"Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him; for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." (Genesis 22:12)
In this chapter it is recorded that, "After these things, God did tempt Abraham." "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man, but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed." (James 1:13,14) God was pleased, in Abraham's case, as in the cases of all his dear children, that "grace should be tried." An untried faith is a dead faith.
How solemnly, yet blessedly I felt in the past week a subject that concerns us all. Are we influenced by grace or sin? "Sin shall not have dominion over you." (Rom. 6:14) "But," say you, "I am afraid it has the dominion." Look, sinner, what a tussle your fears and foes have to get you down: and then they cannot keep you quiet: you will sigh and cry to the Mighty One of Israel. I say, what a mercy for grace to reign! Where the Lord gives grace, glory will follow. "Oh! Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee." There is nothing ennobles the mind and enlarges the heart like the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Sinner, grace will cause thee to hate the way of lying: and "all liars shall have their portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." (Rev. 21:8) "He will give grace;" Oh! to have the grace of repentance for what is wrong, and the grace of lively hope centering in Jesus Christ, and the grace of faith, that will lean on no staff but Christ, and the grace of love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us: and grace is followed by glory.
And what a fearful thing for sin to reign and reign unto death. It pays hard wages. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:23) You see, the selfish man is like a greedy dog with a bone: you approach the bone, and he will begin to growl. By and bye he will be taken away, and there will be none to lament him. Oh! to give grace to do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,"--to be more troubled because you cannot be as liberal as you would than anxious to save money: the poor child of God is cast down again and again because he cannot carry out his schemes towards others: and the fear of God will be
"An unctuous light to all that's right,
A bar to all that's wrong."
How I have watched people in my time! I have known rich men, with no children, to be some of the worst: they could not spare a shilling for anybody: they were bound up in their wealth, and never could get enough. Have I not told you, it is money, misery, and the curse of God. What a solemn plight to be in! And why do they not communicate to others? Because they have no grace to do it: grace is the gift of God to his children, "It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." (Matt. 13:11) They do not do what is right in the sight of God and man for want of saving grace. Who maketh thee and me to differ? What have we that we have not received? Others are objects of pity: and what a mercy to differ by the reigning grace of Almighty God! I have been a close observer in my time; and I felt godly peace on my bed yesterday in seeing how grace had upheld me thus far through the wilderness. Why, grace will enable thee to look death in the face, and not turn pale; and will prepare thee for another world.
"Grace reigns to pardon crimson sins
To melt the hardest heart,
And from the work it once begins,
It never more departs."
I am a lover of free grace from the bottom of my soul: what could I do without it?
"It came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham." (Gen. 22:1) He gave him the faith, brought the trial upon him, and then honored him. Oh! what a mercy to be honored of thy God, and to honor thy God in return! "Them that honor me, I will honor; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." (1 Sam. 2:30)
"And said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only Son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." God, when he rebukes and chastens his people, toucheth them in a tender part. "From all your idols will I cleanse you." (Ezek. 36:25) God can cause idols to pierce thee through; and he can take them away. Oh! what a solemn thing to have to do with God, and for him to come upon us and tell us to do something very trying to the natural part; and yet give us grace to attend to his command! He called to Abraham out of heaven: does not God speak to his people out of heaven still? Saul of Tarsus heard the voice of God out of heaven. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" My late wife once said to her father, "I have heard the voice of God, as did Abraham, out of heaven." Her father would not believe it, and said, "If what you say is true, there will not be one in five millions saved."
"My sheep hear my voice." (John 10:27) God still speaks to his people. Cannot you put your finger on various parts of Holy Writ, ("The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life." (John 6:63) which you cannot forget; neither can you forget the consequences of their being spoken to you: yet, when you come upon the words again, you cannot produce the same savor. How many times has the Lord spoken in his Word to my soul! "As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth." (Isa. 55:10,11) It shall fulfill the design of God concerning it. Hath the Lord given thee spiritual hearing? And has he ever spoken to thee in his word, or by two lines of a good man's hymn? Has there been peace attending the voice of God in thy soul?
"Take now thy son." Nothing upon earth was nigher his heart than the son of the free woman,--than Sarah's son. "At the time appointed I will return unto thee according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." And what a mercy for any of us to be children of the free woman! "Cast out the bond woman and her son: for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman." (Gal. 4:30)
"Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." If Abraham had been left to the workings of flesh and blood, or to the power of unbelief, he might have said, "I will do nothing of the sort; I will not kill my son, Isaac; I will die first." But God can give his child resignation to his will, and enable him to do those things from which his natural mind turns back. "Twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God." (Ps. 62:11) Ah! sinner, God's dear people are very sorely tried. What a bitter, solemn trial it is to me, and has been for many years, that the name of Christ, my only Hope and Portion, no sooner enters my thoughts than the devil puts in this infamy, He is nothing but an impostor. Why, he is my only portion; and sometimes I try to bring my mind to think, you know better, you have had Christ revealed, have by faith seen him pierced for your iniquities, and you know it: the most powerful thing you have ever enjoyed has been fellowship with Christ in his sufferings for you, and you know it. But Hart speaks of
"Thoughts we cannot quell nor rout,
The inner man says, "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies." (Ps. 139:21,22) It is so: it is so: I hate them with an abhorrence not to be uttered. Oh! sinner, what a trial it is!
Some of God's people are tried in one way; some in another. I don't know where to find a more harmless, inoffensive old man than I: I would not knowingly tread on a worm, or annoy a dog if you would pay me to do it. And yet, for nearly sixty years, almost night and day, my soul has been infested with murderous thoughts as black as hell: and my carnal mind, which is enmity against God, will harbor them. "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." (Matt. 15:19) These are the things which defile a man. And what can reach the cases of those thus defiled, but the precious, vital blood of Jesus Christ, God's dear Son. Ah! sinner, you would like to have my confidence and assurance,--would like to feel firm on the Rock. Death has lost its terrors as far as my soul is concerned; and I can look at it with a smile. But, would you like my trials,--a spiteful devil injecting into the mind that Christ is nothing but an impostor, and the flesh siding with it. And then, again, a poor harmless creature, and yet to be infested by a countless multitude of wicked desires, for nearly sixty years, till I am black as hell. What but free grace could rescue such a wretch from the bottomless pit? And what can I do but lift up that God that remembered me in my low estate with the mercy that endureth for ever. Oh! to be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, never to be ashamed or confounded world without end!
"Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest,"--Sarah's child, the child of promise; take him and offer him for a burnt offering:--not only, take his life, but burn his body. Suppose Abraham had opened his mind to Sarah, she would have said, "You shall not go a step in the way; you tell me the Lord told you to kill the boy: I don't think anything of the sort. What! will you make me believe God would give me a son, and then tell you to kill him; I don't believe it for a moment." But God told Abraham to do the thing, and make him willing to do it. Oh! think what God can enable his poor children to do. Abraham rose up early in the morning: God can make us willing in the day of his power. Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father, My Father." Oh! sinner, think of it, how God our Heavenly Father gave his only begotten Son. "Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us." Think of Jesus Christ, the Righteous, the Father's unspeakable gift. What love and compassion to the saints moved the Father!
"The Father dearly loves the Son,
And rates his merits high:
For no mean cause he sent him down,
To suffer, grieve and die."
Think of the Father's love to thy poor soul to give his only begotten Son for thee. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that, whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:16,17) I say, sinner; there is no possible way of salvation but the way of God's own finding in the blood and obedience of his Son. Have you ever thanked the Father for Christ, his unspeakable gift?
And oh! to stand, after the trial of faith, and, having done all, to stand! Sinner, why does my soul put this entire trust in Jesus Christ? From necessity; because I have nothing else to trust to. If stretched on my dying bed, and a poor creature were to tell me about my consistent life and my preachments, I should say, "Turn that fellow out of the room." It is because the Lord's compassions fail not that I am not in a burning hell, and never shall be. My anchor hold is in the Rock; and Christ has said, "Upon this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it:" (Matt. 16:18) but there will be a fighting it out to the last. My faith trusts in Jesus Christ not only from necessity but from blessed suitability. Here is One to make the law honorable, and make atonement for my sin, live a holy life for me, satisfy all creditors, remove all mountains, and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. It may well be said, "Unto you, therefore, which believe he is precious." (1 Pet. 2:7) And my faith trusts in him from necessity; for
"None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good."
Sin has marred everything and everybody.
But the saint of God has peculiar trials and temptations: he has wind and tide in his teeth; but "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6) And it is very good of God to sweep out all for his dear Son, and yet preserve us outwardly. Though the hand must be on the mouth, and the mouth in the dust, nevertheless Christ crucified is the believer's All in All for time and eternity. And for ever in heaven it will be the delight, the life, the joy of the souls of the ransomed to adore Father, Son and Holy Ghost for matchless mercy manifested to them. Some of you know that, from time to time, you have vitally felt something in your souls before God. Can you forget it? No. Can you look back to the spot and feel the same? No. Why do you get a sentence in a sermon now and then, and not forget it? Because faith is mixed with the word. Some of you have heard something that has been gracious to your hearts: you cannot forget it; and yet you might go the same text and get nothing: but what God does is done for ever. Some people can hear anything or anybody; while here and there one is glad of a vital touch: power attends that touch; it is the saving grace of God in thy soul. People say we should not have favorites; but I say, to you there is no man like the one whom God, in some measure, owns to your consolation. "Stand-Fast, when he came into the river of death, said, "I feel a bottom." I want you to trace things out: does sin reign or does grace? What has grace done for you? What has it enabled you to do? To part with right hands and right eyes that thou mightest inherit the Kingdom of God? When they said to blind Bartimeus, "rise: he calleth thee," he cast away his garment, and came to Christ for a better. And oh! what a mercy to cast away our righteousness and seek salvation where alone it can be found! And, if your faith is the operation of God's Spirit, no marvel the devil puffs at it. He does not worry those that are still dead in sin, but, if you have an atom of saving faith, he will dash at it. And think of Abraham, the "the father of the faithful;" yet, left to himself, what better was he than you and I? He denied his wife,--could not trust her in God's hand: and, when God left off to commune with him, he returned to his own place. So do you. Saving faith in his Son is of God: and, if he has given it thee, it will be tried: but he is revealed to thee; love embraces him, and thou hast committed thy soul to him, and wilt never repent it. All thy money is in one bank.
Abraham "rose up early in the morning." It makes me think of when I received my commission: I did not confer with flesh and blood. Oh! sinner, sinner; it is a mercy to have to do with the living God, and the living God with thy soul.
"And Isaac spake unto Abraham, his father, and said, My Father." Oh! sinner, Jesus Christ once said, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matt. 26:39) It was impossible: he must empty the cup or his people perish. And, in humble submission, our Surety, or Redeemer, he who loved us with love stronger than death, said, "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? The Father handed the cup, full to the brim, full of the wrath of God: he held out the cup with an unbending hand: if we had been left to empty the contents of the cup, it must have been in hell. Oh! how firm my confidence is in the Son of God! Mine is a
"Faith that stands fast, while devils roar,
And love that lasts for evermore."
Through thick and thin, through fire and water, I must come straight out and say, with Peter, "We believe, and are sure, that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Oh! what a mercy for faith to stand fast while devils roar.
"Behold the fire and the wood." Did you ever get a glimpse of hell fire? "Upon the wicked, he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup." Did you ever get a glimpse of hell fire? And did you ever cry to God to save you from it by the blood of his Son? "Behold the fire and the wood." I once had a narrow escape of my life: and something said to me, if it had taken effect, you would have been in hell: but that was a lie. What a mercy to be delivered from the wrath to come! "Behold the fire." Get the thought of perishing to pass over your soul, and it will give you a pang if you are alive to God. The dead have no pangs: it is the living that feel. See hell fire; and if Christ be not revealed, it will cause thee to heave a sigh to God through Christ.
Did you ever see the knife,--the sword of divine justice,--of almighty justice, unsheathed, hanging by a brittle thread over thy soul; if the brittle thread gives way, letting thy soul into hell?
"But where is the lamb for a burnt offering." Well, now, sinner, is it thine enquiry, where is the lamb? If so, let me tell thee, what Abraham said to his son: "God will provide himself a lamb." God hath provided a lamb: no wonder the devil is spiteful: "the seed of the woman" hath bruised the serpent's head; (Gen. 3:15) he came to destroy the works of the devil; no wonder Satan shoots at faith in thy soul, because he is passed by and damned for his sin.
God hath provided a lamb. "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) Spotted, leprous wretch; the leopard cannot change his spots, nor the Ethiopian his skin; (Jer. 13:23) but, if concerned about thy soul, let me tell thee about him who was delivered for our offences, and raise again for our justification. (Rom. 4:25) For ye are not "redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,--but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Pet. 1:18,19) "For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. And for this cause he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Heb. 9:13-15)
Faith is God's gift: it is of the operation of his spirit: it stands not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. And where saving faith is imparted, that faith must and shall be tried. "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:7)
The wood claved for the burnt offering was laid upon Isaac, Abraham's son. It was an uphill path to the mountain, and he was heavily laden with wood. What an unspeakable mercy, poor sinner, that we can look back by faith, and prove in our experience, that the Son of Man is come, and has destroyed the works of the devil! Oh! that ever the Father should have revealed his dear Son in any of our souls, while there he remains the only hope of glory, we having that
The winds and floods arose on the building, but could not shake it, because it was founded upon a Rock. How many years my poor soul has been exposed to the blasts of hell,--the fiery darts of the devil,--days of darkness and desertion.
"Long nights of darkness dwell below,
With scarce one cheering ray,
But the bright world to which we go,
Is one eternal day."
According to the promise, "The righteous also shall hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands," the graces of the Spirit,--faith that worketh by love, "shall be stronger and stronger." For "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Proverbs 4:18) But "the way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble." (Proverbs 4:19)
Now Abraham and Isaac went up the mountain. The weight was laid upon Isaac. Isaac saw the fire and the knife, but could not see the lamb for a burnt offering. Oh! sinner, sinner; art thou brought to see something of hell fire due to sin, something of the knife, the sword of justice to cut down the transgressor? And art thou inquiring for the Lamb? Did he die for me? Will he manifest salvation to my soul? With what eagerness the Psalmist breaks forth, and say, "Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation." (Psalm 35:3) How many things are said to encourage those that wait for him! "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord: we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." (Isa. 25:9)
"My son, God will provide himself a lamb." He hath provided a Lamb in his co-equal Son, who dwelt in mutual love with him from everlasting. God hath provided;--it is a thing done, accomplished, and accomplished in the experience of some of us.
"And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him upon the altar upon the wood." Oh! what a solemn spot! He built an altar,--laid the wood in order. Have you ever had the wood laid in order upon your conscience? I have had to read over the ten commandments, and, in thought or deed, plead guilty to the whole. Oh! to have thy secret sins set in the light of God's countenance,--to have thy sins, in battle array, charged home by the Holy Ghost! I felt at that time my days were swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and were spent without hope. I wandered solitarily in supplication and confession to my God. The days of darkness were many in my soul's feeling, with, touching divine favor,
For the proof,
Of my proper title."
Now and then I was helped, and then nearly in despair. How sweet once, in my seeking days, were those words (I shall never forget them,) "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy." (Ps. 33:18) And, at that time, how God preserved me tenderly in his fear! I am half ashamed to confess it, but it is too true; in after time a vile principle would present itself to my mind,--why, you need not have been so particular; you could not have marred the covenant, or been plucked out of the Lord's hand. But I am glad at heart that God of his mercy preserved me tenderly in his fear; though I look back on some things with trouble and remorse. I have great communion with David's prayer, "Remember not the sins of my youth:" I am glad the greenness of youth is gone; and gone for ever: but there is rubbish enough in my mind now to sink me to hell but for the blood of Christ;--sins against light, love and mercy received. "Pardon," says the Psalmist, "mine iniquity, for it is great." Curious plea! Think of the iniquities of a wicked heart, teeming up month after month; Oh! that ever God should pardon our iniquity; "for it is great." "Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities." (Ps. 130:7,8) How this suits my poor soul! Does it not suit you? "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness sake, O Lord." (Ps. 25:7) I know the publican's prayer will be suitable to me in life and death: "God be merciful to me a sinner." And, recollect,
"Sinners are high in his esteem,
And sinners highly value him."
"And laid him upon the altar upon the wood." Think of Christ, the golden altar of Deity, that sanctifies the gift, and stamps infinite dignity upon the offering. Abraham laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son. His son was speechless. Poor sinner, when condemned at God's bar, what can we say, or plead? We could not answer for one sin of a thousand. "Open thy mouth for the dumb, in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." (Prov. 31:8,9) The dumb hath his hand on his mouth, and his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope.
Isaac was speechless: he was bound hand and foot, and laid on the altar. "And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son." Think of the omniscient God viewing the solemn scene. At the nick of time, he spoke to Abraham out of heaven; "Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad." Oh! sinner; think of it: did not the Lord bid Moses smite the rock, and the waters gushed out? Did not the sword of justice pass the church by, and, flaming, plunge into Christ? We sinned, and Jesus died.
"Behold a scene of matchless grace,
'Tis Jesus in the sinner's place;
Heaven's brightest glory put to shame,
That sinners might revere his name.
"What wonderous love, what mysteries,
In this appointment shine;
My breaches of the law are his,
And his obedience mine."
"This is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Jer. 23:6)
"For now I know that thou fearest God." The filial fear of God enables the child of God to obey God's commands, even the most difficult. What proof have we that we fear God? Though there may be much to be ashamed of, can we look back and trace something of the filial fear of God?
"They only that fear him the truth can discern,
For living so near him, his secrets they learn."
Now, through life, what a dread I have had of trifling with the souls of men! Many a time I have had an opportunity to speak a kind word to back up people's religion, and promise them heaven, but dared not do it. Oh! sinner, sinner, it is said of some hirelings that, "Through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." (2 Pet. 2:3) Let a hireling get wealth, and what will it avail him when he is burning in the billows of eternal fire in hell?
"Seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." Even when it has been my own child, I have had grace to bow to the sovereignty of God: I have not dared to trifle with my child's soul. It makes the road very narrow, but it is the only safe path to glory. And, you see, God, who has preserved me has provided for me. What a mercy to be kept, guided by his counsel, and afterward received to glory. I feel I would not deceive a man's soul for all he possesses in the world: but it is God must make us honest and keep us honest.
"And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked." Sinner, if you are enabled to stand for God's truth, and stand clear touching mortals, God will make a way for you. Your flesh might wriggle, like a salted worm; but as sure as the Lord makes you honest, he will consider your trouble, and know your soul in adversities. "Lacked ye anything?" No Lord; nothing. "And behold, behind him." Hart says--
"I looked for hell; he brought me heaven.
Cheer up, said he; dismiss thy fear;
Cheer up, thy sins are all forgiven,
What! me! Yes.
But for the future, Lord--I am
Thy great salvation, perfect, whole."
Oh! sinner, think of it; how many of God's poor people have been looking for destruction when Jesus has said to their souls, "I am thy salvation." We have looked for wrath and found mercy; looked for hell, and had the opening of the kingdom of heaven to our souls.
"And behold a ram caught in a thicket by his horns." Think of the thicket of covenant engagements,--everlasting love. How Christ was held in the thicket by the horns of his Godhead power!
"And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his Son." "Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire." (Exod. 12:9) Oh! to see, feel and be assured his soul was roasted in the fire for thy sins, that thou mightest live to his glory.
"He bore for us th' avenging ire,
And plucked us burning from the fire."
Here we see the Altar of Duty,--the wood laid in order,--the church's sin; and the sacrifice to make atonement. "Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king, (the devil) it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood:" fallen angels and fallen men collect the wood: "the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." By the breath of his mouth, God slays the wicked. Unregenerate men are passed by,--left to work out their own destruction, while God is everlastingly clear and just. "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he:" (Deut. 32:4) just in saving by the death of his Son, just in destroying the wicked by the breath of his mouth. Oh! what a mercy to have an interest in the Lord Jesus Christ who delivers from second death! "Where no wood is there the fire goeth out." Why does the fire of the wrath of God never go out in hell? Because sin is never atoned for, never put away. "Where no wood is there the fire goeth out." Christ hath made reconciliation, brought in everlasting righteousness: (Dan. 9:24) and those interested in his life and death and "complete in him" are saved in him. The church's sin is put away: there is no wood: the fire goeth out. "On such the second death hath no power." (Rev. 20:6)
"And offered him up for a burnt offering," mark that; think of the fire of God's wrath due to millions of the human race: how it scorched the soul of Jesus Christ! Think how millions of hells burst on the suffering Lamb of God: he
"Bore all Incarnate God could bear,
With strength enough and none to spare."
He put out hell fire due to the sins of his saints, by his atoning blood, and brought life and immortality to light by the gospel. (2 Tim. 1:10)
"We broke his body, spilt his blood,
And both became our living food."
He was made sin for us, a curse for us: he suffered in our stead, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.
"And Abraham called the name of that place, Jehovah-Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen." The words Jehovah Jireh mean, "The Lord will see and provide." Sinner, art thou in trial, in heart-felt distress? Thy heavenly Father seeth it, and will provide a way of escape: he shall deliver thee in six troubles and, when called to die, he will not forsake thee. "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days so shall thy strength be:" (Deut. 33:25) God has said it, and will make it good. And there is not a gracious promise in the Bible that one of his redeemed can point to, and say, "That promise failed me at such a time."
Jesus Christ finished transgression and brought in everlasting righteousness: and thanks be to God for hope of interest in Jesus Christ, the Rock of ages, on which his church is built.
"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." I have had some solemn thoughts lately about dying and appearing before God, the judge of all. If he should fulfill this promise in our case what a mercy! "In blessing I will bless thee." If the Father feels this towards us for the sake of his Son; if God, our Heavenly Father, should manifest himself, and in blessing, bless us, who is to keep us out of glory, or separate us from the church's Head, or from the ransomed of the Lord, redeemed by blood? "And in multiplying, I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies." And, because thou hast obeyed my voice, and not withheld thy son from me, in Isaac, the freeborn child, shall thy seed be called. Oh! to have an interest in the perfect gifts of gospel grace treasured up for his Isaacs in the Son of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
"So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba: and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba."
Sinner, it is a solemn thought; we must all die and appear before God. It is not what mortals think or say of us; "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." When we die and appear before God, Oh! if he should feel toward us what he felt and proclaimed toward Abraham; "In blessing I will bless thee." But what a woeful thing to be frowned down to perdition for our sins! It is not what we say or profess: we must appear before God: and he knoweth them that are his; and, if pleased with us for his Son's sake, he will manifest what he said to Abraham; "In blessing I will bless thee," everlastingly bless thee, own thee, welcome thee home to glory with a Father's everlasting smile.
What a mercy for you and me to have grace to obey the voice of God! "Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any man be hearer of the Word, and not a doer; he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James 1:22-25) Yesterday morning how I saw that the grace of God, the compassion of God had attended me all these years, and would see me home. It had a peaceable effect: it enabled a poor sinner to look death in the face, and not turn pale; and to feel what God says, that his blessing maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.