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every man who cometh into the world;" and he is our Lord and we will worship him;" thus many of the objects which we are inca- for “surely this is the Son of God." pable of contemplating, by the direct and And here closes the first great period of immediate illumination of the glorious “ Fa- the world. There next ensues a very conther of Lights,” are tempered to our percep- siderable space of time, fruitful indeed in tion, use, and delight, by reflection from names, but barren in events. Providence other orbs. “No man hath seen God at any has thought fit to draw a veil over it for this time. The only begotten Son who is in the obvious reason, that however amusing or inbosom of the Father he hath declared him.” structive the detail of that period might be
Thus have we endeavoured to point out to us, as citizens of this world, having no spethose particulars in the person, character, cial relation to the history of redemption, it and life of Noah, which seem more obvious cannot be very deeply interesting to us as ly typical of Christ the Lord; but I cannot Christians. And the design of the Bible is conclude the parallel, without directing your not so much to convey to us natural and po thoughts to one article of resemblance more. litical knowledge, as the knowledge of "the The old world having undergone the purga- only true God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he tion of a flood, was delivered in its renewed hath sent, whom to know is life eternal." state to Noah and his natural posterity for a The sacred historian accordingly hastens on possession : and from the world that is, when to the times of Abraham, when the promises purified by fire, “We, according to his pro- and predictions of the Messiah become more mise, look for new heavens and a new earth clear and express, and that Saviour was exwherein dwelleth righteousness.” “ He that plicitly announced, “ in whom all the families sitteth upon the throne saith, Behold I make of the earth” should at length be blessed. all things new! for the former things are When we have marked the progress of the passed away." And he that is before the dawn, and observed the first rays of this throne saith, “In my father's house are many rising sun, through the medium of type, mansions! if it were not so I would have figure, and prediction; when we have contold you: I go to prepare a place for you, and sidered the tokens of approaching glory in if I go and prepare a place for you, I will the east ; let us look up together, and behold come again and receive you unto myself
, that the splendour of the full-blown day; let us where I am, there ye may be also. And contemplate the glory spread around us, by whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." " the sun shining in his strength.” The * Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the scattered glimmerings of light,-a terrestrial kingdom of God.” “ Blessed are they that paradise, the first promise of deliverance by do his commandments, that they may have the seed of the woman, Abel's sacrifice, right to the tree of life, and may enter in Enoch’s translation, Noah's ark, and all that through the gates into the city.'
followed during so many ages, were at length Let me now exhort you in the words of collected and lost in that one great luminary, Christ, “Search the scriptures, for in them which is the light of the Christian world. ye think ye have eternal life, and they tes- But alas ! " this is the condemnation, that tify of Him, who is Alpha and Omega, the light is come into the world, and men loved first and the last, the beginning and the end;" darkness rather than light, because their and as you read and meditate, the light will deeds were evil. For every one that doeth break in upon you, and the Saviour of the evil hateth the light; neither cometh to the world will stand confessed in every page, in light, lest his deeds should be reproved."* every line; so that ye may say one to another, Let us endeavour to approve ourselves, in the words of Andrew to Simon his brother, “ children of the light, and of the day," and “We have found the Messias, which is, being observe and follow Him, who thus speaks interpreted, the Christ.” And when you see concerning himself, “ I am the light of the all that is venerable in respect of antiquity, world; he that followeth me, shall not walk all that is sacred in office, all that is dignified in darkness, but shall have the light of in royalty, bringing their glory and honour life.” to him, lay yourselves at his feet, and say,
• John iii. 19, 20.
HISTORY OF ABR A M.
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy
father's house, unto a land that I will show thee.-GENESIS xii. 1.
It would yield neither amusement nor in- plan of redemption. Dropping the mighty struction, to lay before you in detail, the founders of Nineveh and Babylon in that genealogical succession of the sons of Noah, oblivion wherein Providence has plunged from the flood to the calling of Abram.- them never to emerge, let us accompany the Scripture presents us with a very general father of the faithful from Ur of the Chaldees view of that period. It shows us mankind to the place of his destination, and observe engaged in pursuits common to men in every the increasing splendour of the day of grace, age. It exhibits the usual and natural opera- and adore the wisdom, truth, and faithfulness tions, and the effects of pride, and ambition, of Him who promised, and who “hath done and avarice: plans of empire formed ; im- as he had said.” perial cities founded; new discoveries made, It may be proper to observe, in the enand settlements established. For a consider- trance of the history of this great patriarch, able time the recent horrors of the deluge that one life, that of Noah, almost connects must have laid fast hold of the minds of men Adam with Abram. For Noah was born as the awful monuments of it were every only one hundred and twenty-six years after where before their eyes. This would natu- the death of Adam, and lived till within two rally, for a while, confine them to the moun- years of Abram's birth. In one sense, theretainous regions of Armenia, where the ark fore, the father and founder of the Jewish first rested. But as their fears diminished, nation is very little more than the third from and their numbers increased, we find them, the first man. So readily, immediately, and allured by the beauty and fertility of the uninterruptedly, might the knowledge of plains, which were washed by the Tygres important truth, particularly the promises of and the Euphrates, descending gradually salvation, be communicated through so long from the heights, and spreading along the a tract of time. It is farther observable, that vast and fruitful valleys of Shinar or Chal- as from Adam to Noah there are ten generadea. And he who had seen the whole hu- tions, so likewise from Noah to Abram there man race cut off for their wickedness, his are ten generations; but the latter succeedown family consisting of eight persons ex- | ed each other much faster than the former. cepted, lived to see the descendants of that The first ten occupy a period of one thousand family almost as numerous and as profligate six hundred and fifty-six years; the last is as the generation of men which had been shrunk down to three hundred and fiftydestroyed by the flood. He had the mortifi- seven. We are henceforward, therefore, to cation, in particular, of seeing his posterity be conversant with lives reduced nearer to engaged in an enterprise equally absurd, our own standard. While extreme longevain, and impious; that of building “a city vity was necessary to carry on the designs of and a tower whose top should reach unto Providence, men lived to the age of many heaven,” to transmit their names with re-centuries. When God saw it was meet to nown to posterity, to be the great seat of substitute a written and permanent revelaempire, and thereby the means of preserving tion, in the place of oral tradition from father them in one grand system of political union, to son, the life of man was shortened. and of securing them from discord and dis The history of Abram's life commences at persion.
a period of it, long before which that of most The sacred volume informs us, that the men is concluded; namely, at the seventyvery means which they had vainly devised fifth year of his age. It is never either too to keep themselves together, in the wisdom early or late to serve and follow God. But of God, separated and scattered them. But the folly and presumption of youth is but too the history of that event falls not within the apt to defer matters of the greatest moment design of these exercises. Leaving Nimrod to the last hour; and this fatal waste of the and his vain-glorious companions to erect seed time of life, is the sure foundation of the monument of their own folly, and to feel dishonour, remorse, and despair, in old age. the consequences of their impiety, let us at- But though our patriarch had arrived at a tend the sacred historian in tracing, not the period of life so advanced, before the sacred rize and progress of empire, but the forma-historian introduces him upon the stage, the tion, the unfolding, and the execution of the lobscurity which lies upon his earlier years
is amply compensated by the rich, instruc- setting out, with difficulties seemingly untive, and entertaining materials, furnished surmountable. The promises made to him from the divine stores, for the history of the were not only conveyed in very general latter part of his life.
terms, and the accomplishment removed to There is something singularly affecting, a great distance, but natural impossibilities in the idea of an old man giving up the also barred the way. What a slender pros scenes of his youthful days; scenes endeared pect must a man entertain of a numerous to the mind by the fond recollection of past offspring, when both nature and religion pre joys; foregoing his kindred and friends; and vent the possibility of his having children? becoming an exile and a wanderer, at a pe- The Spirit of God therefore bestows a just riod when nature seeks repose, and when tribute of praise on this part of his conduct, the heart cleaves to those objects to which he believed God, and it was accounted to it has been long accustomed. But that man him for righteousness," because that “against goes on cheerfülly, who knows he is follow- hope, he believed in hope.” But when we ing God; he can never remove far from come to examine the promise more particuhome, who has “made the Most High his larly, we shall find that it contained every habitation;" he who falls asleep in the bosom thing which can rouse and fire a noble and of a father, knows that he shall awake in generous mind: personal honour and feliciperfect peace and safety. Accordingly, ty; “ I will bless thee, and make thy name * Abram, when he was called to go out into great:" a numerous and a thriving progeny, a place which he should after receive for an who to latest ages should acknowledge him inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not as their founder, and glory in their relation knowing whither he went."*
to him; “I will make of thee a great nation, Abram being held forth in scripture as the and thou shalt be a blessing:" universal bepattern of a cheerful, prompt, and active nefit accruing to the human race from him; faith in God, as we proceed, we shall mark “in thee shall all the families of the earth be the appearances and the effects of that faith blessed.” Behold then the illustrious exile in the successive trials to which it was ex- turning his back on home, attended only by posed. The very first act of his obedience his aged parent sinking into the grave under to the will of Heaven, proves the existence the weight of years and infirmity; his beand the prevalency of this powerful principle. loved Sarai; and Lot his nephew, who, it When called to leave his country and his would seem, was determined to share the father's house, “ he went out, not knowing," fortunes of his pious uncle, and with him to not caring, “whither he went.” What could sacrifice every worldly consideration to relihave induced him to make such a surrender, gion. With Providence for their protector but a sense of his duty to God, an entire and guide, and the word of God for their enacquiescence in the wisdom and goodness of couragement and consolation, they set out in Providence, and a full assurance that his confidence, and arrive at their destined baHeavenly Father both could and would in- bitation in safety. But God, who had prodemnify him, for every sacrifice which he vided for Abram a country, would neverthewas called to make! A sacrifice similar to less have him carry away from Chaldea, all this every real Christian virtually offers up, his honestly acquired property; for true faith when he renounces the pomp and pleasure makes light of none of God's benefits; and of this vain world, to the hope of an “in- worldly prosperity, honourably acquired, moheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that derately and thankfully enjoyed, is an unfadeth not away."
Ur of the Chaldees was doubted mark of God's favour. become a land of idolatry. Abram's nearest Being arrived in Canaan, God appea.s to relations had lost the knowledge, and devi- Abram again, and informs him that this was ated from the true worship of the God of the land which he had in view for him; and their fathers. To have continued there, renews the declaration, “Unto thy seed will would have been to prefer a situation dan- I give this land.” In these words, two things gerous to religion and virtue. Why may are remarkable. First, a farther delay of the we not suppose the call given him to depart, accomplishment of the promise, I will give; to be the impulse of an honest and enlight- and secondly, a transferring of the gift of it, ened mind, stirred at the sight of so many from Abram himself, to his seed. Each of idols, and the impure rites of their worship- these alone had been sufficient to have coolpers; and prompted to flee, at whatever ex- ed an ordinary ardour, to have discouraged pense, from scenes of so much impiety and an ordinary spirit. But the good man discopollution. When men are to receive imme- vers no symptom of dissatisfaction or disapdiately their indemnification or equivalent, pointment, at either the delay or the change the merit of a surrender is small; but it re- of destination; he does not so much as inquires the faith and trust of an Abram, to quire when or how that promised offspring takea general promise of God as full security. of his was to arise. It is sufficient for him, But his faith had to struggle, in the very that he is following the call of Heaven, and . Heb. xi. 8.
that he is blessed with the divine presence
through his pilgrimage: with him, even a strange country, to that God at whose com"hope deferred maketh" not “the heart mand he had given up his native country and sick;" he finds he is not even now come to his all. He injures the friend and companion his rest, yet repines not. But though he finds of his youth, in supposing her capable of beno house nor city for himself to dwell in, he ing allured by the splendour and flattery of finds both leisure and inclination to erect an Egypt
, to forget her duty to her husband. He altar unto God; "and there builded he an affronts a prince whom he knew not, by suisaltar unto the Lord who had appeared unto pecting him of a base and criminal design him."** He who has set up his rest in the against the peace and honour of a stranger, Almighty, is every where and always at driven into his dominions for relief from fahome; and a truly gracious spirit will never mine. He has recourse to the crooked path omit a work of piety and mercy, under a pre- of cunning and falsehood, when the direct tence of wanting means or opportunity. road of fairness and truth would have served
Why should we inquire, in what manner his turn much better. Over caution, is broGod appeared unto Abram; or how much ther to great rashness. He who wants to show wiser should we be for knowing it? Has not himself over wise, soon proves himself to be the great, the Almighty God, resistless power a fool. The very means which Abram has over our bodies and our minds? And can he devised for preserving Sarai's chastity, exnot make every element, every creature, a posed her to danger. As his sister, she might vehiele of his will to us? Behold the patri- be lawfully addressed by any one; as his wife, arch removing from place to place; “ sojourn- she was considered as sacred to himself; for ing in the land of promise as in a strange the rights of wedlock were held in reverence, land,” travelling from Sichem to the plain even by idolatrous Egyptians. What must of Moreh; from Bethel to Hai; probably have been his feelings when the imposture through fear of the idolatrous Canaanites; was detected? How keen his remorse, to see who, we are told, then occupied the land. -- Pharaoh and his innocent household plagued But though he sojourn, as the wayfaring for his fault? The conscious shame of having man, but for a night, the altar is constituted, acted wrong, and of thereby having brought and the victim is offered up.f And Abram's mischief upon another, is, perhaps, the sealtar is not built in the spirit wherein many verest punishment an ingenuous mind can a sacred edifice has been since reared, and suffer. many a pious volume purchased, for show, The next remarkable event of Abram's life not for use ;-having built an altar to Jeho-is infinitely more honourable for him, and yah," he called upon the name of Jehovah.” which therefore we pursue with much great
But a wandering life through Canaan is er satisfaction. Being safely brought back not the worst of his condition. His faith is again to Canaan, he resorts to his former reput to a new and severe trial; he is driven sidence between Bethel and Hai, and“ pitchout of that land by famine. The country so es his tent by the place of the altar, which pompously promised, as a portion to his seed, he had made there at the first.” And there when increased to the number of the sand again he renews his communion with Heaupon the sea-shore, refuses subsistence suffi- ven; for one failing breaks not off the intercient to his family in its present diminutive course between God and a good man. Enstate? What then? Let nature or providence joying here a temporary repose, his worldly raise what obstacles they may, faith removes substance increases fast upon him: for “the or surmounts them. He sits not down sud- blessing of the Lord it maketh rich.” But denly with the peevish prophet, saying, “I every earthly good thing brings its inconvedo well to be angry,” but employs sagacity nience along with it. His brother's son has and diligence to discover, and to obtain, the cast in his lot with Abram, and is cherished means of relief. He retires to Egypt, which by him with singular tenderness and affecthe scarcity had not reached, or which it had tion: when, behold, the increase of riches afflicted in an inferior degree. Self-preserva- becomes an increase of vexation. Though tion is the first law of our nature; "and he the masters are disposed to peace, the serthat provideth not for his own, especially vants cannot agree. "A strife arose between those of his own house, hath denied the faith, the herdman of Abram's cattle and the herdand is worse than an infidel.”
man of Lot's cattle:” and what augmented But where, alas, shall we find the faith the folly of such a contention, it is remarked, that never staggered through unbelief; the that si the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwellconfidence in Heaven that never failed ? On ed then in the land:” so that their quarrel his entrance into Egypt, Abram is seized with among themselves rendered them more vulan unaccountable fit of distrust altogether nerable by the common enemy. For once unbecoming his character, and equally inju- that riches promote friendship, they ten times rious to God, to Sarai, and to the king of engender strife; by setting on fire, envy, or Egypt.
He is afraid of trusting the honour jealousy, or pride, or some such destructive of his wife, during a temporary residence in passion. The behaviour of Abram on this oc* Genesis xii. 7.
Genesis xii. 8. casion, merits particular notice and commen
dation. “And Abram said unto Lot, Let there no deviation from the path of rectitude a be no strife, I pray thee, between me and light thing. Let us watch most diligently thee, and between my herdmen and thy herd- on our weakest side: and let us learn from men: for we be brethren. Is not the whole the patience, forbearance, and tender mercy land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray of God, when, “a brother is overtaken in a thee, from me; if thou wilt take the lett fault,” to “ restore such an one in the spirit hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou of meekness." depart to the right hand, then I will go to the Had Abram an altar for God, before he had lett."* An hundred sermons preached, or an an habitation for himself? Learn from him, hundred volumes written, in favour of a O, young man, how to begin the world, as peaceable, gentle, yielding, generous, man- you wish to thrive and prosper in it. The ly spirit, were far short of the plain and per- house in which no altar is erected to God, suasive lesson taught us by this conduct of wants both a foundation and a covering; the patriarch. But it merits a larger place The family which wants the word and the in the history of his life, than is now left for worship of God, is not yet begun to be furit, in what remains of your time. We wil nished. Make room for your Maker and he lingly, therefore, reserve it, to be drawn out will settle you in a large place. “Seek first into greater length, and to be pressed more the kingdom of God and his righteousness, particularly, as an useful and striking exam- and all things shall be added to you." ple to believers.
Did Abram rule his own spirit, did he Christian, you call yourself a son of faith-meekly recede from his just right, did he ful Abram: let me see that you are actuated gently yield to an inferior, for the sake of by his spirit. What sacrifice, I beseech you, peace? Blush, 0 man, to think of thy pride are you making; what sacrifice have you and selfishness; of thy positiveness in opinion, made, to conscience, to duty, to your Chris- thy devotedness to interest, thy insolence in tian profession? What worldly interest have the day of power, thy contempt of the you given up? What lust have you morti- opinions, thy indifference to the feelings and fied? What exercise of humility, of self- the happiness of others. Look to Abram, denial, of self-government, are you engaged and learn to be a conqueror. “ Be not overin? Faith in God, and submission to his come of evil, but overcome evil with good.”. will, were the leading principles of Abram's Look to your Father in heaven, who “is kind life : What are yours? Deal faithfully with to the evil and unthankful :” “ for he maketh God, and with yourselves; and know, that to his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, be a lover of the pleasures, riches, or honours and sendeth rain on the just and on the unof a present world, to the neglect of religion just.” And thus “ be ye perfect, even as and its joys, is to prefer Ur of the Chaldees, your Father which is in heaven is perfect." with its impurity, impiety, and idolatry, 10 Finally; Was the word made to Abram, the love and worship of the living and true sure? Mas his name become renowned, did God.
his progeny increase, were his seed planted Was the faith of Abram always uniform, in the promised land, and in him are all the his obedience perfect, his conduct irreproach- families of the earth blessed? Then learn able ? No. Then it is not always to be imi- to honour God by reposing confidence in him, tated, nor at all to be depended upon. But assured that, “ though heaven and earth pass there is a pattern of faith and obedience, away, his word shall not pass away.” which all may propose as an example, and The next Lecture will carry on the Hisupon which all may rest as a ground of ac- tory of Abram “ the friend of God," and exceptance with God. When such an one as hibit the gradually opening discovery of the Abram falters in his duty, “ let him that scheme of redemption by Jesus Christ
. The thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall:" blessing of the Almighty we implore on what let none“ be high-minded, but fear;" let us is past, and his assistance and blessing on account no danger small, no foe contemptible, what is to come, through Jesus Christ our * Genesis xiii. 8, 9.