CHRISTIAN OBEDIENCE.


"EVERY individual who is endowed with reasoning powers is accountable to God for his thoughts, words, and deeds. Though we have all inherited sinful natures, and come far short of perfection at best, it does not necessarily follow that we are to pass on in sin from day to day. Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and yet he possessed a nature like ours. Christ, when he took upon himself man's nature, was, as the apostle says, tempted in all points, yet without sin. And he himself says that we may overcome even as he overcame. If it were not possible for us to be perfect overcomers, then Christ died in vain, and the whole plan of redemption is valueless.

There is a brief history in the Book of books of many "holy men of old" who obeyed God, notwithstanding circumstances were quite as unfavorable as at the present day; and it was written, says Paul, for our admonition. Let us take the history of Abraham, and see wherein his life and character differed from that of others, that he should become the father of the faithful the Lord's chosen people.

The promise was given to Abraham that he should have a son, even in his old age. "And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." Genesis 18 :17-19. But he js yet to be tested. How well he endures the test remains to be seen. This time, the Lord does not send an angel to issue his command, but with his own voice calls, "Abraham!" Abraham had heard this voice before; for he was a man of God; and the response came immediately, "Here I am." The Lord said, "Take now thy son" that is coming close to the patriarch's heart he continues-"thine only son"-still closer; and that there can be no possibility of a misunderstanding, he gives his name " thine only ┬žon Isaac, whom thou lovest." Does Abraham begin to tremble? Ah! the worst has not yet come. He adds, "And get thee into the land of Moriah" the probe is plunged still deeper-" and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." 

Let us for a moment leave Abraham to reflect on this awful injunction, while we speak of the temptation to which Adam and Eve were subjected. They had been duly instructed as to what they were and what they were not to do. But the tempter came, and they yielded, as we very well know. Had they been willing to confess their fault and earnestly seek forgiveness, we know not but the terrible calamity, which followed might have been averted. The Lord said to Adam, "Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" 

Adam laid the blame upon Eve, and would fain cast reflection upon his Maker, for he said: "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." The Lord next questions Eve, who, like her husband, was quite willing that the blame should rest elsewhere, rather than frankly confess her fault, and she said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. "Let us look a little farther, and see if there was any just apology for their course. They were surrounded by perfection, with no sorrow or perplexities to mar their enjoyment of it. Holy angels came and talked with them, and gave them instruction. Their food was suitable, and pleasant to the taste. Bliss, without alloy, was theirs. These blessings did not come to them by chance. A kind Friend bestowed them.  He asked nothing in return but obedience,  obedience to commands that were not grievous, or to be obeyed for his gratification,  but for their good. A deceiver came who had never done anything for them. He caused Eve to think that some good thing was withheld from her that she ought to have, thus bringing to her mind an indefinite idea of happiness not yet found by her. He would have her think the Creator arbitrary and unjust. But she had enough; why should she desire more? Why could she not be content? Oh! That she had placed the proper estimate upon that priceless virtue obedience.

We will now return to Abraham, whom we left suffering untold anguish; for did he not know that it was wrong to take life? And had he not, in Cain, an example of the consequences of this heinous sin? But Abraham knew with whom he had to do. God had spoken; it was for him to obey. 

The prophet Samuel said, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice." 1 Samuel 15:22. Sarah must certainly have had an equal interest with him in the welfare of their son; but the faithful patriarch does not dare make the matter known to her, or advise with her in regard to it; neither does he seek the counsel of those on whose judgment in ordinary affairs he might safely rely. No; the mandate was given it was for him to obey. His divine Lord knew what was best. He could trust him. He did not wait to ponder the matter, or query whether or not it was best to yield, but immediately made preparation for the journey. I will not attempt to describe the agony of soul that must have been his; nor could I if I would. We cannot now have any just idea of the fine feelings of the men of God anciently, so far have we degenerated, and our moral sensibilities have become so blunted by sin. Abraham could not see how the Lord would fulfill this promise: 

"In Isaac shall thy seed be called." It was enough for him to know the commandment to offer him as a burnt-offering. Paul says, in Hebrews 11:17, 19, "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that received the promises offered up his only begotten son, accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead." He well knew that the God whom he was trying to serve would not forsake him in that trying hour.

He bore the test well. And the good Lord, who is a very present help in time of trouble, sent an angel to stay the uplifted hand, lest it should deal the fatal blow. 

Said the angel, "Now I know that thou fearest God." It was enough. Abraham can now be trusted anywhere everywhere.

None of us will probably ever have to endure so severe a trial of our faith, and yet there is a test for every one. Some may be tried in one way; some, another; and shall we endure as did faithful Abraham? I hope we may, that we may finally be numbered with the seed of Abraham in the kingdom of God