Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

God established His covenant with Noah, when He shut him into the ark, and kept him in safety throughout the flood. (Gen. vi. 18.) He made a covenant too after the flood with the whole human race, and with every living creature with them, from all that went out of the ark, to every beast of the earth, that a flood should never again cut off all flesh, nor destroy the earth. (Gen. ix. 9-17.) It was nothing new then on God's part to enter into a covenant engagement with man, when He graciously bound Himself to Abraham on that memorable night. But it was quite a new feature in any such engagement, as far as we are aware, for God to ratify it by death. In after years, too, God made covenants without any such ratification, for example, Exodus xxxiv. ; Deuteronomy xxix. 1; 2 Sam. xxiii. 5; but on this occasion He instructed Abraham as to what he was to do.

When all was prepared, God bound Himself at sunset to bring back Abraham's seed to that land, and to judge those who should have afflicted them. And when darkness had overspread the earth, a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp passed between the pieces of the animals slain. The burning lamp was the token of the divine presence. (Ex. xx. 18; Ezek. i. 13; Dan. x. 6.) The smoking furnace seems to be the emblem of judgment (Ps. xxi. 9.; Is. xxxi. 9; Mal. iv. 1); for judgment on their enemies, as well as deliverance of his seed, God bound Himself to Abraham to accomplish. We know how fully that was carried out. The same inspired word which tells us of the covenant, acquaints us with its fulfilment.

But why did God act in this way with Abraham ?

He had promised in chapters xii. and xiii. that his seed should have the land, and that for ever. Why then, did God pass, as it were, through the pieces of the animals slain? It was to give the most complete assurance of the fulfilment of His promise, binding Himself in the most solemn way to perform the promise to Abraham's seed, after the patriarch's death. But why were the animals slain ? Men might make a covenant after that manner, in token that they deserved death, if they broke it, as Jeremiah xxxiv. 18-20 shews us.

But on God's part there could be no failure. Was not then God's action on this occasion an intimation to Abraham of the immutability of the covenant thus made ? For where death has come in, one cannot revert to the condition of matters which existed before it. The life given up cannot be taken back, hence there can be no change in the engagement solemnly entered into. What is based upon death must therefore stand for ever. Abraham, it would appear, perfectly understood this, for never again, that we read of, did he ask from God for any fresh assurance that his seed should inherit the land. All was made sure to him, since the covenant was ratified by death.

Now, if we read this narrative only as a chapter in the life of the patriarch, we could not but feel an interest in the account of that night's intercourse with God, when the Almighty was solemnly binding Himself to a creature to perform for his seed what He had already promised. But that would be all. Yet, surely no one, whose God is Abraham's God, should turn away from that history as one in which he has no concern. Of course in the fulfilment of the promise then confirmed

a

In the ways

to Abraham, we have no direct concern. of God, however, and His teaching, we are intimately concerned ; for we learn what He is, who is the unchanging One, from what He has said, and from what He has done. And here we are taught by God Himself of the immutability of that which rests upon death. In this principle then here first authoritatively set forth, we are all interested. For in the death of God's Son, we who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are now deeply concerned. All then that rests on His death must abide immutable, and secure. Is this man's deduction merely? Nay. It is God's own gracious teaching from His ways with Abraham on that night.

Have we then forgiveness of sins by the blood of Christ ? (Eph. i. 7.) That must stand good for ever, for the blood, which is the life, has been shed, and the life so surrendered cannot be taken back. Death having come in there can be no going back to a previous condition of matters, and so no revocation of what has been effected by it. Are we justified by His blood ? (Rom. v. 9.) Our justification must abide then for ever.

What has been done cannot be undone. Have we boldness to enter the holiest by His blood ? (Heb. x, 19.) Of that right of entry we can never be deprived. All is secure and unchangeable which rests on death, and we can add the death of God's Son. And who teaches us this, and would settle the heart in this confidence? It is God, who has written this history of that night's intercourse between Himself and Abraham for our instruction, and the establishing, and joy of our hearts.

C. E. S.

53

PEERLESS WORTH.

66 What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard Him,

and observed Him."

HOSEA XIV. 8.

Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him ?

Is not thine a captured heart?
“Chief among ten thousand” own Him,

Joyful choose the better part.
Idols once they won thee, charmed thee,

Lovely things of time and sense ;
Gilded, thus does sin disarm thee,

Honey'd lest thou turn thee thence.
What has stript the seeming beauty

From the idols of the earth?
Not the sense of right or duty,

But the sight of peerless worth.
Not the crushing of those idols,

With its bitter void and smart,
But the beaming of His beauty,

The unveiling of His heart.
Who extinguishes their taper

Till they hail the rising sun?
Who discards the garb of winter

Till the summer has begun?
'Tis that look that melted Peter,

'Tis that face that Stephen saw,
'Tis that heart that wept with Mary,

Can alone from idols draw

Draw, and win, and fill completely,

Till the cup o'erflow the brim ; What have we to do with idols,

Who have companied with Him ?

CORRESPONDENCE.

4. “M. H.,” St. Kilda, Victoria. We have read, with very deep interest and thankfulness, your most kind and encouraging letter. The Lord be praised for all you can tell of His great goodness to you! We deeply feel your kindness in writing. May the Lord greatly bless you! May He pour into your precious soul the rich consolations of His love, and fill you with all joy and peace in believing. We feel for you in your isolation ; but Christ is with you and He is enough. You will be sorry to hear that our beloved friend Dr. Mackern, to whom you refer, is no longer with us. He fell asleep, in November, 1874.

5. “T. A. T.,” London. There is a very lovely passage at the close of the book of Revelation, to which you have not referred. " Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. xxii. 17.) This is but one of a large number of passagos which give us the other side of the subject. Your letter is entirely one sided. The writer of the article to which you call our attention, rejects utterly the notion of man's free will. He believes that man is perfectly powerless; and not only so, but in a state of positive enmity against God, so that, if left to himself, he never would come to Christ. All who come to the supper are compelled to come, else they never would be there.

Moreover he most fully believes in the sovereignty of God; and that the r mes of all who are saved were written in the Lamb's book of life, before the foundation of the world.

But then, on the other side—for we must take both sides—let us ponder such words as thèse : “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight

« PreviousContinue »