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James, in a few short words, passes upon him an eulogium of rare eminence and glory : “ Abraham was called the friend of God.” James ii. 23. And our Saviour, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, makes Abraham's bosom the emblem of heaven. Thus has God made his name great.
He was, also, blessed relatively. The covenant was renewed with Isaac—with Jacob, and his sons. The families of Israel were protected in Egypt, and at the appointed time, brought out of bondage with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. A way was opened for them through the Red Sea; and, for the space of forty years, they were fed with bread from heaven, and furnished with water from the rock. To them, by the ministry of Moses, the law was given from the Arabian mount, and at length they were introduced into a goodly land-according to the promise made four hundred and thirty years before, unto their honoured progenitor—the friend of God. Here Jehovah dwelt among them, in the tabernacle and in the temple, in the Shechina, and between the cherubim, on the mercy-seat. What nation or people under the whole heaven, have been favoured like this people? To them, in the fulness of time, the Shiloh came, as to his own; and though, generally speaking, they received him not, yet it is remarkable, that from among them he selected the first ministers of his gospel ; and the New Testament teaches us that, when that blindness, which has happened to them, in part, shall be removed, they shall be restored to their vacant place in the OLIVE TREE, and all Israel shall be saved.
But, finally, this call of Abram had respect to the moral improvement and welfare of the world—“ Thou shalt be a blessing -and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Now there can be no doubt that Abram, like every good man, was a blessing to his family, and those who had any acquaintance with him. He may have been a blessing also, to many in later times, who have perused the history of his trials and his triumphant faith. But how are all families of the earth blessed, or to be blessed in him? Can this be in any other
way than that the covenant established with him, is founded on the covenant of grace, of which Jesus Christ, his illustrious descendant, according to the flesh, is Mediator? This covenant and its seal of circumcision will be the theme of a subsequent lecture. We only remark here, that in order to find any sober sense in this promise, it appears to us absolutely necessary to admit that it has its ultimate fulfilment in our blessed Redeemer; because neither Abram nor any of his descendants, except Christ, ever was, in any tolerable sense, a blessing, or means of happiness to all the families of the earth. The excellent Mathew Henry has three short remarks on the passage of sacred history which we have been considering, with which we shall conclude this lecture.
“ Those who serve and follow God themselves, should do all they can to bring others to serve and follow him too. Those souls they are said to have gained : and we must reckon ourselves true gainers if we can but win souls to Christ.
“ Those who set out for heaven must persevere to the end, still reaching forth to those things that are before.
“ That which we undertake in obedience to God's command, and a humble attendance on his providence, will certainly succeed, and end with comfort at last.”
FOR THE PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE.
THE ADVANTAGES OF EARLY RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION,
Illustrated in the History of Mr. D. Mr. D. is the son of a very respectable clergyman of the National Church of Scotland. On his early education much attention was bestowed. In addition to his classical learning, he was carefully instructed, by his pious father, in the doctrines and precepts of our holy religion. He was trained, like Timothy, from a child, to know the Scriptures.
But his father, though he thus watched over his growing principles, and endeavoured to bend and form them according to the strict rules of the gospel, had the mortification to observe, that the inclination of his son's mind was more towards the vanities and follies of the world, than towards the sober and staid behaviour required of the true followers of Jesus Christ. This disposition of mind led him, very much against his father's will, to choose the army as his profession. When his father saw, however, that he was resolute in his choice, he allowed him to pursue, in this particular, his inclination, and, by his wealth and influence, procured him a commission.
This youth, now freed from parental restraint, and associated with those who were destitute of the fear of the Lord, revelled in all the loose pleasures and unhallowed amusements of a gay and licentious life. The novelty and bustle of the scene tended to drown, for a considerable time, the voice of conscience. He forgot his father's house and his father's admonitions. Religion appeared to him now to be only the craft of priests, or, at least, the companion only of the melancholy. Hence, he imagined, that the farther he banished this demure and sober guest from his thoughts, the more true happiness he should enjoy.
While he was in this temper of mind, the regiment, in which he was an officer, was ordered to Malta. During his stay there, the island was visited with a desolating plague. Of this destructive disease he became a subject. On his sick bed, he was almost entirely deserted. The state, to which he was now reduced, reminded him of those kind assiduities which he had experienced when under his father's roof. With these remembrances, many of the kind and pious advices and admonitions, which he received from his father, returned to his mind. He now saw how widely he had wandered from that good path, in which he had, by both his parents, been exhorted to walk. This consideration produced in his mind no small degree of uneasiness. The prospect of approaching dissolution, also, gave to the remonstrances of conscience, a sting which they never seemed before to possess. He began now, therefore, to think, that he was not yet prepared for the solemn hour of death. This caused him anxiously to wish for a return of health, that he might enjoy an opportunity of making some better preparation, than he had hitherto done, for appearing before his God. Oh, he thought, if he could but again enjoy the advantages which he lately possessed, he would endeavour, through God's assistance, more carefully and diligently to improve them! These feelings naturally led him to the throne of grace to confess his sins to his God. He had learned the gospel thecretically, and therefore knew, that that scheme recognises no merit in the creatures to whom it offers pardon and acceptance. This knowledge encouraged him in his application to that Cod, against whose laws he was aware he had grossly offended. Self-denied and humble, therefore, he presented himself before his God, and pleaded, in his own behalf, the righteousness of that Advocate who appears in heaven as the friend and representative of penitent, believing sinners. His prayer was not rejected. His heart was renewed; and in addition to this, his health also was restored.
From the bed of affliction, consequently, he came forth, like gold from the furnace, changed and purified. His former companions and sinful amusements were not now pleasing to his taste. He wished much to enjoy again those delightful religious conversations and exercises, to which he had not been sufficiently attentive when he resided in his father's house. The wishes which he thus expressed, made some of his pious friends desirous that some efforts might be used to obtain for him leave to quit the army. Of this he himself also was desirous : but it was deemed by his friends, on reconsidering the matter, upon the whole best, that he should remain for some time longer in the service, as his example might be of advantage, perhaps, to some of his fellow officers and soldiers. To this advice he submitted; and now appears in the army both in the character of a British soldier, and in that of a soldier of the Captain of salvation.
On this short narrative no comments are necessary. Its moral must appear at once obvious to every reflecting mind. It clearly teaches parents not to despair of the success of their labours in educating their children, although they may not see an abundance of fruit immediately follow. Let them go on in this good work. The time may come when they shall see, perhaps, those little ones, over the formation of whose principles they have long watched and prayed, snatched, like the subject of our narrative, “as brands from the burning.'
“Though seed lie buried long in dust,
T. G. M.I.
FROM DRELINCOURT'S VISITS OF LOVE.
Translated for the Presbyterian Magazine by a Layman. Consolation for a Mother who mourns the loss of a beloved Daugh
ter, who died in the bloom of youth. Pastor. My sister: I have been informed that God has been pleased to remove from this world, your pious and excellent daughter. I know that you loved her tenderly, and that she was worthy of your love. You must, of course, be deeply affected by her loss, and not without just cause. For this reason, I have called to offer you some consolation, and to join with you in prayer to God.
Mother. I do not believe, dear sir, that there lives so afflicted a being as myself; excuse my grief, and allow my tears a free vent. I can freely say, as the Prophet Isaiah formerly said, “ Look away from me, I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me.” My greatest relief is to indulge my sorrow, and always to keep my hand on my wound.
P. I pretend not to condemn your tears, provided you indulge them in moderation, such as becomes a professor of Christianity, But, my sister, it appears to me that your affliction is excessive, and I fear that it will offend God.
M. It seems to me, on the contrary, that I am not sufficiently distressed ; and that my grief does not correspond with the wound I have received.
P. I know not how you could be more dejected, unless you wish to weep for your daughter as those who have no hope. This would be a reproach to her memory, as if you believed she was in misery, and, as if you had no assurance of the happi. ness of her soul, nor of the resurrection of her body. For if you are persuaded that God has received the soul of your child into the realms of bliss, and that one day he will raise her body from the grave, and make it conformable to the glorious body of his Son, why should you afflict yourself like a pagan, who believes neither the one nor the other?
M. Dear sir, you know not the worth of my child. It does not become mothers to praise their daughters, and were she alive, whom I now mourn, I should be silent. But since it has pleased God to take her from this world, I shall be excused for honouring her memory, by saying, that I do not believe that there existed a mortal of greater piety or greater modesty than herself. She was gentleness and sweetness itself; and, at her age, it would not be easy to designate a more amiable person. She cherished for her father and myself, all the tenderness we could wish. She delighted in obeying and pleasing us in all things. She loved her friends with the tenderest affection. In sickness, she devoted her best services to them, and would hazard her own health to preserve theirs. She was kind and charitable to the poor; and when she could add something to their little means, she was truly happy. In a word, sir, her soul was so united to mine, that she could not live without me, nor I without her. Hence it is that the separation is so painful, that I cannot support it. A thousand times a day I wish that God would take me from the world, that I might be again with my child, since she cannot be with me.
P. By the graces which distinguished your daughter, God intended early to form her and prepare her for heaven. They were the “ marriage garment,” whitened in the blood of the Redeemer, to qualify her for admission to the mansions of glory. There she has entered at the call of her Divine Master; there will you also be admitted at the period fixed for your dismission. During the remainder of your life, can you not exist without your daughter, inasmuch as you lived comfortably before she came into existence? God is the only being without whom we cannot exist; as it is in him “we live and move and have our being.”
I believe that after the resurrection we shall recognise each other ; but that a soul received into paradise by God, will recognise other souls that are there, and distinguish them from others, is what scripture does not expressly teach us, and which I have some difficulty in believing. It is not then after your daughter that you are allowed to sigh, but after the Lord Jesus Christ himself. “ For while we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord; but when absent from the body, we are present with the Lord.”. Hence, arose the desire of the Apostle, “ to be absent from the body and to be with Christ, which is far better." But, after all, we should be equally content to live or to die; for Jesus Christ is “ gain," as well in life as in death.
M. I cannot recall the amiable character of my beloved daughter, without suffering the keenest sorrow. I am overwhelmed with grief, and can with difficulty support existence.
P. This, on the contrary, is what should be your greatest con