Page images
PDF
EPUB

and as the stars of heaven for multitude. The nation that thus sprung from his loins was indeed a great nation, not only in its numbers and its power, but especially in the spiritual privileges bestowed upon it. For, as Moses afterwards argued in his impressive appeal to them that they should keep the commandments of their God, “ What nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day ?”

2. The second promise is that of personal and individual blessings, extending both to his temporal and eternal concerns, his circumstances, his family, and his soul.

“I will bless thee,” said Jehovah to him: and the whole history of the patriarch shews that he was indeed beloved and blessed, and that God was with him, and prospered him wherever he went. He was favoured with abundant increase ; in dangers, and amongst strangers and enemies, he experienced the protection of God; he had many special manifestations of the divine presence; and was blessed with frequent intercourse and communion with heaven. Happy man, who was thus honoured and acknowledged as the friend of God!

3. “ And I will make thy name great." This is the third promise, and most remarkably it has been fulfilled. Stands there a name in the world so high as his? Where in the records of universal history do we meet with another so extensively known and honoured ? « Abraham was not renowned either as a conqueror, a law-giver, or an inventor of useful and ingenious arts; he was neither a monarch, a genius, a philosopher, nor so much as an author of any sort; but a plain man dwelling in tents, and feeding cattle all his days : yet perhaps no mere man has been so widely and permanently had in honour. The Jews, and many tribes of the Saracens and Arabians, justly own and revere him as their progenitor; many nations in the East exceedingly honour his memory at this day, and glory in their real or pretended relation to him. Throughout the visible church he has always been held in the highest veneration : and at present Jews, Mahometans, and even many Gentiles, amidst all their discords and antipathies, vie with each other, and with christians, who should most honour this ancient patriarch. It is evident from the history, that nothing could be more improbable at the time than this event; yet the prediction contained in these few words has been fulfilling most exactly and minutely during the course of almost four thousand years.

Need we any other proof that the historian wrote as he was moved by the Holy Ghost ?

4. The three following promises relate to his connection and intercourse with others. “Thou shalt be a blessing.” And truly he was a great blessing to his wife, his relations, and his servants, by his instructions, his example, and authority. “I know him," saith God respecting his character and influence, " that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.' His son Isaac shewed what benefit he had derived from his excellent parent.

His nephew Lot experienced his powerful aid in a case of imminent peril ; and even his deliverance from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is ascribed as in some measure owing to his connection with Abraham : “It came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.” Of the manner in which he was made a blessing to the whole world, we shall see much when we come to the last of these promises.

5. Meantime we read, in the next place, “I will bless them that bless thee, and I will curse bim that curseth thee.”

This is an expression of peculiar grace to him, intimating that so dear should Abraham be, that his friends and enemies should be treated as the friends and enemies of God also, and that Jehovah himself would ever plead his cause, would rebuke the nations who should oppose him, punish those who should injure, and prosper those who should do him good. There are abundant proofs in the Old Testament history of the manner in which this promise was fulfilled to Abraham, and his immediate descendants. And whoever shall take notice of the history of the Jews, even since their dispersion, will not fail to perceive that many judgments from God have speedily fallen upon those nations, which have most heavily afflicted them, while his mercies have been manifested, in a proportionate degree, to such as have shewn them pity and kind

ness.

6. The sixth and last particular of these gracious promises to Abraham has a most merciful regard to the whole world : “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Apply this to our own case.

What know we at this day of divine truth, what of the mercy, grace, and salvation of God, what of hope, and

peace, and joy in him, but through Abraham and his seed ? From whence come our Bibles but from those faithful depositaries of the heavenly records ? To whom do we owe the Gospel, but to the descendants of Abraham ? More especially, from what stock

« PreviousContinue »