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Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself Was Sarai right in the proposal she made under her hands.

to Abram about Hagar? Was Abram right 10 And the angel of the Lord said unto

in hearkening to her voice?

Was Hagar her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.

right in acting as she did to please her master

and mistress? Alas! alas ! this was all 11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt wrong; all wicked; all the effect of temptabear a son, and shalt call his name * Ishmael; tion, impatience, and unbelief. Again, was because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. Hagar right, after what had happened, in

12 And he will be a wild man ; his hand despising her mistress as she did ? Was will be against every man, and every man's

Sarai right in dealing unkindly towards her, hand against him; and he shall dwell in the

after what she had done? Was Abram right presence of all his brethren. 13 And she called the name of the Lord

in hearkening to her complaints, and allowing that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for

her to act as she liked under the influence of she said, Have I also here looked after him evil passions and jealous feelings? Alas! that seeth me?

alas ! in these respects, also, all was wrong. 14 Wherefore the well was called - Beer

Here we see again some of the effects of sin; lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and

how it ever carries with it its own punishment; Bered.

and how those who have been prompters and 15 | And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar tempters of others to sin, become the means of bare, Ishmael.

mutually scourging and tormenting each other. 16 And Abram was fourscore and six

years Thus Abram's happy and peaceful family beold, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram. came the abode of contention, confusion, and (1) Heb. be builded by her. (4) That is, God shall hear.

strife. Sin was added to sin, and one punish(2) Heb. that which is good in (5) Thnt is, The well of him

ment followed another. Do we palliate these (3) Heb. afflicted her.

offences ? By no means. Do we seek to offer

any excuse for them! Certainly not; they The workings of nature and the counteraction afford one of the most humiliating lessons we of grace may be practically observed in the have all to learn. “Lord, what is man!” (Ps. character and conduct of the people of God. cxliv. 3.) And whence arose all these sad It is only in Christ that any believer can be scenes? Entirely from impatience and unviewed as complete. Imperfection and de belief. Because the promised seed was not filement will be seen in the best characters yet given, they were tempted to use unwhile they are here below. In heaven alone hallowed means; and God punished (though will all be perfectly holy and blessed for ever. he pardoned) them for their sin. “He that

If you lose sight of this truth your mind believeth shall not make haste” (Is. xxviii. will always be perplexed; you will never be able to account either for the faults or the wait in faith for promised blessings. excellences of the children of God, nor perceive how good and evil can be blended in promise withdrawn? Was Abram cast off? the same person, and that person be safe Was Sarai rejected ? Was Hagar abandoned ? notwithstanding. But of this you may always No; the promise was still sure; and Hagar, be sure : whatever is wrong belongs to us; though most unworthy, found the Lord to whatever is good comes from God.

be a very present help in time of need. In Bring these reflections to the contents of the midst of her distress, when wandering in this chapter, and thus seek to turn them to the lonely desert, the Lord found her, and the best advantage. Lay down this as a bade her return to the proper duties of her settled maxim. Sin, wherever found, is appointed sphere. And

And then, as they had always our own fault, and carries its own all sinned together, let them all mourn for punishment. On the contrary, “the work of their sin, seek for mercy and forgiveness, and, righteousness shall be peace, and the effect in time to come, be helpers of each other's of righteousness quietness and assurance for welfare, and no longer snares and hindrances ever.” (Is. xxxii. 17.)

to each other.

16); all this was haste. God will have us But behold the mercy of God. Was the

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also see here what is the cause 9 | And God said unto Abraham, Thou
of all family misery, and personal discord. shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and
It is sin. One does wrong; others follow thy seed after thee in their generations.
the example, and then mutual recrimination, 10 This is my covenant, which ye

shall anger, distrust, hard dealing, and bitter pro

keep, between me and you and thy seed after

thee; Every man child among you shall be vocation ensue. Such is sin; such are some

circumcised. of its bitter fruits; and if not repented of and 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your forgiven, what must be the consequences foreskin ; and it shall be a token of the covehereafter! Oh! what a place must hell be, nant betwixt me and you. “ where their worm dieth not, and the fire is 12 And he that is eight days old shall be not quenched !" (Mark ix. 46; Is. Ixvi. 34.)

circumcised among you, every man child in The believer in Jesus will readily bear wit

your generations, he that is born in the house,

or bought with money of any stranger, which ness to the Lord's mercy to Hagar? Did not

is not of thy seed. the Lord see you in all your misery and sin ? 13 He that is born in thy house, and he Did he not find you out in the waste howling that is bought with thy money, must needs be wilderness ? Did he not bid you return to circumcised: and my covenant shall be in him after all your wanderings and sin, and your flesh for an everlasting covenant. submit to his mercy and grace? Oh! cherish 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose a lively sense of all these mercies! Bless God

flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that

soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath that you were not left still to wander on; but

broken my covenant.
that he hath guided your“ feet into the way of 15 And God said unto Abraham, As for
peace.” (Luke i. 79.)

Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name
Sarai, but | Sarah shall her name be.

16 And I will bless her, and give thee a CHAPTER XVII.

son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and 1 God reneveth the covenant. 5 Abram his name is changed 7 she shall be a mother of nations; kings of in token of a greater blessing. 10 Circumcision is insti

people shall be of her.
tuted. 15 Sarai her name is changed, and she blessed.
17 Isaac is promised. 23 Abraham and Ishmael are

17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and circumcised.

laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child ND when Abram was ninety years old

be born unto him that is an hundred years

old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God;

bear? walk before me, and be thou 'perfect.

18 And Abraham said unto God, o that 2 And I will make my covenant between me Ishmael might live before thee! and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly, 19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear

3 And Abram fell on his face: and God thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his talked with him, saying,

name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant 4 - As for me, behold, my covenant is with with him for an everlasting covenant, and with thee, and thou shalt be a father of ’ many

his seed after him. nations.

20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee : 5 Neither shall thy name any more be Behold, I have blessed him, and will make called Abram, but thy name shall be 3 Abra him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedham; for a father of many nations have I ingly; twelve princes shall he begef, and I made thee.

will make him a great nation. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, 21 But my covenant will I establish with and I will make nations of thee, and kings Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this shall come out of thee.

set time in the next year. 7 And I will establish my covenant between 22 And he left off talking with him, and me and thee and thy seed after thee in their God went up from Abraham. generations for an everlasting covenant, to 23 | And Abraham took Ishmael his son, be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after and all that were born in his house, and all thee.

that were bought with his money, every male 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy among the men of Abraham's house ; and cirseed after thee, the land wherein thou art a cumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an ever selfsame day, as God had said unto him. lasting possession; and I will be their God. 24 And Abraham was ninety years old and

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(5) Heb. a son of eight days.
(6) That is, Princess.
(7) Heb. she shall become nations,

titude.

nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of Observe the nature of this covenant : “I his foreskin.

will be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years

thee " (v. 7). Is not such the nature of the old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

gospel covenant? “I will be their God, and 26 In the selfsame day was Abraham cir

they shall be my people." (Jer. xxxi. 33.) Obcumcised, and Ishmael his son.

serve, also, the form of its visible ratification. 27 And all the men of his house, born in “Every man-child among you shall be cirthe house, and bought with money of the cumcised,” and every one that is not circumstranger, were circumcised with him.

cised "shall be cut off” (v. 10, 14.) Is not (1) Or, upright, or, sincere. (4) Heb. of thy sojournings. the gospel covenant visibly signed and sealed? (2) Heb. inultitude of nations. (3) That is, Father of a great mul

Has not the spiritual regeneration of the soul its visible sign and seal? Has not our redemp

tion by Christ its visible seal and sign also? The mercy of our covenant God is infinite What are baptism and the supper of the and everlasting. But when he bestows it, he Lord but, the one the sign of our new birth will rebuke as well as pardon; and, by re by the Spirit, and the other, the sacrament minding us of what he is, he will teach us what of our redemption by Christ? Are we then all his accepted people ought to be. Some at liberty to disregard these sacred institusad facts were recorded in the last chapter. tions, or can we do so with impunity? By Faults were committed on all sides; but they no means. were forgiven; and when sin is pardoned, it At the same time, we must equally guard ought never to be repeated. “If I have done against abuse. There is a vast difference iniquity, I will do no more” (Job xxxiv. 32), between observing a divine ordinance, and is the language of every gracious soul. This abusing it. If any of the seed of Abram feeling the Lord would stamp indelibly on thought they were the true people of God Abram's heart.

merely because they were circumcised, it Thirteen years after those preceding events, would be as fatal a mistake and as great an the Lord appeared to Abram, when he was abuse of that institution, as if any among us ninety years old and nine, “and said unto were to say that, simply because they were him, I am the Almighty God; walk before baptised, or partook of the Lord's supper, me, and be thou perfect” (v. 1); or, as it they were, therefore, born of the Spirit and is in the margin, upright, sincere. Now, interested in Christ. In either case, it would Abram could not be upright, nor sincere, if he evident, there was a gross abuse of sacred such acts were repeated; and, as the Almighty ordinances, and that the right state of heart God was the bountiful source of all blessing, was still wanting. (See Rom. ii. 28, 26 ; iii. to walk before God, or in the presence of 29, 30; iv. 8, 25; Gal. v. 6; Phil. iii. 3.) God, setting God always before his face, was Bear in mind, however, that you must as the surest way to be kept from evil, and the carefully guard against misconception of the appointed method of realising the promise, divine ordinances as the abuse of them. There which was now soon to be fulfilled. Does is a great distinction between what is indisnot this address to Abram speak to ourselves ? pensable in its observance, and that which Are we perfect, sincere, upright before God? is essential to salvation. It is clear that Do we walk before him in this manner? circumcision was indispensably enjoined on Do we rely on him as our all-bountiful and all the future seed of Abram; at least, till Almighty God, reconciled in the Son of his another institution should supersede its use. love? Is not this the way to be kept from The sanction with which it was enforced evil, and to realise the promises ? Such words proves this; but it was not essential to as these of God to Abram should humble us, Abram's salvation. Abram had been a called and bring us on our knees in the deepest and a justified believer for twenty-five years abasement before God, conscious of our great before this rite was enjoined. The same reunworthiness, and praying for renewed tokens mark applies equally to the two sacraments of of divine mercy, faithfulness, and love. the gospel. As instituted and commanded by

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Christ, they are to be indispensably observed 10 And he said, I will certainly return unto
by all professing the faith of his name,

thee according to the time of life; and, lo,
throughout all generations to the end of time.

Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah

heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Undoubtedly, they are "generally necessary

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and
to salvation,” where they may be had ; but we

well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with
are not saved by baptism, nor by the Lord's Sarah after the manner of women.
supper; but by Christ. We are born of the

12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself,
Spirit, and saved by Christ. A man may use saying, After I am waxed old shall I have
these ordinances and be left totally destitute pleasure, my lord being old also ?
of
any blessing : and then, of what avail

13 And the LORD said unto Abraham,

Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of would their observance be to him? Abraham's

a surety bear a child, which am old ? prayer for Ishmael may well suit for all such

14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At occasions. “Oh! that” my soul" might live

the time appointed I will return unto thee, before Thee.” Then," he that believeth and

according to the time of life, and Sarah shall is baptised shall be saved ” (Mark xvi. 16);

have a son. and, “ as often as ye eat this bread, and drink 15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he not ; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay;

but thou didst laugh. come.” (1 Cor. xi. 26.)

16 | And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with

them to bring them on the way. CHAPTER XVIII.

17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from 1 Abraham entertaineth three angels. 9 Sarah is reproved Abraham that thing which I do; for laughing at the strange promise. 17 The destruction

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely beof Sodom is revealed to Abraham. 23 Abraham muketh intercession for the men thereof.

come a great and mighty nation, and all the

nations of the earth shall be blessed in him ? ND the Lord appeared unto him in the

19 For I know him, that he will command door in the heat of the day ;

his children and his household after him, and 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw

justice and judgment; that the LORD may them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, bring upon Abraham that which he hath and bowed himself toward the ground,

spoken of him. 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found 20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee,

Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because from thy servant:

their sin is very grievous; 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched,

21 I will go down now, and see whether and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under they have done altogether according to the

cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and

I will know. 'comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall 22 And the men turned their faces from pass on: for therefore · are ye come to your

thence, and went toward Sodom : but Abraservant. And they said, So do, as thou hast ham stood yet before the LORD. said.

23 | And Abraham drew near, and said, 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto

Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the Sarah, and said, 'Make ready quickly three

wicked? measures of fine meal, knead it, and make

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous cakes upon the hearth.

within the city: wilt thou also destroy and 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto

are therein ? young man; and he hasted to dress it.

25 That be far from "thee to do after this 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: calf which he had dressed, and set it before and that the righteous should be as the wicked, them; and he stood by them under the tree, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of

all the earth do right? 9 And they said unto him, Where is | 26 And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare

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27 And Abraham answered and said, Be- lie : though it tarry, wait for it; because it hold now, I have taken upon me to speak ,

will surely come, it will not tarry.” (Habakkuk unto the Lord, which ám but dust and ashes:

ii. 3.) "Blessed," then, "is she that believed: 28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the

for there shall be a performance of those fifty righteous : wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there

things which were told her from the Lord.” forty and five, I will not destroy it.

(Luke i. 45.) And every mercy thus re29 And he spake unto him yet again, and ceived will be, what Isaac was to Abraham said, Peradventure there shall be forty found and Sarah, a source of joy, praise, and

a there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's thanksgiving. sake.

But let us turn, secondly, to Sodom. We 30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the

have already had some allusion to that place Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And

in some previous chapters. The wickedness of he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

its inhabitants, and the sad choice of Lot in 31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken fixing his abode there, have been previously upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradven- noticed. But now we are told of Sodom's ture there shall be twenty found there. And doom. God had determined to destroy he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.

the cities of the plain, and to set them forth 32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be

as an example to all who should afterwards angry, and I will speak yet but this once : Peradventure ten shall be found there. And

live an ungodly life. And is not the doom he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. of all unrepenting sinners already foretold in 33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as

the Word of God? The wicked shall be he had left communing with Abraham: and turned into hell, and all the nations that forAbraham returned unto his place.

get God?” (Ps. ix. 17.) (1) Heb. stay. (2) Heb. you have passed. (3) Heb. hiasten. The same heavenly messengers, that assure

Abraham of the fulfilment of God's promise to Two events arrest our attention in this chap- him, acquaint him also with Sodom's doom. ter; the promise now about to be fulfilled, Is it not thus with the messengers of the and the intercession of Abraham on behalf of

gospel ? Are they not “a sweet savour" unto Sodom. Both the subjects teach us some God " in them that are saved, and in them that very important and practical lessons.

perish ?” (2 Cor. ii. 15.) Are they not “to First, the promise about to be fulfilled. God the one the savour of death unto death, and has his own time, and his own way, for bringing to the other the savour of life unto life?” to pass the covenanted promises of his word. (2 Cor. ii. 16.) They are all sure and certain, and will un- How must this intelligence have distressed doubtedly be fulfilled in their season. Delays Abraham! Where was his relative? In that are nothing with God; but faith and patience very place which the Lord was about to demust be tried. By such means we are bene- stroy! Mark what follows. He that before fited, and God is glorified. Nearly five- prayed, “O that Ishmael might live before and-twenty years had passed away since God

since God thee,” now prays that some, at least, might be gave the promise of a seed to Abraham. spared in that wicked place. There can be Even then he was advanced in years, and it no doubt that Lot lay near his heart, though scemed altogether an unlikely event now that he did not venture to mention him by name he was more aged; and the probability of before the Lord. See how he prays.

If there issue lessened every day. But the time was be fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, or even ten come, and Abraham and Sarah shall have a

righteous within the city, will not the Lord What is the lesson we learn ?

spare them, and not destroy them all? Alas! faithful that promised.” (Heb. x. 23 ; xi. 11.) that number was not there. The event proved Let the promise of life to the soul, and of that the true people of God, in any place, may grace and mercy to help in time of need, he be much fewer in number than we may at all believed ; and, in due season, it shall be ful

suppose. And the day that cometh at last filled. “The vision is yet for an appointed will make it manifest. time, but at the end it shall speak, and not Remember these things are written for our

“ He is

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