Sunday, June 27, 2004

From Sermons on Subjects of the Day
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Elijah, when he had left the wilderness, "found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him." Elisha understood that it was a call to follow the persecuted Prophet in his forlorn course. So he asked his leave to bid his friends farewell. "And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee." God's calls are not commands, but favours; so the Prophet said to him, "Go back again; for what have I done to thee?" but Elisha, though so suddenly visited, had no intention of shrinking from the summons; he asked indeed to bid his kindred farewell, but he was not of those whom our Saviour notices, who, having put their hand to the plough, look back, and are unfit for the kingdom of God [Luke ix. 62.]. He did but wish, before commencing his new life and eventful ministry, to hold a last feast with his friends; and in his mode of doing so, he showed that his mind was made up to leave his former occupations for ever. The materials of his husbandry provided him with an entertainment. "He returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him." [1 Kings xix. 19-21.]


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