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trains of melancholy thought which by little and little will sap the firmest purpose and unnerve the strongest mind;-—the enthusiasm of the patriarch might have sustained him in the task, and have then only expired with his expiring son. But enthusiasm is a feeling of ephemeral daration. No high-wrought feeling can live unchanged through the succession of several days and nights, especially if locked up in one solitary breast. The aid of such feelings was therefore denied to Abraham. He must pursue a steady purpose with a steady heart; and 3 days were assigned him for the full weight of his afflictions to press upon that heart.
It was while thus beset that “the third day in the morning Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off.” " It was a sight that must have lifted to their highest point the floodgates of his sorrow. Despair, we know, will catch at the faintest hope: deep anguish will cling to the most slender solace. It was still a consolation to this anguish-riven father, while pursuing his sad journey, to gaze upon the youth of high and tender hope whom he knew he soon must lose; it was still an assuagement of his unequalled grief, that while he journeyed along, his Isaac's voice saluted him. Every accent that penetrated to the heart, every look, every action even the most unimportant, would be carefully treasured up, that the heart might brood upon it when nothing but such fond remembrances remained.—But even to this, the most languid of all enjoyments, the last slender privilege of the wretched and the hopeless, he must now bid adieu; for yonder was the mountain on which his son must die-die by the hand of the father who had reared him, and who at that moment loved him as he loved his life.
His heart may have palpitated, his lip may have quivered, his tongue may have faltered, but his purpose was faithful to the mandate of his God. It was natural to apprehend that servants who must have loved and felt for a master so amiable and deserving as Isaac's after life evinced him to have been, would naturally interfere to prevent the execution of a decree so terrible; and, independently of a wish to preclude their interference, it was natural for the patriarch to desire no witnesses of his strong emotion. He therefore did not permit their attendance any further; but enjoined them to wait, at the foot of the mountain, his own and his son's return, if indeed that son should be permitted to return; as hope, that never totally deserts the miserable, whispered that in some way it possibly might so fall out.
He then hastened to consummate the last act of this sad tragedy. Taking himself the knife that was to slay and the fire that was to consume the yet unconscious sacrifice, he laid the wood upon the shoulder of his son. Who can mark this innocent struggling up the mountain, and bending under the load that was destined to consume him, without thinking of an event which this same mountain witnessed iwo thousand years after, when from the foot of mount Moriah another Innocent, greater and better than than the son of Abraham, took up a heavy cross upon his mangled shoulder—the cross on which his adversaries nailed him, and bore it up the steep of an opposing mourtain!
Thus they ascended, "both of them together.” To Abraham it was a moment of unutterable interest, becauso doubtless a moment of unutterable agony. No one will be lieve that under such circumstances his thoughts could
flit from object to object. No one will imagine that on the real object of this journey be either would or could break silence. The patriarch's lips were sealed. Isaac it would seem, was the first to speak. But it must have been as the knell of death-as the trump of the last judgment--on the ear of Abraham, when the unsuspecting victim thus saluted him: "My father, behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” “God will provide himself a lamb," was all the father's answer. It was all that he could say; and it speaks a volume. Isaac was himself the lamb for the burnt-offering: and how could the tongue of any parent utter it!
But the moment was now come when the secret which had laboured in the breast of Abrabam must necessarily be divulged. You see them reach the spot that God had designated; a rude altar of stones is speedily constructed; the wood is laid in order; and nothing now remains but to consummate the sacrifice. Again no doubt the inquiring eye of Isaac is cast around in quest of the burnt-offer ing. But it is speedily made known to him that he is himself to be the victim. In what language this intelligence was communicated, with what emotions of surprise, of terror, of horror, it was received, we pretend not even to imagine. We know how natural is the love of life to all men; especially to those who are in the springtide of their lives, and in highly prosperous circumstances. We know that sudden death can never make its approaches under any other gnise than that of the king of terrors. Nor would it have been strange if such a feeling had prompted the most dctermined resistance to the accomplishment of Abraham's now declared intention. That Isaac should have wept, should have entreated, should have argued, should have attempted every mean of deliverance from
such a death, would be expected by every one, could be censured by no one. But by the son of Abraham such means need not be used. He was by no means in his childhood when these things were transacted. He had already attained his thirtieth year. And how could that weak, that wasted old man, whose life now numbered one hundred and thirty years--how could he have enforced obedience to his will, if the slightest resistance had been determined on? In the full vigour of youth, how could the old man, feeble as the grasshopper, have coped with such energies when exerted for existence? Swift-footed as the roe, how could the step of age overtake him, had he chosen to escape?
We celebrate not alone, then, the faith of Abraham. We here erect the memorials of our homage to à son worthy a parent who was the progenitor of nations and well named "the friend of God." The God of Abraham was the God of Isaac too. Early in life the patriarch had taught this son of his old age to lisp his Creator's name. The instructions and example of so good a parent had exercised due influence over the heart of such a son. Reverence for the Most High and devotion to his will had grown with Isaac's growth. And now, when his principles were put to a proof more trying than ever crowned martyr with the meed of victory, it was the privilege and blessedness of the patriarch to find, that the pains he had taken were not bestowed in vain. Did ever son display such confidence in the integrity and discretion of any earthły parent! For Isaac it would seem had no security for the lawfulness or necessity of the demanded sacrifice, but as he rested on the truth and sound discretion of the parent whom he loved. 'How great must have been his affection
and devotion to that parent, as well as to him who was their common hope, let all the circumstances of this case declare. And let the circumstance bear home upon the heart of every parent who prizes the confidence and attachment of his child. That integrity must be chained to the eternal throne; the child whom you love must know whom
you worship, must read in the general tenor of your life the pledge of your discretion and of your good inten. tions, for they never can confide in an hour of peril and darkness to a guidance which affords them a less certain pledge of safety. Nothing under heaven so hallows human character, nothing so certainly, because nothing so deservedly, enlists all human confidence, as the unquestioned exhibition of such a life and feeling as can spring from nothing but the fellowship of God. Let your character approach to that elevated simplicity, that disinterested kindness, that unsullied purity, which binds the allegiance of the nations to the throne of the Eternal. Imitate his excellence, become familiar with his purity, and the heart which yields your title to the friendship of the Highest, will spontaneously apportion to you of the confidence and reverence which none but his friends and imitators can inherit. Do you prize then the strong sentiments of filial trust and love which Isaac evinced toward his father Abraham? Do you prize the respect, the attachment, of your friends, the best wishes of your acquaintance, the veneration of the world? Take then the course of Abraham. Let your piety be undoubted, your ways without reproach, your motives above suspicion; and you will have acquired a solidity and a lustre for your name which nothing else can give it.
Would you have a child like. Isaac, affectionate devo