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tion to the strength of our faith in Christ, will be the extent and promptitude of our obedience to the Divine Will.
Was Abraham far advanced in years, when this severest of all his trials occurred? Then, no Christian must conclude that his warfare is terminated while life remains. No age, station, or spiritual advancement in the school of Christ, exempts from suffering. Abraham had experienced many previous afflictions; but this which came upon him when he was near the goal, and might suppose his probation closed, was heavier than all that preceded it. God accommodates his dispensations to the strength with which he has endued his servants. He tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, while the full grown saint is permitted to feel the power of the rude and
penetrating blast. 'Tis “ the trial of our faith which, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, shall be found to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. i. 7.) Therefore the Apostle adds, (chapter iv. 12, 13,) “ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice inasmuch as ye are made partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
In the production of this wonderful instance
of obedience, faith and love were co-operative in the patriarch's bosom. He believed that God was able to raise his son even from the dead; and that, notwithstanding the apparent severity and inconsistency of the requisition, God was still his covenant-God, and would accomplish His own promises to him and his seed. (Comp. ver. 5.) And he remembered that his Isaac, and all that he had, whether in possession or reversion, was the result of gratuitous favour shown to him. We may suppose the patriarch to have reasoned with himself somewhat after this manner:“ Hath not the Lord a right to do what He will with His own? May He not, with the utmost equity, resume the loan which I have received from Him? Can He not make up the loss of what He requires me to surrender? Is not my own life, and that of my son, justly forfeited by sin? Shall I hesitate a moment in affording this proof of my confidence in His faithfulness, and love to His name, who hath conferred so great benefits upon me, and whom I have ever found merciful and just in all His dealings with me?" After a similar manner faith operates in the bosom of every converted sinner. May my dear friend and myself daily feel its blessed effects in our souls!
By the result of this trial of the faith of Abraham, we are taught that man's extremity of distress is God's opportunity of manifesting His power and goodness. Isaac is spared, and a ram, providentially furnished as a substitute, is offered in his stead. The mount of difficulty is the place in which the brightest exhibitions of Omnipotent Grace are afforded to believers. The ascent thereto
may be steep; but the experience thereon afforded, will be proportionably sweet, and amply repay their labour.
Let believers denominate such places Jehovah Jireh. (See ver. 10, 11. and
comp. ver. 14.) What holy joy must have filled the patriarch's bosom, when, at the conclusion of this awful scene, a voice from on high declared, “ Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me !"
By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee; &c.—and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice.” The joy of the Father of the faithful arose not merely from the personal interests which he had in the promise thus confirmed to him, a promise which had before been often made; but it must have been heightened beyond all conception by the consideration that the promise comprehended all the “nations of the earth.” In that joy we are permitted to participate. “ For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself, saying, Surely, blessing, I will bless thee, and, multiplying, I will multiply thee: And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise,” viz. by the birth of Isaac. “For men verily swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife: wherein God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." Heb. vi. 12-18.
DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS TO THE PATRIARCH
MY DEAR FRIEND.
In a review such as my correspondence with you professes to take, the history of the patriarch Jacob ought not to be omitted, since that history furnishes an account of several Divine manifestations which he received, on two of which ulterior Scriptures furnish the necessary comment. At Bethel, Mahanaim, and at Peniel, the highly favoured pilgrim, while by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, dwelling in tabernacles or tents, as his fathers Abraham and Isaac had before dwelt, the heir with them of the same promise, was indulged with discoveries of the Divine
presence and protection. These discoveries concur with those which we have already noticed, in proving that Christianity is as old as the fall, and that the record, “that God hath given unto us eternal life, and that this life is in His son"—has been the only foundation of hope to guilty man in every age of the world.