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season; and when they are granted, joy and praise will be rendered to the faithful giver. What joy was felt in Abraham's family on the birth of the long-promised Isaac Abraham, Sarah, and all around them, rejoiced in the event! And when was this child given At the set time, of which God had spoken to him. Thus it is that all divine mercies are bestowed; there is no uncertainty, no accidental dispensation, in the dealings of God with his people. All blessings, conversion, pardon, mercy, grace, and strength, come in the set time. Just as the Saviour himself was born, suffered, and died on the cross for our redemption and salvation; so are all blessings connected with the life of the soul bestowed in like manner; all come in their appointed time, and all will redound to the glory and praise of God. Something remarkable is said about the circumcision and weaning of this child. There can be no doubt that, in both respects, there was a solemn dedication of the infant unto the God who gave him. The character of Abraham, and the manner in which this child had been given, forbid the supposition of carnal mirth and festivity on that occasion. Is it not thus that all parents should act with their children? Should they not dedicate them to the Lord Should they not embrace every suitable opportunity to convince others that such is their aim and desire How unseemly is worldly festivity when a child is dedicated to Christ! How earnestly should you pray at all times, especially on such occasions, that God would be pleased to regenerate your children with his holy Spirit? But alas! how seldom is this the case ! How few act in this manner! Can you wonder if, as your children grow up, you behold them giving too plain proofs of their belonging to another master, and not to God? Oh! that all parents might seriously ponder this matter in time, and act from henceforth, as they ought to do, for the spiritual welfare of their offspring. Even in this Abraham had his trials. The son of the bondwoman was a mocker and despiser; and this led to that separation in Abraham's family which, we are expressly told, was intended to mark the line of distinction between those who believe in Christ and those who do not, but trust in their own
works, to the end of time and for ever. “Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son” (v. 10). This will as certainly be verified in a gospel sense, as it was in Abraham's household. Are you a despiser of the gospel of Christ, and the service or salvation of God? Are you trusting in the works of the law, and not in Christ alone : If so, you belong to Hagar, and not to Sarah. If so, you are Ishmaels, and not Isaacs. If so, you are the sons of the bondwoman, and not of the free; and you will be cast out of the Church of God at last. (See Gal. iv. 21–31.)
But it may not be too late to repent. Hagar came to a better mind, when, as a wandering outcast, she and her wicked child were driven to the utmost need, and were ready to perish. The tears of the mother, and the cries of the lad, were seen and heard by God, who opened her eyes, and supplied their wants. Happy will it be for you if your eyes, in like manner, are opened to see the misery you are in, and the mercies you have despised; then will you be no longer mockers and despisers, but humble seekers, and devoted lovers and followers of the Lord.
Abraham, however, has more trials yet to endure. The servants of his friend contend with the herdsmen, and threaten to involve him in angry contention. But mutual explanation softens asperity, and “a soft answer turneth away wrath.” (Prov. xv. 1.) Thus, in similar cases, learn to act in like manner, and the Lord will deliver you out of all your troubles.
1 Abraham is tempted to offer Isaac. 3. He giveth proof of his faith and obedience. 11 The angel stayeth him. 13 Isaac is exchanged with a ram. 14. The place is called Jehovahjireh. 15 Abraham is blessed again. 20 The generation of Nahor unto Rebekah.
A*. it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, 'Behold, here I am. 2 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 which I will tell thee of. 3 *| And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abideye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, * Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the *lamb for a burnt offering 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. 9 And they came to the place which God had told him of ; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham : and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place “Jehovah-jireh; as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LoRD it shall be seen. 15 "| And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son : 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea ‘shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba. 20 "I And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor; 21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother. 24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.
THE whole life of a Christian is a series of trials and conflicts; when one is passed away, others soon succeed. But the trial of our faith will be “much more precious than of gold that perisheth,” and will be “found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. i. 7.) Abraham's faith is spoken of in many parts of Scripture as an eminent instance of divine grace; and the trials he underwent prove that it was so. It was by faith he left his native land at the command of God; it was by faith he sojourned as a stranger and a pilgrim in the land of promise; by faith he waited for and received the promised seed; and now by faith, at the divine command, he was prepared to offer that son as a sacrifice unto God. And it is the test and manifestation of faith, in this particular instance, that we are now to improve. God did tempt Abraham ; that is, he tried him; he caused him to exercise that remarkable degree of faith which he had bestowed upon him. The common occurrences of life would not suffice for this purpose. Abraham must be tried on a point in which, if he were unsound at heart, he would assuredly fail. If Abraham loved his Isaac more than the God who gave him the child, his heart was not right. He that loveth father or mother, son or daughter, more than Christ, is not a true disciple. (See Matt. xi. 37.) Here, them, in the case of Abraham, God would exhibit to all future generations an example both of what true faith really is, and what a true believer really will do. At the Lord's command all will be given up to his praise and glory. How painful must this trial have been! What! part with his son his only son his Isaac' whom he loved Must he resign him up all at once after having waited so long for
him Must he part with him, too, in such a way ? Must he offer him as a sacrifice unto God Must his own eyes view the burning
sacrifice, and his own hands perform the bloody deed 2 Must he tie, and bind, and slay, the darling of his soul, and see his precious body gradually consume as a burnt offering before the Lord * Does not nature shrink from the task? Does not the yearning of parental affection cry out against the deed What will Sarah say, and others around him, if he complies with the divine injunction What is it, then, that sustains him Faith. What enabled him to obey the startling and trying command Faith. Yes, faith overcame all difficulties, and enabled him willingly and cheerfully to do that which nature could never have accomplished. He believed, and therefore he obeyed; he believed, and therefore he offered up his dear and darling Isaac as a burnt offering unto God; he believed that the God who gave him his child at the first could restore him to his arms, even though he were consumed on the altar; “accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” (Heb. xi. 19.) Nor was he a loser by so acting. God, that tried his faith, arrested his arm, stayed the blow, and restored him his son; and, by an audible voice from heaven, renewed the previous covenant, and confirmed, with the solemnity of an oath, the gracious blessing. Thus Abraham lost nothing by the trial; but became an immense gainer in the increase of his faith, peace, comfort, joy, and assurance of salvation. Now let me ask, are you believers in Jesus Christ Have you the faith that Abraham possessed ? Examine yourselves. Are you prepared to obey the Lord, and to follow him fully as he did He that hesitates in his obedience to God has much cause to
doubt whether he really believes; and he that obeys God only when obedience is easy and pleasing to flesh and blood, has also much cause to doubt the vitality of his faith. True faith will follow the Ilord at all times: “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job xiii. 15); though all my beloved, Isaacs are taken one after another, still all is well; still will I love him; still will I confide in him; still will I obey him. That is the spirit and language produced by true and saving faith. Is such your faith ? Is such your spirit and conduct 2 Think of the love of God to your soul. Did He not spare his dear Son for you? Did not the blessed Redeemer offer himself a real sacrifice to God for your sins And if he thus loved your soul, will he not take care of all your smaller matters ? Learn, then, to trust that Saviour; pray for grace to realise that salvation; live in the enjoyment of that love; and you will be prepared to take up your cross, and honour your Lord by a cheerful, loving, and devoted obedience, after the example of faithful Abraham.
CHAPTER XXIII. 1 The aye and death of Sarah. 3 The purchase of Machpelah, 19 where Sarah was buried.
ND Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the
years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to
| weep for her.
3 *| And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, 4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. 5 And the children of IHeth answered Abraham, saying unto him, 6 Hear us, my lord: thou art 'a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. 7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. 8 And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, 9 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for *as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you. 10 And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the “audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying, 11 Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead. 12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. 13 And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there. 14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, 15 My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee bury therefore thy dead. 16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. 17 || And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure 18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. 19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. 20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.
(1) Heb, a prince of God. (2) Heb. full money. (3) Heb, ears.
THERE is something peculiarly solemn, as well as instructive, in the death of a saint. In one respect we see what is the common end of all men; in another, we behold that passage through which all believers must go before they enter into glory. But how vast the difference between the death of the righteous
and that of the wicked “When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish” (Prov. xi. 7) and his soul sink down into utter woe. But when a believer in Christ has finished his earthly course, all his hopes are realised to an inconceivable extent. To him, there is no sting in death; the valley itself is lighted up by the cheering presence of his gracious Lord; and the mansions of eternal blessedness receive his happy soul for ever. Let us think of this in time. Sooner or later death will certainly come. “The wicked” will be “driven away in their wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.” (Prov. xiv. 32.) To fix these solemn considerations on our minds, let us contemplate the death and burial of "Sarah, the beloved partner of Abraham ; the affectionate mother of Isaac ; and, according to the flesh, the honoured progenitor of the Messiah, the Saviour and Redeemer of Inen. “Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her ” (v. 1, 2), and to bury her. How beautifully simple and pathetic is this short narrative of Abraham's affectionate sorrow, and Sarah's happy death ! We may confidently assume that her end was happy, because the Spirit of God has mentioned Sarah as a partaker of the illustrious faith of her husband. (Heb. xi. 11—13.) In that faith she lived; and in that faith she died. And “blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” (Rev. xiv. 13.) In the midst of all her wanderings, she looked for the “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. xi. 10); and, as soon as she breathed her last, her happy soul winged its slight to those bright abodes. Have you Sarah's faith, hope, and salvation ? Did Abraham see the day of Christ and rejoice So, doubtless, did she ; and she might have said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” (Luke i. 46, 47.) Observe the care taken of her last remains. It is the last token of love and respect; and Abraham pays it in the most pleasing manner. And we must not forget to imitate him, when placed in similar circumstances. Mark the calm composure of the venerable saint. Deeply was he touched by the solemn separation; but he sorrows not as “others which have no hope.” (1 Thess. iv. 18.) To be assured of the happy state of our departed conmexions and friends, is one of the best preservatives from worldly grief and overmuch sorrow. They are gone a little before us; soon shall we follow ; and, if we have the same faith and hope in Jesus, we shall join them in his immediate presence before the throne.
At the same time, see what death does. “Bury my dead out of my sight” (v. 4). Alas! the most beloved objects soon become loathsome when invaded by corruption; and, however desirous of keeping them with.us whilst they are living, the wish is soon felt to commit them to the earth when the spirit is fled. Thus, the sentence is fulfilled, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. iii. 19.) Thus surviving relatives and friends have their last sad offices to perform in the decent interment of the departed.
But mark the generous and upright demeanour of Abraham and Ephron on this interesting and solemn occasion. May we not see here a pattern of the genuine Christian; and trace the lovely effects of vital godliness in the common transactions of life? Might not all classes do well to copy these bright examples? Here is no bargaining, over-reaching, or fraud. The one gives his word as a man of principle and honour; and the other acts upon it accordingly. What a happy change would it be for all, if buying and selling were always conducted in this manner! And still more happy will that time be, when we shall have done with the evils and anxieties of this life, and enter upon that happy state, where “sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah xxxv. 10.)
1 Abraham sweareth his servant. 10 The servant's journey : 12 His prayer: 14 His sign. 15 Rebekah meeteth him, 18 sulfilleth his sign, 22 receiveth jewels, 23 sheweth her kindred, 25 and inviteth him home. 20 The servant blesseth God. 29 Luban entertaineth him. 34. The serwant sheweth his message. 50 Laban and Bethuel approve it. 58 Rebekah consenteth to go. 62 Isaac meeteth her.
ND Abraham was old, and 'well stricken in age: and the LoRD had blessed Abraham in all things.
2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh : 3 And I will make thee swear by the LoRD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. * 5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest ? 6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
7 * The Lord God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter. 10 *| And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; * for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. 11 And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time * that women go out to draw water. 12 And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac ; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. 15 " And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah,