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intended to lead him on to commit a wicked action : for God can neither be tempted with evil himself, neither tempteth he any man to evil: but rather, that he placed him in circumstances, where duty and natural affection seemed to draw him different ways; that, by a ready submission of his own will to the will of God, in the most trying moment of his life, he might approve the stedfastness of his own faith, and set an illustrious example of obedience, to all succeeding generations. When again, the historian introduces God, as saying,
6 Now I 66 know that thou fearest God;" we are not to understand, that God was ignorant of it before: for he knoweth all things, past, present, and to come, and understandeth even our thoughts, long before: but rather, that he intends, by that expression, to declare his full assurance and
approbation of Abraham's obedience : “ I approve “ of thy conduct, and submission to my dic“ tates, of which thou hast now given so signal “ a proof.” When again, Abraham, at the foot of the mountain, tells his servants, that “ he and the lad would go and worship, and
come again to them,” we are not to accuse the venerable Patriarch of deceiving them by a falsehood, in saying, that both of them would return together. For though it was certainly his full resolution to sacrifice the child, in obe
dience to God's command, yet he was no less fully persuaded, that God would raise him to life again, and that he would return with him. He knew, that from him the Messiah was to descend; he knew, that God would never, by any subsequent order, contradict what he had before so solemnly promised: he therefore could have no doubt that God would, in some way or other, restore that life, which, by his order, he was then hastening to take from him; or, as the Epistle to the Hebrews expresses it*, “ac“ counting that God was able to raise him up
even from the dead; from whence also he “ originally received him in a figure;” that is, under circumstances equally hopeless, considering his own advanced age, and the deadness of Sarah's womb. I think there can be no doubt, that this sacrifice of Isaac was a type of a much greater sacrifice; that of the Son of God, who was offered up on Mount Calvary, for our rédemption ; and nailed to the cross, a victim of obedience to the commands of his father. It has therefore been admitted as such, by Christians of all ages, from a just consideration of the exact correspondence, not only in the essential parts, but even in the minutest particulars, between the two persons. The births of both were
* Heb. xi. 19.
miraculous, and foretold by a messenger from heaven; they were both only sons: the names of both of them were appointed by a divine designation : they were both of them, by God's command, offered up in sacrifice; the one figuratively, the other in reality, as a completion of the prefigured sacrifice. Isaac was figuratively dead for the space of three days; that is, from the time of God's command to slay him, to the time of his being bound on the altar, and Christ lay dead three days, in the bowels of the earth : they were both restored again to life: Isaac carries the wood, on which he was to be sacrificed, and Jesus was compelled to bear the cross, on which he was to die. So that, amidst such a. glaring multiplicity of correspondent circumstances, it would be the height of madness to deny, that God intended the sacrifice of Isaac as a type of the future sacrifice of the Messiah, who was to spring from his family. It is not, however, in this view, that I mean to recommend this history to your consideration : I shall not, therefore, enter into a detail of many more particulars, which, if it were necessary, might be brought to support the correspondence between tlie typical death of the son of Abraham and the real death of our great deliverer, the Son of God.
Should any question the right of Abraham to sacrifice his son, as being an act clearly contrary to the established law of reason and nature; I answer, that the command of God was a sufficient warrant for his doing it. He knew, that the same God who gave, had a right to take away ; and that as he had, contrary to the ordinary course of things, made him the author of his being, so also he had a right to make him the instrument of his destruction ; and that, therefore, it was his duty to submit to the divine will, in this hard trial, though he knew neither the reasons nor the end of it. Had there, indeed, been any ground to doubt of its being the command of God, it would have been highly culpable in Abraham, to prefer a doubtful order of heaven to the clear law of nature, imprinted on his breast by the finger of God. But Abraham was too well acquainted with the nature of divine revelations, to have any doubt in this. His long experience of supernatural operations, and his frequent intercourse with God, added to a calm temper and well grounded faith, made him little likely to be imposed upon, by enthusiastic ardors or diabolical illusions. It is plain too, that the very precise mountain, in the land of Moriah, was pointed out to him, by some supernatural power, as a clear corroboration of the voice from heaven, which commanded him to
slay his son. Having therefore no doubt that he, who is the lord of life and death, had called him to be the executioner of his son, he knew, that it was his indispensable duty to obey the order, however hard or contrary it might seem to flesh and blood.
The case, therefore, seems sufficiently clear, with regard to the lawfulness of Abraham's sacrificing his child.
But what shall we say to another act of parricide, recorded in our bibles, which admits of no such justification, and therefore must fill every breast with horror; I mean that of Jephthah's offering up his daughter, for a burnt-offering, in consequence of a rash vow made by him, in his war with the children of Ammon ? Is it possible to conceive that a man, and that not a wild barbarian, should so far forget the dictates of justice and humanity, as to offer up an innocent and virtuous maid ? Is it possible to conceive, that a parent should be so deaf to every feeling of nature, as to devote to the flames a child, an only child, a dutiful and unoffending child, the object of his present joy and future hope? Is it possible to conceive, that a leader of Israel *
whom the Spirit of “ the Lord was,” and who is f enumerated
* Judges xi. 29,
+ Heb. xi. 32.