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NEW-JERSEY PREACHER.

SERMON IV.

Hebrews xi. 17.-" By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac ; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.”

1

WHEN we read, in the book of Genesis, the history of the transaction here referred to, our hearts feel deep interest in all the circumstances of that transaction, and are affected by some of the most powerful and tender emotions that our nature knows.

We wonder at the strangeness of the command, and at the implieit obedience of the Patriarch. We admire his resolution and firmness to engage in such a transaction, and the perseverance and constancy which could hold out during a three days' travel, and, after every opportunity for reflection and for the working of parental tenderness and love, could yet endure and be prepared for the finishing of the heart-rending catastrophe. We love the filial meekness, obedience and submission of Isaac; and perhaps we weep over his honest simplicity; or venerate the character of a father, who could so command the confidence and respect of his son. We readily think we see a certain kind of piety reigning throughout the whole transaction, and our hearts are melted in grief and tenderness-in love and admiration.

Yet, in all this, there is no regard to that true character of piety which distinguishes the transaction : and, with all our sympathies and feelings, we discover nothing that would seem to have power to prepare us for such a scene, or perhaps even to excuse altogether the conduct of the Patriarch, and satisfactorily to account to our minds for so strange an occurrence.

Reviewing the subject more at leisure, we may revolve in our minds curious questions of the means by which Abraham was assured that God required the sacrifice at his hand; and we may indulge ingenious speculations about the interfering of the mother, and the means by which the son was brought to yield to his father's purpose. But all these speculations would only lead us farther from that scriptural view of the transaction, in which we are called to regard it.

It is related to us in the scriptures with plainness and precision, in all the circumstances needful for us to know; and in the text the Holy Ghost teaches us to consider it, a work of faith, eminently illustrative of that pure principle of obedience, without which « it is impossible to please God.”

It was that faith which was imputed to Abraham for righteousness, that prompted him to obey, and that supported him in so trying a duty.

We are therefore most deeply interested to consider and “ see how faith wrought with his works.”

The two great efficient principles of duty, by which men profess to be influenced, are Faith, and Reason. While some zealously contend for the sufficiency of reason alone, it is yet evident to all, how much the scriptures insist on faith as necessary to our acceptance with God in our services.

Reason may afford very strong convictions of duty, and may influence men to a very considerable extent in a seeming respect for God's authority, and obedience to

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his will. But all this comes far short of what is, in the scriptures, called “ the obedience of faith.”

Every one who acknowledges the Being of God, must have some convictions of duty towards him. The heathen have often had very deep convictions of this kind; and much more may it be expected in christian .countries, where his name and authority are declared by his word, that reason shall teach men to fear him, and in certain things, to profess obedience to him.

We are therefore greatly concerned to examine and know the difference, between that obedience which arises from the convictions of reason alone, and that which flows from that principle of faith which is so often and so solemnly inculcated in the scriptures.

It is evident that reason, under the instructions of God's word, and supported by the power of conscience, may lead men to most of the common duties of social life. These duties are, for the most part, plainly deducible by reason, from the circumstances of relation and connection in which we find ourselves; and therefore as far as the mind can be brought to consider them without passion or prejudice, the authority and power of conscience will interpose to require that they shall be respected.

But in a more enlarged and correct view of moral obligations, we will find the influence of reason, to produce holy obedience, is essentially deficient, especially in these three particulars :

In its extent,
In its efficient power,
And in the manner of influencing the heart.

1st. In its extent, regarding both the grounds and the matter of duty.

The influence of reason, in the eoncerns of duty, oan be founded only in those considerations and principles which can be distinctly perceived and comprehended by reason: and therefore can, at best, produce but a heathenish kind of obedience. There are many truths respecting God, and his providence, which our reason is not adequate to discover, nor even to comprehend when revealed. These truths are just and essential grounds of duty, but cannot become such with us, without faith to believe them.'

Therefore, in the beginning of this discourse on the nature and influence of faith, it is stated that it is « through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” While Philosophy and Reason wander, in the regions of conjecture, after their chaos, their monads, and their atoms, of which they may suppose the world was formed, Faith is satisfied that it was created by the word of God. There are also some of the essential doctrines of the gospel, which the limited reason of man never comprebends, and therefore can never adopt as grounds of duty. Such is the great doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God, and his vicarious sufferings and propitiatory sacrifice for sins. And it is evident how exceedingly deficient in the christian duty he must be, who has not this as a settled ground of duty with him. Such also, are the doctrines of God's universal, complete and holy sovereignty-of his eternal decrees, and of eternal rewards and punishments. Our reason is not naturally disposed to receive these doctrines, or capable to comprehend them. Yet every true christian knows, and feels, that if these should not be grounds of duty with him, there

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