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THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD PROSPERING THE
AFFAIRS OF ABRAHAM.-Gen. xxi. 22.
We often read that God blessed Abraham and Isaac in reference to the prosperity of their temporal affairs. Yet it was through industry and attention to business, as in the case of other men, that their wealth increased. From this let us learn two things. Let us look to God for every thing; and let us ascribe to him the smallest as well as the greatest of the things which we possess. Let us at the same time expect every blessing from God through the appointed means. There are on this subject two extremes, equally injurious. Some look not sufficiently to the necessity of the divine blessing on the labour and exertion employed to procure the necessaries and comforts of life. When they succeed, they are unthankful to God: when they fail, overlooking the true cause, they neglect the proper remedy. In temporal things, as well as in spiritual, we should seek all things from God, through the use of the means which he has appointed. We have as much need for God in the concerns of this world, as we have with respect to the world to come. In him we live, and move, and have our being. He is the author of every good and perfect gift.
How shameful is it that many, called Christians, overlook that Providence that was so fully recognised by Abimelech, king of Gerar, in the land of the Philistines! He saw the uncommon prosperity of Abraham, and he ascribed it to the blessing of God on his labours. “ And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol, the chief captain of his host, spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest.” Our blind philosophers cannot see what was so clearly discovered by this king of the Philistines. Their indolent god rules only by general laws. God is excluded by them from all immediate concern in the affairs of
ABRAHAM INFORMED ABOUT THE FAMILY OF
HIS BROTHER NAHOR. Gen. xxii. 20.
It was necessary that the typical kingdom of Israel should be unnixed with the nations of Ca
Isaac, therefore, must not take a wife of the inhabitants of the country in which he resided. His wife must be of his own kindred. But how is this to be brought about? Abraham, as far as we know, remained without any intelligence from his relations, till after the time when he was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac. Some time after this, we learn that he received tidings with respect to his relations, in which it is mentioned that Rebekah was born to Bethuel. In this way there was timely notice to the Patriarch to plan with respect to the marriage of his son ; and on this was founded the commission given to his servant to go to the kin
dred of his master for a wife to Isaac, Gen. xxii. 20-23. “ And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor; Huz his first-born, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, and Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. And Be thuel begat Rebekah : these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.”
How many things, apparently accidental, are necessary to open a way to the acquaintance of those who are afterwards to be married to each other! Husbands and wives may be born for each other, as much as Eve was formed for Adam, while their marriage depends on the most trifling accident.
ABRAHAM'S PURCHASE OF THE CAVE OF MACHPELAH FOR A BURYING-GROUND.-Gen. xxiii.
Why was Abraham so solicitous to have a burying-place in Canaan by purchase ? Was not the country all his own by promise ? Why does he not bury in it, as he had lived in it, relying on the word of the Most High ? Did he fear that, without purchase, the bones of his relatives would be disinterred ? Did he trust the Lord with respect to the possession of the whole country by his posterity; and fear with respect to the spot where he and his wife should lie? Why did he not at least accept the generous offer of the people, and bury in
some one of the chief of their sepulchres ? If this was not sufficient, why did he not accept the offer of Ephron, and take the field as a gift ? Did not Ephron propose to give it legally, in full right, for nothing? Was it the pride of independence that prevented him from receiving the possession as a gift? This would have been unworthy of Abraham; and at other times he freely received what was bestowed. He scrupled not to receive the gifts of Abimelech, king of Gerar. Yet all the politeness and noble generosity of the son of Heth could not prevail with the Patriarch, nor induce him to depart from his resolution. Purchase, purchase, purchase ; nothing but purchase. He still insists on giving what the thing is worth, in the current money of the merchant. I cannot say what was in the mind of Abraham ; but I have no doubt as to what was the intention of Providence, who overruled in this matter. The heavenly Canaan is, to the heirs of promise, most entirely a free gift, yet it cost the Saviour full price. A figure of this, then, the Spirit of inspiration gives us in this affair. Abraham received the land of Canaan by promise ; yet, to show that our salvation cost the Saviour full price, the Patriarch, in Divine Providence, is led to the possession of a burying-place in Canaan by purchase. Abraham would not accept the ground on any other terms than paying the full amount of its value. Some persons, under a profession of Christianity, are now beginning to discover that the death of Christ was not truly a price. Such a sen.
timent finds no support, either in the doctrines of the New Testament, or in the types of the Old. Redeemed sinners have in Christ paid all that justice could demand.
SUCCESS OF ABRAHAM'S SERVANT IN SEEKING
A WIFE FOR HIS MASTER'S SON.-Gen, xxiv.
A wife must be found for Isaac from the house of the brethren of his father; and the Providence of God suggests and prospers every step in the process of seeking her. The servant, before swearing, very prudently suggests, that the person sought might not be willing to come. It is a very trying thing to leave country and kindred for ever. Abraham's trust is, that the Lord his God would send his angel before the commissioner, and prosper his journey. No means were neglected; every argument was employed to effect the purpose. But it was through the interference of Divine Providence that all these means were to be blessed. Accordingly, the servant sets out on his journey, with every preparation that he thought calculated to be useful in effecting his
purpose; but he trusts only in the blessing of the God of his master to prosper his errand. When he arrived at the city of Nahor, he looked to the Lord to direct him by his Providence; and Providence blessed him with a most wonderful success. “ And he arose and went into the city of Nahor.” “ And the servant took ten camels of the camels of