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the God of Ifaac, and the God of Jacob."* That God fhould have condefcended to hold this language concerning Enoch, "who was tranflated that he should not fee death," had been lefs wonderful; for that holy man, who walked with God upon earth, was exalted immediately to a more intimate union with God in heaven. But to speak thus of men who were long ago mouldered into duft, of whom nothing remained among men but their names, conveys an idea of human existence, before which the life of a Methuselah dwindles into nothing, an idea which swallows up mortality, and gives a dignity and a duration to man that bids defiance to the grave. That God fhould fay to Abraham, while he lived, "I am thy fhield, and thy exceeding great reward," was a miracle of grace and condefcenfion; but to speak thus, more than three centuries after he had been configned to the tomb, “I am the God of Abraham," this exhibits a relation between God and the faithful, which perfectly reconciles the mind to the thoughts of diffolution. Indeed it is impoffible to conceive any thing more elevating, any thing more tranquillizing to the foul, than the view of future blifs with which the text prefents us. And this tranquillity and elevation are greatly heightened by the confideration, that Jehovah from the midst of flaming fire, under the Old Testament difpenfation, and Jehovah, in the perfon of the great Redeemer, under the New, taught the fame glorious truth to the world. And what is it? "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Ifaac, and the God of Jacob."
When God was pleased to express his favourable regard to Abraham upon earth, what did it amount to? He led him through a particular district of land, in the length and the breadth of it, and faid "I will give it thee." But Abraham now expatiates through a more ample region, and contemplates a fairer inheritance, an inheritance his own, not in hope, but in poffeffion. Abraham, though following the leadB 2 ing
ing of the Divine Providence, faw the Redeemer's day only afar off: but, in virtue of his relation to God, he has now beheld the dawning of the morning expanded into the pure light of the perfect day. He once felt the events which affected his family, with the emotion natural to a man; he has fince beheld them extending their influence to nations which he thought not of; and he now looks forward in holy rapture, to that period when he, and his Ifaac, and an earthly Canaan, and every thing of a temporal and tranfitory nature, fhall bring their glory and their honour, and lay all at the feet of "Him, who fitteth upon the throne, and before the Lamb."
From Abraham we are removed to a distance of time and place, in which thought is loft, and we seem to have no more intereft in him than if he had never exifted. But the doctrine of the text brings us fo close to him, that we recognise the friend of God, in the midst of myriads of faints in glory; we converse with him, and continue to be instructed by him.
The duft of Abraham fleeps unnoticed and forgotten in the cave of Machpelah; but lift up thine eyes, and behold Abraham on high, and Lazarus in his bofom; his fpirit united to God "the Father of fpirits," and to all the fpirits of juft men made perfect." "And even that duft" alfo "refts in hope:" It fhall not always be left in the place of the dead; it fhall not remain forever a prey to corruption. Abraham purchased a tomb, and buried his Sarah out of his fight; but he has overtaken, regained her, in the regions of eternal day, where virtuous and believing friends meet, never more to be disjoined. Abraham received his Ifaac from the wonder-working hand of Heaven, when nature was dead to hope; at the command of God he cheerfully furrendered him again, and devoted him upon the altar: again he receives him to newness of life, and that darling fon lives to
put his hand upon his eyes. But they were not long difunited; the fon has overtaken the parents; they rejoice
rejoice in God, and in one another; they are the children and heirs of the refurrection; "they are as the angels of God in heaven."
"I am the God of Ifaac." This Ifaac, the heir of Abraham's poffeffions, of his faith, and of his virtues, was, on earth, united to the God of the fpirits of all flesh, by many tender and important relations: by piety, by filial confidence, by goodness, by patience and fubmiffion, on his part; by election, by special favour, by highness of destination, on the part of his heavenly Father. Yet thefe diftinguifhed advantages exempted him not from the ftroke of affliction. Many years did this heir of the promises, this chofen feed, "in whom all the families of the earth fhould be blessed,” many years did he go childlefs. Early in life was he vifited with the lofs of fight, and thereby exposed to much mortification and dejection of fpirit. Children are at length given him, and they prove the torment of his life; they excite a war betwixt nature and grace in his own breaft; difcord and jealoufy arm them against each other; he is in danger of "lofing them both in one day." The one must be banished from his father's houfe, the other mingles with idolators. Behold a wretched, blind old man, a prey to "grief of heart." But these things, on the other hand, diffolved not, interrupted not his covenant relation to God: they ferved but to cement and strengthen the divine friendship: and death which, to human apprehenfion, separates every connexion, and indeed tears afunder every mortal tie, only brought him into a clearer light, and to intercourfe and intimacy, which can never expire.
"I am the God of Jacob." In all the wanderings, in all the dangers, in all the diftreffes of this patriarch; in all his fucceffes, all his acquifitions, all his joys, we discover the relation of God to him, expreffed in thefe words; and we behold the prefence of God with him whitherfoever he went, conftantly relieving the wretchednefs of one ftate; dignifying and fupporting
the felicity of the other. This gave him fecurity from the violence of an incenfed brother; this cheered the folitude of Luz, and turned it into a Bethel; by this the flumbers of a head reposed on a pillar of stone were made refreshing and inftructive; this repreffed and overbalanced the rapacity of Laban; this fupported and fanctified the lofs of Jofeph; this fweetened the descent into Egypt, and diffipated the gloom of death; by this, though dead, he exifts, though filent he fpeaketh," abfent from the body he is prefent with the Lord;" the moment of his departure is on the wing to overtake that of his redemption from the power of the grave. Before God, the diftance fhrinks into nothing. That word, that one little word, I AM, unites the era of nature's birth with that of its diffolution, it joins eternity to eternity," and fwallows up death in victory."
The fame gracious declaration applies, with equal truth and juftice, to every fon and daughter" of faithful Abraham," to every" Ifraelite indeed." We fpeak of departed friends in the past time, we "cannot but remember fuch things were; and were moft dear to us;" but it is the glorious prerogative of Jehovah to employ eternally the prefent in defcribing his own effence, and his covenant relation to his people; "I AM THAT I AM.” "I AM the God of thy father," of thy buried, thy lamented brother, friend, lover, child. And to us alfo is the word of this confolation fent, "Fear not, for I am with thee, be not difmayed, I am thy God." "Thus faith the Lord, that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Ifrael; Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by name, thou art mine. When thou passeft through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they fhall not overflow thee; when thou walkeft through the fire thou shalt not be burnt; neither fhall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Ifrael, thy Saviour." Believing and refting upon this fure foundation, the
christian triumphs in the profpect of " departing and being with Chrift;" he fmiles at the threatening looks of the king of terrors, exults and fings "with the fweet finger of Ifrael," "yea, though I walk through the valley of the fhadow of death, I will fear no evil : for thou art with me, thy rod, and thy ftaff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy fhall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever:"* and triumphs with the enraptured apostle of the Gentiles, "O death, where is thy fting; O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jefus Chrift."t
It is a tranfporting reflection, that the fond wishes and defires of the human heart are warranted, encouraged and fupported by the revelation of God: that the life and immortality which we naturally pant after, are brought to light by the gofpel. It is pleafant to find wife and good men, guided only by the light of reafon, and the honeft propenfities of nature, cherishing that very belief, cleaving to that very hope, which the text infpires. Cicero, in his beautiful treatife on old age, while he relates the fentiments of others, fweetly delivers his own on this fubject. The elder Cyrus according to Xenophon, thus addreffed his fons before his death: "Do not imagine, O my dear children, that when I leave you, I ceafe to exift. For even while I was yet with you, my fpirit you could not difcern; but that it animated this body you were fully affured by the actions which I performed. Be affured it will continue the fame, though ftill you fee it not. glory of illuftrious men would fink with them into the grave, were not their surviving spirits capable of exertion, and concerned to rescue their names from oblivion. I can never fuffer myself to be perfuaded, that the man lives only while he is in the body, and dies when it is diffolved; or that the foul lofes all intelligence on being separated from an unintelligent lump of
* Pfal. xxiii. 4, 6.
1 Cor. xv. 15, 57.