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lutely be led into temptation, but delivered from the evil of it; whence we may plainly infer, that God sees it fit sometimes to lead us into temptation, that is, to bring us into such circumstances as will try our faith and other christian graces. In this sense we are to understand the expression before us ; "God did tempt or try Abraham.”
How God was pleased to reveal his will at this time to his faithful servant, whether by the Shechinah, or divine appearance, or by a small still voice, as he spoke to Elijah, or by a whisper, like that of the Spirit to Philip, when he commanded him to go join himself to the eunuch's chariot, we are not told, nor is it material to enquire. It is enough that we are in, formed, God said unto him, Abraham; and that Abraham knew it was the voice of God: for he said, “Behold, here I am.” O what a holy familiarity (if I may so speak) is there between God and those holy souls that are united to him by faith in CHRIST JESUS! God says, Abraham; and Abraham said it 1hould seem without the least surprize) Behold, here I am. Being reconciled to God by the death and obedience of CHRIST, which he rejoiced in, and saw by faith afar off; he did not, like guilty Adam, feek the trees of the garden to hide himself from, but takes pleasure in conversing with God, and talketh with him, as a man talketh with his friend. O that CHRIST-less finners knew what it is to have fellowship with the Father and the Son! They would envy the happiness of saints, and count it all joy to be termed enthusiasts and fools for CHRIST's fake.
But what does God say to Abraham? Verse 2. " Take now thy son, thine only son Ifaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell thee of."
Every word deserves our particular observation. Whatever he was to do, he must do it now, immediately, without conferring with flesh and blood. But what must he do ? « Take now thy lon." Had God said, take now a firstling, or choicest ļamb or beak of thy flock, and offer it up for a burnt-offering, it would not have appeared fo ghastly; but for God to fay, “ take now thy son, and offer him up for a burnt-offering," one would have imagined, was enpugh to stagger the
strongest frongést faith. But this is not all: it must not only be a fon, but " thine only. son Isaac, whom thou loveft.” If it must be a son, and not a beast, that must be offered, why will not Ihmael do, the son of the bond-woman? No, it must be his only fon, the heir of all, his Isaac, by interpretation laughter, the son of his old age, in whom his soul delighted, « whom thou lovest,” says God, in whose life his own was wrapped up: and this son, this only son, this Isaac, the son of his love, must be taken now, even now, without delay, and be offered up by his own father, for a burnt-offering, upon one of the mountains of the which GOD would tell him.
Well might the apostle, speaking of this man of God, say, that " against hope he believed in hope, and, being strong in faith, gave glory to God:” For, had he not been blessed with faith which man never before had, he must have refused to comply with this severe command. For how many arguments might nature suggest, to prove that such a command could never come from God, or to excuse himself from obey. ing it? “What! (might the good man have said) butcher
my own child ! it is contrary to the very law of nature: $ much more to butcher my dear son Isaac, in whose seed $ God himself has assured me of a numerous pofterity. But $ supposing I could give up my own affections, and be will
ing to part with him, though I love him so dearly, yet, if “ I murder him, what will become of God's promife? Be! fides, I am now like a city built upon a hill; I shine as a " light in the world, in the midst of a crooked and perverse “ generation: How then shall I cause God's name to be blar
phemed, how shall I become a by-word among the heathen, s if they hear that I have committed a crime which they ab“ hor! But, above all, what will Sarah my wife say? How
can I ever return to her again, after I have imbrued my “ hands in my dear child's blood ? O that God would pardon “ me in this thing, or take my life in the place of my son's!” Thus, I say, Abraham might have argued, and that too seemingly with great reason, against complying with the divine command. But as before by faith he considered not the deadness of Sarah's womb, when she was paft age, but believed on him, who said, “ Şarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed;" fo now, being convinced that the faine God spoke to and commanded him to offer up that son, and knowing that God was able to raise him from the dead, without delay he obeys the heavenly call,
O that unbelievers would learn of faithful Abraham, and believe whatever is revealed from God, though they cannot fully comprehend it! Abraham knew God commanded him to offer up his son, and therefore believed, notwithstanding carnal, seafoning might fuggest many objections. We have fufficient testimony, that God has spoken to us by his fon; why should we not also believe, though many things in the New Testament are above our reason? For, where reason ends, faith begins. And, however infidels may stile themselves reasoners, of all men they are the most unreasonable: For, is it not contrary to all reason, to measure an infinite by a finite underItanding, or think to find out the mysteries of godliness to perfection ?
But to return to the patriarch Abraham: We observed be fore what plausible objections he might have made ; but he answered not a single word : no, without replying against his Maker, we are told, verse 3. that “ Abraham rofe up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up and went unto the place of which God had told him."
From this verse we may gather, that God spoke to Abraham in a dream, or vision of the night: For it is said, he rose up early. Perhaps it was near the fourth watch of the night, just before break of day, when God said, Take now thy fon; and Abraham rises up early to do so; as I doubt not but he used to rise early to offer up his morning-sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It is often remarked of people in the Old Teftament, that they rose early in the morning; and particularly of our Lord in the New, that he rose a great while before day to pray. The morning befriends devotion; and, if people cannot use so much self-denial as to rise early to pray, I know not how they will be able to die at a ftake (if called to it) for Jesus Christ.
The humility as well as the piety of the patriarch is obseryable: he saddkd his own ass (great men should be humble ;)
and to thew his sincerity, though he took two of his young mer with him, and Isaac his son, yet he keeps his defign as a secret from them all: nay, he does not so much as tell Sarab bis wife : for he knew not but she might be a fnare unto him in this affair; and, as Rebekah afterwards, on another occafion, advised Jacob to fee, so Sarah also might persuade Isaac to hide himself; or the young men, bad they known of it, might have forced him away, as in after-ages the soldiers refcued Jonathan out of the hands of Saul. But Abraham fought no such evasion, and therefore, like an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile, he himself refolutely “ clave the wood for the burnt-offering, rose up and went unto the place of which God had told him.” In the second verse God commanded him to offer up his son upon one of the mountains which he would tell him of. He commanded him to offer his son up, but would not tben directly tell him the place where : this was to keep him dependent and watching unto prayer : for there is nothing like being kept waiting upon God; and, if we do, assuredly God will reveal himself unto us yet further in his own time. Let us practise what we know, follow providence so far as we can see already; and what we know not, what we see not aş yet, let us only be found in the way of duty, and the LORD will reveal even that unto us. Abraham knew not directly where he was to offer up his fon; but he rises
and sets forward, and behold now God shews him: $6 And he went to the place of wbich God had told him.” Let us go and do likewise.
Verse 4. “ Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and faw the place afar off.”
So that the place, of which God had told him, was no less than three days journey distant from the place where God first appeared to him, and commanded him to take his son. Was not this to try his faith, and to let him see that what he did, was not meerly from a sudden pang of devotion, but a matter of choice, and deliberation? But who can tell what the aged patriarch felt during these three days ? Strong as he was in faith, I am persuaded his bowels often yearned over his dear son Ifaac. Methinks I see the good old man walking with his dear child in his hand, and now and then looking upon þim, loving him, and then turning aside to weep. And perhaps, sometimes he stays a little behind to pour out his heart before God, for he had no mortal to tell his case to. Then, methinks, I see him join his son and servants again, and talking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, as they walked by the way. At length, “ on the third day, he lifts up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.” And, to shew that he was yet sincerely resolved to do whatsoever the LORD required of him, he even now will not discover his design to his fervants, but “ said, verse 5. to his young men,” (as we fhould say to our worldly thoughts, when about to tread the courts of the LORD's house) « Abide you here with the ass; and I and the lad will go up yonder and worship, and come again to you.” This was a sufficient reason for their staying behind; and, it being their master's custom to go frequently to worship, they could have no suspicion of what he was going about. And by Abraham-s saying, that he and the lad would come again, I am apt to think he believed God would raise him from the dead, if so be he permitted him to offer his child. up for a burnt-offering. However that be, he is yet resolved to obey God to the uttermost; and therefore,
Verse 6. “ Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Ifaac his fon; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and they went both of them together." Little did Ifaac think that he was to be offered on that very wood which he was carrying upon his shoulders; and there fore Ifaac innocently, and with a holy freedom (for good men should not keep their children at too great a distance) “ spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father; and he (with equal affection and holy condescenfion) said, Here am I, my
And to thew how careful Abraham had been (as all christian parents ought to be) to instruct his Isaac how to sacrifice to God, like a youth trained up in the way wherein he should go; Isaac faid, “ Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering ?” How beautiful is early piety! how amiable, to hear young people ask questions about facrificing to God in an acceptable way! Isaac knew very well that a lamb was wanting, and that a lamb was necessary for a proper sacrifice : “ Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering ?” Young men and maidens, learn of him.