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THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE.
Go ye, into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every crea ture. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.-(Mark xvi. 15, 16.)
At the close of our last meeting, we were considering the Gospel as taught by Paul, writing to the Galatians ; (Gal. iii. 8. 16;) and referring to the Scriptures which support his view of the subject. Let us proceed. The next in order is, when Abraham is called to sacrifice his son Isaac. And here we cannot but pause and think, how strange! how mysterious! that the great and good God, who hath fixed in every parent so strong an attachment to its offspring, should command a father to be the murderer of his child! It cannot be ! My duty is to nourish, and cherish my child, not to destroy him. The very beast of prey protects its young; how then can I be called to destroy my son? That very son, in whom he has but just now told me, the promised seed should be called; and thus, by his own command, destroy the natural means by which his own promise should be accomplished? It cannot be ; reason and nature revolt at the idea. Such would have been the plau. sible reasoning of ordinary men. Abraham had held com.
munion with God; he knew the voice of God; and, whatever difficulty there might be, for human wisdom to reconcile the promise and the command, what man could not do, might be easy with God. His duty was to obey. He took two young men, and with them his only son, whom he loved, and set out early in the morning to discharge this dreadful duty. On the third day of their journey, Abraham discovers the place appointed of God, requires the young men to halt, while he and the lad would go on and worship. He lays the wood on him who was to be consumed by it, and in his own hand he carries the fatal instrument of death, and the fire, which was to kindle the flame, that would reduce to ashes his only son, Isaac, whom he loved. Who, that has a father's heart, can hear that lovely, innocent boy, in the simplicity of his heart, ask his father, behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? Surely if God had not given Abraham strength according to his day, here his heart must have failed him; but mark the faith, the wisdom, and the prudence of his answer. My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering. So they went both of them together. Arrived at the place which God had told him of; he builds an altar, lays the wood in or. der, binds his son, lays him on the wood on the altar, and stretches forth his hand to give the fatal blow. A moment more, and the life blood of his darling son, shed by the father's hand, would have stained the holy altar. The angel of the Lord calls from heaven; the blow is forbidden; the beloved son is saved, and a ram, caught in the thicket, offered in his stead.
When we have looked at this divine picture of the
astonishing faith and obedience of Abraham, it is im
possible for us not to think of the perfect faith and obedience of his son Isaac. Surely, Abraham, when he was about to bind his son, must have communicated to him the divine command, and he, knowing his father's truth, believes and obeys; or rather, beholding his Father, God, says in his heart, not my will, but thine, be done. When we allow these reasonable conjectures, we know not which most to admire, the father, who gives up the life of the son, or the son who gives up his own life, at the requirement of the father.
Behold the reward of his faith and obedience. The angel of the Lord called the second time out of heaven unto Abraham, saying, by myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is
upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Gen. xxii. 1-18.) Let the advocate of human righteousness here observe, that the obedience of Abraham was the ground of the promise. We take leave to say, that his obedience was the evidence of his faith, and the result of his faith, and that unless he had be lieved it was God who spoke, he could not have obeyed. Here let it be observed, that what God hath now sworn to, he had already promised; and when we acknowledge that the word of God is sufficient to establish any thing, we may be asked, why then did he swear? We find the answer given. That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a
strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. (Heb. vi. 18.) The promise is renewed to Isaac, in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. (Gen. xxvi. 4.) Jacob was told in vision, thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west and the east, and to the north, and to the south and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Gen. xxviii. 15.) Surely all will acknowledge that the thing promised is blessedness, or happiness; and if we would put beyond doubt the extent thereof, let us run over with all possible brevity the promise, as it is given, and repeated. 1st. It is, "in Abraham all families of the earth." 2d. It is " in him, (Abraham) all the nations of the earth." 3d. It is, "in thy seed, (Abraham's,) all the nations of the earth." 4th. It is, to Isaac," in thy seed, all the nations of the earth." 5th. It is, "in thy seed, all the families of the earth." And, as if to make assurance doubly sure, Jacob is told, thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth. Could any thing more fully take in the world of mankind? All are formed of the dust, and it is therefore impossible, that the extent of this promise can be confined to the literal descendants of Jacob. We may be told here that the enjoyment of this blessedness belongs only to believers, inasmuch as those who are of faith, the same are the children (or seed) of Abraham, (Gal. iii. 7.) and blessed with faithful Abraham. (Gal. iii. 9.) This is true, but it is equally true, that while one, formed of the dust of the earth, remains in unbelief, the measure of the promise is not yet filled; it requires that the whole race of man be blessed with faithful Abraham. And we confidently
believe the word of promise, and gladly receive the consolation of the oath of God; it was not intended for unbelievers, but for those who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before them. (Heb. vi. 18.) We need this consolation, for how few receive the word of God on this subject; and we have never yet found an instance, where one would reject the word of God, who would believe him even on his oath.
How well does this view of the extent of the blessing agree with the angel's annunciation of the birth of the Saviour, as good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Who can refrain from joining with the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke ii. 11. 13, 14.)
It has been well said, that Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture; and in this case has it not been so? What pleasure we have received from the consideration of those divine truths, to which the apostolic definition of the Gospel hath led us.
It may here be reasonably asked, what is the enjoy. ment of those who enter into the joy of those promises? We answer, a life of endless blessedness given us in Christ Jesus. THIS IS THE GOSPEL.
We think it will be acknowledged, that without consciousness there can be no life; and if it be said, that there may be conscious misery, we answer, this is no part of our subject; for misery in endurance, or in expectation, or the news of it, or the threat of it, whether to ourselves or others, can never belong to that which is glad tidings of great joy.