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by papal imposition, replied that he was not in a humour to perform homage which he had never promised, and which he was not aware had ever been performed by any of his predecessors.

Possibly the following is the letter referred to by Koch. I find it quoted by James Bryce, D.C.L., in his “Holy Roman Empire,” from Migne, cxlviii., p. 568, as a letter from Gregory VII. to William I., A.D. 1080:

“ As for the beauty of this world, that it may be at different seasons perceived by fleshly eyes, God bath disposed the sun and the moon lights that outshine all others ; so, lest the creature whom His goodness hath formed after His own image in this world should be drawn astray into fatal dangers, He hath provided in the apostolic and royal dignities the means of ruling it through divers offices.

If I therefore am to answer for thee on the dreadful day of judgment before the just Judge who cannot lie, the Creator of every creature, bethink thee whether I must not very diligently provide for thy salvation, and whether for thine own safety, thou oughtest not without delay, to obey me that so thou mayest possess the land of the living."

J. CAMERON. Edinburgh.


WONDROUS grace! the dismal hour

When all seemed lost for man
Became the dawn of splendid day,

In God's eternal plan.

2. The traitor sold his holy Lord

To foes that sought His blood,
But this amazing crime evoked

The purposes of God.

3. To raging hate of cruel men,

Almighty power had set
A limit, which it could not pass,

Where shame and glory met.
4. The Saviour saw the golden light

Beyond the cloud of gloom,
In which the ransomed of the Lord

Eternally should bloom.

5. And seeing this His heart rejoiced,

Despite Satanic power ;
He felt that He was glorified

From that most awful hour !






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N the eve of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham is

strophe. The language used by way of sbowing cause for corferring on Abraham this honour touches our subject at one or two points, and will

repay attention.

GENESIS xviii. 16-19.

“(16) And the men rise up from thence, and look out over the face of Sodom ; ABRAHAM also is going with them to set them on their way.

“ (17) Now Yehweh has said : Am I to hide from Abraham what I am about to do ;(18) seeing that ABRAHAM is sure to become a great and mighty nation, so shall all nations be blessed in him ? (19) For I have a care for him, in order that he may command his sons and his household after him; so shall they keep the way of Yehweh by doing righteousness and justice: in order that Yehweh may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken coucerning him. (20) So Yehweh says," &c.

Here, once more, the ultimate results of the Abrahamic Covenant to the outlying nations of the earth, come into view; and that in such a way as to confirm our impression that those results will amount to much more than a mere exclamation of admiration and envy of Abraham's seed by the nations. The good to be realised by those nations seems to be so real as to lie near to the heart of the God of the whole earth. He weaves it into His calculations!

Again : it is manifest that there is to be some connection between the size and power of the nation which is to spring from Abraham and those ulterior benefits in store for the other nations of the earth : “ A great and mighty nation, so shall all nations be blessed in him.” The one nation is to brirg about the blessing of the other nations; and it is to do this by being great and mighty. Assuming now—as it is natural for Christians to assume—that the world-wide blessing spoken of is absolutely conditioned by the advent of the Messiah in the fullness of the times, this passage necessarily brings the great and mighty nation into union with the Messiah as a means to be used by Him in bringing about the blessed consummation : for clearly the great nation must play its destined part either without the Messiah or with Him. To say it will do 80 without Ilim, were to be blind to the subsequent developments of redemption in the Old Testament Scriptures, which Scriptures ever more and more pointedly proclaim the coming of one particular Redeeming Person of Abraham's lineage ; blind also to the failure of that nation, so long as its Messiah had not come, to work deliverance in the earth (Isa. xxvi. 18). To say it will be with Him, is to say what harmonises alike with Old Testament and New; but at the same time it is to say what corrects those who say the Hebrew people, as a great and mighty nation, has no essential part assigned to it in the work of bringing the world back to God.


Here then is a brilliant conception enfolded as a germ in this passage - lamentably absent from the current religious teaching of the day-but spread out in gorgeous colours in the writings of the prophets. God intends to show what He can do in the national sphere; He intends to demonstrate in one particular Abrahamic nation wherein national greatness and strength truly lie; and He intends by this means to make that nation the envy and the emulation, and not only so, but the benefactress also of all the nations of the earth.

GENESIS xxi. 8-13. “(8) So the child grows and is weaned; and Abraham makes a great banquet on the day of the weaning of Isaac. (9) Then Sarah beholds the son of Hagar the Egyptian woman, whom she bare to Abraham, laughing. (10) So she says to Abraham : Cast out this bond woman and her son ; for the son of this bondwoman must not inherit with my son, with Isaac.

“(11) Then is the word grievous exceedingly in the eyes of Abraham, on account of his son.

(12) So God says unto Abraham : It may not be grievous in thine eyes concerning the boy or concerning the bondwoman ; in all that Sarah says unto thee, hearken to her voice ; for in Isaac shall there be called to thee a seed. (13) Notwithstanding even the son of the bondwoman will I make into a nation, because thy seed is he.”

At length from Sarah herself is Isaac born to Abraham. He is not born until faith and patience have been well exercised-not born until all the weariness, and mistakes, and compromises of unbelief have been dis. pelled or superseded. Thus Isaac is emphatically the child of faith, born after the manner of the Spirit; not indeed in a wholly supernatural way, nor yet so that the fault and corruption of human nature should have no place in him; but by natural generation Divinely energised and made fruitful beyond the ordinary course of things.

This fact is of peculiar interest in this first covenant child of Abraham, because it illustrates the principle that Abraham's seed may stand in a two-fold relation to their father, and be his both by nature and by grace, both in the flesh and in the spirit. So that, although nations may be appointed to Abraham, given to him, affiliated upon him by the bond of faith alone without the intervention of the flesh; yet it is possible that one particular nation should come to inherit both Abraham's flesh and Abraham's faith. Of such a nation Isaac is, by the very facts of the case, a most striking type.

The casting out of Ishmael next deserves a moment's attention. Ishmael was the offspring of compromise and of partial unbelief; and, therefore, since such a child could not serve the supreme purposes of God's grace, it really was not wholly fitting that he should inherit along with the child of uncompromising trust, on whom Divine wisdom had fixed its choice. The child of faith alone is qualified to inherit the Abrahamic Covenant, the preciousness of which unspeakably outweighs that of all Abraham's flocks and herds, and silver and servants. Hence, while it is quite possible that something of human infirmity may have mingled with Sarah's indignation when she beheld Ishmael laughing at Isaac, at the same time we need not be surprised when we find Sarah's



demand Divinely sustained. Moreover, on Sarah's part, there may have been a peculiar religious reverence, working out in ber a genuine repent

over her former faltering of faith and rather presumptuous management, in the matter of giving Hagar to her husband. The exceeding greatness of God's grace to herself at length, we can well believe to have made the very sight of Hagar and Ishmael obnoxious in

ber eyes.

Ishmael was cast out; but not from everything. He was not cast out from his mother's constant love. He was not cast out from his noble father's high-principled and affectionate solicitude. Still more : he was not cast out from an ever-watchful and bountiful Providence, in whose lap he was not so much cast as tenderly laid. Most of all: he was not cast out from the circumference of that covenant, the central place in which he was not permitted to occupy with his foster-brother Isaac; for, after the casting out had taken full effect, still nothing had happened to exclude the “ families ” of Ishmael from among “all the families of the earth” towards whom streams of ultimate blessing were to flow. God heard Abraham's prayer on Ishmael's behalf; promised to make of him a great nation ; and gave as reason that he, too, was Abraham's seed.

One thing more before this suggestive incident is dismissed. We have already seen exemplified, in the choice of Isaac and rejection of Ishmael, the principle of election to special privilege. Is there not, half concealed beneath the peculiar expression of verse 12, an intimation that this principle is yet to receive fuller development: “In Isaac shall there be called to thee a seed ?" This is not quite the same thing as saying, “ The seed of Isaac shall be thy seed.” Is there, then, to be some more casting out? So it would seem; and the bistory shows that so it came to pass. Not all Isaac's seed were found worthy to become inheritors of the holy covenant. One of his two sons was “profane.” But we must not anticipate.

Genesis xxii. 15-18. “(15) Then cries out the messenger of Yehweh unto Abraham a second time out of the heavens, (16) and says :

By Myself have I sworn, is the oracle of Yehweh : because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thy only ove; (17) that I will richly bless thee and abundantly multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the lip of the sea ; so shall thy seed take possession of the gate of his (or its] foes ; (18) and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves in thy eeed: because thou hast hearkened unto My voice.”

For brevity's sake, only so much of this deeply moving chapter is cited as immediately concerns our subject. Nevertheless we need not deny ourselves the pleasure of leading up to the paragraph quoted by glancing at the narrative which precedes. 1. It is God Himself this time who puts Abraham to the proof.

No prophet is sent to him with the awful command to offer up his beloved Isaac as a burnt-offering. No “providence" forms the chastening rod; far less is Abraham left to infer, by any process of reasoning, that he ought to sacrifice his son. There appears to be something particularly appropriate in this. God has a right to take the life He Himself has

given; no one else has. Hence it is well that Abraham should receive the trying demand direct from Him who alone had the right to make it : for one can scarcely help feeling that the credentials of almost any conceivable messenger must break down under the weight of such an errand as the carrying of this command. For what father's heart would not be ready to say: “ Unless God Himself bid me, I cannot believe this to be His Will ? Then, too, the reflection comes in, that it has not been the way of God with Abraham to send messengers to him. Abraham is His friend, to whom He has many times revealed Himself; with whom He has freely conversed. Abraham knows God's way; recognises His voice; perceives himself to be communing with One who knows his life's story and reads his heart. And, therefore, as on the one hand it would have been distant and chilling and trying to our patriarch had his Divine Friend now withheld His accustomed self-manifestation ; so on the other, his instant recognition of God, and his consequent perfect certainty that it is His own loving, guiding, covenant God who asks this thing at his hands, cannot but go far to smooth the path of obedience. We are glad, therefore, that it was God Himself who put Abraham to this fiery ordeal.

2. The next thing that strikes us is the time at which this severe testing takes place. Isaac is now about twenty-five years of age. Abraham is now one hundred and twenty-five years old. It is forty-five years since the God of glory appeared to him in Haran, and fifty since He first revealed Himself in Ur of the Chaldees. All this while-for half a century—Abraham has been intimate with God : has witnessed His appearances, heard His voice, built altars for His worship, has sought Him in trouble and found Him to his joy, has been receiving a continual increase of wealth, and been in the position of an honoured and influential Syrian chief. Still more : Isaac himself has been the delight of his father's eyes for the last twenty-five yearsIsaac, a living witness to Divine power, truth, goodness. If such a man as Abraham, at this time of day, is to be really tested, no ordinary trial will do. And thus to the Divine right to demand Isaac we have to add the proportionateness of so great a trial to so great a man.

3. Yet we must not exaggerate the greatness of the trial; and in particular we must not forget how much there was in the circumstances of the case to kindle a lively and sustaining expectation of deliverance from the fiery ordeal. Abraham's position at this crisis is peculiar-in fact, it is absolutely unique. He is called upon to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac; and yet he knows that he cannot really lose him. For is not Isaac the covenant child ? Have not the promises of an innumerable seed been made to centre in Isaac so clearly as to put it beyond question that this very young man must live and become a father ? Just think, for a moment, how the discipline of years has fastened this as a nail in a sure place in Abraham's mind. Time was when, as years advanced and no son was given, our patriarch could suppose that some abatement might have to be made from the apparent meaning of the Divine promise of a posterity. An adopted son might be constituted his heir; or it might be, as Sarah suggested, that a son might be given him for God's purposes by means of Hagar, her Egyptian handmaid. Time was when these diverging thoughts seemed not unreasonable. But God Himself has set them all aside, and at last actually given him Isaac from Sarah

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