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when' they cut the calf in twain and passed between the parts thereof. The princes of Judah," &c., “who passed between the parts thereof."
Olympas. Do you remember, Reuben, whether any Greek writer alludes to this custom ?
Reuben. Homer, in the first book of the Illiad, says, “They cut the quarters dividing them in two, and cover them with the fat," when preparing them for sealing a covenant or making a sacrifice.
Olympas. The Chaldeans, Greeks, and Romans borrowed this custom from the Patriarchs. They were wont to imprecate upon themselves destruction should they break the covenant thus confirmed over dead sacrifices.
“That day,” says Moses, “God made a covenant with Abraham,' or gave him a pledge that from the Nile to the Euphrates his seed should possess the land then occupied by ten distinct idolatrous tribes. The Lord also prefigured to Abraham at the going down of the sun, through dark omens, and in a dream foretold the afflictions of his people during four hundred years' pilgrimage in a strange land. He also declared the decree of the reprobation and condemnation of their Egyptian masters, and their deliverance from a servile and cruel bondage. These, together with other items of personal importance to Abraham, were kindly intimated to him; and thus assured not only of all the great points concerning his seed, but also of such inci. dents in his own history as could be gratifying to him, the Lord withdrew from him and left him to his own reflections.
Thomas. As much depends upon a right perception of the faith of Abraham, it being a model
faith, I desire to ask wherein specifically lay its chief excellence?
Olympas. Not, we have seen, in its object; not in any specific promise, such as, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed," not even in the words,“ So shall thy seed be ;" for although according to Moses and Paul, this proposition was that 80 cordially and so firmly grasped by the faith of the patriarch, which secured to him an eternal honour, still the peculiar excellence of his faith was not in that promise, but in the firmness and strength with which he embraced it; being fully persuaded that what he had promised he both could and would perform.
Thomas. I can easily perceive that if the virtue of bis faith consisted in the promise, or object of it, “ So shall thy seed be,” we, not having such a promise tendered to us, never could hav a sii ar faith; and, therefore, must necessarily be precluded from the honours and advantages of the heirs of the Abrahamic faith; yet I have understood you to teach that the salutary virtue of faith lay in its object, and not in the manner of believing it.
Olympas. True; and whenever the question arises about the manner of faith and the object of faith, we strongly affirm the conviction that as it is not the manner of eating, but the thing eaten, that supports life; so it is not the manner of believing, but the thing believed, that sanctifies and saves us ; for a man may eat poison as he eats food, and die through eating; so may he believe a lie as he believes the truth, and die through his faith; for to believe a lie of Satan, or to disbelieve the truth of the Lord, as to eat poison, or to refuse to eat food, will equally end in death. But
the faith that justifies and saves through the object believed, is a faith that doubts neither the power nor faithfulness of God, but acquiesces in the conviction that the Lord both can and will do what he has spoken. There is, then, no promise that can justify or save unless it be believed ; and there is no belief that can justify and save unless there be both justification and salvation in the thing or promise believed. But now we are characterizing the belief of Abraham, and not the promise which he believed ; and so far as his faith is a model faith, its excellence consists in its promptitude and strength. He immediately and firmly received the promise, acquiescing in the power and veracity of God to do what he said.
Thomas. If, then, we hold as certain the promise of forgiveness, adoption, the resurrection of the just, eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord to those that are in him, are we not then possessed of the faith of Abraham, and constituted heirs of an eternal inheritance ?
Olympas. Abraham believed the certainty of the promise with a special reference to himself : if, then, we believe the promise of forgiveness, adoption, &c. with a special reference to ourselves, we are walking in the steps of his faith in the promise, “ So shall thy seed be.”
Thomas. You make a difference, then, between the belief of a general and special promise.
Olympas. No difference so far as simple believing is concerned ; but a great practical redeeming and exhilarating difference between believing that some persons are pardoned, and that I am pardoned. Multitudes believe that Christ died for sinners, who do not believe that he died for them; I say,
multitudes of sectaries believe that Christ died for some sinners, who do not believe that he died for them; and even those who believe that he died for all, and that all are pardoned who have received Christ, there are many who do not rely upon him and confide in him with an assurance that they are pardoned, adopted, and saved. To believe the promise made to us as Abraham believed the promise made to him, is all that we need, so far as faith goes, to constitute us Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise made to us of the eternal inheritance. Few seem not to appreciate the great moral and sanctifying difference between believing Christ and believing in him. Demons believed Christ, but they did not confide in him as their Saviour. Still while believing a person, and believing in a person, are as cause and effect in some instances, and yet different states of mind, those who now intelligently and cordially believe what Christ says, will confide in him ; provided only, they are conscious that they do the things that please him. But there are some other points in Abraham's faith and character that will come in our way as we advance in the biography of this great and honourable patriarch.
Olympas. This chapter opens now, Thomas, to our contemplation. New personages appear in the family group of the venerable Patriarch. Who are they, James ?
James. Hagar is the first, and Ishmael the second stranger to whom we are introduced.
Olympas. Of what race was Hagar, Susan ?
Olympas. In what relation did she move in Abraham's household, Eliza ?
Eliza. She is called the “ handmaid” of Sarah. Olympas. Can
tell how she came into this relation ?
Reuben. From the fact that Abraham and Sarah had been in Egypt, and from the fact that Egypt was the oldest slave-market in the world of which we have any memorial, the probability is, I think, that Abraham bought her while in Egypt.
Olympas. He might have received her as a present from Pharaoh, as one of the old fathers, St. Chrysostom, thought, because the fact of Abraham's having servants is first mentioned in connexion with the good treatment that he received from Pharaoh. Gen. xii. 16. Pharaoh entreated Abraham well for Sarah's sake. “ And he (Abraham) had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and men servants, and maid-servants, and sheasses, and camels.'
Thomas. I should not think it probable, as