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SERMON III.

THE MIRROR OF ABRAHAM.

GENESIS xxii. 1-14.

What holy delight fills our heart, O Father in heaven, in that it is permitted unto us, to appear in Thy presence, to partake of the blessed feast prepared for us in Thy house, and to refresh our souls at the fountain of Thy delight! How would our better self be lost amid the din of the world, could we not from time to time, take refuge in Thy parental heart, and there forget sin and sorrow. Grant, then, O Father, that not one cross this threshold in vain; that not one quit it empty. Grant, O grant, Father, that Thy holy word may penetrate our hearts, that it may strengthen us, and bring us near unto Thee. Give us to understand and to imitate the life of the pious and of Thy saints. Grant that the paths we tread

may lead us nearer and nearer unto Thy presence, until, crowned with holiness and righteous works, “our spirit seeks its eternal home.” Amen.

AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THESE THINGS, THAT God DID

TRY 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.

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,

AND CLAVE THE WOOD FOR THE BURNT-OFFERING, AND ROSE UP, AND

WENT UNTO THE PLACE OF WHICH God HAD TOLD HIM.

THEN ON THE THIRD DAY ABRA

HAM LIFTED UP

HIS EYES,

AND SAW THE PLACE AFAR OFF.

AND ABRAHAM SAID UNTO HIS YOUNG MEN, ABIDE YE

HERE WITH THE ASS; AND I AND THE LAD

WILL GO YONDER AND WORSHIP, AND COME AGAIN TO YOU. AND ABRAHAM TOOK THE WOOD OF THE BURNT-OFFERING, AND LAID IT UPON ISAAC HIS SON; AND HE TOOK THE FIRE IN

HIS HAND, AND A KNIFE: AND THEY WENT BOTH OF THEM TOGETHER. AND ISAAC SPAKE

UNTO ABRAHAM HIS FATHER, AND SAID, MY FATHER. AND HE SAID, HERE AM I, MY SON.

AND HE SAID, BEHOLD THE FIRE AND THE WOOD, BUT WHERE IS THE LAMB FOR A BURNT OFFERING? AND ABRAHAM SAID, My son, GOD WILL PROVIDE HIMSELF A LAMB FOR A BURNT OFFERING; SO THEY WENT BOTH OF THEM TOGETHER. AND THEY CAME TO THE PLACE WHICH 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. AND THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CALLED UNTO HIM OUT OF HEAVEN, AND SAID, ABRAHAM, ABRAHAM ! AND HE SAID, HERE AM I. AND HE SAID, LAY NOT THINE HAND UPON THE LAD, NEITHER DO THOU ANY

E

THING UNTO HIM;

FOR NOW I KNOW THAT THOU FEAREST GOD, SEEING THOU HAST NOT WITHHELD THY SON, THINE ONLY SON FROM ME. AND 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

FOR A BURNT OFFERING, INSTEAD

HIS SON. AND ABRAHAM CALLED THE NAME OF THAT PLACE, JEHOVAH-JIREH: AS IT IS SAID TO THIS DAY, IN THE MOUNT OF THE LORD IT WILL APPEAR.—(Gen. xxii. 1-14.)

UP

OF

A very remarkable, if not the most remarkable passage in the whole of Scripture. History, both sacred and profane, furnishes us with many examples of great and high-minded men who have performed extraordinary actions. They accomplished, with miraculous strength, what to common natures appeared to border on the impossible. But nowhere is there to be found such an instance (the heroic mother of the Maccabees excepted) of strength of mind, of undaunted courage, of unbounded, unshaken trust in Him “who speaketh, and it is so; who commandeth, and His word is fulfilled.” Such an example of a man's renouncing the deepest wish of his heart, the dearest, the most beloved object of his life; in one moment renouncing the happy present, the still happier future, of a tender and affectionate father offering as a sacrifice to God, because God commanded it, his most adored, his only son: such an example, I say, as the Father of the Faithful presents to us, stands far, far higher than any ideal representation of resignation and self-denial. To sacrifice themselves,

how many have done this for an exalted opinion, for a beloved fellow-creature, for their people, their countrybut a father, who had prayed, waited for his son during a lifetime, had formed the highest plans and hopes for himself and posterity, to be fulfilled through his means, who must then devote that son to death! I again say, thou standest far above all ideal models of resignation and self-sacrifice, Father of the Faithful! He knows not, suspects not himself, that such strength dwells in his bosom, notwithstanding all that he has done, all the dangers that he has encountered; but that latent strength is to be awakened, its possessor has to learn that it dwells within him; he is to exercise it, to disclose it (this is the object in this and other instances of trial,) he is to prove to his own and after-ages, what strength is given to the pious and believing of heart; and in this manner he is to serve as a model to succeeding generations, of a life consecrated in thought and deed to his God. How Abraham acted on this occasion, in what manner he was prepared to perform the sacrifice, what then came to pass, how the hero of this history used and improved these circumstances, truly in all these particulars the image of this holy, godly life, will stand reflected before your souls, as in a mirror (we will call it Abraham's mirror,) in which ye also may learn to sanctify and exalt yourselves. Unto this end, O Father in heaven, give Thy blessing, pronounce Thy Amen!

66 AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THESE THINGS, THAT GOD DID TRY ABRAHAM, AND SAID UNTO HIM, ABRAHAM : AND HE SAID, BEHOLD, HERE AM I.” See, my friends, in this godly life, the watchword is, “ Here

am I” (1997); a little word, but expressive of the deepest fervour, of filial obedience, of the utmost unconditional readiness to fulfil the behest of Him who is our Lord and Father. God calls 66 Abraham !” Abraham has no reply save this, · Here am I, Father, speak. Thy child listens; Here am I, I follow Thee: give, take, take or give : Here am I, what is good in Thine eyes, that will I do. Beloved friends, say, is it thus with you;

do
ye

also understand this word in its full meaning? When the follies of the world cry aloud, when envy, revenge, anger, hatred, covetousness, and sensual pleasures call, then, O then, indeed, we answer quickly and loudly: however weak we may be, we rouse ourselves and exclaim, “ Here am I, here am I !” and never tire of repeating, “ Here am I!however frequent may be the summons; but when the Almighty calls on us, for He calls not upon Abraham alone, but upon us also; He calls on us by the voice of reason, by the voice of revelation; He calls on us in the storms of winter, in the breath of spring, in the warbling of the birds, in the lisping of the infant, in His temple where truth is taught unto us, and where love and the desire of righteousness are awakened within us. Is our answer, then, likewise, “ Here am I?” O my beloved, how often do we then hold back, how often do we forget that the voice of the Lord has called upon us also, and shut our ears, and close our hearts to its sound! Say, my friends, how often do ye hear the divine call to provide for the welfare of your immortal souls, to throw down the barrier which superstition, infidelity, error, or scepticism has raised between you and your heavenly Father, and how seldom do ye stand forth and

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