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the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
But to return to the religious state of Ifrael, whom we left under Ahab's
government, in the darkest superstition, corruption, and idolatry.
Whilst this prince established a pompous service for his false gods, we may presume that he persecuted the followers of the true God; for his zeal and impiety would naturally dispose him to intolerance. We might be sure, therefore, though the hiftorian had taken no notice of it, that, while " the prophets of the groves were four hundred, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty men,” the prophets of the Lord would be reduced in their numbers, would be " destitute, afflicted, tormented," till there were few or none of them left, and no other durft succeed to their function. But the complaint of Elijah is both too pertinent and pathetic to be omitted : I, even I only, am left, and they seek my
life to take it away.
However, it pleased the providence of God, low as his church peared at that time in the land of Israel, C 4
and unlikely to shew any fymptom of vigor or revival, to give such a check to the idolatrous Ahab and his queen, and to throw such light upon the deluded people, by this his only prophet that was left, this single solitary pillar that remaincd amidst the ruins of the house of God, as might stand a monument of his glory to that and succeeding ages. And this is the story to which the reasoning of our text relates, and which I promised to give you in the words of the holy scriptures.
Elijah having foretold a famine, which was now cime to pass for the wickedness. of Israel and its king, had doubtless given great offence to both; as finners rarely confider, at first, the cause and end of their sufferings, and will quarrel with any thing rather than the vices which produced them. The prophet, therefore, thought it prudent to conceal himself, till the word of the Lord came unto him saying,
" Go, shew thyself to Ahab.” Then prudence was at an end : “ the word of the Lord,” which was his direction, would be his support.
** And it came to pass, when Ahab fax Elijah, that Ahab faid unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel ? and he answered, I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father's house, in that have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Ifrael unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal, and the prophets of the groves.
So Ahab fent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. 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 foilow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah · unto the people, I, even l only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them, therefore, give us tivo bullocks; and let them chuse one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other tullock, and lay it on wood, and fire under And call ye 'on the name of
your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.
And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, chuse you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered, And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud, for he is a god ; either he is a talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awakened. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves, after their manner, with knives and lancets, till the blood gulhed out upon them. And it came to pass, when mid-day was past, that there was neither voice, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him; and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down; and he made a trench about the altar as great as would contain two measures of feed. And
he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt-facrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time; and they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time; and they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar, and he filled the trench also with water.
And it came to pass, at the time of the evening-facrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, • Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Ifrael, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear
that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou haft turned their heart back again.' Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt-facrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And all the people fell on their faces, and said, • The Lord, he is the God: the Lord, he is the God.”