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THE FATHER OF THE FAITHFUL ligion, amidst the general ap
THE HEIR OF PRO- proaching dereliction of primitive MISE, AT THE COMMAND OF GOD. truth, called him from his native
country into a strange land, that The design of this Essay is to il- he might establish among his de
lustrate the command to Abra- scendants a holy nation, wherein ham, Gen. xxii. 2.-" Take to preserve the purity of his now thy son, thine only son worship, and the knowledge of Isaac, whom thou lovest, and his law. Here he was destined get thee into the land of Moriah, to be the head and example of and offer him there for a burnt- all believers, who should, through offering upon one of the moun-him, receive the doctrine of the tains which I will tell thee of.”/ unity and perfection of the divine
nature, and be led to look for the The illustration of this extra-future Saviour of the human race.
appearance, in due time, of the ordinary command requires to be The name of his native city, Ur, introduced by some prefatory re- which, in the Chaldee, we are marks on the history of the world, told, signifies the city of fire, and the designs of Divine Provi- seems to indicate it to have been dence at the period in which this a celebrated seat of that idolatry holy patriarch lived. In that which at length became universal age the pious traditions of Noah, in the east, the worship of fire, the great progenitor of the post- as a symbol of the sun, which diluvian world, were beginning to was itself the symbol of the active pass into oblivion, or were great- and vivifying power of nature ly adulterated from the purity of which gives life to all things. their original fountain, by the ad- From this seducing worship, the mixture of idolatrous fables ; and least absurd of all the forms of the nations were fast sliding into idolatry which have ever existed, that corruption of manners which this illustrious man retired, at the was the natural consequence of command of God. their profound ignorance, and But, that he might be rendered their absurd polytheism. Al- worthy of the high honours desmighty God, that he might form tined for him in the purposes of in the family of this venerable heaven, of being the father of man a depository of the true re-Ithe faithful, and the head of all
Vol. II....No. 2.
true believers to the end of time, was that from which also was to it was requisite that his own be at last derived the most painfaith should be put to many and ful proof that was ever made of arduous proofs through a long human duty. It was revealed to succession of painful trials. For Abraham, that from him should this purpose, though sprung from spring the lineage of the future one of the most distinguished Messiah, a seed in whom all the and honourable families in the families of the earth should be most ancient and powerful king-blessed. At different periods this dom at that time existing in the gracious predictiou was renewed ; world, he was called to demon- and often he appeared to be on strate his obedience to the divine the eve of its accomplishment.will, by abandoning his country, As often it was suspended : till, at to sojourn in a foreign land, pro- the end of five and twenty years mised, indeed, as an inheritance of alternate hope and disappointto his remote posterity, but in ment, of anxious solicitude, and which he was himself permitted submissive resignation, it was still to be only a pilgrim and a stran- unfulfilled. At length pature itger. Here, pursued by famine, self seemed to oppose insuperable he was obliged again to resign a obstacles to its execution. He country which he had just begun was now far advanced in the deto consider as a habitation in cline of life, and his beloved Sawhich he might rest in his exile, rah was now also past age. Still, and to seek a temporary asylum however, this illustrious pattern in Egypt.
But in the court of of our faith continued, according Egypt he was anew exposed to to the language of the apostle, imminent perils, from the arbi- to hope against hope, that, from trary power of a mighty prince, one as good as dead should yet excited and impelled by the most spring the promised germ of a dangerous of human passions. nation as numerous as the stars of
Returning to Canaan, he was heaven, whence should ultimately under the hard necessity, even in arise Messiah, the Saviour, so that promised land, of fighting for long since foretold to the father his pastures and his waters with of the race, in that early predicthe superior power of five of tion, the seed of the wornan shall those petty kings which at that bruise the serpent's head. An ortime held the land in subjection. dinary faith would have sunk unAnd, although the most gracious der so many and such afflicting promises were, from time to time, disappointments. But the father made him by the same merciful of the faithful, says the sacred and almighty Power which had writer, staggered not at the prohitherto protected him, yet the mise : and his well-proved conrepeated delays by which it fidence in God was at last repleased Divine Providence to sus- warded to the full measure of his pend the execution of his bene- utmost hopes.—Sarah gave him, ficent designs, were so many ar- in her old age, amidst the highest duous trials of the constancy of transports of joy, the long-exhis faith. But the most conso-pected child of promise, the prolatory of all the promises ad-genitor of the Saviour, the future dressed to this holy patriarch, I blessing of the world, and the
foundation of his glory and fame and sovereign decree. And if by to all ages.
the lights of thy blessed word we Abraham thought that now his can penetrate thy design, in this happiness was rendered secure, apparently unnatural destination, as it appeared to be complete. we believe, and are assured, acHis beloved Sarah was a joyful cording to thy infinite goodness, mother. The tender affections that we shall find it full of wisof his old age were lavished on a dom and of grace. son, the subject of such mighty expectations, the purchase of so I. Consider then, reader, this many sacrifices. The venerable last and greatest trial of the pa- patriarch resigned himself to his triarch's faith, that we may the joys, trusting that now, surely, better discern the full merit of he should pass the remainder of bis obedience, and how justly he his life in peace, under the pro- has received, from all ages, the tection and smiles of that merci- title of the father of the faithful. ful Providence which had hitherto conducted him, by mysterious II. After which, let us endeaways, to the completion of every vour to discover the holy and hope which his piety had formed. gracious purpose of God, the FaBut, alas ! in this moment of tri- ther both of Abraham and of Isaac, umph, a trial more severe and in this mysterious transaction. afflicting awaited him than all which he had yet experienced I. Let us first bestow our atfor it was to be drawn out of the tention on the action by which it bosom of bis present happiness. pleased God to prove the obeHardly had he obtained posses-dience and the faith of his chosen sion of the promise till it was servant. again, in all appearance, most To exhibit it in its just light, it painfully ravished from him. In will be necessary to turn our an instant all his prospects, which view again for a moment to the were opening so fairly before his history of Abraham. This faimagination, were covered with vourite son, who had been rengloom. The son of his laughter dered still dearer by the many was subjected by God to death in disappointments which his anxious the most extraordinary form, as a parent had already suffered, and devoted sacrifice upon the altar; by the glorious hopes which God and Abraham himself was or himself had taught him to regard dained to execute this dark, and as centred in the heir of promise, afflicting, and mysterious decree. was now growing up, adorned The blood of the son was destined with every manly accomplishto flow by the father's hand. ment, with every filial duty, and Merciful God ! can it be thy will, with every divine grace. He is thus to murder all the charities of represented in history to have life? What purpose, worthy of been, at this time, all that the the infinite benignity of thy na- fondest wishes of a father could ture, and of the obedience of thy picture in a beloved son. And chosen servant, can be concealed Abraham's life now flowed on in under a rite so horrible ? Yes, such a tranquil and equal tenor of God of Abraham! it was thy holy felicity, that it has afforded no
materials to the historian till this in the morning, and saddled his youth had attained his seven- ass, and took two of his young mere teenth, or, according to the an- with him, and Isaac his son, and nals of Josephus, his twenty-fifth he clave the wood for the burntyear. What an interesting period offering. Then he rose up, and of life! The ties of parental ten- went to the place of which God had derness, strengthened by habit, told him. On the third day Abraand multiplied by the daily dis-ham lifted up his eyes, and saw the closure of some new perfection, place afar off. And Abraham said some new proof of dutiful zeal, unto his young men, abide you here had had time to wind themselves with the ass, and I and the lad will in a thousand folds about the go yonder and worship. It is well heart of a father ; when, like a remarked by a pious writer, that stroke of thunder upon all his this trial, so afflicting in its own hopes, he received this command aature, was rendered much more from heaven, Take now thy son, severe, by the distance of the thine only son Isaac, whom thou place of sacrifice, and the time lovest, and get thee into the land of which intervened between the Moriah, and offer him there for a command given to Abraham and burnt-offering upon one of the the period of its execution. mountains which I will tell thee of. Three days was the awful transGlorious servant of the Most High action continually before his mind. God! Even here thy faith did 'Three days was he obliged to not fail. Thy will ever absorbed struggle with the tumult of pain the divine will; thy heart ever rental feelings, which were all supremely occupied with the love that time gathering force in his of God, held nothing so dear heart. But piety, but faith, renwhich it was not willing to sacri- dered him superior in the dreadfice to him. Abraham hesitated ful conflict. He took the wood for not; but, though all the father a burnt-offering, and laid it upon rose up in his bosom to oppose Isaac his son ; and he took the fire this hard order ; though it seem- in his hand, and a knife ; and they ed to put a final period to those went both of them together. Atprecious hopes which had so tend to the beautiful and affecting often already been disappointed ; simplicity of the narration of Moyet still, confiding in the promised ses. As they went, Isaac said unto mercies of Jehovah, he set him- Abraham his father, My father! self to obey the awful injunction, and he said, Here am I, my son. He trusted in that omnipotent And he said, Behold the fire and goodness , which can perform the wood for a burnt-offering ; but what, to human weakness, seems where is the lamb ? Igoorant as impossible ; he trusted in that the lovely youth was of the deswisdom which can unravel diffi- tiny to which he was going, how culties that to human reason ap- must this question, proposed in pear inextricable. He trusted in all the simplicity of innocence, God, saith the apostle, who could have gone to the
of a faeven raise from the dead the heir ther? Nothing but the heart of of the promises.
a father can answer. All the Accordingly, the sorrowing but embellishments of eloquence believing patriarch rose up earlyl would only impair its "force.
Abraham, covering, as well as he his paternal arm; but the com-