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either the call being renewed, or there being now nothing to impede his journey, which perhaps the infirmities of his father had done, he set out again, and proceeded with his whole family, to the appointed land. He “ took Sarah his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all the substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran : and they went forth to go
into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” There Abraham and his family continued to dwell, at first as strangers and sojourners only; but afterwards his descendants possessed the full sovereignty of the land; and though at this day banished from it, and scattered as outcasts over the face of the whole earth, yet shall they again possess it, and be established there with greater power and splendoúr than ever, under the spiritual reign of Messiah the Prince. Let us notice,
I. The extraordinary nature of this Call. Abraham was commanded, in peremptory language, to quit his country, his habitation, and the society of all whom a long and familiar intercourse had endeared to him. This
was a call upon his self-denial.
his self-denial. For home has a thousand charms and endearments; and numberless ties of the tenderest nature imperceptibly bind us to the place of our nativity; especially when we have long inhabited it. All these he was now to renounce; and leaving behind him even the other branches of his own family, he was to bid a long and final farewell to the land where he was born, to the companions of his infancy and youth, and to whatever had hitherto been the objects of his pleasure and joy. Surely this was no small trial.
But further, he was not told whither he was to go, or what that country was which was chosen for him : for it is marked, with great emphasis, by the Apostle to the Hebrews, that “ he went out, not knowing whither he went.” He was to go unto a land which God would shew him : and whether it was a land full of inhabitants, and flowing with milk and honey, or a desolate, dry, and barren wilderness, as yet, it seems, he had had no information. Promises indeed of much future prosperity were given him ; but they were naked promises, unaccompanied by any intimation of the manner in which they would be fulfilled. This formed a stronger trial of his obedience, and made his self-denial more conspicuous. He exhibited a remarkable instance of the simplicity of faith : and in our very first introduction to this renowned patriarch, we see how well he deserved the title of father of the faithful ; not only as being the parent stock from which the whole family of true believers sprung, but as himself affording an illustrious example of the power and strength of faith.
Similar to this is the Lord's call of grace to each individual of his spiritual church. Know, O believers, that you are called to forsake the world, its pleasures, pomps, and vanities, and that “vain conversation which you have received by tradition from your fathers.” You are told that he that hateth not father and mother, and wife, and children, cannot be Christ's disciple. You are bidden to deny yourselves. You are required to become strangers and pilgrims in the earth; not to look here for any continuing city, but
to seek one that is to come. The command addressed to you is, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will be a father to you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Thus the call of the father is typical of the call of his children; and every spiritual child of Abraham must walk in his steps. He too must learn to turn his back on a world that lieth in wickedness, and to set his face towards heaven; he must renounce the society of his former ungodly companions, their evil practices and earthly pursuits, and journey towards a country which as yet seems to be far off; he is to live upon the promise of future and distant possession, knowing that all his life long he must walk by faith, nor enter into the rest prepared for him, till many ages have rolled away, and all the generations of men are past. As God said unto Abraham, “get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house ;” so he saith unto each of you, get thee out from thine earthly desires and anxieties, and “set thine affections on things
above." “Look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen.” “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." “ Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”_We proceed to notice, secondly,
II. The promises with which the call was enforced. These were many, and very rich; to himself, his connections, his posterity, and the whole world. “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” The promises are here six in number, which we shall briefly consider in their order.
1. “ I will make of thee a great nation.” This promise was made to him when as yet he had no child; and long after he continued without one, believing in hope even against hope. At length the promise was fulfilled, and Sarah bare a son. From him, in the course of time, there arose unto Abraham a seed numerous as the sand on the sea shore,