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the steel into his bosom, and welter in his innocent blood, heaven forbid that I should behold so dismal a spectacle ! « Alas! Abraham, this mitigation cannot be granted ; thy own hand must point the deadly weapon at his breast, and urge its way through the gushing veins and shivering fesh, till it be plunged in the throbbing heart : the father, the father must be the executioner." " Unheard of action ! How can I answer it to the wife of my bosom, the mother of the lovely youth ? How can I justify it to the world? Will they not take up a taunting proverb, and say, at every turn, There goes the man, the monster, that im. brued his hand in his own son's blood ; this is he that pretends to piety, and yet could kill his own son in cold blood ; kill a good, a duteous son, an only child.' Thus Abraham might naturally have pleaded ; but, astonishing to tell, he made no reply, he said nothing of all this ; but quietly and patiently submitted. Through all the three days' journey, every moment fire and blood presented themselves to his view. Isaac's conversation increased his grief; yet it was the divine command ; he resolved therefore to obey, however contrary it was to flesh and blood. This was the father of the faithful, this the friend of God. Go ye, and do likewise. Make haste to obey every command of the Lord your God. Beware of every thing that would prevent your following him fully. The greatest resignation appears in giving up those comforts that are most valuable, and which we are ready to think ourselves miserable without. Abraham breaks through all obiections, so should we. Let us be willing to deny ourselves, to suffer persecution, to give up every idol, the favour of friends, or for. tune, or good name ; give up any thing, yea, every thing, that would hinder us in the way and works of God. Here show your courage, your resolution, your faith, your sincerity. Be prudent, like Abraham, and steady herein, and be assured God will be gracious to you. In the mount of difficulty shall the Lord be seen : our extremity is God's opportunity. God's voice was never so sweet to Abraham as now ; his love is never so welcome as when it comes after submission to his wills and whenever this is the case, God will not forget our labours of love, but amply and eternally reward them.
3. Let as learn, like Isaac, to be willing to die when and how God pleases. God is the sovereign of life and death, and may remove his creatures to another world, when and by what means he will; and as to his faithful servants he will certainly do it in the best manner. On a conviction of God's overruling provi. dence, and disposing all events, of life and death, let us trust in him, and leave it to him to order the time, manner, and circum. stances of our removal. While we live, let us live to the Lord. May our lives be devoted to God, and spent in a holy, humble, and useful manner ; then death will be comfortable ; comfort. able whenever it comes, and however it comes. When we die, we shall die by the hand of God ; die, as it were, on Pisgah's
top, from whence we may see the heavenly world, the glories of which are so great, that it is worth while to submit to, yea, to rejoice in, the sharpest pangs of death that open a way to it ; remeinbering, as Abraham and Isaac believed, that we shall rise again. Though absent from the body for a while, yet we shall receive it again, improved and beautified; when we shall have no more of these painful exercises, no more trials of our faith and obedience.
4. Let us adore the love of God, in not sparing his only Son, but giving him up for us. There is much of Christ in this chapter. Now, says the angel, I know that thou fearest God : and may we not see here an evident proof of the love of God toward us, in that he hath not shared his own son, but given him up to death for us all ?
The sufferings of Christ are represented as the act of God; it pleased the Lord to bruise him for us, and to lay on him the iniquity of us all. Sinners were doomed to be sacrificed, to be slain, and made miserable for ever ; but God hath provided a lamb for a burnt offering ; the contrivance is his own; no angelic spirit could have done it ; infinite wisdom alone could contrive it ; infinite love alone could execute it. Abraham received remarkable favours from God, though he had been guilty of many transgressions against him ; he was therefore bound in gratitude to give up his son at his command, at least to bear it patiently, as a punishment for his sin. But God was onder no obligations to us; yet he says, Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts. Jesus, like Isaac, made no reply, but said, Lo, I come to do thy will, O my God. Like Isaache was bound before he was sacrificed, and like him cheerfully submitted to the fatal stroke, expressing no reluctance. He made his soul an offering for sin, and died, the just for the unjust. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that heloved us, and gave up his only Son to be a sacrifice for us, &c. The mount on which Isaac was to have been sacrificed was Moriah, probably the very spot of ground on which Christ was crucified ; at least, it was very near it : and no doubt this command to Abraham was designed, among other important reasons, to be typical of this great event. Let us admire and adore the love of God, that he gave his dear, his well beloved and only Son, the most pure and innocent being, to become a sacrifice for our sins. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift! Let this love greatly affect our minds ; especially at those seasons when Christ is set forth as crucified before us ; when we see him bleeding and dying in the room and for the sake of sinners. Was Abraham's love so great and remarkable, the wonder of the church, and a pleasing spectacle to angels? What is the love of God to us then, and how should it fill our souls with the highcst raptures and transports of joy!
un account of Sarah's age and death ; of Abraham's purchasing i
burying place ; and Sarah's funeral : which circumstances, I though of small importance in themselves, were of great conse
quence, as they fixed Abraham and his posterity to the promised land, and by this he took possession of it. 1 AND Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years
[1 old : [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.* 2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba ; the same [is] Hebron in
the land of Canaan :t and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah in her tent, and to weep for her ; to make a public lamentation, as was common upon such occasions. 3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake
unto the sons of Heth, the governors or elders of the Hittites, 4 saying, I [am] a stranger and a sojourner with you : give
me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury 6 my dead out of my sight. And the children of Heth an6 swered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord ; thou
(art) a mighty prince among us, a prince of God, a person of great power or estate, and a favourite of heaven ; in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead ; none of us shall withhold
from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. 7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of
the land, [even) to the children of Heth, the governors of the 8 people. And he communed with them, saying, If it be your · mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, 9 and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, That he may
give me the cave of Machpelah, or, the double cave, which he hath, which [is] in the end of his field ; for as much money
as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a burying 10 place among you. And Ephron dwelt or sat among the
children of Heth : And Ephron the Hittite answered Abra
ham in the audience of the children of Heth, [even) of all il that went in at the gate of his city, saying, Nay, my lord,
hear me : the field give I thee, and the cave that [is] therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give
I it thee : bury thy dead. This was indeed a generous offer. 12 And Abraham, in return for this civility which was shown him, 13 bowed himself down before the people of the land. And
he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou (wilt give it,] if thou be the possessor of the land, and wilt part with it, I pray thee hcar
. She is the only woman whose age is recorded in scripture. + When they removed there is uncertain. * Religion not only allows, lut requires civility, and those gestures which express it.
me : I will give thee money for the field ; take [it] of me, 14 and I will bury my dead there. And Ephron answered 15 Abraham, saying unto him, My lord, hearken unto me : "the
land [is worth] only four hundred shekels of silver ;* what [is]
that betwixt me and thee? it is a present hardly worth your 16 acceptance ; bury therefore thy dead. And Abraham heark
ened unto Ephron ; and being perfectly satisfied with the terms, Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had
named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred 17 shekels of silver, current (money) with the merchant. And
the field of Ephron, which (was] in Machpelah, which (was] before Mamre, the field, and the cave which (was) therein,
and all the trees that (were] in the field, that (were] in all 18 the borders or fences round about, were made sure Unto
Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city ; Ephron accepted the money in the sight of these witnesses ; and thus the
field was made over to Abraham and his posterity. 19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave
of the field of Machpelah before Mamre : the same [is] 20 Hebron in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave
that [is] therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying place, by the sons of Heth.
1. ITOW awful a change does death make in our dearest
Il comforts ! Sarah, the mother of the faithful, must die. Though Abraham and she lived happy together for many years, death parts them. Sarah appears to have been beautiful, and it is very uncommon for beauty to last to so great an age; but she at last dies, and so must all her daughters. Let them be solicitous then, to secure those inward beauties of the mind, which shall live, not only when age withers their countenances, but when death shall destroy their bodies. Abraham is obliged to say, Bury my dead out of my sight. When those, who once delighted our eyes, become ghastly and loathsome, we shall be glad to remove them to the land of darkness. We may lawfully mourn over them, and indeed ought to do so ; and be humbled for sin, that brought death into the world, which changes the loveliest pieces of human nature into loathsomeness and corruption. Let us rejoice in the prospect of life and immortality by Christ Jesus,; when these vile bodies shall be changed, this corruptible shall put on in. corruption, this mortal, immortality, and death shall be swallowed up of life.
• About forty five pounds of our money; but some say only twenty five pounds.
† Several of Abraham's descendants desired afterward to be buried there, to intimate their faith in the future possession of the land of Capaan,
2. Observe how amiable civility and generosity appear: TO Tefuse the common forms of civility, is no part of religion, but shows a great deal of pride ; if they have no great meaning, there is no harm in them. Abraham was a man of distinguished gravity and piety, a friend of God, and the father of the faithful, yet he used the greatest respect to others. A rude, clownish behaviour, is as inconsistent with the gospel as with common decency. Abraham's behaviour might shame many christians ; yea, the children of Heth teach the sons of God good manners. The generosity of Abraham is remarkable, who would not take the advantage of a sudden generous offer, but was willing to pay a full equivalent. Let us be ready to serve and oblige, but never impose upon those who are friendly and generous, nor show a nig, gardly, selfish disposition, which is a dishonour to religion, and detrimental to our comforts and interests. May we practise these amiable virtues, as we desire to partake of Abraham's blessing.
3. How different was the manner in which Abraham took possession of the earthly and the heavenly Canaan ! God had given him the whole land ; but the time to take possession was not yet come ; therefore, without any distrust of the divine promise, or renunciation of his right, he bought a parcel for his present necessity. In the earthly Canaan, his first possession was a burying place, in which his beloved wife was deposited ; and it was the only spot of it that ever was in his own actual possession. Into the heavenly Canaan he entered as a triumphant spirit, and partook of the entertainment which God had there provided for those that love him. There is a grave at the end of every earthly possession; and we must soon follow our friends whom we have laid in the dust. Let us then be looking to, and preparing for, that better country, that is, the heavenly one ; whence, not only sorrow and sighing, but even death itself, shall be for ever banished. There all good men shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of their heavenly Father, and go out no more.
CHAP. XXIV. 1-28.
In this chapter are some further particulars about Abraham's fame
ily, and the settlement of Isaac ; which teach us, that if we aca knowledge God in all our ways, he will direct our paths.' 1 A ND Abraham was old, [and] well stricken in age, an
hundred and forty years old : and the LORD had blessed 2 Abraham in all things. And Abraham said unto his eldest
servant of his house, Eliezer of Damascus, (ch. xv. 2.) that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, in token of subjection, and as a promise of faithful sera % vice : And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of