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lutely be led into temptation, but delivered from the evil of it; whence we may plainly infer, that GOD fees it fit fometimes to lead us into temptation, that is, to bring us into fuch circumstances as will try our faith and other christian graces. In this fenfe we are to understand the expreffion before us; "GOD did tempt or try Abraham."
How Gon was pleased to reveal his will at this time to his faithful fervant, whether by the Shechinah, or divine appearance, or by a small ftill voice, as he spoke to Elijah, or by a whisper, like that of the Spirit to Philip, when he commanded him to go join himself to the eunuch's chariot, we are not told, nor is it material to enquire. It is enough that we are informed, GOD faid unto him, Abraham; and that Abraham knew it was the voice of GoD: for he faid, " Behold, here I am." O what a holy familiarity (if I may so speak) is there between GOD and those holy fouls that are united to him by faith in CHRIST JESUS! GOD fays, Abraham; and Abraham said (it fhould feem without the leaft furprize) Behold, here I am. Being reconciled to GoD by the death and obedience of CHRIST, which he rejoiced in, and faw by faith afar off; he did not, like guilty Adam, feek the trees of the garden to hide himself from, but takes pleasure in converfing with God, and talketh with him, as a man talketh with his friend. O that CHRIST-less finners knew what it is to have fellowship with the Father and the Son! They would envy the happiness of faints, and count it all joy to be termed enthusiasts and fools for CHRIST's fake.
But what does GOD fay to Abraham? Verse 2. "Take now thy son, thine only fon Ifaac, 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 fhall tell thee of."
Every word deferves our particular obfervation. Whatever he was to do, he must do it now, immediately, without conferring with flesh and blood. But what muft he do?" Take now thy lon." Had GoD faid, take now a firftling, or choicest Jamb or beat of thy flock, and offer it up for a burnt-offering, it would not have appeared fo ghaftly; but for God to fay, "take now thy fon, and offer him up for a burnt-offering," one would have imagined, was enough to ftagger the
ftrongest faith. But this is not all: it must not only be a fon, but thine only fon Ifaac, whom thou loveft." If it must be a fon, and not a beast, that must be offered, why will not Ishmael do, the son of the bond-woman? No, it must be his only fon, the heir of all, his Ifaac, by interpretation laughter, the fon of his old age, in whom his foul delighted, "whom thou loveft," fays GOD, in whofe life his own was wrapped up: and this fon, this only fon, this Ifaac, the fon of his love, must be taken now, even now, without delay, and be offered up by his own father, for a burnt offering, upon one of the mountains of the which GOD would tell him.
Well might the apostle, speaking of this man of God, say, that against hope he believed in hope, and, being strong in faith, gave glory to GoD:" For, had he not been bleffed with faith which man never before had, he must have refufed to comply with this fevere command. For how many arguments might nature fuggeft, to prove that fuch a command could never come from GOD, or to excuse himself from obeying it?"What! (might the good man have faid) butcher "my own child! it is contrary to the very law of nature: "much more to butcher my dear fon Ifaac, in whose feed “GOD himself has affured me of a numerous posterity. But "fuppofing I could give up my own affections, and be will"ing to part with him, though I love him fo dearly, yet, if "I murder him, what will become of God's promife? Be"fides, I am now like a city built upon a hill; I fhine as a "light in the world, in the midft of a crooked and perverse "generation: How then fhall I cause God's name to be blas"phemed, how shall I become a by-word among the heathen, "if they hear that I have committed a crime which they ab"hor! But, above all, what will Sarah my wife fay? How "can I ever return to her again, after I have imbrued my "hands in my dear child's blood? O that God would pardon "me in this thing, or take my life in the place of my fon's!" Thus, I fay, Abraham might have argued, and that too seemingly with great reason, against complying with the divine command. But as before by faith he confidered not the deadnefs of Sarah's womb, when the was paft age, but believed on him, who faid, "Sarah thy wife fhall bear thee a fon indeed;"
fo now, being convinced that the fame GOD fpoke to and commanded him to offer up that fon, and knowing that GoD was able to raise him from the dead, without delay he obeys the heavenly call,
O that unbelievers would learn of faithful Abraham, and believe whatever is revealed from GOD, though they cannot fully comprehend it! Abraham knew GOD commanded him to offer up his son, and therefore believed, notwithstanding carnal, reafoning might fuggeft many objections. We have fufficient teftimony, that God has spoken to us by his fon; why should we not alfo believe, though many things in the New Teftament are above our reason? For, where reafon ends, faith begins. And, however infidels may stile themselves reafoners, of all men they are the most unreasonable: For, is it not contrary to all reason, to measure an infinite by a finite undertanding, or think to find out the myfteries of godliness to perfection?
But to return to the patriarch Abraham: We obferved before what plaufible objections he might have made; but he anfwered not a fingle word: no, without replying against his Maker, we are told, verse 3. that “ Abraham rose up early in the morning, and faddled his afs, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his fon, and clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up and went unto the place of which God had told him."
From this verse we may gather, that GOD spoke to Abrakam in a dream, or vision of the night: For it is faid, he rose up early. Perhaps it was near the fourth watch of the night, juft before break of day, when God faid, Take now thy fon; and Abraham rifes up early to do fo; as I doubt not but he used to rife early to offer up his morning-facrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It is often remarked of people in the Old Teftament, that they rofe early in the morning; and particularly of our LORD in the New, that he rofe a great while before day to pray. The morning befriends devotion; and, if people cannot use so much self-denial as to rife early to pray, I know not how they will be able to die at a flake (if called to it) for JESUS CHRIST.
The humility as well as the piety of the patriarch is observable: he faddled his own afs (great men fhould be humble;)
and to fhew his fincerity, though he took two of his young mer with him, and Ifaac his fon, yet he keeps his defign as a fecret from them all: nay, he does not fo much as tell Sarab his wife: for he knew not but he might be a fnare unto him in this affair; and, as Rebekah afterwards, on another occafion, advised Jacob to flee, so Sarah also might perfuade Ifaac to hide himself; or the young men, had they known of it, might have forced him away, as in after-ages the foldiers refcued Jonathan out of the hands of Saul. But Abraham sought no such evasion, and therefore, like an Ifraelite indeed, in whom there was no guile, he himself refolutely "clave the wood for the burnt-offering, rose up and went unto the place of which GOD had told him." In the fecond verfe GOD commanded him to offer up his fon upon one of the mountains which he would tell him of. He commanded him to offer his fon up, but would not then directly tell him the place where: this was to keep him dependent and watching unto prayer: for there is nothing like being kept waiting upon GOD; and, if we do, affuredly GOD will reveal himself unto us yet further in his own time. Let us practise what we know, follow providence fo far as we can fee already; and what we know not, what we see not as yet, let us only be found in the way of 'duty, and the LORD will reveal even that unto us. Abraham knew not directly where he was to offer up his fon; but he rifes up and fets forward, and behold now GoD fhews him:
And he went to the place of which God had told him." Let us go and do likewife.
Verfe 4." Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and faw the place afar off."
So that the place, of which God had told him, was no less than three days journey distant from the place where God first appeared to him, and commanded him to take his fon. Was not this to try his faith, and to let him fee that what he did, was not meerly from a sudden pang of devotion, but a matter of choice, and deliberation? But who can tell what the aged patriarch felt during these three days? Strong as he was in faith, I am perfuaded his bowels often yearned over his dear fon Ifaac. Methinks I fee the good old man walking with his dear child in his hand, and now and then looking upon him, loving him, and then turning afide to weep. And per
haps, fometimes he stays a little behind to pour out his heart before God, for he had no mortal to tell his cafe to. Then, methinks, I fee him join his son and servants again, and talking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, as they walked by the way. At length, "on the third day, he lifts up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.” And, to shew that he was yet fincerely refolved to do whatfoever the LORD required of him, he even now will not discover his defign to his fervants, but faid, verfe 5. to his young men," (as we should say to our worldly thoughts, when about to tread the courts of the LORD's house) " Abide you here with the afs; and I and the lad will go up yonder and worship, and come again to you." This was a fufficient reason for their staying behind; and, it being their mafter's cuftom to go frequently to worship, they could have no fufpicion of what he was going about. And by Abraham's faying, that he and the lad would come again, I am apt to think he believed God would raise him from the dead, if fo be he permitted him to offer his child up for a burnt-offering. However that be, he is yet refolved to obey GOD to the uttermoft; and therefore,
Verfe 6. "Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Ifaac his fon; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and they went both of them together." Little did Ifaac think that he was to be offered on that very wood which he was carrying upon his fhoulders; and therefore Ifaac innocently, and with a holy freedom (for good men should not keep their children at too great a distance) " spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father; and he (with equal affection and holy condefcenfion) said, Here am I, my fon." And to fhew how careful Abraham had been (as all christian parents ought to be) to inftruct his Ifaac how to facrifice to Gop, like a youth trained up in the way wherein he fhould go; Ifaac faid, "Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?" How beautiful is early piety! how amiable, to hear young people ask questions about facrificing to GoD in an acceptable way! Isaac knew very well that a lamb was wanting, and that a lamb was neceffary for a proper facrifice: "Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?" Young men and maidens, learn of him.