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us learn to have faith in God," for he who knew what was in man, thoroughly knew the difficulty and reluctance with which our faithless hearts would often receive God's gracious promises. We are too apt to measure God by ourselves, instead of taking our ideas of him from his own word. Let us “judge him faithful who has promised.” This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. V. 9.-“ Mocking.
Ishmael was profanely scoffing, as it appears from Gal. iv. 29. at the joy excited by the fulfilment of God's promise in the birth of Isaac: as much as to say, why is his birth to be rejoiced at and exulted in, more than mine? Why? Because it displays the faithfulness and the power of God, and is the fulfilment of a great promise.
Ishmael could not have been less than fifteen years old at this time.
V. 10.-Sarah's desire seems to have been right: the possibility of any dispute concerning the heirship of Isaac was to be avoided; but the spirit in which she spoke was sinful, for " let nothing he done through strife or vain glory."
V. 12.- In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” It is from Isaac that the nation is to proceed from whom the promised seed shall come.
In this story of the casting out of Ishmael, we perhaps may only see a family quarrel, a natural consequence of Abraham's connecting himself with two wives. But St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, calls it an allegory, that is, a story under which another meaning is concealed, and he has applied it to the purpose of giving some very important instruction to the Galatian churches, which were in danger, by the persuasion or persecution of those who contended against the truth of the Gospel, of turning to the law of Moses to assist in their justification. He tells them, that Hagar and Sarai, with their children,
represented the two covenants, the Sinai covenant and the Gospel, the Jewish and Christian churches, with their respective subjects, and shews them, from their history, that there was no inducement in the circumstances of the Jewish church for them to desire to return to it; for as Ishmael, though a true son of Abraham, was not the heir, so the Jewish church, though it had God for its Father, was but a carnal servile people, and not, in virtue of that churchship, an heir of heaven. “ Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." That, as Hagar was a bond-woman, and could not bring forth an heir, so the Jewish national covenant, although of divine appointment, was a system that " gendered to bondage.” The national covenant of the Jews was a promise which God made to the Jews at Mount Sinai, of bestowing all manner of temporal blessings upon them, upon condition of their observing the moral law, or the law of the Ten Commandments—the judicial law, or the law according to which justice was to be administered between man and man--and the ceremonial law, which regulated the ceremonies of their worship. Now their obedience to these laws did not bring them to eternal life; it only secured to them the temporal blessings promised to obedience; (Lev. xxvi. Deut. xxviii.) but the moral law might serve to convince them of sin, and thus of their need of an atonement; and the ceremonial law was a type or shadow of the way of salvation by Christ, and no doubt many among them were, by the teaching of the Spirit, brought to look through the shadow to the substance; but still it“ gendered to bondage.” Its ceremonies were so numerous and minute, and so strictly and rigorously enjoined; that its natural tendency would be to produce a spirit of fear and hondage-the temper of a servant before God, instead of the filial affection, the free and ready obedience of a child.---Let us, as Christians, praise our almighty Father for giving to us the blessings of the Gospel. Let us rely wholly on our Lord and Saviour for our eternal safety; and let us, from a principle of love and gratitude, ever seek to obey his heavenly commands, and thus to prove that
we love him,” who has in so wonderful a manner shewn that he “ first loved us."
V. 14.Parents are often called to the trying duty of parting with their dear children, and send ing them away to a distance, it may be with but slender provision for the way. But they should consider, that, in the circumstances which lead to the necessity, they as certainly receive a command from God to send them away, as though he had spoken to them from heaven: and they should endeavour to render a cheerful obedience, like Abra. ham.
V. 15.-* Water spent.” . The bottles in those countries are large leathern bags, containing four gallons each.
V.. 16.-How many lessons does the faithless heart require to teach it that God is unchangeable. How soon had Hagar forgotten the “ angel of the Lord, that found her in the wilderness, by the fountain, in the way to Shur."
V.22.“God is with thee in all that thou doest." A fulfilment of the promise, thou shalt be blessed. A proof that he “ walked wisely toward them that are without;" that he “ let bis light so sbine,” &c. (Matt. v. 2.)
V. 25.--" Abraham reproved Abimelech, &c. “ If thy brother should trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and bim alone." Do not talk of it among your neighbours, or tell it to his enemies, but' tell him his fault between thee and him alone. How many quarrels, how much misunderstanding, enmity, and dissension, would be avoided, if this simple rule was observed.
V. 33. Now one and now another attribute of the Lord is, by different circumstances, brought before the mind, and becomes the subject of the grateful and humble adoration of the faithful. At this time the eternity of Jehovah seems to have been the special theme of Abraham's meditations; and like the other attributes of God, it is to be well considered by his creatures; for, as an old writer says, "as God is eternal, he being our God, is an eternal good and possession.” “ This God is our God for ever and ever.”
T. B. P.
A VILLAGE CONVERSATION ON THE
VISITATION OF THE SICK. (From “ Village Conversations on the Offices of the Church.") William.--How are you, Thomas ?--I was wishing to see you, to ask after your poor father. I hear that he is
very Thomas.--He is indeed, William ; he is very ill; and he is, you know, now at a great age. I doubt we shall lose him. It is a great comfort, however, to me to see that he is so patient and resigned. He suffers a good deal of pain at times; but we never hear him murmur or complain. He thinks himself that he shall go, but this does not distress him; he feels as if he was going to a better place.
W. What a blessing and what a comfort it is for a man to find such support in his latter end! But I do believe that your father is a sincere Christian, and he now experiences the blessing and the happiness of having studied to serve the Lord faithfully. He seems to be receiving those great consolations which support the dying Christian. T. It is a great comfort to me, I assure you,
think so. But I have known many true Christians, who have had their doubts and fears when death seemed to be approaching ; and, on the other hand, many people who have been very indifferent about religion, have seemed quite easy at the approach of death,
W: Oh yes, it is indeed sometimes so : a man who has been indifferent about how he lives, is often indifferent also about how he dies. The same thoughtlessness which belonged to him in his life, continues with him to the last : but this, you know, is no proof of safety.
T. Oh no, quite the contrary. And then I think that the reason why some sincere Christians are full of anxiety at the thoughts of death, is that they know what is the true and right rule of duty; they know, I mean, what the word of God requires of them; and they fear, because, when they think of even their best services, they see how very far short they have come.
W. Why yes, this I take to be the cause ; and this is the reason why those good Christians who have made it the desire of their lives to do such things as the Gospel requires of them, have generally wished to lay aside all thoughts of their own works, and to place all their hopes of salvation on the merits of their Redeemer.
T. Yes; it is indeed so. A Christian's hopes must be there. No man's works have ever yet reached the rule of Christian obedience; and the more anxious a man is of doing right, the more he sees his own insufficiency; and the more desirous he is of resting on a better righteousness than his own, for salvation.
W. To be sure. But a man is not to suppose that he may live as he pleases ; and then to say that he trusts to the merits of Christ, and therefore expects to be saved.
T. O no: the merits of Christ are the Christian's