« PoprzedniaDalej »
shall see thy name; hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it." (Micah vi. 9.) So that the rod is to be heard, as well as felt; and the gracious child of God, is hereby distinguished from the ungodly, when the Lord's voice is known in it, and acknowledged in the dispensation; and be the affliction ever so great, ever so painful; when the voice of the Lord is discernible to the ear of faith, sweetly it sounds through all the chambers of the heart, saying," Be still, and know that I am God!" (Psalm xlvi. 10.) As in the case of the patriarch, so equally the same to all the patriarch's seed. I am still Abraham's God now, as much as before: and though Sarah be taken from Abraham; the God of Abraham liveth; and is and will be Abraham's God for ever.
And to add no more. When to this sovereignty of God, the child of God is brought to bend in dutiful submission, and he is led to see that every vacancy made in the heart by the departure of earthly friends, God filleth with himself; and that as creature comforts fall off, Creator consolations abound, and are more enjoyed; though all fail, God never faileth; though every brook be dry, the everlasting fountain never ceaseth to flow: this brings up the soul into a settled state of joy and peace in believing, " abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." And in every loss, and every bereavement, he hears the Lord speaking in all, and saying in words most gracious, like those of Elkanah to Hannah: "Why weepest thou? Why eatest thou not; and why is thy heart grieved; am I not better to thee than ten sons?" (1 Sam. i. 8.)
It , was such spiritual views of things which caused the patriarch Abraham to stand up in so dignified a manner under his sorrow before the sons of Heth. And such will be the sanctified apprehension of all Abraham's seed, under similar exercises. And
though tears may fall; yea, tears are graceful, as the tribute of nature, to fall; yet they will be, as the spouse said, like the "spiced wine of the pomegranate." We wipe the tear of nature, when we can say as the patriarch did in grace: I am a stranger and a sojourner here among you, as all my fathers were: "Let me bury my dead out of my sight."
"And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him :
"Hear us my lord, thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withold from thee his sepulchre; but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
"And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth." (Gen. xxiii. 5,—7.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
THE same remark will meet us here, in the courtesy shewn by the sons of Heth to Abraham, as was before observed of the gracefulness of the patriarch in his address to them. Both indeed are samples of eastern urbanity; and exhibit a beautiful representation of the simplicity of manners in the primitive age. But passing away from the consideration of these minor concerns, it will be more to our purpose to notice the improvements which, in a scriptural and spiritual sense, arise out of this part of Abraham's history; and for which, so important are they, that the Holy Ghost, hath been pleased to make them the subject of an whole chapter.
The children of Heth had no apprehension of what had passed between God and Abraham, prior to this event. They could not therefore have a consciousness of what occupied the partiarch's mind in relation to God's promises. They looked no farther than to the
mere interment of the dead. And as men of the world regard more the pomp and parade upon funeral occasions than any thing beside; they considered Abraham as a great prince, who would be gratified with the best of their mausoleums, to deposit his dead in, and therefore generously offered him the choice of their sepulchres. But our views must be directed to higher objects, being taught better; and in the instance of the interment of Sarah, discover somewhat beyond the circumstance of outward shew and grandeur.
When God called Abraham by sovereign grace, from Ur, of the Chaldees, and at that time an idolater; and bid him quit his father's house; God gave him an absolute promise of this land of Canaan. See (Gen. xi. 31, and Gen. xii. 1, 7.) And the Holy Ghost, in after ages by the mouth of Stephen, explained this promise in a yet more open manner. For speaking of Abraham, Stephen said, "Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran ; and from thence when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye dwell. And he gave him no inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on; yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child." (Acts vii. 4, 5.)
Now the patriarch believing this, and knowing what God had promised he was also able to perform, wished to deposit the remains of his beloved Sarah in this land; thereby taking possession of it, until the time came, when the Lord would accomplish his purpose, and bring all his church into the absolute property by a deed of gift.
I pause here to remark, the very illustrious faith of Abraham, upon this occasion. The land of Canaan, the patriarch considered that it was typical of that better country, which hath foundations, "whose builder and maker is God." In his leaving Haran, for Canaan,
shadowed forth the patriarch, and his seed, leaving the world for Christ. And hence our Lord himself blessedly explained the figure by the substance; when saying to the Jews; "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad." (John viii. 5, 6.) He beheld the promised land as the sacred ground wherein in the after ages of the church, and in what is called the fulness of time, the Son of God would come and restore all things. He foresaw that here Christ would do away" sin by the sacrifice of himself." He beheld by the eye of faith, the Son of God in our nature, by his own death, abolishing “death, and bringing life and immortality to light by the gospel." Under the lively impression of these ideas, he desired to take possession of the land, by the burial of Sarah. He there deposited the body of Sarah, "in sure and certain hope of the resurrection at the last day." And hence when Abraham himself had finished his day and generation, he directed that his body should be carried to the same charnel-house to wait the Lord's coming. (Gen. xxv. 10.) Hence also when Isaac died his remains were lodged in the same. And hence when Jacob was dying, he charged his children to be sure to carry his body thither. "Bury me (said he) with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron, the Hittite. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebecca his wife. And there I buried Leah." (Gen. xlix. 29.) "And Joseph also when dying in Egypt, took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence." (Gen. 1. 25.) Observe the strong faith of the patriarch, "God will surely visit you," meaning, will give you Canaan. Let my bones be there; from thence at the last day, I shall arise in him, and his great salvation, who " is the resurrection and the life." So died all the patriarchs
in faith. And this explains the purport of Abraham's request of the sons of Heth. (Heb. xi. 13.)
I must not allow myself to enlarge on this subject, most interesting as it is. But I cannot dismiss it in this part of it, until that I have first called upon the reader to remark with me, the very different state of the children of Heth, in their descent to their sepulchres. Ignorant of any hope beyond the present life; as they lived, so they died, unconscious of salvation, and unconscious of the want of it; "without God and without Christ in the world." And thus in all ages, from the fall to the present hour, the carnal and ungodly live and die in the vanity of their mind; and as the Scripture solemnly expresses it: "they follow the generation of their fathers, and never see light." (Psalm xlix. throughout.)
True indeed, like the sons of Heth, many of this description excel in the courtesy of human life, and many also are found in the exercise of moral virtues. The Romans and Lacedemonians, are remarked in history on this account, for much good order in society. And as far as these things go in the transactions between man and man, they are all highly commendable. But they reach no farther; they have respect only to the life that now is, and not to that which is to come. The decisive and unalterable words of Christ admit of no appeal. There can be no entrance into the heavenly Canaan, but by regeneration. "Except a man be born again," silenceth at once all other pretensions; and becomes alike the impassable gulph, both to the mere moral man, and to the profane. (John iii. 3. Luke xvi. 26.)
The Holy Ghost hath described the awful state of the death of the ungodly by his servant the prophet, in such lively characters as is impossible to read, but with the most awakened apprehension. "Son of man, (saith the Lord, by the prophet,) wail for the mul