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heaven — by which they will have fellowship one with another; and with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ!
Therefore, brethren, follow after charity! pursue it with untiring step. It is, after all, the one thing most needful; more to be coveted than riches, or honours, or rank, or success in life, or any of the things that men commonly seek after. For all these, riches, honours, rank, worldly success, die with us when we die. Neither can we carry anything of them with us beyond the grave. But not so is it with charity; and the fruits of charity, kindness, forbearance, gentle judgments, a meek and unselfish disposition, these go with a man
— with a man's better part-into God's sacred presence : these remain, and are remembered in the land where all the rest are forgotten!
Charity never faileth. Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity!
FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT.
HEB. xi. 17.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac:
and he that had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son.
Of all the examples of faith recorded in the 11th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, none is more eminent than the example of Abrahamfaithful Abraham, as he is called in the Bible Abraham, who believed God- Abraham, whose faith was counted unto him for righteousness - Abraham, who is the father of all them that believe.
Our Church in this season chooses for our Sunday lessons those chapters of the Old Testament in which we have the history of this faithful man; and as his life is full of lessons for our learning, I know not that we can be more profitably employed than in considering it.
We shall, in the short survey of it which I shall attempt to-day, see abundant proof that the ruling principle of Abraham's conduct was that faith, that hold upon God, to which so many references are made in Scripture, and which, with his other high qualities, entitled him to be called “the friend of God." Thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen; the seed of Abraham my friend!
The first mention of Abraham is at the end of the 11th of Genesis, where we have the account of his family, and of his removal from his native place, Ur of the Chaldees, — And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
This removal was in obedience to the call of God, as we learn from Acts, vii.- The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, and said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldæans, and dwelt in Charran; and from
thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. God, in calling him out of Charran, gave
him a great promise,—I will make of thee a great nation: I will bless thee and make thy name great ; and thou shalt be a blessing in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed !
Abraham believed God. At the age of seventyfive, when habits have long been fixed, when it is hard to move from familiar scenes, when men are inclined to sit still —at such an age, Abraham, without a murmur, set out the second time on his wanderings, to go where God should lead him into an unknown land, — He went out, not knowing whither he went !
All he looked at was the will of God concerning him. It was clearly borne home into his mind that he must leave Charran— that his rest was not to be there —not, perhaps, on any earthly spot. He went out as a man who realised the great truth, that he was but a pilgrim and stranger on the earth; that it mattered not where he was, or what the outward circumstances of his lot, so that he obeyed the will of God from his heart.
That is the first fruit of Abraham's faith-he was obedient to God in the matter of leaving his country. He already anticipated the teaching of our Lord in the Gospel, where He tells us that all earthly ties are to give way before the call of Christian duty,–If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (St. Luke, xiv. 26.)
Again, to notice another feature in Abraham's character - when he came out of Ur he was a worshipper of the true God. He had risen out of the superstitions of his time, to the simple and sublime belief that God is one, and that He only must be served. And to this worship of the true God he was constant and firm, in all the changes and chances of his life. On his first arrival in Canaan, where he was a stranger among strangers, a believer in the one true God, amongst a people who believed in gods many, and lords many; where it required courage to show himself as he really was, and to confess his Lord before men; we read of Abraham, that there he builded an altar unto the Lord ! And again, when he removed from his first halting-place at Sichem to Bethel, the same is said of him,—there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord! And so it was, at each stage in his pilgrimage, wherever he set up his tent, and formed a new home, there, too, he builded an altar, set apart a spot for the worship of the One True God !