Genesis 12:1
Then the LORD said to Abram, "Leave your country, your kindred, and your father's household, and go to the land I will show you.
Sermons
Abraham CalledF. Hastings Genesis 12:1
The Voices of God At the Opening of the World's ErasW. Roberts Genesis 12:1
A Blessing to be DiffusedJ. Vaughan, M. A.Genesis 12:1-3
A Call from GodW. Page-Roberts, M. A.Genesis 12:1-3
A Call to EmigrateJ. O. Dykes, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
A Call to EmigrateJ. O. Dykes, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
A Great PromiseJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
A New DispensationEdersheim, AlfredGenesis 12:1-3
Abraham -- His Call, Justification, Faith, and InfirmityH. S. Candlish, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
Abraham: the EmigrantCharles Jerdan, M. A. , LL. B.Genesis 12:1-3
Abraham's ActionGenesis 12:1-3
Abraham's CallT. G. Horton.Genesis 12:1-3
Abraham's CallM. Dods, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
Abraham's ConversionMark Guy Pearse.Genesis 12:1-3
Abram the PilgrimHomilistGenesis 12:1-3
Abram's TrainingBishop Samuel Wilberforce.Genesis 12:1-3
Blessed and BlessingGenesis 12:1-3
Blest Becoming a BlessingG. W. Humphreys, B. A.Genesis 12:1-3
Call and PromiseProf. J. G. Murphy.Genesis 12:1-3
Deaf to God's CallA. Maclaren, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
Diffusers of HappinessH. W. Beecher.Genesis 12:1-3
Divine Direction in Everyday AffairsJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
Family LifeJ. Baldwin Brown, B. A.Genesis 12:1-3
God's PromisesH. W. Beecher.Genesis 12:1-3
God's Promises Mysteriously DatedGurnall, WilliamGenesis 12:1-3
God's Promises Present Though not Always SeenGenesis 12:1-3
Individual SelectionJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
Joy of Doing GoodSpurgeon, Charles HaddonGenesis 12:1-3
Leaving All to Follow GodH. M. Stanley.Genesis 12:1-3
Lessons from the Life of AbrahamG. Gilfillan.Genesis 12:1-3
Man Must be Good Before He Can Do GoodW. Secker.Genesis 12:1-3
On Being a BlessingGenesis 12:1-3
On Promptitude in Obeying the Divine CallG. Gilfillan.Genesis 12:1-3
Separated from the WorldT. Guthrie, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
The Advantage of ChangeGenesis 12:1-3
The Blessed Life Illustrated in the History of AbrahamMark Guy Pearse.Genesis 12:1-3
The Blessed of God, a Blessing to OthersJ. H. Evans, M. A.Genesis 12:1-3
The Call of AbrahamE. P. Rogers, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
The Call of AbrahamW. S. Smith, B. D.Genesis 12:1-3
The Call of AbrahamT. H. Leale.Genesis 12:1-3
The Call of AbramJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
The Call of AbramH. M. Grout, D. D.Genesis 12:1-3
The Call of AbramD. C. Hughes, M. A.Genesis 12:1-3
The Call of AbramA. Fuller.Genesis 12:1-3
The Call to ReligionH. W. Beecher.Genesis 12:1-3
The Divine CallF. Hastings.Genesis 12:1-3
The Divine SummonsF. B. Meyer, B. A.Genesis 12:1-3
The Influence of Christianity on the Purity and Happiness of FamiliesS. Spink.Genesis 12:1-3
The Life of FaithMark Guy Pearse.Genesis 12:1-3
The Smile of GodJ. J. Wray.Genesis 12:1-3
The Treasure House of GraceDean Law.Genesis 12:1-3
UsefulnessF. Hastings.Genesis 12:1-3
The Preparations of GraceR.A. Redford Genesis 12:1-5


We may call this the genesis of the kingdom of God.

I. It is FOUNDED in the word of the Divine covenant, the faith given by Divine grace to individuals, the separation unto newness of life.

II. The one man Abram gathers round him a small SOCIETY, kindred with him by the flesh, but bound to him doubtless by spiritual bonds as well. Tiros God has sanctified the family life by making it as the nidus of the spiritual genesis. When the new kingdom began its course in the Messiah, he drew to himself those who were previously associated by neighborhood, relationship, and familiar intercourse in Galilee. The Divine does not work apart from the human, but with it and by it.

III. The PROMISE was that of Abram should be made a great nation, that he should be blessed and a blessing, and his blessing should be spread through all families of the earth. The structure which Divine grace rears on the foundation which itself lays is a structure of blessed family and national life.

IV. The land of CANAAN may not have been indicated with positive certainty to the migrating children of God, but it was enough that he promised them a land which he would hereafter show them. "A land that I will show thee." There was the certainty that it was a better land: Get thee out of thy country, because I have another for thee. The day-by-day journey under Divine direction was itself a help to faith to make the promise definite. The stay at Haran, from whence the pilgrimage might be said to make a true start, was itself a gathering of "souls" and "substance" which predicted a large blessing in the future. When once we have followed the word of God's grace and set our face towards Canaan we soon begin to get pledges of the future blessings, laid-up riches of soul and substance, which assure us of the full glory of the life to come.

V. Even in that first beginning of the kingdom, that small Church out of Ur of the Chaldees, there is the evidence of that individual VARIETY OF CHARACTER AND ATTAINMENT and history which marks the whole way of the people of God. Lot was a very different man from Abram. As the story of this little company of travelers develops itself we soon begin to see that the grace of God does not obliterate the specialties of human character. Out of the varieties of men's lives, which to us may seem incapable of reconciliation, there may yet be brought the onward progress of a Divine order and a redeeming purpose. - R.









Now the Lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country.
His obeying the call and command of God, wherein four circumstances are very remarkable.

1. The time when it was when God called.

2. The place from whence God called him.

3. The country whither he was called.

4. The reason or end why he was thus said unto by the great God.

I. First of the first, to wit, THE TIME WHEN ABRAHAM WAS CALLED. It was while he lived in Ur of the Chaldees; for Abraham lived with his father Terah in that place, and in Haran, or Charan, a city of Mesopotamia, till he was seventy-five years old (Genesis 12:4, and Acts 7:2, 3, 4). There and then did the God of glory appear to Abraham (Genesis 11:28). This that blessed pro-martyr Stephen (being filled with the Holy Ghost) intimateth, to convince those superstitious and bloodthirsty Jews (who conceited that religion was confined to Canaan or Jerusalem) that Abraham had the true religion even in Chaldea and in Charan, before ever he saw Canaan or received circumcision, or before any ceremonies were appointed by the ministry of Moses, and before there was either tabernacle or temple. When Abraham dwelt with his father on the other side of Euphrates, and served idols (Joshua 24:2), even then did God call him out of his country, making him to follow His call to obedience, not knowing whither he went (Hebrews 11:8), no, nor much caring, so long as he had God by the Hand, or might follow Him as his Guide step by step. By faith Abraham when called obeyed (Hebrews 11:8). The Greek word imports reverence and obedience. He did not stop his ear to this great Charmer (Psalm 58:4, 5), but he listened and hearkened to God's call with an awful respect. Thus Abraham did not dispute, but dispatch God's command; but immediately departed without solicitation or carnal reasonings against it (Genesis 12:4). His inner and outer man were relatives; so it should be with us.

II. The second circumstance is THE PLACE FROM WHENCE, which is two fold.

1. Ur.

2. Haran.(1) Parents ought not to hinder their children from good and from obedience to God. Here Terah, the old father, did not rebuke Abraham his son for being too full of fancy, nor charged him (upon his blessing) to abide in his native country, and not to be so fantastical as to follow so fond a call that told him not of the place whither he was to go; he did not say to his son, Wilt thou leave a certainty for an uncertainty, or wilt thou be wiser than all thy forefathers? etc. Let parents learn from hence to further, and not to hinder, their children in the good ways of God; honour is the reward of the former, but dishonour (if no more) of the latter.(2) Man's heart needeth many pulls from God's hand before man can complete his obedience to God. Here God gives Abraham two calls or pulls before he pulled him to the Land of Promise. The first pull bringeth him only from Ur to Haran; there he settleth, and gathereth much goods (Genesis 12:5).(3) All carnal respects must be subject to the spiritual, and all carnal relations must be bewailed (Deuteronomy 21:11, 12), yes, and relinquished (Psalm 45:10).(4) Divine vocation and adoption floweth wholly and solely from free grace. Nimrod's Church (as one saith) had almost swallowed up Abraham, while he was young, serving other gods as well as Nabor and Terah, who (as some Rabbins say) got his living by making and selling of images. Yet out of this root so idolatrous, both on father and mother's side, the whole stock of Israel sprang, to be an adopted people to God. Even Abraham, as well as the rest, until God called him to His foot (Isaiah 41:2) from the feet of idols, and from this bell of Babel, were he born at that time. This doth most highly advance the greatness of the free grace of God, thus to call whom He will (Mark 3:13), and to have mercy on whom He will (Romans 9:15, 16). God found even Abraham himself ungodly (Romans 4:2, 5); but He did not leave him so. God must make us good, or He will never find us so.

III. THE PLACE WHITHER ABRAHAM WAS CALLED. This was not named. God did not tell it him in his ear, yet showed it him to his eye (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14).

1. Wherever Abraham was, his chief care was to be going on still toward the south (Genesis 12:9), as towards the sun. So should all the children of Abraham travel towards the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), setting forth early as morning seekers (Proverbs 8:17), and making progress in grace (2 Peter 3:18), as from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

2. His first care in all places where he came was to build an altar to his God; and so it should be ours. We are a kingdom of priests (1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 1:6), and we have an altar (Hebrews 13:10), which is Christ, who sanctifies the sacrifice (Matthew 23:19); we should build this altar in our hearts Ezekiel 36:26).

3. Abraham built his altars, although the Canaanites were then n the land; and it is a wonder they did not stone him for so doing, which certainly they would have done had not God restrained them. Thus ought all the spiritual seed of Abraham to shine as lamps in the midst of a crooked and cursed generation (Philippians 2:15; Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12), holding forth the word of life. We should set up our altars in sight and despite of idolaters, as Abraham, and call them Jehovah nissi, the Lord is my banner, as Moses did (Exodus 17:15).

4. Abraham was the first man who had God most familiarly appearing to him; and the sight of the Canaanite did not so much discourage him as the sight of his God did encourage him (1 Samuel 30:6).

5. We should look upon our all with a pilgrim's eye, and use our all with a pilgrim's mind. It was a mighty work of Abraham's faith to behave himself as a stranger on earth, because he knew himself a citizen of heaven (Hebrews 11:9, 10, etc.); so we (Ephesians 2:19, 20).

IV. THE END WHY GOD CALLED ABRAHAM. It was only to take possession of Canaan, not to enjoy it as a present inheritance; for we find that he was famished twice out of this good Land of Promise. First into Egypt (Genesis 12:10); and, secondly, into Gerar, the Philistine's country (Genesis 20:1). Yet did he ever make Canaan his retreating place, sojourning in it for a hundred years — the remnant of his life. From which learn —

1. The most fruitful land may be made barren for the wickedness of those that dwell in it (Psalm evil. 34). God can famish our Canaan to us (Zephaniah 2:11).

2. Suppose we be forced into Egypt or Philistia, to seek for that we cannot find in a famished land of promise; yet this is our best retreating place when God heals our backslidings (Hosea 14:4). Alas! we are over-apt to slip out of the land of promise, as Adam was out of paradise, and Abraham out of Canaan; but the Lord keeps the feet of His saints (1 Samuel 2:9). Obj. Though Hebrews 11:8 saith, God called Abraham to Canaan to receive an inheritance there; and Acts 7:5 saith, Yet God gave him no inheritance in it, not so much as to set his foot on.These two seeming contradictory places are thus reconciled:

1. Abraham did inherit Canaan mystically, as that land was a type of heaven. God may deny literally, yet grant mystically or spiritually.

2. He did inherit it in his posterity (though not in his person) 430 years after the promise (Galatians 3:17). Thus God kept His promise with him; and so He doth with us, though we see not the performance thereof.This was Abraham's ease; yet took he possession of the land because of his title to it, which was threefold.

1. By way of promise. God made Canaan to belong unto Abraham by making a promise of it to him no less than four times (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:7; Genesis 17:8). This promise of God (being a four-fold cord) Abraham accounts his best freehold. Thus it is with all the faithful, as it was with the father of the faithful: such have the spirit of truth to assure them of their interest in Divine promises (2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14). It is an earnest. This makes them exceeding rich, though they see not the actual performance of them in their day. Wealth lieth in good bills and bonds, under God's own hand and seal, all signed in His word, and sealed by His spirit. He therefore accounts heavenly promises far better than earthly performances. As Abraham did only take possession of Canaan, which afterwards he was to inherit, so a Christian takes possession of heaven, with his name written in it (Luke 10:20), and with his heart panting towards it (2 Peter 3:12).

2. By way of conquest. Canaan belonged to Abraham in his conquering Chedarlaomer, etc. (Genesis 14:4; Genesis 15:17). This great king was the son of Elam, the son of Shem (Genesis 10:22), and, according to Noah's prophecy — Canaan shall be Shem's servant (Genesis 9:26) — this Chedarlaomer was lord over the Canaanites and over those chief cities which stood in the plains of Jordan. Abraham conquers him in battle; so Canaan became the conqueror's by conquest; he became the heir of Canaan. The history holds forth this mystery: that all Christians, the children of Abraham, are by their new birth born heirs of heaven, the celestial Canaan; they should therefore be valiant for it (Jeremiah 9:3).

3. By way of purchase Canaan was Abraham's. Though all the land was his by promise, yet he procures only a burying place by purchase (Genesis 23:16, etc.), not having a foot of it for his own present possession. This purchased burying place was an earnest for all the rest; hence all the patriarchs dying after desired to be buried in it (Genesis 47:30; Genesis 50:25). A sepulchre of one's own was a sign of firm possession (Isaiah 22:16). All his children must write after his copy of obedience, which, in its transcendency, hath a threefold excellency. It was an obedience so transcendant as to be —

1. Without hesitation.

2. Without reservation.

3. Without limitation. Of these in order —

1. It was obedience without hesitation. He used no disputation in the case; he falls not upon arguing with God in any carnal reasonings against his call and command, saying, I cannot apprehend any urgent occasion why I should forsake my own native country; and may not I justly suspect it no better than a piece of sublime folly to go I know not whither, and to leave a certainty for an uncertainty? Is not one bird in the hand (as saith the proverb) better than two in the bush? He doth not allege, Lord, first satisfy my scruples, and convince my judgment that it is my duty, and then will I follow and obey Thee. No, he doth not dispute, but despatch; he cloth not say (as those recusants in the gospel said), Suffer me first to go and bury my father (Matthew 8:21); or, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go to prove it, etc. (Luke 14:18-20). Neither did Abraham dare to do as better men than those aforesaid, even as Moses (Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4; Exodus 10:1-13:22), or as Jeremy (Jeremiah 1:6), who both do bring in their carnal reasonings strongly to confute God and His call. It is not a good angel, but the evil one that opens our mouths to make replies upon such a sovereign Master. Our Lord is wiser for us than we can be for ourselves; our fleshly wisdom is enmity against God (Romans 8:7).

2. As Abraham's obedience was without hesitation, or any contrary disputes against God's call, so it was without reservation he resigns up himself to the command of God, not by halves, but wholly, without any "ifs" or "ands," as we say. What we do herein must be done with our whole heart, with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. God gives a whole Christ to us, and shall not we give a whole heart to Him?

3. As Abraham's obedience was without hesitation and reservation, so it was without limitation. It is too, too common with us, as it was with Israel, to limit the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:41), especially in four respects:

1. In respect of time.

2. Of place.

3. Of means.

4. Of manner.Nay, even professors themselves will not own God, unless He appear to them in their own manner; whereas God showeth Himself in divers manners (Hebrews 1:1). Hence have we many famous remarks, as —

1. That though blind obedience as to man is abominable, yet as to God it is highly commendable; such as this of Abraham's was.

2. Though this obedience of Abraham was a blind obedience as to his own will, yet was it not so as to God's will; for God's will was the rule of Abraham's obedience.

3. Though Abraham knew not whither he went (Hebrews 11:8), yet he knew well with whom he went, even One with whom he was sure he could not possibly miscarry.

4. Abraham knew not, yet followed, not knowing whither. But we know (from the sure word of prophecy) whither our way leadeth — to wit, to heaven. It is a shame for us not to follow. Abraham's following God blindfold brought him to the earthly Canaan; but our following God with our eyes opened will bring us to the heavenly country.

(C. Ness.)

The call and migration of the patriarch suggest two thoughts.

I. THE RISE OF PERSONAL RELIGION. Piety may vary in its form in different persons and times, but in its spirit it is unchanging.

1. It takes its rise in God. Abram "was called." "Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country," etc. It was not poverty that drove Abram from his native country; it was not persecution; it was not that love of a migratory life which is natural to an Oriental: his journey to Canaan was wholly due to a spiritual inspiration. "God chose Abram" (Nehemiah 9:7) to be a child of grace — a justified sinner (Galatians 3:8). It was God who gave this son of idolaters all his grandeur of soul and his marvellous appreciation of the true and the eternal. The conversion of every believer is similar. Personal religion always takes its rise in God — in His sovereign choice (2 Timothy 1:9), in His Divine power (John 6:44; Philippians 1:6), and in His wonderful love (Ephesians 2:4, 5). No sinner has ever of his own accord quitted his native land of spiritual darkness and death.

2. It is the fruit of a Divine revelation. Jehovah revealed himself to Abram as the one living and true God, and in summoning him to emigrate to Canaan, made him a magnificent promise. The God of Shem is now the God of Abram. We are not to understand, indeed, that the patriarch's religious knowledge was at first either extensive or minute. But as each successive revelation was made to him, he learned more of the nature of God, and of the sublimity of his own destiny, until at length he was able to rejoice in the anticipation of the coming of Christ (John 8:56) and in the hope of a glorious immortality (Hebrews 11:10, 18-16). Had the God of Glory not appeared to him, the patriarch would in all likelihood have died a pagan in the land of his fathers. Religion cannot be generated in any heart apart from a Divine revelation of some sort. There must be some knowledge of the

3. It is the product of an earnest faith. "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed." The truth that was made known to him would have had no influence upon him had he not believed it. Not reason alone is the basis of personal religion, for reason alone would lead to rationalism. Neither is it feeling alone, for that would develop into mysticism. The man of God is a man of faith.

II. THE DEVELOPMENT OF PERSONAL RELIGION. Piety has its fundamental and formative principles, but it has also its developments of these. It has fruits as well as roots. Abram's piety developed in a complete renunciation of his old life; and the new life which he henceforth followed had at least three strongly marked characteristics. It was —

1. A life of implicit trust in God. Abram's first act of faith was followed by a confirmed habit of trustfulness. He struck the roots of his soul deep down into the invisible.

2. A life of conscious strangeness on the earth. Abram was content to be "a stranger and a sojourner" in the holy land.

3. A life which shall merge into a blessed immortality. Abram longed for a fatherland, but not for the land of his earthly forefathers. He might have re-crossed the Euphrates, but he never did so. The home that he learned with increasing eagerness to desire was the dwelling place of his Father in heaven (Hebrews 11:10, 14-16). How large the personal interest which the believer has in heaven! He shall yet dwell in it as his fatherland.

(Charles Jerdan, M. A. , LL. B.)

I. In the call of Abram we see AN OUTLINE OF THE GREAT PROVIDENTIAL SYSTEM UNDER WHICH WE LIVE. II. GREAT LIVES ARE TRAINED BY GREAT PROMISES. The promise to Abram —

1. Throws light on the compensations of life.

2. It shows the oneness of God with His people.

3. It shows the influence of the present over the future.

III. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CENTRAL FIGURES IN SOCIETY, men of commanding life, around whom other persons settle into secondary positions. This one man, Abram, holds the promise; all the other persons in the company hold it secondarily.

IV. ABRAM SET UP HIS ALTAR ALONG THE LINE OF HIS MARCH.

V. The incident in vers. 10-12 shows WHAT THE BEST OF MEN ARE WIZEN THEY BETAKE THEMSELVES TO THEIR OWN DEVICES. As the minister of God, Abram is great and noble; as the architect of his own fortune, he is cowardly, selfish, and false.

VI. NATURAL NOBLENESS OUGHT NEVER TO BE UNDERRATED (vers. 18-20). In this matter Pharaoh was a greater, a nobler man than Abram.

VII. The whole incident shows THAT GOD CALLS MEN TO SPECIAL DESTINIES, and that life is true and excellent in itself and in its influences only in so far as it is Divinely inspired and ruled.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. ALL THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM WAS A SPECIAL TRAINING FOR A SPECIAL END. Chosen, as are all God's instruments, because he was capable of being made that which the Lord purposed to make him, there was that in him which the good Spirit of the Lord formed, through the incidents of his life of wandering, into a character of eminent and single-hearted faithfulness.

II. THIS WORK WAS DONE NOT FOR HIS OWN SAKE EXCLUSIVELY. He was to be "a father of many generations." The seed of Abraham was to be kept separate from the heathen world around it, even until from it was produced the "Desire of all nations"; and this character of Abraham was stamped thus deeply upon him, that it might be handed on through him to his children and his children's children after him.

III. And so to A WONDERFUL DEGREE IT was; marking that Jewish people, amongst all their sins and rebellions, with such a peculiar strength and nobleness of character; and out in all its glory, in successive generations, in judge and seer and prophet and king, as they at all realized the pattern of their great progenitor, and walked the earth as strangers and pilgrims, but walked it with God, the God of Abraham and their God.

(Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.)

I. AT SOME TIME IN OUR LIVES A CALL FROM GOD SENDS ITS TRUMPET TONE THROUGH EACH OF OUR SOULS, as it did when Abraham heard it, and he went forth with the future stretching broad and far before him

II. GOD'S CALL TO ABRAHAM WAS:

1. A call to closer communion with Himself.

2. A call which led him to break with his past.

3. A call into loneliness.

III. The reason why so many of us, who are good and honourable men, never become men of great use and example and higher thought and true devotion, IS THAT WE DARE NOT BE SINGULAR. We dare not leave our kindred or our set. We will not leave our traditional views and sentiments, and we cannot leave our secret sins. God speaks, and we close our eyes and turn away our heads, and our hearts answer, "I will not come." How long will all this last? Will it last until another solemn voice shall speak to us, and at the call of death we say, "I come"?

(W. Page-Roberts, M. A.)

I. Notice FIRST THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.

1. The call was addressed to him suddenly.

2. It required him to forsake his country and his kindred, while giving him no hope of return.

3. It sent him on a long and difficult journey, to a country lying more than three hundred miles away. Yet Abraham obeyed in willing submission to the command of God.

II. Notice ABRAHAM'S CONQUEST OVER THE KINGS. This is the first battle recorded in the Word of God. It was after his rescue of Lot that Abraham was met by the mysterious Melchizedek. An awful shade of supernaturalism still rests upon this man, to whom some of the attributes of the Godhead seem to be ascribed, and who is always named with God and with God's Son. There are two lessons deducible from Abraham's conquests.

1. That military skill and experience are often easily vanquished by untaught valour, when that is at once inspired by impulse, guided by wisdom, and connected with a good cause.

2. That Christian duty varies at different times and in different circumstances.

III. Notice THE COVENANTS WHICH WERE ESTABLISHED BETWEEN ABRAHAM AND GOD. From them we learn —

1. God's infinite condescension.

2. Our duty of entering into covenant with God in Christ. From the history of Abraham we see that God's intention was:(1) To secure to Himself one great accession from the idolatrous camp.(2) To send Abraham as a forerunner and a first step into the land which God had selected as His peculiar prosperity.(3) To create a family link of connection between God and a distinct race of people for long ages.

(G. Gilfillan.)

The life of Abram approaches completeness. In the Scriptures more space is devoted to him than to all that went before him put together. In the narrative before us we have the starting point of all that was illustrious and good in his life, and, we might almost say, of all God's gracious interpositions for the race. It is also full of valuable instruction, certain interesting points of which it is our present purpose to notice.

1. It reminds us of God's patient concern for the ways and welfare of men. The call of Abram was a summons to leave the land of his birth and early associations, and to go forth, under Divine leadership, to another of which he should be told. The purpose of the call was that, in him, the race might religiously start anew.

2. The narrative reminds us of the discrimination with which God selects and trains the instruments of His merciful purposes. His elections and selections are unexplained and often great mysteries. But never are they without reason. Divine sovereignty does not disregard the fitness of things, nor willingly suffer powers to go to waste. The choice fell upon Abram because he was the right man. He had natural gifts of no common order. That he was able to break away from the powerful force of custom and surrounding opinion, even at the Divine command, evinced independence and strength. The ready respect paid him by small and great was a testimony to his commanding powers. Upon the single occasion when valour for the right moved him to go out to battle against certain marauding kings, he displayed military genius which in other times might have made him a great general. It was not, however, for his natural gifts, but for his moral qualities chiefly, that he was selected. He was a man of large faith and prompt obedience.

3. Again, we have here a reminder of the fidelity with which God sustains and cheers those who promptly obey. With a view to such cheer and support it may have been that Abram's first stopping place was in "the delicious plan of Moreh," the "place of Sichem," of the luxuriant verdure of which travellers speak in the most enthusiastic terms. Says Professor Robinson, "We saw nothing to compare with it in all Palestine." To new converts God often grants special foretastes of their final reward, visions of light and cheer. But delightful as was this sight and rest, it was not all. To Abram, at Sichem, was granted a vision of God Himself.

4. Note, again, the outward expression here shown to be natural to a vigorous faith. Without any distinct command, so far as appears, at Sichem, his first halting place in Canaan, Abram makes haste to build an altar unto the Lord. This he does again at Bethel. Yet again we find him doing the same at Beersheba and at Hebron. These altars were intended to be channels of worship and memorials of Divine mercies. By means of them he publicly professed his own faith in a strange land, and consecrated his promised possession to the Lord. By such means he also the more effectually guarded his children and household against the ensnaring influence of idolatrous and worldly neighbours. And all this he did with cost. Not only did it consume time and labour, it required courage. Abram was a wanderer among peoples proud, fierce, and vindictive; whose worship was idolatry; and among whom his singularity and the rebuke of his example would both provoke derision and excite hostility. Yet never does he withhold or conceal the expression of his reverent faith.

5. Last of all, we have here a hint of the kind of greatness most gratefully and lastingly remembered. It is four thousand years since Abram lived, and yet his memory not only survives, it is green. By multitudes it is cherished with homage and affection. In a recent public address, the missionary Dr. Jessup told this story of his sainted father. In the latter years of his life he was afflicted with a peculiar kind of paralysis. His memory was cleft in twain. That of secular things was gone. His legal knowledge, his great law library, his court house, his old associates on the bench of Pennsylvania, and even the names of his own children, were forgotten. But the Bible, the family altar, the church, the missionary work, and his Saviour Jesus Christ, were all fresh in his memory as ever. The worldly had faded; the spiritual was green. So it may be with all the good in the world to come. So it measurably is now. They see worth and beauty only in that which allies to God. In good men's hearts only the good will have everlasting remembrance. It was his simple trust and prompt, steadfast obedience, the "entire self-abnegation with which he surrendered everything to the Divine call," which made him for all after-ages, and in the memories of the good, the hero that he was. By like childlike confidence and cheerful self-surrender we may win like approval with God, if not equal greatness in human sight.

(H. M. Grout, D. D.)

Abram's emigration teaches by example precisely the same profound and universal lesson of spiritual life which Jesus taught in words: "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple." St. Francis of Assisi, and many like him, have read this evangelical call to renounce the world too literally. Nevertheless, if we would choose and pursue the heavenly country to which God is calling us, there must be in the heart of each of us a virtual leaving of father and mother, a forsaking of all that we have, in order to be Christ's followers. Of this we have the first great type in the emigration of Abram. Besides, God cut him off from kindred that He might draw him closer to Himself. If renunciation for God's sake be the condition of strong piety, solitary converse with God is its nurse. Emigration often does a great deal for a man. By throwing him back for aid upon his own resources, it teaches him to help himself, and develops the manhood that is in him. The emigration of a godly man at God's call does still more for him. It forces him to lean much on God, Who becomes his only constant comrade and unfailing helper. It throws him back at each emergency upon the spiritual resources of faith, and trains into full maturity the graces of his religious nature. Inwardly, Abram could hardly have become the spiritual hero he was in later life, if he had not been forced to walk through the long trials of his exile with nothing but the unseen eternal God for his "shield," and compelled to brood through homeless years over the mighty thoughts which God had uttered to his faith.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

The call to religion is not a call to be better than your fellows, but to be better than yourself. Religion is relative to the individual.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THIS CALL INVOLVED HARDSHIP. Each step of real advance in the Divine life will involve an altar on which some dear fragment of the self life has been offered; or a cairn beneath which some cherished idol has been buried.

II. BUT THIS CALL WAS EMINENTLY WISE.

1. Wise for Abraham himself. Nothing strengthens us so much as isolation. So long as we are quietly at rest amid favourable and undisturbed surroundings, faith sleeps as an undeveloped sinew within us; a thread, a germ, an idea. But when we are pushed out from all these surroundings, with nothing but God to look to, then faith grows suddenly into a cable, a monarch oak, a master principle of life.

2. Wise for the world's sake. It is impossible to move our times, so long as we live beneath their spell; but when once we have risen up, and gone, at the call of God, outside their pale, we are able to react on them with an irresistible power. Archimedes vaunted that he could lift the world, if only he could obtain, outside of it, a pivot on which to rest his lever. Do not be surprised then, if God calls you out to be a people to Himself, that by you He may react with blessed power on the great world of men.

III. THIS CALL WAS ACCOMPANIED BY PROMISE. As a shell encloses a kernel, so do the Divine commands hide promises in their heart. If this is the command: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ"; this is the promise: "And thou shalt be saved." If this is the command: "Sell that thou hast and give to the poor"; this is the promise: "Thou shalt have treasure in heaven." If this is the command: "Leave father and mother, houses and lands"; this is the promise: "Thou shalt have a hundred fold here, and everlasting life beyond."

IV. THIS CALL TEACHES US THE MEANING OF ELECTION. It was not so much with a view to their personal salvation, though that was included; but that they might pass on the holy teachings and oracles with which they were entrusted.

V. THIS CALL GIVES THE KEY TO ABRAHAM'S LIFE.

1. He was from first to last a separated man.

2. But it was the separation of faith. Abraham's separation is not like that of those who wish to be saved; but rather that of those who are saved. Not towards the cross, but from it. Not to merit anything, but, because the heart has seen the vision of God, and cannot now content itself with the things that once fascinated and entranced it; so that leaving them behind, it reaches out its hands in eager longing for eternal realities, and thus is led gradually and insensibly out and away from the seen to the unseen, and from the temporal to the eternal.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

1. In the selection of men to be the organs or channels of His grace, God's freedom of choice never excludes some natural fitness in the person chosen. When Abram, escorted by sorrowing relatives to the brink of the great "flood," did finally set his whole encampment across the Euphrates and turn his face to the dreaded desert, which stretched, wide and inhospitable, between him and the nearest seats of men, he gave his first evidence of that trust in the unseen Eternal One, leading to unquestioning, heroic obedience, which must even then have formed the basis of his character, and of which his later life was to furnish so many illustrious examples.

2. The emigration of Abram, however, had other ends to serve besides testing his personal fitness to become the father of trustful and loyal souls.(1) For one thing, it was advisable to make a clean break in the continuity of his family history. Only in this way could he become really a fresh point of departure for the human race. Had he remained in Padan-Aram. Abram would have been simply one among his brethren, a sheikh of influence among neighbour sheikhs, a continuator of the Terah name, not the originator of a new epoch.(2) It was of still greater consequence to break him off from contact with the unwholesome influences which were already at work within his own family. To withdraw into a strange land, meant the abandonment of himself to the guidance of God alone. True piety, in its more masculine and self-conscious stages, always involves some such renunciation of natural supports. It does not always require a literal separation from home or friends, but it does require the withdrawal of the heart's deepest dependence from earthly props or ministers, in order to rest in a self-contained and unaided trust Upon the Unseen Arm.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. THE DIFFICULTIES OF THE LIFE OF FAITH.

1. Natural ties.

2. A desire to be satisfied with the present and visible.

3. Imperfect knowledge of the future.

II. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LIFE OF FAITH.

1. A firm belief in the testimony of God.

2. A proper estimate of the visible.

3. A worshipping life.

4. To be undismayed at improbabilities.

III. THE BLESSINGS OF SUCH A LIFE.

1. More than compensation for every natural loss.

2. Inward happiness in being the means of doing good to others.

3. It leads to a life of spiritual and eternal sight.

(Homilist.)

1. God's patience with sinful men is one of His most wonderful attributes. God makes a third trial in the call of Abram. So it often is with individual men. He makes and renews His gracious offers.

2. When the hour comes for some great work of God, He always has the man ready at His call.

3. When God commands, man has nothing to do but to obey. Obedience is the highest test of piety (John 14:21, 23).

4. Genuine obedience is founded in faith.

5. The highest attainment of a Christian is a consecrated will. Learn this under the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.

6. Every Christian is called of God to go out from the world and be separate. This sometimes involves painful and reluctant sacrifices. Old habits, old appetites, old friends, old associations, old modes of thought and action, may have to be abandoned, and the struggle may be severe. But, "He that loveth father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:37, 38).

7. Goodness is the only true greatness. No king, or noble, or hero of the earth bears such an honourable name as his who is known in the Book of books as "The friend of God!"

(E. P. Rogers, D. D.)

I. A SUMMONS WAS GIVEN TO ABRAHAM FROM THE LORD.

1. It was explicit.

2. Unmistakable.

3. Repeated.

4. Contrary to the carnal inclinations.

II. THE CALL WAS SUSTAINED BY A PROMISE — the promise of guidance. The first call was to an indefinite land, the second to the land. This explains why there was a temporary residence in Haran. God did not tell him He would give him the land, but only that He would guide him to it. God does not reveal all the riches of His grace at once; that might overpower the soul.

(F. Hastings.)

I. ABRAHAM THE FATHER OF THE FAITHFUL.

1. A preeminent pattern or type of faith.

2. The first in whom the doctrine of justification by faith was clearly and openly displayed.

3. The federal head of all believers, Jewish or Gentile, receiving promises and commands which related less to himself than to his spiritual seed in every age.

II. ABRAHAM SETTING OUT ON HIS APPOINTED PILGRIMAGE.

1. His early life.

2. His call.

3. His destination.

4. His obedience.

III. OUR SETTING OUT FOR THE BETTER COUNTRY.

1. God speaks to us — by His Word; by His Spirit.

2. His call opens with a warning and reproof, and closes with a blessing.

3. The promise is indefinite.

4. Our walk is to be one of faith; purely so.Conclusion:

1. Let us address the pilgrims.

2. Let us address those who stay among the idolaters.

(T. G. Horton.)

I. GOD'S CALL.

1. The call was from the Lord. He put into Abram's mind "good desires," and helped him to bring them to "good effect."

2. The call was a distinct command. Abram was told to do something which was not easy; to give up much that was dear to him.

3. The call was accompanied by many gracious promises.

(1)God promised to guide him.

(2)God promised him posterity.

(3)God promised him renown.

(4)Chiefly, God promised to make him a blessing.Thus the call to renounce is accompanied by an assurance that the believer shall receive at God's hands great things.

II. ABRAHAM'S FAITH.

1. Abraham did what God told him.

2. Abraham went where God led him.

3. Abraham remembered God at every stage of his journey.

(W. S. Smith, B. D.)

1. The election and selection of what became the people of God. Step by step we see in the history of the patriarchs this electing and separating process on the part of God. Both are marked by this two-fold characteristic: that all is accomplished, not in the ordinary and natural manner, but, as it were, supernaturally; and that all is of grace.

2. We mark a difference in the mode of Divine revelation in the patriarchal as compared with the previous period. Formerly, God had spoken to man, either on earth or from heaven, while now he actually appeared to them, and that specially, as the Angel of Jehovah, or the Angel of the Covenant.

3. The one grand characteristic of the patriarchs was their faith. The lives of the patriarchs prefigure the whole history of Israel and their Divine selection.

(Dr. Edersheim.)

It is a remarkable fact, that while the baser metals are diffused through the body of the rocks, gold and silver usually lie in veins; collected together in distinct metallic masses. They are in the rocks but not of them...And as by some power in nature God has separated them from the base and common earths, even so by the power of His grace will He separate His chosen from a reprobate and rejected world.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Some of us are as dead to the perception of God's gracious call, just because it has been sounding on uninterruptedly, as are the dwellers by a waterfall to its unremitting voice.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The principle of individual selection in the matter of all great ministries is in keeping with the principle which embodies in a single germ the greatest forests. It is enough that God give the one acorn; man must plant it and develop its productiveness. It is enough that God give the one idea; man must receive it into the good soil of his love and hope, and encourage it to tell all the mystery of its purpose. So God calls to Himself, in holy solitude, one man, and puts into the heart of that man His own gracious purpose, and commissions him to expound this purpose to his fellow men. God never works from the many to the one; He works from one to the many.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. HE IS CALLED BY THE LORD; by the immediate interposition of Jehovah. "The God of glory," as Stephen testifies, "appears to him"; — there is a visible manifestation of the Divine glory; and the Divine voice is heard. The call is very peremptory — authoritative and commanding; and it is also very painful — hard for flesh and blood to obey. But along with the call, there is a very precious promise, a promise of blessings manifold and marvellous.

II. ABRAHAM COMMENCES HIS PILGRIMAGE AMID MANY TRIALS.

1. Sarai is barren.

2. He knows not whither he is going.

3. He breaks many ties of nature, the closest and the dearest.

4. His father is removed by death.

5. On reaching Canaan nothing is as yet given; he is a stranger and a pilgrim, wandering from place to place, from Sichem to Moreh, from Moreh to Bethel, pitching his tent at successive stations, as God, for reasons unknown, appoints his temporary abode (vers. 6-9).

6. And wherever he goes he finds the Canaanites; not congenial society and fellowship, but troops of idolaters; for "the Canaanites were then in the land."

7. As if all this were not enough to try him, even daily bread begins to fail him. "There is a famine in the land" (ver. 10); and what now is Abram to do? He has hitherto been steadfast; he has "builded an altar" wherever he has dwelt, and has "called on the name of the Lord" (vers. 7, 8). He has at all hazards avowed his faith, and sought to glorify his God; but it seems as if, from very necessity, he must at last abandon the fruitless undertaking. He is literally starved out of the land. Why, then, should he not go back to his ancient dwelling place, and try what good he can do, remaining quietly at home? What wonder can it be, if, in such circumstances, his high principle should seem for once to give way, through Satan's subtlety, and his own evil heart of unbelief?

III. In Egypt, accordingly, for a brief space, the picture is reversed, and THE FAIR SCENE IS OVERCLOUDED. This man of God, being a man still, appears in a new light, or rather in the old light, the light of his old nature. He is tempted, and he falls; consulting his own wisdom, instead of simply relying on his God. He falls through unbelief; and his fall is recorded for our learning, that we may take heed lest we fall. In this incident, the temptation, the sin, the danger, and the deliverance, are all such as, in Abram's circumstances, might have befallen us.

(H. S. Candlish, D. D.)

I. IT WAS MANIFESTLY DIVINE. This call could not have been an illusion, for —

1. To obey it, he gave up all that was dear and precious to him in the world. He could not have made such a sacrifice without a sufficient reason.

2. The course of conduct he followed could not have been of human suggestion. Abraham was not driven from his country by adverse circumstances, or attracted by the premise of plenty elsewhere. But he left a condition which would then be considered as prosperous, and cheerfully accepted whatever trials might await him.

3. The history of the Church confirms the fact that the call was Divine. The Christian Church was but a continuation of the Jewish, with added light, and fresh blessings. That Church must have had an origin in the dim past, sufficient to account for the fact of its existence.

II. IT DEMANDED GREAT SACRIFICES. Upon the Divine call, Abraham was not immediately rewarded with temporal blessings. Appearances were altogether against his deriving any advantages from obedience.

III. IT WAS AN EXAMPLE OF FAITH. The promise was made in general terms, and the good things to come, as far as Abraham was personally concerned, placed at an inaccessible distance.

1. Faith is required to brave the terrors of the unknown.

2. Faith trusts in God.

3. In religious faith there is an element of reason. Faith is not contrary to, only beyond, reason. To follow the promptings of faith is the noblest act of human reason.

IV. IT WAS ACCOMPANIED BY PROMISE. The promises made to Abraham may be considered in a two-fold light.

1. As they concerned himself, personally, He would have compensation for all the worldly loss he would have to endure.(1) For the loss of country, God promised that He would make him a great nation.(2) For the loss of his place of birth, God promised to bless him with a higher prosperity.(3) For the loss of family distinction God promised to make his name great. Abraham had to leave his "father's house," but he was destined in the Providence of God to build up a more famous and lasting house. These promises may be considered —

2. In his relation to humanity. God said, "Thou shalt be a blessing." This promise implied something grander and nobler than any personal benefits which Abraham could inherit. It was the higher blessing-the larger benefit. Religion means something more than the selfish enjoyment of spiritual good, and he who only considers the interests of his own soul has failed to catch the true spirit of it. Man approaches the nature of God when he becomes a source of blessing to others. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Abraham was to be a blessing to mankind in the highest sense. As a further expansion of this blessing promised to Abraham —(1) His cause was henceforth to be identified with the cause of God. "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee" (ver. 3). "God promised further, so to take sides with Abraham in the world, as to make common cause with him — share his friendships, and treat his enemies as His own. This is the highest possible pledge. This threatening against hostile people was signally fulfilled in the case of the Egyptians, Edomites, Amalekites, Moabites, Ammonites, and the greater nations — Assyrian, Chaldean, Persian, Greek, and Roman, which have fallen under the curse of God as here denounced against the enemies of the Church and kingdom of Christ. The Church is God's. Her enemies are His. Her friends are His also, and no weapon that is formed against her shall prosper, for He who has all power given unto Him shall be with her faithful servants, even to the end of the world."

3. He was to be the source of the highest blessing to mankind. "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."

(T. H. Leale.)

I. ABRAM'S GENEALOGICAL CONNECTION.

1. He was of Shemitic stock.

2. The Shemitic stock was the theocratic line.

II. ABRAM'S CALL.

1. This call was peremptory.

2. This call was gracious.

III. ABRAM'S OBEDIENCE.

1. Prompt.

(1)Hesitation destroys the virtue of obedience.

(2)Promptness is the glory of true obedience.

2. Thorough.

3. Courageous.

IV. ABRAM'S RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES AND CHARACTERISTICS.

1. He was honoured with personal visitations from Jehovah.

2. His faith in the Divine promise was reassured.

3. His piety was real, habitual, and practical.Lessons:

1. The characteristic of God as exemplified in the call of Abraham. Graciousness.

2. The essential condition of realizing the fulness of Divine blessing. Obedience.

3. The universal characteristic of true believers. Worship.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

1. The grace of it. There appears no reason to conclude that he was better than his neighbours. He did not choose the Lord, but the Lord him, and brought him out from amongst the idolaters.

2. Its peremptory tone: — "get thee out." The language very much resembles that of Lot to his sons-in-law, and indicates the great danger of his present situation, and the immediate necessity of escaping, as it were, for his life. Such is the condition of every unconverted sinner, and such the necessity of fleeing from the wrath to come, to the hope set before us in the Gospel.

3. The self-denial required by it.

4. The implicit faith which a compliance with it would call for. Abram was to leave all, and to go — he knew not whither — "unto a land that God would show him." If he had been told it was a land flowing with milk and honey, and that he should be put in possession of it, there had been some food for sense to feed upon: but to go out, "not knowing whither he went," must have been not a little trying to flesh and blood. Nor was this all; that which was promised was not only in general terms, but very distant. God did not tell him He would give him the land, but merely show him it. Nor did he in his lifetime obtain the possession of it: he was only a sojourner in it, without so much as a place to set his foot upon.

(A. Fuller.)

In all God's teachings the near and the sensible come before the far and the conceivable, the present and the earthly before the eternal and the heavenly. Thus Abram's immediate acts of self-denial are leaving his country, his birthplace, his home. The promise to him is to be made a great nation, be blessed, and have a great name in the new land which the Lord would show him. This is unspeakably enhanced by his being made a blessing to all nations. God pursues this mode of teaching for several important reasons.

1. The sensible and the present are intelligible to those who are taught. The great Teacher begins with the known and leads the mind forward to the unknown. If He had begun with things too high, too deep, or too fax for the range of Abram's mental vision, He would not have come into relation with Abram's mind. It is superfluous to say that He might have enlarged Abram's view in proportion to the grandeur of the conceptions to be revealed. On the same principle He might have made Abram cognisant of all present and all developed truth. On the same principle He might have developed all things in an instant of time, and so have had done with creation and providence at once.

2. The present and the sensible are the types of the future and the conceivable. The land is the type of the better land; the nation of the spiritual nation; the temporal blessing of the eternal blessing; the earthly greatness of name of the heavenly. And let us not suppose that we are arrived at the end of all knowledge. We pique ourselves on our advance in spiritual knowledge beyond the age of Abram. But even we may be in the very infancy of mental development. There may be a land, a nation, a blessing, a great name, of which our present realizations or conceptions are but the types. Any other supposition would be a large abatement from the sweetness of hope's overflowing cup.

3. These things which God now promises are the immediate form of His bounty, the very gifts He begins at the moment to bestow. God has His gift to Abram ready in His hand in a tangible form. He points to it and says, This is what thou presently needest; this I give thee with My blessing and favour.

4. But these are the earnest and the germ of all temporal and eternal blessing. Man is a growing thing, whether as an individual or a race. God graduates His benefits according to the condition and capacity of the recipients. In the first boon of His goodwill is the earnest of what He will continue to bestow on those who continue to walk in His ways. And as the present is the womb of the future, so is the external the symbol of the internal, the material the shadow of the spiritual in the order of the Divine blessing.

(Prof. J. G. Murphy.)

As Gotthold was examining with delight some double pinks, which at the time were in full blossom, he was told by the gardener that the same plants had in former years borne only single flowers, but that they had been improved and beautified by repeated transplantations, and that in the same manner a change of soil increases the growth, and accelerates the bearing of a young tree. This reminded Gotthold that the same happens to men. Many a man who at home would scarcely have borne even single flowers, when transplanted by Divine Providence abroad, bears double ones; another, who, if rooted in his native soil, would never have been more than a puny twig, is removed to a foreign clime, and there spreads far and wide and bears fruit to the delight of all.

"I have been in Africa for seventeen years, and I never met a man yet who would kill me if I folded my hands. What has been wanted, and what I have been endeavouring to ask for the poor Africans, has been the good offices of Christians — ever since Livingstone taught me, during those four months that I was with him. In 1871, I went to him as prejudiced as the biggest atheist in London. To a reporter and correspondent, such as I, who had only to deal with wars, mass meetings, and political gatherings, sentimental matters were entirely out of my province. But there came for me a long time for reflection. I was out there away from a worldly world. I saw this solitary old man there, and asked myself, "How on earth does he stop here — is he cracked, or what? What is it that inspires him? 'For months after we met I simply found myself listening to him, wondering at the old man carrying out all that was said in the Bible — Leave all things and follow Me.' But little by little his sympathy for others became contagious; my sympathy was aroused; seeing his piety, his gentleness, his zeal, his earnestness, and how he went quietly about his business, I was converted by him, although he had not tried to do it. How sad that the good old man should have died so soon! How joyful he would have been if he could have seen what has since happened there!"

(H. M. Stanley.)

Great lives are trained by great promises. God never calls men for the purpose of making them less than they are, except when they have been dishonouring themselves by sin. His calls are upward; towards fuller life, purer light, sweeter joy.

1. Look at this promise as throwing light upon the compensations of life. Abram is called to leave his Country, his kindred, and his father's house, and, so far, there is nothing but loss. Had the call ended here, the lot of Abram might have been considered hard; but when did God take anything from a man, without giving him manifold more in return? Suppose that the return has not been made immediately manifest, what then? Is today the limit of God's working time? Has He no provinces beyond this little world? Does the door of the grave open upon nothing but infinite darkness and eternal silence? Yet, even confining the judgment within the hour of this life, it is true that God never touches the heart with a trial without intending to bring in upon it some grander gift, some tenderer benediction.

2. Look at this promise as showing the oneness of God with His people: "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee." The good man is not alone. Touch him, and you touch God. Help him, and your help is taken as if it were rendered to God Himself. This may give us an idea of the sublime life to which we are called — we live, and move, and have our being in God; we are temples; our life is an expression of Divine influence; in our voice there is an undertone of Divinity.

3. Look at this promise as showing the influence of the present over the future: "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." This is a principle, rather than an exception of true life. Every man should look upon himself as an instrument of possible blessing to the whole world. One family should be a blessing to all families within its influence. We should not be looking for the least, but for the greatest interpretations of life — not to make our life as little and ineffective as possible, but to give it fulness, breadth, strength: to which the weary and sorrowful may look with confidence and thankfulness. Christianity never reduces life to a minimum: it develops it, strengthens it in the direction of Jesus Christ's infinite perfectness and beauty.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

God's promises are the comfort of my life. Without them I could not stand for an hour in the whirl and eddy of things, in the sweep and surge of the nations; but I cannot tell how He will fulfil them, any more than I can tell from just what quarter the first flock of blue birds will come in the spring. Yet I am sure that the spring will come upon the wings of ten thousand birds.

(H. W. Beecher.)

God's promises are dated, but with a mysterious character; and, for want of skill in God's chronology, we are prone to think God forgets us, when, indeed, we forget ourselves in being so bold to set God a time of our own, and in being angry that He comes not just then to us.

( W. Gurnall..)

"When the traveller starts by the railway, on a bright summer day," writes Champneys, "his attention is drawn to the friends who stand to bid him good-bye; and as the train moves on more and more rapidly, the mile and half and quarter mile posts seem racing past him, and the objects in the far distance appear rapidly to change their places, and to move off the scene almost as soon as they have been observed upon it. Now the long train, like some vast serpent, hissing as it moves swiftly along, plunges underground. The bright sun is suddenly lost, but the traveller's eye observes, for the first time perhaps, the railway carriage lamp; and though it was there all the while, yet because the sun made its light needless, it was not observed. God's promises are like that railway light. The Christian traveller has them with him always, though when the sun is shining, and prosperity beaming upon him, he does not remark them. But let trouble come, let his course lie through the darkness of sorrow or trial, and the blessed promise shines out, like the railway lamp, to cheer him, and shed its gentle and welcome light most brightly when the gloom is thickest, and the sunshine most entirely left behind."

There is an hour in all, ay, even in heathen and sensual minds, when the cry is heard, "Come away hither, seek the far country; strike out on the spiritual and everlasting deep, looking not behind thee, cutting every tie that binds thee to this world, and be led to this, less by the hope of what is before, than by the horror of what is around, and by a simple-minded reliance upon the promise of thy God." In various manners and at divers times does this cry come, and in divers manners is it treated. Some obey, like Abraham, at once, and set out in search of the land before the voice has ceased to vibrate in their ears. Others delay for a while, and say, like Felix, "Go thy way for this time, and when I have a more convenient season I will give thee an answer" — a season which never comes. Others begin the journey with considerable promptitude and with great alacrity, but speedily become offended, turn round, and walk no more with Jesus; like Pliable, the first fit disenchants them in their childish anticipations, and they retrace their steps. Others are slow but sure in obeying the call of God; they perhaps hang off for a time, they count the cost, they consult, with the town clerk of Ephesus, and do nothing rashly, till the alarm of their hearts and the tumult of their doors become intolerable, and perhaps, as with Faithful, the man Moses steps in and tells them, that if they do not begone, he will burn their house over their heads, and then they address themselves to their journey. And others do not even enter into momentary parley; do not even at the knock condescend to look over the window, but abruptly, fiercely, and forever, refuse. The conduct of this last class is simply insane; it is that of a dying patient who excludes the physician, or of a man whose house is burning and will not permit the engines to play around it. The conduct of those who delay indefinitely the journey is only one shade less absurd, since the Paul once gone seldom returns; and though he were returning, there might be no inclination to hear him. The conduct of those who go forward a little way, and turn back at the first difficulty, is more contemptible still; it is cowardice coupled with folly; it is mean madness. He that deliberates, acts somewhat more wisely; but he too loses time; whereas, since we live in a world where death delays not, where judgment does not linger, nor damnation slumber, the loss of an hour may be the loss of all. Promptitude, valuable in all matters, is of the last importance in the affairs of the soul. Beware of saying, "Serious things tomorrow." This saying once cost a man dear. It was a governor in Greece, against whom a conspiracy was formed. The night for its perpetration had arrived. He was engaged at a feast. A letter was handed in, and he was told to read it instantly, because it contained "serious things." What was his reply? He thrust the letter under his pillow, and grasped again the wine cup, and cried out — "Serious things tomorrow!" But that tomorrow never came. At midnight was there a cry made, "Behold the bridegroom cometh!" The conspirators entered, disguised in the dress of females, and they killed the governor, with the letter lying unread beneath his pillow. Now let us imitate the manly decision and unfaltering firmness of Abraham. As we would reach Abraham's bosom, let us begin immediately to pursue Abraham's journey. Ledyard said, "Tomorrow." Say we, "Today."

(G. Gilfillan.)

This was God's first revelation of Himself to Abraham. Up to this time Abraham to all appearance had no knowledge of any God but the deities worshipped by his fathers in Chaldea. Now, he finds within himself impulses which he cannot resist and which he is conscious he ought not to resist. He believes it to be his duty to adopt a course which may look foolish, and which he can justify only by saying that his conscience bids him. He recognizes, apparently for the first time, that through his conscience there speaks to him a God who is supreme. In dependence on this God he gathered his possessions together and departed. So far, one may be tempted to say, no very unusual faith was required. Many a poor girl has followed a weakly brother or a dissipated father to Australia or the wild west of America; many a lad has gone to the deadly west coast of Africa with no such prospect as Abraham. For Abraham had the double prospect which makes migration desirable. Assure the colonist that he will find land and have strong sons to till and hold and leave it to, and you give him all the motive he requires. These were the promises made to Abraham — a land and a seed. Neither was there at this period much difficulty in believing that both promises would be fulfilled. The land he no doubt expected to find in some unoccupied territory. And as regards the children, he had not yet faced the condition that only through Sarah was this part of the promise to be fulfilled. But the peculiarity in Abraham's abandonment of present certainties for the sake of a future and unseen good is, that it was prompted not by family affection or greed or an adventurous disposition, but by faith in a God whom no one but himself recognized. It was the first step in a life-long adherence to an Invisible, Spiritual Supreme. Under the simple statement "The Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country," there are probably hidden years of questioning and meditation. God's revelation of Himself to Abram in all probability did not take the determinate form of articulate command without having passed through many preliminary stages of surmise and doubt and mental conflict. But once assured that God is calling him, Abraham responds quickly and resolutely. The revelation has come to a mind in which it will not be lost. As one of the few theologians who have paid attention to the method of revelation has said: "A Divine revelation does not dispense with a certain character and certain qualities of mind in the person who is the instrument of it. A man who throws off the chains of authority and association must be a man of extraordinary independence and strength of mind, although he does so in obedience to a Divine revelation; because no miracle, no sign or wonder which accompanies a revelation can by its simple stroke force human nature from the innate hold of custom and the adhesion to and fear of established opinion; can enable it to confront the frowns of men, and take up truth opposed to general prejudice, except there is in the man himself, who is the recipient of the revelation, and a certain strength of mind and independence which concurs with the Divine intention." That Abraham's faith triumphed over exceptional difficulties and enabled him to do what no other motive would have been strong enough to accomplish, there is therefore no call to assert. During his afterlife his faith was severely tried, but the mere abandonment of his country in the hope of gaining a better was the ordinary motive of his day. It was the ground of this hope, the belief in God, which made Abraham's conduct original and fruitful. That sufficient inducement was presented to him is only to say that God is reasonable. There is always sufficient inducement to obey God; because life is reasonable. No man was ever commanded or required to do anything which it was not for his advantage to do. Sin is a mistake. But so weak are we, so liable to be moved by the things present to us and by the desire for immediate gratification, that it never ceases to be wonderful and admirable when a sense of duty enables a man to forego present advantage and to believe that present loss is the needful preliminary of eternal gain.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

So, even a journey may be the outcome of an inspiration! "There's a Divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may." I feel life to be most solemn when I think that inside of it all there is a Spirit that lays out one's day's work, that points out when the road is on the left and when it is on the right, and that tells one what words will best express one's thought. Thus is God nigh at hand and not afar off. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." And thus, too, are men misunderstood: they are called enthusiasts, and are said to be impulsive; they are not "safe" men; they are here today and gone tomorrow, and no proper register of their life can be made. Of course we are to distinguish between inspiration and delusion, and not to think that every noise is thunder. We are not to call a "maggot" a "revelation." What we are to do is this: We have to live and move and have our being in God; to expect His coming and long for it; to be patient and watchful; to keep our heart according to His word; and then we shall know His voice from the voice of a stranger, for "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." If God be our supreme consciousness He will reveal His providence without cloud or doubtfulness. I think it can be proved that the men who have done things apparently against all reason have often been acting in the most reasonable manner, and that inspiration has often been mistaken for madness. I feel that all the while you are asking me to give you tests by which you may know what is inspiration, you have little or nothing to do with such tests — you have to be right and then you will sure to do right. Possibly Abram may have got more credit for this journey than he really deserves. It is true that he knew not "whither he went," and by so much this is what is called "a leap in the dark; " but Abram knew two things —

1. He knew at whose bidding he was going, and —

2. He knew what results were promised to his faith. To get a man to leave his "country, his kindred, and his father's house," you must propose or apply some very strong inducement. Now, it is worth while to take notice that from the very beginning God has never given a merely arbitrary command: He has never treated a man as a potter would treat a handful of clay: the royal and mighty command has always ended in the tenderness of a gracious promise. God has never moved a man merely for the sake of moving him; 'merely for the sake of showing His power: this we shall see in detail as we move through the wondrous pages, but I call attention to it now as strikingly illustrated in the case of Abram. Some of you yourselves may remember the words "Get thee out," who have forgotten the accumulated and glorious blessing. Let us be just unto the Lord, and remember that He treats us as His sons and not as irresponsible machines.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

And thou shalt be a blessing.

When God called Abraham, and, in Abraham, the Jewish nation, He cradled them in blessings. This is the way in which He always begins with a man. If ever, to man or nation, He speaks otherwise, it is because they have made Him do so.

I. Many of us account religion rather as a possession to be held, or a privilege to be enjoyed, than as a life which we are to spread, a kingdom we are bound to extend. Consequently our religion has grown too passive. It would be healthier and happier if we were to cast into it more action.

II. Wherever Abraham went he shed blessings round him, not only by his prayers and influence, but by the actual charm of his presence. As Abraham was a blessing to the Jews, still more were the Jews a blessing to the world.

III. Then came the climax. He who so blesses with His blood, He who did nothing but bless, He was of the seed of Abraham.

IV. As joined to the mystical body of Christ, we are Abraham's seed, and one of the promises to which we are admitted is this, "Thou shalt be a blessing." The sense of a positive appointment, of a destiny to do a thing, is the most powerful motive of which the human mind is capable. Whoever desires to be a blessing must be a man of faith, prayer, and love.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. EVERY GOD-TRUSTING MAN IS A CENTRE OF BLESSING. Because God is at the centre of his soul.

II. A DEVOUT MAN IS A BLESSING TO THOSE WHO CAN RECEIVE HIS INFLUENCE.

III. THE MEASURE OF OUR FAITH DETERMINES THE BLESSING WE SHALL TRANSMIT TO OTHERS.

IV. TO BE A BLESSING THROUGH THE POWER AND FAVOUR OF GOD, IS THE HIGHEST HONOUR IN THE WORLD.

(F. Hastings.)

I. THE ASSURANCE OF DIVINE BLESSING IN CONNECTION WITH THE DIVINE CALL.

II. THAT SPIRITUAL BLESSING CAN ONLY BE REALIZED AND ENJOYED IN THE EXERCISE OF FAITH AND OBEDIENCE.

III. ONE GREAT PURPOSE OF GOD IN ELECTING AND BLESSING US IS, THAT WE MAY BECOME INSTRUMENTS OF BLESSING TO OTHERS.

IV. THERE IN AN ORDER AND A MEASURE APPOINTED BY GOD IN BLESSING US AND MAKING US INSTRUMENTS OF BLESSING.

(G. W. Humphreys, B. A.)

Before you can do good you must be made good; for who will look for water from a drained river, or that sweet grapes should grow upon a withered vine?

(W. Secker.)

I. With regard to THE SPEAKER, it is the Lord Jehovah Himself. He alone can bless His people. I do not say, but the Lord may make use of the smallest instrumentality to bless His children. I do not deny the ministration of angels, though one knows so little about it. I do not undervalue their untiring zeal and great unwearied love. I believe they are always as "ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them, who shall be heirs of salvation." Neither do I deny the instrumentality of man; and God may, and does, bless man to man. But all these things are but the streams — or the channels; the great source is God Himself. No one can bless the souls of His people but God Himself. Our wants are too many for any but God to supply them; our sins are too many for any but God to pardon them; our corruptions are too great for any but God to subdue them. Our waywardness is such, that nothing less than infinite patience could bear with us. And even the desires of the new nature are so great, that all heaven could not satisfy them, but as God fills all heaven with Himself.

II. But observe now, secondly, TO WHOM IT IS THAT THIS PROMISE BELONGS. I am quite ready to believe, and to acknowledge, that it was spoken primarily and especially to Abraham; but thanks be to God, we have been taught by the blessed Spirit, I trust, to know that there is not a promise in God's Word but the child of God has it for his inheritance. The Lord has such a people; and they are dear to Him "as the apple of His eye." He has chosen them in Christ Jesus before the world was; they are redeemed by precious blood; He forms them for His glory; He moulds them to His image, and "they shall show forth His praise." No language can describe how precious they are to Him. He sees them in His Son; beholds them in the Beloved. They are dear to Him; the holy image in which they are renewed is precious to Him. The fruit of His own workmanship shall never perish, shall never be annihilated, shall never be destroyed. Their lives are precious to Him; and their deaths are precious. Their services are precious; the very tears they shed for sin are precious; the sighs that heave their bosom for sin, are all precious to Him. To them He looks; with them He dwells; and they are "His jewels," and not one of them shall be lost. But yet they are a needy people, and they want His blessing. They want infinite power to sustain them; they want infinite wisdom to guide them; they want infinite love to bear their infirmities and weaknesses; and they want the patience of a God, to endure them to the end. Leave them to themselves, and they are no blessing, and can communicate no blessing to those around them; nay, leave them to themselves, and they shall be a curse to all around them. But these are they that are here spoken of as the inheritors of the promise — blessed through Abraham, and blessed "with faithful Abraham."

III. Consider, thirdly, the riches — THE WONDROUS RICHES, THAT ARE TO BE FOUND IN THIS BLESSING. "I will bless thee." Ah! what is there not included in this one idea? What limit is there, what boundary? What adequate conception can we form of the words — "I will bless thee"? It is not a mere general promise; it is a peculiar, personal, individual promise. For while all the members form one body, yet each member stands alone, and wants its own individual blessing; and each child of God wants his own individual blessing, and he has this individual promise given to him personally, the same as if there were no other upon the face of this earth. But here is another promise concerning them: not only "I will bless thee," but "I will make thy name great." This would almost seem as if it must belong exclusively to Abraham. The name of Abraham, you know, was a sort of object of idolatrous worship to the Jew: "We be Abraham's seed," said they, "and were never in bondage to any man." "Think not," preached John the Baptist, "to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." He brought down their high thoughts, their carnal confidences, their reposing in Abraham, and laid them low; and there was no greater hindrance that He had to contend with than this. The parallelism, I confess, seems to cease here; and yet it is but in look — it is not in reality. I know the world has all mean words and mean names for the child of God. A saint — oh! it is the scorn of the world; it is the very ridicule of the world. "Good man" — "man of piety" — "excellent man!" — that may do; but a saint! — it is a term of ridicule. A saint? what a term of glory! Set apart by God, from before all worlds, for Himself; purchased by "the blood of the everlasting covenant," and sanctified by God the eternal Spirit. See what a name this is; it is indeed "a great name." A Christian — everyone has that name now; yet if I look at what a real Christian is, what a name it is! Anointed of the Holy Ghost with that unction that cometh down from Aaron, the true High Priest, our true Aaron, our great Melchisedec, flowing down from His head to the very skirts of His clothing; partaker of that Divine unction that teacheth all things; what a name of glory is His! Compared with it, all earthly names sink just into nothing. Children! dear children! And, a brother of Christ! But let me rather dwell on the third clause — "thou shall be a blessing." There is something deeply affecting in the thought that an ungodly man is no blessing; he can be no blessing. Oftentimes he is the very opposite of blessing. An ungodly man is an evil, be he where he may. How many a father is a curse to his whole family! How many a mother is a plague sore to her whole family! How many a child is as a curse to all around! These things are not imaginations; they are truths — awful, solemn truths. But the child of God is a blessing, wherever he is. Wherever he acts as a child of God, in proportion as he bears the image of his Master, and reflects that image, he is a blessing; however feeble his gift, however small his grace, however circumscribed his place, he is a blessing, wherever he is and whatever he does. How shall I set before you the blessing attending holy example? Who can say how great a blessing attends the bold avowal of principles, the bold declaration of truth, the bold manifestation that we are on the Lord's side?

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

I have seen in an African desert a beautiful patch of green, a luxurious blending of graceful palm waving grass, rippling spring, pendent fruits, and tropic flowers — an island of verdure, refreshment, and comfort, in the midst of a sea of sand, of dreary brushwood, and of stunted thorn. Hither came both man and beast, hot with travel, scorched with heat, oppressed with hunger, faint with thirst, and found food and drink, shelter and repose. Those who dwelt in the surrounding region called the weary tract around "The Torment," because it was hard, dry, difficult, inhospitable. The patch of natural garden ground in the centre they called by an African word which means a god or a spirit in a good temper, or rather, the smile of God. The smile of God! Verily a good name and a beautiful; a smile that lightens the heart and cheers the lot of every drooping traveller that passes that way. As he gazes with hand-shaded eyes through the haze of the desert heat, and catches a glimpse of the green isle upon the border line, that smile of God begets a smile on his own tired and weary face, and with quickened step and hopeful eye he presses thitherward and rejoices in its cool and grateful shade! It may well be called "The Smile of God!" Just what that green oasis is to the tribes of Ham, the God-trusting, God-fearing man is to his fellow men, a centre of blessing, a precious possession, nothing other, nothing less than the "Smile of God." It is not enough that you carry your light in a dark lantern, and flash it out on a Sunday, or on some occasion of special feeling, and then withdraw it as suddenly, to leave blinking spectators rather more uncertain as to your moral whereabouts than before; but rather like the electric flame, which is only toned down by the medium in which it burns, your humanity should exhibit the veiled but glowing light of life and love Divine that dwells behind. I remember seeing, on a certain festive occasion, nearly a thousand men marching through the streets of a northern city when the clock in the minster steeple was tolling out the midnight hour. Neither moon nor star appeared in the sombre sky, and the lamps along the streets were but as twinkling beads of light which vainly tried to lighten the gloom of the dull November air. But wherever the procession went, wherever the tramping of their feet was heard, the light, clear, full, and brilliant, lit up the streets and houses, illumined statues, and was flashed back from every window and every gilded sign. Every face shone bright, every form stood clear, and the dull, dark night, right up into the gloom above, glowed and gleamed as with the light of morn. How was this? Every man carried a pitch pine torch; each flashed its little measure of light upon the sombre gloom, and altogether they conquered darkness and created day! As a disciple of Christ, it is given to the Christian, not so much to carry a torch as to be a torch. He himself is to be set alight, and is to move in and out through the world's sad shadow land, a peripatetic illumination, showing the beauty of goodness — dispensing the knowledge of God. Yours, O Christian, be it to exhibit all holy virtues, all kindly charities, all manly attributes, all Christly compassions, all godly speech and deed; and remember that if you are to be a true Christian, an Israelite indeed, the friend of God, the disciple of Christ, the heritor of heaven — you are to be — must be — a blessing! It is not enough that you are not a curse, that you do no ill and work no harm. The poisonous upas tree and the barren fig tree shall both be east into the fire. The captured rebel, caught red-handed, and the sentinel asleep at his post, alike are doomed. To cease to do evil is only the lesser half of the Christian's code of law — he must learn to do well. Note, again, that just in proportion as a Christian is a blessing, he has a blessing. Kind words, they say, have kind echoes, but that is not all the truth. The echoes are more musical than the original, because God mingles a benediction in the tone. It is hard to say whether the sea or the land is the greater gainer by the race for giving: the sea into which the silver streams are rolled, or the land on which the jewels of the clouds are scattered, like the largess of a king.And the more thou spendest
From thy little store,
With a double bounty,
God will give thee more.I have said that the Christian is to be a blessing; that according as he is a blessing he has a blessing; but before all this comes something else. It is said of Abram, "Thou shalt be a blessing"; but there are vital words before that. Hark! "I will bless thee." That's how it is. Neither Abram nor you can either be a blessing or have a blessing, in the full, clear, and joyous sense, unless it be imparted from above. If this stream of blessing is to rise in your own soul, ripple along your pathway and cool the lips of others in its flow, then all your springs must be in God. He must be all in all — He, the God from whom all blessings flow.

(J. J. Wray.)

Grass-feeding animals while cropping their pastures are scattering and disseminating the seeds of the grasses; and the birds and insects while thrusting their beak or proboscis deep down into the nectaries of the flowers, are gathering and depositing again the fertilizing pollen.

Survey this treasure house of grace; how rich! how full! The believer may say, This heritage is all my own. Measure, if it be possible, the golden chain which extends from one hand of God in eternity past to the other in eternity to come. Every link is a blessing. Behold the starry canopy. The glittering orbs outshine all beauty, and exceed all number. Such is the firmament of Christ. It is studded with blessings. But millions of worlds are less than the least; and millions of tongues are weak to tell them. Mark how they sparkle in the eye of faith. There are constellations of pardons. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sin." There is the bright shining of adoption into the family of God. "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." There is the milky-way of peace, perfect peace, heaven's own peace. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." There is the morning star of sin destroyed. "God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you in turning away every one of you from His iniquities." There is the lustre of Divine righteousness. "This is His name, whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." There is the light of life, "I give unto them eternal life." There is all glory. "The glory, which Thou gavest me, I have given them." There is the possession of all present, and the promise of all future good. "All things are yours," "things present — things to come." There is the assurance that nothing shall harm. "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Such is the blaze of blessings, on which the believer calmly gazes. But reader, are they yours?

(Dean Law.)

It would seem the simplest thing in the world to come at once and be blest. Why not? Welt, there is a secret mistrust of God. Is not Abraham called upon to give up home, and kindred, and country, and everything? And we tremble. Our ways are not God's ways; and our thoughts are not God's thoughts. What He counts a blessing we dread rather than desire. We lose the blessed life through fear. Then there is a dulness, an inertness, a spiritual apathy about us. Like a talk about pictures to a blind man, like the pouring forth of a musician's soul to one who is utterly unsympathetic — alas! so does our God make His appeal to us. Sad enough it is that the appeal of God to the world should be unheeded and rejected. The Blessed Life — the Life of Faith — grows out of the knowledge of God; it is as we come to see how really good and loving our God is; how really blessed are His purposes concerning us; how lofty is the calling wherewith He doth call us; how graciously and tenderly He fulfils His purpose; thus is it that we learn to surrender ourselves wholly to Him for His own.

I. The blessed life is A REVELATION FROM GOD. Think of life as it presented itself to Abraham without God. "Here am I in this pleasant and goodly land," he might have said to himself; "a land endeared to me by the memory of my fathers and as the home of my people. Here are my friends; here is my business; my flocks and herds; my fertile pastures; and my faithful servants. Now I will set to work and do the best I can, toiling diligently day by day, and seeking at once to enrich myself and others by my labour. I have a goodly wife, whom my heart loves right well; who is as true to me as I am to her; who is watchful of my interests and eager for my comfort; diligent, thrifty, managing well. Then here have I also the opportunity of doing good. My brother Terah has left an orphan son. I will adopt him, and make him my care, and will seek his welfare; I will do by him as honestly and generously as if he were my own. I will set myself boldly against wrong; and I will set myself resolutely on the side of all that is good, and true and right in the world. So let me live and labour; and when my work is done I will lay me down and rest with my fathers." Yet all this time there lay about this man a larger life — infinitely higher, and deeper, and broader: a life opening up a new world, unfolding new capacities; a life blessed and enriched and ennobled by the Presence of God. Think of the soul finding its rest in God; the loneliness of life lost in His presence; the common toil glorified as His service; hope made boundless by His promise; and fear driven away by His abiding and eternal care! So God stood and called Abraham: "Come forth into a land that I will show thee." And Abraham passed out into a life where his relation should be with the world's Redeemer; where his example should stimulate the faithful of all time; to become a man whom all nations should call blessed. Into that fuller and larger life God is ever seeking to lead us by the revelation of Himself: "I will bless thee;...thou shalt be a blessing."

II. The blessed life is A REVELATION OF GOD. It is quite possible for us to know God without entering into the fulness of the blessed life. Our dwellings limit the amount of heaven that we see by the size of the skylights; a foot square may admit light enough for a day's work, and it may sometimes admit so much as half-an-hour's sunshine. That is different from darkness, and much better. But that, too, is different from stepping out under the great heaven, being arched and domed about by it, and to find the golden sunshine flooding earth with blessedness and flashing in a myriad forms of beauty. "I will bless thee"; that blessing can only be ours when we let God Himself come to us. They who; rant the gifts of God only, and not Himself, must ever go without the best gift: that which is more than all gifts. The blessed life begins only when He Himself is welcomed, trusted, and loved, and when His will is accepted and rested in. I will — the blessed life begins with the heart reception of that I and of that will. And I am blest exactly in proportion as that "I will" becomes my will. "I will bless thee." I have my thought and estimate of what is good; and my desires go forth eager for a score of things which seem to make up the true blessedness of life. By these desires my purposes are shaped, and life itself is determined. Yet what do I know? See, here in the doorway of the mother's house is the little child. Like us, it too has its thought of what is good, and has the fullest confidence in its judgment and wisdom. It thinks it knows all the world, and can manage quite well without anybody's help. So away it goes out on to the crowded pavement; on across the perils of the streets; now amidst the roar of the traffic and rush of carriages it stands bewildered and lost. There is but one safety; but one blessedness. It is to put the hand in His, to accept His guidance, to surrender the will to Him, to make His way my way, quite sure that the truest blessing I can find is to let God have His own will and His own way with me in everything. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God. The blessed life is that into which God only can lead us.

III. The blessed life is A REVELATION FOR ME. When we get as far as this do we begin to sigh? "Yes, I know all this is what I ought to be; and of course it is what I want to be!" But it is such hard work: struggling striving, failing. Stay a moment. Have you not begun the sentence at the wrong end? The first word is I, not thee. Put it in the right order. First, "I" — God comes to thee; make room. "I will" — not what you are, but what God wills is what you have to think of next. "I will bless." There, throw back the shutters, and let the sunshine in. "I will bless — thee." That is the right order: leave that thee until you get the other side of the blessing. When I begin with myself, what blessed life is possible? But when I begin with God, the blessed life is just the commonplace, and the highway wherein I do walk. "I will bless thee." Of course He will; He can do nothing but bless. Was not this fair world once in chaos and darkness: a dreary waste? but, lo! it made room for Him and His Will; and then the stars shone in the heavens, and the dry land appeared, and the grass grew, and the fishes swam, and the beasts roamed, and the birds sang, and at last there was the finished bliss of Paradise, and all was very good. To make room for Him and for His will is alway to make room for blessing. Yet neither Paradise nor heaven have such a wondrous manifestation of God's eagerness to bless as that with which He meets us in all the rich provisions of His grace. "I will bless thee." It is not only as we count will. With us to will is oftentimes as idle as to wish. Hemmed in by a thousand hindrances, our lofty will is mocked by the cruel defiance of our circumstances. But when our God saith, "I will," it cannot be broken. Almighty Power doth wait to make that will fulfilled.

IV. In all the world there is BUT ONE THING THAT CAN HINDER GOD. It is not in the material upon which He works, nor is it in the conditions in which that material is placed. The only hindrance God can ever know is in my will. When the "I will" of God is met with the "I will" of my heart, then there is no power in heaven or hell that can thwart or hinder.

(Mark Guy Pearse.)

A young lady was preparing for the dance hall, and, standing before a large mirror, placed a light crown ornamented with silver stars upon her head. While thus standing, a little fair-haired sister climbed in a chair and put up her tiny fingers to examine this beautiful headdress, and was accosted thus: "Sister, what are you doing? You should not touch that crown!" Said the little one, "I was looking at that, and thinking of something else." "Pray, tell me what you are thinking about — you, a little child." "I was remembering that my Sabbath school teacher said, if we save sinners by our influence, we should win stars to our crown in heaven; and when I saw those two stars in your crown, I wished I could save some soul." The elder sister went to the dance, but in solemn meditation; the words of the innocent child found a lodgment in her heart, and she could not enjoy the association of her friends. At a seasonable hour she left the hall and returned to her home; and going to her chamber, where her dear little sister was sleeping, imprinted a kiss upon her soft cheek, and said: "Precious sister, you have won one star for your crown"; and kneeling at the bedside, offered a fervent prayer to God for mercy.

Well do I remember when I first knew the Lord how restless I felt till I could do something for others. I did not know that I could speak to an assembly, and I was very timid as to conversing upon religious subjects, and therefore I wrote little notes to different persons setting forth the way of salvation, and I dropped these written letters with printed tracts into the post, or slipped them under the doors of houses, or dropped them into areas, praying that those who read them might be aroused as to their sins, and moved to flee from the wrath to come. My hears would have burst if it could not have found some vent.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Now of this character, with so many claims to fame, it is a very notable thing that the New Testament dwells only on one feature, and passes by all those of which we have spoken. One thing, and one thing only, is kept to the front in all the life of this hero: It is his faith. The Hebrew, treasuring as no other people did, and with greater reason than any other people had, the pride of their race, can record of their father Abraham nothing but his faith in God. This lives and shines, eclipses everything else. "Faithful Abraham," this is his title; Abraham believed, this is his achievement; by faith Abraham, this is the secret of his triumph. Take that fact and dwell upon it. You will find in it the secret of the blessed life: that life is great, is true life, only as it is the outcome of our faith in God. We need to hear it until we believe it, that our fitness for service is not in the strength of intellect, not in the vastness of wealth, not in the genius, not in the greatness which the world counts great; God's estimate of us — the only true estimate — is by the measure of our faith. Our worth lies in our faith. He who will set God ever before him, and then in God's own strength, will go out and do the will of God, he, and he only, is the man who can come to be amongst God's heroes. Only the man who is very intimate with the Most High will be entrusted with the secrets of God, and commissioned for active service. The blessed life is the life of faith. But does that greatly help us? It sounds all true enough, and we accept it as if its familiarity were the warrant of its orthodoxy. But what is the life of faith? Faith seems such a vague, indefinite, intangible something, a happy phrase by which we conceal our ignorance. Well, whatever it is, it is a gain certainly to have it embodied in real flesh and blood, to find a living man with a wife and a great many servants, some of them troublesome; and children, not always agreeing; and cattle and sheep, for whom it was hard to find food sometimes; and neighbours, who could be very disagreeable; and relations, who were sometimes very selfish; a man, too, who could make mistakes like other people. Certainly it is helpful to have the blessed life lived out in our own very nature, and in our commonplace world.

(Mark Guy Pearse.)

The birthplace of Abraham was Ur of the Chaldees, away to the Northeast of Palestine, beyond the river Euphrates. It is plain that the family of Abraham, like almost all the rest of the world at that time, was idolatrous, Joshua speaks of it: "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor; and they served other gods." A legend comes down to us of the story of Abraham's conversion which is very beautiful, and certainly may be true that as he lay upon the mountain height amidst his flock at night, there rose a star so brilliant and beautiful in the great arch of heaven that Abraham was filled with the glory of it, and said: "This is my god; this will I worship." But, lo! as the still hours of the night passed by, the star sank down and was gone. And he said: "Of what avail is it that I worship my god if it die out in the darkness and I see it no more?" Then above the hills there rose the moon and flooded all the earth with silvery light, and quenched the stars. And Abraham hailed it, saying: "Thou art fairer and greater than the star, thou art my god, for thou art worthier." But lo, it too hastened away and sank in darkness. And Abraham cried: "If my gods forsake me, then am I as others that do err!" Soon rose the sun, in radiant splendour. It scattered the darkness and his doubts. And he said: "Thou, thou art my god, greater than moon and star. I will worship thee." But at even the sun sank, and like the moon and star, it too was gone. Then was Abraham alone; but as he gazed into heaven there came the thought of One behind the star, the moon, the sun — the Maker of them all. And Abraham cried: "O my people, I am clear of these things, I turn my face to Him who hath made the heavens and the earth; He only is my God.

(Mark Guy Pearse.)

Some men move through life as a band of music moves down the street, flinging out pleasures on every side through the air to everyone, far and near, who can listen. Some men fill the air with their presence and sweetness, as orchards, in October days, fill the air with the perfume of ripe fruit. Some women cling to their own houses like the honeysuckle over the door, yet, like it, fill all the region with the subtle fragrance of their goodness. How great a bounty and a blessing is it so to hold the royal gifts of the soul that they shall be music to some, and fragrance to others, and life to all! It would be no unworthy thing to live for, to make the power which we have within us the breath of other men's joy: to fill the atmosphere which they must stand in with a brightness which they cannot create for themselves.

(H. W. Beecher.)

St. Paul finds the key to the constitution and the order of the human home in the spiritual sphere. Christian philosophy is inevitably transcendental — that is, it believes that earthly things are made after heavenly patterns, and that the "things seen and temporal" can only be fully understood by letting the light fall on them from the things which are not seen and eternal. It was the redemption of the home when Christ's redeeming love to the world was made the pattern of its love. That home is the highest in which love reigns most perfectly.

I. THE HOME IS THE INSTRUMENT OF A DOUBLE EDUCATION, Its function is to develop the Divine image in parent and in child.

II. AS THE FIRST STEP TO THE FULFILMENT OF HIS PURPOSE IN RESTORING MAN TO HIS OWN IMAGE, GOD SET "THE SOLITARY IN FAMILIES." He laid the foundation of the home as the fundamental human institution, the foundation of all true order, the spring of all true development in human society. Out of the home State and Church were to grow; by the home they were both to be established. And so God took the dual head of the first human home, the father and mother, and made them as gods to their children, and He sent them there to study the pain and the burden of the godhead as well as the power and the joy. This was the only way by which man could gain the knowledge of the mind and heart of God.

(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

If it shall be seen that Christianity has done that for the world which no other system of philosophy or religion has ever effected — if its influence has been so mighty as, wherever it has comes to have civilized the savage — to have raised men in the scale of being, till they have become the first amongst nations; if in every instance, when it has had its proper influences it has exalted the individual above his race, transforming the most vicious into a model of virtue — then we have a new class of arguments in its favour, scarcely less conclusive than those more direct evidences which we first mentioned. An unprejudiced observer cannot deny that all this is true. It is a matter of too much notoriety to be controverted. The Christian nations have, at this moment, such a superiority over all others. I have to place before you, tonight, a single instance of the operation of this mighty agency, in its influence on the purity and happiness of families. I propose to show you in what manner Christianity prevents, or rectifies, the evils of domestic life, and contributes to the happiness of families. It does this in two ways.

I.By the influence of its laws on the community.

II.By the operation of its principles on the minds of individuals.

I. Let us view THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIAN LAWS ON A COMMUNITY.

1. The laws of all those nations which are called Christian are, to a considerable degree, founded on the Christian code.

2. The laws which regulate the marriage contract have an important influence on human happiness. There are three points which we shall notice as applicable to our subject.(1) Marriage, according to the Christian religion, is a union between a single pair: the husband being permitted to have but one wife, and the wife but one husband.(2) The Christian law makes marriage between two parties binding for life.(3) But Christianity provides relief for the greatest injury which a husband or a wife can suffer by making adultery a dissolution of the marriage tie.

3. On the happiness of woman, Christianity has a most special influence. In temporal things she is more indebted to it than man. Her exact place in the social scale is defined in the Scriptures. Christianity, by investing her with equal religious privileges, has forbidden her husband to treat her as a being of an inferior order. "There is neither male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus."

II. I have to show you how it contributes to the happiness of families BY THE OPERATION OF ITS PRINCIPLES ON THE MINDS OF INDIVIDUALS.

1. The first moral principle of Christianity is love. He only is a real Christian in whom this is predominant. His religion teaches him that his love must be all-pervading and quenchless. His God is represented as love. His Saviour is love incarnate, the embodiment and manifestation of Divine love to our world. On this perfect model the Christian's character must be formed. The whole system of Christian ethics is only a development of the same principles. The gospel, throughout, inculcates the most perfect courtesy and politeness: not that false and hollow code which consists of polished manners and a specious hypocrisy; but that real courtesy which seeks the happiness of others. That which the man of high life professes to be, the Christian really is. He is humble, and the servant of all. He esteems others more highly than himself. Self-denial is a duty which he has practised, as long as he has been a Christian.

2. The principles and precepts of Christianity are not merely general things which apply to the mass of mankind; but they are adapted to particular cases, and especially to domestic duties.

3. Now, such being the operation of Christianity on the character, the residence of one Christian person in a family must have an important influence on the happiness of the whole. The Christian religion qualifies alike for every station. To have learned the lesson of the gospel gives dignity and lustre to the humblest duties.

4. If such be the happy influence shed on a family by one Christian member, how much greater will it be when the head of the family is a Christian. The character and example of the master must have a great influence on the household. Besides, his will is the law by which all things are regulated and controlled. The character of the whole, will, to a considerable degree, reflect the colour of his.

5. How happy must that family be, all the members of which act on the principles of Christianity. In concluding this discourse, I would offer the following practical remarks for your consideration.

I. Recollect that what you have heard this evening is only a small and very subordinate part of the evidence in favour of the truth of Christianity. That evidence is large and conclusive, as I noticed at the commencement of this lecture. He who is in doubt should examine the whole with serious attention and candour, for his own sake: for it cannot be concealed that his everlasting happiness depends on the question.

II. Do not fall into the common mistake of misjudging Christianity by the conduct of Christians. Religion is not chargeable with the fault of its disciples. Whatever the actions of Christians may he, the rule which is given for the direction of their life is perfect. The question at issue is, not what men are, but what Christianity.

III. AS A MATTER OF DOMESTIC POLICY, YOU SHOULD ADOPT CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES. Nothing is so conducive to the happiness of families: it is therefore a point of wisdom to introduce Christian regulations.

IV. If the beneficent influence of Christianity on domestic life tends to prove its Divine origin, THIS ARGUMENT SHOULD PERSUADE YOU TO RECEIVE IT AS A REVELATION FROM HEAVEN. If it be a revelation from heaven it is worthy of all acceptation. Not confined in its influence to the narrow circle of domestic life, nor to the present world, its sublime scheme extends beyond the visible universe, and grasps eternity. It interposes between man and God, and saves the sinner from hell.

(S. Spink.)

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