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and by his subtilty, he causeth him to fall away from the command of his God into sin, and from that time we are become probationers on the earth. (Gen. iii. 1.) And again, in another place, where it saith, The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them, to say, Go,rnumber Israel andjJudah. And now it appears that by so doing, that David committed a great sin: now perhaps some may have hard thoughts against God, concerning this thing, and say that The Lord moved David to do this thing, and then charged him as a sinner for so-doing. (2 Sam. xxiv. 1.) Now if there was no other passage of Scripture to explain this, then there perhaps may be a great argument about it, to know how it was, but there is another passage of Scripture, which makes it appear clear unto us how it was, and that we may find in the 1 Chron. xxi. 1. And there it is said, And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David'to number Israel: so we see here that Satan had a hand in this thing, although God committed it to be, but God's designs are always for good, but the devil's are always for evil; but at the same time, this was a different trial to that of Abraham's, for his was a trial of faith, love, and obedience; but this of David's seems like a trial or a temptation to pride: and we also see in another place, that how Satan stood up to move God against righteous Job, but in this heavy trial of Job's, Satan prevailed not. And again, we see that how Satan was permitted to tempt the beloved Son of God in the wilderness, and who can tell what his precious soul underwent in those trying days and hours? And now my friends, we see plainly that the devil had some hand in those trials and temptations, and who can tell what there is passing between God and the devil, in the times of our temptations. Now, I do not take upon myself to say, that the devil had any thing to do in that trial of Abraham's, but according to what I can see of things, I think most likely he had, for if it was not for sin and Satan, then I think our trials and temptations, would be but little: but for further satisfaction, see my little Book called, Temptation, or the Trials of thc Righteous.
And now speaking of Abraham, and the trial of his faith; now who can tell his grief, and the thoughts, and the sorrow which perhaps took place in his soul at that time; it peihaps may be, according to my serious thoughts and reflections, that Abraham was almost astonished, with great surprise and wonder, at this strict command of God; his thoughts may perhaps be something like this—0 must I offer up my only son which God hath given me, which is so near, and dear unto me? Yes, I must and will obey the command of my God; for I have consented to give unto him, all my soul's desire, but although this be the case with God and my soul, yet at the same time, 0 how can I take a knife to slay my lovely son Isaac? And how can I make it known unto Sarah his mother? and if I do not make it known to his mother, 0 what will his mother do when we are gone, and when I return again, if her son be not with me? 0 will not it bring her sorrowing to the grave ? and how can I return again and tell her what I have done? And it maybe, that•he grieved like Jacob his grandson, saying, All these things are against me, but nevertheless I will go according to the command of my God, and if I be bereaved of my child, I am bereaved; and methinks that Abraham had much need to cry out and say, Lord increase my faith, for ihou knowest that by thy grace, I have aforetimes believed in thee, and thy promises have not failed, but they have been made manifest before mine eyes, until this time, therefors by thy strength I will freely go and do according to thy word, and I will keep nothing back from thee, it may be that the Lord will provide. (Heb. xi. 17.) For the Lord gave, and it is his right, when he seeth good, to take away: and blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job i. 21.) Now, it is not to be found here, whether Abraham told Sarah his wife any thing concerning this trial before he went—probably he did not; for she being the weakest vessel, perhaps the Lord did not suffer this trial to come upon her until they both came back together, and then perhaps they told unto her the contents of all; for it may be that she thought that her trial was enough that they were gone so long before they returned home again, for the place where God had commanded Abraham to offer up his son, was afar off; for it was upon a mountain, in the land of Moriah; and it appears to me, if I mistake not, to be near upon a week's journey, that is, there and back again; so that I think that Abraham had much to reflect upon by the way: but although his trial was great, and the journey was far, yet it appears that Abraham made no delay; for I think, perhaps, that this command of God was given to him in the night watches, or in a vision of the night; and 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 lift up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. Now it doth not appear that he told his young men, but very little about it, no other than that he and his son were going to worship, and to come again; and Abraham said unto his young men, Abide you 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 spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My fither. And he said, Here am I, my son; and he said, Behold the tire and the wood; but where is the lamb for the burnt-offering? Now it appears that the Lord did not sutler this trial to come much upon Isaac until the very last extreme, and then it was soon over, for he being young, and in tender years, his trials was not yet fully come upon him, therefore his father made to him this .reply for his encouragement, and said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering; and we cannot tell how many more comfortable words his father said to him: so. they went both of them together, and methinks that Abraham prayed almost every step that he went, and they came to the place which God had told him of, but it seems that Abraham saw bo lamb for a burnt-offering, but his only beloved son, and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in •order, but still never a lamb to be seen for a burnt-offering, but his only dear son, and the voice of God seems still; surely methinks that it made his flesh and his heart tremble; and he bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood, and still it appears that there was no lamb to be seen for a burnt-offering, but his only dear son. And now my dear friends, one would think that Abraham's eyes gushed out with water, and his heart and soul panted for help, from the God of his salvation; now we cannot tell in this sharp trial what words was passing between the father and the son, it may be that Abraham gave Isaac some very comfortable words concerning God's all-sufficient help, and that if he did die in this righteous work, or act, God was able to raise him up again, or it may be, that he told him in this extreme trial, that God surely would provide. Now, I have seen it, were it as been said, that Isaac was near twenty-five years old at that time, and if he was at this age, then he was a strong lad, or a young man, and it may be thought, that if he had been so minded, he might have greatly resisted against his hand, but it ajtt. pears that he did not, but was obedient to his will, and Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son: for it seems that he saw nothing but his son, yet provided for a burnt offering : 0 inefhinks that the eyes of these holy souls looked one upon another with anguish, love, and affection; 0 who can tell their feelings, when two loving souls were in a trial like this? And again, it may be perhaps that Abraham had these feelings, 0 if I slay my son, O how then can I stand by the fire, and see his dear flesh consumed? and methinks that he had such a feeling for him, so that had it been God's will, then I think that he would freely have died ia his son's stead, like unto David in that case of his son Absalom, when he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom, would God I had died for thee, 0 Absalom my son, my son. But at the same time, this was a different case, to that of Absalom's, for perhaps David thought, or was afraid that Absalom was unfit to die, but it was not so with Abraham, concerning Isaac, for he was a blessed, and a beloved soul, in the sight of God; but still every tender parent feels for his child. But now I repeat these aforesaid words again, and Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son: and now I must allow that Abraham's trial was very great, but his faith, and his love surmounted, and surpassed it, for his love to his God was stronger than death, therefore methinks in the very last extreme trial, that his soul, heart, and lips, may perhaps move within him, and say something like this, thy will be done 0 Lord, therefore I deliver him up to thee, and into thine hands I commit his body and spirit, and remember me O Lord for good. And now I repeat these words once more, and Abraham took the knife to slay his son, but behold how the guardian angel watched him, and stayed his hand, and the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said Abraham, Abraham, and he said, Here ami, and he said, Lay not thine band upon the lad, neither do thou 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 Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and beheld be*J hind him, a ram caught in a thicket by his horns, and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burntoffeiing, in the stead of his son, and surely methinks that when God and Abraham, loosed and released his son, that they embraced each other with love, and. wept for joy, and praised the God of their salvation. But this is not: all, for the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham Out of heaven the •econdtime, 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 the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore: and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, because when he wag proved he was found faithful: And in thy seed, saith the angel of the Lord shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Gen. xxii.) And now we see here my friends, that there was love for love, as much as if the Lord had said to Abraham, Thou hast given me all thy love that thou canst, therefore my Son, for thy son; I did not propose nor intend to force thee to offer up thy son, but only as a proof of thy faith, repentance, love, and obedience, therefore because thou hast obeyed my voice, and hast not withheld thy only son from me; neither will I withhold mine only beloved Son from thee, but I will freely suffer him to be offered up for thee, and not for thee only, but for the sins of the whole world; and iu thy seed, that is to say, in Christ, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice; and he that loveth me, I will love him, saith the Lord, and he that seeketh me early shall find me. And again, I should think that it was likely that Abraham, and his son Isaac returned back again with great comfort and joy, and praised the God of heaven, and methinks that when they returned home again, that Abraham told Sarah the contents of all, and how that God had wrought out their salvation, and no doubt, methinks but what he had a happy meeting of prayer and rejoicing with his household. And nowtI do not think that Abraham ever had a trial to be compared to this afterward, for God saw that it was enough. And now I believe that the sum and substance of all, to be this, that Abraham overcome by the righteous blood of the Lamb, who was slain from the foundation of the world: and I believe that there was a measure of the grace of Christ imparted or given to every man from that time, to profit thereby. Aud this is what I call a common or general grace and faith: and I believe that it is man's talent, and this is. what Abraham made good use of; and by so doing, he wa» promoted or advanced to higher degrees of grace, and he is an ^example, or a pattern of faith, love, and obedience to