Imágenes de páginas

of their faith, the gospel begins, even in this life, to reveal the beauty and the glory of heaven, and to bid its anticipated joys already animate and delight the soul.

As the outward eye grows dim-in the case of every true and tried disciple of Jesus,—the vision of the soul awakes with new and augmenting power.

And though the outward ear grows dull, there is a new and intense sensibility in the inner perceptions of the heart. Till, as this world recedes from the feeble perceptions of declining age, every symptom of decay brings the next more vividly before him ; and the “dark visions" and the “ “partial knowledge" of this life gradually and slowly expand into the larger discernment--the present sight—the blissful experience of the life to come!



Genesis xxii. 7, 8. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his Father, and said, My Father : and he said, Here am I, my son : And he said, Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.

It is impossible to reflect without extreme astonishment on the marvellous and triumphant exercise of faith which was displayed on the occasion referred to in these words. We may frame to ourselves, indeed, some imperfect notion, -though the imagination conceives nothing that can come up to the bitterness of its reality,-of the hardness of that task to complete which the patriarch was compelled to make the sacrifice of all that was most dear on earth. We may

We may know somewhat, from painful experience, of the misery and anguish which must have been the portion of that aged parent, at the prospect even of the most ordinary decree of providence that should take from him the object of his tenderest regard, and rend asunder the sacred ties of paternal and of filial love. But there were circumstances connected with this trial of Abraham's faith which must have wrought up those feelings into an intensity of painfulness that it is impossible, perhaps, for us to understand. Isaac was the child of promise and of many prayers, the son of his old age, the favoured and the blessed of God. But it was more than the common attachment of a father that gave him so peculiar an interest in the patriarch's regard ; it was more than the sufferings of a bereaved and affectionate parent that he bad now undertaken to endure. With Isaac were associated, in a manner, all his religious as well as his worldly prospects, and the cherished hopes of happiness, temporal and eternal, that awaited the long line of his promised posterity. And if he loved to dwell on the future destinies of his offspring-countless as the sands on the sea shore-in which eventually all the nations of the earth should be blessed ;** or if, as we are told, with the eye of faith, he was able to look

• Genesis xxii. 17, 18.

[ocr errors]

forward even to the days of Christ and rejoice, * he knew that through Isaac alone all these privileges could be enjoyed, and that it was “in Isaac that his seed should be called.”+

But even while we justly wonder at the strong and unyielding constancy of the Patriarch's faith, and while we know it to be scarcely within the range of possibility that a trial so extraordinary in all its circumstances should befal ourselves, it is impossible to reflect on the several incidents of this remarkable narrative without deriving from it much useful instruction. The whole history of Isaac's sacrifice affords a beautiful illustration of the precept afterwards inculcated by our Lord, which required that the true disciple should hate, that is, should love in an infinitely less degree, as compared with his law, even his father, and his mother, and his dearest relatives. [ It teaches us that the strongest natural affection is to be held in entire subservience to the love of God; and that from this principle alone the ties of social life derive a real permanence, and a truly exalted character. It tells us that the claims of our heavenly Father predominate over, (though they do not make nugatory, but rather quite the reverse,) the claims of earthly love on the sympathies of the heart; and that, * John viii. 56. + Hebrews xi. 18. f Luke xiv. 26.

« AnteriorContinuar »