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passed over. Well
may we say in reading it, behold the goodness and severity of God! Well may those who are dwelling carelessly in Zion, bethink themselves of what is here recorded. We shall on. ly add, that as the days of Sodom's iniquity corresponds with the hour of temptation, which already appears beginning to try them that dwell upon the earth, our only safety lies in looking to him who says, for the elect's sake these days are shortened.' • The Lord • knoweth how to deliver the godly. Blessed is he that watcheth, • and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.'
CHAP. XX.--In this chapter the history of Abraham is resumed. A stranger and pilgrim, he continues without any certain dwelling, directed by the word of God alone. As his posterity afterwards removed and changed their encampments, under the direction and guidance of the cloudy pillar, so Abraham's shield and conductor led him in all his wanderings. Ignorance of the country, and, we may add, of the scriptures themselves, obscure the subjects to us ; but we may rest assured, that he was not left to wander at random, but there was an important design of heaven, in every alteration of his situation. We had already occasion to consider very similar circumstances to those recorded here, in Chap. xii. and then noticed what seemed to be the design of Abraham's calling Sarah his sister ; we shall therefore only briefly mention, l. That this chapter discovers to us, that divine revelation was not confined to the chosen race, for God spake to Abimelech in dream, ver. 3. 2. Abra. ham is here first called a prophet, ver. 6. pointing out his intimate correspondence with God; therefore, says James, he is called the friend of God. 3. The nature of mediation and intercession were al. so understood by these strangers, who were thus taught to know the typical character of Abraham, as representing God's great prophet and intercessor,
CHAP. XXI.-- That important event, so long foretold, and, for the trial of faith, so long delayed, is now to be fulfilled. The words of the first verse are remarkable. • The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, • and did unto Sarah as he had spoken.' Twice in the same verse are we reminded, that it was in fulfilment of what had been promised. Paul tells us, Heb. xi. that “ through faith Sarah received strength " to conceive seed. It was not Sarah's faith which wrought the miracle, but, as our Lord said, “ All things are possible to them that « believe.' We are told, ver. 2. that however long the promise had been delayed, it was fulfilled at the set time which God had spo. • ken of.' Thus is it with all the promises of God. When the ful
ness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son.' This promised child was called Isaac, by divine direction, laughter, not merely referring to his mother's laugh of unbelief, but, as was said of his aittitype, . Many shall rejoice at his birth.' Therefore, said his mother, • All that hear will laugh with me.' If Sarah said truly, · Who • would have said to Abraham that Sarah should give children suck ?
fui Abraham. This is that oath which Zacharias refers to in his song, Luke i. 73 ; and plainly shews that the blessing here sworn to, was Christ, in whom all the seed of Abraham are blessed. In reading verses 17. and 18. the reader should consult Gal. iii. 14, 16. and Isa. lxv. 16. From verse 20. the descendants of Nahor and Milcah are recorded, chiefly, it would seem, to shew the pedigree of Rebekah, who was hereafter to become famous in Israel, a mother in the church of God. We should not however close this chapter, without remarking that in Abraham's conduct, we have a notable instance of that faith, the trial of which is more precious than of gold • which perisheth. He was called to the exercise of faith in the divine promise, under circumstances the most discouraging which can possibly be conceived. It was not only a call to put to death his bea loved son, but to all human appearance to extinguish his hope in the gospel, by killing him who had received the promises. Nothing but a firm persuasion, that with God all things are possible,' could have supported him. In like manner are we called to walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham. Let us therefore, in every situa. tion, remember this, that · He who raised up the Lord Jesus, will al. so raise us up by Jesus ;' and cleaving to this truth, 'neither things
present, nor things to come, life nor death, nor any other creature, • will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ • Jesus our Lord.'
CHAP. XXIII.-The subject of this chapter, is in one sense, a very common one-Death. Even Sarah, the desire of Abraham's eyes, and the companion of his sojournings, must be numbered with the dead. That form, the beauty of which gave Abraham so much joy, yet often anxious disquiet, must now become loathsome; and he is compelled to say, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.' Death changes the countenance, and sendeth away.' But there is in Sarah's death, and still more her place of burial, a subject of important inquiry. Canaan was promised to Abraham, and his seed, for an everlasting inheritance ; yet he obtained no not so much of • it as to set his foot on.' He never attempted to make a purchase here, but on this occasion; and that was of a burial-place for Sarah : And why such anxiety about a burial place ? because thus early was it shewn, that the righteous hath hope in his death.' The care of Abraham about the loathsome dust of Sarah, arose from his convice tion, that • Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.' Nay further, he was divinely directed to secure a burial-place, as an earnest of his title to Canaan; for he believed that Sarah and he, with all their seed, should yet reign on the earth.' In glancing through this chapter, the following things are recommended to the reader's notice. In reading verses 1. and 2. consult, Gen. xlvii. 9. and 1. 10. Psal. xc. 12. and cii. 24.-27. Burial is represented, both in the Old and New Testament, as important in the eyes of the people of God. Jacob was anxious to be buried where his fathers lay; and where he buried Rachel and Leah, and Joseph gave commandment concern. ing his bones. Under the New Testament, devout ma carried
*Stephen to his burial.'. Did all this proceed from whim, fancy, or folly? By no means. It was expressive of the hope of the resurrection of the dead ; that hope to which all the twelve tribes, in their daily service, hope to come. Believing in the Redeemer, not only of the souls, but of the bodies of his people, Christians are taught to consider their dust as sacred ; and under the keeping of Him, who has the keys of the grave and separate state.
Chap. XXIV.We have in this chapter a very interesting account of ancient mapners, connected with the history of the church of God. Sarah, the mother of Abraham's household, now in the cave of Machpelah, and Abraham speedily to follow himself, he is aware of the distinguished place which she who should be the mistress of Isaac's family had to fill. To prevent being unequally yoked with unbelievers, and foreseeing the future distress which connection with the nations of Canaan should bring on his posterity, he sends his oldest servant, the ruler of all his house, to bring a wife for Isaac from his own country and kindred. The solmnity of the charge, and the succinct recital of events which follow, plainly shew thas there is here a figure of the Lamb's wife, who is espoused in righteousness, and will be presented a chaste virgin to Christ. With their issual anxiety, the clergy introduce themselves generally as Abraham's servant, whose office it is to betroth sinners to Christ. This is the office of the word of God, which makes a willing people in the day • of his power.' We shall not detain the reader on the subject far. ther than to mention, that Rebekah is evidently a figure of the church of God, the mother of God's children ; that for the sake of ber Lord, she leaves her country and kindred, and follows whitherso. ever his word guides the way. As Rebekah was, the church is fair and beautiful; and by the kindness of her Lord, she is arrayed with jewels of gold and silver. She is all glorious within, decked with the ornaments of her Lord ; her elothing of wrought gold, and her rais ment of needle work. Let us see Rebekah arrayed, setting out on her journey, meeting Isaac, and lighting off her camel, to do reverence to her Lord; brought into Sarah's tent, and comforting Isaac after his mother's death. Who can read all this without thinking of Abraham's oldest servant, the Ruler of all, his word, the scriptures of truth, going back among the nations whom Abraham had left; procuring another mother, in place of Sarah, the church of the nations, brought into her tent, &c. • Who hath known the mind of
the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor?'
CHAP. XXV.–This chapter opens with an account of Abraham's marrying again, Keturah, by whom he has six sons, and ten grande children. This is one of those difficult points, which is generally understood to be safest to say little about, or, in other words, to resign quietly to the infidel. How comes it, that if Paul had reason to say, that Abraham considered not his own body now dead, as well • the deadness of Sarah's womb' at the birth of Isaac, nov Rear fifty years after, we find him again the father of a numerous off