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We also learn, that we ought not to lead careless lives, from a dependance that nature will pursue a regular course of causes and effects. What is nature but the work of God? He therefore can instantly change the courses of the different elements, and send them as punishments on a guilty land, whenever he sees fit.
Since the Holy Scriptures point out so particularly the crimes for which Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned to destruction, we should make it our study 10 avoid them.
Our Lord has admonished us to Remember Lot's wife * ; we should, therefore, of all things, avoid infidelity : for if we are in no danger of being turned into pillars of salt, as warnings to mankind, a more dreadful fate, awaits us, that of being salted with firet, or kept alive for endless ages in a state of torment. then imitate the faith and obedience of Lot, whose his. tory, we are told, is written for our admonition I ; and, in so doing, let us repose our souls on the mercy and goodnese of God, who will give His holy angels charge to keep us in all our ways.
THE HISTORY OF ABRAHAM CONTINUED THE BIRTH
From Genesis, Chap. xxi.
And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said ; for Sarah bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time God had spoken to him.
And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And
* Luke xvii. 32.
+ Mark ix. 49.
# 2 Pet. ii. 6. Jude 7.
Abraham circumcised his son Isaac, being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to rejoice, so that all that hear will rejoice with me.
And she said, Who would have said unto Abrahama, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have borne him a son in his old age.
And the child grew, and was weaned ; and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had borne unto Abraham, mocking.
Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out the bond woman, and her son : for the son of this bonde woman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight, because of his gana
And God said unso Abraham, Let it not be grievout in thy sight because of the lad, and because of the bond-woman ;
in all that. Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice : for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bond-woman will. I make a nation because he is thy sced.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and tock bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar (putting it on her shoulder) and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
And the water was spent in the bottle, and she case the child under one of the hubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him, a good way off, as it were a bow.shot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.
And God heard the voice of the ladies and the angel of God called to Hagar out of hieaven, and said, unto her, What aileth thee, Hagard, fear not; for God. hath heard the voice of the lad where he is · Arisen lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand : for I will make him a great nation.
And God opened her eyes, and she saw a welb of water, and she went, and filled the bottle with waterie and gave the lad to drink.
And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him, a wife out of the land of Egypt.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. At length, after many years, of expectation, Abraham and Sarah were blessed in the birth of that, son, whom God
designed to be heir of the promises, respecting both the land of Canaan, and the Everlasting Cavenant ; and we are informed, that this joyful event happened at the exact time, which the LORD had foretold;. and that Abraham, in obedience to the Divine. command, nam. ed the child Isaac, The great age of the Patriarchy and his wife, rendered his birth marvellous.
It appears that Sarah did not consign her son to the care of an hireling, but was nurse to him herself.
Sarah's severity in respect to Ishimael appears very illiberal; but we have reason to think Islımael behaved in a most provoking manner, and that his mother, en. couraged him to do so; in all probability, envy and jealousy possessed their minds. Thus circumstanced, had the parties continued to live under the same roof, family harmony could not have subsisted ;, the LORD, therefore, in mercy to them all, permitted the dismisision of those who pretended to be rivals, to Sarah, and her son.
If Ishmael had continued to live in Canaan, he would, in all probability, after Abraham's death, have contested the inheritance with Isaac ; and, by this means, would have lost the chance of becoming a great nation in another country; and we cannot suppose that God would have suffered him to obtain the inheritance which he designed for Isaac.
We may easily conceive, that Abraham's distress on this occasion was very great; and, had not the LORD commanded him to yield to Sarah, there is reason think he would have made an earnest opposition to her request, which would have given rise to domestic bickerings, subversive of peace and good order ; neither could he have had the satisfaction of seeing Ishmael in the way of becoming a mighty nation. The good patriarch, therefore, considering himself as called upon to give a fresh instance of his faith in the Divine promises ; without hesitation, dismissed a son tenderly beloved, and a woman who had an undoubted right to his kindness.
It is said, that Abraham -sent Hagar and Ishmael away with no other provision than a little bread and a bottle of water. He knew that the providence of God was infinitely better than the most ample portion he could bestow, and did not presume to invade the province, which the Lord had graciously taken upon Himself.
It seems as if Hagar had forgotten the promise which had been made to her before the birth of her son, or that would have kept her mind from despondency.
Ishmael, though famishing with thirst, remembered the lessons of piety he had learned from his father, and called
upon the LORD, who never faileth to help those that apply to Him in the time of their distress.
Hagar was gently admonished to have confidence in God; and, as a reward for her maternal tenderness, was made instrumental to her son's recovery.
Who the ANGEL OF THE LORD was has been explained in a former section *.
We find that in a short time Ishmael (who, when he left his father's house, was 16 or 17 years old) made so good use of his bow and arrows, that, under the blessing of God, he gained a comfortable support for him. self and mother, Game was at that time very plentiful; and it is likely, that being so expert an archer, Ishmael was able to shoot a sufficient quantity to exchange with his neighbours for other necessaries. It is supposed that he made himself lord of the place where he fixed his abode ; and that he was in no kind of necessity, or he would not have married, because the main. taining his wife would only have increased his distress,' if he met with difficulties in providing for himself alone. · From this section, we learn to confide in the pro-'mises of God. Many there are recorded in the Holy Scriptures, in which we all have an interest; and we may depend upon it, the expectations they are designed to raise will not be disappointed, if, like Abraham and Sarah, we fulfil the conditions required on our part, which are comprized in faith and obedience.
No part of Scripture is written in vain; we may therefore justly infer, from the mention of Sarah's being a purse to Isaac, that this endearing office is a part of the maternal duty. The misfortune that befel Ishmael should be a lesson to young people, not to give way to impertinence, especially towards those on whom they depend for maintenance and support.
Abraham's acquiescence with the Divine will instructs parents to submit to the dispensations of Provi. dence, in cases where there is a necessity for sending their children to seek their fortune in the world. It is
* See Section xix,