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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 to avoid them.
Our Lord has admonished us to Remember Lot's wife *; we should, therefore, of all things, avoid infidelity i 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 firc X, or kept alive for endless ages in a state of torment. Let us theft imitate the faith and obedience of Lot, whose history, we are told, is written for our admonition \ ; and, in so doing, let us repose our souls on the mercy and goodnes* of God, who will give His holy angels charge to keep us in all our ways.
THE HISTORY OF ABRAHAM CON TIN U ED—THE BIRTH OF ISAAC.
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. f Mark ix. 49. % 2 Pet. ii. 6. Jude 7.
Abraham Abraham circumcised his son Isaac, being eight days old, as Goo had commanded him.
And Abraham was an hundred years old, .when hi* son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, Goiv hath made me to rejoice, so that all that hear -will rejoice with me.
And she said, Who would hare said unto :Abraham, that Sarah should have given children sock? for I hare borne him a son in his old age.
And the child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great fcast the same day that Isaac was weaked: And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian* which she had borne unto Abraham, mocking.
Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast Out tfek bond-women, and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my ton, even -with Isaac. And the thing was Tory grievows. in Abraham'* sight,. because of his son, . ..
And God said enso Abraham, Let it not he grietoi* in thy eight because of the lad, and because-of thf bond-woman; In all that Sarah hath said unto theey hearken unto her voice i for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son ot the bond-woman will. I make a nation because he is thy seed.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it untoHagar (putting it on her shoulder) and the child, and. sent her away: -and she departed, abd wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one oi th hiubs. And she went, and sat her down oyer 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 mice of the lai r and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said, unto her. What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for Goo hath hea^d the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thin* hand: for I will make him a great nation. . .i
And God opened her eyes, and she saw » welL of> waters, and she went, and' filled the bottle with wateK, and gave the lad to drink.
Aod»Goo wa* 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 htm- a wife out of the land of Egypt. .• 'n
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS. A^ lepgih, after.many-, years- of expectation,; Abraham and.Sarah-were. blessed in the birth of that son, whom Gor> designed to be heir of the promises, respecting both, the land of Canaan, and the Everlatting. Ctrouuwt; 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 Patriarch, and his wife, rendered his birth marvellous.
It appears that Sarah did not consign her son to the tare of an hireling, but was nurse to him herself.
Sarah's severity in respect to Ishmael appears very illiberal; but wehave reason to' think Ishmael behaved in a most provoking manner, and that his mother encouraged-him to da 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 dismission of those who pretended to be rivals, to. Sarah and her ion.
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 to 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 be-' loved, 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 Gov was infinitely better than the most ample portion he could bestow, and did not presume to invade the province, which the Lor D 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 sop, 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 himself 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 ex-' change 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 maintaining 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 promises 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 nurse to Isaac, that this endearing office is a part of the maternal duty. The misfortune that befel Ishmael •hould 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 parent* to submit to the dispensations of Providence, in cases where there is a necessity for sending their children to seek their fortune in the world. It is
* Sea Section xix.