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
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.