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the present occasion. Why was it a male, and not a female ? Because, though in some circumstances female animals were employed in sacrifice, yet a male is that usually employed for a good typical purpose. This, then, is the work of God, as much as even the creation of the world. It is a miracle of Providence, and shows us how to read the book of Providence. We ought to see the hand of God ir the most trifling things. Nothing is too great for his Providence to effect: nothing is so small as to be below his attention. This fact teaches us also that what God requires from us for his worship, he will supply to us by his Providence.
EXPULSION OF HAGAR FROM THE HOUSE OF
ABRAHAM.-Gen, xxi. 10.
In her design of expelling Hagar from the house of Abraham, Sarah was excited and influenced by her own private feelings and interests alone. She uttered her own sentiments in her own language. Yet she uttered the truth of God, in God's words, in a figure. What she said with respect to Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, and herself, was all providentially adapted to express the gospel in an allegory. The Spirit of God by Paul, in the Epistle to the Galatians, expounds this transaction in this sense. The words of Sarah, with respect to her own private affairs, are quoted as the words of inspiration with respect to the nature of the gospel. “ Nevertheless," says the
apostle,“ what saith the Scripture ? Cast out the bondwoman and her son : for the son of the bond. woman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." Gal. iv. 30. Here the words of Sarah are expounded as referring to the gospel, as fully as if they had no primary reference. It is not said, 6 What saith Sarah ?” but “ What saith the Scrip
The words employed providentially by Sarah in her own affairs are, in another point of view, the words of Scripture with reference to the way of salvation. In the inscrutable wisdom of God, the words are the words of Sarah and of God -of Sarah, in her own sense, of the Spirit, as a symbolical expression of the gospel. Men who receive the truth of God no further than they can comprehend the nature of the thing testified, cannot believe that the allegorical meaning taken out of the expression by Paul, was really in the design of the Holy Spirit when the words were used by Sarah, and recorded by Moses. They view the historical document as merely casually adapted to illustrate the point in hand, and, as such, ingeniously employed by the apostle. But these men wrest the Scriptures, and deny the palpable testimony of the Holy Spirit. Paul does not use the historical fact as casually adapted to illustrate the gospel, but expressly expounds it as the testimony of the Spirit in the ancient Scriptures..
66 What saith the Scripture ?” It is used as an argument to convince, and not as an illustration to explain. “ Tell me,” says he, ye
that desire to be under the law, do you not hear
the law ?" Is not this proof from the law ? After this introduction he proceeds to relate the history in its allegorical meaning. “For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not ; break forth and cry, thou that bearest not : for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But, as then, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son : for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So, then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” What a wonderful combination of providential events was necessary to fit this history to the shadowing of the gospel! Abraham must have a wife a freewoman; he must have also a wife who was a slave. He must have a son by this slave, and a son in a peculiar manner by his wife. The slave and her son must be cast out; and not only excluded from the inheritance, but from a residence in the family. The wife must express, with regard to her own affairs, in her own language, language that the Holy Spirit adapts to an allegorical declaration of the gospel. This surely is Divine wisdom. And this both illustrates and proves the inspiration of the Scriptures. The very words of Scripture, with respect to historical details and circumstances which, in themselves, have no direct concern with the gospel, are adapted, in the most wonderful manner, to express a secondary meaning, known at the time only to the Holy Spirit. The unfeeling demand of Sarah, with regard to her domestic concerns, is, in another point of view, the language of the Spirit figuratively expressing the nature of the gospel.
ISAAC MOCKED BY ISHMAEL.-Gen. xxi. 9.
Nothing could be more natural to the situation than the conduct of Ishmael, in mocking the pretensions and prospects of Isaac, on the occasion of the feast of weaping. He was the first-born, and would, of course, expect that he should have the pre-eminence. He would feel a sense not only of injury but of insult. His haughty soul could not bear that such honours should be conferred on his younger brother. He saw himself degraded, and stripped of what he considered his just honours in his father's house. He vented his feelings in mocking the pretensions of the favourite sun.
The matter, however, was directed by Providence. Ishmael's mocking of Isaac was necessary as a type of the carnal son mocking the spiritual seed. In this light it is viewed by Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians. “ But, as then, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now." The Providence of God provided an emblem of the persecution of his spiritual children by those who depend on carnal descent; and the Spirit of inspiration treasured it up in the divine records, to be expounded in due time by an apostle of Christ. This shows the necessity of inspiration, even in the most trifling historical events. What could less need inspiration than the record of Ishmael's mocking ? The wisdom of this world would ask, what need of inspiration in recording such a fact? But an uninspired historian might have omitted the fact altogether, while it was ne. cessary as a shadow of a peculiarity in the kingdom of Christ. Man is no competent judge with respect to what is necessary to be recorded in Scripture. This can be known only to the wisdom of God.
This mocking was necessary, also, to give occasion to the excitement and demand of Sarah. If Sarah's demand was necessary as a figure of the gospel, that which occasioned her demand must also have been equally necessary. And, if the mocking by Ishmael, and the demand of expulsion by Sarah, were necessary, so also must have been the weaning-feast which gave occasion to all. There is here a chain, every link of which is of Providence.
Yet Ishmael's mocking was his own sin, in which Providence had no share. The fact is obvious; the explanation of it is beyond the power of human intellect. It is our duty to recognise the ways of God as far as he has manifested them; is as vain as it is impious to attempt to explain what the unsearchable wisdom of God has concealed.