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1 Kings xviii. 21.
AND ELIJAH CAME UNTO ALL THE PEOPLE,
AND SAID, HOW LONG HALT YE BETWEEN
NOTWITHSTANDING the many ex
press 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. 6 How long halt ye between 66 two opinions? If the Lord be God, fol6 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 is then your God, and you are his people. To him alone offer up your vows; from him only expect the supply of all your wants, and deliverance from all your calamities.
The observation naturally arising from the text thus explained, is this: That as God would not allow a partial worship under the Mosaic dispensation, neither will he admit of partial faith, and partial obedience, under the Christian covenant.
He who was the God of the Jews, is also the God of the Christians; has from the same invariable pre-eminence of his divine nature, the same claim to our entire and unreserved submission to his will, is equally jealous of his own glory and of our allegiance, and equally averse to any rival in our affections, and our services. It was the duty of the Jew to believe and obey the whole law of Moses. It is the duty of the Christian to believe and obey the whole law of Christ. In opposition to the doctrines and duties of the Mosaic law, stood the extravagant conceits of Gentile theology, and the execrable impurities and barbarities of idolatrous worship. In opposition to the doctrines and duties of the Gospel, stand the fanciful refinements of modern philosophy, and the allurements of a sinful world, which are now too frequently distracting the belief, and dividing the obedience of Christians, as superstition and idolatry did formerly those of the Jews. And it is no more allowable to halt in our belief between deism and revelation, and in our practice between God and Mammon, than it was in the Jews formerly to follow at once both the Lord and Baal. The text, therefore, when divested of all peculiarity of circumstance, and brought home to ourselves, affords this general and useful principle, that we should not waver between two systems, and endeavour to serve at the same time two masters; but entirely devote ourselves either to the one or the other, and stand to all the consequences of our choice. This admonition seems not improperly calculated for the state of Religion among ourselves at this day, and may be applied with equal justice both to our faith and practice.