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let us humbly flee. Sheltered in him, as in our ark of safety, we shall not fear the tempests of earth; we shall be unmoved by the storms raging furiously around us. We shall be carefully protected by Providence, till at last we shall rest upon the everlasting hills, where storms and convulsions, judgments and curses, never more shall assail us.
LIFE OF ABRAHAM.
GENESIS xxv. 7, 8. And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life
which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old
age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.
In the progress
of our lectures we have arrived at a character which holds a prominent rank in the sacred volume. In whatever light we view Abram, his history deserves attention. He held a distinguished station as the founder of the Jewish church and nation. He was venerable for his virtues and for the testimonials of the divine love which he received; exemplary for the firmness of his faith, the fervour of his love, and the constancy of his obedience; and interesting from the multiplied trials which he endured.
I. Let us observe in the history of Abram, the commencement of a new dispensation of religion, preparatory to that under which we now live.
Previous to the time when this patriarch lived, there had been many persons truly devoted to God, to whom the most precious promises had been made, and the most cheering revelations given; whose services had been acceptable to the Lord, and who had received the most endearing pledges of the divine favour. Yet still these pious men had been mingled with the world; there had existed no visible church, forming a separate society, and having some outward mark of distinction to serve as “ a wall of partition" between it and the profane. The unhappy effects of this mixture of the pious with the ungodly had been plainly seen. It produced that vice and irreligion which brought the deluge upon the earth; and after the flood it occasioned that idolatry, that superstition, and depravity which were almost universal at the time when Abram was born. Every where false religions then prevailed; and the objects of nature and the works of men's hands were adored instead the great Creator. This was peculiarly the case in Chaldea, the birth-place of Abram, and even his parents were infected with the general corruption. Lest true religion should be entirely forgotten, and the fear and love of the true God obliterated from the hearts of men, he mercifully interposed. Instead of again sweeping from the earth which they polluted, all the idolatrous and unholy, and miraculously preserving his followers in an ark, he resolved to institute a separate society, in which they might live
unspotted from the world.” He selected a particular person to be the founder of a church and nation, that should be the asylum of religion, and the
depository of the divine doctrines and oracles; that should receive the types and prophecies respecting Messiah; that should gradually be trained up for his advent; from whom, according to the flesh, he should spring; and who, separated by their belief and ceremonial practices, should preserve the true religion, while the nations around them were sunk in the darkness of heathenism and the horrors of superstition. This important event took place at a period about equally distant from the fall of man and the incarnation of the Redeemer; and Abram was chosen as the happy person who should be the father of this nation, the commencement of the visible church, and the instrument of so much felicity to mankind in every age.
Of the earlier years of this patriarch, we know but little. He is not presented to us in the holy volume till after he had passed the age of threescore years and ten. He then lived on the eastern side of the Euphrates, in the very centre of idolatry. Called by God to leave his native land, and go to a country whither he should be conducted by Providence, he obeys without hesitancy; and departs from Ur, attended only by his aged father, his beloved Sarai, and Lot his brother's son. Detained at Charan by the infirmities of his parent, he remained to perform for him the last sad offices of affection; and then, at the age of seventy-five, prosecuted his journey to Canaan. The visible church here commencing in him, he is represented in scripture as “ the father of all those who believe,” even at the present time; and we are assured that “ if we be Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” 66 He was,” as one remarks,* 6 the root whence
* Edwards's History of Redemption.
the visible church rose as a tree distinct from all others, of which tree Christ was the branch of righteousness; and from which, after Christ came, the natural branches were broken off, and the Gentiles were grafted in: the same tree which has spread its branches over many nations; which, in due time, will cover the whole earth; and at the end of the world will be transplanted from an earthly soil into the Paradise of God."
We should naturally expect, that, since Abram held this distinguished station, he would have a clearer view of the plan of redemption than those who preceded him. And this we find to be the
The light which rose upon our first parents in Eden now became more brilliant; and the covenant of grace was more fully revealed and renewedly confirmed to this patriarch. He was taught that Messiah should descend from him, and communicate his blessings to all nations. He was more clearly taught the nature and grounds of that justification by faith, by which alone a sinner can be accepted by God. He received new seals and pledges of the covenant, particularly in the rite of circumcision. In that act, which was the most eminent trial of his faith, he had a more distinct view of the mode of redemption than had been previously granted: in Isaac stretched upon the wood, he saw the eternal Son slain by his Father: receiving him as by a resurrection from the dead, he saw the real resurrection of Jesus: ascending Mount Moriah, he trod the very ground on which the blood of the cross afterwards smoked: in the three days from the time when Isaac was devoted to death, till he was restored to him, he marked the interval between the death and the resurrection of the Redeemer; and in the ram
which he was permitted to offer instead of Isaac, he saw the intermediate sacrifice of the Mosaic ceconomy. Then it was that he “ rejoiced to see the day of Jesus—that he saw it and was glad.” (John viii. 56.)
My brethren, you admire the privileges of Abram; but, in one sense, how far superior are the privileges which we enjoy! Clear as were his views of the work and character of Jesus, in comparison with those who had lived before him,yet he still saw this Redeemer through types and shadows-he still had to look down through successive ages to the period when he should come. While to us, his love, his actions, and his sufferings, are presented without a cloud; and to the twilight of the Christian Church has succeeded the splendour of the Sun of Righteousness. Wo to us, if, with such advantages, we be found destitute of that faith and holiness which distinguished Abraham! We are,
II. To present to you Abraham as a model of piety and virtue. What self-denial, what obedience to God, did he uniformly display! No sacrifice appears to him painful, no duty oppressive, when God commands. At a period of life when nature seeks rest and quiet, God calls him to leave his native land, to abandon those scenes rendered dear by a thousand tender remembrances; to forsake the friends who have grown old with him, and the relatives who shared his heart; to leave the graves of his fathers, and the temporal comforts which appeared so needful in his declining years; to enter upon a course of life full of difficulties and dangers. Yet God had spoken; the pleas of worldly prudence and self-indulgence are disregarded; the suggestions of those tender feelings of our nature, which are innocent,