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The mountain, on which Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac, was the same on which the Temple of Solomon was afterwards built.
A greater trial could not have been proposed for any human being, than to require an affectionate father to sacrifice, as beasts were sacrificed, a son, in whom the hopes of his family's becoming a great nation were
; yet we find Abraham, with the utmost composure, making every requisite preparation for this pur. pose.
The good patriarch had so long been accustomed to trust in God, that faith in the Divine promises was become a settled habit, a fixed principle in his nature. The repeated assurances, which the Lord had given him, that in Isaac his seed should be called, left him no room to fear that he should eventually be deprived of
It is impossible to, tell what passed in Abraham's mind while he pursued his journey ; but there is reason to think, from what he said to his yonng men, and from his answer to Isaac, that Faith produced Hope, and that he regarded God's command as'a trial, not as a temptation.
When arrived at the place to which he was directed to go, Abraham saw no lamb provided, as he seems to have, expected. The command of the Lord was express, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt offering. A painful con
no doubt, arose in Abraham's bosom. There were a thousand considerations to deter him from killing his son. How could he bear to part with his darling child? What would Isaac's poor afflicted mother say? In what light would the world regard this inhuman action ? And what would become of the hopes of a numerous seed, if the branch that was to produce them should be cut off by his own unnatural hand! In opposition to G2
these weighty reasons, the promises of God presented themselves to Abraham's mind, with a thankful remembrance of the numberless blessings that had been conferred on him. Could he disobey such a gracious Being ? Gratitude forbade this. Did he not know, that the power of God was infinite ? Could he then dare to offend him. He had at first received Isaac as a gift from God, out of the common course of nature : Who could tell, but that the Lord might design to shew forth his power, by raising his son from the dead? At all events, it was his indispensable duty to obey; for, besides the natural claim which the CREATOR has to the obedience of his creatures, Abraham had entered into a solemn covenant to serve the Lord with a perfect heart; he therefore determined to fulfil the Divine will, trusting to the infinite mercy of God to save him from the miseries that threatened him. Animated by piety, and supported by the hope, that his son, who was now devoted to God, would be given to him again, even from the dead", Abraham forbore to expostulate, or to entreat the LORD to alter his Divine purposes, but took the knife in his hand, and lifted up his arm to give the fatal stroke. This God regarded as an evident proof that his faith was an active principle, not resting in the inward belief of his own mind, but ready to shew.itself to the world in such works as were necessary to prove his fear of Gon, and reliance on those Divine promises, which had been vouchsafed to him. The purpose was now fully answered, for which the Divine command had been given ; and the LORD shewed, that he was far froni wishing for the death of Isaac, by desiring Abraham not to do any thing unto him.
* Heb. xi. 17, 18, 19.
What a transport of joy must this good man have felt, when he heard the Angel of the Lord calling to him, and saw a ran (agreeably to the wishes, and perhaps the prayers of his heart) ready to supply on the altar the place of his dear son! And how must his joy have been redoubled, when the eternal God, in an audible voice, speaking by His Angel or Image, confirmed in heaven, with an oath, the promises He had before made on earth, that they might endure when this perishing world should be no more! We cannot suppose, that the Angel of the LORD, who called to Abraham, was a created being; for why should God, who had repeatedly conversed with this Patriarch in His own Divine Person, on this occasion alone employ à rnini.t.ro ing spirit? To prevent his thinking so, Abraham was assured, that He, who now spake, was the same God who had commanded him to offer up his son; the same Lord he had been accustomed to hold converse with still manifesting the Duty to
his outward senses, though with more solemnity than He had ever done before.
The Apostle to the Hebrews confirms the opinion, that it was the SUPREME BEING who took this oath'; for he says, because God could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself. Willing more abundantly to shew to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, He confirmed it by an oath : that, by two immutable things, (viz. His PROMISE and his OATH) those who fled for refuge to the hope set before them, "might have a strong consolation*.
It is to be observed, that God pledged himself by this oath to make good his promises, not only to Abraham and his immediate posterity, but to all the nations of the earth.
* Heb. vi. 13, 17, 18.
It has been a question in dispute, whether Isaac consented to the offering which his father made. Most likely he did; for, according to his age, which is sup. posed to have been at least 24 or 25 years, he must have been more powerful and active than so old a man as Abraham, and could easily have wrested the sacrificial knife from his hand, or prevented his binding him by fleeing away; and it appears, that there was as good an understanding between Isaac and his father afterwards, as before.
From the example of Abraham we learn, that faith is not complete without works of obedience ; and that it is our duty to submit, without murmuring, to all the dispensations of God. None of us will be called to so severe a trial as Abraham was: we shall not be required to offer up our sons as burnt-offerings ; but God may see fit to take our children to himself, and deprive us of them. In this case let us call to mind the Divine promises; which teach Christians to look forward with joy. ful expectation to a resurrection from the dead, when all who, like Abraham, have believed and obeyed, will, as his seed, be blessed with immortal life and everlasting happiness.
THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF SARAH.
From Genesis, Chap. xxiii. AND Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you : give me a possession of a burying
place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord; thou art a mighty prince amongst us ; in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead: none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar : that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me, for a possession of a burying-place amongst you.
And Ephron dwelled among the children of Heth. And Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gates of this city, saying, Nay, my lord, hear me : the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee : bury thy dead.
And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I
pray thee hear me: I will give thee money for the field ; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.
And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, My lord, hearken, unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver ; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.
And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron, and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he bad named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hun. G4