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IDOLATRY OF GOD'S PEOPLE

IDOLATRY OF GOD'S PEOPLE

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Published by glennpease
BY R. HEBER




EZEKIEL, xiv. 3.

These men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put
the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face ;
should I be inquired of at all by them ?
BY R. HEBER




EZEKIEL, xiv. 3.

These men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put
the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face ;
should I be inquired of at all by them ?

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Published by: glennpease on Jan 29, 2013
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05/19/2014

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IDOLATRY OF GOD'S PEOPLEBY R. HEBER
EZEKIEL, xiv. 3.These men have set up their idols in their hearts, and putthe stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face ;should I be inquired of at all by them ?THIS was the answer of the Holy Ghost tothe prophet Ezekiel, when certain of the elders,that is, of the nobles, and principal magistrates,of Israel had paid him a solemn visit to ask counsel of the Lord, concerning the dangerswhich threatened Jerusalem.The manner, in which the guidance and direction of the Most High were, in those days,sought after, was, that the person inquiringwent to the Chief Priest, or to one of thoseprophets whom God raised up to instruct andgovern His people ; when, after proposing hisquestion, accompanied with a prayer that Godwould be pleased to answer it, he sat on theground, in an humble posture, and covered withsackcloth, in expectation of the reply, which,either by lots solemnly thrown, or by words putSEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.into the mouth of His servant, the Almightymight see fit to send him. It is therefore thatwe read, in the present chapter, that " certain of the elders of Israel came and sate beforeEzekiel ; " and, therefore, that Jehovah thusspake of them, in His reply, as coming " toenquire of Him."When thus, in a time of public distress, theyhad recourse to God for comfort and counsel,the elders of Israel, it is necessary to observe,were doing no more than was strictly theirduty ; they were acting in the manner which, insuch cases, the Lord Himself had ordained, who,when He thought fit to set aside, for Himself,and as His own peculiar people, the tribes of Israel and Judah, expressly promised to raise upa succession of prophets among them, as messengers of His will, and guides in difficulty anddanger. And we read accordingly in the booksof Scripture, not only that all the best andgreatest men of their nation, that Joshua,
 
Barak, David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and Heze-kiah, were anxious and diligent in enquiringof the Lord, under all circumstances of doubtand difficulty; but that others, such as Ama-ziah and Asa, were reproved by God for neglectof this appointed way of obtaining grace and wisdom. It appears, therefore, that in thus askingcounsel of the Lord, the elders, of whom I havenow been speaking, were doing no more thanVOL. IL, s258 SERMON XLIX.the Lord had Himself encouraged them to do \ and that their behaviour would, under any othercircumstances, have been perfectly pious andreasonable.But these rulers, as well as the greater part of the noblemen and magistrates of Israel, had, intheir hearts, and in their general behaviour,grievously revolted from God. They wereworshippers of idols, and fondly given up to allthose follies and superstitions which, from theearliest times, their nation had been too muchinclined to learn from their corrupt and blindedneighbours, the Caananites, the Egyptians, andthe Assyrians. Not that they denied altogetherthat their own Jehovah, the God of their fathers,was a great and mighty God ; not that theyeven denied that He was greater and morepowerful by far than these new and foreignfavourites. This, the neighbouring nationsthemselves confessed when they cried out asthe Philistines did, " Who shall deliver us outof the hand of these mighty Gods ? These are theGods that smote the Egyptians with all theplagues in the wilderness." ] But these nationswere readily led by their priests to believe, andfrom them the Israelites caught the opinion, that,however great and powerful Jehovah might be,the Gods of the heathen might have somepower also over the things of this world ; that1 1 Sam. iv. 8.SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 259it might still be wise to ask their help, and prayto them not to hurt us ; and, more particularly,that the spirits, who governed, as they believed,the sun, the moon, and the stars, though by theappointment of the One Great God, and with in
 
ferior sway to Him, were worthy to be honouredfor the good, which men received by theirmeans, and for the power, which they weredisposed to exert, over men's lives and dispositions. There are still some persons, even inChristian countries, and who would be muchsurprized and offended if we were to call themheathens, who believe, as these heathen did,that fortunes may be told by a knowledge of the stars ; so that we may less wonder thatmany of the Israelites were led into the snareof worshipping the stars as well as Him whomade them, and even honouring the creaturemore, or more constantly, than the glorious andever blessed Creator. And since idolatry of this kind was the common and fashionable sinof all the nations around, the bond of all theirtreaties, the occasion and sanction of all theirpublic ceremonies and public amusements ;since the devil had enlisted in the service of thesefoul and foolish superstitions every thing whichwas most gay, most striking, most pompous, andmost tempting to the carnal mind ; and since thekings and rulers of Israel were naturally anxiousto comply, as far as possible, with the customs260 SERMON XLIX.and ceremonies of those princes whose help andfriendship they desired, we shall not wonder,that many, who had no sense of religion at all,and many who preferred pleasure or politics toall religious considerations, were led to serveBaal as well as JEHOVAH; and, without expressly renouncing the latter, that they onlyprayed to Him, and only thought of Him, insuch times of real danger and difficulty, as madethem know and feel that He only could hearand help them.Such, however, being the case with the elders,who now came to ask counsel of the Most High,it will not, I think, greatly surprise you to find,that Jehovah, who had so often and so expresslydeclared that He was GOD alone, and that Hewould not share His honour with any creature ;that all the gods of the heathen were vanities ;and that the worship paid to them was anabomination and an insult to Him, should notnow accept the late and hollow services of menwho had, for so long a time, been neglectfulof His altars, and disobedient to His commandments." Son of Man," are the words of God's Spiritto Ezekiel, " these men have set up their idols

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