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have done had he not felt its
power. the principle by which Abraham was made willing to offer
his son as a sacrifice to God. It was faith, faith in the word and promise of God. The Apostle tells us that this was the principle; “ by faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac.” And we see the nature of the principle. We see that the faith by which Abraham was justified, was of a peculiar kind, influential and operative to an extraordinary degree. How mistaken then are the views of those who decry the doctrine of justification by faith, and assert that it is dangerous, as tending to lead men to the neglect of good works! Let them rather see that it lays the foundation of good works. Let them look at its effects in Abraham, and in all the household of faith. Let them seek that this most powerful principle of action may be formed in their own hearts; for never will they be able to manifest such obedience, never will they acquit themselves well in their trials, but by the power of faith in God and his Christ. How mistaken again are they who think to be saved by a faith which does not produce good works, who “ say they have faith and have not works!" « Faith without works is dead,” as St. James observes; or as the homily says, “it is not faith, even as a dead man is not a man, for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” What doth it profit to have such a faith? Let those know that whatever they may think or say, they have not the faith to which the promises are made, not that which justifies and saves. But you, ye true and sincere believers, walk in the steps of your father Abraham, and ye shall be blessed with him. Let your faith produce its corresponding works, and your works testify of your faith that it is of God; for be assured that between such faith as is saving, and such works as are acceptable, there is as close a connection as between the tree and its fruit, the cause and its effect.
But as we have read this history, must not our thoughts have been led to another only and beloved son, who was actually offt ed up? Must we not have thought of a lamb without blemish and without spot that really yielded
up its life? Must not our minds have often reverted to the Son of God, and to that rich atoning sacrifice of his, whereby he made expiation for our transgressions and redeemed us from our sins? If we admire the regard of Abraham to God, in that he withheld not his son, his only son, from him, how much more shall we admire the love of God, who “ spared not his only begotten and beloved son, but freely delivered him up for us all.” How far does the proof of Abraham's love to God, which we have been considering, fall short of this exhibition of God's love to us! Abraham offered up his son at the command of God, who had every claim upon him ; but we had no claim on God, for we were sinners, and ungodly, and enemies, and without strength, when Christ died for us. And shall we not think also of the love of Christ, who gave himself for us that he might procure for us pardon, and peace, and full redemption ? If we compare him with Isaac, we see the wood for the altar laid upon the one, and the cross for his sacrifice borne by the other. Does the one meekly submit to be bound ?
THE MARRIAGE OF ISAAC.
GENESIS xxiv. 37, 38.
My master made me swear, saying, thou shalt
not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell : but thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife for my
As the sacred history proceeds we see more and more of the simple manners of those ancient times, but we see also, what is far better, the deep regard which Abraham had to the word and promise of God in all his transactions : he carries the great principle of faith into all his domestic arrangements, and has a single eye intent upon one object, in whatever he has to do.
In the preceding chapter you will find him
engaged about the burial of his wife. Sarah had died at the age of a hundred and twenty seven years, much honoured and lamented by Abraham. Yet he thinks not of carrying her remains to the country of their forefathers, but prepares to inter them in Canaan. He knew that that land was to be his from the oft-repeated promise of God, and therefore determined that himself and the members of his family should live and die and be buried in it. As yet " he had none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot on :" and it is remarkable that his first possession in it should be but a tomb. This he purchased from Ephron the Hittite, to whom the field belonged, and faithfully paid down its price, even though the owner had liberally offered to give it; for Abraham knew that the promise of God gave him no present right to any part of the land, and that he must wait for the time in which the Lord would confirm it to be his. Though willing therefore to “sojourn in the land of promise, as in a strange country,” yet he would net quit it, and on the death of Sarah prepared to procure in it a place of