Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Elijah and Elisha—a dialogue

When the Lord would take up his dear servant Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, the pious Elisha attends his venerable master, and, when desired by him to stay behind him, protests that he will not leave him; he says not, until death parts them. But made to understand that Elijah was to ascend to bliss as Enoch had done before—Elisha is determined to attend him to the very gates of glory. When the godly prophet sees the firm resolution of his promising pupil, he desists, and proposes what he would desire of him as the last service of kindness he could do for him before he would be taken from him. The one having mentioned, the other having replied to the petition, they continue the divine dialogue, and walk on in expectation of the parting moment. And well may we conclude, that the subject was of the sublimest nature between such holy souls, and at such a period. Might we suppose the dialog thus?

Elijah. My dear Elisha, you are now attending with mixed joy and sorrow, your aged master through the last stage of life. I am not like other men, expiring on a death-bed—but am to be wafted to the other world without the separation of soul and body, and in a little you shall see me no more.

Elisha. O! then, my master, my father, let our converse be about the glory of the better country into which you are soon to enter!

Elijah. It already refreshes me; the heavenly gale blows into my soul, and sheds a joy divine—Today shall I behold his face in glory; a glory so exceeding great, that I cannot describe it—but only pant after it. Let him come and take me to himself.

Elisha. What, I ask, are those transcendent excellences of the heavenly inheritance, that make you so desire it?

Elijah. The bliss above is unbounded, pure, and permanent! The joys are transporting and divine. There God is enjoyed through his son the Messiah, who is to assume our nature, suffer for our sins, take away our iniquities, and win eternal life for us! The Messiah is the one whom all the sacrifices pre-figure, all the types, washings, and sprinklings represent, and put us in remembrance of; to whom all we prophets bear witness. And our seeing him in glory, shall make us like him, and change us from glory to glory. Divide, you heavens, that I may enter in!

Elisha. Does it create no uneasiness in your bosom, to leave the world, your relations, and other concerns in it?

Elijah. Truly the world is to me as barren a waste, as wild a desert, as ever the wilderness was to our forefathers. And as to relations, as I received them from God, so I give them back, and lose them in God, who is himself to me all in all. Other concerns in the world have I none. I commit the people of God, to his protection, who will be a wall of fire about her, and the glory in the midst of her. Yes, to leave the world makes me leap for joy, for sinners shall no more create sorrow for me, and I myself shall henceforth cease to sin. There I shall join the church of the redeemed. O how shall I sing to the eternal name, and never cease and never tire! My bliss shall know no bounds, my rapture no restraints, my gladness no alloy, my day no night, my sky no cloud, my light no shadow, my glory no decay, my praises no interruption, my delight no excess, my strength no weariness, my transport no decrease, my pleasures no cessation, and my eternity no end. Eternity! let it begin now!

Elisha. O how would I rejoice to enter with you—even through the dark passage of death—into that triumphant state!

Elijah. A triumphant state, indeed! where God dwells in the full display of his glory, and where, (not as below,) the holy of holies stands eternally open for all the worshipers of God, who with freedom enter in. Trouble is debarred from those seats of tranquility, and pain is excluded from the regions of immortality. No sinful tendencies disturb the soul; and perfect love casts out all fear. There the glories of Immanuel enlighten the unbounded extent of paradise. My dear Elisha, in a little while, you will not recognize your aged friend Elijah! Now I am wrinkled with age and sorrow; as you know I have been jealous for the honor of my God—and he is now about to translate me to his ineffable glory! But then a smile, known to none but the inhabitants of bliss, shall settle on my countenance for eternity, and make my face shine as an angel of God. O the hidden treasures of eternity—which glorified saints possess! O the vastness of that glory—which eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor the heart of man conceived—that awaits to be revealed! I stand on the borders of the heavenly Canaan, on the confines of eternity—and glance at all that glory which in a little shall be mine! With transport I shall enter his temple, where everyone eternally talks of his glory. I pant for the approaching opportunity to prostrate myself before the highest throne—wholly dissolved in love. Let the hour shorten into a minute, the minute into a moment, and the moment be no more! is done!

The heavens divide, the fiery chariot quick as lightning rolls away—My blessing on you, my dear Elisha. Welcome, my only Lord God! Heaven opens around about me, glory overflows me, and the transforming beams enfold and bear me to everlasting day!

Elisha. "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!"

And he saw him no more.