תמונות בעמוד

promises of God. The child is born, and a new and powerful affection is awakened in the heart of the aged parent. Again the Lord spake to him and said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt-offering, upon one of the mountains which I shall tell thee of.” Now as a man and a father, Abraham must have felt the pleadings of nature earnest against such a command. We can imagine also, that his reasoning faculties might have been seduced into the service of his affections, and have furnished plausible arguments against obedience. He could not, as we could, object, that the direction was contrary to the written commandments; but he might have considered how God had promised that this son Isaac was to be the father of mighty nations; he might have argued, that by obeying the present command, he must frustrate the past decrees; and, he might therefore conclude, (in the same manner as many reasoners amongst us) that God could not possibly have issued the command, because he could not discover the wisdom of it.

This would be the reasoning adopted by the natural man, but faith pursued a different course of inquiry. Abraham having first as

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certained that it was God who spoke to him, did not commune with fresh and blood, as to whether he should obey. He was to put his child to death the child he loved the child upon whose life the promises seemed to depend; but his faith was strong that God would confirm the assurance he had given; he knew that he could restore as well as take away, and thus with a steady faith, he hoped against hope,

believing in a God who quickeneth the dead, “ and calleth those things which be not, as though they were."

Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness; he believed when beyond all rational expectation, a child was promised; he believed when it was announced, that from this child a great posterity should descend ; and when the same God who made this promise, commanded him to perform an act by which, according to human calculation, the promise must be defeated, Abraham conferred not with flesh and blood, but proceeded to obey the command, steadily believing that God would vindicate his own ways, and that, by means beyond the thought or imagination of man, his word of promise would conquer all seeming impossibility, and stand fast for eyer. Such was the belief which such the strength of that sublime principle by which the just man shall live.

This view of Abraham's faith, while it shews in a strong light, what that principle is, will also serve to illustrate the propriety of allotting to it so important a place in the fabric of the Christian religion. The practical object of religion is to restore us to the state from which we have fallen away, to remove the curse under which we were lying, and to heal the corruption of our nature.

But the Scriptures intimate that all evil came upon man in consequence of the sin of unbelief. God had said, “Of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden thou shalt not eat”-_and “ in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” And the serpent said, “ye shall not surely die.” The result you all know, the serpent was believed, the word of God was disbelieved, and death came into the world. Is there not, therefore, a harmony in the economy of the Divine Institutions, that, since the disbelief of our parents brought sin and evil upon themselves and their posterity, the belief of Abraham should be accounted to him for righteousness, and should make all nations blessed in his seed ; that as the want of faith in our first parents caused them and us to die, so the possession of this principle should cause him in whom it operates to live.

But the importance of faith is manifested more clearly than it would be by attending only to this fitness in the economy of the Divine Government. The object of the scheme of redemption was two-fold. It was to effect blessings for us, it was to perform a change in us. It was to open the gates of Heaven to receive us, and it was to make us meet that we might enter therein. It is with these latter graces that our business lies. Man lying in corruption is to be parified by religion, and it is not difficult for us to comprehend that the nature of the corruption with which we are afflicted, demands the operation of a lively faith as a means by which it can be healed.

For what is the nature of all human corruption ? May I not, in one brief sentence express it to be, a devotion to the things of sense, and an estrangement from what is spiritual ? Think for an instant upon the character of human corruption, and see whether this definition does not perfectly describe it. The change in our nature produced in consequence of the fall, appears to consist in the increased power of all that savours of mortality in us, and the consequent

the spiritual affections have been reduced. Hence it is, that the power of this present world is so influential upon us, and that the power

of the world to come operates so feebly. There is within us, naturally, no principle which vividly convinces us of the power and the presence of God in all that we see or feel; and, consequently, we are, in general, slaves to the influence of what can be seen, and what is present, because we are not conscious of the power of what is unseen, or what is to come. Will you not find, the consequence of such a state, that even those natural affections we most cherish, continually lead us into evil? Look with a calm eye upon half of the sin committed in the world, and you will perhaps trace it to a source which we are apt to consider interesting or pure. How many times will you find friends, parents, kindred, committing for each other what they term trivial ills, that they may secure the prospect of what they consider great good—and how shall those things be remedied? If even the best of our natural affections


lead us to transgress, what shall be instrumental to restore and reclaim us? Evidently the principle of faith—the principle which makes us feel the power of the world to come, and the presence of God—the feeling which gives the hope of immortality a settled resi

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