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of his own hand, and sometimes by the stroke of the assassin, and murderer, and the executioners of justice. He commanded Samuel to hew Agag in pieces before the Lord. His own right to take away the life of man, gives him full right to command whom he pleases to take away the life of another. He had, therefore, an absolute right to command Abraham to take away his son's life. And his command to take away his son's life, no more required him to murder Isaac, than his command to Saul to slay Agag, required him to murder that captivated king.

Furthermore, God has a right to require men to do that at one time, which he has forbidden them to do at another. Though he had forbidden men to offer human sacrifices in general ; yet he had a right to require Abraham, in particular to offer up Isaac as a burnt sacrifice. And after he had required him to sacrifice Isaac, he had a right to forbid him to do it, as he actu. ally did. Though God forbid Balaam at first to comply with the request of Balak, and go with the messengers, whom he sent to him ; yet afterwards he told Balaam to go with them. God has a right to countermand his own orders. As there was nothing morally evil, in God's commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son ; so there was no inconsistency in his commanding him to do it, notwithstanding his general prohibition to mankind to offer human sacrifices. If we only view the command in the text, in its true and obvious import, we cannot discover any thing in it contrary to the light of nature, or the moral character of God; and consequently, must be convinced, that he had an absolute right to give such a command to Abraham. Let us now inquire,

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II. Whether Abraham could know, that this command came from God. Those who deny, that God could consistently give such a command to him, deny that he could rationally know and believe, that he actually gave him such a command. This they say was so different from, if not contrary to all other commands of God, and so singular, extraordinary, and unaccountable, that he could not have so good reasons to believe, as to disbelieve, that it came from God. Now, it must be granted by all, that if Abraham did sacrifice Isaac, or offer bim upon the altar, that he really thought God did require him to do it, and if he did really think so, it must have been owing either to his own heated imagination, or to the delusion of some evil spirit, or else to some real evidence of God's requiring him to sacrifice his son.

But it is evident, that it could not be owing to his own heated imagination ; because there was nothing in nature to lead him to form such an imagination.--The command was contrary to every thing that God had before required of him ; it was contrary to what God had revealed in respect to human sacrifices ; and it was contrary to all the natural instincts, inclinations, and feelings of the human heart. Though men are apt to imagine things, which are agreeable to their natural and selfish inclinations ; yet they are never apt to imagine things, which are totally contrary to all these natural feelings. It is absurd, therefore, to suppose that Abraham's imagination would lead him to think, that God did require him to sacrifice bis only beloved son, if he did not actually require it. It is especially absurd to suppose this of Abraham, who in no other part of his conduct ever discovered a wild or enthusiastic

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imagination, but exhibited a mind of superior strength

a penetration, and discernment. But supposing that he was actually under the influence of an heated imagination, why did he stop short of his purpose ? why did he

? not execute his original designs, and take away the life of his son ? He had had three days to reflect upon the extraordinary action. He had prepared the wood, laid it upon the altar, bound his son, and lifted his hand to give the fatal stroke. Can it be supposed, that imagination should carry him so far and then vanish in a moment ? Certainly his conduct cannot be accounted for upon the supposition of imagination.

Nor is there any better reason to think that he was under the delusion of some evil spirit. We can by no means suppose that God would suffer such an excellent man as Abraham to be deluded in such an extraordinary case, by the great deceiver ; nor that satan would be disposed to tempt Abraham to do what he really thought would be for the glory of God.... Nor can we suppose, if satan, viewed it as a criminal action, he would have restrained him from committing the crime. But if Abraham was not led to think that God required him to sacrifice his son, by a wild imagination, nor by the delusion of an evil spirit ; then we are constrained to conclude, that he had clear and conclusive evidence of the command's coming from God.

If God did speak to Abraham and command him to sacrifice his son, he could undoubtedly make him know, that it was he who spake to him. God is able to speak in a manner peculiar to himself, and to distinguish his voice from the voice of any created being.--To deny that God could make Abraham know that he spake to him, would be to deny the possibility of divine

revelation, and that God is as able to speak to his creatures, as they are to speak to one another, in an intelligible manner. And if he did speak to Abraham, and require him to sacrifice his son, he would certainly speak in a manner, that Abraham could and would understand. Besides, Abraham was under peculiar advantages to know the voice of God, who had frequently appeared to him, and conversed with him before.... If this had been the first time that God had spoken to him, he might not have known his voice. Samuel did not know the voice of God the first time he spake to him. But Abraham was an old prophet. We have an account of God's speaking to him no less than six times before this. He called him from Haran to go to Canaan. He twice renewed covenant with him.... He promised to give him Isaac before he was born.--He conversed with him concerning Ishmael. And could he not know the voice of God in this instance, as well as in all the other instances which have been mentioned ? He had no doubt, whether the command came from God or not ; for it is said, “ he rose up early in in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up and went unto the place which God had told him.”

This leads us to inquire,

III. Why God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. It seems to be strange, that God should re. quire any man to sacrifice his child, and still more strange, that God should require Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, whom he had given him in covenant love, and in the same covenant had promised to bestow upon him and upon his posterity great and distinguishing

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