I say then, Has God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.…
I. ALL DOUBTS IN MATTERS OF RELIGION ARE TO BE DECIDED BY THE WORD OF GOD (John 5:39; Mark 12:24). Elijah erred because he spake without his book. Remember this —
1. In all matters controverted. When it is questioned whether images are to be worshipped, angels and saints prayed to, etc., who shall resolve us? We are to take no man's word, not even the word of Elijah for a matter of faith. What saith the Scripture? Men may err, but the answer of God is according to truth.
2. In matters of practice. If it be questioned whether thou shalt break the Sabbath, deceive thy neighbour, etc. Thy companions, it may be, and thine own heart will entice thee to do such things, but what saith the Scripture? They which do such things shall be damned.
II. THE CHURCH OF GOD SHALL NEVER BE BROUGHT TO SUCH AN EXIGENT IN THE MOST DIFFICULT TIMES, BUT THAT THERE SHALL BE MANY THOUSANDS WHICH SHALL WORSHIP GOD IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH.
1. The best on earth do err, as Elijah who erred by a passion of anger and fear. Order your passions by the law of grace, for if they be ungoverned they blind the mind, and as unruly horses draw the chariot of our judgment into the bye-paths of error.
2. Elijah erred in his censure concerning true worshippers; be not, then, rash in censuring. It is rashness to censure particular men, much more whole Churches to be antichristian. How darest thou refuse communion with them who have communion with Christ?
3. Neither multitude nor visibility are certain notes of the true Church, for then there had been no Church in Elijah's time, for the multitude was with Ahab and Jezebel, and Elijah could not discern one beside himself. The Papists say the Church was always visible, but the creed confuteth them, for we believe in the holy Catholic Church. But holiness is invisible and so is Catholicity. We may grant that particular Churches are visible, and yet here some cautions are to be remembered. They may be invisible in respect —
(1) Of place. As the sun is always visible, but to us only when it ariseth in our hemisphere. So at Jerusalem the Church was not to be seen when it removed to Pella.
(2) Of the time, as in Elijah's and Queen Mary's days. As the sun behind a cloud in some respect is invisible, so may it be said of a Church.
(3) Of persons which should discern it. A Church is sometimes invisible through the fault of men's eyes, which are either weak as of Elijah, or blind as of them which hate the Church.
III. THOSE WHO IN DANGEROUS TIMES ARE PRESERVED IN GRACE ARE SO PRESERVED MERELY BY THE POWER AND GOODNESS OF GOD (1 Samuel 25:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:18; Jude 1:24).
1. Though Jezebel search every corner of the land, yet God reserveth seven thousand which bow not the knees to Baal. God can keep us from our enemies; let persecutors cease their malicious practices, and let us serve God without fear.
2. In regard to the preaching of the gospel these are golden days, but in regard of the overflowing of iniquity these are perilous times. Art thou preserved? glorify God. It is not thy goodness that thou dost not as others, but the goodness of God.
3. Be admonished of two things.
(1) Presume not of thine own strength. Peter bragged of his courage, and yet played the coward. Hazael thought great scorn ever to do as Elisha foretold to him, and yet afterwards he did such things.
(2) Be not secure and careless. God reserveth some, but those which use the means to persevere in well doing.
(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.