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Hitherto, it is plain, Isaac knew nothing of his father's de. fign: but I believe, by what his father said in answer to his question, that now was the time Abraham revealed it unto him.
Ver. 8. “ And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a Lamb for a burnt-offering.” Some think, that Abraham by faith saw the LORD Jesus afar off, and here spake prophetically of that Lamb of God already fain in decree, and hereafter to be actually offered up for finners. This was a lamb of God's providing indeed (we dared not have thought of it) to satisfy his own justice, and to render him just in justifying the ungodly. What is all our fire and wood, the best preparation and performances we can make or present, unless God had provided himself this Lamb for a burnt-offering? He could not away with them. The words will well bear this interpretation. But, whatever Abrabam might intend, I cannot but think he here made an application, and acquainted his son, of God's dealing with his soul; and at length, with tears in his eyes, and the utmost affection in his heart, cried out, “ Thou art to be the lamb, my Son;" God has commanded me to provide thee for a burnt-offering, and to offer thee upon the mountain which we are now ascending. And, as it appears from a subsequent verse, Isaai, convinced that it was the divine will, made no resistance at all : For it is said, “ They went both of them together;" and again, when we are told, that Abraham bound Ifaac, we do not hear of his complaining, or endeavouring to escape, which he might have done, be. ing (as some think) near thirty years of age, and, it is plain, capable of carrying wood enough for a burnt-offering. Bue he was partaker of the like precious faith with his aged father, and therefore is as willing to be offered, as Abraham is to of. fer him: And“ so they went both of them together.”
Ver. 9. At length they came to the place of which God had told Abraham. He built 'an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Ifaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood."
And here let us pause a while, and by faith take a view of the place where the father has laid him. I doubt not but the blessed angels hovered round the altar, and sang, “ Glory be to God in the highest," for giving such faith to man.
Come, all ye tender-hearted parents, who know what it is to look over a dying child : fancy that you saw the altar erected before you, and the wood laid in order, and the belove Ifaac bound upon it: fancy that you saw the aged patent standing by weeping. (For, why may we not suppose that Abraham wept, since Jesus himself wept at the grave of Lazarus ?) O what pious, endearing expressions passed now alternately between the father and the fon! Josephus records a pathetic speech made by each, whether genuine I know not : but methinks I see the tears trickle down the Patriarch Abraham's cheeks, and out of the abundance of the heart, he cries, Adieu, adicu, my son ; the LORD gave thee to me, and the LORD calls thee away ; blessed be the name of the LORD: adieu, my Ifaac, my only son, whom I love as my own foul ; adieu, adieu. I see Ifaac at the same time meekly resigning himself into his heavenly Father's hands, and praying to the most High to strengthen his earthly parent to strike the stroke. But why do I attempt to describe what either son or father felt? It is imponible : we may indeed form fome faint idea of, but shall never fully comprehend it, till we come and sit down with them in the kingdom of heaven, and hear them tell the pleasing story over again. Haften, O LORD, that blessed time! O let thy kingdom come!
And now, the fatal blow is going to be given. “ And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to flay his son.” But do you not think he intended to turn away his head, when he gave the blow? Nay, why may we not suppose he sometimes drew his hand in, after it was stretched out, willing to take another last farewell of his beloved Ifaac, and defirous to defer it a little, though resolved at laft to ftrike home? Be that as it will, his arm is now stretched out, the knife is in his hand, and he is about to put it to his dear fon's throat.
But fing; O heavens! and 'rejoice, 0 earth! Man's extremity is God's opportunity : for behold, just as the knife, in all probability, was near his throat, ver. 11. “ the angel of the LORD, (or rather the LORD of angels, JESUS CHRIST, the angel of the everlafting covenant) called unto him, (probably in a very audible manner) from heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham. : (The word is doubled,
to engage his attention ; and perhaps the suddennefs of the call made him draw back his hand, just as he was going to strike his son.) And Abraham said, Here am 1.”
“ And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him : for now know I that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy fon, thine only fon from me."
Here then it was that Abraham received his son Ifaac from the dead in a figure. He was in effect offered upon the altar, and God looked upon him as offered and given unto him. Now it was that Abraham's faith, being tried, was found more precious than gold purified seven times in the fire. Now as a reward of grace, though not of debt, for this signal act of obedience, by an oath, God gives and confirms the promise, *** that in his feed all the nations of the earth should be blessed,” ver. 17, 18. With what comfort may we suppose the good old man and his son went down from the mount, and returned unto the young men ! With what joy may we imagine he went home, and related all that had passed to Sarah! And above all, with what triumph is he now exulting in the paradise of God, and adoring rich, free, diftin. guishing, electing, everlasting love, which alone made him to differ from the rest of mankind, and rendered him worthy of that title which he will have so long as the fun and the moon endure, « The Father of the faithful !”
But let us now draw our eyes from the creature, and do what Abraham, if he was present, would direct to ; I mean, fix them on the Creator, God blessed for evermore. · I see your hearts affected, I see your eyes weep. (And ina deed, who can refrain weeping at the relation of such a story ?) But, behold, I shew you a mystery, hid under the facrifice of Abraham's only fon, which, unless your hearts are hardned, muft cause you to weep tears of love, and that plentifully too. I would willingly hope you even prevent me here, and are ready to say, “ It is the love of God, in giving JESUS " CHRIST to die for our sins.” Yes"; that is it. And yet perhaps you find your hearts, at the mentioning of this, not so much affected. Let this convince you, that we are all fallen creatures, and that we do not love God or CHRIST as we ought to do: for, if you admire Abraham offering up bis Ifaac, how much more ought you to extol, magnify and adore the love of God, who so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son CHRIST Jesus our LORD that whosom. ever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlast; ing life?" May we not well cry out, Now, know we, O. LORD, that thou hast loved us, since thou hast not withheld , thy Son, thine only Son from us? Abrabam was God's creature (and God was Abraham's friend) and therefore under the highest obligation to surrender
, up his Isaac. But o ftupendious love ! whilst we were, bis enemięs, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that he might become a curse for us. O the freeness, as well as the infinity, of the love of God, our Father. It is unsearchable : I am loft in contemplating it, it is past finding out. Think, o believers, think of the love of, Gopa in giving Jesus CHRIST to be a propitiation for our fins. And when you hear how Abraham built an altar, and laid the wood in order, and bound Ifaac bis son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood; think how your heavenly, Father bound JESUS Christ his only Son, and offered him upon the altar of his justice, and laid upon him the iniquities of us all, When you read of Abraham's stretching forth, his hand to hay, his Son, Think, O think, how God actually suffered bis Son. to be flain, that we might live for evermore. Do you read .;: of Isaac carrying the wood upon his foulders, upon, which he was to be offered ? Let this lead you to mount Calvary (this very mount of Mariah where Ifaac was offered, as some think) and take a view of the antitype Jesus Christ, the Son of God, bearing and ready to sink under the weight of that cross, on which he was to hang for us. Do you admire Isaac so freely consenting to die, though a creature, and there. fore obliged to go when God called? O do not forget to admire infinitely more the dear LORD JESUS, that promised seed, who willingly said, “ Lo, I come,” though under no obligation so to do, “ to do thy will," to obey and die for men, “ O God!” Did you weep just now, when I bid you fancy you saw the altar, and the wood laid in order, and Ifaat laid bound on the altar? Look by faith, behold the blefied JESUS, our all-giorious Emmanuel, not bound, but Dailed on an accurled tree : see how be hangs crowned with
thorns, and had in derision of all that are round about him: see how the thorns pierce him, and how the blood in purple streams trickle down his facred temples ! Hark how the GOD of nature groans ! See how he bows his head, and at length humanity gives up the ghoft! Ifaac is saved, but Jesus, the GOD of Ifaac, dies : A ram is offered up in Ifaac's room, but Jesus has no substitute; Jesus must bleed, Jesus must die; God the Father provided this Lamb for himself from all eternity. He must be offered in time, or man must be damned for evermore. And now, where are your tears ? Shall I say, refrain your voice from weeping ? No; rather let me exhort you to look to him whom you have pierced, and mourn, as a woman mourneth for her first-born: for we have been the betrayers, we have been the murderers of this LORD of glory : and shall we not bewail those fins, which brought the blessed JESUS to the accursed tree? Having so much done, fo much suffered for us, so much forgiven, Thall we not love much? O! let us love Him with all our hearts, and minds, and strength, and glorify him in our souls and bodies, for they are his. Which leads me to a second inference I shall draw from the foregoing discourse.
From hence we may learn the nature of true, justifying faith. Whoever understands and preaches the truth, as it is in Jesus, must acknowledge, that falvation is God's free gift, and that we are saved, not by any or all the works of righteousness which we have done or can do: no; we can neither wholly nor in part juftify ourselves in the fight of God. The Lord Jesus CẢRIST is our righteousness; and if we are accepted with God, it must be only in and through the personal righteousness, the active and passive obedience, of Jesus CHRIST his beloved Son. This righteousness mult be imputed, or counted over to us, and applied by faith to our hearts, or else we can in no wise be justified in God's fight: and that very moment a finner is enabled to lay hold on CHRIST's righteousness by faith, he is freely justified from all his fins, and shall never enter into condemnation, notwithstanding he was a fire-brand of hell before. Thus it was that Abrabam was justified before he did any good work: he was enabled to believe on the LORD CHRIST ; it was accounted to him for rightecusness; that is, CHRIST's righteVol. V. D