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he was anxious to promote. Nor were domestic miseries the sole consequence of this rash and lawless undertaking. Just heaven, to punish the impatience and self-will of this unhappy pair, retarded still longer the fulfillment of their hopes. Year rolled on after year, and still the promise came not. Abram was consoled with no more visitations of the Father of his mercies; no messenger from heaven repeated the loved assurance; year passed after year, and there was none to tell how long. Thus fourteen years rolled round, and this couple, now receding far into the darkness of old age, were left more destitute and comfortless than
In this darkness and perplexity they well deserved to live; and there we will for the present leave them.
We willonly say to you who now inherit Abram's faith, beware how you venture to imitate Abram's follies. It is a great mistake to imagine that even the most favored followers of the Saviour will escape entirely the consequences of their misdeeds, because infinite mercy pardons them. Mercy may pardon, but most indubitably holiness will mark them. You will hereafter see that this rule is universal; you will learn from the history of all the patriarchs that whenever they have wandered, they have been made to pay the penalty of their unworthiness. And it is right that it should be so. It is right that all men should feel, and that the universe should know, that no creature can be gainer that sets up its own wisdom against the wisdom of its Maker, or attempts to overle ap the boundaries he prescribes. It is right that men should find that the ways of wisdom are the only ways of pleasantness, and the paths of uprightness the only paths of peace. Fellow sinners, you may try it when you will: but they who seek their happiness without regard to the Divine constitutions, must attempt to be happy in despite of God. Now, hast thou an arm that can cope with the Almighty? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?-If not, then take a lesson from the patriarch Abram. Know that it is wisdom to wait patiently on God, to attempt a lawful purpose by none but lawful means, and to cherish hope so high and holy by an high and holy course.Amen.
BIOGRAPHY OF ABRAHAM.--(CONTINUED.)
*And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord
appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God: walk before me, and be thou perfect,” &c.
Gen. xvii. 1
DEEP calleth unto deep. All thy billows and thy waves pass over me.” It was not only in the land of Israel, it was not only by the Jewish prince and prophet that the sad accumulation of trouble upon trouble, woe upon woe, has been experienced and lamented. We have ourselves a proverb: "afflictions seldom come single;"-and we presume there are few among you who have not been compelled in your time to confess, or at least to feel, that it is true. This accumulation of sorrow in the dispensations of God, is as wise and merciful as it is common. It arises out of two important and very obvious considerations: the design of Providence in visiting us with sorrow, and the tempers with which we are prone to regard such dispensations. Sometimes distress is inflicted exclusively as a punishment to the party offending, and as a warning to others to beware how they offend. In such cases it is of course judgment without mercy; it prostrates, it crushes it marks its hapless object as with the seal of reprobation. Such a visitation furnishes no answer to our inquiries. But in general such visitations have a different object. They are designed to warn and to amend the person visited. And were we of a temper at all times disposed to regard the hand of God, and to amend our ways at the very first suggestion, then doubtless afflictions would come single. One stroke would be sufficient to answer every purpose, and where mercy had amended mercy would forgive. But men are not apt to be so speedily convinced or humbled. Disappointment must ordinarily follow disappointment, pang succeed to pang, till Almighty Providence compel a recognition of his hand, and misery have taught them that it is vain to contend with him. Deep, then, calls to deep, and wave rolls after wave, because the stubborn and stupid mind of man will seldom take advantage of a single admonition.
Our patriarch had the tempers common to our kind, and he mourned the common lot. We saw on last Lord's day the tribulations that resulted from an attempt to compass his wishes in an unwarrantable way. We read you from that scroll that flutters high in heaven, lamentation and anguish and woe-stribulation and wrath upon every soul of man that doeth evil;"—that doeth it "that good may come.' But it was not enough that bitter disappointment should flow from this device: it was not enough that the once peaceful tent of Abram should become the joyless scene of crimination and strife: it was not enough that jealousy should lour and malignity should scowl in faces once tranquil and smiling as the summer sea. All this and much more than this our patriarch had to suffer. For that very device which banished confidence and calmness from the tent of Abram, removed farther than ever the fulfillment of his wishes. God who had given him promise of that son, God who had visited him so frequently and familiarly, the God of his mercies disappeared at the same time with his domestic peace, and for fourteen years longer Abram pined in joyless expectation. He had not only to mourn the hope still unfulfilled, he had to mourn the displeasure of him who gave that hope. No more visions of God threw their lights upon futurity-no messenger from on high repeated the loved assurance--year followed year, and there was none to tell how long: Abram and Sarai verged fast toward decrepitude; and for fourteen long years they seemed to be forgotten, and as if about to sink into the tomb, unvisited and unblessed.
Far be it from us to portray the melancholy of those leaden years about which our history is silent. But far be it from you, far be it from us all, to disregard the lesson which those dull years may teach us.
Still, however, we find, as is usual in the dispensations of the Most High, mercy rejoices over judgment. Abram, though chastened, is not forsaken; the promise, though delayed, is not abrogated. The mind so long and deeply humbled by the remembrance of an offence against which God had written so many bitter things, was brought at length to that frame of meekness and patience that fitted it for a renewal of the long lost intercourse. Accordingly he who had bowed sorrowing before his Maker's altar from the unhappy day in which he listened to the rash advice of Sarai, was at last cheered, when on the verge of his hundredth year, with another manifestation of the Almighty presence.
We need not say to you that this renewal of an inter, course 60 long suspended, must have filled the bosom of