« FöregåendeFortsätt »
necessary to the quiet of the mind, in so interesting a point. This can only be the result of a life, in which upon the most impartial review, there appears nothing to lament but those frailties and infirmities which man cannot but sometimes fall into, and which God, through the mediation and death of Christ, has most graciously promised to forgive. And in this review, the further we can cast our eyes backwards on our sincere, though imperfect endeavours after holiness, and the nearer we can trace up the beginning of our religious obedience to the beginning of life, the more pleasing will be the retrospect, the more unallayed. our satisfaction. Every impulse of passion we have subdued, every temptation we have resisted or escaped, every evil thought we have restrained, and every good one we have encouraged, will then each rise up to befriend us, and speak peace to our affrighted souls. And though the religious young man, may now, perhaps, complain of the difficulties he hath to struggle with, yet let him remember, that the bitterer his present sensations are, the more joyful will
be his reflections at that momentous period. It is then, in short, and only then, we see the true difference between him that serveth God in his youth, and him that serveth him not; and whoever compares their different circumstances and behaviour on that trying occasion, will most sincerely wish " that he may die the death "of the righteous, and that his latter end "may be like his. But let us remember, that it is not a mere inactive wish alone that can procure us this inestimable blessing; let us remember, that if we would die the death of the righteous, we must seriously resolve and endeavour, from our youth up, to live his life, and that the best preparation for a latter end like his, will be to take care that our early years be like his also.
1 Kings xviii. 21.
AND ELIJAH CAME UNTO ALL THE PEOPLE, AND SAID, HOW LONG HALT YE BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS? IF THE LORD BE GOD, FOLLOW HIM; BUT IF BAAL, THEN FOLLOW HIM.
NOTWITHSTANDING the many express commands given to the Jews to worship the one only true God, and the many admirable provisions made in their law to preserve them from the adoration of any other; yet it is notorious, that from the time af their leaving Egypt, down to the Babylonish captivity, they were frequently falling into idolatry. It must be observed, however, that this idolatry of theirs, wicked and inexcusable as it undoubtedly was, did not consist in absolutely renouncing the worship of the true God, but in joining with it the worship of false gods. This they did in imitation of the heathen nations around them,who,like all other pagans, though they had each their peculiar tutelary deities, yet made no scruple of associating those of any other people along with them. In conformity to which accommodating temper, the Jews themselves probably considering the God of Israel as their national God, imagined that their allegiance to him was not violated by admitting other local deities to a share in his worship. It was this absurd and impious custom of joining the adoration of idols to that of the true God, against which we find so many precepts and exhortations in the Old Testament directed, and such severe punishments denounced. And in opposition to this strange practice it was, that Elijah proposes to the idolatrous Ahab and his people, an effectual method of deciding which was the true God, Jehovah or Baal; and he introduces his proposal with that spirited expostulation, contained in the words of the text. "How long halt ye between "two opinions? If the Lord be God, fol"low him; but if Baal, then follow him." This was in effect saying, How long will ye act this base disingenuous part, of attempting to serve two masters, and to worship at once both the Lord and Baal? The Lord is a jealous God. He demands your whole affection. He will not be served by halves; he will not accept of a divided empire with Baal. Chuse ye, then, whom ye will serve, and no longer halt between two directly opposite and inconsistent opinions. If you are persuaded (and never had any people more reason to be persuaded) that the Lord Jehovah, the great Creator of heaven and earth, is the only true God, act agreeably to such a persuasion. Follow him, and him only; serve him sincerely, uniformly, and entirely, with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and strength ; and live a life of virtue and holiness, in obedience to his commands. But if, on the contrary, you can, in opposition to the plainest and strongest evidence, bring yourselves seriously to believe that Baal is God, follow him. Follow him (if your nature recoil not at it) through all those impure and detestable practices which his worship authorizes and requires. But come not thus reeking with idolatry to the altar of the Lord. He will accept of no sacrifices from such polluted hands. Baal