« AnteriorContinuar »
plain of Mamre, and note the private occupations of this highminded man.--"The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” Come ye who think it glory to court the applause of the unstable multitude, who covet a popularity that like the goard of Jonah grows up in a night and withers in a night! Come ye who know no happiness so exalted as to mingle in the circles of the great ones of this world, and who feel honoured, who feel blessed, exalted, transported, if the majesty of fading flesh bend upon you once the eye of kindness! Come see the guest of Abram! Come hear bis salutation. He said it in the lowly tent of Abr , he often says it in the cottage of the lowly, far oftener we fear than in the rooms of state—" am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” We will not degrade by our fecble comments such a salutation. We will not weaken your impressions of that state in which the majesty of heaven displays his familiar presence, and plants himself the shield of those who worship him and serve bim. If any man obey his voice he will know what tongues of mortals cannot speak, and he will prize the hopour that cometh -down from God.
It was a fit occasion for our venerable patriot to dwell upon the sorrows that preyed upon his heart, and to bring up the disappointments that had astonished and oppressed him. He had been taught to consider Palestine as the land of his posterity; and now after many years had been spent in wandering, and he and Sarah were fast hastening to the tomb, he was far as ever, farther than ever to all appearance, from the fulfillment of his wishes; and he seizes this first favourable moment to urge his petition home. Lord God," said he, “what wilt thou give me, seeing I go
childless and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus.” “Behold thou hast given me no seed; and lo! one born in my house is my heir.” We pass by the as surance that notwithstanding the unpromising aspect of the present moment, notwithstanding the disappointments by which his heart had been already torn, all should at last be well-all should be fulfilled according to his wish. We pass by the magnificent iliustration of this promise: Number if thou canst the stars of heaven; so shall thy seed be. We pass by the consolations and the honours of his faith: *He believed in the Lord and he counted it to him for righteousness." And we fix your eye at the conclusion of this exercise on the grand solemnities of the sacred rite that followed. Abram in obedience to the Divine commandment prepared a solemn sacrifice. An heifer, a goat and a ram of three years old, together with a couple of fowls, were prepared and laid in order. The beasts were divided and the portions formed two rows with an interyal between through which the symbols of the Divinity might pass; a fit admonition that it is only through the medium of that Saviour whose sufferings and death these sacrifices shewed forth, the presence of the Eternal can pass at all in mercy before sinful men. He does not cast us forever from his sight; he even comes and visits us. But he comes only to the places where Messiah's blood has come;
he is to be seen alone at the altar on the sacrifice. There we must meet him, by that he passes to us, by that we pass to him. A long time Abram waited. To him it was an eventful day, for God had ordained this solemn preparation to confirm to our patriarch by a new and strange assurance the promise in which he trusted. At length just as the sun was sinking from his view the vision,
came upon him. All his senses were locked
up, thing around him was excluded from sight and thought except that sacrifice which he had laid in order. That was still before him as completely as if he had been in the fullest exercise of all his senses. The voice of God was heard, but not through the medium of his bodily organs; the promise of Canaan was renewed and amplified; but it was accompanied with a statement of the bondage and oppression which Israel should first endure in Egypt. Then came the symbol of the Almighty's presence; a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed through between the pieces. The thing was real, and Abram really saw it; though the ordinary avenues of sense were locked. Had others been present, but not thus wrapt in vision, the address of the Almighty and the response of Abram had passed unknown to them. That smoking furnace and that burning lamp had not displayed their fires. Abram was wrapt from human sense and feeling; he saw as spirits see, and felt as spirits feel, when he met with the Master of the world of spirits. We will not detain you with the conclusion of this scene. Suffice it to say he had witnessed a sight which no material eye can see; and while wrapt in vision he received anew his Maker's promise of that land. Then he awoke as from a common slumber; the burning lamp, the smoking furnace had disappeared to gether; all was dark and cold around him; but all was light and joy and peace within.
My brethren, we have noted for you this interesting scene, because it is one in which we meet with much that should instruct and interest us all. We began to exist and to perceive and think while wrapt in these material organs. And we cannot separate our ideas of sensation, or
perception, or even thought, from these our tabernacles of clay. And yet it is the spirit and not this clay that sees and thinks and feels. This clay like a thick and cum- . brous veil serves to conceal our spirits from one another, from the world of spirits, and even from ourselves.
But this is all it does, and were it to-day in your power to cast aside that veil, what sights at once would burst up. on your
vision. We have not to travel high as heaven, we need not soar beyond the confines of this solar system, or above the furthest limits of all the stars of God, to enter the world in which intelligent spirits dwell. Cast off that veil, God the Spirit is every where, and at once in a moment you see bim as he is; “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”—Cast off that veil and a world O how populous is unfolded to the sight; “millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth;" and earthly obstructions which limit our gross vision, can present no obstacle to immaterial mind. Cast off that veil and you feel that
you are still the same, your sensations and perceptions, your principles and passions do not thereby alter. Abram, while in vision he talked with his Creator, was conscious of no change in aught that related to personal identity, to his principles or feelings. Go then from this house, but go bearing in your mind how nearly you are treading on the borders of that world where all is spirit, and all is everlasting. Go thinking how important now to form such friendships as death will only cement, and to cherish such habits as will meet appropriate objects in that world of spirits. And you whose trembling nerves or hoary heads foretell that you very soon must pass the limits of that world; and you who sit like patience on a monument, and let consealment like a warm in the bud prey on
a cheek far lovelier than damask,--prepare to exchange with joy and not with grief this mortal scene for scenes of immortality, Friends and brethren, soon may we meet there; and while we look with veneration on this father of the faithful already in that world from which this thini partition separates us, may we meet with looks more kindly and with feelings more intense, we who have toiled and sometimes wept together, we who have loved and prayed for one another, may we soon meet with feelings pure and rapturous, in our Father's presence, our eternal home.