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"And it came to pass, that God did "tempt Abraham, and said unto him, "Abraham! take now thy son, thine only "son, whom thou loveft, and get thee into "the land os Moria; and offer him there "for a burnt offering, upon one of the "mountains which I will tell thee of." Whoever examines this command, critically, will find it consist of every thing terrible to the rsart of a parent; and that, to obey it, rte^red the utmost fortitude of obedience. The good man is directed to take his child and murder him for sacrifice; but it was to receive every possible aggravation: he was not the father of many children : he was not to sacrifice the random offspring of his handmaid, Hagar; but, he was to take Isaac, the dear child who came, after the years of expectation; the infant of angelic promise—his only legitimate son, and the darling of his heart. Sarah, no doubt, also doated with much fondness upon the lad; she could not but be proud of this treasure of her age; and, indeed, we find her in the preceding chapter,
ter, indulging her maternal transport, and thus, in the warmest language of self-congratulation, confessing at the fame time, her pride and pleasure. Who would have said unto Abraham that Sarah should have given such to children? Who could have thought she would have presented him with a son in his old age? Yet this child, this very son, was now marked out by Heaven as a victim, and his father was privately, by the fame celestial appointment, to be his executioner : hard task! But to go on:
"And Abraham rose up early in the "morning and saddled his ass, and took "two of his young men with him, and Isaac "his son i and clave the wood for the burnt"offering, and rose up, and went unto the "place of which God had told him."
"And he took the wood and laid it "upon Isaac his son, and he took the fire "in his hand, and a knife, and they went "both of them togethsr."
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The soul of the midnight murderer might quake to read these passages of preparation: we feel equally for the ignorance of the youth, and the consciousness of his father. How must the parental bosom of Abraham throb as he saw the wood, which was to burn his child, borne upon his moulder? how must the knife tremble in his hand? But the next verse carries these images of horror still higher; for the lad, in the innocent simplicity of his heart, said to his father, "Behold the fire and the "wood, but where is the lamb r" What a natural question on hie part, but how agonizing to the father! How little did the child imagine he was himself the lamb, and that he had assisted to erect a pile for his own destruction? But observe with what firmness the patriarch proceeds in despite of all the pleadings of nature. Having built the altar he laid the wood in order, and bound his son and laid him upon the wood. What a ceremony is here! Is there a heart insensible to such description? The very apparatus of the act, gives, it additio
nal distress. But, fee, the father stretches forth his hand, and brandishes the knife. In that moment the angel of the Lord calling him out of Heaven, stays his arm! What divine imagery is here! What a picture for the pdn, or pencil! I behold the scene transacting before me: iTie child is fastened to the wood, and directing his astonished and streaming eye to the parent* as if he would fay, Oh, my father, what offence have I unwittingly committed, and wherefore, ah wherefore, wilt thou kill me ?—The parent himself stands over hi* babe in utterahk agony, yet resolved to conquer the rebellious feelings of his frame; the tear of nature falls fast upon his cheek —he turns mit his face, unable to fee him bleed—the stroke is coming, the poised arm is descending, and, lo, the angel, the saving angel,4nterposes for the preservation of the child. What harmonious accents flow from his lips—,c Abraham, Abraham, "lay not thy hand upon the lad; neither "do thou any thing unto him." The voice of a God only was fit to convey such D 6 intelliintelligence. With what extacy must it have been received; and how must Abraham have hasted to unbind his darling? Here the tender heart might indulge itself in many pathetic and pleasing ideas: it might represent the father and son embracing, rejoicing in the escape, and bowing in gratitude to the benevolence which occasioned it: and, lastly, as soon as the sacrifice of the Heaven-provided ram was over, it may exhibit the patriarch preparing to depart, and thus addressing his son: Now then, my child, my dear Isaac, now Jet us seek thy mother; h«p!y she forbodes some mischief befalling thee; let us then haste to compose her. Believe me, Isaac, my heart silently bled for the danger which so late impended, and I coukl have died myself to save thee; but the will of Heaven must always be obeyed* I now perceive it was a trial, and I exult in having done my duty, without destroying my son: but haste, Isaac—thy mother will think that we tarry.