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mountains which I will tell thee of." Could it be true that a God of mercy should require such a sacrifice at his hands? It was not an unknown rite among the surrounding heathen nations, to offer human sacrifices to their false Gods; their children were often sacrificed to Moloch. But the God of Abraham had shewn himself to be a God of love in all his dealings with him, and therefore he could not doubt him now ! Not a trace of hesitation, not a shadow of mistrust is recorded. “ Abraham rose up early in the morning, saddled his ass, took two of his
young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” Two days they journeyed. At length on the third day Abraham saw the place afar off.* He left his servants with the ass, and went forward with his son, upon whose shoulders he laid the wood for the burnt-offering
“ He took the fire and a knife, and they went both of them together." As they walked, Isaac said, “ My father, behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burntoffering ?” And Abraham said, “ My son, God will provide himself a lamb.” Mighty power of faith, that could bear him thus calmly on, for he dearly loved his child. But he knew that God was able to raise him up even from the dead, so having reached the place which God had told him of, he built an altar, and when he had placed the wood in order, he bound his son, laid him upon it, and prepared to complete his act of unhesitating obedience to the Divine com
* Afar off.—This place was called Moriah, or Vision, because it was high land and could be seen “afar off," especially from the south. Gen. xxii. 2-4.
mand by stretching out his hand to slay his son ; that son of promise, upon the preservation of whose life so much seemed to depend. The Almighty did not disappoint the trust of his servant; at that moment his uplifted arm was stopped by a voice from heaven, bidding him not to lay his hand upon the lad, “ for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me." A ram, caught by the horns in a thicket hard by, was offered upon the altar by the glad father, instead of his son, and Abraham called the name of that place " Jehovah-jireh," or the Lord will provide.
Nineteen * hundred years after, near that same spot, did the Lord provide a sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world; for upon this mountain was afterwards built the beautiful city of Jerusalem, outside whose walls the Lord of Life was crucified.
After this last trial of his faith, on that yet lonely mountain's side, did the angel of the Lord, the messenger of the covenant, renew to Abraham, promises of future greatness. Because he had not kept back his child from God, his posterity was to be numerous as the stars, or as the sand upon the sea-shore, they were to be a people prosperous in peace, and victorious over their enemies, but yet more highly were they to be honoured in being made the channel of blessing to all the nations of the earth. All this was confirmed by the oath of him who was the object of the covenant, the matter of the promise, who, in the fulness of time came to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and who will yet be the glory of his people Israel. Who, by his free offering of himself in that very place, proved himself to be the great archetype foreshadowed by the obedient and unresisting Isaac.
* Abraham offered Isaac B. C. 1871. Our Lord was crucified thirty-seven years after his birth at Bethlehem.
Isaac was about twenty-five years old at this time. The next incident recorded in their family history is the death of Sarah, which took place two years after at Kirjath-arba (or Hebron), in Canaan. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. He stood up from before his dead, and spake with the sons of Heth, saying, “ I am a stranger and a sojourner with you; give me a possession of a burying-place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” What a picture does this scene bring before us “ of the ancient world, when there were patriarchs who were at once kings and shepherds." The reply of the children of Heth was courteous and kind. “ Hear us, my Lord, thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead: none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre." Every tribe had its place of burial, and lest the acceptance of this huspitable offer should be looked upon as a formal union with a strange people, it was declined. Abraham, thankfully acknowledging their kindness, asked them to entreat Ephron, the son of Zohar, for the field of Machpelah, in which was a cave fitted for his purpose, that he might have a buryingplace of his own amongst them. Ephron answered Abraham in the hearing of his people, saying, “ Nay, my Lord, hear me, the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people bury thy dead." Abraham refused to receive it as a gift, but gladly purchased it, with the cave that was in it, and the trees which grew round its borders, for 400 pieces of silver, which were weighed out in the presence of all the people. Thus was his purchase made sure to him, being witnessed by all who went in at the gate of the city.* There he buried his dead wife, and there was he himself buried, some years after, by his sons Isaac and Ishmael.
It is very important that our young friends should regard the position of the Jews in a true and scriptural light. Common and unfounded prejudice teaches us in our very childhood to join with the mention of the word Jew, ideas of something very wicked and very much to be despised, as if it pointed out the worst people on the face of the earth ; which prejudice is entirely wrong. In many respects the Jews, as a nation, far surpass others, whilst in morality and in obedience to the laws of the countries where they sojourn, and in regard to what they believe to be the law of God, they are most exemplary. They are not Jews who crowd our prisons and our police-courts; who are guilty of the most
* The city gate was a place of great resort, complaints were heard there, justice done, and all public business transacted. Purchases there made could always be testified by numerous witnesses. There are many allusions to this custom in the Scriptures. And it is well known that the Ottoman Court derived its name of the Porte from the despatch of public business at its gates. The magnificent gate of entrance to the Moorish palace of Alhamra, at Grenada, to this day retains the appellation of the Gate of Justice or Judgment.”—Hartwell Horne.
awful crimes, who stagger from excess of drinking through our streets, whose traffic breaks the law, “ Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy." The sins of Israel, for which men pretend to despise them, are some of them the natural and necessary results of the treatment which they have experienced at the hands of those who called themselves Christians. In the Jewish quarter of our metropolis, all is still on their Sabbath-day, and neither labour nor traffic is heard. On the Christian Sabbath the shops of the Jews are mostly closed, out of regard for the laws of the country. Thus two days in each week are given up, and the Jew, proverbial as he has been made for his love of gain, sets the example to his despisers, and proves the falsehood of the assertion that mammon reigns in the Jewish heart more than in that of the Gentile. Go through some of the streets of Christian (!) London on the Lord's-day, and on every side will you hear the shout of Buy, buy, buy. Every sort of commodity is exposed for sale, from provisions for the table down to the halfpenny novel newspaper. Who are these shouting in the ears of every passer-by, and the cry ariseth up before him, who is the Lord of the Sabbath, who are these ? They are called Christians! Who are the thousands that flock to scenes of amusement on the Sunday, crowding our river boats, and our railways, allured by the cheapness of the conveyance? These are called Christians !
Who, too, are the more respectable tempters of these, many of them poor people? The directors and proprietors of our railways and our steamboats. These, too, are called Christians! Ascend