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seed shall spread through the earth, for whom Jehovah shall perform wondrous acts, even to the overthrowing of great nations, and slaying of mighty kings for their sakes. When we look upon this faith and remember this “exceeding great reward,” which the Almighty vouchsafed unto it, is not every heart ready to exclaim, “ The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting upon
them that fear him, and His righteousness upon children's children ; to such as keep His covenant, and remember His commandments to do them.”
JEHOVAH'S PROMISE TO ABRAHAM.
Not many days from this time, Abraham sat in the door of his tent at noon-day alone. His servants and household were sleeping, for the intensity of the sun's rays in those lands prevents exertion in the heat of the day. He slept not, for his mind was dwelling with wondering delight upon the promise he had received, and praising God who still remembered him. He thinks upon the time when according to that which had been revealed to him his seed should return from their land of captivity as conquerors, and in triumph take possession of the country in which he now sojourned; and as the glowing thought rises in his mind he lifts his eyes to cast them over this glorious inheritance, now slumbering as it were beneath the sultry midday sun. How beautiful it looked in its deep repose ! Not a bird, not an insect with its busy hum disturbed the serenity of the scene, not a breath stirred the glistening leaves and gorgeously bright flowers, which, as the sun darted his rays upon their petals, seemed kindled into flame. He gazed in ecstacy—but what does he behold crossing the plain, that can withdraw his gaze from so much beauty? Three beings approach upon whose countenances beams an expression of more than earthly dignity, and their white garments glitter as they draw near. But from one a radiance proceeds before which the glowing plain becomes dark, and the beams of the sun sink into obscurity. Who are these beings ? does not Abraham fear to look upon them ? No! Though an awful reverence fills his soul, he fears not, but rises to meet them, and falling upon his face he addresses that One, who by his surpassing glory is distinguished from his fellows, beseeching them to honour him by suffering him to wash their feet, and by eating and drinking in his tent.
His request is acceded to, and the heavenly visitants rest with Abraham, who hastens to summon, not his servants, but his wife herself to minister to them, and whilst they eat he reverently stands beside them. Here again they repeat the promise that immediately a son shall be born of Sarah.
Now Sarah was in the tent behind them, and she, unlike her husband, laughed in ridicule, saying, “Shall I who am old bear a child, my lord being old also?”
Thus unbelieving did Sarah speak of the promise from which her faithful husband was even now reaping a return of joy. Thus also do they who now believe not that God will give to the faithful workers of righteousness in his Church the blessings he has promised, madly deprive themselves of peace in prosperity and support in sorrow; whilst the believer every day and every hour, though the world may brand him with disgrace, though poverty may overtake or death deprive him of the dearest object here on earth, enjoys a degree of serenity, nay of joy, which, as it rests in Heaven, no earthly event can deprive him of, or even for a moment shake.
Sarah, as she stood alone laughing and disbelieving, thought herself unobserved ; she remembered not the words used by her handmaiden long ago, “Thou God seest me." But the Lord who was with Abraham heard, (for he heareth all things,) and was displeased. “Wherefore," He enquired, “did Sarah laugh ? Does she then doubt that He who has so far fulfilled His promises should fail here? Is anything too hard for JEHOVAH ?''
Then she feared and denied, saying “I laughed not,” adding falsehood to unbelief, still forgetting that the Lord seeth even the thoughts of our heart; yea even before they are conceived by ourselves. But he rebuked her, and put her to silence, not by any signal judgment, but seeing she sinned through fear and weakness, by a gentle reproof, “ Nay but thou didst laugh."
The Heavenly Guests now arose and prepared to go towards Sodom, Abraham also accompanying them.
And why does the Lord visit Sodom, that land so full of iniquity, and which too spurns and defies Him? Can it be in mercy to per