Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. ITS REASONABLENESS. The subject of faith is not merely an abstract theological question. Abraham's faith, in particular, is not something which concerned Abraham but has no interest for us. We are told in the close of this chapter that "it was not written for his sake alone, that his faith was imputed to him for righteousness; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification" (vers. 23-25). What, then, do we mean by faith? Faith is a strong inward persuasion manifesting itself in outward acts. We could have no better illustration of it than the life of Abraham. "Abraham believed God." His life was a life of faith in God. He trusted God's word, and he took God's way. Here, then, we have a simple definition of what faith means - trusting God's word and taking God's way. Is not this an eminently reasonable course for a human being to take? So Abraham thought. He was a man of experience when we have the first record of God speaking to him. He was seventy-five years old when God's first command reached him - the command to leave his country and his father's house. It would appear as if Abraham had begun before that time to look beyond the seen to the unseen. His spiritual instincts and his reason told him that those idols which the people round him worshipped could not represent the great Creator of the world. He had already a conviction that there was a God - a reasonable conviction based on the evidence of natural laws. He knew something of that almighty Being's power, and wisdom, and immortality, and unchangeableness. And so he reached the conclusion, which became an irresistible conviction, that "what God had promised he was able also to perform" (vers. 18-21). He was "fully persuaded." Upon this Abraham based his faith. For these reasons he trusted God's word and took God's way. Is it not still more reasonable that we should have faith in God? We too have had experience, and not merely our own experience, but the experience of thousands of others from Abraham's day till now, who have trusted God, and found that what he hath promised he is able also to perform. The history of the ages teaches us that heaven and earth may pass away, but that God's words do not pass away; that men will change and die, and mighty empires crumble into dust, but that the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him. It teaches us also this lesson, that God's way is always best, and that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Abraham's faith was a reasonable faith. It is a reasonable thing that we also should trust God's word and take God's way.
II. ITS RESULTS.
1. Abraham's faith led him to unfaltering obedience. It was a strange and apparently a harsh command which God gave to him, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee" (Genesis 12:1). But Abraham did not hesitate. He knew whom he had believed. It was God, the living God, his heavenly Father, who was speaking to him, and he felt he must obey. He knew that God would provide for him; he knew that God would lead him right. How many of us under similar circumstances would show such unhesitating, unfaltering obedience to God's command? How many of us are willing to trust God to take care of us when we are doing his will? Alas! is it not true that we often hesitate to do his will, just because we cannot trust him to take care of us, to bring us safely through the difficulties and to crown our labours with success? But, then, it must be admitted that there is a real, practical difficulty here which sometimes perplexes God's people. Some one may say, "Well, I am quite willing to do God's will, to follow the path of duty, if I could only tell what it was. There are so many cases where I cannot see my way. If I could only hear God speaking to me as he did to Abraham, there would be no difficulty about it." I think the way to meet that difficulty is this. Saturate your mind with the spirit of the gospel, with the teachings of the Word of God, with the spirit of Christ. A Christian is one who has the spirit of Christ. And, while there will be inconsistencies, as a rule we can depend upon the Christian. A remarkable illustration of this was given in Abraham's own case. Before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord" (Genesis 18:17, 19). God had confidence in Abraham doing what was right, although in one case Abraham acted sinfully and inconsistently. So we can trust the Christian to act in a Christian way. There will be mistakes, inconsistencies, in his life. But there are some things we know he will not do. He will not be among the sabbath-breakers, among the profane, the foul and filthy speakers, among the intemperate, among those who defraud or those who defame their neighbour. And all this we know, because we know him to have the spirit of Christ. We must cultivate this spirit, then, if we would know what the path of duty is.
2. Abraham's faith led him to unflinching self-sacrifice. There are two grand scenes in his life that illustrate this. One was when he gave Lot the permission to choose what portion of the land he would have. Abraham had the right to choose, but he relinquished his own rights in favour of his nephew. The other was when God called on him to offer up as a sacrifice his son Isaac. What a spirit of faith Abraham showed then! He trusted God, and so he took God's way. He had himself said once before, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). And now when God, who gave him his son, asks him to give him back again, his faithful servant is ready to do what God asks. It was enough. The Lord himself had provided a lamb for the burnt offering. But Abraham showed the greatness of his faith by the sacrifice he was ready to make. There is a process in mathematics called the elimination of factors. The factor self had been eliminated from Abraham's character and life. So it will be with the true Christian. The spirit of self-sacrifice is the spirit of Christ, the spirit of Christianity. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." We must be ready to make sacrifice of self for Christ's sake. Such, then, was Abraham's faith. It was a reasonable faith, and a faith that resulted in unfaltering obedience and in unflinching self-sacrifice. He trusted God's word, and he took God's way. That is the way of salvation for every sinner. Such faith is the condition of all righteousness. If we are to please God, if we are to get to heaven, we must take God's way. The manner of Abraham's justification is an encouragement for every sinner, whether Jew or Gentile. If salvation had been by the Law, only those who had the Law, or who kept it, could be saved. But it is "of faith, that it might be of grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham (ver. 16). The Jews' beast that they were Abraham's seed showed a narrow idea of what the promise was. Abraham was the father of many nations" (vers. 17, 18). Abraham's true spiritual children are those who imitate Abraham's faith. - C.H.I.
John 8.) - this they were proud to acknowledge; but what was his relationship to God?
I. ABRAHAM'S RIGHTEOUSNESS. Righteousness must be either absolute or imputed; e.g. a servant in employ, on the one hand tried and true, on the other hand false, but penitent and received again. Which was Abraham's?
1. If of works, it was absolute, and therefore he was in a position of proud integrity before God. Was it so? The whole history proved the contrary. Humble dependence.
2. If imputed, it could only be as he accepted God's promises, and lived by faith in them. And so saith the Scripture (ver. 3).
II. ABRAHAM'S FAITH. What was the faith which was reckoned to him for righteousness?
1. Renunciation of self. (Genesis 15., 17.) He could do nothing.
2. Reliance on God. (Genesis 15., and implied in 17.) God could do all things. Such the general principle: faith is the laying hold of all God's mighty love. Hence the spring of all righteousness. In Abraham's case, faith in promises for the future pertaining to the kingdom of God. Virtually, it was the faith of his spiritual salvation. Was not David's case the same? There are iniquities, sins; man can never undo them; God can cover them. So with us. Not of debt, but of grace - on God's part; therefore, not of works, but of faith - on man's part. And hence no arbitrary condition; the appropriation of all the wealth of good offered in God and by God. Well is it said, "Blessed are they," etc. - T.F.L.
in loc.). Now, to this a negative answer is expected; and, as if it had been supplied, Paul goes on to state the case thus: "For if Abraham were justified by works, he has a subject for glorification; but, vis-a-vis, of God, he has no reason for glorification." This he proceeds to show from the history. Now, there are three things mentioned in this chapter which Abraham got, and in each case it was by exercising faith. These were righteousness (vers. 3-12), inheritance (vers. 13-17), and a seed (vers. 18-25). Let us direct our attention to these in their order.
1. ABRAHAM RECEIVED RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH. (Vers. 3-12.) The apostle begins here with a scriptural quotation; it is from Genesis 15:6, to the effect that "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." We see from the context in Genesis that what Abraham believed was that God's promise about a Seed who would prove a blessing to all nations would yet be fulfilled. He bettered God's naked promise, and looked forward prophetically to his Seed as the medium of universal blessing. His faith was thus fixed in a Seed of promise - in Christ to come. Now, this act of faith without works was "reckoned unto him" (Revised Version) for righteousness. Because of this act of faith, he was regarded by God as having fulfilled the Law and secured righteousness through a perfect obedience. Such a reckoning of righteousness to Abraham's credit was a great act of grace upon God's part. Assuming for the moment that God could justly reckon faith for righteousness, it must be regarded as a gracious gift on the part of God. But the apostle would leave us in no doubt as to the principle involved. One who trusts in his works for acceptance claims reward as a debt; he who trusts, not in his works, but in his God for justification, receives reward as a matter, not of debt, but of grace. This was Abraham's exact position. And David follows his father Abraham in this respect, celebrating in the Psalms the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works; saying, "Blessed arc they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin" (Revised Version). Abraham and David had by faith entered into that blissful position where God not only was felt to forgive them all their iniquities and to cover all their sin, but also would not reckon sin unto them. It was as if they had been transfigured before God into men innocent of all sin. The past was cancelled, and they stood before God accepted as righteous in his sight. But this is not all. The apostle points out particularly that this pardon and acceptance of Abraham on the ground of his faith happened before his circumcision. As a matter of fact, it happened fourteen years before. So that circumcision could constitute no ground of acceptance. It was simply a divinely appointed sign and seal of the previously imputed righteousness. Accordingly, Abraham was in a position to be the father of uncircumcised believers or of circumcised believers, as the case may be; showing us at once faith as exercised in uncircumcision with its resultant righteousness, and faith also exercised after his circumcision with its continued justification.
II. ABRAHAM RECEIVED AS INHERITANCE THROUGH FAITH. (Vers. 13-17.) Now we have to observe that Abraham received net only righteousness through faith, but also an inheritance. As a matter of fact, he became "heir of the world." We must not restrict justification, therefore, to deliverance from deserved penalty, but must attach to it the further idea of inheritance. As one writer has well remarked, "Justification is a term applicable to something more than the discharge of an accused person without condemnation. As in our courts of law there are civil as well as criminal cases; so it was in old time; and a large number of the passages adduced seem to refer to trials of the latter description, in which some question of property, right, or inheritance was under discussion between the two parties. The judge, by justifying one of the parties, decided that the property in question was to be regarded as his. Applying this aspect of the matter to the justification of man in the sight of God, we gather from Scripture that whilst through sin man is to be regarded as having forfeited legal claim to any right or inheritance which God might have to bestow upon his creatures, so through justification he is restored to his high position and regarded as an heir of God.' Now, this designation of Abraham to the heirship of the world was at the same time as the reckoning to him of righteousness. The Law afterwards given to his posterity had nothing to do with this inheritance. It came solely through faith. It was the gift of Divine grace signalizing the patriarch's trust in God as faithful Promiser. Hence the patriarch was called the "father of many nations," because he felt assured that God, who raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, could give him through his seed the inheritance of the world. In the universal triumph of righteousness, the believing descendants of Abraham, whether Jew or Gentile, should "inherit the earth"
III. ABRAHAM RECEIVED A SEED THROUGH FAITH, (Vers. 18-25.) Now, the inheritance centred itself, as the history shows us, in a "seed of promise," and for years this was unlikely. Abraham is ninety and nine, and Sarah ninety, before the promised seed is given. For a quarter of a century it seemed hopeless; but the patriarch hoped against hope, and eventually the God who can raise the dead granted to Sarah's dead womb a living son of promise. Here was the strength of the patriarch's faith in hoping in spite of all appearances. We have thus set before us in Abraham's case, as received through faith alone, righteousness, inheritance, and a seed of promise. But the apostle at once reminds us that all this is written for us also, to whom the same righteousness and the same inheritance shall be secured if we exercise the same faith. And the analogy he traces out in the closing verses is very striking. Jesus, the Seed of Abraham, lay for a season in Joseph's tomb. He was to all appearances hopelessly dead. But God raised him from the dead, just as he had brought Isaac from the dead womb of Sarah. In the God who can thus "call those things which be not as though they were" we ought to believe. Let us believe in the Father who raised Christ from the dead; and then we can rejoice in the two great facts, that Jesus was delivered because of our offences unto death, and then raised out of death as the sign of our justification. Christ's resurrection is thus seen to be the sign and pledge of our personal justification. May we enter into all these privileges through the exercise of faith! - R.M.E.
I. GOD'S MERCIFUL TREATMENT OF PENITENT SINNERS.
1. Three expressions are employed in the verses cited, respecting sin. It is said to be forgiven, like a debt remitted, the score against us being erased. It is covered, as the mercy-seat hid the Law from view, or as a stone flung into the depths of the sea is buried in its waters, or as a mantle of fleecy snow conceals the defilements of a landscape. Likewise it is act reckoned against the delinquents, as if God turned a deaf ear and unseeing eye when complaint is lodged against him concerning the transgressions of the culprits. He smooths the wax tablets so that none can read the bill of indictment.
2. These expressions signify a complete pardon. The king may not care much for the presence of the pardoned rebel at his court, but the father is joyful at the return of the prodigal son. No intermediate state of indifference is possible in God's attitude towards his creatures; when he forgives, there is full reconciliation. No look, no tone, hints at past unworthiness!
3. These expressions teach plainly gratuitous justification. No mention is made of human merit. Man's repentance cannot obliterate or atone for the past; forgiveness means a wrong condoned, not undone, Man is a slave, who cannot purchase his freedom; he has thrown himself into bondage, and his only hope lies in free manumission.
II. THE HAPPINESS OF THE FORGIVEN.
1. The penalties of sin are averted. This does not mean that all the consequences of past wrong-doing are prevented from following, but that the wrath of God rests no longer upon the sinner. The future sentence against evil is withheld, and the burden of guilt is thus removed.
2. Justification brings with it admission into a state of Divine favour. Acquittal includes more than a negative result, that of no condemnation; there is likewise a positive entrance into the kingdom of heaven, with all its sacred privileges and relationships. Filial love takes the place of the spirit of fear.
3. The blissful consciousness of a right condition. Instead of slurring over sin, trying vainly to forget it, the fact has been faced, the truth admitted, and the touch of God has rolled the load for ever from the conscience. The Scriptures assume the possibility of knowing ourselves forgiven. Faith opens the inner hearing to rejoice in the assurance, "Go in peace." The devout Israelite had the ceremonies of the temple to symbolize God's plan of mercy as well as the declarations of inspired teachers. The Christian has words of Christ to rest upon, as also the apostolic commentaries upon the sacrifice and mission of Christ. "I'm in a new world," said one who realized his altered position God-wards. Peaceful in mind during life, serene in the prospect of death, with God as his Portion through eternity, surely this is happiness worthy of the eulogy of the psalmist. - S.R.A.
1. The righteousness of faith without circumcision. In Gem 15. we have the record of Abraham's justification; the institution of circumcision is narrated in Genesis 17., fourteen years after. Abraham, therefore, was justified "in his Gentile-hood" (see Godet). Therefore, he is the father of Gentile believers; and in so far as he is the father of Jewish believers, it is because they are believers, not because they are Jews.
2. Circumcision a seal of the righteousness of faith. God strengthens man's faith by visible signs and seals of the faith and of its results. So to Abraham circumcision was an abiding pledge that God accepted his faith for righteousness. And likewise the existence of a separated nation was a testimony to the world. But it was the faith alone that was effectual; circumcision did but attest.
II. HERITAGE. The whole world is promised to the heirs of Abraham as a heritage; this of itself might suffice to show that the heirs are not merely descendants according to the flesh. But the condition of such inheritance shall show the meaning.
1. If the heritage were through Law, then faith and the promise fail.
(1) "Faith is made void;" for it cannot grasp an impossibility, nor can it rightly lay hold of that which must be worked for.
(2) "And the promise is made of none effect;" for an unfulfilled Law works God's wrath towards man, which is in utter contrariety to the fulfilment of a promise of love.
2. Therefore the heritage is of faith, that it may be according to grace, etc.
(1) Faith the sole condition of promise, that while God's grace gives freely, man may freely receive.
(2) Faith the sole characteristic of the heirs of the promise, that so the seed may be, not merely that which is of the Law (even combined with faith), but that which is of faith (apart from Law), comprising beth Jews and Gentiles who are the spiritual children of the great believer.
III. POSTERITY. But it might be objected that an Israel according to the flesh was necessary, in order that the spiritual Israel might be at last accomplished. Truly. But, to cut away the last ground of boasting, even the Israel according to the flesh was the gift of God through faith.
1. The obstacles to such faith. "His own body," etc. And this all full in view: "he considered."
2. The warrant of faith. While viewing the obstacles, he staggered not.
(1) God's promise "A father of many nations." "So shall thy seed be.
(2) God's power. "Able to perform;" "quickeneth the dead," etc. "Wherefore also it was reckoned unto him for righteousness." As before, it was virtually the faith of his spiritual salvation; yes, the very faith which laid hold of the promise of posterity - a posterity that they deemed according to the flesh. Let us learn that by faith we may be righteous, by faith we may possess the earth, By faith we may impress for good the generations following. What an heirship is possible through the faith of one believer! - T.F.L.
"Horn it was which none could sound, I. THE SIMILARITY OF ABRAHAM'S FAITH TO THAT REQUIRED BY THE GOSPEL. 1. Each has God as its supreme Object, and rests on some promise of God. As the patriarch had respect to the word and power of the Almighty, so the Christian's faith regards the wonder-working might of him who "raised up Jesus from the dead." That in the latter case we look back, not forward, makes no difference as to the essence of faith, and this resurrection becomes itself the ground of believing expectancy in relation to our own future salvation. 2. The subject of faith thereby differentiates himself from his fellows. Out of a world in a condition of rebellion and distrust, Abraham stood forth a monumental pillar of faith. Sin first entered in the guise of a doubt of God's Word, and faith is the throwing off of all suspicion and the adoption of a right attitude before God. Men find it hard to trust God's assurance of pardon and life. 3. The effect of faith is the same. The believer is justified, for God rejoices in the altered state. The implicit credence honours him, and is for his creatures' lasting good. Christ's mission was to show us the Father, revealing his displeasure at sin, and his self-sacrificing sympathy with the sinner. II. THE PROMINENCE OF GRACE. 1. That the inheritance is won by faith involves the absence of valid merit on the part of the recipient. He receives not the wages of a workman, but the free donation of his King. Pride is pulled up by the roots in this manifestation of the kindness of God. Justification is an exercise of clemency for established reasons. 2. The same truth is recognized in the use of the term "promise." We are entitled to claim the heritage on the ground of God's own declaration, not on the score of our personal worthiness. 3. Only by such a method could the promise to Abraham be fulfilled, that is, "made sure to all the seed." If dependent on physical connection, who but the Israelites could hope for the inheritance? If dependent on obedience to the Law, neither Jew nor Gentile could show conformity to the conditions. A world-wide blessing means the removal of both local and universal restrictions. III. THIS DIVINE PLAN JUSTIFIED BY ITS RESULTS. Complaints of arbitrariness and indifference vanish before this apprehended scheme of mercy. Faith tends to produce a righteousness of life which the stern threatenings of Law could never effect. The despairing criminal begins to see that past transgressions and failures need not debar him from hope of the prize, and with the entrance of this thought, new energy is infused into his soul. The greater contains the less. If God promise to save, he will not withhold minor temporal blessings. Let us, like Abraham, view the land of promise, look away from all in our surroundings that would check faith in God, and say, "I will trust, and not be afraid." - S.R.A.
I. THE SIMILARITY OF ABRAHAM'S FAITH TO THAT REQUIRED BY THE GOSPEL.
1. Each has God as its supreme Object, and rests on some promise of God. As the patriarch had respect to the word and power of the Almighty, so the Christian's faith regards the wonder-working might of him who "raised up Jesus from the dead." That in the latter case we look back, not forward, makes no difference as to the essence of faith, and this resurrection becomes itself the ground of believing expectancy in relation to our own future salvation.
2. The subject of faith thereby differentiates himself from his fellows. Out of a world in a condition of rebellion and distrust, Abraham stood forth a monumental pillar of faith. Sin first entered in the guise of a doubt of God's Word, and faith is the throwing off of all suspicion and the adoption of a right attitude before God. Men find it hard to trust God's assurance of pardon and life.
3. The effect of faith is the same. The believer is justified, for God rejoices in the altered state. The implicit credence honours him, and is for his creatures' lasting good. Christ's mission was to show us the Father, revealing his displeasure at sin, and his self-sacrificing sympathy with the sinner.
II. THE PROMINENCE OF GRACE.
1. That the inheritance is won by faith involves the absence of valid merit on the part of the recipient. He receives not the wages of a workman, but the free donation of his King. Pride is pulled up by the roots in this manifestation of the kindness of God. Justification is an exercise of clemency for established reasons.
2. The same truth is recognized in the use of the term "promise." We are entitled to claim the heritage on the ground of God's own declaration, not on the score of our personal worthiness.
3. Only by such a method could the promise to Abraham be fulfilled, that is, "made sure to all the seed." If dependent on physical connection, who but the Israelites could hope for the inheritance? If dependent on obedience to the Law, neither Jew nor Gentile could show conformity to the conditions. A world-wide blessing means the removal of both local and universal restrictions.
III. THIS DIVINE PLAN JUSTIFIED BY ITS RESULTS. Complaints of arbitrariness and indifference vanish before this apprehended scheme of mercy. Faith tends to produce a righteousness of life which the stern threatenings of Law could never effect. The despairing criminal begins to see that past transgressions and failures need not debar him from hope of the prize, and with the entrance of this thought, new energy is infused into his soul. The greater contains the less. If God promise to save, he will not withhold minor temporal blessings. Let us, like Abraham, view the land of promise, look away from all in our surroundings that would check faith in God, and say, "I will trust, and not be afraid." - S.R.A.
I. OUR FAITH. Our faith and Abraham's are one in this - that they lay hold upon God, and God at work for us.
1. The one supreme Object of our faith. God! Whatever God may say to us, whatever he may do for us, the essential Object of our faith is himself. Yes, himself in all his saving love. And though in successive ages he may have revealed more and more of his purposes as men were able to bear it, yet he himself has been ever the same, the Object of man's trust. And though now his purposes and past actions may be variously conceived by men, and though indeed they may be more or less misconceived, yet if he himself, as the Good One, the saving God, be trusted, all is well. We "believe on him."
2. The special subject-matter of our faith. "That raised Jesus," etc. It was not revealed to Abraham how God would eventually work out salvation for mankind, but such salvation as he could grasp was promised - the raising up of a posterity which should possess the world. To us the full meaning of that promise has been made known.
(1) The "delivering up" of Jesus "for our trespasses." Man's sin the necessitating cause: "that he might be just," etc. (Romans 3:26). God's love the efficient cause: "so loved the world," etc. (John 3:16).
(2) The "raising" of Jesus "for our justification." The death did its work; man was justified (i.e. potentially). But if so, the justification of man through the death of Christ demanded his resurrection, just as the trespasses demanded his death. God raised him; our Lord of life for evermore. And it is this grandly operative love that claims our faith.
II. OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1. An objective righteousness, complete now by reason of our faith in the atoning work of Christ. What was potential for all men is actual to us, who have received it with humble hearts - even justification through Christ.
2. A subjective righteousness, pledged by the faith which trusts the living Lord. The faith itself the germ also of future righteousness, and therefore "reckoned" for what it will more and more perfectly bring forth. To us? Oh, simple condition - believe on him! - T.F.L.
I. THE SCRIPTURES A RECORD OF REVELATION. The distinction between the revelation and its history is important, many theories of inspiration failing to recognize the human side visible in the record. The Bible contains the account of the way in which God has revealed and gradually achieved his great purpose of redemption, selecting the man, the family, the tribe, the nation, to be the channel of blessing to the world, till in the fulness of time there appeared the representative Man, Christ Jesus, consummating the revelation and its gracious effects. The Old Testament is not to be identified with Mosaism; it includes the Law, and more. The patriarchal dispensation and the prophetical teachings must be equally regarded. Nor was there any discrepancy between the grace of the patriarchal covenant and the rigour of the Law. The Law was a stern process of education, necessary to the continuity of development, as the green fruit is acid prior to its maturity. And when the Jew contemned Christianity as a bastard growth, the apostle pointed to the prediction of the gospel clearly presented in God's dealings with Abraham, justifying Christianity as a legitimate scion of Judaism; the grandchild, as often happens, displaying features of likeness to the grandparent not so marked in the intermediate generation.
II. ADVANTAGES OF A WRITTEN RECORD. A particular instance here of the general statement in ch. 15. that "these things were written aforetime for our learning." Writing is the natural complement of articulate utterance, the chief instrument of the progress of the race. It perpetuates the memory of noble thoughts and deeds, enabling each generation to commence where its predecessor left off. Printing is improved writing, facilitating the multiplication of copies. The impression of a speech weakens and fades like the water-ripples caused by a stone, but the written page is powerful to the last, like the inhaling of the fragrance of a rose. Latest readers may compare their ideas with the earliest receivers of a revelation, and misunderstandings are corrected. To peruse the story in Genesis is to note how the bud by its markings afforded promise of the full-grown flower. In the child were seen glimpses of the manhood of religion, when there should be a system freed from burdensome ordinances, and adapted to every clime, race, and age. And since "no man liveth unto himself," the record of Abraham's faith stimulates the faith of every subsequent reader. The patriarchal hero has had posthumous glory from the narrative, beside the comfort of the assurance divinely communicated that his faith was reckoned for righteousness. The unity of the Divine character is attested by the same method of justification being adopted in the olden days. Cf. with the apostle's appreciation of a written record the puerile remarks of Peter Chrysologus, Archbishop of Ravenna: "Let the mind hold and the memory guard this decree of salvation, this symbol of life [the Creed], lest vile paper depreciate the gift of Divinity, lest black ink obscure the mystery of light."
III. MEANS OF PERSONALLY BENEFITING BY THE RECORD. Frequent perusal and the application by analogy of the principle implied in the history wilt show that the Christian, like Abraham, has demands made upon his faith by the wonders of the gospel narrative, and by reliance on God can he likewise remain steadfast in obedient righteousness. We have a promise to lean on as Abraham had. We have the resurrection of Christ to proclaim God's power and intent to save, his satisfaction with the work of Christ and his ability to give life from the dead to every sinful soul that trusts him. Humbly yet thankfully and firmly clasp this declaration to your breast. - S.R.A.