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reasonable as to distrust his Maker, or so timid and base as to violate his laws through any fear of man or hope of human favor, can give no security to the church or to the world, to friend or stranger, that he will act fairly and honourably towards them. What pledge can be afforded of that man's honesty or firmness, who acts weakly and dishonourably toward the first of beings? And what is the guarantee on which any man may lean, who, deserting, like Abram, an honest open course under all-protecting Providence, reposes for safety in the tortuous courses of his own devising. Be it ours to remember and to profit by the experience of one who tried far other ways and found that they were safe: "Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."--Amen.
BIOGRAPHY OF ABRAHAM.-(CONTINUED.
*And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south," &c.-Gen xiii. 1
We know not how it is that the world has dignified with the titles of amiableness and goodness of heart that pitiable weakness that can discern, or at least acknowledge, no blemish in any of our friends. True wisdom dictates that the judgment only is valuable that is according to the truth; and however praiseworthy it may be to cover the failings of our fellows with the mantle of our charity, yet there is no goodness in approving what candor must condemn, nor is it the office of true friendship to palliate the deed which all men discover to be wrong. Were we
to choose a friend on whose good offices we might rely to clear our fame from undeserved reproach, or to attest our merits in the audience of a stranger, it should be the person whose penetration can discern a fault, and whose stubborn candor will compel him to acknowledge it; for such a course, while it bespeaks his candor and discernment, raises him high above the suspicion of those weak partialities which preclude our confidence in less judicious friends, and will secure undoubted currency to all that he may attest for our glory or our good.
It was the peculiar felicity of many ancient worthies to have their actions recorded and their characters delineated by a hand that challenges a confidence the most implicit. While the story of their pilgrimage furnishes ample details for our warning and instruction, incredulity it self dare not impute weak partiality to the delineations of their excellence, nor will the most scrupulous call in question the correctness of their history. The being who has furnished it stands equally remote from the possibility of being himself mistaken, and from the suspicion of being capable of deceiving others. His delineations are therefore valuable, for they have truth and nature; and while the perusal may amuse us it makes us wiser and better. In the scriptures we recognize no piety without alloy, no fame without a spot. We are instructed by the prudence, we are charmed with the amiableness, we are animated by the triumphs of the indubitably virtuous; but we are almost as frequently warned by their falls and cautioned by their punishment.
We left the patriarch Abram, on last Lord's day, hum bled and dishonored by a shameful departure from him whom he had formerly honoured with a confidence that had stood the test of many a previous trial. We saw how readily repeated disappointments and accumulated sorrows may prevail for a moment to divest the noblest minds both of candor and of courage; and we saw what all who try it will sooner or later infallibly discover, that no one will fare the better for yielding to the fear of man where the fear of God should guide him, or for leaning on the resources of cunning and contrivance, rather than adopting a plain ingenuous course and casting himself implicitly on the Almighty for protection
But Abram loses nothing by this record of his follies. We may venerate indeed those imaginary characters which biography sometimes draws without one spot or weakness: but we love as well as venerate that exalted goodness which we see combined with feelings and failings like our own. The elastic spirit of heaven-imparted virtue will not brook the degradation of crawling always on the earth. Though it fall from that high element which is its proper sphere, it will infalliby rebound and move loftily as ever. "Though the just man fall seven times a day, the Lord will lift him up." This facility is known to christianity alone. The creature who hopes salvation without the intervention of a Saviour, has nothing to re-animate, nothing to sustain him, whence once he has fallen, guilty and dishonoured. Guilt takes away his confidence in God, suspicion and fear alienate his heart, and virtue failing as affection withers, he adopts the language of the Fiend in paradise, "furthest from him is best," and sinks degraded in selfishness and malice. But let us only hear that assurance from the scriptures, "if any man sin, there is an advocate with the Father;" let us know how to prepare our altar and our victim; let us have sufficient encouragement to act upon the principle, "there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared:" and then, though like Abram we sadly fall in Egypt, we will renew our vigour as we move for Pales tine.
Abram returned to the Father of mercies; the Father of mercies readily received him: and pitching again his tent in the stony plain of Luz, by the place of the altar he had formerly erected, he re-fits the altar and again provides the sacrifice. The very next events connected with his history prove that he had lost nothing of the grandeur of his sentiments or vigor of his piety.
The patriarch was rich before he went down into Egypt. The partiality of Pharoah had added to his wealth; and he returned to Palestine "very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold." His domestics too, it would seem, were well nigh as numerous as those which crowded the palaces of European potentates. But the world has long since learned that the increase of riches by no means guarantees an increase of felicity. Lot, the nephew of Abram, had hitherto accompanied him in all his wanderings and shared in all his dangers. In early life, while yet he lived in Chaldea, he had lost his father Haran. His uncle Abram had from that time supplied the place of a parent to him. And when the mandate came compelling the departure of our patriarch from his country, and announcing the future greatness of his posterity in Palestine, Lot chose to accompany him, though no mandate from on high enforced his banishment from the land of his nativity, and no promise cheered him with the hope of the safety and honors that heaven had guaranteed to his venerable relative. You will yourselves be the judges how such interchange of kindness and fellowship in sufferings must have endeared to one another the society of these men. Under ordinary circumstances they must have felt a deep interest in spending together the remainder of lives that had been thus far passed in mutual acts of kindness and condolence. Much more must it have appeared desirable to cleave together, remote as they were from all other friends and relatives, and surrounded by multitudes from whom every thing was to be apprehended, and nothing to be sought. For again. it is remarked with considerable emphasis, "the Canaanite and the Perrizzite dwelt then in the land. No dangers, no difficulties, could separate these affectionate relatives.