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are ready to say of them as the Jews did of the Apostles, “ These men are full of new wine," they are foolish, they are mad. But they understand each other; though brought from the most distant parts of the earth, there will be found such an agreement between them, as will unite their hearts to each other in the closest bonds of love. What was said of them before their dispersion, may be said of them now again, “ They are all one, and they have all one language.” Though Egyptians by nature, they have learned the language of Canaan”, and are again united in building an edifice that shall last for ever.
Let us then bless our God for these rich mercies; and from being “strangers and foreigners, let us seek to become fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”]
CALL OF ABRAM. Gen. xii. 1-4. Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get
thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee : And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him.
OUR God has been pleased to teach us, no less by example than by precept: and the instruction to be gathered from the life and conduct of his saints, commends itself to us with peculiar force, as being less open to the evasions of criticism, or the objections of prejudice. Doubtless we must exercise a sober judgment in determining how far we are to follow the Patriarchs, Prophets, or Apostles; for there were many things in their conduct which were peculiar to their situation and circumstances. But we can never materially err, if we attend to the spirit of their actions : here they were patterns to us: and as far as relates to this, we are to be “ followers of them who through faith and patience now inherit the promises." We are bidden particularly to "walk in the steps of our father Abraham :" one of the most remarkable of which is that which is mentioned in our text.
We shall endeavour to observe that sobriety of interpretation, while we consider, I. The Call of Abram
The command given to him was most extraordinary—
[The world had speedily relapsed into idolatry. Abram was brought up, it should seem, in the common superstition. But it pleased God to separate him from the idolatrous world, in order that he might be a living witness for Jehovah, and preserve in his family the knowledge of the true God. For this end God appeared to him, and commanded him to leave his country and friends, and to go into a land which should afterwards be shewn him.]
But however strange this may appear, a similar command is given to every one of us
[We are not indeed called to leave our country and connexions: but to withdraw our affections from earthly things, and to fix them upon things above, we are calleda. The whole world around us lies in wickedness b: and we are expressly forbidden to be of the world, any more than Christ himself was of the world. We are not to love it, or any thing that is in itd. We are not to be conformed to it, or to seek its friendship: we are rather to come out from it, and be altogether crucified to ith. We are to regard it as a wilderness through which we are passing to our Father's house; and in our passage through it to consider ourselves only as strangers and pilgrims. If we meet with good acconimodation and kind treatment, we are to be thankful: if we meet with briers and thorns in our way, we must console ourselves with the thought, that it is our appointed way, and that every step will bring us nearer homek. Nothing good is to detain us; nothing evil to divert us from our path. We are to be looking forward to our journey's end, and to be proceeding towards it, whatever be the weather, or whatever the road'. The direction given to the church, is the same in every age; “ Hearken, O daughter, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people and thy father's house; so shall the King have pleasure in thy beautym.” There is no exemption, no dispensation granted to any, no difference allowed.
Some from their occupations in society must be more conversant with the world than others : but in heart and affection all must be withdrawn from it; “not partaking of its sins, lest they should receive also of its plagues n.”]
There will not appear to be any thing harsh in the command given to Abram, if we consider, II. The inducements offered him
These were far more than equivalent to any sacrifice he could make
[He was to be blessed in himself, and a blessing to others. In respect of temporal things, he was blessed in a very signal manner to the latest hour of his life. He was loaded also with spiritual and eternal benefits, being justified and accounted righteous before God, and being exalted after death to the highest seat in his Father's house. He was also a blessing to many: for his children and household were governed by him in a way most conducive to their best interests. The people amongst whom he sojourned could not but be edified by his instructions and conduct: and to this day the whole of his life affords a stimulus to the church to serve God after his example. But most of all was he a blessing in being the Progenitor of the Messiah, “in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessedP;" and every person will be blessed or cursed according as he accepts or rejects that promised Seed] Similar inducements are offered to us also
[Every one who, for Christ's sake, will renounce the world, shall be blessed. He may not possess opulence and honour; but “ the little that he hath, shall be better to him than all the riches of the ungodly." In his soul he shall be truly blessed. View him in the state least enviable according to human apprehension; see him weeping and mourning for his sins; yet then is he truly blessed": he shall have pardon and acceptance with his God: he shall experience the renewing and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit: he shall have “joys and consolations which the stranger intermeddleth not with ;” and in due time “he shall be blessed with faithful Abraham," in the eternal fruition of his God.
He shall be a blessing too to all around him. View him in his family connexions; view him as a husband, a parent, a master, a friend; who so kind, so benevolent, so anxious to promote the happiness of those connected with him? View him in the church, or in the state ; what blessings does he communicate by the light of his example! what evils does he avert
by his prevailing intercessions! Suppose the Christian to be instrumental to the salvation of one single soul; the whole world is not equivalent to the good that he has done. Nor is it that individual soul only that shall acknowledge him as its benefactor; for, all the good that shall arise through the medium of that soul to the remotest posterity, shall be traced up to him as its author; and shall occasion thanksgivings to God on his behalf to all eternity.
Let these inducements be duly weighed, and how light will the vanities of this world appear in comparison of them !]
From a believing prospect of these benefits arose, III. His ready obedience
Notwithstanding all the obstacles in his way, he without hesitation obeyed the call —
[His friends and relatives would consider his conduct as an indication of consummate weakness and folly : especially, when he could not so much as tell them whither he was going, they would be ready to pity him as insane. But as, on the one hand, he valued not the comforts of their society, so neither, on the other hand, did he regard their contempt and ridicule: every consideration gave way to a sense of duty, and a desire of the promised blessings. He believed, firmly believed, all that God had spoken. He believed especially that the Saviour of the world should spring from his loins; and that, through the merits of that Saviour, he himself, together with all his believing posterity, should possess that good land, even heaven itself, of which Canaan was a type and shadow. Under the influence of this faith he was contented to forego all the comforts that he could lose, and to endure all the sufferings that could come upon him”.]
In this he was a pattern and example to all believers—
(If we renounce the world for Christ's sake, and set ourselves in earnest to seek the land of promise, we shall be despised and hated, even as Christ himself wast. But this we are not to regard. We are “ not to confer with flesh and blood;" but instantly and perseveringly to pursue our destined course. What though we have never seen heaven, nor can even tell where it lies? it is sufficient for us to know that it is a land flowing with milk and honey, and that it is “kept for us until the time appointed of the Father.” Nor need we doubt but that it will far more than counterbalance all the sufferings that we can endure in our way to itu. Let us only exercise the s Heb. xi. 8—10. John xv. 18-20. u Rom. viii. 18.
faith of Abram, and we shall instantly set out to follow his steps.] ADDRESS, 1. Those who are at ease in their native land
[It may appear harsh to say, that, “ if you hate not father and mother, and houses and lands, yea and your own life also, you cannot be Christ's disciplex:" but this is the word of Christ himself. It is true, we are not to understand it in a literal sense; for we are not to “hate" even our enemies: but when our friends, or even life itself, stand in competition with Christ, we must act as if we hated them; we must sacrifice them all without one moment's hesitation. On lower terms than these Christ never will accept us: “ We must forsake all, and follow him."]
2. Those who have set out towards the land of promise
[Terah the father, and Nahor the brother, of Abram, accompanied him as far as Charran; and there (from what motive we know not) they all abode five years. God then renewed his call to Abram ; but alas! his father was dead; and Nahor was weary of a wandering life; so that, on the recommencement of his journey, Abram had no associate but his Wife and Nephew. We pretend not to determine any thing of the spiritual state of Terah or Nahor; but their never entering into the land of Canaan may well be a caution to us to “ beware, lest, having received a promise of entering into God's rest, any of us should seem to come short of ity.” It were better never to have begun our journey heaven-ward, than to turn back, even in our hearts?.]
ABRAM'S JOURNEY TO CANAAN. Gen. xii. 5. They went forth, to go into the land of Canaan :
and into the land of Canaan they came. THE call of Abram is one of the most instructive subjects that can occupy the human mind; both because the perfections of Almighty God were most gloriously displayed in it; and because, in it, he shewed himself one of the brightest patterns of obedience that ever the world beheld.