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the lamb for a burnt-offering ?” The ques-
God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.” Every word is expressive of the fixed determination of his mind. There is no hesitation or delay; he staggers not at the command through unbelief, or the workings of natural affection. The deed is already as good as done; the full purpose of heart is made manifest; and the strength of his faith had not been more decidedly exhibited, had the blow fallen. He gives a noble display of faith perfected by works; and we forget every feeling for the father in admiration of the saint of God, enabled to esteem obedience to an express command of heaven, his first and strongest duty.
III. But now the scene changes, and we learn the issue of the trial. At the very instant when the knife was about to be plunged into the unresisting victim,“ the angel of the Lord called to him out of heaven, and said Abraham, Abraham ;” and when, arrested in
his act by the well-known voice the patriarch answered, “here am I,” the angel added,
Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me." The reverential regard which Abraham had to God, was doubtless ever known to him who knows even the very thoughts which are in men's minds. He was perfectly acquainted with his servant's sincerity, and knew that he had long feared him in truth; but he required this striking proof to be given, that Abraham might thus hold forth an example to his spiritual children in all succeeding ages, and shew them on what grounds he acquired, and so justly deserves, the title which he bears. Moreover, that, omniscient God, who afterwards accepted the desire of David to build him a house, and said, “ It is well that it was in thine heart,” recognized the purpose of Abraham as the act itself, and said as he would have done had the sacrifice been really offered, “ Thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.” And thus may
every faithful servant of God assuredly know and comfort himself in the assurance, that his holy purposes and zealous desires for the glory of God are accepted as deeds, when it is not in the power of his hand to do them.
And then the sacred history informs us that “ Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” It tells us also, that impressed with a sense of the Lord's merciful interposition in the very crisis of his son's danger, he gave a significant name to the place, calling it Jehoval-jireh, that is, The Lord will provide ; and further, that in testimony of his approbation of this distinguished proof of his faith and obedience, God renewed to his servant the promise of his abundant blessing, and especially that promise which conveyed the richest of all blessings, not only to Abraham but to all mankind, “ in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed." Thus the issue of the trial was of the happiest kind. Its commencement was astonishment and pain to the patriarch's mind, but its end was peace and joy. And so shall every true believer find, in this world or the next, or both, that his “ light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” and that though he “ goeth on his way weeping,” yet if, like Abraham, he bears the precious seed of fear and love, faith and obedience, he shall doubtless “ come again with joy, and bring his sheaves with him.”
The history which has been before us affords a very striking exemplification of the nature of faith, and of the inseparable connection which exists between faith and works. The Scripture tells us, in Gen. xv. 6, that Abraham “ believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” The Apostle Paul quotes that text twice to prove that all who are justified are, like Abraham, justified by faith. Now of what nature was this faith of Abraham by which he was justified? We see that it was such a faith as produced the most entire obedience; it influenced his actions; it caused him to do such works as he would not