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SERMON III.

BAAL'S ALTAR DESTROYED BY GIDEON.

JUDGES Vi. 25-32.

And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: and build an altar unto the Lord thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock,and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down. Then Gideon took ten

men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night. And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing. Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die:

because he hath cast down the altar Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it. And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death, whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let

Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.

IN pursuing the history of Gideon, we see his character unfolding itself; and the more we see of his character, the more we perceive how remarkably he was fitted for the great work he was to undertake. We will glance at that part of his character which presents itself in the verses which I have just read; and, as we proceed, make some spiritual and practical comments upon it, for our own edifi

cation.

1st. Observe God's command to Gideon. He had been hitherto protesting against the idolatry of his family and country by a life of opposition, inasmuch as it was a life of humble pious fear, and love of Jehovah, and of the worship of him as the true God. But now he is commanded to perform an act of opposition. He is to take his father's "second bullock," probably because its age of

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seven years" corresponded with the

length of time that Israel had been in captivity; and he is to "cut down the grove" where the image of Baal was worshipped, and to "throw down the altar" which his father had built to offer sacrifices on to that idol. By this it was intimated that God is a jealous God, and will abide no unhallowed mixture in his worship. Gideon is to destroy Baal's altar before he builds God's; the same altar will not do; God will have no polluted sacrifice; if there is any connexion at all between the two, it shall be only this, that the wood of Baal's grove shall be made fuel to burn the sacrifice on Jehovah's altar.

Now, may not this act of Gideon's, under the Old Testament dispensation, be made to speak the language of the New? 66 No man can serve two masters; ye cannot serve God and Mammon," any more than God and Baal. Oh no; God will not abide the mixture; nothing is acceptable to him which ascends from the polluted altar of that man's heart, which has a sacrifice on

it one day out of seven for Jehovah, and a sacrifice to Mammon every other day in the week. How incompatible, irreconcilable, and contradictory, the two objects of worship are, as well as the services of the worshippers! "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? and what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ?"

But it is a noble act, worthy of the imitator of Gideon, to make the things which were before "an occasion of falling," the instruments of doing good, by putting them to a sanctified use; making them subservient to the furtherance of the

Gospel, instead of fostering "the lust of the eye and the pride of life," as they did before. This is cutting down Baal's grove, and making fuel with it for God's altar. In this sense, we are commanded to "make to ourselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness." Have

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