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world, shun the infection of its covetousness. Resign its desires and its vanities to those unworthy professors, who have learnt the letter, but are ignorant of the spirit of the Gospel; who adopt the form, but feel not the power of Christianity.
1 Kings, CHAP. XVIII. VER. 21.
" How long halt ye between two opinions?" .
UPON the death of Omri, Ahab, his son, suc. ceeded to the throne of Israel; of whom it is recorded that “ he did evil above all that were before him ;" for, “ as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam,"_" he took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.”
him.” His apostacy from the living God was soon followed by a total depravity of principle; and, instigated by an artful and cruel queen, he became an oppressor, a robber, and a tyrant. The example of the court, (for the conduct of the great has always a prevailing influence on the sentiments, as well as the manners, of their inferiors,) drew after it great numbers of the people, so that the temple of Baal was crowded with worshippers. For this offence the land was visited with drought and famine; and while the king, in person, agreeably to the simplicity of manners in those ages, attended by his servants, was traversing the country, in search of water and fodder for the cattle, he was met by the prophet Elijah; who, reproaching him with his idolatry, required him to call together all Israel on Mount Carmel, that they might determine to what deity they would adhere. It were needless to dwell upon the circumstances of a story, which you have so often heard ; and which, being so memorable, you can scarcely have forgotten. The priests of the idol called
upon their pretended divinity" from morning even unto noon;" and again,“ until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice;" but there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.” All their mummery proving thus ineffectual, Elijah drew near, and said, “O Lord God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel! let it be known, this day, that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have
done all these things at Thy word. Hear me, o Lord, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the Lord God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." The effect was such as might well be expected from a miracle so stupendous and convincing. “When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces, and they said, the Lord He is God; the Lord He is God.”
This passage of sacred history I would now apply to the great question of religion in general, and call upon all those, if any such there be in this assembly, who are as yet dubious and undetermined respecting the evidences of revelation, or wavering between the interests and pleasures of this and a future world, to seek the truth and choose their master ; “if the Lord be God, follow Him ; but if Baal, then follow him.”
We are, first, to consider the importance of the inquiry. Secondly, the time when it may best be made. Thirdly, the opinions and motives between which men hesitate.
Whether there be a God, who created and governs this visible universe ; whether He has ever made any declaration of His will to His creatures ; whether there be any other state of existence; and whether our condition in that state, if such there be, will at all depend upon our conduct here, are questions of no trivial concern. We might, at first indeed, be led to suspect, by the apparent indifference and indecision of so many who want no means of information, that such disquisitions were usually regarded as of little moment to the generality of men, or only the province of the curious and the learned to examine and discuss. Yet not one, among the most thoughtless and dissipated, will seriously assert, that it can be a matter of indifference to him, or to any dependent and responsible agent, by what means the world was formed, by what Power it is still preserved, what will be its final destination, and whether the universal expectation of a future life has any foundation in reason, or is the mere phantasma of the human brain. These things may be passed by; they may be driven from the mind by business, or by pleasure; but, whenever they are fairly brought before the understanding, and made the subject of sober reflection, all must confess, that nothing