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when God becomes manifest in the flesh, and on this mountain shall be offered up as the antitype of this transaction.
The importance of such a visible representation of the mysterious facts which futurity was to develope, and on which the salvation of the world depended, before perhaps the art of writing was known, must be clear and incontrovertible. Exhibitions to the eye make a far more lasting impression on the memory, than words, however opposite and forcible, can make. Tradition was, in the days of Abraham, the main channel of information; and the tradition of such a scene as that which we have surveyed, was much more likely to be handed down uncorrupted to posterity then any merely verbal record of what the Christ was to be, to do, and to suffer, and the information itself to be more distinct both to cotemporaries and succeeding generations.*
I return from this digression on the importance of that typical view of the subject which I am about to take, and observe that the birth of Isaac
sometimes an active sense, it should be observed that in the form of the 1st Aorist passive, as above, it is used in a passive sense, to be seen, to appear, Matth. xvii. 3. Luke i. 11. Acts ii. 3. &c.
be remarked that as tradition became more obscure supernatural interposition became more frequent; and that when miraculous evidence was to cease, the Spirit of prophecy, revealing the expected salvation, was granted in a more copious
and the birth of Christ were both preternatural events. The heir of the blessing, in the family of Abraham, was born when his father was an hundred years old, and his mother ninety, and consequently past the usual time of childbearing, even in that period of longevity. Her conception is, throughout the Sacred History, represented as miraculous. And, as our Lord Jesus Christ was “ conceived of the Holy Ghost," without the intervention of man, and “born of the Virgin Mary,” the correspondence of the type with the antitype is too plain to be overlooked. To this circumstance another may be added,—that both were children of promise,—and the former evidently with relation to the latter; for the universal blessing which was to flow from Isaac, must necessarily be referred to Him who was to spring from Isaac's loins in the fullness of time, in whom ALONE all the families of the earth are blessed. (Comp. chap. xvii. 19, and xxi. 12.) And when we read that Isaac was, as his name imports, a son of laughter," i. e. a source of joy, to his parents and indeed to all mankind; our minds are instantly hurried forward, through intervening ages, to the declaration made by the angelic messenger to the shepherds at Bethlehem, “ Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke ii. 10.
I omit to mention other circumstances in the history of Isaac, which plainly designate him as a typical person, in order that I may hasten to that important period of his life which has been the subject of this communication. Therein the first object that strikes the eye and arrests attention, is the surprising proof which Abraham was enabled, through Divine grace, to give of his love to God, by his prompt compliance with the astounding requisition which he received, “Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac whom thou lovest, and offer him up for a burnt-offering on one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” But what shall we say of the corresponding act of Divine love which the Evangelist St. John has recorded, John iii. 16, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It is said of Abraham that he “ withheld not his son, his only son;" and of God, that He “spared not His own Son but delivered Him
for us all.” If the act of Abraham's piety
glorious,” the act of Divine philanthropy “exceeds in glory,” as much as the ocean exceeds the drop that falls from the bucket; or, as the radiance of the sun exceeds the feeble ray, which, emanating from the glow-worm, studs the bank. For the conduct of Abraham was that which duty required, and self-interest called for. Whatever he possessed was the gift of God; and when God
demanded his Isaac, He only demanded that which was His own. But in the instance of Divine loving kindness to which we have referred, we behold a gift bestowed on the unworthy, wholly unmerited, and in its value inestimable. Well may it be termed, the GIFT.” Had Abraham hesitated, angelic bosoms would have heaved with surprise at his ingratitude; while emotions of astonishment swell them to the utmost in the contemplation of redeeming love.
The description which is given of Isaac in the direction which the patriarch received concerning him, seems intended to lead our minds from the type to the antitype. Was the devoted victim the venerable offerer's “son,” his "only son” his “ Isaac whom he loved ?" Jesus was also the Son of God, his only Son, his beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. (Comp. John i. 14, 18. 1 John iv. 9. Matth. iii. 17, and xvii. 5. 2 Pet. i. 17.) “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief;" (Isa. liii. 10.) so that the words of the weeping prophet are appropriate to the lips of the illustrious Sufferer, “ Is it nothing to you,
pass by? Behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger!" Lam. i. 12. If a sight of the father of the faithful, presented to the imagination in the
attitude in which he is exhibited in the record, when “he stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son,” excite our astonishment; what should our feelings be, when we contemplate the Father of mercies, issuing the peremptory mandate which we read, Zach. xiii. 7, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the MAN THAT IS MY FELLOW !”
The place which was the scene of this typical transaction, seems designed to excite our attention by the manner in which it was pointed out to Abraham. “ Get thee into the land of MORIAH, and offer him THERE for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell thee of.” May we not properly ask, why the patriarch was enjoined to go to such a distance from the place of his abode for the performance of this extraordinary act? Why was one of the mountains preferable to another? And why was an immediate direction from heaven necessary to fix the proper spot for the sacrifice? No reply can be given to these questions, unless we derive it from the correspondence that exists between the offering of Isaac and that of his great antitype. Moriah was the name of a chain of mountains, on one of which the Temple was afterwards built; 2 Chron. iii. I, and on another of which called Calvary our Lord was crucified. That this was the very spot pointed out to the patriarch, St. Jerom informs us from a tradition of the Jews.