Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE EXPULSION OF HAGAR.

ABRAHAM now journeyed from the plain of Mamre and sojourned in Gerar. Again Abraham said of Sarah as he had done seventeen years ago, when in Egypt, “She is my sister," and again this sin brought its own punishment, for Abimelech took her, intending to make her his wife. But God interfered, by appearing to him in a dream, and saying, “Thou art but a dead man, for the woman thou hast taken is married to a husband.”

But Abimelech arose and besought the Lord to pardon his sin, thus ignorantly committed, saying, “Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation ; said he not, She is my sister ? And she, even she, also herself said, He is my brother. In the simplicity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.”

God heard him, knowing that his sin was one of ignorance, and forgave him, bidding him restore Sarah to her husband. So he arose early in the morning and called Abraham, and reproved him for his want of sincerity, saying, “What injury have I done unto thee that thou hast brought so great a sin as this upon me and my kingdom? Thou hast done deeds unto me which ought not to be done."

Abraham now excused himself, saying, “Because I thought surely the fear of God is not in this place, and they will slay me for my wife's sake. And yet indeed she is my sister ;-she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. And when God called me out of my own country, and from my father's house, I entreated her to say of me in every country where we came, He is my brother.”

Then Abimelech gave him money and other things, and bade him dwell wherever he chose; and after reproving Sarah also, he sent them away.

How are we warned by this incident in the life of the Faithful Abraham, to distrust ourselves, and lean upon God for support in the fulfilment of our duty ! What weakness of conduct do we observe even in the best of men, when left for a moment only to themselves. How necessary is it that we pray, not only that the “Lord of all power and might would nourish us in all goodness,” but also that he “ keep us in the same.

And now arrived the period for the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham, that Sarah should bear him a son. He was a hundred years old when this son was born, to whom he gave

the name of Isaac, and when he was eight days old he was admitted into the Church by the rite of circumcision.

How did the heart of Sarah leap when she gazed upon her long expected-long promised child, and how joyfully did she exclaim, “God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.” And then added in delighted astonishment, “Who would have said unto Abraham that Sarah would have given children suck? For I have borne him a son in his old age!”

Upon the day that the child was weaned,

[ocr errors]

Abraham made a great feast, and invited all his friends and neighbours to rejoice with him, and join him in praising God who had thus graciously remembered him.

But when Hagar, the Egyptian bondwoman, saw this rejoicing, her proud heart swelled with envy and jealousy, she could not bear to see those caresses, bestowed upon Isaac, which Ishmael alone had hitherto received ; she feared that now Ishmael would be cast entirely from the heart of his father, and whilst others rejoiced and sang, she sat alone in her tent and wept, whilst her proud heart felt ready to break. Soon she wiped away her tears, and called her son, to whom she repeated the tale of her own and his imaginary wrongs, until the spirit of the lad was filled with pride and indignation, and he returned to the guests of his father sullen and discontented; and even in the sight of Sarah mocked his young brother, and sneeringly spoke of the promise of Jehovah, as of a thing of no value.

How could Sarah, who before loved not Ishmael or his mother, calmly see this injurious conduct? Every feeling of maternal tenderness

F

and pride rises against it, and she flies to Abraham, in lignantly lemanding his interference. “Cast out” she exclaims, “this bond-woman and her son, for the son of this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.”

Alas! what can Abraham reply, or how act? The son of this bond-woman is his son, and though not equally beloved with the Child of the Promise, yet his first-born and his

dear son; how then can he comply with Sarah's angry demand? His heart yearns towards Ishmael; but Sarah will not listen to his soothings, or yield to his remonstrances. He goes therefore to his never-failing guide and refuge to Jehovah, who has been ever gracious, and seeks direction. IIis Lord commands him to do as Sarah desires, but at the same time comforts him in the execution of the painful task, by assurances that He will be with the exiled one, saying, "Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad and because of thy bond-woman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee hearken unto her voice ; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the

very

« PreviousContinue »