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have expressed on this subject. The spirit of prophecy, it may be said, is a favour conferred by Heaven only upon the most holy of men : and yet here we suppose

it to have been conferred upon Noah as a consequence at least, if not as a reward, of his intemperance. But what, we may ask in return, was not Noah indeed one of the most righteous of men; and is all his former obedience to be cancelled by a single and a casual infirmity? The fore-knowledge of the future then, if ever it was deserved, was deserved by him. But be this

But be this as it may, we affirm that the power of prescience, as it was here communicated, so far from being a reward

an actual penalty upon the recipient. In the blessing which God had before bestowed upon Noah all his children were alike included, and no difference was either implied or expressed. “God spake unto Noah and unto his sons with him, saying, Behold I establish my covenant with you and with your seed after you *.” ration was here made, nor any curse proclaimed, nor any preference allowed. All were blessed in general terms; and the particular limitations were not specified, because not essential to the purpose for which the blessing was given, namely, because not requisite to assure man that God would still watch over him in mercy, and never

was

No sepa

· Gen, ix. 8 and 9.

again cut off all flesh ” with a flood. Had Noah, therefore, received no other revelation, he might have gone down to the grave in the pleasing hope that harmony and a mutual and equal participation of the kindness of Heaven would be the lot of all his sons. But this charm of hope was broken, as soon as ever the infirmity of intemperance and the discovery of his nakedness by Ham had given occasion to a new communication of God's will. He was then constrained to pronounce a curse upon a part of his own posterity in that of Canaan ; to destroy the equality of all his children, and foresee the subjection and servitude of one portion of his descendants to the other. This was indeed a recompence, but no reward; a recompence for his fault, which made him feel the anguish which every parent must experience in looking forward to some impending misery upon the fruit of his loins. Noah, therefore, as well as Ham was visited with judgement in the curse pronounced upon Canaan, and thus the equity of the whole proceeding seems complete.

5

6. The last point we proposed to consider was, why Moses has selected this as almost the only incident in Noah's life, subsequently to the flood, which he has thought it right to record. It is usually said that it was to encourage the

Israelites in their approaching contests with the nations of Canaan. This was no doubt one motive; but a still more cogent reason may be found in the remarks we have already advanced, One of the great objects of the Scriptures seems to be, to detail the gradual development of the primeval promise which declared that the woman's seed should bruise the serpent's head. For this purpose we find each of the more eminent Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, making, at one period or other in their lives, a formal election of one of their children in whose line this promise should be continued and fulfilled. Now the first blessing pronounced upon Noah after the flood, made, as we have seen, no such distinction amongst his sons. Had not, therefore, the spirit of prophecy come forth a second time to supply the defect, a link would have been wanting in the connected chain of individuals designated to this holy privilege ; a chain which now reaches from the creation to the coming of Christ. But the narration of Noah's intemperance and prophetic blessings has filled up

what would otherwise have been wanting in the prophetic scheme, and justified us, whilst tracing the lineal descent of the promise, to look to Abraham as its natural heir. Moses, therefore, may be regarded as fully authorised in having selected this circumstance from the rest of the

acts of Noah, because of its importance to the general purposes of revelation.

rence.

I have now shewn, that Noah's fault originated in the frailty of human nature, and by no means deserved the levity and exposure it met with from Ham, who, as one of the sons of Noah, ought to have been the last to have triumphed over his infirmities. I have also shewn, that the curse upon Canaan was, in fact, a prediction of the evil which befel his posterity in after times ; and that such a prediction, by inflicting upon Ham the unwelcome knowledge of the humiliation and misery of his child, was a direct and immediate punishment of his want of filial reve

I have still further shewn that the foreknowledge of this servitude of the Canaanites must have been a grief, and therefore a punishment, to Noah. Lastly, I have accounted for the introduction of this incident by Moses, because of its essential connection with the

general scheme of prophecy: and what more than this can be required to remove every difficulty attending the incident, I am at a loss to imagine. Under this view of the transaction, it will surely be allowed that we ought no longer to indulge a doubt with regard to the propriety of the predictive curse of Noah, or a censure against the Scriptures for having recorded its utterance.

268

LECTURE XIV.

GOD TEMPTING ABRAHAM,

AND ABRAHAM's OBEDIENCE AND FAITH

IN OFFERING ISAAC, CONSIDERED.

PART I.

GENESIS XXII. 1, 2.

It came to pass after these things, that God did tempt

Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham : and he said, Behold, here I am.... And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah ; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains that

I will tell thee of.Great was thy faith, O Abraham, and worthy indeed wert thou, to bear the name and the honours of the father of the faithful! To bring thy son as an offering to the altar of the Lord, and there to lift up the knife to slay thy son, thine only son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovedst, the child of thine and Sarah's age, the child of hope, the child of promise, the child of God; to bring that son as a victim to the shrine of the Almighty, and there “to lay thine hand upon the lad” to take away his life; in all this

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