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Forgave birn all the former offences he had committed against Him, when he did not worship him according to His Holy Will, and regarded him as a righteous or just person, fit to be taken into covenant with . Him; and even condescended to confirm this covenant after the custom o( men; for in anttent times, it was usual in solemn contracts to divide animals in the manner here described, and for the parties to pass betweerL them*. In the performance of this ceremony, Abram's faith was farther exercised, for he seems to have, watched, a long time waiting for the Lord's coming to ratify the covenant.
The sleep which fell upon Abram was from the Lord. The horror which attended it was figurative of the misery of his descendants; and the prophecy concerning the Egyptian bondage, was designed, without doubt, as a future evidence of the foreknowledge of God; and that part of it which pronounced deliverance, Was intended as a comfort and encouragement, to Be kept in reserve for his posterity, when they should be' under the calamities that are here predicted.
From the promise to Abram, that he should gs to his fathers in peace, it has been inferred, that there is a pla ce to which the souls of the deceased go, where they find those of their relations and friends.
From the expression, the iniquity of the Amoritcs is not t/et full, we may understand, that it is the course of Divine Providence to spare wicked nations, so as not entirely to extirpate them. We also learn, that when arrived at the height of presumptuous sin, they can no longer be suffered to remain, without bringing an imputation on the justice of God. '"' The smoaking furnace, and burning lamp, were
* See Jer. xxxiv. 18, 19.
tokens of the covenant which God at this time made with Abram concerning the temporal state of his descendants.;
"We read in a former section*, that the Lord proraised Abram to give to him (as an inheritance for the numerous generations that were to proceed from him) all the land which he could at that time behold, and commanded him to take a particular survey of it; we find, section xvi, that he afterwards settled, and dwelt in the plain of Mamre. it is therefore most likely, as We have already supposed, that he removed from place to place, and in this .peregrination, abode in Egypt, and Philistia, by which means he had opportunity to examine the state and extent of the country.
In this section, we find the LorB fulfilling, his promise, by giving, this land to Abram's posterity. -;; t.
The nations, whoBe right of inheritance is here transferred to the seed of Abram, were descendants of Canaan the son. of Ham. .They were at that time wicked idolators, and afterwards became most daring and presumptuous sinners.
We should learn from this section, to consider God as the Supreme Governor of the universe, portioning out the earth, and transferring the inheritance of.ita different territories from age to age, according to his good pleasure. This should teach the people of every nation to endeavour to obtain his favour, rather than confide in their own strength. God is a shield, defending from dangers all those who place their trust in Him; and a rewarder of all those who diligently serve Him; for He is no respecter of persons.
The nature and efficacy of Abram's faith is explained by the Apostolic writings; and from them, we also
* See Section xvi.
learn, thot by the seed of /lbraham, we are to understand, not merely those who were his. natural descendants, but also those who believe in the Lord like him. St. John the Baptist first taught this doctrine*; and our Saviour afterward. •
It is to be obseiTed, that Abram was justified (or esteemed just) by faith, before any express law was given him. This circumstance (as we read in the Epistles) furnished the Apostles with many arguments in favour of the Gentiles, against the Jewish nation; for it plainly shews, that the works of the Mosaic law were not necessary for justification to-all sorts of people.^/"
SECTION XIX. V
THE HISTORY OF ABRAM CONTINUED.
•>.-• '• •'' •'. :hv.: i-» .•:!.:; '„«oxiw ,aaqil.( :T , THE BIRTH OP 1SHMASU
From Genestt, Chaft. xvi.
Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bare him no children: she had an hand-ra.'.id, an Egyptian, whose name Hagar.
„A.nd Z^nt, Abram's wife, took Fiagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram, io be his wife. And ber mistress was despised in her eyes.
. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee; for I h..ve given my maid into thy bosom, and now I am despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.
But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand ; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And whet) Sarai dealt hardly witli her, she fled from her face.
* Malt. iii. 9.
And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountaia .of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur,'
And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence earnest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress, Sarai. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Iteturn to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
And the angel of the Lord sa:d unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold thou shalt bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Ishinael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.
And he will be a wild man ; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him: and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto tier, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh asd Bered.
And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, IshmaeL
And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
Hagar appears to have been guilty of a fault in treating her mistress with disrespect; but Sarai should not have resented it with so much severity.
The promise here made to Hagar is a remarkable prophecy, which is at this very time fulfilling in the world, as will be explained in its propeli plsOe, •
It is said that the Angel of the Lord found her, &c. From this expression, some interpreters have been led to suppose that it was a created Angel, but in this very section we are told the contrary. So far was Hagar from entertaining this idea, that she addressed the Lord who spoke unto her as God; we may therefore conclude, that the term Angel of the Lord is synonimous with the Image of God, and applicable to the Deit^alone, the Son of God.
The chief practical lesson which presents itself in this section is, that it is the duty of servants to submit to their mistresses, even if the latter carry their displeasure to an unreasonable height; and that it is much wiser to do so, than to expose themselves to difficulties and distresses through pride and resentment.
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT RENEWED WITH ABRAM. CIRCUMCISION APPOINTED.
From Genesis, Chap. xvii.> „
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and I will multiply thee exceedingly.
And Abram fell on his face; and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name be called any more Abram; but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
Aod I .will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I - " will