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Olympas. WHEN was it, James, that God said to Abraham, “ Fear not, Abraham: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward?"
James. After those things which occurred in the battle at Dan, or when Abraham refused the spoils of victory offered him by the king of Sodom.
Olympas. It would seem then, William, that this magnanimous conduct of the venerable patriarch had the approbation of Heaven, and that the refusal of reward from King Bera invoked a greater reward from the King of heaven-“I am thy exceeding great reward.
William. I cannot see why the Lord should have here spoken of an exceeding great reward, unless in contrast with the reward offered by the king of Sodom; and, indeed, thus compared, it was exceeding far all earthly reward.
Olympas. Learn, then, from this illustrious example, my son, to disdain reward from ignoble hands for discharging the debts of friendship-for fulfilling the obligations which nature and religion have equally imposed on all the sons of God. Heaven approves this truly noble example of heroic benevolence, of generous and exalted sympathy for a suffering relative and brother. Never accept from human hands a remuneration for having relieved distress-for having discharged the mere debt of humanity and religion. Remember
God said to the venerated father of all saints for such a noble deed, “I am tly shield and thy exceeding great reward.” Tell me, Thomas Dil. worth, why think you did the Lord precede the promised reward with the intimation of a shield ?
Thomus. It would seem that Abraham needed more a shield than a reward, inasmuch as he had exasperated the surviving friends of the vanquished alliance of the confederated kings.
Olympas. True, most true; and in this we have an important lesson and a new incentive to the discharge of hazırdous duties. Can you fathom the full meaning of this, Reuben ?
Reuben. No, sir, if it indicate more than that the Lord will always defend then that do right.
Olympas. This includes all, it is true, that is intended; but it is too general, and strikes not the special point. Some good men have been intimidated from reproving sin and aiding injured innocence, fearful of the vindictive resentments of wicked men, to whom these words furnish a severe reproof and a strong persuasive to faithfulness to the claims of true religion and suffering humanity. Abraham jeopardized his life, his property, and the secure possession of the calm repose and serene contemplation of the greatly exposed position of the shepherd's peaceful life. He hazarded all this on the account of an injured brother, and the demands of an afflicted relative, through the promptings of the tender mercies of the saint. Therefore said the Lord, FEAR NOT: Abram, I am thy SHIELD. It was after, not before, the patriarch triumphed, the Lord promised this special care—this guarantee of property and life. Never then, my son, fear the consequences of
duty: be first persuaded that it is your dutythat the God of nature and religion has so enjoined upon you. Any thing else in this connexion that excites your admiration, Reuben?
Reuben. Yes; I admire Abraham in every point, as his character developes to my mind. He knew the mollia tempora fundi of Virgil; or, as one of the sons of Grecian lore used to say, he knew the kairon gnoothi of Pittacus.
Olympas. Quote not these Pagan authors while we worship God, and meet in the fumily temple. It is as incongruous as to quote Byron and Shakspeare in the pulpit to set off the doctrine of Christ. You mean by these quotations that it is wise to know the proper time to speak, and to secure a a moment favourable to a kind reception. Proceed, Reuben.
Reuben. Abraham at the moment of these new condescensions thought it suitable to ask, “ Lord, how long shall I live without the child of promise, and my Damascene steward be my heir ?" But when the Lord assured him that he had not forgotton his promise, but renewing it with amplification, led him to expect from the aged Sarah an issue numerous as the stars, and countless as the sands, he instantly responded, "I believe it, Lord.” Therefore says Moses, and says Paul, this ready belief was counted to him for righteousness.
Olympas. Thomas, was it the belief in the promise of the seed of blessings, or the belief of the promise, So shall thy seed be”-numerous as the sands, that was accounted to him for justification?
Thomas. Paul says (Rom. iv.) that it was the belief of the promise, “ So shall thy seed be;" for on this account he comments, saying, “ Being not
weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when about a hundred years old, nor yet the deadness of Sarah's womb, (about ninety years old,) he staggered not at the promise of God-(so shall thy seed be )-but was strong in faith, giving glory to God”—his power and faithfulness—“ being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able to perform.”—Therefore it (his belief in this promise) “ was imputed to him for righteousness," or justification.
Olympas. Is this, Thomas, the same sort of faith now imputed to us for justification ?
Thomas. Yes; for, adds the Apostle “ It was not written for his sake that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it—(similar faith in a similar promise)- shall be imputed;" provided we have the same belief or confidence in Him who raised
Jesus from the dead womb of Sarah, and from the barren rock of the Arimathean's sepulchre the dead body of Him who was delivered for our sins to the cross, and was raised from the dead for our justification. Olympas. Well spoken, Thomas. It is even
The same faith in the new promises exhibited by Abraham in the old promises will be reckoned to us for righteousness. I emphatically note this, because many will tell you that it was faith in the Messiah, and not in his promise, that was reckoned. No doubt the virtue is in the object of faith ; but that is not the question here. The virtue in faith, which finds the virtue in the object of faith, is the sincere and heartfelt persuasion of the faithfulness and power of God.
Reuben. But Abraham seems to want a pledge of the inheritance of Canaan, if not of the fulfil-
ment of the promise concerning the nations to be born of him. How are we to understand this?
Olympas. As yet there was no guarantee of the inheritance of Canaan. It had been mentioned, but not defined, nor covenanted. Therefore he asks, “Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it ?” Assurance is naturally desired when the object proposed deeply interests the heart. The painfulness of doubt is ever in the ratio of the magnitude of the interests contemplated. Hence the desire of certainty in all the great concerns of life. The Lord has always kindly vouchsafed itsometimes independant of, and without, the solicitations of man; at other times, in answer to their prayers.
On this occasion Abraham asks, and God tenders a covenant, and all the sacred victims are appointed. You can tell me, James, what and how many were the clean beasts, or acceptable sacrifices, of the patriarchal and Jewish times.
James. They were five:—The cow kine, the goat, the sheep, the turtle dove, and the pigeon.
Olympas. How were they disposed of at this time, Eliza ?
Eliza. The beasts were killed and divided in the midst, and laid each piece one against another on the altar, so that the parties covenanting could walk between them.
Olympas. Can you, Eliza, name any place in the Bible that alludes particularly to this practice ?
Eliza. Jeremiah xxxiv. 18. The Lord says, “I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, who have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made before me