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umphs achieved, as the great Representative of true religion among the elder saints of God. The story of his life is so deeply instructive, and the witness of the Holy Ghost is so equivocally given to him, that we may well understand why St. Paul (Heb. xi.) should only mention two especial instances of faith in the old world-Abel and Enoch-and that of Noah in the world restored, in order that he may hasten to dwell with admiration and delight upon the devoted confidence of the FRIEND Op God. Abraham stands almost at the head of that great cloud of witnesses, by whom the Christian is compassed about: and whose presence is noted, as one of the reasons why he should " lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset him, and run with patience the race that is set before him, looking unto Jesus."
The lives of pious ancestors are the property of their children; not as heir-looms, in which they may glory, while themselves have in all good things greatly degenerated from the models bequeathed them: but as examples to stimulate and provoke them to a holy jealousy. The lives of God's saints, enshrined in his word, are in like manner the property of the church ; not as mere objects of speculative wonder and respect; but of humble yet zealous imitation. Such examples are given, in order that the members of Christ's Holy Catholic Church may become “ followers of them who through faith and patience have inherited the promises." In this important view—the view wherein every similar instance should be regarded, the example of Abraham is exceedingly precious. It may therefore, well justify a minister of religion, in bringing it with much copiousness before his hearers, and in endeavouring to impress it upon their hearts, precept upon precept, and line
Another reason may also be given for that kind of consecutive preaching, of which an instance is given in the following pages. There is a mannerism in preaching, as well as in painting, which if left uncorrected, and it is not easy to apply the remedy,) tends greatly to contract the horizon of spiritual truth in the mind of a clergyman, and hinders him from making full proof of his ministry, by declaring “ the whole counsel of God.” He has some favourite truths and topics which recur almost insensibly to his mind; at first by the force of inclination, and afterwards by the power of
habit; until at length they become invested with an interest which absorbs all other; thus hindering him from treading the circle of an enlarged and enlightened theology. He has some cherished system of divinity, which he deems it necessary, on all occasions, to advance and enforce. He has a class of texts which he regards as supremely important : and the book of Revelation is graduated in his mind, like certain Bibles published not very remotely, wherein the chapters were numbered, according to a scale of relative importance, to which they were applied. Every clergyman must have felt this temptation to narrow the ground of his pulpit ministrations; to rest with delight by the wells, and under the palm trees of his own Elim, and to regard all other Scripture as comparatively barren. They are happy who have least powerfully felt this temptation; or rather who have most resolutely and fervently, and therefore most successfully, prayed and struggled against it.
Perhaps one of the most practicable modes of avoiding or overcoming it, is to abstain occasionally from the consideration of detached passages of Scripture, in unconnected sermons; by studying and expounding a consecutive and entire portion of the divine word. The mind of the Holy Ghost may probably be thus more effectually exhibited. Prejudices and prepossessions are thus corrected : and the whole truth of God is more fully elicited, than upon any other system. A consideration of the motives and conduct of those whose memories are embalmed in the Bible, can hardly fail, under divine influence, of being, in some degree, beneficial to the minister's own mind, as well as of enabling him to open upon his hearers, a more copious stream of divine truth, than he could otherwise draw from its pure and inexhaustible fountain.
Under this conviction I was induced several years ago to arrange the plan of a course of sermons upon the life and character of Abraham. A variety of circumstances prevented me from executing this design for a considerable time. While the work was actually in progress, I was compelled by ill health to be absent, nearly a year, from England. On my return it was resumed, and only finished a few months ago. I have some reason to hope, that in the mercy of God, it has not been altogether in vain to those over whom I am called to watch, as one that must give account to Him, I am there
fore encouraged, in dependence upon Him, to to bring this series of Discourses before the public. It may well be asked, why the determination was taken to follow out the pulpit by the press, when this department of the fruitful field of Scriptural Biography has been so well occupied by the Rev. Henry Hunter, and the Rev. Thomas Robinson; and more recently by the Rev. Henry Blunt, in his “ Twelve Lectures on the History of Abraham ?" I answer, that with all their excellencies, especially those of the two latter, they yet seemed to have left a few ears “ of the corn of heaven," after their own rich harvest, even for so poor a gleaner as myself, which might be bound up in a little sheaf, as another sincere, however unworthy offering to the Church of God. I may add, that my own plan had been formed before the publication of Mr. Blunt's very interesting volume, and indeed before I was at all aware of his intention.
It was difficult, perhaps impracticable, at least without greater tact and resources than I could bring to the attempt, to avoid considerable repetition of sentiment, and even of language in many parts of these volumes. The mode of treating the subject appears to me,