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SERMON III.

HEBREws xi. 16. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God. THE persons, respecting whom principally this is written, were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the great forefathers of the Jewish people. Accordingly, the Hebrews, or Jews, would feel naturally most interested in such a mention of them, as also of the other worthies specially belonging to their history, whom the Apostle likewise mentions throughout the chapter. And St. Paul, the probable author of this Epistle, who hath somewhere described himself “ a He“ brew of the Hebrews,” treats the subject with a highly expressive eloquence. He evidently experienced a peculiar warmth and elevation of spirit, while thus admonishing his countrymen, who had believed the Gospel, and pleasing them “ for their good to edification.”

However, believers of every kindred should feel interested, scarcely less than the Hebrew Christians, in recollecting the grace of God towards them of old time, and the conduct by which they obtained His approbation. Thence,

The Patriarchs, objects of the Divine favour. 33

from the transactions of the former days, may be derived by every one many an impressive example of the uniform mercy and truth of the Divine counsels. Besides, of the three referred to in the text, Abraham, the first and chiefest, is represented in the writings of the New Testament to have been the “ father of all them “ that believe,” (Romans iv. 11.) the father, in a spiritual sense, of the whole Christian family, of the Gentiles, no less than of the Jews; pursuant to which, it will certainly behove us to regard him with an extraordinary degree of interest and veneration. I propose, therefore, on the present opportunity, to state, respecting this Patriarch, and the two who are commonly named with him, first, the main points of excellency in their characters, on account of which the Lord Jehovah “ was not ashamed to be “ called their God,” and, secondly, the meaning and privileges of that exceedingly valuable distinction.

First, then, their faith, comprehensively speaking, was the main excellence in the characters of these men; by that, in a word, they obtained their good report. But faith, like other inward dispositions of the mind, can hardly secure praise and salvation, unless it be answerably exercised, and proved. The faithful must have a word of promise from God, on

which to depend, and a suitable manner of life marked out for them, or their faith will fail to have its perfect work. Now the Lord began with saying to Abraham, “Get thee out of thy s country, and from thy kindred, and from thy « father's house, unto a land that I will shew “thee: and I will make of thee a great na“tion, and I will bless thee, and make thy “name great; and thou shalt be a blessing : 66 and in thee shall all families of the earth “ be blessed." Gen. xii. 1, 2, 3. Such were the promises and directions communicated unto Abraham by the God of truth, to call forth and stablish the faith that was in him; a promise (observe) of future good, and directions to incur present trouble.

The promise was entirely one of future good, such as Abraham could not then see with his bodily eyes, nor expect during his lifetime to enjoy : it signified to him, that his descendants should become numerous, and an illustrious people; that his name, as the father of them, should be likewise illustrious, or remain under the sun among the posterities; and that from him, that is, from his race, the appointed Saviour of the world should, " in the fulness of 56 the time," be born. So distant was the promise made to Abraham. Nevertheless, in connection with it, no small immediate trouble was

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