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what God has joined together. They either depend on means, or neglect them.
In this affair we see also the Providence of God in bringing his people into danger, that he may try their faith, exercise their patience, and manifest himself as their deliverer. The rebellion of the kings subject to Chedorlaomer, his expedition against them, and his victory over them, were all necessary to show God as the author of victory to his servant Abraham. By this means Lot was made a captive, and Abraham obliged to attempt his deliverance. We ought not to expose ourselves to danger unnecessarily; but when the Providence of God brings dangers around us, we need not fear deliverance by Providence. He will either save us from ruin, or glorify himself and us in our sufferings.
PROVIDENCE MANIFESTED IN THE FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY. EVERY STEP IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PREDICTION, WITH RESPECT TO THE CONDITION OF THE ISRAELITES IN EGYPT, WAS CONDUCTED BY THE HAND OF AN OVERRULING PROVIDENCE.Gen. xv. 13.
It was necessary, in the Divine wisdom, that the posterity of Abraham by Isaac should for a long period sojourn in the land of Egypt. God declared this most particularly to the patriarch.—Gen. xv. 13-16.-“ And he said unto Abram, Know of
a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again : for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” How wonderfully did all circumstances in Provi. dence lead to the fulfilment of this prediction! The whole history of Joseph was a preliminary to it. At the proper time for the removal of Jacob's family into the land of their future slavery, a famine forced them into Egypt. They were obliged to look abroad for provisions, and God had furnished them unto Pharaoh through the means of Joseph. Here then we have them translated to the destined place by the working of an all-wise Providence. By like providential circumstances they were brought into a state of the utmost degradation and misery. They were at first in the highest favour. This was natural and to be expected. The mighty obligations that Pharaoh was under to Joseph were calculated to procure favour to all his kindred. But when it was God's time to reverse the situation of his people, his Providence opened a way to bring them into oppression and slavery. Another king arose, who knew not Joseph, and who was unge. nerously and unjustly influenced by fear, jealousy, and ambition.-Exod. i. 8-14~" Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they. Built for Pharaoh treasure cities,- Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour : And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field : all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.” It was very natural and not unreasonable that the king of Egypt should guard against the growing power of the children of Israel. But why did he not either disrniss them from his kingdom, or treat them justly as subjects ? We see how different is the conduct of this monarch from that of Abimelech with respect to Isaac. He is apprehensive of danger from the prosperity of the patriarch, and he mildly and not unjustly commands him to depart out of his kingdom.-Gen. xxvi. 13-17. How different was the conduct of Abis melech from that of Pharaoh! They both acted freely, yet they both acted in accordance with the divine appointment, without knowing it. God had no purpose to serve by oppressing (saac through Abimelech, and God does not afflict his people without useful purpose. Therefore, he so ordered it by an inscrutable Providence, that Abimelech acted kindly in guarding against the power of Isaac. God had a purpose to serve by the afflictions of the children of Israel in Egypt, though, by a like inscrutable Providence, Pharaoh, instead of dismissing them from his country, desires to enslave them, and retain them in a state of the most abject bondage.
But the same Providence that brought the Israelites into the most miserable slavery, at the same time, through the very means of Pharaoh's tyranny, raised
a deliverer for Israel, and educated him in the very court, and even in the very family, of the
oppressor. Moses was exposed, and by a wonderful Providence was made the son of Pharaoh's daughter, in order that he might be the better fitted to become a deliverer to the house of Abraham from bondage in Egypt. How wonderful! how deep are the counsels of Jehovah! We ought to search for them in his word, examine them with the utmost diligence ; but not attenipt to fathom them, or account for them in agreement with our own wisdom. We ought to behold and bow with the most profound subinission. It is as great a proof of weakness as of wickedness to attempt to grasp the plans of Jehovah with the feeble intellect of man. He charges the very angels with folly.
ABRAHAM SITTING IN THE DOOR OF HIS TENT.
Gen. xviii. 1.
At a certain time, Abraham chanced, as men speak, to sit in his tent door in the cool of the day, What could be more natural ? What apparently could be more accidental ? Yet it was evidently providential. It was divinely ordered that, at the moment in which the heavenly messengers approached Abraham's dwelling, as travellers seeming to pass on another errand, the patriarch was found sitting at the door of his tent, that he might espy and arrest them with his hospitality. In no circumstances, it is true, could the heavenly visitants have been at a loss to find him. But it is usually God's way to bring about his purposes in a providential manner, and to guide events by an unseen hand. In his dealings his own people may discover him; but from the world he lies bid. Men in general see nothing but chance and nature, and second causes in the things that take place on the earth. The Christian may see God in every thing. It is in him we live, and move, and have our being. Abraham, then, at the moment of the arrival of his heavenly guests, was sitting at the tent door in order to be ready to behold and receive them. They were not obliged to seek him, or introduce themselves. A heaven-directed accident gave room for the hospitality of the patriarch to invite the strangers without a discovery of their quality or their errand. “And the Lord appeared unto him