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lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, reflected, as it were, in the person of his faithful follower and servant.
The character of Abraham, in its full extent, would lead us far beyond the limits of a single discourse. But the text affords a narrowed field, to which I would invite your steps. Let us then, for a time, accompany the patriarch. Let us witness his departure from his own country; his conduct in the land of promise ; and the prosperity which he there enjoyed. Let us examine the nature of that divine principle, which was the source, at once of his virtue and enjoyment. And let us derive matter, both of instruction and encouragement, from his illustrious example.
I. It is a marvellous fact, that a world, which, within the memory of a few generations, had been created, destroyed, reestablished, and repeopled, by the sole power of one Almighty God, should, in the face of that power, almost universally rebel against his majesty, and bow the knee in idolatrous worship of his creatures. This base infection rapidly spread through the East ; and had already pervaded Ur of the Chaldeans, Abraham's native country. But he was found peculiarly qualified to perpetuate, by hereditary transmission, the knowledge, the love, and the practice, of pure and undefiled religion. It was, therefore, determined, that he should be withdrawn from every dangerous and entangling connection. And he was, therefore, addressed in words, which, at once, tried and acknowledged the stability of his principles, and the constancy of his heart and mind. “ Now the Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house (1), 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.”
1. The generous patriarch obeyed. Without a murmur or a doubt, he forsook his country, because his country was for
saking God. The endearing recollections of his childhood; the chosen companions of his youth; the long-cherished habits of his age ; his plans of future activity ; his prospects of future enjoyment; his country,—that name which embraces all the charities of life, which no adventurer thinks of in a distant land, without a fond hope, that he may at length revisit those scenes which he never can forget ; his father's house,—that residence of purity, and innocence, and unreserved affection, which we love to recall, amidst the cares and competitions of a selfish world, which awakens, in prodigals themselves, the embers of their early virtue ; – all were insufficient to warp his steady purpose; all were incompetent to shake his holy resolution. God had promised, and Abraham believed. God had called, and Abraham obeyed. He, therefore, became a voluntary outcast. He, therefore, traversed regions which he had not seen, to reach a country which he did not know. Assured, that, in all regions, God would
be his guide and his protector. Assured, that his posterity should flourish in the promised land.
2. After many difficulties and dangers, arrived at his destination, the patriarch sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country. He lived a stranger to the habits, the vices, and the idolatry of the inhabitants. He made not any new connection (2); he acquired not any territorial property. Moderation, was the rule of his wishes ; generosity, the measure of his dealings with mankind. He yielded to his nephew, with cheerful and refined courtesy, the most fertile pastures of the plain. (3) He rejected, with noble independence, “ from a thread, even to a shoe-latchet,” the spoils which his valour had redeemed, lest the king of Sodom should say, “I have made Abraham rich.” He declined as a present, but accepted as a purchase, the field and the cave of Machpelah, to be a burying-place for himself and his posterity. “ And Abraham weighed to Ephron, the silver
which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth (4); four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.” But he, who purchased a tomb for the dead, would establish no residence for the living. He built no house ; he founded no city; a distinction, to which, from wealth and influence, he might have readily attained. He preferred, for it was the will of God, the unambitions retirement of the pastoral life. “ He dwelt in tabernacles, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.”
3. But, though a stranger and a pil. grim upon earth, he was blessed with a full measure of prosperity. Endued by the Almighty with strength and power, he was inspirited and enabled, to exert that strength and power, in the defence of injured nations, and the punishment of lawless usurpation. Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, yielded to his prowess. And his nephew Lot, and the goods, and the