Page images
[ocr errors]

practice of devotion and piety. We should remember too, that the ministers of God, "though "they could speak with the tongue of men and

angels," unless they lead us to devotion, are no better to us, than sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

But no man ever practised the duty of constant and fervent prayer, without finding the advantage of it, in every part and stage of life. It is our shield in the hour of temptation, it is our comfort in the hour of distress, it is our joy in prosperity, it is our support against despair; and when all our earthly hopes and fears begin to vanish, when we lie down on that bed of sickness and mortality from which we shall never rise, it will be our best support against the horrors of dissolution and the agonies of death.

Let us then daily, both in public and private, fall down on our knees before the footstool of God. And may God so graciously accept the imperfect prayers we offer to him, that when we shall stand together in judgment at his throne, they may plead for us, and that our "whole "spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless," at that great and awful hour!

[ocr errors]





GENESIS Xxii. 1, 2.

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham. And he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, 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 will tell thee of.

THE pages of prophane history record many

instances of heroic fortitude and resolution, which justly challenge our profoundest admiration and esteem. When, for example, we see a Brutus or a Manlius Torquatus, rising up from the seat of judgment, to pronounce the sentence of death upon their own children, and with firm and unaltered looks, beholding their bodies mangled by the bloody axe of the executioner,

[blocks in formation]

-we cannot forbear admiring the determined severity of that virtue, which could prefer the dictates of duty to the feelings of natural affection, and which thus enabled the uprightness of the judge to triumph over the tenderness of the parent. But, allowing to these examples their due share of merit and commendation, there is still something much more affecting, much more, deserving of admiration, in the conduct of Abraham, now before us. It required, indeed, no small degree of fortitude in the Roman fathers, to stifle the strong pleadings of nature in favour of their offending sons: but, at the same time, it must be remembered, that those fathers had been educated with the most ardent and enthusiastic notions of the love of their country, and therefore were ready to sacrifice every thing to it; and that their sons had been guilty of high misdemeanors, which justice, which the safety of their country, and the support of military, discipline, loudly required to be punished with exemplary severity.

But, in the history before us, the circumstances are widely different. The child to be sacrificed was an only son, was the son of his father's old age, and, what was above all, was a dutiful and unoffending child, who had never transgressed his father's command, at any time.


[ocr errors]

The father too, was not only to be present at
the execution, but himself was to be the exe-
cutioner, was himself to plunge the bloody
knife into the heart of the young and unoffend-
ing victim. Nor was the sentence to be exe-
cuted in a short moment, whilst the command
of God still sounded in his ears;-but three
whole days intervened, before he reached the
place destined for the bloody scene.
A long
and melancholy interval of suspence indeed!
which must have planted a thousand daggers in
the heart of any parent but that of Abraham!
But see the wonderful power of religion, where
a just sense of the divine Majesty is firmly
rooted! He hastes, without a murmur, to the
land of Moriah, -he binds the youthful victim
upon the altar, without a tear,--he lifts up his
knife, without repining, to slay that very son,
who was the promised seed, in whom all the na-
tions of the earth should be blessed!

Before I proceed to the farther consideration. of this pathetic story, I think it necessary to remark some expressions made use of by the divine historian, in his account of it.

The first thing observable is the word tempt: Moses says, that "God did tempt Abraham. By which we are not to understand, that God D 3 intended

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »