that these are to be despised or neglected; far from it! but they furnish, after all, only the exterior of a Christian minister’s qualifications.
Dr. Krummacher “Elijah”