1 Kings 18:24
Then you may call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The God who answers by fire, He is God." And all the people answered, "What you say is good."
Altars and Altar FiresJ. H. Jowett, M. A.1 Kings 18:24
Elijah's ChallengeJ. Parker, D. D.1 Kings 18:24
Fire from HeavenF. S. Webster, M. A.1 Kings 18:24
The Fire of the LordS. Chadwick.1 Kings 18:24
The Fire of the LordCharles Cross.1 Kings 18:24
The God that Answereth by FireM. G. Pearse.1 Kings 18:24
The God that Answers by FireJ. Thomas, M. A.1 Kings 18:24
Elijah and the Prophets of BaalE. De Pressense 1 Kings 18:1-46
Elijah and the Prophets of BaalJ. H. Cadoux.1 Kings 18:19-40
Elijah and the Prophets of BaalC. J. Baldwin.1 Kings 18:19-40
The Priests of BaalMonday Club Sermons1 Kings 18:19-40
The Prophet of the LordH. M. Booth, D. D.1 Kings 18:19-40
The God that Answereth by FireJ. Urquhart 1 Kings 18:21-40
The Test of FireJ.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 18:22-24

Elijah had appealed to the people on their inconsistency in hesitating between services so widely different and so utterly irreconcilable as those of Jehovah and Baal. He got no response. "The people answered him not a word." Then he proposed the test of fire to determine which was worthy. The conclusiveness of such an appeal could not be challenged; so the people with one voice answered, "It is well spoken." L THE TEST WAS UNEXCEPTIONABLE.

1. For Baal was the fire god.

(1) His name designates him as the lord or ruler. It comes from the verb (בעל) to own or possess, to be master of. But the sun, from its splendour and central position, accounted the visible lord in the material heavens, was their Baal. Sanchoniathon says the Phoenicians thought the sun to be the only lord of heaven, calling him Beelsamen, which in their language is lord of heaven. In "Beelsamen" we at once recognize the Hebrew בעל שׁמים.

(2) Baal was the fire or body of the sun, rather than its light. So in 2 Kings 23:5 we find Baal (בעל) distinguished from (שמש) the solar light. (See Parkhurst under שמש.) Parkhurst points out that the Runic or Islandic BAAL signifies fire, the Saxon BAEL, and BAEL-FYR, a burning pile, a pyre, a bonfire. Probably our bonfire is simply a corruption of Bael-fyr.

(3) The image of this idol was a bull. This animal was by the ancients regarded as the emblem of fire. The similitude seems to have been in its red colour, in the curled hair upon its forehead giving the idea of flame, in the horns budding from its head suggesting the darting of rays of light from the sun. In Tobit (1:5) we read of "the heifer called Baal." We have the name of this god still preserved in our English bull.

2. The controversy was whether Baal was independent of Jehovah.

(1) His worshippers claimed this for him.

(2) Elijah maintained the opposite. And with cogent reason, for during three years and six months Jehovah made Baal punish his votaries.

(3) Now the prophet proposes the further test of a sudden miracle. If Baal be god, if he be independent of Jehovah, let him come down and consume the sacrifice offered to him. If he cannot, then why should he be worshipped? If Jehovah can send fire on his sacrifice, then is He manifestly Lord of Baal, and should be so acknowledged.

(4) That suitable acknowledgment of God which such a miracle demands, implies -

(a) Recognition of His almighty providence and lordship over the material and moral universe.

(b) The engagement of all our powers in His worship and service.


1. The prophets of Baal had precedence.

(1) Not because Baal was entitled to it, for that would be a concession of the argument, but because they were many. Elijah stood alone the prophet of the Lord, while the idolatrous prophets were 850 men.

(2) They were to provide the sacrifices. They were wealthy. Elijah was poor. They could not object to the test when the sacrifices were of their own selection.

2. The experiment was to be fair.

(1) Not only might the priests of Baal choose their bullock, cut it in pieces after their approved method, lay it on the wood of the altar; but they must "put no fire under." Else where would be the proof of the ability of Baal? Under some heathen altars holes were dug in which fire was concealed, which communicating with the alter set the wood on fire to make the simple people believe that the sacrifice was consumed by miraculous fire. This Elijah would not permit.

(2) Ordinarily the sacrifices offered to Baal were offered in fire; and sometimes human sacrifices were so offered. "They built the high places of Baal to burn their sons with fire, for burnt offerings" (Jeremiah 19:5). The Phoenician Baal seems to have been identical with the Ammonite Molech. "They built the high places of Baal which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech (Jeremiah 32:35).

(3) Ashtaroth also were virtually the same as Baalim," under which plural term are included diversified Baals, as Baal Peor, etc.; and so in ver. 25 the prophets of Baal are said to have (אלהים) "gods," in the plural

(4) These had their various images, in some of which the man and bull came into union. The Assyrian man bull so conspicuous in the Nineveh marbles, is probably one of these. Let us bless God for our Christianity. It is pure light. Compared with it other systems are dark with ignorance, superstition, and error. It is supreme benevolence. Happy is its contrast to the characteristic cruelties of idolatry. - J.A.M.

The God that answereth by fire, let him be God.
Here are some lessons suited to all times, certainly not least to our time. The God that answereth by fire.

I. THE RELIGION OF GOD MUST BRING THE PROOFS OF ITS DIVINE ORIGIN. Elijah stands as the very type and emblem of the religion of God; it is always in the world as a daring intruder; a stern reformer. Such a disturber of the peace must carry his credentials with him. Look at the very nature of this holy religion. It comes with a demand so lofty, so searching, and yet so humiliating. It tells the man in all the pride of his intellect that he has no power to see the kingdom of God, until he is born again.

1. Christianity by her very triumphs gives the challenge of the world a greater force and urgency. There are two blessings which Christianity has brought to many lands and is surely bringing to all — liberty and light. The more perfectly men are brought into freedom the more naturally will they ask the ground of claims like these. Because light sets men thinking for themselves, is light therefore an evil? Do not let us talk as if it were in any degree possible. Thank God for light; it is the wise men who, when they find the young Child, shall lay at His feet the costly gifts of gold and myrrh and frankincense. It is the freest men who can render the most worthy because the most willing service. Christianity is lost when it takes to coercion.

2. Every age must have its own proof. The Church cannot inherit the evidences, she must create them. The prophet does not stand and tell the people of the wonders that God has wrought for their fathers in Egypt and the Red Sea. If the Gospel cannot do to-day what it did aforetime, it is a failure. What is it to tell me of Bethesda's ancient fame, if I come and expect no expectant crowd, and no sign of the angel, and no cripples healed, and none laughing in the gladness of new life? I conclude naturally enough that Bethesda is a failure. The only evidence of Christianity that can satisfy me is when it does as much for me as it has ever done for others. If the Church of God do live at all, :she lives by the breath of the Almighty. If that inspire her she can do as great wonders as ever.

II. THE APPOINTED PROOF. The religion of God has nothing but the fire to mark her off from the false religions of the world.

1. And of the two all the advantage is on the side of Baal. The royal patronage and the popular favour, the priests of Baal and the glittering attractions are with the false god. The priests of Baal had all the further conditions of success. Theirs is the passionate earnestness, the furious persistent prayer, the fierce self-denial, the agony of entreaty.

2. But now comes the time of the man of God. Then forth from the reddened sky there fell the fire of the Lord and consumed the burnt-sacrifice and the wood and the stones, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it they fell on their faces, and they said, "The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God." This is ever the proof appointed by God, and this is always the proof accepted by men — the God that answereth by fire.

(M. G. Pearse.)

Moses challenged the necromancers of Egypt, Elijah challenged the priests of Baal, Christ challenges the world. At first the challenge was more strictly physical, now it is intensely spiritual. What religion produces the highest and finest type of character? That is the challenging question! Where, in Christian or in pagan lands, have we the finest men, the purest character, the most sensitive honour? Where are schools, hospitals, asylums, and charities of every kind most abundant? That Christian countries are disgraced by some of the foulest crimes possible in human life, may but show that their very foulness and atrocity never could have been so vividly seen and so cruelly felt but for the enlightenment and culture furnished by Christianity. In any other countries they would have been matters of course; in Christian lands their abomination is seen by the help of Christian light. To-day Christianity appeals not to a few sectarian prophets, or a few bewildered speculators, nor to a few scientists who are wild with boy-like joy because they have found a bird's nest, but have never seen the bird that built it; Christianity makes its appeal to the great, broad heart of human nature, to the common sufferings of the race, to the indestructible sentiments of mankind — to the people first and the prophets next, and calls upon the people in all their multitudinousness to force their mumbling prophets to bring the mumble that chokes their throat to distinct and calculable articulation, and to compare the noise of charlatanism with the music of Divine teaching. In Elijah's day the people said, "It is well spoken," and of Christ it is said, "The common people heard Him gladly." Full opportunity has been given to men to show the worth of their idolatries and superstitions. In this controversy the prophets of Baal had the first chance. Elijah stood back that they might do their best. False religions cannot complain that they have not had field enough. "There was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded" (ver. 29). It is precisely so with every false creed, every false science, every false prophet to-day. There is nothing to show! All effort ends in silence. Prodigious exertions finish in prodigious emptiness. Of every teacher, other than Christian, we ask: Where are the sinners whom you have released from the torment of remorse? Where are the mourners whose tears you have dried? Millions of men praise Christ. Sinners will stand up thick as armies, filling the valleys, thronging the hills, declaring that in Christ they have found the joy of pardon.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I suppose that the altars built by Elijah and the prophets of Baal would be very much alike. To all outward seeming they were equally promising, and we should have been unable to surmise to which of them the fire would be sent. Anybody can build an altar; we need a God for the creation of a fire!

1. Any one can build an altar; it requires a God to provide the flame. Anybody can build a house; we need the Lord for the creation of a home. A house is an agglomeration of bricks and stones, with an assorted collection of manufactured goods; a home is the abiding-place of ardent affection, of fervent hope, of genial trust. There is many a homeless man who lives in a richly furnished house. There is many a fifteen-pound house in the crowded street which is an illuminated and beautiful home. The sumptuously furnished house may only be an exquisitely sculptured tomb; the scantily furnished house may be the very hearthstone of the eternal God. Now the Christian religion claims to be able to convert houses into homes, to supply the missing fire, and to bring an aspiring flame to the cold and chilling heap. Here, then, are two houses. In both of them there is no love, no joy, no peace, no rest. There is no flame of geniality and radiant hope. Let us bring the Christian religion into one of the houses, and do as you please with the other. In one house the tenants shall all kneel before King Jesus. They shall be one in common purpose, and they shall strive together with common mind and will. What will assuredly happen? With absolute certainty the house will become a home! That is a glorious commonplace in the history of the Christian faith. Where Christ has been enthroned, and every member of the family becomes a worshipper, there steals into the common life a warmth of affection which converts even trivial relationships into radiant kinships. God changes houses into homes; let Him be God!

2. Any one can proclaim a moral ideal; we need the Lord for the creation of moral enthusiasm. But the possession of a moral ideal does not necessarily transfigure the life. A man might draw up, for the guidance of his fellow-men, an exalted code, and yet he may be the most notorious scamp in the city. The erection of moral ideals is the building of an altar. Now we want the flame, the fire of a passionate, moral enthusiasm. Where shall we get the fire? We exalt our moral ideals in the minds of our children, but bow shall we get them to love the right, and to fervently aspire after it? The Christian religion claims to answer the question. Here are two lives. In both of them there is knowledge of the moral ideal. In both of them the character is immoral. Let us bring the Christian religion to the one, and you shall do as you please with the other. "He will baptize with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." The issue of fellowship with the Christ is to be the inspiration, whose influence shall be felt like fire. Love becomes a factor in the life, and cold duty becomes a fervent delight. How will you deal with the other man? How will you bring to him the fire? I confess I know no answer. Apart from the Christ, there seems to be no way of bringing fire on to cold altars.

3. Any nation can make legal enactments against crime. We need the law to make men hate it. The only defence against crime is not a punitive law, but a passionate, spiritual recoil. If we would deliver men from sin, we must make them loathe it. Some way or other we must kindle a holy hatred in man, the fire of blazing indignation. There are many men who are kept from crime, who nevertheless do not dislike it. We must make men hate it. How shall we light the fire? Let us turn to the Christ. Let a man love the virtuous, and he will loathe the vicious.

4. Any municipality can coerce men into charity. We need the Lord for the creation of philanthropy. The Poor Law system may compel us into giving, but in the gift there may be nothing of the fervour of a passionate goodwill. How can we get cold charity converted into radiant philanthropy? Who will bring the fire to the frozen altar? There is an old man in the Christian Scriptures who speaks in this wise: "He loved me and gave Himself for me"; "we love, because He first loved us"; "the love of Christ constraineth me." Out of that love for the Master there spring all the beautiful ministries which seek the welfare of our fellow-men. Love for the Lord just blossoms into philanthropy.

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

The challenge of Carmel was a challenge of God's. The elect symbol of the God of Israel was fire, and Baal was the heathen God of fire. The prophets of Baal contended that Baal was God, and Elijah, the solitary prophet of the God of Israel, declared that Jehovah was the one and only true God. Such a question cannot be settled by words. The claim to Deity must be established in deeds that only God can do. It is not a matter of argument but demonstration. The fire was God's sign of acceptance. Perhaps it was by this sign the two first brothers knew that Abel's offering was accepted and Cain's rejected. When Abraham prepared a sacrifice by which the covenant was to be sealed, he watched until the evening, and then the fire of God passed through the divided portions. At the dedication of the Tabernacle "there came fire from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat." When the Temple was consecrated we read, "When Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices." The altar fire was the sign of the Divine Presence. No human hand kindled it. No material fuel replenished it, and yet it burned continually, a visible assurance of Jehovah's presence with His people. In Elijah's day the fire had gone out. The glory of Israel had departed. No man could rekindle it. Neither could any other fire take its place. The carriers of strange fire in the holy place were consumed on the spot. None but God could relight the altar fire. Elijah inaugurated a new order, and this is the reason of his appearance with Moses in the Mount of Transfiguration. By him God relit the sacred fire. Then! When was that? what had made possible that momentous moment? Is it possible to discover the conditions which bring the fire of the Lord? Nothing is lawless. The " then" is indicative of more than time. It marks the moment when the conditions of Divine demonstration were fulfilled.

1. The fire of the Lord came when the cause of Jehovah had reached its lowest point. "Ahab had provoked the Lord God of Israel more than all that were before him." He was the kind of man still much applauded. He established great cities, gathered great wealth, and built a great palace.

2. The fire of the Lord came after the altar had been restored. The fire follows the altar. In itself the altar is nothing. It was built of unhewn stones, unchiselled and unshaped, but it was the place of sacrifice, the centre of fellowship, and the sign of the covenant. When the altar is neglected the fire goes out. Man's work is to repair the altar and provide the offering; God lights the fire.

3. The fire of the Lord came in response to faith and prayer. The faith of Elijah was sublimely heroic. What confidence he had! He could mock their frenzy because he was sure of his triumph. Faith never screams. In quietness and assurance it knows how to wait. How he laughed at difficulties! They might flood the altar and the sacrifice with their cold water till it seemed as if nothing could burn; he knew in whom he had believed. He had faith in God.

(S. Chadwick.)

The great need of the Church in the present day is "the fire of the Lord," the power of the Holy Ghost. We shall do more good in an hour of Pentecostal baptism than in ten years of Church. reform, theological strife, doctrinal" discussion." God has promised the fire: "I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh." "Ye shall receive power." Promises never cancelled; Spirit given and never recalled. We need the fire, for the same reason as Elijah, combating error and sin. If we have physical or mental work to do we require physical or mental strength and vigour; spiritual work requires spiritual power.

I. WE MUST "ERECT OUR ALTAR" and make the sacrifice before we can have the fire. The sacrifice must be


(2)perpetual. All on the altar; all kept there.

II. THE SACRIFICE WILL BE ACCEPTED; God will "answer by fire." Consecration is giving ourselves to God to be sanctified, cleansed, and filled with the Spirit. "The altar sanctifies the gift."


1. It refines. The Holy Spirit will remove unholiness (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

2. It illuminates. Light is the source of(1) joy and safety. The Holy Ghost, shining in the heart, scatters darkness and gives security. The light of reason is insufficient; it is like the light of the moon, fair, beautiful, but deceptive, unreliable.(2) Activity. When the sun shines upon us we wake to energy and usefulness; baptized with the Holy Ghost we are "zealous of good works."

3. It warms. Light and heat do not necessarily go together, but fire and heat do. If the sun gave light but no heat, the world would be a vast, icy, lifeless mass, nothing but brilliantly-illuminated death. Warmth is necessary to vitality: spiritual life depends upon spiritual heat, which dispels spiritual coldness.

4. It assimilates, transforms, spreads, Fire means power. Fire spreads: when filled with the Spirit our influence will spread, for fire cannot be confined in a narrow little circle when surrounded with inflammable material. Shall we erect our altar to receive the fire?

(Charles Cross.)

The ordeal proposed was peculiarly appropriate. Jehovah had often in old times answered by fire. Fire from heaven fell upon the cities of the plain. To Moses too God appeared as a fire that burned, but did not consume. And if Baal was what his prophets declared him to be, what more reasonable than that he, too, should answer by fire? For he was supposed to be the god of Nature; the fruitfulness of the land was accredited to his bounty, and the thunder and lightning were frequently pointed to as evidences of his power. It was a sad but most suggestive sight. Their numbers were large — four hundred and fifty as against the solitary prophet of Jehovah. Truth does not always rest with majorities. Yea, the real majority is where God is. Then their social influence was great. They held high positions in the Court and throughout the kingdom. Then those men were in earnest. It is the inevitable result in the case of all who come by some other way pleading some other name. Men say, "Earnestness is everything; it matters not what views you hold, so long as you are in earnest." Of what avail, however, is the earnestness of the drowning man who clutches at what he believes to be a solid spar, but is only drifting seaweed? Natural religion, evolved out of the spirit and temper of the age, will always command a large following of thoughtful people, apparently sincere and earnest, and, thanks to the Christian environment of these days, far superior to the worshippers of Baal in morality and uprightness; but in time of need, when death is near, or the heart is breaking beneath some crushing sorrow, the result will be the same, "No voice, nor any to answer." It is not so, however, with those who seek the living God. The testimony of every true believer is this: "It is good for me to draw near to God." But we must draw near in the appointed way. See how careful Elijah was in preparing his sacrifice. He began by repairing the altar that was broken down, building it up with "twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of Israel." The Established Churchman and the "Free" Churchman must alike build the altar of twelve stones if they really desire fire from heaven. There must be no despising any of whatever church or society who have the Spirit of Christ. The sacrifice was so saturated with water that only fire from heaven could ignite it. Amanda Smith said, some years ago, "When God Almighty does a miracle, He likes to do it handsome." Elijah evidently felt the same. What a lesson, too, for the Church of the constant need of cleansing through the word, and of that separation from an ungodly generation which obedience to God's Word invariably causes. If the water and the trench are lacking in our sacrifice, what wonder if there is no fire from heaven? And when Elijah's faith thus challenged the ear of heaven, there came at once the answer of the Living God. " The fire of the Lord fell." It was a supernatural flame. It came direct from heaven. And so comes the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, into our hearts with a supernatural illumination and Divine enkindling. It came to consume the sacrifice; and to-day the fire of God will consume all that is carnal and evil within us, and cleanse and inspire all that is good and true. It wrought conviction of a kind in the minds of the people.

(F. S. Webster, M. A.)

The utterance of these words marked a great occasion. No criticism of details can annul the essential greatness of the hour when men seek, in the measure of their light, to know and acknowledge God. It is a fateful hour for the seekers themselves, and has, besides, important bearings upon the spiritual progress of the race. The form of the quest in one generation may appear crude to the critics of a later period, but they are poor readers of history who lay very much stress on form. The true student of life will always hasten to discover the soul that lives beneath the form, and to learn the permanent and essential significance of the event. A crude and rudimentary form may enshrine a sublime spirit, while a developed form may possibly enclose no spirit to speak of. It is easy to look down from the embellished eminence of modern knowledge upon the setting up of a fire test on Mount Carmel, for the discernment of the true God. We have advanced beyond the form of this appeal, and have been taught a more excellent way. But a careful study of the inward spirit and meaning of this ancient test may possibly take some of the conceit out of us, and lead us to pray for a double portion of the spirit of the old prophet, in order that we may more worthily animate our superior forms with prophetic power. Beneath the contests with the priests of Baal lay the perennial problem of the human heart. How can God be known? By what means can His presence be recognised in the world? In this great scroll of creation, in which a steady procession of laws and forces are registering their achievements, how shall we recognise the special and personal entry of the Divine Hand? the direct and holy signature of God? The test on Mount Carmel was not arbitrary. The appeal to fire went to the very centre and mystery of material forces. It was the subtlest point to which the material test could be carried This element of fire was a profound mystery which seemed to pass inwards and impinge upon the very soul of existence. The test recognised that God held His court in the inner recesses of being and in the temple of uncomprehended mystery. The form was material, though very subtly so, but the underlying conception was spiritual. In the New Testament the form itself is spiritualised, and the true meaning of the ideal of Carmel is conveyed in the words, "He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and in fire."

I. THE CHALLENGE OF THE TEXT REMINDS US OF THE SUBTLENESS OF GOD'S SELF-MANIFESTATION. The manifestation of the true God must be sought, not in gross, but in the subtlest forms. He is the God that answers by fire. Sift the world of perception and knowledge down to its most ethereal elements, pass through the crude outer crust of things into the inward heart of life, penetrate beneath the surface of existence until you reach its centre of fire, and you will stand where God reveals Himself to the spirits that worship Him. The material perceptions which bulk and obtrude upon our life are but the "outskirts of His ways." The pure manifestation of His presence is in the ethereal and inward energy of fire. The spirit that informed this grand ordeal on Carmel is as evident as it was just. It is an infirmity of the flesh to desire the manifestation of God in crude and obtrusive forms. The spirit and disposition of unbelieving scepticism is specially prone to this egregious infirmity. With the confidence born of fatuous miscomprehension, the sceptic issues the challenge — "If there is a God, why does He not show Himself?" This infirmity finds its unwisest expression in the seats of scepticism, but Christian people also need to be on their guard against it. The pure idea of the self-revealing God is attained only by the inward purification of the soul from the bias of sense. I do not seek to interdict the prayer of faith for material things, or for a moment question the personal intervention of the redeeming God in the material domain. I hold, on the contrary, that such unmistakable intervention is not only recorded in the pages of the sacred Word, but also in the experience of God's saints in all generations. But such intervention is not primary, but secondary; the corollary of the kingdom of love. Let us approach God worthily. He is too great to be for ever crudely advertising His presence on the common hoardings of sense.

II. WE ARE LED BY AN OBVIOUS STEP TO RECOGNISE THE NATURALNESS OF GOD'S SELF-MANIFESTATION. His kingdom is not the contradiction of nature, but the glorification of it. His secret glories pour themselves through the channels of being, and diffuse themselves through all the avenues of natural law. In the main He fulfils His glory through the common orbits and courses of created things, charging every shining point of creation with gleams of His spiritual glory. The stars fight for Him without leaving, or halting in, their courses. The heavens declare His glory, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. His lightnings fly very swiftly. His way is in the sea, and His path in the deep waters. He crams the earth with His invisible fires, and kindles in every bush the flame of His presence. In creation and in the history of man He works out His holy purpose by ordered and consistent laws, by gloriously natural processes. Through the ages one increasing purpose runs. The natural and the spiritual coalesced on Mount Carmel into wedded unity, so that you cannot say where the one ends and the other begins. Miracles are simply natural law written in capital letters. They serve to introduce new epochs, just as capitals are used to announce a new chapter. Let us look reverently for God in the beaten paths of universal law and life, for it is there He will reveal Himself. He will not go back upon the glorious order which He Himself has created and ordained. Learn the essence of the flame that leaps along the lightning's track and the essence of the victorious power which is impelling the human race onward and upward; for they am both one. They are the potency of the God that answers by fire.

III. Our thought naturally expands further into THE UNLIMITED FREEDOM OF GOD'S SELF-MANIFESTATION. Who will clip the wings of flame, or make curbs for the secret energies of fire? Who will pluck the ambushed lightnings out of their secret lairs, imprison them one and all behind impassable barriers, and say to the incarcerated legions, "Thus far shall ye go, and no farther"? A planet is fixed in its appointed orbit, and the wandering star is drawn back from its wanderings by invisible chains; but fire has the freedom of the universe, and pours its mysterious force from the centre to the circumference of all created existence. The God that answers by fire is a God whose self-manifesting energy is unlimited and free. Human history illustrates and demonstrates the absolute freedom of God's revelation of Himself to men. In history, as Emerson has well shown, every man is introduced into a universal atmosphere. Hero we touch and perceive, and appropriate that which is common to all humankind. Every man is elected a freeman in the imperial city of history. It knows no class distinctions, no party privileges. What, then, do we find when we come to search in history for the revelation of God to men? What limitations do we discover in the descent of the Divine fire into the lives of men? Has God limited His goings to artificial grooves, and to barriered avenues? Nay, His fires have been kindled on every headland. Has Spirit has whispered its naming secret of truth and love and hope to every nation under the sun. We can see His goings in the history of all nations, and trace the progress of His redeeming work in all generations. He has kindled His holy fires in the hearts of men as far as He has sent His sunlight to bless the face of the earth. Once, indeed, an attempt was made, through lack of knowledge, to make a single nation the one channel of Divine grace, but the barriers were thrown down with a crash which still vibrates in the words, "Is God the God of the Jews only? Nay, but of the Gentiles also." We refer with sorrow, not untinged with indignation, to those who in the present day would audaciously circumscribe the communication of the grace of God, and limit the freedom of the heavenly fire.

(J. Thomas, M. A.)

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