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with whom every start of imagination, or sudden heat of passion, passes for a divine impulse, and drives them on to break through the fences of reason and good order, under pretence of illuminations from above. There are others who satisfy themselves with a formal and empty belief of the great truths revealed to them from heaven, but take no care to exemplify them in their lives and conduct. Both these would do well to study carefully the example of Abraham, now before us, who neither believed without the strongest evidence, nor, when he had believed, hesitated a single moment, to shew his belief by his obedience; and therefore was justified by his righteousness, and thought worthy of being called, “ the friend of God.”

2dly, This example of Abraham will furnish us with an experimental proof of the power

of religion, and will shew us the great duties of our calling, reduced to practice, by a man of like infirmities with ourselves.

When, indeed, to stir us up to the exercise of those noble virtues, which the Gospel requires of us, the example of our heavenly Father is proposed to us, and we are exhorted to “be fol• lowers of God as dear children,” the greatness of the pattern is apt to terrify us, and to make us cry out, “Who is sufficient for these “ things ?" Or again, when we are reminded of the history of our Redeemer, to encourage us to walk as he walked, who left us an example, that we should follow his steps, we are ready to plead the infirmities of our frail nature, against his perfect innocence, who was undefiled and separate from sinners, and to consider him, not as a man like unto us in all things, but as the eternal Word, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

But in Abraham we have a pattern, confessedly within the reach of our imitation ; a man; a father; who marks out to us the glorious example of a consummate obedience to the divine laws; who is sensible of the difficulties to which he is called, and the weakness of flesh and blood, yet conquers both, by the power of a lively faith and obedience. What a cloud of objections would some have raised against that voice from heaven, Take now thy son, thine only son, “ and offer him up for a burnt-offering?"-Can such an order as this be agreeable to the preceding promise of God, “ I ain thy shield, and “thy exceeding great reward?"-Is this then the

recompense so often promised; Is the loss of an only son then, the effect of the divine protection? Is it possible, that God should require VOLK

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ą sacrifice so contrary to reason and nature ? How many contradictions present themselves, which seem irreconcileable to every received and established human principle? God is good, and reason tells us, that piety ought to be rewarded, by the supreme governor of the world ; and Abraham, we know, had not been wanting in his duty or submission : Yet this good God, this just governor, commands a father to lay violent hands on his innocent son, and by a cruel piety, to purchase the favour of heaven, at the expence of the strongest tye of humanity, parental affection.—Again, God had sworn to Abraham, " to multiply his seed as the stars of

heaven,” in this very son, and “to establish “ his covenant with him for an everlasting cove(6 venant;" Yet he commands him to be cut off, in the flower of his youth, when Abraham could have no prospect of a future progeny, to be the staff of his old age, or to inherit the promises of God. Under such circumstances, how naturally would the feelings of a parent suggest, that there must be some error in the heavenly voice; that a God of justice and mercy could never pronounce so severe a decree, or be pleased with the blood of a child, streaming through a parent's hands: But, amidst all these seeming difficulties, Abraham was convinced that God commanded, and therefore he obeyed, without


pretending either to question or to unravel the decrees of him, whom he knew it was his duty to reverence, “though his ways were past find

ing out.”

He not only obeyed too, but he also obeyed readily. “ He rose up early in the morning,” he instantly performed every necessary office himself, to expedite the execution of the divine order, he saddled his ass, he clave the wood for a burnt-offering, and went to the place which God had told him.

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With what cheerfulness also and serenity does he obey the divine order ? Not a murmur is heard, not a sigh is uttered, not a tear starts forth : All is submision, all is composure and resignation. Nay, when they were near the place of execution, and the child, with an innocent curiosity, proposes to him that cutting question,

my father, behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering ?” with what an unparalleled fortitude and serenity does

my son, God will provide himself “ a lamb for a burnt-offering ?” How finely then does the example of Abraham teach us to adore and submit to the will of God, though we cannnot comprehend the reasons on which it is founded !--He believed and obeyed, when God E 2


he answer,

spake, though the voice seemed contrary to reason :-And surely, then, it can be no hardship for us to believe and obey, when God speaks what is above our reason, and to submit the pride of human understanding to the depths of infinite wisdom, Whenever, therefore, our thoughts recoil at the sublime mysteries of the Gospel, and refuse to believe what they cannot comprehend, let us remember the humble dòcility of the good old Patriarch, and receive the doctrines of heaven with the meekness of little children.

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Again: How nobly does this example teach us, that even the dearest of our enjoyments are cheerfully to be sacrificed to the good pleasure of God, whenever he thinks fit to recal what he had lent to us, but for a few moments !-- It is hard, indeed, to weep over the grave of a beloved parent, or to follow the blasted remains of an affectionate husband or wife:-it-is hard to see a child, a favourite child, an only child, cut down, in the prime of life, and withered like an untimely flower:--it is hard, like Job, to be bereaved of a whole family, a flourishing progeny of sons and daughters, in one day: yet these are sorrows, to which we are all of us called, in turns, and to which we must be called, so long as change and chance prevail in the world. We


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