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herself, with repeated assurances that this is the heir, this the progenitor of the promised great and mighty nation. It is not possible to imagine any further doubt on this point existing in Abraham's mind. All has been settled for a quarter of a century. During the whole of this time fond hope has had nothing to do but entwine itself about this pillar of certainty. And now can Isaac die and remain dead ? Impossible ! Whatever happens this cannot be. And therefore we say that, at least after the amazement of the first moment has subsided and Abraham can collect his thoughts and call to mind the solid basis of promise he has to go upon, nothing can be more sure to him than that Isaac must yet live and fulfil his covenanted destiny. Either the sacrifice will, at the last moment, be countermanded ; or, though it be even consummated, the dead Isaac must be brought back again to life. The more readily do we perceive that these Divine possibilities must have buoyed up Abraham's faith when we reflect on the way his Divine Friend had led him all his life long until now. The oft-reared altar of sacrifice has familiar. ised to him the idea of substitution : "I ought to die-this lamb dies for me.” “My son, God will provide the lamb." But the altar has done more than teach substitution : it has pointed to an acceptable uplifting and surrender of life unto its Divine Giver. The pure life is given back to God. This is the lesson of the burnt-offering, with its spotless victim, and feeding flame, and sweet smell, and cloud of smoke ascending on high. A lesson this which goes beyond mere death ; for God's delight in a pure life cannot be to end it. The burnt-offering or ascending-sacrifice therefore reaches forward (however imperfectly) to a sublimed, glorified, heaven-ascended life. Doubtless tradition-Divine instruction handed down from the time when sacrifices were first offered -has strengthened the resurrection-lesson of the ascending-sacrifice. Then, too, how much must that night-scene some years ago, already commented on, have deepened this lesson in Abrabam's mind. He himself then came up from the horror and darkness of death to the light and life of fellowship with God-in a figure. All of which renders inherently credible the positive statement of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews that this also was present to Abraham's mind to sustain him in the trial : “ He reckoned that even from among the dead God could raise him.” We conclude, therefore, that Abraham's faith was not only strong, but lively; it was fully fledged : it could rise grandly on the wings of sanctified imagination. With this conclusion the whole narrative down to the nicest details accords :-the early rising; the intimation to the young men that both father and son would return from their worship; the calm reply to Isaac's touching question, “But where is the lamb ?”—“My son, God will provide the lamb."
4. The trial we know was permitted to run the whole length of virtual consummation. Abraham was not spared the pain of binding his beloved son upon the altar and raising above him the gleaming knife. And therefore we may conclude that all hope that he would not be allowed to slay Isaac was taken away. By the time the messenger's voice arrested him he had as good as done the deed. Nothing but faith in resurrection remained. The thought-the readiness—the intention to give up Isaac even unto death, were sustained so as to make the inward act of sacrifice complete. There seems from the first to have
been no hesitation ; there appears to the last to be no recoil. Firmly, deliberately, persistently, faith moves on to victory. It is enough. Now God knows-what is there to be known : sees what is there to be seen. By works faith is perfected. By Abraham's perfected faith God Himself is justified for the confidence He has placed in His beloved servant.
5. The strain on Abraham's mind being at last relaxed, he seems at once in some measure to fall back into the more ordinary line of things in which he has been wont to move. The actual sacrifice of his son being dispensed with, the patriarch reverts to the idea of substitution. Accustomed as he has been to altar-worship, the sentiments of reverence and gratitude raise the instant wish not to have reared this memorable altar in vain. Did he not tell Isaac, on the way, that God would provide the lamb ? Now, then, where is the substitute ? He lifts up his eyes as if inquiringly; and beholding near at hand a ram caught in a thicket, he at once accepts the suggestion, and the ram is taken and slain instead of his son. The life-blood is poured forth-the pieces are laid, the wood is lighted—the smoke ascends—the sweet smell is perceived the Divine Benefactor is adored—the worship is complete.
6. Then Abraham calls the name of the place, Yehweh yireh, “ YEHWEH will provide." Observe he does not name the place, “ Yehweh has provided,” which would have been sufficient as a memorial. He does more than that: be both memorialises and he generalises. From a single crowning fact he draws a broad and standing conclusion, applicable to all possible trials, and all yet-needed reconcilements of seeming contradictions. It is as if he had said: “Let me learn from this day's salvation that, come what may, Yehweh will provide. I am to inherit this land, and yet I am to die before it can be mine: no matter, Yehweh will provide. All the families of the ground are to bless themselves in my seed, yet the families of the ground are passing away and my seed is at present only this young man : nevertheless, all shall be fulfilled, Yehweh will provide." And then it passed into a proverb. Godly men caught up the lesson: “In the mountain of Yehweh,” said they, "shall provision be made." “ If we are only in the mountain of God, only in the way of obedience, no matter though the trial may be severe as was Abraham's, Divine deliverance will come at last.” Moreover-though we do not wish to be fanciful-how can we help being reminded (we put it to any candid Hebrew-how could he help being reminded, if he believed with us that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, and was constituted the sacrificial Lamb of God to put away the sin of the world) that here in this mountain centuries afterwards the Great Provision was made. Yea! to crown all, hear what the Messiah Himself says: “ Abraham your father exulted that he should see My day; and he saw it, and rejoiced.” Did it not strike us at the time—as we marked the early rising, and heard the father's wondrously calm assurance to his son's touching question—that it was as though Abraham was moving majestically on in an elevated mood of exultant expectation ? Having seen so much before, should he not see more than ever to-day ? he saw, and rejoiced.” He was not disappointed. He must needs call upon the mountain to attest his joy. Also the righteous in after days heard thereof and were glad.
7. And now at length the holy covenant comes afresh into view.
With all the solemnity of a second outcry from the heavens, the Divine Messenger utters the words already cited : in which are three things to be observed. (a) The oath : “By myself have I sworn, is the oracle of Yehweh." There was an oath (as we observed at the time) involved in the formal covenanting of chapter xv. ; but with suitable differences between the oath-taking then and the oath-taking now. Then it was not so prominent as to require express mention: now it is set in the forefront of the Divine oracle. Then the swearing was mutual: now it is God alone who mediates with an oath. Then the oath was bound up with a partially fulfilled condition on the human sido ; Abraham being then justified by faith but not by works, his faith not having then been made perfect, and hence he was after that still exhorted to walk before God and become perfect : now all this is changed, and as Abraham has completed his self-surrender and learned to revere God and to trust Him under all circumstances, no further exhortation is tendered, and the Divine assurance is given in the most positive form possible. God's counsel is immutable, and now can be shown to be so to the heirs of promise. Not that God has two oaths, one binding and the other not; but that, so long as a covenant proceeds upon unfulfilled conditions, even the utmost faithfulness does not demand a one-sided adherence to its stipulations. Henceforth the Abrahamic Covenant is immoveable. (6) The formal and emphatic recognition of Abraham's perfected obedience : “ Because thou hast done this thing . . . because thou hast hearkened to My voice.” The whole covenant has sprung from Divine favour, and the character of Abraham has been moulded under express Divine guidance; still, there is the recognition of the final triumphant act of obedience as that on which the fulfilment shall now most certainly proceed. There is no getting over the conditionality of the covenant: only the condition has now been fully performed, so far as Abraham at least is concerned. And unless God can break faith with his Beloved Friend, the covenant must now inevitably go on until every good thing promised in it has been Divinely made good. (c) Although we can scarcely say that anything new appears in the promissory part of this oracle, yet an intensity of expression suited to the occasion everywhere pervades it: “I will richly bless thee and abundantly multiply thy seed," etc. (Compare xiii. 16; xv. 5.). That Abraham might have enemies was merely hinted at chap. xii. 3; here it is assumed that he will have them; but they are to be completely defeated ;—and so once more, over their defeat, the universal blessing to all nations is assured.
Joseph B. ROTHERHAM.
"IN THE BEGINNING."
I disco widely accepted notion that there is difficulty in reconciling the
discoveries believe that many are afraid of science for that reason; they are unwilling to study it for fear that it should tend to shake their faith in the Bible. And one of the most difficult points, perhaps the most difficult of all, to reconcile with Divine revelation, is supposed to be the dis
coveries of the science of geology as to the manner of the formation of the earth, when considered side by side with this first chapter of Genesis. People say that the two do not agree, and therefore that one of them must be wrong; that the two accounts of the formation of the world do not tally. Now there never was a greater mistake. So far from this chapter contradicting the deductions of science, it is a most glorious, a most marvellous proof of their accuracy.
Even at the outset an insuperable difficulty is said to be that science tells us that the creation of the world was a work of countless ages, while the Bible says it was a work of six days; and many consider that these are to be understood as literal days, forgetting that in the sight of the Lord a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years. It seems to me impossible to conceive of time with reference to God the Eternal.
Now let us glance at the wonderful and striking agreement between the revelations of science and those of this first chapter of Genesis.
The study of geology, apart from the Bible, leads us to the conclusion that the various steps in creation were taken, that the various parts of creation were completed, exactly in the order in which they are set down in the Divine Book.
Take the facts as they occur.
The Bible tells us that the earth was without form and void, and speaks of the deep, the waters. Now scientific men are pretty well agree that at one time the earth must have been in a fluid condition. It is said that this is so even now in the case of some of the heavenly bodies, and that in time they will solidify as has already happened in the case of the earth.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind. Here again is science exactly corroborated by the Bible. Geologists tell us that the oldest strata of the earth's surface contain no fauna, no animal remains at all, only vegetable. But this is not all. They tell us further that the earliest forms of vegetation were gigantic grasses, such as are found fossilised in the coal deposits, and
that no flowers are found until a much later period, in fact, very little antecedent to the appearance of man.
The next step in the creation of the world, we read, was the formation of the inhabitants of the water. Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life. Again we have geology going side by side with Divine revelation ; for the first animal deposits encountered in the earth's crust are those of the remains of denizens of the water, huge species of cuttle-fish, &c. After these we come next in order to the fossils of gigantic birds, as in the Bible-And fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
See how exactly the correspondence between science and Divine revelation is here maintained. Geology says that the first kind of animal life was that of the water, and consisted of gigantic creatures now extinct, and that then followed different varieties of birds. The Bible says :-And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind. The coincidence speaks for itself.
But to go still further :- And God said, Let the earth bring forth the
living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind. Once more geology is with the Bible, for it is andisputed that quadrupeds were the next inhabitants of the earth.
And then, last of all, in the uppermost deposits of the earth's surface, we come to traces of man, God's crowning work in the world. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
The correspondence between the chain of events in the creation of the earth as set forth in the first chapter of the Bible, and the same series as deduced by geology, is complete : first the waters, next the dry land, then the vegetable world, then the fishes, then the birds, then the animals, and, lastly, man, after God's own image. It is grand, it is glorious to think that man has been allowed by his own labours and researches to arrive at the same conclusions as are given in Divine revelation as to God's mode of procedure in the beginning.
H. E. SWAIN.
contend, a mere figure of speech,
but a local habitation for the deDEAR SIR,—I have read with much interest the various articles parted, and that it is the interior of
the on the Intermediate State that
earth which we inhabit ? have appeared in your excellent
Yours very sincerely, Magazine ; but there is one point
WILLIAM MACREDIE, J.P.
Melbourne. which, so far as my memory serves, has not been touched, viz., our Lord's words in Matt. xii. 40:" As
ANSWER. Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so Sir,- I have never before heard shall the Son of man be three days it suggested that the "three days and three nights in the heart of and three nights,” of which St. the earth.” This of course cannot Matthew here speaks, referred to
His imprisonment in the any other than the period of time tomb, for that was two nights; during which our Lord lay in His besides which a rock sepulchre grave.
The simple solution of Mr. would surely never be spoken of as Macredie's difficulty lies in the fact “ the heart of the earth.” Com- that the Jews counted any portion, pare this with the words of Jonah however small, of a day as an (ii. 6), “ Thou hast brought up my
entire day of twenty-four hours. life from the pit” (Margin); and Dean Alford, in his note on the with the passage in Numbers when above passage, says, “If it be speaking of Korah and his con- necessary to make good the three federates it is said, “They and all days and nights during which our that appertained unto them, went Lord was in the heart of the earth, down alive into the pit.” Do not it must be done by having recourse these verses countenance the belief to the Jewish method of computing that Sheol or Hades is not, as some time. In the Jerusalem Talmud