« AnteriorContinuar »
fault with, as not well sustained.” But Scripture writers paint character from life;—and life is often inconsistent. Some fifteen years before this indeed, Abraham had firmly believed, and his faith had been “counted to him for righteousness." How inconsistent to doubt now ! There are, however, two or three considerations which may extenuate this. (1) It is the thought of the heart that is here recorded. " He said in his heart, Shall a child be born ?” &c. When we distinguish between this and what he said audibly to God in his prayer, the conclusion to which we come is, that if all biographies were written in this way, the subjects of them would much oftener appear inconsistent than by the method which at present obtains. (2) The natural obstacle to the fulfilment of the promise, was greater now than on the previous occasion ;-himself and his wife being some fifteen
(3) He had to discharge from his mind a belief which he had long nourished and cherished.
Let us suppose any one of us to be called to pass through a similar trial. Something that has for years been a part of our religion, our faith, we are suddenly required to give up, told that it is all a mistake-as Abraham was in effect told, as to his belief, that Ishmael was the child of promise—how we should cling to it! How hardly we should part from it! How sceptical we should be ! Why we see it even now! Demonstrate never so clearly from the Bible itself, that the true child of promise, to us as well as to Abraham, is from the “free woman,” and not from the “bond slave,” and we still cling to the old, traditional, hereditary bondage."0 that Ishmael might live before thee !"
In this prayer we discern :
II. ABRAHAM'S IMPATIENCE. How natural it was!
We take delight in seeing our children rising into youth and manhood, and anticipate the time when they will fulfil our choicest expectations. For thirteen years Abraham had watched Ishmael's growth, and seen him ripening for a glorious future. His hopes concerning the promise have
been almost at noonday, and now they are put back to dimmest twilight, nay to darkness itself. Supposing him not to doubt the ultimate fulfilment, yet to be thus put off ! “After he had patiently endured he obtained the promise;" but now his impatience shows itself in the passionate plea which he puts up for Ishmael. The present Ishmael is better than the promised Isaac. How hard it is to have the present turned into a blank, and only the promise of a prize in the future! To see the schemes of years turned in a moment to foolishness, to have to retrace our steps and begin all anew; watching the slow progress of events, and counting the monotonous tickings of the dull clock of time! the main chance," say the world and the world's spirit within us. “ A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush !" Let us have our portion now. Give it to us with labor and with sorrow if it must be so ; but above all things do not ask us to wait! So Esau despised his birthright. So did not Moses the “great recompense of reward”; so did not Christ; who for the joy set before him, endured the cross,” &c. And so did not Abraham, though for awhile the struggle was sore within him.
Faith in the end triumphed over unbelief, and patience over passion. He hearkened unto the word of the Lord, and in the self-same day “fulfilled his commands." Great need have we all to use the old prayer-meeting formula, “ Teach us how to pray, and what to pray for. Subdue our impatience, and give us the spirit of resignation, and choose thou our inheritance for us : if it may
be so, let Ishmael live before thee ; but in thine own way, and in thine own time fulfil to us thy gracious promises ! are perverse and blindly importunate in our important prayers, our God may give to us what we ask in judgment rather than in mercy.
“God answers sharp and sudden in some prayers, and thrusts the thing we have prayed for in our face. A gauntlet with a gift in it.” But from them that walk uprightly he will withhold no good thing. “ He that spared not his own Son, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?”
III. ABRAHAM'S NATURAL AFFECTION. Consider what he was called on to do—to transfer his hopes and future glory from a lad of thirteen to an infant yet unborn. It would seem to him at first to involve a transfer of natural affection. All the father speaks out in this prayer, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” Perhaps too, he imagined that to make room for another, Ishmael must die. How could he bear to see the lad's strong frame wrung with disease, or to see his mangled and ghastly corpse brought in from some of the field-sports in which he early took delight? It seemed not to enter into the mind of Abraham, or at least only as a re. mote possibility, that in the purposes of God there might be room for both. But in truth to Abraham's natural affection no violence is to be done. “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed and thou shalt call his name Isaac, the gladness and laughter of thy house. And as for Ishmael,” &c. Our God heareth prayer, even when mixed with many of the elements of our imperfect and selfish natures. He is indeed often too good to give us what we ask, but He gives us more and better. He will not substitute our Ishmael for Isaac, but with His blessing gives us both.
J. W. LANCE.
SUBJECT :-A True Character.
“Behold I lay in Zion," &c.— Isa. xxviii. 16, 17.
Inalysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sixty-second. First : Christ is the foundation of a good character.
“ A stone.” He is the model, the medium, the main-spring, of all moral excellence in man. “ The foundation ” is tried, precious, sure. Secondly: Believing is the rearing of a true character. "He that believeth." Man moves by motives, and motives are formed by beliefs.
Thirdly: God is the judge of a true character. (1) He measures it by the law of rectitude. He lays "judgment" to the line, &c. (2) He tests it by the dispensation of His Government.
* Hail shall sweep away,” &c. Truly, “Other foundations can no man lay,” &c.
Theological Notes and Queries.
(The utmost freedom of independent thought is permitted in this department. The reader must therefore use his own discriminating faculties, and the Editor must be allowed to claim freedom from responsibility.]
head of a family to his children REPLICANT. In answer to E.
and servants. First the family,
then the clan or tribe, then the J.J., p. 375. We think that the article on Matt. xvii. 24-27, in
Christ restores the
kingdom the general principles which it
representation of the Divine readvocates, as set forth in its lead- lation to its original pure form. ing divisions, constitutes a suf- He, almost uniformly, calls God ficient reply to the original ques
“Father.” Again, it is evident tion of E. J. J. The passage in
that paternity involves governMatt. xxii. 21, records a reply of
ment; that the father is of neour Lord, which appears to be
cessity a kind of king, that He conceived in the same spirit.
must have righteous laws imCæsar was in possession of the
partially administered, to preimperial throne. He was at the
serve the order and peace of His head of civil government. With
household. Yet these laws themout advocating the Divine right
selves are dictates of love, of of kings, we may say that to
which righteousness is only a civil government it is the duty of
certain aspect. Thus it appears individuals to submit, and that
that “ The Father” is the most one mode of this submission is comprehensive name of God in paying taxes. Not the subject,
His relation to us; that it includes but the government, is respon
all which is necessary for the
heart and the conscience. sible for the purpose to which taxes are appropriated.
[We also insert another reply.) REPLICANT. In answer to QUERIST No. 21, page 377. Accord
ing to the vulgar notion every REPLICANT. In answer to QUER- calamity that men experience, IST 21, p. 377. In early Old is "judgment;" that is, a Testament times, God is unques
penal infliction. But we learn tionably represented as a King. from this, one of the earlier reThe temple was His palace, the cords of the Divine disposition priests His domestics, the Israel- towards man, that our Divine ites His subjects, and their country Father inflicts calamity on His His territory. But it is an easy human children not as a puninference, that kingship itself in ishment” but actually to preancient times grew out of pater- serve them from punishment. nity, out of the relation of the i His “scourge” is not a penal,
but a corrective, one. Man is as in the patriarchal times, when “chastened by pain.” He does Noah was both father and ruler not expiate sin therewith. The ob
over all living, yet the Divine ject of the infliction is to save Magistracy in this life is exer. his soul and to preserve his life cised not “ to condemn but to from the steel of the military or save."—W. FRASER WALLE. other executioner. See Job v. 18. Whatever expiation is ne- Queries to be answered in our next cessary God Himself will provide.
Number, (v. 24.) So long as man deviates
23.-If self-sacrifice, in order from the “light of the living,”
to obtain felicity for another, be and persists in walking according
the sublime of virtue or spiritual to the darkness of human uncer
excellence, is it as such, an attainties, the rod, the corrective
tribute of good ? If so, was it rod of calamity, will be used “ to withdraw him from his purpose,”
to remain eternally unmanifested ?
Would not the creature, in the until he repents and returns. (v.
latter case, have at least mani22 ) This is plainly the expe- fested a higher degree of excelrience of the oldest time and the
lence than his creator ? language of its most ancient re
H. F. HALLE, cord. It is also in perfect accord with the last scriptural doctrine, 24.—When redeemed souls are which declares that
translated to that house in which “scourged,” “chastened,” “ cor- there are many mansions, are we rected,” not to expiate our offences to conclude that they can never but " for our profit.” (Heb. xii. again fall into sin ? If so upon 10.) Hence we may exactly in- what grounds can such a faith be fer that punishment in the strict intelligently entertained ? In sense of the term is never in. Heaven there are angels of many flicted by the Divine Magistrate degrees. Redeemed souls bein this life, and can only commence come angels. Angelic beings are after death. This is certainly free agents—their adoration and the general principle.
service being voluntarily renobjector can adduce any scrip- dered. Angels of the highest tural exanıple of a divinely in- order having fallen, may not the flicted calamity of a temporal redeemed ? Or are we to infer kind, where the object was cer- that redemption has necessarily tainly penal and not simply cor- and clearly effected such a change rective, I should be obliged by or development in the angelic its full exhibition.
economy, that the man-angel unThough the paternal relations like other spiritual beings, can of God to Man include, and are never transgress, fall away, or inseparable from, the magisterial, rebel ?
P. M. H.
The Pulpit and its Three Handmaids.
HISTORY, SCIENCE, ART.
A PRAYER OF SIR WILLIAM JONES.
power, before time began, creat
edst innumerable worlds for Thy Eternal and incomprehensible glory, and innumerable orders of Mind, who by Thy boundless beings for their happiness, which