Page images


once to obey it. He rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for a burnt-offering, and rose up and went unto the place of which God had told him." He went to the appointed spot, and when there, he built an "altar and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son." But the knife was not permitted to descend upon the child. The victory of faith was already gained; every thought, every affection of Abraham's heart had been subdued to the will of God: and that was enough. He who has no pleasure in the death of any man; He who delighteth not in burnt-offering and sacrifice so much as in the ready obedience of a willing mind, had proved His servant to the uttermost, and now came to his relief. He sent His angel out of heaven, and called to him and said, "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me." "And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and beheld behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son."


After such an instance of perfect submission to, and entire confidence in, the will of God, we need not seek further evidence in Abraham's history to illustrate what is said of him in the text. He believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness." God, as a recompense for His servant's tried fidelity, looked upon and dealt with him as though he were, what no mere man can be, absolutely righteous: He blessed him and prospered him exceedingly; "He gave him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and men-servants and maid-servants, and camels and asses." Moreover, He fulfilled all that He promised to him; out of Abraham sprang the whole Jewish people: first Isaac, then Jacob, then the twelve patriarchs, from one of whom, from the family of Judah, in due time was born the desire of all nations,-Christ the Lord, that great God and Saviour by whom, and through whom, the " blessing of Abraham" has been extended from the far-distant east, until it has reached even unto us. That blessing which is yet in the accomplishing, which must flow on and increase till it encircle within its bounds all the nations and all the countries of the world: "Till the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."

And what is the blessing of Abraham in its widest and spiritual sense? Is it not this: that

we are justified or accounted righteous before God, not for our own works or deservings, (for these at the best are sadly imperfect,) but for the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, through faith that it is by believing in the Lord, believing as Abraham did, with all our heart, mind, and strength, that we become partakers in the blessedness of Christ's redemption. It was not written, as St. Paul tells us in his Epistle to the Romans, for Abraham's sake alone, that "his faith was counted unto him for righteousness;" but it was written for our sake as well, to whom it will be reckoned, "if we believe on Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." This surely is one great use that we ought to make of what Holy Scripture has revealed to us concerning Abraham. We should learn to look upon him as our forerunner in the way of gospel righteousness; the true pattern of what every true Christian should seek to be a man rich in faith; and if rich in faith, then rich toward God; rich in all kindred graces and all kindred virtues.

Be it our part, my brethren, to profit by his example. For which cause let us endeavour to walk in the steps of holy Abraham; let us accustom ourselves, as he did, "to hold us fast by God," to put our whole trust and confidence in Him: let us

set to our seal that God is true; that every tittle of his promises, yes, and of his threatenings, will in their proper season come to pass: let us, like Abraham, attend with reverence to every intimation of God's will, at whatever time, and in whatever way it addresses itself to us; whether it speaks to us in the clear tones of the written word, or in the occurrences of our actual life: and when we hear it, let us obey: let us learn to submit our will to the will of God in all things: whatever He calls on us to do, let us do it heartily as unto the Lord; whatever He appoints for us to suffer, let us endure it patiently and without complaint: let us assure ourselves that all His dispensations are just: that even in the day of distress and calamity God meaneth it for good. In short, my brethren, let us try to live as Abraham lived, by faith, and not by sight; for God, not for ourselves; for heaven, not for this world alone. It is for our interest, and for our happiness to do this: yes, and we have in the Holy Scriptures the greatest encouragement, the strongest incentive to such a course. The promise is secured to us which was given to Abraham,


They which be of faith," says St. Paul," the same are blessed with faithful Abraham." They are blessed in a twofold manner; they are blessed here in the joy and peace which is the portion of true believers, and they will be blessed hereafter far

more exceedingly; they will be blessed in that future state of being towards which we are hourly hastening, with a blessedness we can now but feebly conceive: when the trial of their faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, shall be found unto praise, and honour," and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

Little Hadham, February 28, 1847.

« PreviousContinue »