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forget the living God. Abram's faith consisted in not doing this; in acknowledging the Lord to be God; in recollecting Him; in living as if He were that guide and protector, the Lord declared Himself to be. The promise to him was, 'In thee and thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.' He believed the promise. He counted it the highest blessing and glory which could be given him, not that he should be blessed, but that he should be the channel of blessings to multitudes unknown. And therefore said our Lord, speaking to those who counted it their highest glory to be Abraham's children—'he saw my day and rejoiced.' The words were most startling to the Jews; for said they, 'thou art not fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?' The depth of meaning which lies in his answer we cannot yet appreciate. It must be considered in the light of a later revelation which was made not to the father of the faithful, but to the lawgiver of the nation. But thus much we may see in it. He said, 'I am He in whom God made the covenant with the old fathers of the human family, when he bade them look up to the bow, which was the sign that he would no more drown the earth with a flood. I am He in whom He formed all men to be brothers, so that he who sheds the blood of another, sheds his own. I am that brother of whom He will require the life of every man. I am He from whom came the life, the faith, the hope, the love of all who had strength to believe that God was their Creator and Preserver and Deliverer, not their enemy. I am He in whom God could look upon them, and in whom they could look upon God. And what I was, I am, I am still the eternal bond of Peace and fellowship, the seed in which all the families of the earth shall be blessed, the destroyer of every Babel tyranny which has mocked the divine government, and spread curses among mankind.'
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
Preached at Lincoln's Inn, on the First Sunday in Lent, March 9,1851.
Genesis XXII. 7, 8.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for the burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
THERE was a passage in the chapter from which I preached last Sunday, to which I did not then allude. The story of Abraham's call is scarcely concluded, before we are told that he went down into Egypt in consequence of a famine; that there he persuaded his wife to call herself his sister; that he was intreated well for her sake; that she was saved by God's providence from the effect of her husband's falsehood. Is it desirable to keep such a story as this in the background, or to find some mystical.explanation of it which shall shew that the untruth of a patriarch is not like the untruth of another man? I apprehend that any one who takes the first course, must hold his own judgment to be higher than that which guided the writer of the book; that any one who takes the second, must set up for himself a most fluctuating standard of right and wrong. I find this narrative here, given with all simplicity; I suppose there is a reason why it should be given. I assume that it was meant to say what it does say. And the natural prima facie view of the subject is that which accords best with the preceding and subsequent narrative. The whole history, instead of suffering from the admission that the first fathers of the Jewish nation acted just in the way in which another Mesopotamian shepherd, going into a strange country, and seized with a sudden fear of what might befal him, was likely to have acted— that he displayed cowardice, selfishness, readiness to put his wife in a terrible hazard for his own sake,—the history, I say, instead of being made more difficult and unintelligible by this statement, is brought out by it in its true and proper character. Any notion that we are going to read of a hero, or a race of heroes, is dispelled at the very outset. The dream that this man had in him, in his own nature, something different from other men, that he was not exposed to every ordinary temptation incident to human beings as such—incident to the place, times, circumstances, in which it was appointed that he should live—is taken away, not by surmises of ours, but by the express, deliberate announcements of the sacred historian, intended for other purposes also it may be, but certainly for this one above all others, that the Jewish people might not fall into any mistakes respecting their ancestor, or fancy him to be a person of another kind from themselves. And so we feel the force of the words, 'In thee, and thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed.' Here is a man, not picked out as a model of excellence, not invested with some rare qualities of heart and intellect, one apt to fear, apt to lie, certain to fear, certain to lie, if once he began to speculate according to his own sagacity on the best way of preserving himself. He is made aware of an invisible guide who is near him; of an invisible government which is over him; and which it concerned not him only, but all human beings in all generations, to be acquainted with. Here lies all his greatness, all his strength. What he is apart from his Teacher we see in his journey to Egypt; a very poor, paltry earth-worm indeed; one not to be despised by us, because we are earth-worms also; but assuredly worthy of no reverence for any qualities which were his by birth, or which became his merely in virtue of his call. What he was when he was walking in the light, when that transfigured him from an earth-worm into a man, his after story will help us to understand.
And thus, my brethren, the same principle which we recognized in the history of Adam in his first estate, of Adam fallen, of every man before the flood, good or evil, of those who perished in the waters, and of those who were to inaugurate the new economy of the restored universe, meets us again in this more advanced stage of the history.