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blessings. Though God knew, that the command must tenderly and painfully affect the heart of Abraham; yet it does not appear, that he gave it as a mark of his displeasure, or as a punishment for any deviation from duty. And though God gave no reason to Abraham, why he required him to sacrifice his son ; yet we must suppose, he had some good reason for laying such a peculiar command upon him. It is evident, that Abraham's offering Isaac upon the altar was a lively type or representation of God's offering Christ a sacrifice for the sins of the world. There was a great resemblance between Isaac and Christ. Isaac's birth was miraculous; and so was Christ's. Isaac was a beloved son ; and so was Christ. Isaac was about thirty-three years old, when he was offered upon the altar, and so was Christ when he was made a sacrifice for sin. Isaac carried the wood for sacrifice; and so did Christ carry his cross. Isaac was bound upon the altar ; and so was Christ fastened to the cross.
Isaac voluntarily offered up himself ; and so did Christ. It is very probable, that Abraham viewed Isaac as a type of Christ, for we read, that, he saw Christ's day and rejoiced. And when is it more likely that he saw Christ's day, than when he offered Isaac ? And this seems to be confirmed, by the promise, which immediately followed, that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. But whether one design God had in view in commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, was to make him a type of Christ, or not; we are assured, that he had another very important design in view. And what that design was, we are told in the verse before the text.
66 And it came
after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham. And he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son,” &c. By tempting here, we are to understand the & same as trying or proving. God meant by the command in the text, to try or prove whether Abraham loved him sincerely and supremely. Such a command to sacrifice his son, was directly calculated to draw forth the real feelings of Abraham's heart towards God, and to try, and prove, and infallibly determine whether he loved God more than his son, or any other object upon the face of the earth. This was trying the sincerity of Abraham, just as he allowed satan to try the sincerity of Job. This trial of Abraham's affection, therefore, appears to have been the principal, if not the only end God had in view, in commanding Abraham to offer his son a burnt offering on the altar. It only remains to inquire,
IV. Whether this command to Abraham answered the end, which God proposed in giving it. And we find, that Abraham did actually and punctually obey both the letter and spirit of the command, by which he gave an infallible evidence, that he loved God sincerely and supremely. He rose up early in the morning, and set out upon his journey, which he continued unto the third day, when he arrived at the place, which God bad told him of. There he built an altar, and laid wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood, and stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But at that moment, “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 up
on the lad, neither do any thing unto him : for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time. And said, “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 heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore ; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed ; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Now, we must be fully convinced, that by this act of obedience, Abraham gave an infallible evidence of his sincere and supreme love to God, if we consider,
1. That he obeyed in contrariety to all the natural feelings and affections of the human heart. In many cases, natural affections and selfish motives
induce mankind to pay an external obedience to the divine commands ; but in this case, we can see no room for the operation of these sinister motives. The command itself was directly calculated to awaken every natural passion and selfish feeling in opposition to obedience. As soon as Abraham heard the dread command, what a crowd of difficulties must have started up in his mind, and forbidden him to obey ? What a conflict must he have had between love to God, and love to himself and his son ? Every circumstance of the action, which he was required to do, was extremely self-denying and painful. To have sacrificed any other man's son would have been a hard task. To have sacrificed Ishmael or any other of his children, would have been a harder task. To have sacrificed
Isaac, whom he most tenderly loved, and who was the object of his highest hopes, according to the promises of God, would have been far more distressing, if he had been allowed to do it, at home, surrounded by his family and friends. But he was commanded to go to a distant, unknown, dreary wilderness, and there offer up the son of his love and highest hopes, a burnt offering. It is hardly possible to conceive, that his trial could have been carried to any higher degree.
But this trial he cheerfully and patiently endured. Ye have heard of the patience of Job ; but was it equal to the patience and submission of Abraham ? The evidence of the sincerity and supremacy of his love to God, rises in proportion to the number and magnitude of the difficulties and obstacles, which stood in the way of his obedience.
2. The cheerfulness and promptitude, with which he obeyed the divine command, increase the evidence of the sincerity and supremacy of his love to God. Good men have often shown reluctance to obeying self-denying commands. Moses and Aaron were reluctant to bear the divine messages to Pharoah, and begged to be excused. Jonah dreaded to go to Nineveh and denounce the judgments of God against that city, and actually disobeyed the divine commands. But we have no account, that Abraham stood a moment hesitating whether he should obey the hard injunction laid upon him, or so much as pleading to be excused from performing the appalling and self-denying act of sacrificing his son. Such promptitude and alacrity in obedience, eminently displayed the purity, strength, and ardor of his love to God. His supreme love to God seemed to banish every selfish affection from his heart
which rendered the trial an infallible evidence of his sincerity. If he had harbored any selfish feelings at that time, they would most certainly have manifested themselves by reluctance, murmuring, or complaint. It must be further observed,
3. That his obedience to the command to sacrifico his son, was obedient to the mere will of God, which renders it in the highest possible degree evidential of his real and supreme love to him. God assigned no reason for his command, and he could see no reason for it, but many plain and powerful reasons against it. There was nothing to induce him to obey, but a full conviction, that the command came from God, was expressive of his pleasure, and clothed with his authority.--Some of the divine commands carry their own reasons with them why they should be obeyed. And in other cases, he condescends to give reasons why his commands should be obeyed ; and such reasons serve to excite a prompt and cheerful obedience. But in the command given to Abraham, God gave no reasons why he should obey it, but simply his sovereign will.--And to this will, Abraham paid the most prompt and cheerful obedience, which was the highest possible evidence that he could give, that his will, like Christ's, was swallowed up in the divine will. This was carrying his obedience to the highest pitch, and laid a just foundation for God to transmit his character to all future generations, under the noblest appellation, the friend of God. Thus God constantly accomplished his design in his command to Abraham.
1. It appears from Abraham's ready obedience to the command in the text, that those who are willing to