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is written in the Psalms, "Except the Lord build the house: their labour is but lost that build it." Ps. 127. 1. And so applicable is that also which was spoken by Mary the mother of our Lord, "He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts." Luke 1. 51.
Nothing short of a miracle like this, could account for the variety of languages now existing in the world. For though the researches of the learned have traced many tongues to one, they have also proved beyond question that there are some so radically different, that they could not have been derived by corruption from each other. And this miracle is one which proves the power of God to be as readily exercised over the minds, as over the bodies of mankind. For here was memory at once made incapable of remembering, and understanding made unable to understand. Nor was this miracle without its further uses in after times. For the diversity of tongues must have oftentimes proved a barrier to the dissemination of evil amongst the wicked. And it must also have greatly helped to preserve amongst the children of Israel the knowledge of the true God, when all the rest of mankind had become idolaters. And yet once more, when God designed again to gather into one, those whom He before purposely had scattered, when He would gather into one spiritual community all that dwelt upon the face of the whole earth, the miracle of Babel served to pave the way for the miracle of the Pentecost at Jerusalem; and the - strangers from every nation were heard to utter in the moment of conviction, "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." Acts 2. 11.
That latter miracle has ceased. And we still suffer under the consequences of the former ore. And the chief of what we suffer from it is this, that we are thereby hindered in the propagation of the Gospel. Let us remember that they of Babel were of one mind as well as of one speech. And though we cannot recover unity of speech, it is our own fault if we have not unity of mind. And of this we may be assured, that nothing would so greatly help us in making our brethren abroad Christians, as for them to hear that Christians live more like brethren at home. For this we learn from what was spoken by our Saviour, that in order for the world to believe that He has sent us, it is first needful that we all should be one. See John 17. 21.
May the God of patience and consolation grant us to be likeminded one towards another, after the example of Christ Jesus! May all we who are sprung from one stock, "with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Rom. 9. 6.
The generations of Shem. 10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:
11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: 13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber:
15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg:
17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
18 And Peleg_lived thirty years, and begat Reu:
19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.
20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: 21 And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.
22 And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor:
The birth of Abraham.
23 And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
24 And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah:
25 And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.
26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and. the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
That we ought to be content with our usual term of life.
The generations of Shem's family have been already once recorded. They are here again set forth more particularly. One
thing which we may do well to note in this second genealogy, is this, that it is mentioned how long each person lived. And during the period from Shem to Abraham, it appears that the length of human life was gradually reduced to nearly its present span. Many perhaps would wish that it were otherwise. Many who are devoted to the pleasures of sense, would be glad to enjoy them for ten times as long as is now probable. And many who are intending to live a life of holiness, may be apt to think, that if they had more time allowed them, they could make more progress, they could become more fit for heaven. But how vain are all such wishes! how idle such plans of ours, to alter for the better what God has ordered for the best! Hundreds of years were found too short by such as loved the world, in former times, for repenting and turning unto God. Threescore years and ten have been seen in later days to be more than ample, for such as love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, to become conformable to the image of their Saviour. No; it is not greater length of time we need, but larger measure of faith. We live long enough, if we are worldly minded, to be weary of all the joys this world can afford. We live long enough, if we are heavenly minded, to become sure of all the happiness which is enjoyed in heaven. Let us but use the life we have, for the ends designed by God, in our creation, and redemption; and we shall then find neither the years which He assigns us too many for our present profit, nor the end by which He limits us too soon for our greater gain. Here we shall be content to wait the summons of our Lord. And when it comes we shall be glad to say with his beloved disciple, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Rev. 22. 20.
But there is another chief object to be noted in this repeated account of the generations of Shem, namely, that they are here detailed more particularly in that line, which contains Abraham the father of the faithful, and which leads to Jesus, the end of the Old Testament, the Mediator of the New Covenant. "These are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot." Now we learn from the book of Joshua, that even this branch of Shem's family, then dwelling in Ur of the Chaldees, "served other Gods." Josh. 24. 2. And it is thence evident, that the removal of Terah and Abraham, and Lot, was directed under the providence of God for this special object, to cut them off from the temptations of idolatry. God put it into their hearts to fly from evil communication. God guided them towards the land in which He had designed from the first that his name should be known. Terah indeed, died in Haran, about half way as it is supposed, between Ur and Canaan. Many set out towards the promised land, who go only half way. They who serve God only by halves, must not expect to reach unto his heavenly kingdom. Let us be prepared to go all lengths in the way that God points out. We may then trust that we shall receive the full amount of the good things God has promised.
Abraham departeth from Haran, cometh to Canaan.
1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that
they had gotten in Haran; and
7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.
8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
The call of God, and his promises to us; our duties.
If we would apply the call of Abraham to ourselves, we may consider the Lord to say to us, Get thee out from the cares and pleasures of the world; yea, and even from thy own friends and family, if they are likely to lead thee into forgetfulness of God. Get thee out into a life of holiness, devotion, and peace, such as none but God can shew thee. Or would we take to ourselves God's gracious promises, here assured to the father of the faithful? Let us observe first it was said, "I will make of thee a great nation." And who shall be able to count the number of conversions unto God which may arise from the faith of one true Christian? Next it is said, "I will bless thee and make thy name great." And has not God said to every one of us, "Them that honour me I will honour?" 1 Sam. 2. 30. "And thou shalt be a blessing." Oh the blessedness of them that follow where God leads! How happy are they that dwell within their influence! "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee." Oh how surely is reward promised to them who but so much as give one cup of cold water to a dis
ciple of Jesus! See Matt. 10. 42. Oh how fearfully is punishment denounced against them who but so much as make one of his little ones offend! See Matt. 18. 6. "And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Is it so great a thing to be amongst the forefathers of the Messiah? Oh how happy then are they that do the will of God! For thus saith the Messiah of his family, "whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Matt. 12. 50.
"So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him." Yes, we see he had this ground also for claiming relationship unto Christ. He did the will of God. "He went out," as it is written in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "not knowing whither he went." Heb. 11. 8. He took with him his wife and his brother's son, and all the increase of their wealth and family "which they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came." They went as far as they intended. They fulfilled the purpose they had formed. And though they knew not what would be the end of the journeyings to which God called them, they went on straightway, as far as they had been yet informed of his will. Would we attain unto the enjoyment of God's promises? Let us not only leave what He bids us leave, but also go whither He bids us go. Let us leave the ways of sin; and also go on in holiness, as far as we know towards perfection. And let us take with us as many as possible of our friends and household. And our substance also let us devote to God, by spending it and giving it according to his will. And especially the souls that we have gotten; if it has pleased God to make us parents, to entrust children to our care, let us make it by far our first care in their behalf to bring them up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Eph. 6. 4.
When Abraham arrived in Canaan, the Canaanite, a branch of the family of Ham, "was then in the land." How edifying to this people, and to all those amongst whom Abraham journeyed, must have been the sight of his devotion to Jehovah. In the spot where he had a special revelation, and a promise of the land of Canaan, "there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him." And when "he removed from thence, unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el," then again "he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord." And the like he did no doubt continually, as he went on "still toward the south." Oh that we, like him, when we have occasion to make journeys, may never forget, as we travel, to call upon God's name, and to shew forth his praise! Oh that whether we journey or stay at home, we may help, by our practice of public prayer, family prayer, and private prayer, to glorify Christ before men!