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though the current of our feelings may seem, in some respects, thereby to be diverted and controlled, it is only that it may flow on eventually in a deeper and broader channel. And it teaches us, finally, that we also, like Abraham, must be ever ready to resign the most cherished possessions of this life at the call of God; that real faith requires full many a sacrifice of what is dearest to the natural man; and that we should ever be prepared with humility and thankfulness to confess that, whether “the Lord giveth," or whether “ he taketh away,” still “ blessed is the name of the Lord.”
But at this solemn season of the Christian year,* when we are commemorating the appearance and incarnation of the Son of God, the simple narrative of Isaac's sacrifice assumes & higher and a loftier meaning. From the beautiful story of the Hebrew patriarch it rises into all the sublimity of prophecy and type, and points forward, through the long lapse of ages, to that still more wonderful sacrifice which is the Christian's only hope and only dependence. With good reason indeed was the hand of Abraham stayed ; the time for the full completion of man's propitiatory offering was not yet arrived; and the same mountain was yet to see a greater victim, at
* Christmas Day.
whose death the sun itself should veil its light, and the earth should tremble with reverential dread. A greater than Abraham was to make the free offering of his son, his only son whom he loved ; and a greater than Isaac--the heir of the temporal promises—was to be given, through whom all the world might claim the inheritance of the heavenly Canaan. And as Isaac too bare the wood which was to burn for his own sacrifice, so his illustrious antitype was to ascend that selfsame mountain laden with the burthen of his own cross, and oppressed with the still greater burthen of the iniquities of the world. In this view of the question, therefore, the narrative assumes a more solemn and a deeper interest than as a mere passage in the biography of the Hebrew Patriarch. And there will be found in every part of the words of the text many useful materials for our consideration connected with the joyful occasion which we meet this day to celebrate. It shews us the great necessity and need which ever existed in the earth for the interference of a Redeemer on our behalf, and the incarnation of the Son of God. It illustrates the anxious and eager desire with which all the world waited and looked for such a miraculous interposition on the part of man. And it teaches us, by more than comparison, by designed and direct allusion, how
full of interest is that mighty theme which the angels of heaven themselves did not disdain to celebrate with bymns of joy, and how incalculably great and wonderful is the blessing which we now commemorate.
1. “And Isaac spake unto Abraham bis 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 ?" These words, whether we look to the typical meaning of the whole event to wbich they belong, or to their allusion to the general spirit of the sacrificial rite, will aptly illustrate the strong necessity for an expiatory offering and atonement under which the whole world, oppressed with the burthen of its sins, has ever naturally laboured. Isaac was not the only person who made this important inquiry. Such, ever since the origin of evil, and through all succeeding generations before the coming of Christ, has been the language of unredeemed and unregenerate man. Alienated and estranged from the presence of God, from whom alone the fountain of spiritual life is supplied, when the consciousness of their helplessness and their infirmities forced itself upon men's notice, as it will occasionally do even no the most depraved and benighted minds, it was a natural impulse which induced them to again ?
ask, "How shall I be reconciled and restored
· Where is an offering so precious to be found whereby to propitiate the anger of an offended God? Where is the lamb to be procured as a suitable burnt sacrifice to the Lord of heaven? The cherubim that guarded with fiery swords the way of the tree of life are no unapt representations of that mighty barrier which our sins bave placed between us and the paradise that we have lost. There is a burthen on the soul of the natural man which bows it to the earth, even when it most desires to be free; which throws a film over his eyes, and a hardness upon his heart, and renders him totally unfit for the contemplation of heavenly things. And so vast is the accumulated burthen of moral and physical evil which the palpable consequence of sin
has oppressed, like some mighty incubus, all the movements and the energies of man in this probationary world, that even unassisted nature could scarcely overlook the cause, or suppress altogether the confession of its own inability to shake off the thraldom that has bound it.
It is true, indeed, that an efficient,--a humbling, -a saving consciousness of the extent of this spiritual disorder, and the insufficiency of man to heal it, does not spontaneously arise in the bosom of the ungodly.
It is true that the Holy Spirit alone an unresisted, at least, if not an invited visitor to the heart-can thoroughly awaken our dim perceptions to the danger that encompasses our souls, so that we may distinctly hear, as it were, the thunders that threaten us from above, and see the fearful precipice that yawns at our feet. And therefore, without preternatural aid, we could never have rightly discerned, in all its most important bearings, the necessity and the value of that interference which diverted the vengeance of the bolts of heaven, and turned the course of our footsteps into a safer track. But still there has generally prevailed, as we have many testimonies to prove from the writings and the history of the ancient world, and indeed it was impossible wholly to overlook a circumstance which forced itself, in a thousand ways, on the notice of mankind,-a certain perception of the preponderance of evil in the world, and of the inability of man to remove it, which could dictate a question, in spirit at least the same with that of Isaac, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering ?” None could be insensible to the fact that there was a desolating curse, a moral blight that lay upon the earth and all its inhabitants ; that there was a derangement in the system of nature, once harmonious and beautiful; that there was an incapacity in man for the full enjoyment