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19 not of any particular nation but of God. And he, that is, Mel

chizedek, as a priest, blessed him, that is, Abram, and said, Blessed [be] Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth : And blessed [be] the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. Abram humbly received the blessing of Melchizedek, as his superior, and he gave him tithes of all the spoils that were taken. This he did in gratitude for his kindness, and as a thank offering to God, to be

offered by his priest. 21. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the

persons of my subjects whom you have rescued, and take the 22 goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I

have lifted up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, 23 the possessor of heaven and earth, and have sworn, That I

will not (take) from a thread even to a shoe latchet, not the smallest thing belonging to thy subjects, and that I will not take

any thing that [is] thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made 24 Abram rich : Save only that which the young men have

eaten, and the portion of the spoil belonging to the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre ; this I have no right to dispose of ; let them therefore take their portion,

REFLECTIONS.

1. T ET us adore the providence of God in working these

u surprising things ; in settling these nations near Abram, that they might see his devotion, be witnesses of God's blessing him, and thus making way for the knowledge of the true God and his worship among them. He fixes the bounds of our habitation, and rules among the kingdoms of men.

2. We see how liable good men are to suffer by bad neighbours. This is often a punishment for choosing situations, without considering the character of the inhabitants where we are go-' ing: so Lot left the neighbourhood of Abram to dwell in Sodom, and suffered sufficiently for it. If we choose to live in wicked places we must expect to share in their calamities. Let us not think it strange, if we meet with them ; but if we keep close to God's house, his worship and people, we shall dwell safe from the fear of evil.

3. We should think of God as the Most High, the possessor of heaven and earth. So Melchizedek represented him ; so Abram stiles him. He has sovereign dominion, for he made and supports all creatures. Reverence and praise are due to him ; trust and confidence should be placed in him, to give us what he thinks best.

4. Let us praise God as the author of the best of our actions, and those of others also. He gave Abram the victory, v. 19, 20. and Melchizedek mentioned it to the honour of the God of all our victories. While we rejoice in the success of others, let God have all the praise.

5. Let the servants of the most high God maintain an honour. able character. Thus Abram did, v. 23. Like him let us guard against a mean and servile temper. Abram might have accepted the king's offer; but true religion requires an indifference to these things, an holy decorum and superiority to worldly concerns ; trust and confidence in God raise the mind above them. Abram showed nothing of a mercenary temper, which is a dishonour to religion : every degree of a niggardly disposition should be avoided, especially as we have so many enemies to watch for our faults. Let our conversation be without covetousness; and whatsoever things are just and true, and not only so, but whatsoever things are lovely, and of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, let us think on these things.

CHAP. XV.

In the last chapter Abram appeared great in the field ; in this he is

greater in converse with God, who condescends to enter into a treaty with him ; God's promise to Abram of a numerous issue, and of the land of Canaan, ! A FTER these things, Abram's kindness to Lot, &c. the

(1 word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, while he was awake, saying, Fear not, Abram, be not alarmed at any of the dangers or enemies which surround thee in this strange land, I [am] thy shield to protect thee ; [and] for thy faith and piety I myself will be thy exceeding great reward, and will give

thee abundantly more than thou hast resigned to the king of Sod2 om ; I will reward thee both here and hereafter too. And

Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, what will all the earth signify to me, seeing I go childless, have no heir to possess it, though thou gavest me hopes of a numerous seed ; and

the steward of my house, who is next to myself, is not one of 3 my orun descendants, but [is] this Eliezer of Damascus? And

Abram further said, Behold, to me thou has given no seed, though my life draws toward a close : and, lo, one born in my

housc, as a servant, is mine heir. 4 And, behold, the word of the Lord (came] unto him, saying,

This shall not be thine heir ; but he that shall come forth out 5 of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him

forth abroad, in his imagination, for the stars did not yet appear, (sce v. 12.) and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him,

So numerous and illustrious shall thy seed be. 6 And, not withstanding the promise had been so long delayed,

he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for right

eousness.* 7 And he said unto him, I [am] the LORD that brought thee

out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. 8 And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall in9 herit it? This he asks for the strengthening of his faith. And

he said unto him, this shall be a sign, Take and offer to me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and

a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pig10 eon. And he took unto him all these, and, according to the

usual method of ratifying a covenant, divided them in the midst, to represent the torn and distracted condition in which his seed was to be for a season ; and laid each piece one against another, that the persons covenanting might pass between them : but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls of prey came down in great numbers upon the carcasses to devour them, Abram

drove them away.t. 12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep, an ecstasy or

trance, fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness

fell upon him, under an apprehension of the great distress his 13 posterity should have by the vexation of their enemies. And he,

that is, Jehovah, said unto Abram, to explain the vision, and to comfort him, 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 affict them four hundred years, from the birth of Isaac to 14 their deliverance out of Egypt; And also that nation, whom

they shall serve, will I judge or punish : and afterward shall 15 they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to

thy fathers in peace, into the state of the dead, whither all thy

fathers are gone before thee; thou shalt be buried in a good 16 old age, after a seasonable and natural death. But in the fourth

generation, from the descent into Egypt, they shall come hither again, to the country where thou now art ; but it cannot be soon

er : for the iniquity of the Amorites and Canaanites in yener. 17 al, [is] not yet full, nor the time to punish them come. And it

came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace appeared to Abram, perhaps representing Abram's seed afflicted in Egypt, and a burning lamp, as a symbol of the divine presence, noting the covenant between God and Abram, and their future deliverance, that passed between

those pieces, to note the ratification of the covenant between God 18 and his people. In that same memorable day the LORD made a

covenant with Abram,solemnly ratifying his former promises, and saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, and they shall ex

• Thus Abram was justified by faith, being as yet uncircumcised, Rom. iv. 3. Gal. iii. 6. James ii. 23.

.'+ Perhaps the fowls of prey were an emblem of the Egyptians and other enemies, who should seek to devour and destroy his posterity; and his driving them away may represent his conquest over thein by faith and prayer.

tend their dominion from the river of Egypt, (not the river Nile, but some branch of it,) unto the great river, the river Eu

phrates : so far did the countries become tributary in David's 19 and Solomon's days ; and shall include The Kenites, and the Ke20 nizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perize 21 zites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaan

ites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

REFLECTIONS.

1. W E see the happiness of good men ; God is their

VV shield, v. 1, to protect them from their enemies, from wicked men, and Satan; from principalities and powers that are confederate against them. God would not have them to be fearful or sorrowful ; he will be their exceeding great reward ; will give them grace and glory, and will withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly.

2. Let us learn to be content in those circumstances which Providence allots us. One cannot but pity the weakness of the father of the faithful, after what God had said to him. All his wealth and honour, the fine country he lived in, and the favour of God; all this was nothing without a child. Perhaps the Messiah or promised seed may be referred to, which may plead something in his excuse ; but still he seems uneasy in his mind. If God denies us temporal blessings, let us still be patient and content, and seek him for our portion. Let those who are childless in the earth be more diligent and active in the service of God, as they have more leisure and fewer cares ; then will he give them a name and a place, which shall be better to them than sons and daughters.

3. We learn joyfully to embrace the promises of God; herein imitating the faith of Abram ; he believed in God, and staggered not at the promise through unbelief, Rom. xiv. 20. Let us be strong in faith, giving glory to God; guard against an evil heart of unbelief; and pray, Lord, increase our faith. If we trust his promises, and act agreeable to them, we have, through grace, a claim to all the benefits of the covenant ; and by this we shall obtain witness that we are righteous.

4. Learn to adore the foreknowledge of God in these surprising predictions. They are very remarkable ; so many years shall they serve their enemies ; then their enemies shall be punished, and the oppressed shall go free. He knows, not only the external circumstances, but also the moral characters of men ; when their iniquity is full, and when it is time to punish. This knowledge is too high for us; we cannot attain unto it ; but it is found in a perfect manner in God. May we reverence this glorious God, who foreknows whatsoever shall come to pass, and showeth unto man his counsel, declaring the end from the beginning. This God is our God for ever, and he will be our guide unto death.

5. Let us rejoice in the assurance of a better country ; Know of a surety, saith God to Abram. The promise to believers is sure; we have his word and oath, that by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. We have a sign and sacrament to confirm our faith : to all the spiritual seed of Abram the promise is sure. Let us imitate the faith and piety of this patriarch, that we may at length possess an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us.

CHAP. XVI.

The origin of nations and kingdoms is generally the darkest part

of history : here we have a plain account of one that was very considerable : it arose from Abram, by one of his maid servants,

who probably came with him from Egypt. 1 N O W Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children : and

TV she had an handmaid, or bond woman, an Egyptian by birth, but a proselyte to the true religion, whose name (was] 2 Hagar. And Sarai, impatient to see the promise fulfilled, said

unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing : I pray thee, go in unto my maid ; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram, not consulting with.

God, as he should have done, hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyp

tian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan,

and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when

she saw that she had conceived, she grew vain of the honour,

and her mistress, as a punishment for her impatience and im5 prudence, was despised in her eyes. And Sarai, growing

jealous, upbraided her husband, as if he encouraged this insolence, and said unto Abram, My wrong [be] upon thee : I have given my maid into thy bosom ; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes : the LORD judge

between me and thee : plead my cause and vindicate my innos 6 cence, since thou wilt not do it.* But Abram, far from taking

Hagar's part, said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid [is] in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Şarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face, with a view to return

to her own country. 7 And the angel of the Lord, appearing perhaps in a human

form, found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by

By tliese quarrels in the family, God was pleased to corret both Abram and Sarai for seeking children in such an unwarrantable way.

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