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What a transport of joy must this good nian have felt, when he heard the Angel of the LORD calling to him, and saw a ram (agreeably to the wishes, and perhaps the prayers of his heart) ready to supply on the altar the place of his dear son! And how must his joy have been redoubled, when the eternal God, in an audible voice, speaking by His Angel or Image, confirmed in heaven, with an oath, the promises He had before made on earth, that they might endure when this perishing world should be no more !
We cannot suppose, that the Angel of the LORD, who called to Abraham, was a created being ; for why should God, who had repeatedly conversed with this Patriarch in His own Divine Person, on this occasion alone employ a mini.tr. ing spirit ? To prevent his thinking so, Abraham was assured, that He, who now spake, was the same God who had commanded him to offer up his son; the same LORD he had been accustomed to hold converse with ; still manifesting the Deity to
his outward senses, though with more solemnity than He had ever done before.
The Apostle to the Hebrews confirms the opinion, that it was the SUPREME BEING who took this oath; for he says, because God could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself. Willing more abundantly to shew to the heirs of firomise the immutability of his counsel, Hc confirmed it by an oath : that, by two immutable things, (viz. His PROMISE and his O ATH) those who fled for refuge to the hope set before them, "might have a strong consolation*.
It is to be observed, that God pledged himself by this oath to make good his promises, not only to Abraham and his immediate posterity, but to all the nations of the earth.
* Heb. vi. 13, 17, 18.
It has been a question in dispute, whether Isaac consented to the offering which his father made. Most likely he did; for, according to his age, which is sup. posed to have been at least 24 or 25 years, he must have been more powerful and active than so old a man as Abraham, and could easily have wrested the sacrificial knife from his hand, or prevented his binding him by fleeing away; and it appears, that there was as good an understanding between Isaac and his father afterwards, as before.
From the example of Abraham we learn, that faith is not complete without works of obedience ; and that it is our duty to submit, without murmuring, to all the dispensations of God. None of us will be called to so severe a trial as Abraham was: we shall not be required to offer up our sons as burnt-offerings ; but God may see fit to take our children to himself, and deprive us of them. In this case let us call to mind the Divine promises; which teach Christians to look forward with joy. ful expectation to a resurrection from the dead, when all who, like Abraham, have believed and obeyed, will, as his seed, be blessed with immortal life and everlasting happiness.
THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF SARAH.
From Genesis, Chap. xxiii. AND Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you : give me a possession of a burying
place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord; thou art a mighty prince amongst us ; in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead: none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar : that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me, for a possession of a burying-place amongst you.
And Ephron dwelled among the children of Heth. And Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gates of this city, saying, Nay, my lord, hear me : the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee : bury thy dead.
And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I
pray thee hear me: I will give thee money for the field ; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.
And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, My lord, hearken, unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver ; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.
And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron, and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he bad named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hun. G4
dred shekels of silver, current money with the merthant.
And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gates of his city.
And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
And the field and the cave that is therein were made sure unto Abraham, for a possession of a burying place, by the sons of Heth.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. We sind from this section, that Abraham understood the promises which God had made to his family of the whole land of Canaan, as relating to a distant period of time, and therefore did not attempt to seize on any part that was in the possession of others, but was contented with the liberty he enjoyed of living quietly as a stranger and sojourner, changing his abode occasionally, as the exigencies of his affairs required. On the other hand, the people of the land regarded him as a person of distinction and consequence, particularly fa. voured by the God of heaven and earth *.
The gates of cities in those days, and for many ages after, were the places of judicature and public resort. Here the governors and elders of cities went to hear complaints, and administer justice, make conveyances, titles of estates, &c. that Abraham could not have made his purchase, without going to the city gates.
See Gen. xxi. 22.
The silver which Abraham paid for the purchase of the field and the cave, amounted to about sixty pounds of our money.
Sarah lived to a good old age, and had the happiness of seeing her son Isaac grow to man's estate ; and it appears, that Abraham was sensibly affected with her loss, for it is said he cañe to mourn for her; and he was very solicitous to procure a sepulchre, that her remains might not be removed by the natives of the place.
The history of this transaction between Abraham and the.people of Keth, affords a pleasing example of politeness and hospitality, generosity and justice.
THE MARRIAGE OF ISAAC WITH REBEKAH.
From Genesis, Chap. xxiv. and xxv. AND Abraham was old, and well stricken in age : and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.
'And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the danghters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell :
But thou shalt go into 'my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. And the servant
said unto him, Peradventure the wonian will not be willing to follow me unto this land :" must I needs bring tly son again unto the land from whence thou camest?
And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou, that thou bring not my son thither again.
The LORD God of heaven, wirich took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and G 5