(First and Second Kings)
THE GIANT PINE.
There was once a pine tree growing in British Columbia, on the coast of the great Pacific, called the Gigantic Pine, or Lambert 's Pine; it came of a gigantic race, and the giant rose above all its fellows, and was the tallest of all the pines that grew in British Columbia. This giant pine was a spectacle-we can hardly imagine how striking was the sight, it shot up high above all the other pines for over 150 feet; it must have been a magnificent sight off the coast of British Columbia.
But one day the giant pine was felled to the ground, and its wealth of branches, leaves, and cones were cut off; the giant was stripped of its glory, and was brought across the seas to this country. It was towed to the Thames, and at last set up upon Wimbledon Common where to-day it is a flagstaff, and a known landmark.
As one thinks of Elijah, one is reminded of the giant of the forest which we have referred to. Elijah grew up before his God in the forest of Gilead; like the pine he came of a noted race, even the chosen nation Israel; and he grew strong in body, enabled to endure hardships. There was one thing in which he seems to resemble the great pine tree; he seems to be, as it were, alone; we have no mention made of his father, his mother, his brothers or sisters, nor of wife, nor children. He comes before us as a singular man. Later on, you will remember, he came to the brook Cherith, and Elijah drinks of the brook, and is fed by the most unliked birds, the ravens, who live on offal. Elijah did not know anything of microbes; that was something to he thankful for; and as these birds brought him his meat-flesh in the morning, and bread in the evening, it was enough for Elijah, and so he lived on many days. But at length he noticed that the brook was drying up, the volume of water was getting less and less each day.
It was an object lesson to Elijah; and as the flow of temporal blessings was gradually diminishing, it caused him to lean more and more upon his God. You and I may know the same thing in days to come and will see the flow of temporal blessings become less and less. Shall we learn the lesson? Shall we trust in God as we have never before trusted?
When the brook is dried up, shall we still trust Him? Ah, He can open up another supply for us, and so it was with Elijah; God bade him go elsewhere, and there He supplied all his needs.
STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS.
In 1 Kings 18. we see Elijah strong for God and victorious over the prophets of Baal, but in chapter 19. he -flies before a woman.
To return to our pine tree that had been so strong; it stood on Wimbledon Common for forty years, a well-known landmark, and then it was found that it was getting the dry rot. That wood which was once hard like iron was getting spongy, it was getting wrong at the heart. Dangerous for it to stand there, the authorities had it taken down. Gently taken down, it was stretched upon the ground, and then the authorities had cut from it 28 feet of the part that was defective, and then they set it up again, and it is standing to-day-a flagstaff, but less a sixth of its original stature. Shall we again learn a lesson? In times of strength and victory let us beware! The time of success may be a dangerous moment-the very time when we trip up and fail; and it may be necessary for God to deal with us as the authorities dealt with the defective flagstaff.
I saw, a little while ago, a fellow flagstaff in Kew, which stood a few feet higher, but it is as right as possible. There is no dry rot in it, for it has been carefully kept; there are some six iron bands round the lower part, it has been very carefully kept-it looks as though it has been polished, it has never had to be brought down.
Let us seek grace from God that our hearts may be kept right, and that we may never have to be brought low, and have a diminished spiritual stature.
"Keep thy heart with all diligence;
For out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4. 23.)
This is one last thought; Elijah had a brilliant ending, for God was very gracious to him, and after his wise and kind dealings with Elijah, He took him to heaven with whirlwind, and chariot of fire. I do not suppose that everybody near could have seen that; it required anointed eyes to see him go up. But Elisha saw it, and he took up the mantle. Let us remember that the God of Elijah of the Old Testament, is the God of every faithful servant of New Testament times.
An address by Mr. E. Matthew, compiled from jottings supplied by Mr. W. J. Humphris.