2 Kings 6:8
Now the king of Aram was at war against Israel. After consulting with his servants, he said, "My camp will be in such and such a place."
God's Presence with His PeopleC.H. Irwin 2 Kings 6:8-16
A Bootless InvasionJ. Orr 2 Kings 6:8-23
Elisha At DothanMonday Club Sermons2 Kings 6:8-23
Elisha's DefendersGeorge W. Brown.2 Kings 6:8-23
Elisha's SafeguardJ. Murray.2 Kings 6:8-23
Our AlliesW. Hoyt, D. D.2 Kings 6:8-23
Secure Amid PerilsL. A. Banks, D. D.2 Kings 6:8-23
The Encompassing Defence of the FaithfulJ. G. Greenhough, M. A.2 Kings 6:8-23
The King of Syria and ElishaD. Thomas 2 Kings 6:8-23
Within the Circle of FlameJ. Dunk.2 Kings 6:8-23

There has been a sudden change in the horizon of Elisha's life. From the quiet work of cutting down trees and budding a college, he is suddenly called upon to stand a siege from a Syrian army. These changes do come in the lives of most of us. Health suddenly changes into sickness. Friendship suddenly changes into hostility. Wealth suddenly changes into poverty. Such changes will come in the life of the believer and in the history of the Church of God. At one time all seems bright; the next moment the prospect seems dark and discouraging. It is well to be prepared for such changes when they come. The true servant of God will heed them very little. He lives not under, but above, the things of earth.

"As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway cleaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head." So it was with Elisha. Wherever you find him, he always seems the same. On the present occasion the circumstances were such as to strike terror to the stoutest heart. Elisha's servant trembled at the sight that met him when he rose that morning and looked forth from the city walls. A mighty host, with horses and chariots, encompassed the city round about. It was an unexpected attack. No forces were within the city to defend it against such a mighty host. Elisha was the only one whom the besieging army wanted. In the desire for self-preservation, it was not unlikely that the inhabitants of Dothan might give him up to the enemy, and thus turn away the invader from their gates. From a human point of view it was no wonder that Elisha's servant said, "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" There was no terror in Elisha's face, no panic in his heart, at this startling news. What calmness, what courage, what sublime confidence there is in that answer of his, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them!" And what was the secret of his confidence? The one reason of Elisha's confidence and calm was that God's presence was with him. What a beautiful fulfillment of that promise, "Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man; thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues!" We learn from this story -

I. GOD'S PRESENCE WITH HIS PEOPLE IS NOT GENERALLY REALIZED BY THEIR ENEMIES. It was so on the occasion before us. The King of Syria commenced another war against Israel. He held, as we should say, a council of war, and consulted with his generals concerning the arrangements for the campaign. He thought, by skilful strategy, to take the King of Israel unawares. But all his plans and maneuvers were thwarted in some mysterious way. The King of Israel seemed to know all his movements with more certainty than a clever player at a game of skill might anticipate the moves of his opponent. Several times in this way the King of Israel saved himself. At last the King of Syria began to be suspicious. There must be a traitor in the camp. Some of those enjoying the king's confidence must be revealing his plans to the enemy. And so he asks, "Will ye not show me which of us is for the King of Israel?" The King of Syria was an able general; but like another great general of modern times, Napoleon the Great, there were some forces that he did not take sufficient account of. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. There are other things than military skill and big battalions to be thought of in going forth to battle. When Edward, the English king, came forth to view the Scottish troops before the battle of Bannockburn, he was astonished at the small force waiting on foot to receive the attack of his mighty army. But they were putting their trust in the God of battles, and presently he saw the unusual sight of the whole Scottish army, as their custom was, kneeling down and offering a short prayer to God. "Believe me," said the general who rode by his side, "you men will win or die." Of that unseen Power, in whose hands are the issues of battle, the Syrian king took no account. He did not realize that God's presence was with his people. Is not this the mistake which the enemies of God's people have made in all ages? It was the mistake of the persecutors and oppressors of Israel. It was the mistake of those who persecuted the Reformers of England, Scotland, France, and Switzerland. It was the mistake which Pharaoh made when he refused to let the children of Israel go. It was the mistake, which Herod made when he thought to crush the new kingdom that was yet to arise, by slaughtering the helpless babes in Bethlehem and its neighborhood. It was the mistake, which Nero made in his persecutions of the Christians at Rome. It was the mistake which Louis XIV. of France made when he revoked the famous Edict of Nantes. It is the mistake, which the Roman Curia has made in all ages, in thinking to crush out civil and religious liberty by the tortures of the Inquisition, by the martyrdoms of the scaffold and the stake, by the massacres in the Waldensian valley, by the autos-da-fe of Spain. The same thing may be said of the unbeliever and the skeptic. They have not realized that the presence of the living God is with his Church and in the midst of her, and that he, in his own way and in his own time, can vindicate his own truth. How often, during these eighteen hundred years, has the unbeliever exulted in what he has called the overthrow of Christianity! and yet how vain and foolish the boast has proved to be! Voltaire boasted that with one hand he would overthrow the Christianity which it had required twelve apostles to build up. "At this day, the press which he employed at Ferney to print his blasphemies is actually employed at Geneva in printing the Holy Scriptures." May we not still say, as we think of the enemies of the truth, the enemies of virtue, the enemies of religion, and as we listen to their audacious boasts, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision?"

II. GOD'S PRESENCE WITH HIS PEOPLE IS NOT REALIZED BY MANY AMONGST THEMSELVES. Elisha's servant, no doubt, believed in God. If any one had denied God's presence with his people, he would doubtless have firmly asserted it as his belief. Yet when the time came to put his belief to a practical test, we see how slight a hold it had taken of him. When he went forth in the morning and saw the horses and chariots and the mighty host encompassing the city round about, he said to Elisha, "Alas, my master I how shall we do?" Do you never feel a sensation like Elisha's servant? You believe you are a child of God, you believe that God takes care of his people, yet perhaps there are times when you are unduly anxious about your business, and allow yourself to be weighed down by foolish and causeless fears. How many are alarmed by the thought of sickness in themselves or in their families, and nervously ask, "What shall we do?" Oh that we would learn to realize God's presence with us! "My times are in thy hand." In the same way, how many professing Christians are there who do not sufficiently realize God's presence in his Church! How much more active we should be, how much more earnest in Christian work, if we realized that God is working with us! With what power a minister ought to preach if he could only remember to say with John the Baptist, "There cometh One mightier than I after me"! Then how many are easily discouraged by difficulties. Some are always saying when they see a difficulty in the way, "What shall we do?" "Who will roll us away the stone?" Some are always imagining difficulties and foreseeing them at the very beginning of a work. This spirit of timidity, of fear, is a great hindrance in Christian work. Half-belief is almost as bad as no belief, in this respect. Half-hearted-ness in religious work is one of the greatest hindrances to its success. In this, as in everything else, the maxim holds good, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." The boll-hearted ten out of the twelve spies sent to view the promised land frightened the Israelites from going up, and nearly caused God, in his righteous anger at their unbelief, to disinherit them altogether. The half-hearted inhabitants of Galilee prevented the blessing of the Savior of men resting upon them, for we read that "he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." The half-hearted followers of Christopher Columbus nearly prevented him from discovering America. There is no room for half-heartedness in religion. There is a loud call for decision and firmness both in belief and in conduct.

III. GOD'S PRESENCE WITH HIS PEOPLE IS ALWAYS REALIZED BY HIS TRUE SERVANTS. The King of Syria did not realize that God's presence was with his people, and he was at his wits' end to know how to circumvent them. Elisha's servant did not realize that God's presence was with himself and his master; and how panic-stricken he was at the danger that seemed to threaten them! But there was one man for whom the armies of the King of Syria had no terror, to whom difficulties brought no dismay, and that was the man who lived near to God, and realized that God was near to him. Hence it is that we find Elisha saying, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." So it has been with God's true servants in all ages. They have realized that God's presence was with them, and in the strength of that one idea they have surmounted the greatest difficulties, braved the most terrible dangers, met fearlessly the most overwhelming opposition, and accomplished tasks that to the worldly eye seemed almost incredible. Look at Abraham. He went forth from his native land, "not knowing whither he went." And why? Because he knew that God was with him. Look at Nehemiah. An exile from his native land, he undertook the wonderful enterprise of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He had plenty of opposition. But he went on with his work in spite of the ridicule and attacks of Sanballat and his companions. And what was the secret of his determination and perseverance? You have it in his answer to Sanballat, "The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build." This year (1888) is the anniversary of two great events in British history - two great deliverances which illustrate in a marvelous way God's presence with his people. It is the three hundredth anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada, which took place in 1588. Yet it was not English ships or English power that really turned away that invasion from our shores; but the winds and waves of him who holdeth the sea in the hollow of his hand. It is also the two hundredth anniversary of the revolution of 1688. And while we should never use such anniversaries as the occasion of displaying a vindictive or unchristian spirit towards those who differ from us, yet in the interests of truth, in the interests of true Anglicanism, in the interests of civil and religious liberty, it is most desirable that these two great events should be rightly and piously commemorated. One thing they illustrate very clearly, and that is, that however dark the prospects of God's people seem to be, and however overwhelming seem the forces arrayed against them, he is able to banish every cloud and to give them the victory over all their enemies.

"God is our Refuge and our Strength,
In straits a present Aid;
Therefore, although the earth remove,
We will not be afraid." One or two practical applications.

1. It is well to be on God's side. In a time of danger or of trouble, a great many people expect God to be on their side, who have never taken any pains to show themselves on his side. If you want to have the unspeakable advantage of God's presence with you in your time of difficulty or danger, the most important question you could now ask yourself is, "Am I on God's side?"

2. A word to those who are God's people. Undertake great things for God. Remember that you have unlimited resources at your command. We should be ashamed of how little we are attempting to do for God, when we have the inexhaustible treasury of Divine grace to help us.

3. Never suffer yourself to be daunted or depressed by difficulties. The greater the difficulties, the greater should be the determination of the Christian. "Let courage rise with danger." Luther sang his most stirring songs of praise and hope and courage in the darkest moments of his life. Those who have God with them can afford to sing amid the darkness. - C.H.I.

Then the King of Syria warred against Israel.
Monday Club Sermons.
Seeing the invisible! Here is the young business man. He spends his days in a close and musty counting-room, casting up interminable figures, or behind a distasteful counter, selling goods. But he sees something more than the ledger and the counting-house and the dry goods. He sees a beautiful home, and a warm fireside, and a happy family, and an easy competence for old age. It is this glimpse of the invisible that makes him toil on, early and late, uncomplainingly and patiently. Just so is it with the inventor. There was Palissy, the potter, who laboured sixteen years to perfect his invention. But he saw something more before him than the clay and the potter's wheel. He had in his mind's eye all the time the beautiful vase which, after those wearying years, he should produce. Howe had before him the perfect sewing-machine while working away at his crude experiments, and Morse had in his mind's eye the perfect telegraph machine, and Stephenson the perfect locomotive — long before any one else could perceive these machines. It was the vision of the invisible which gave these men courage. Nothing great or good would ever have been accomplished did not these visions of the unseen beckon men on to glorious deeds. Nay, we could not endure this treadmill life, we should die from very weariness of doing the same thing over and over, did not these glimpses of the invisible spur us on. Surely, then, this lesson which Elisha at Dothan teaches us of the unseen power of God is of the utmost practical importance. If we realised the unseen as he realised it, we too should always be brave, and calm, and trustful. In order to obtain a more definite impression, let us ask what are the characteristics of this unseen spiritual power, as here revealed?

I. IN THE FIRST PLACE, ITS MIGHT AND PLENITUDE ARE TAUGHT US. The forces of God which are fighting for our souls, if we could only see them, are more and stronger than the forces of the devil which are fighting against our souls. However full of evil and temptation this world which we see and feel may be, the unseen world is more full of motives and incitements to truth and righteous. ness, could we but gain the vision. The drunkard often urges, as his excuse, that his appetite is so strong that he cannot overcome it; the worldly man allows his love of money to master every other impulse; the libertine lets his lusts win the victory; and then these men whine that temptations and circumstances and environment are too strong to be resisted. But all the time the hosts of God are round about and ready to do battle for them, if only they are called upon, and these hosts are stronger than appetite and avarice and lust. All the time the crown hangs over their heads; and the crown, if they would but see it, is more attractive than the muck-rake;

II. THAT THESE INVISIBLE POWERS OF GOOD ARE VERY NEAR US. The invisible horses and chariots of fire were round about Elisha. The hill on which Dothan stood was full of them. The young man had only to open his eyes, and there they were. The clanging chariots and neighing horses of the Syrians were no nearer to the man of God than were the heavenly steeds. I have read the story of an escaped prisoner in our late war, who wandered for many days and nights, seeking the Union lines. At last, in the dusk of early twilight, he came to a camp which he supposed belonged to the Confederates. Before he knew it he was surrounded by the pickets and captured, to be hurried back to prison, as he thought; but what was his surprise and joy, on looking a tittle closer, to find that it was the Union blue, and not the Confederate grey, that the soldiers wore. He had been captured by his friends. When he thought that his friends were far away, they were all about him. O wanderer, and fugitive from God, lift up your eyes, the hosts of your friends surround you. God is near you.

III. THE AGENCY OF PRAYER IN REVEALING THE INVISIBLE. Over and over in this brief story does the prayer of the faithful prophet move the arm that moves the world. In answer to his own devout prayers, doubtless, he saw the invisible hosts himself, so that he could calmly, trustfully say to his servant, "They that be with us are more than they that be with them." How often has this been illustrated in other lives than that of Elisha. When the wise men could not interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel prayed to God, and his three corn-pardons joined him in prayer. "Then," says the simple Bible narrative, "was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision." "Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven, and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His. He revealeth the deep and secret things; He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him." "There is a God in heaven which revealeth secrets," is his bold and confident affirmation to the king.

IV. THE SYMBOL WHICH GOD USED TO CHEER AND ENCOURAGE HIS SERVANT AT DOTHAN. He sent heavenly horses and chariots, and filled the mountain with them. The very same means which the enemy used to distress and terrify him, God used to defend and encourage him. Every Syrian home that had come to harm was duplicated by a heavenly steed that had come to save. Every hostile chariot had for its double a friendly chariot. The enemy could send nothing against him which God could not match, and more than match, in his defence. Here, too, is a helpful thought for us. It seems to us that Satan is more ingenious and more mighty than ever. He adapts himself with such nice skill to each particular age and phase of life. It looks sometimes as though he had the mastery, and that nothing could overcome the horses and chariots with which he assaults us. The evils of our times are peculiar, we think. Intemperance, Sabbath-breaking, lax divorce laws, dishonesty, worldliness in the Church — over all this catalogue of evils we groan, and think that never was such a host of the devil's horses and chariots arrayed against God and truth. But if our eyes could be opened, we should see that the hosts of evil are exactly met and matched at every turn by the hosts of God. We should see that, nicely as the powers of darkness are adapted to pull down, the powers of light are better adapted to build up; that God is always ready for the emergency; that there can never be a horse and chariot of evil which He cannot exactly match and overcome.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

God's people may make use of these words in reference to their adversaries oftener than they think of; but let no one apply them lightly; it were sad to make a mistake in such a matter. As regarded Elisha, The could show proof of what he asserted. It would appear that the prophet was, so to speak, the visible representative of the Providence of God, which was engaged for the preservation of His people.

1. Observe the proof we have here of the long-suffering of God to His people. Much provocation had Israel given Him by their idolatries and backslidings, but still they were helped and forewarned of coming danger, and were furnished with innumerable proofs that the God of Israel was the supreme Lord of all the earth. And it was only when all means failed, and Ephraim was joined to his idols, that God at length gave him up to the spoiler.

2. Another reflection is suggested to us by the miserable suspicions of Ben-hadad. This man waged an unrighteous war with the people of Israel, and was therefore engaged in a nefarious course, and when things went against him he was ready to fancy all sorts of treacherous defections on the part of his servants. What a dreadfully bad time of it they must have had with him when his affairs did not prosper as he expected, and his unworthy suspicions were hatching! Many an innocent man would be regarded with the dark scowl of aversion, and many a faithful one must have seen that his lord and master held him in distrust. And not one of them might speak a word concerning that which every one must have seen.

3. Elisha's way of treating the Syrians is worthy of consideration. And let us at once confess that it is unlawful in any circumstances to tell an untruth, and this will show that in our opinion Elisha told none. On the contrary, it will appear, upon strict examination, that he spake what was literally true. He was no longer in the city, for he had advanced to meet them; and when he had brought them to Samaria, he kept his word and revealed himself to them, although it was then their turn to be in fear. If that explanation will not suffice, and if it be supposed that in certain conditions a person may say what is untrue to promote some good end, it will be well that any one who is of this unsafe opinion shall only act upon it when he is assured of having the same monitor as Elisha had to guide him. If, on the other hand, exception be taken to the fact that Elisha meant to deceive the Syrians, we have no defence to offer, because it is our belief that none is required.

4. In the perusal of this and other passages of Scripture in which the wonderful power of prayer is recorded, it will be well to have due regard to the circumstances in which these instances occurred. Any one who should attempt to foil an army in our days by means of prayer and no other weapon, as Elisha did, would run a great risk of being mocked for his pains, without any advantage to set over against it. We are to remember that Israel was the visible Church, and that God was pleased to afford miraculous proof of the care and superintendence which He exercised over it. Besides, prayer was the only means at Elisha's command. He never advised the king to disband his army, and trust entirely to his prayers for the preservation of himself and the nation. But the power of prayer may not be less now than it was in ancient times, although its effects are less apparent.

(J. Murray.)


1. Observe to what heights of power a saint may come.

2. See how Peril waits on Piety that comes to Power. Where is the marauder who can calmly brook the parrying hand of a saint? "Let us alone, what have we to do with thee?" cry the lawless when checked by the godly. Ambition turns to rage, foaming like baffled breakers at the cliff-foot.

II. WITHIN THE FLAME-CIRCLE, AND AT REST. Two men stand in the seraph-ring. One is a saint, the other a possible saint. One is serene; panic takes the other. Elisha's serenity is the quiet of a man all of whose heart-strings are lovingly held in the hands of Infinite Power — a quiet which is only broken by rising praise, as a wave will sometimes edge up, whiten, and turn in music in the midst of a gentle blue sea; or by that profoundest of merriment, the laughter of a fearless soul facing peril. In the processes of sublimation Elisha has become conscious of an ever keener sight for the life men call unseen; and of a familiarity with that border-land of human life, and that infinite beyond out of which heavenly helps come trooping. Serenity is the still air, drenched in smiling light, that enwraps the soul that traffics steadily with God the Undaunted, God the Unshakable. It is the quiet breathing of faith cradled in "the everlasting arms."

III. Within the circle, yet afraid.

1. Elisha's servant is trembling. He is like "a reed shaken with the wind" at the foot of a granite crag. Though the ring of fire belts them twain, he does not attain serenity. Where Elisha saw the sun-white host his servant found a blank. The blank upon the hill coincided with a blank in his soul. Little did it avail him that his eyes were young and keener to detect the common furniture of earth than the old man's — his master's. Even had Elisha been stone-blind, and the youth's eyes so superb that he could fix the forms of flying motes; or tell the spot a mile beneath grey seas where the Euplectella hides its loveliness in slime; or figure forth the astral systems careering in the infinite beyond the glittering fence of the Milky Way, such seeing would not be worth a thought beside the vision, the ever-widening, ever-strengthening vision of the seer's pure and spiritual heart. All life's advantages are not the heritage of youth. Holiness is heir to more and greater. The lamp of faith illuminates a wider and a gander world than the shining of the sun.

2. The seer who has saved his king now saves his own servant. Deep in saintliness, as an integral part of it, is this amazing versatility of helpfulness. Away over the young man's head flies Elisha's prayer. Every day such intercessions flock heavenward, carrying often the ripest faith and love the Church Militant can show.

(J. Dunk.)

I. That the GREATEST FORCES IN THIS WORLD ARE THE FORCES WHICH WE CALL SPIRITUAL AND INVISIBLE, and the strong, brave, fearless men are the men who believe in these forces, lean upon them, and in a certain sense see and grasp them. It is not so with the man of facts and figures, with what the Bible calls the darkened mind of the children of this world. He sets at nought all that he cannot see and measure. He stupidly thinks that the five senses take in everything. He takes stock of his material resources, counts men, weapons, machinery, and money, throws in perhaps a little brain, scientific knowledge, intellectual smartness, and then concludes that he has all the equipment which he needs for life's battle, or at least all the equipment which it is possible to gain. Turn to the Bible, and you at once get into the company of men whose might is in other weapons, who are covered with the invisible panoply of God, and who see around them the spiritual chariots and horses. They take little account of material masses and numbers. They laugh at huge figures. A grain of faith outweighs the resources of a kingdom. And there is no question about their heroic strength and fearlessness. The sceptic would call it imagination, but it is the kind of imagination which invests them with wonderful power. For these men are the world's masters; they have all a touch of the superhuman. Moses defying the might of Egypt; Gideon with his little regiment charging the vast army of Midianites; Elijah in lonely grandeur challenging the furious rabble of Baal's prophets; Daniel setting at naught the king's princes, nobles, and hungry lions of Babylon; Peter and John scornfully resisting the browbeating magistrates. Magnificent figures were all these. We would give all our goods to be like them. Yet it was simply their belief in the unseen forces which made them what they were. They saw the fiery chariots and the armies of heaven. They knew that God and Omnipotence were on their side, and only the fickle whims and passions of men against them.

II. IT IS ALWAYS THESE UNSEEN FORCES THAT WE RECKON UPON IN OUR CHRISTIAN WARFARE TO-DAY. What we call faith is just Elisha's vision and the steadfast heart which it brings. Faith, if not actually compassed about by invisible armies, is nerved, inspired, and energised by thoughts, upliftings, and confidences which make a man more than a match for his fellow-men. Without that, the battle for God's truth and roll, on would be a forlorn and wretchedly hopeless business. The valiant fighters in it are always outnumbered and overmatched. Religious censuses would fill us with despair if we weighed spiritual forces in ordinary scales. Where there is one man mightily earnest in this struggle there are ten standing aloof, and ten more lukewarm. The odds are all apparently on the evil side. Yet we never lose heart until we have lost all faith. We are always optimists until our eyes become blind to the unseen forces. These unseen forces are operating on every man. We have allies in every man's heart. When he is most against us, there is something in him that is for us. Every man has occasional visions of the fiery chariots. There is a judgment throne which he can never wholly forget. There is an eternal righteousness which he knows he must reckon with. There is something in every man which secretly sides with the good. There is conscience, and memory, and unrest, and a lurking fear of the very God whom he denies. The warfare is not unequal, as it seems.

III. Remember that THESE AND COUNTLESS UNSEEN FORCES ARE OVER AND AROUND EVERY ONE WHO IS RESOLUTELY BENT ON LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. We often hear of the difficulties of the Christian life. I think we hear more about its difficulties than about its helps. We get into the murmuring vein of the children of Israel, who were always magnifying shadows into mountains and ordinary fees into terrible giants. Yet surely there is another and brighter and diviner side to all that which the darkened eyes do not see, and which the despondent mind often forgets. There are many things against the godly life, but there are more things for it. Yes, we have more helps than temptations, more inspirations than discouragements, more incentives and wings than drawbacks and chains.

(J. G. Greenhough, M. A.)

I. GOD IS THE PROTECTOR OF HIS PEOPLE. Was Elisha so much dearer to God's heart than His other children that for him alone the forces of heaven came down to earth? Cannot all God's people say, "The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge"?

II. THE REALITY AND NEARNESS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD. The unseen is not the unreal. It needed just the opening of the eyes, and nothing more, to reveal to this young man agencies unseen and unsuspected before. We are citizens of two worlds — one material, the other spiritual. We cannot too frequently remind ourselves of this fact: that the world we see is not the only one in which we live. All about us is another, vast and mighty, although invisible and silent. When Dr. Judson was at Rangoon for the last time, endeavouring to gain a footing for the Gospel, he heard one day that the savage Burman magistrate had stationed guards with orders to seize every native seen coming out of the house of the teacher. Mrs. Judson writes: "I shall never forget the expression of my husband's face, as though really piercing to the invisible, when he exclaimed. 'I tell you, if we had but the power to see them, the air about us is thick with contending spirits, the good and the bad, striving for mastery.' However many and strong our foes, our friendly helpers are yet more numerous and powerful. Elisha's bodyguard was more than a match for the Syrian host. Rank upon rank they stood about him, countless as sunbeams; chariots that were billows of fire, and horses that were clouds of flame. So God's defending hosts surround His people, invisible, innumerable, invincible.

III. THE MINISTRY OF THE ANGELS. As sons of God by creation, we of the human race do not stand alone. There is another race of intelligent beings, to whom, by the fact of a common fatherhood, we are nearly related. They are our brethren in the household of the divine offspring. They are the elder, we the younger, born. With them there is neither childhood nor age, for they came into being, not by successive generations, but swept forth in all their glittering hosts, full-statured, at a single fiat of creative will. They are no flock of idle dreamers, sauntering along streets of gold, lying on fleecy clouds, listening to the music of fountains, their gravest task to practise psalmody and carry their part in some grand chorus. The word assures us that they are employed, every one, in rendering service in this earthly life to them who are heirs of salvation. There is something impressive and stimulating in the thought that we are constantly surrounded by these unseen helpers. No power of evil can avoid their scrutiny. Wherever a foe lurks an angel watches. They attend us in our solitudes, walk by our side in danger, and mingle with us in our solemn assemblies. Over the sorrowing, the tempted, the toiling, the dying they bend in true and tender sympathy.

(George W. Brown.)

Dothan is not an unusual place for the at least occasional residence of a Christian man. Sometimes the Christian man is in the Dothan —

(1)Of hard circumstances;

(2)of business disappointments;

(3)of the sudden re-emergence of an old sin he thought conquered;

(4)of a whelming sorrow;

(5)of sickness and failing physical energy;

(6)of a chilling doubt.Beleaguered Dothan is not a place so unusual for a Christian man to stand in. But, in the ancient story, Elisha, though in Dothan, and so beleaguered, was not fearful. It is a good thing, amid the stress and strain of life, to count up our allies. I have often found great heartening in doing it.

1. Though a man be in Dothan, God the Almighty is his ally.(1) When a man looks out upon this universe, the arresting thing he sees is perpetual change. The universe is a vast procession of effects. What we at first call causes, on analysis resolve themselves into effects. But every effect must have a cause. Every effect must have a cause adequate to the effect. The fontal cause must be God the Almighty, since only an Almighty cause can be efficient for such vast and varied effects.(2) The evident design everywhere. But design implies mind; mind implies thought; thought implies a thinker; a thinker implies a person. And so a man rises to the conception of an Almighty Person, above him and around him.(3) Man looks at himself and finds that, on every side, limitations of all sorts bind him in; but the finite implies an Infinite, some unlimited One; and so the intention of the Infinite springs up within him.(4) Man finds he has a conscience. That conscience stands for righteousness. There must be some righteous cause, of which such conscience, protesting for righteousness, is effect. And so man comes to the intention of a righteous, a holy God. And when a man stands in Dothan, and will choose the most right he knows, he may be sure that this Almighty, infinite, personal, holy God is his ally.

2. Consider further, though a man stand in Dothan, Christ the Saviour is his ally. The Saviour is evidence(1) Of the Divine love. "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son," etc.(2) Of the Divine nearness; in Incarnation Deity assumes our nature.(3) Of the Divine forgiveness through the Atonement. And when a man stands in Dothan confessing and forsaking sin, he may be utterly sure that Christ the Saviour is his ally.

3. Consider further, though a man be beleaguered in Dothan, the Holy Spirit is his ally. John 16. is full of promise here.

4. Consider further, though a man be in Dothan, good angels are his allies (Hebrews 1:14).

5. Consider further, though a man be in Dothan, God's Providence is his ally (Romans 8:28).

6. Consider further, though a man be in Dothan, God's Promises are his allies. Fear not, therefore, because of oppositions, because of your weakness, because of your mistakes, because of your sins even, because of death. Count up your allies. "They that be with us are more than they that be with them."

(W. Hoyt, D. D.)

It is related that, on the first awful day of the fight against fire made on board The City of Rome, the passengers had been driven out of the forward cabins and their quarters were shifted aft. It was impossible to set the evening meal in the first cabin, and it was spread aft also. It is a remarkable fact that the discipline of the ship made it possible to serve the evening meal, and perhaps still more remarkable that most of the passengers gathered at it, and many of them enjoyed it. In fact, it was even a cheerful meal, and the prevailing spirit seemed to reflect the motto of the Atlantic Line, "Secure amid Perils." If voyagers could sit down and eat their dinner quietly and with good cheer, knowing that they were hundreds of miles from land and an awful fire was raging, in the hold underneath them, because of their faith in the captain and the heroic fidelity of the crew, how much more should we on the voyage of life trust the Great Captain, and face the storms of human living with good cheer and confidence,

(L. A. Banks, D. D.)

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