Imágenes de páginas

conciles the mind to what was in prospect oath; which being interposed, they both sit insupportable, and, at first, galling and dis- down secure and happy ; Abimelech rests tressful. Hagar, in resentment probably of satisfied that Abraham will do nothing to disthe treatment she had met with, in order to turb his family or government, or injure his widen the breach, and to bar the way to re-person ; Abraham, that Abimelech will not conciliation, forms a marriage for her son encroach on the rights of private property, or with a woman of her own country: from invade those of conscience. which we may conclude that they went back This transaction seems to have brought headlong into idolatry.

our patriarch to a resting place. He is not The vexation arising from this domestic himself to be a potentate in the earth, but a dissension has scarcely subsided, when Abra- great prince courts his alliance, and forms a ham finds himself embroiled with his host league with him. The possession of Canaan and protector, the king of Gerar. The ser- is postponed, but Isaac is born. The son of vants of Abimelech take violent possession the bond woman is banished, but the son of of a well of water which the servants of the free woman lives in his house, grows, Abraham had digged, and the quarrel is taken and prospers, and increases in stature, and up by the principals themselves. Such is in favour with God and man. We see the human nature : such is human life. From good man now in the serenity of a vigorous, the beginning to this day, miserable mortals placid old age, enjoying all that this world have been contending and striving, and shed- can bestow on a virtuous mind, united to a ding each other's blood about a well of water, wholesome constitution ; unimpaired by inor some such ground of dissension. The temperance or disease, failing only by the whole world is a possession too small for am-gradual imperceptible decays of nature; bition and avarice, and selfishness considers capable of enjoying life to the last. I behold that as taken from us which another enjoys. the venerable man planting his oaks in BeerHappily, moderation and good sense prevent- sheba, solacing himself with the thought, ed this offence froin coming to an open rup- that though his head was soon to be laid low, ture. When men are disposed to peace, his Isaac would in due time repose under punctilio is easily overlooked; but where their shade. How contemptible is the spirit there is a disposition to quarrel, it is easy to which considers self only in all that it does ! magnify the most petty neglect into an af- How I honour the man who lives to the end front, and to make an unmeaning look the of life; nay, strives to prolong existence, and occasion of a breach. The convention be succeeds in the attempt, by engaging in tween Abraham and Abimelech is ratified in pursuits through which posterity is to be the most solemn manner, by the making, that benefited ! We will now leave him in this is, the cutting or dividing of a covenant, ac- happy tranquillity of life ; and may his trees cording to the form observed on a much more quickly rise to shelter his aged head from important occasion, and which has been de- the sultry heat of the noon-tide sun; and be scribed in a former Lecture: namely, The his Isaac a comfort greater than ever parent ratification of the covenant between God and knew; and let the tide of benevolence from Abraham. But why should covenants, pro- his honest heart, roll back to its source, inmises, oaths, be necessary in the commerce creased with overflowing fulness from the of human life? Alas! because men are false, ocean of everlasting love. treacherous, and perfidious. The awful man- which he planted was not merely an amuseners and customs of times that are past, only ment for old age, or an embellishment of serve to convince us, that in every age the his habitation, it was dedicated to God, and corruption of man has been so great upon the destined as a seat of devotion; there “he earth, that ordinary obligations will not bind; called on the name of the Lord.” that without the sanctions of religion, the We bid him adieu then at this pleasant sense of honour, regard to the rights of man- resting place of life, rejoicing in the past, kind, and the supposed rectitude of human and calmly waiting the hour of dismission nature, are feeble and inefficacious. No from all his trials and sorrows. But I dread other argument is necessary to prove that this treacherous tranquillity. Bodes it not our nature is depraved, and that religion is an approaching storm? The event will necessary to man, than the necessity to which show. I shall not anticipate, but hasten to men have been reduced, in every age and conclude this Lecture, with inviting you to nation, to secure and preserve the interests a participation in that divine friendship of truth and justice, by explicit compacts, and which Abraham enjoyed, and from which solemn appeals to the Deity : by making "an none are excluded; for “ the secret of the oath for confirmation an end of all strife.” Lord is with all them that fear him, and he Abraham dreads Abimelech as not having the showeth to them his holy covenant.” What fear of God before his eyes. Abimelech is the birth of an Isaac compared to the manistands in awe of Abraham as under the spe- festation of God in the flesh? “ To us a cial protection of Heaven : they agree in one Son is born, to us a Saviour is given," anul thing, in revering the sanctity of a solemn" in him all the families of the earth are

But the grove

common ease.

blessed.” Let the history of Abraham teach and virtuous parents take encouragement to us how vain it is to expect unmixed happi- cast the care of their helpless otispring on ness in a world of vanity; and to dread the the Father of the fatherless and the Judge approach of calamity when we possess un- of the widow. Did one hasty ill-advised

Let us adore and admire the step involve the patriarch in such acute and wonder-working hand of God, which unseen lasting distress ? Ponder, then, O man, the directs, controls, subdues all creatures, and paths of thy feet, and beware of doing evil, all events, to its own parposes. Let us trust in expectation that good may come of it. in the Lord and do good, and love, and speak, By casting your eyes upon the sacred and practise truth. When we see the father page, you will see what is to form the subof the faithful failing and faltering, let none ject of the next discourse. It is a topic well be highminded but fear, and “ let him that known, and which has been frequently hanthinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” dled, but it is one of those that will ever Did Providence take Ishmael the outcast, please and ever instruct. May God bless the wild man under its protection ? Let poor what has been spoken. Amen.



By faith Abraham when he was tried offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called ; accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead: from whence also be received him in a figure.—HEBREWS xi. 17-19.

The parts of history which please and in- | peculiar happy portions of history which at struct us most, are those which exhibit to us once awaken and interest our feelings; fire illustrious persons in trying situations, hold- the imagination ; seize, restrain, exercise, ing fast their integrity, conducting them- improve the understanding, and powerfully selves with wisdom, and overcoming great tend to affect and influence the conduct. As difficulty by patience and fortitude, and trust a scene in private life, we contemplate it in God. The passages of our own lives again and again, with new and increasing which we recollect with the greatest satis- admiration and delight; as entering into, and faction, and which we find ourselves most connected with the great, the divine plan of disposed to relate to others, are those which, providence and redemption, we regard it while they passed, were involved in the with religious veneration. greatest danger and distress. The memory Most men, during the bustling period of of past joys is generally insipid and disgust- human life, amuse themselves with prospects ing, but the recollection of the perils which of retreat and tranquillity in its close. And we have escaped, the obstacles which we so most probably did Abraham. He had arhave surmounted, the miseries which we rived, through much tribulation, at that pehave endured and overcome, is in truth the riod when nature wishes for, and expects to chief ingredient in the happiness of our more find repose.

All that a wise and good man tranquil days, and the consolation which a could reasonably propose to himself, he had, life of fatigue, exertion, and calamity, pro- through the blessing of Heaven, happily atvides for the inactivity, feebleness, and retained. Religion crowned his multiplied tirement of old age. No man thinks of call- temporal comforts, and opened the celestial ing to his own remembrance, or of describing paradise to his view. Isaac, the joy of his to another, the festivity of an entertainment, joy, the essence of all his other felicities, is a month after it is over ; but the horrors of born, has grown up, is become amiable, and a battle or a shipwreck, are thought and wise, and good. His eyes have seen the talked of with delight, as long as we are salvation of God, and he is ready to depart capable of thinking or speaking. What a in peace whenever the summons comes. But feast was Abraham preparing for his remain- ah, how vain to think of rest till the scene ing years by the sacrifice he tendered upon be closed indeed, and death have sealed the Mount Moriah! What a subject of useful weary eyes forever! All the trials which meditation, what an example of praise-wor- Abraham had hitherto endured, are merely thy conduct, has he furnished to mankind to superficial wounds, compared to the keen the end of the world! this is one of the stroke of that two-edged sword which now


pierced him, even “ to the dividing asunder with so much clearness and certainty, as left of soul and spirit, and of the joints and mar- him no possibility of doubting from whom it row.” To suffer banishment from his coun came. And it again leads us to reflect on the try and friends at the age of seventy-five irresistible power which God possesses and years; to be driven by famine from the land exercises over our bodies and minds, whereof promise into a distant country; to have by he can communicate himself to us in a the companion of his youth, and the affec- thousand ways, of which we are able to form tionate partner of all his fortunes, repeatedly no conception, and against which we should forced from him; to have his domestic quiet in vain attempt to arm ourselves. It appears disturbed, and his life embittered by female to have been in the night season: probably, jealousy and resentment; to be reduced to when, as on a former occasion, “God had the necessity of expelling his elder son from caused a deep sleep, and a horror of great his house, with the slender provision of a darkness to fall upon him." little bread and water: these, taken either What a knell to the fond paternal heart! separately or in connexion, and compared Every word in the oracle seems calculated with the usual afflictions to which man is ex- to awaken some painful feeling, and to inposed, present us, it must be allowed, with a crease the difficulty of compliance. A person lot of great severity and hardship, but they of humanity like Abraham might naturally are lost in the severity of the greater wo be supposed to revolt from the idea of a huyet behind. For “ it came to pass after these man sacrifice, had the meanest slave of his things,” in addition to all foregoing evils, and household been demanded, and had the choice apparently to the defeating of the great de- of a victim been left to himself. What then signs planned by God himself, and in part must have been the emotions of his soul from executed, “ that God tried Abraham” in this the moment its darling object was mentioned

“ Take now thy son, thine only by the voice of God, till the mandate was son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee completed. “Take now thy son;" this must into the land of Moriah; and offer him there have at once produced eagerness of attention for a burnt offering upon one of the moun- in a mind ever awake and alive to the wel. tains which I will tell thee of."*

fare and prosperity of Isaac. The tender We mean not to go into the unnecessary manner in which God is pleased to describe criticism which has been employed with per- that favourite child, would undoubtedly exhaps a good intention, to vindicate the divine cite the most pleasing hope of some new conduct on this occasion. Surely the infi- mark of the divine regard to him ; " take now nitely wise God is equal to his own defence. thy son, thy only son, Isaac, whom thou He has transmitted to us this part of his pro- lovest,”—and invest him with all the honours cedure without rendering a reason, without of the promise, put him in possession of his making an apology; and it is presumption, destined inheritance ? Ah, no! Turn him not piety, which shows on every occasion, an out a wanderer after his brother Ishmael, with eagerness to reason in his behalf.

Is it not a loaf of bread, and a bottle of water for his sufficient at present to say, that men are very portion? That had been severe; but more incompetent judges of the divine conduct; dreadful still, “ and offer him for a burnt ofthat a view of the detached parts cannot fering upon one of the mountains which I enable us to form a just and adequate con- will tell thee of." ception of the whole ; and that without Abraham hesitates not, argues not. He knowing the ultimate end and design, we who before staggered not at the promise, must of necessity have a very imperfect idea staggers not now at the precept through unof the means and instruments employed ? belief. As a proof of his being in earnest,

It were easy to declaim on the horrid idea he rises immediately, while it was yet early; of demanding a human sacrifice, and of em- he makes all needful preparation for this ploying the hand of a father in a service so heavy journey and costly sacrifice, with the unnatural; on the mischief which might utmost serenity and cheerfulness; he comarise from an example so dreadful! on the municates to no one the order given him, manifest contradiction between this mandate lest the wickedness of others might have and other laws, both general and special; shaken his own firmness, or interrupted his and perhaps it were as easy to refute all such progress. Having saddled his ass, for it was declamation, and to prove it nugatory and in this simple style that the great men of absurd. But let any man, learned or unlearn the East, in these better days of the world, ed, read the story throughout, and if he is used to travel ; having summoned two of his not both pleased and instructed, he must young men to attend and assist in the preeither be stupid or fastidious in a very high paration, having called Isaac, and cleft the degree.

wood for the burnt offering, they proceed toIn what manner the command of Heaven gether from Beersheba for the land of Mowas communicated to Abraham, we are not riah. informed. It was unquestionably conveyed Josephus represents Isaac at this time as

in his twenty-fifth year, and describes him,

Genesis xxii. 2.

with much appearance of truth, as a young and son on this occasion, striking and paman of singular accomplishments, both of thetic indeed, but far inferior to the beautifu body and of mind. The trial was, without simplicity of Moses. Having built an aldoubt, greatly increased to Abraham by the tar, having laid the wood in order upon it, delay, and the distance of the place of sacri- and made all other necessary preparation, fice. Had the oracle demanded an instant the unhappy father is thus represented as offering, the immediate impression of the communicating to the devoted victim the heavenly vision would account for the sud- will of the Most High: “O my son, begged denness and despatch of the execution. But of God in a thousand prayers, and at length leisure is afforded for reflection; parental unexpectedly obtained; ever since you were affection has time to strengthen itself; the born, with what tenderness and solicitude powerful pleadings of nature must in their have I brought you up! proposing to myselt turn be heard; the oppression of grief, of no higher felicity than to see you become a fatigue, of old age; the sight, the society, man, and to leave you the heir of my possesthe conversation of Isaac, combine their sions. But the God who bestowed you upon operation to make him relent, and return. me, demands you again. Prepare then to But though nature knows faith, such as Abra- yield the sacrifice with alacrity. I give you ham's knows not what it is to relent. With up to Him, who at all seasons, and in all steady steps, and unshaken resolution, he ad- situations, has pursued us with loving kindvances to the fatal spot, now first distinguish-ness and tender mercy. You came into the ed by the choice of God, for the scene of this world under the necessity of dying; and the wonderful sacrifice; distinguished in the se- manner of your death is to be singular and quel, as the seat of empire and of religion illustrious, presented in sacrifice by your among Abraham's chosen race; and finally, own father to the great Father of all: who, distinguished most of all by a sacrifice infi- we may presume, considers it as unfit and nitely more valuable and important, and of unbecoming, that you should depart out of which this of Isaac was but a shadow. this life by disease, in war, or by any other

Being arrived at the foot of the mountain, of the usual calamities to which human nawhich was pointed out by some sensible to- ture is subject: but who waits to receive ken, the servants are left behind, and Abra- your spirit, as it leaves the body, amidst the ham, armed with the fire and the knife, and prayers and vows of your affectionate parent, Isaac bearing the wood destined to comsume that he may place it in perfect blessedness the victim, ascend together. And now, had | with himself. There, you shall still be the his faith been capable of failing, could his consolation and support of my old age, not inpurpose have changed, the question which deed by your presence and conversation, but İsaac, in the simplicity of his heart

, proposed, bequeathing me, when you depart, the premust have triumphed over his resolution, sence and the blessing of the Almighty." and decreed the victory to flesh and blood. Isaac, the worthy offspring of such a father, " And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, cheerfully complies, and piously answers and said, My father: and he said, Here am “I should be unworthy of life, were I capaI, my son: and he said, Behold the fire and ble of showing reluctance to obey the will the wood: but where is the Lamb for a burnt of my father and my God. It were enough offering? And Abraham said, My son, God for me that my earthly parent alone called will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offer-me to the altar, how much more when my ing: so they went both of them together."* heavenly Father redemands his own.” The heart that feels not this is lost to sen He accordingly submits to be bound, and sibility. Every endeavour to illustrate or en- to be laid as a victim upon the wood. And force it, were idle as an attempt to perfume now behold a sight from which nature shrinks the rose, to paint the tulip into richer tints, back, and stands confounded ;-a father liftor to burnish the sun into a brighter lustre. ing up his hand armed with a deadly weapon,

At length with weary steps they arrive at to slay his only son, he is already made the the place which God had told him of. The sacrifice; for with God, intentions are acts; mighty secret, which had hitherto laboured and he receives his Isaac a second time from in the anxious paternal breast, must at last the hand that gave him at first. The voice be disclosed, and the lamb for the burnt of God is again heard. It is ever welcome offering" must be produced. It is not the to the ear of faith : welcome when it ansacrifice of a bullock or a sheep, which are nounces heavy tidings, welcome when it deable to make no resistance; nor of a child mands an Isaac; and O, how welcome when unconscious of its situation; but of a man, it brings glad tidings of great joy ; when it whose consent must be obtained; and who, says, “ Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neieither by entreaty, by argument, by speed, ther do thou any thing unto him; for now I or by force, might have delivered himself. know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast The Jewish historian presents us with the not withheld thy son, thine only son, from dialogue which passed between the father me.*

• Gen. xxii, 7, 8.

• Gen, xxii. 12.

Abraham prophesied without being con- with his stripes we are healed. All we like scious of it, when he said, “ My son, God sheep have gone astray: we have turned will provide himself a lamb for a burnt of- every one to his own way; and the Lora fering:" for lo, behind " him a ram caught in hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." the thicket by his horns: and Abrahamn went From the terdered sacrifice of Isaac arose and took the ram, and offered him up for a new prospects and new promises to his famiburnt offering instead of his son."* We know ly; from the death of Christ sprung up the but in part, and we prophesy in part, but God hope of “ an inheritance incorruptible, unsees the end from the beginning; he is the defiled, and that fadeth not away,” to all them rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are that believe. The substituted sacrifice was judgment: a God of truth, and without ini- of God's appointment, providing an acceptquity, just and right is he."

ance, both in the figurative and the real hisWith what different feelings does the pa- tory, and by both we are instructed, that triarch descend from the mountain ! His when men have the wisdom to submit to, and Isaac lives, and yet his sacrifice is offered. follow God their Maker, they may safely comHe came to yield his dearest earthly delight mit the issue of all to him. at the call of God, and he goes away en To view the history of Abraham in deriched with new blessings and fresh promises. tached parts, is to involve ourselves in diffiWho ever sacrificed to God and was a loser? culty and distress,—to read patiently to the “Who ever hardened himself against God end, is the road to light, and peace, and joy. and prospered ?"

The prejudiced Jew, and the self-conceited It is impossible that any one can be so in- Greek, look at the cross and pronounce it attentive as not to observe, through the whole foolishness, or fall over it as a stumbling of this wonderful history, the mystery of re- block; but to them that believe, who wait the demption shadowed forth? Is the divine issue, who look to the end, “ Jesus Christ is conduct, in this trial of Abraham, dark and the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” inexplicable to human reason? Angels de- Presumptuous men will take upon them to sire to look into the plan of gospel salvation, judge of a plan which is not yet executed, and are unable to comprehend it. Was Abra- and will apply to the narrow and erroneous ham ready at God's command to offer up his scale of their own reason and understanding, only son for a burnt offering ? “God himself the infinite and eternal designs of the only so loved the world, that he gave his only be- wise God. When the fabric of creation was gotten Son, that whosocver believeth in him completed, God pronounced all to be very should not perish, but have everlasting life."I good, and then “the morning stars sang to God had pity upon an afflicted, earthly father, gether, and all the sons of God shouted for and a devoted child, and sent his angel to de- joy;" when the plan of redemption is exeliver him: but God “spared not his own Son, cuted, then, and not till then, let men or anbut delivered him up for us all."$ Isaac was gels presume to judge of the fitness or unready to be slain, Jesus was actually put to fitness of it. Determine nothing before the death. Isaac cheerfully submitted to the time. The Lord, and the day of the Lord, will of Heaven, and offered his throat to the is at hand. sacrificing knife; and of Jesus it is written In meditating on this history, may it not in the sacred volume, “ Lo, I come, I delight be asked—Who among you is with Abraham to do thy will, O God, thy law is within my sacrificing, I do not say, his lawful joys, but heart;"| " he gave himself for us, a sacrifice his sinful lusts? Who among you is rising of a sweet smelling savour unto God.” up early, and, with a resolute hand, slaying

Isaac having first typified the Saviour, pass- his sloth, his pride, his avarice, his lust, his es into a type of the elect sinner, bound and malignity, before the altar of God? Who stretched upon the altar, in trembling appre- among you is rising betimes to “offer unto hension of the fatal blow. He is reprieved God thanksgiving:" to contemplate the globy a voice from heaven; and thus, when ries of nature; to adore and admire the wonthere was no eye to pity, nor hand to save ders of Providence; to look into the mystery our sinful devoted race, a voice is heard from of redemption, and to meditate with new and the most excellent glory, “deliver from going increasing delight on that love of Christ down to the pit, I have found out a ransom.

which passeth knowledge ? “I have laid help on one who is mighty to The little good which we do, we wish to save.” Behold the ram caught in the thick- be seen of all men; not like Abraham, who et, conducted and detained of Providence, would have his devotion neither witnessed and substituted as a sacrifice in the room of nor interrupted by any one. But glory pursues Isaac, and think of him of whom it is writ- true goodness, notwithstanding its own moten, “ he was wounded for our transgressions, desty and humility. Why should I suffer he was bruised for our iniquities; the chas- myself to be teazed and vexed with the cavils tisement of our peace was upon him; and of an unbeliever? Let him start ten thou

sand objections, if he will, to the frame of na| Rom. viii. 32. | Psalm xl. 6, 8.

* Isaiah liji.5, 6.

Gen. xxii. 13.

† Deut. xxxii. 4.

1 John iii. 16.

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