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THE OFFERING UP OF ISAAC.
FIFTEEN years elapsed, and God again determined to try Abraham, that by his good works and ready obedience his l'aith might be made manifest. Long ago trusting in Jehovah he lad obeyedl his command in casting out his son Ishmael; he had shewn his love and submission by foregoing the pleasure of that son's affection, knowing tbat what his God directed, though hard to the human mind, yet must be that which was for bis own benefit. As an infant besore jie diwn vs reason hangs upon its mother, fully and implicitly, without thought or care, abandoning itseli to lier direction ; so did Abraham towar is his God, and the command he now received he prepared to execute as readily as the former one.
Isaac his son, the child of the Promise, was now a youth, gentle and affectionate, dutiful and complying towards his parents. And their only child; how inspeakably dear was he to their hearts. In him too centred all the promises of Jehovah; he was the one in whom all families of the earth were to be blessed ; he was the destined father of great and mighty nations, and greater than all because of him after the flesh the Christ should be born. Yet now a command came that he should offer up this child a sacrifice to God ; “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee unto the land of Moriah ; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
Abraham hesitated not-he delayed not unnecessarily an hour, but arose early in the morning and saddled his ass, and taking with him Isaac and the requisite materials for the the burnt sacrifice, he departed for the place commanded by God.
For three days they rode together. Isaac unconscious of his approaching death, and each moment endearing himself still more to his father by his conversation full of affection and tenderness. To have died himself would have been a less painful sacrifice to Abraham ; yet amidst all this scvere trial his faith fainted not. IIc never once thought of disobeying the Lord, or substituting a being less precious than his so n. Jlo enquired not how God would fulfil the promise so often given of making ISAAC a great nation. He felt not one murmuring regret at the prospect of all his high hopes being consumed upon the altar with his son ; and though his heart yearned with all a father's fondest love towards him, his faith sustained him, and he did not exclaim “This thing is too harıl for me.”
On the third day the mount Moriah appeared in the horizon; and now Abraham bade his servants remain behind whilst he went with his son to worship on the appointed spot. IIe took the wool for the sacrifice and laid it upon the shoulder of the intended victim who siniled unconsciously by his side, aud himself carrying the knife and the fire again set forward. As they journeyed the youth asked his father what they should offer? “My father, behold here
is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt sacrifice.” This innocent enquiry of the boy requires in Abraham a stronger degree of faith than all before to enable him calmly to reply. How can lie tell this dear young bring, before wliom the fair spring of existence appears in all its beauty, that he is to die, to close his eyes for ever on the bright and beautiful scenes around him; that the kiss which his fond mother, at parting, imprinted on his forelıead, inust be the last she will ever press there; and he must no more see her watching from the door of her tent for his return in the evening, or hear her tender word of greeting-how can he bear this? The father replies indirectly, and with a gushing tear of natural affection he answers tenderly, “God will provide himself a lamb, my son.” And they went on together, Isaac, the innocent and pure, the Promised, bearing the wood upon which he was to be offered, prefiguring one who was also a Promised one, a pure and a spotless one, a lamb without blemish, who afterwards upon this path and to this very spot bare the wood upon which he was offered up the cross, upon
bearing also the heavy burden of the sins of the whole world, and becoming Jesus our Saviour.
Arrived at the summit of the mountain, Abraham discloses to his son the will of the Almighty; and Isaac, with pious resignation, submits without a murmur, or an exclamation; without a struggle to escape he suffers his father to bind him on the altar, requiring but the delay that may suffice for one parting kiss.
And now the blow must be struck which separates the father and his only child: yet, why do I say separate ? Abraham, a saint of the Church on earth, will still hold communion with Isaac, a Saint of the purified Church in Heaven. His hand is stretched forth, and in another instant the knife will be buried in the bosom of the sacrifice, when a voice from Heaven arrests its progress--an angel calls to him," Abraham ! Abraham !”
The patriarch answers obediently, “Here am I,” and listening be hears the glad words “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld