« PreviousContinue »
Ли of this age and nation; and the world is not likely to be better till this great fault is mended.'
4. It is no new thing for the servants of God to be hated and persecuted: this is Paul's reflection in Gal. iv. 29. for as then (speaking of Isaac and Ishmael) he that ivas born aßer theßesh persecuted him that toas born after the spirit, even so it is notv. God's favourites are often the world's laughing stock: but let them, not think that any strange thing hath happened to them, if they are sometimes made a jest of, and despised; for so Christ was, so were bis apostles, so have good men been in all ages: yea, and all that <uriU äve godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But let them learn to bear up with patience under this common lot of good men: God will remember and recompense them at last.
5. See how easily God can chastise and bring down the haughtiest spirit. So he did that of Hagar and Ishmael; they grew insolent in Abraham's family, and therefore were expelled. When driven into the wilderness and almost perishing for want of food and water, she no doubt began to wish herself in Abraham's house again; and would have been thankful for the crumbs that fell from her old master's table. Thus many foolish servants throw themselves out of comfortable places and families, by their pride and insolence: and have often cause to repent it bitterly, when it is too late. A meek and humble behaviour is the way to secure the favour of God and men.
6. Learn to cultivate friendships with those who are the friends of God : so Abimelech did with Abraham. When we see that God is with his servants in all they do, т». 22. let us covet their friendship. He sometimes so blesses and prospers them, that others cannot but see it. It is good to be the friends of those who have an interest in heaven ; who can counsel us, and pray for us. The scriptures declare, that in the latter days the Jews should be so favoured of God, that their neighbours should say, We, -willgo with you, for we have heard that God is -with you. Enter nut therefore into the jiath of the ivickcd, but endeavour to be a companion of thoee who/ear God, and have his presence and blessing with them.
7. Let us, after the example of Abraham, call on the name of the everlasting God. Consider him in this view ; as the eternal Jehovah : Before the mountains -were brought forth, or ever the earth was formed, from everlasting to everlasting THOU art the tame. Let this fill our souls with a holy awe and veneration of him. Whenever we approach him we should consider him as God, the Lord, the everlasting God, who ivas, and is, and is to come. Whatever creature comforts perish and decay, though we ourselves die, though heaven and earth pass away, yet he is the •ame, and of hi» year» there shall be no end. Let us therefore, with the profounclcst veneration, worship him who Irveth for evtr end ever. Amen.
Vol. I. M
"'' tWXt. XXII."
Contains a most surprising story, as much admired, and as miich found fault with, as any, part of scri/iture. We have here the command to Abraham to offer up his son ; his readiness to obey; how the execution was prevented, and another sacrifice substituted in Ms room ; a considerable promise renewed to Abraham ; and some account of the family ofNahor.
1 A N D it came to pass after these things, which happened t\. at Beersheba, and all his troubles and mercies, and after God had given him a son according to his promise, that God. did tempt Abraham, tried the strength of his faith and obedience, that it might be better known both to himself and others; and God said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold,
2 [here] I [am.] And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, the promised seed, whom thou lovest, who is the joy of thy old age, and get thee into the land of Moriah ;* and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.t
3 And Abraham, all silence and submission, and to show his readiness to obey, 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, which he probably' carried with him, for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place
4 of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off; the divine
5 Shekinah or glory perhaps resting upon it. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. This was no equivocation, for he firmly believed that God would
6 restore him his son again. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid [it] upon Isaac his son ; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of
7 them together. And Isaac, who was well acquainted with the nature of religious services, 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
8 lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham, though no doubt much affected with Isaac's question, made a most prudent reply, and said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a
9 burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and .
• A range of hills, some of which lay in Jerusalem, others near it; and among tttcm were Calvary and the Mount of Olives.
t Probably on Calvary, where Christ was afterward crucified.
bound Isaac bis son,* and laid him on the altar upon the w*x>d. There now, lies Abraham's joy, Sarah's delight, and the heir of
10 the promise, all meek and resigned to the fatal stroke. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And now the trial being made, and the end answered* the order is countermanded.
11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here [am] I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from; me 1 thou hast given me the highest proofof thy faith and obe* dience, and shown to me, and to all who shall hear of this, that
13 thou art a proper subject for my choicest benefits. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there was behind [him] a ram, strayedfrom the rest of the flock, and directed hither by God's providence, and he was caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham with great thankfulness and joy, went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offer.
14 ing in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh, the Lord will see, or provide: as it is said [to] this day, In the Mount of the Lord it shall be seen : this became a proverbial expression, to signify, that in the greatest difficulties God will take care of his servants.
15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, alter he had done offering the sacrifice^
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son,
IT thine only [son :] That in blessing I will bless thee, greatly? and abundantly bless thee, and in multiplying, I will multiply thy seed, Isaac's posterity, as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; he shall have dominion over
13 themfi And in thy seed, that is Christ, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed ; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beershcba; and Abraham dwelt at
iO And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also borne chil
am nan now mtormea ms son Ot rne divme commana; Isaac neitner ced ; be was now near thirty years old. and was strong enough to ung enough to have Bed from bis father; yet the pious youth did! yielded up himself; wherein he was a type of Christ and a patters)
* No doubt Abraham had now informed bis son of the divine command; Isaac neither contradicted nor resisted ;' have opp neither, for us.
t This was fulfilled, as to the temporal part, in the time »f jfnhua' David, Sec but especially and spiritually in the Mtuiah. Palm viii. 9. Da*, u. 44,4$, I Cur. xv. ,57. £'•/. U. 1J.
21 dren unto thy brother Nahor ;* Huz his firstborn, and Buz
22 his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, And Chesed, 33 and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. And Bethn
el begat Rebekah, who Was afterwards Isaac's wife: these 24 eight Milcah did bear to Nahor Abraham's brother. And his concubine,t whose name [was] Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maacah.
I. itltT.E learn from the example of Abraham, who gave up VV his son, his only son whom he loved, to be willing to give up our dearest comforts to God. He gave him to be sacrificed; yea, himself was willing to sacrifice him with his own bands, when he thought it to be the will of the Lord. Thus should we give up our comforts to God, from whom we have received them. Parents should resign their children to the disposal of heaven; give up their sufiftosed interest to their true interest: always observe the will of God, and he will bring good out of evil. Let us maintain a full persuasion of the justice and mercy of God, that we may not scruple to give up our dearest comforts to his disposal ; and if he is pleased to take our friends or children away, by the severest strokes, let us say, as Eli did, It is the Lord, let him do what secmeth himgood; 2 Sam. iii. 18. And our Lord requires us to be ready to make the same surrender as Abraham did ;. ffamj man come to me, and hate not (be not willing to abandon) his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke Hiv. 2.6. We must daily say, Lord, here am L what wouldst thou have me to do? It will be of no avail to oppose the divine will; Who hath hardened himself against God, and prospered? But God is well pleased when we humbly submit to his appointment, and say, without reserve, Thy will be done. He can make up the want of those comforts which he takes away, by giving us cheerful hope that they are removed to a better world ; by affording us peace and pleasure in our own spirits; and improving our graces by it. Abraham intended to offer his son, and God promised that his seed should be multiplied as the stars of heaven, or the sands upon the sea shore. Whatever we part with for God and Christ, 'we shall be no losers by, at least we shall be none ifi the end. Perhaps Abraham was too fond of Isaac, and therefore he made him undergo this severe trial. If our lives are bound up in the lives of our children or friends, God may take them away. If this should be the case, let us still say, with the pious Shunamite, who, when she was asked, Is it well? answered, It is well; well,
• This genealogy is added here to introduce Rebekah.
t Concubines were not full and complete wives, not being solemnly betrothed, nor sharing in the government of the family, but subject to the lawful wives* and therefore called servants, chap. xxxii . J2.
for God doth it; he hath wise ends in doing it, and great good shall cotne- out of it; and therefore, not as vie vriii, eut as thon teilt. This will ha\'e a great tendency to remove our doubts and fears; it will be a proof of our own sincerity, and a strong testimony that we fear God, and love him.
2. Let us imitate Abraham in his prudence and readiness in this afluir: his prudence, in leaving the young men behind; in not telling Isaac or Sarah; his readiness, in not consulting flesh and blood. Abraham, take now thy »on ¡ Abraham rose up early and took his son. Who but Abraham could have forborne to remonstrate and plead upon such an occasion ?* 'Lord,' might he have said, ' must I lose my child, lose him almost as soon as I have received him? Didst thou give him only to tantalize thy servant? Remember, gracious God, the name he bears; Нота shall he answer its cheering import? How shall he be the source of satisfaction to his parents, and the father of many nations, if thou tiikcst him away in the morning of his days? If sin lieth at the door, let me expiate the guilt; let thousands of rams, every bullock in my stall, bleed on thy altar; my wealth, blessed Lord, and all my goods, are nothing in comparison with my Isaac : command me to be stripped of all my possessions, and beg my bread, and I will bless thy holy name: only let my child, my dear child, be spared. Or, if nothing will avert thy indignation but human blood, let my death be the sacrifice; upon me be the vengeance. -1 am old and gray headed; the best of my days are past, and the best of my services are done; if this tottering wall tumble, there •will be little or no cause for regret; but the pillar of my house, the foundation of my hope, if he be snatched from me, how shall I support life, or what good will my life do me? О my eon, my вол, •would to God I might die for thee! If it must be a blooming youth, in the prime of his strength, be pleased to fetch it from some fruitful family ; there are those who have many, while I have but this one little Iamb, the solace of my soul, and the stay of my declining years ; and shall this be taken away, while all those are left? Or if the decree cannot be reversed, if it must be the fruit of my body, О that it might be Ishmael, the son of my handmaid! Yet my heart bleeds at the thought of his untimely death ; but as for Isaac, the son of my beloved spouse, the son of my old age, the crown of my labours, I shall never survive such a loss! Yet, if he must die, and there is no remedy, may not some common distemper loosen the cords of life, and let him down gently into the grave ? may not his mother and myself seal his closing eyes, and soften his dying pangs by our tender offices?' " No, Abraham, thy son must be sacrificed on the altar." * Well, if all must be executed, (he might say) God grant that these eyes may never behold the dismal tragedy : if my Isaac must be bound hand and foot for the slaughter, if he must receive
• Set He'"r/¡ 'Пи-гот aid Atful», то]. UL p. 144, be. 6ch. Edit.