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Female Scripture Biographies, Vol. I by Francis Augustus Cox

Part 2 out of 6

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The reply of Hagar was, moreover, creditable to her _temper_, Sarah and
her handmaid had parted under circumstances of mutual provocation; and the
latter had, no doubt, suffered very indignant treatment. But she does not
avail herself of this unexpected interview to enter upon her own
justification, or to produce a long and formal charge against her
mistress. The mere fact of her expulsion is stated without any comment. It
must indeed be admitted, that her introduction into the family of Abraham
placed her in that inferior condition in which Sarah possessed an
indisputable right over her person; and it must be also admitted, that she
had manifested a very unwarrantable vanity in despising her for
barrenness; yet, judging from her dispassionate language to the angel, we
should infer that she was naturally of a more patient disposition than her
mistress, and is in this view worthy of the imitation of young women whom
Providence consigns to the same menial state. How many would have been
clamorous and peevish, hasty in censuring their mistress, and forward in
vindicating themselves! They would have obtruded the story of the fancied
injuries they had sustained upon every occasion, and wearied with the
ridiculous recital, every one who might be found willing or unwilling to
hear their complaints. But Hagar, simply and without any marks of
irritation or resentment, stated the reason of her being alone in the
wilderness at the fountain of water.

If our idea be correct, we have here a specimen of a no very unusual
case. Some who have no claim to the distinction of religious persons,
which at present was the probable character of Hagar, frequently possess a
mildness and amiableness of disposition which is peculiarly attractive;
while those who undoubtedly belong to the superior class of the pious and
devout, exhibit unhappy defects of temper and disposition. The former
resemble the flowers of the wilderness, beautiful indeed, and fragrant,
but wild; the latter, those of the cultivated garden, blooming like the
rose among thorns. The loveliness of those who are otherwise "far from
God," excites our admiration, and wins our regard; while the unsightly
"temper flaws" of such as generally class with the servants of God are
repulsive and disgusting. In consequence of this, the distinction between
the two essentially different characters, is not always sufficiently
marked, or very perceptible; the excellence of the one elevating them
almost to the dignity of saints, and the defects of the other sinking them
almost to the meanness of sinners. But we should be cautious in passing
our judgment, lest we also be judged. Let us not undervalue the sterling
worth of the genuine Christian, because it is blended with some obvious,
or even some glaring incongruities. Let us equally beware of attributing
undue value to the good qualities of the worldling, and thus annihilate
the distinction between the natural and spiritual character.

It was happy for Hagar that the angel was sent to arrest her progress.
After her explicit declaration of the reason of her flight, she was
directed to return to her mistress, and submit herself. This was, perhaps,
a hard saying, and a haughty spirit might easily have raised ingenious and
perverse objections; but we have additional evidence of this young
woman's good disposition, in her receiving the mandate with a silent
obedience of spirit. Her best interests were likely to be more promoted by
her returning into a pious family, notwithstanding all its faults, than in
going to reside amongst the idolaters of her native country; and thus,
when she knew not how to choose for herself, the goodness of God was
displayed in appointing the bounds of her habitation. This command would
prove to her, and should teach us, that whatever provocations or injuries
we may have sustained, these cannot justify a wrong proceeding; and we
should hasten to retrieve our error by retracing our steps.

This, however, was only the secondary purpose of the present remarkable
manifestation. Words of astonishing import immediately followed. Hagar was
promised a numerous offspring, although the Messiah was not to descend
from her; and the promise was pronounced in a manner so solemn, so
significant, so overwhelming, that her eyes were opened to see it was no
other than the patriarch's God that assured her of a participation in the
patriarch's blessing. "And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will
multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for
multitude. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with
child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the
Lord hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will
be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell
in the presence of all his brethren." Similar promises were afterward
reiterated: "Behold, I have blessed him, (Ishmael) and will make him
fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he
beget, and I will make him a great nation."--"And also of the son of the
bond-woman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed."--"I will make
him a great nation."

These predictions have been minutely accomplished. The posterity of
Ishmael may be traced in the Ishmaelites, the Hagarenes, the Itureans, and
Arabs; especially the Scenites and Saracens, the latter of whom erected
one of the largest empires in the world. To this day the Arabs are not
only a distinct people, but possess the original character of their
father, fierce and unsettled, living in a state of perpetual hostility
against the rest of the world. Every attempt to subdue or extirpate them,
has proved abortive. The Egyptians and Assyrians were equally
unsuccessful, and whatever partial dominion Cyrus and the Persians might
obtain, they could never penetrate the interior of the country, or reduce
them to tributary subjection. In vain did Alexander plan their
destruction; the hand of Providence interposed to prevent it by his death.
The Romans could never conquer Arabia; and they continued to molest their
neighbours by incessant incursions. Under Mohammed they became a mighty
empire, and though it was ultimately dissolved, they still maintained
their liberty in defiance of the Tartars, Mamelukes, and Turks.

"Who," inquires a great writer, "can fairly consider and lay all these
particulars together, and not perceive the hand of God in this whole
affair, from the beginning to the end? The sacred historian saith, that
these prophecies concerning Ishmael were delivered partly by the angel of
the Lord, and partly by God himself: and indeed, who but God, or one
raised and commissioned by him, could describe so particularly the genius
and manners, not only of a single person before he was born, but of a
whole race of people, from the first founder of the race to the present
time? It was somewhat wonderful, and not to be foreseen by human sagacity
or prudence, that a man's whole posterity should so nearly resemble him,
and retain the same inclinations, the same habits, the same customs
throughout all ages. The waters of the purest spring or fountain are soon
changed and polluted in their course, and the farther still they flow, the
more they are incorporated and lost in other waters. How have the modern
Italians degenerated from the courage and virtues of the old Romans? How
are the French and English polished and refined from the barbarianism of
the ancient Gauls and Britons? Men and manners change with times; but in
all changes and revolutions, the Arabs have still continued the same with
little or no alteration. And yet it cannot be said of them, as some
barbarous nations, that they have had no commerce or intercourse with the
rest of mankind; for by their conquests they overran a great part of the
earth, and for some centuries were masters of most of the learning that
was then in the world; but, however, they remained, and still remain the
same fierce, savage, intractable people, like their great ancestor in
every thing, and different from most of the world besides. Ishmael was
circumcised, and so are his posterity to this day; and as Ishmael was
circumcised when he was thirteen years old, so were the Arabs at the same
age, according to Josephus. He was born of Hagar, who was a concubine; and
they still indulge themselves in the use of mercenary wives and
concubines. He lived in tents in the wilderness, shifting from place to
place; and so do his descendants, particularly those therefore called
Scenites formerly, and those called Bedoweens at this day. He was an
archer in the wilderness, and so are they. He was to be the father of
twelve princes, or heads of tribes; and they live in clans or tribes at
this day. He was a wild man, his hand against every man, and every man's
hand against him; and they live in the same state of war, their hand
against every man, and every man's hand against them.

"This, I say, is somewhat wonderful, that the same people should retain
the same dispositions for so many ages: but it is still more wonderful,
that with these dispositions and this enmity to the whole world, they
should still subsist, in spite of the world, an independent and free
people. It cannot be pretended, that no probable attempts were ever made
to conquer them; for the greatest conquerors in the world have almost all,
in their turns, attempted it. It cannot be pretended, that the dryness or
inaccessibleness of their country hath been their preservation; for their
country hath been often penetrated, though never entirely subdued. I know
that Diodorus Siculus accounts for their preservation from the dryness of
their country; that they have wells digged in proper places known only to
themselves, and their enemies and invaders, through ignorance of these
places, perish for want of water; but this account is far from being an
adequate and just representation of the case. Large armies have found
the means of subsistence in their country; none of their powerful invaders
ever desisted on this account; and therefore, that they have not been
conquered, we must impute to some other cause. When, in all human
probability, they were upon the brink of ruin, then they were signally and
providentially delivered. Alexander was preparing an expedition against
them, when an inflammatory fever cut him off in the flower of his age.
Pompey was in the career of his conquests, when urgent affairs called him
elsewhere. Ælius Gallus had penetrated far into the country, when a fatal
disease destroyed great numbers of his men, and obliged him to return.
Trajan besieged their capital city, but was defeated by thunder and
lightning, whirlwinds, and other prodigies, and that as often as he
renewed his assaults. Severus besieged the same city twice, and was twice
repelled from before it; and the historian, Dion, a man of rank and
character, though a heathen, plainly ascribes the defeat of the two
emperors to the interposition of a Divine Power. We who know the
prophecies, may be more assured of the reality of a divine interposition;
and, indeed, otherwise how could a single nation stand out against the
enmity of the whole world for any length of time, and much more for near
4000 years together; the great empires round them have all in their turn
fallen to ruin, while they have continued the same from the beginning, and
are likely to continue the same to the end: and this, in the natural
course of human affairs, was so highly improbable, if not altogether
impossible, that as nothing but a Divine Prescience could have foreseen
it, so nothing but a Divine Power could have accomplished it." [10]

To return to Hagar. The effect of this angelic visitation was her
conversion to the knowledge and love of God. The advantages of her former
situation in the family of Abraham, do not seem to have produced any
remarkable change of character; but in this the day of her affliction, in
this the sad hour of her retreat and solitude, she is taught to pray. So
true is it, that "thy people shall be _willing_ in the day of _thy
power_!" How often have those means which to human apprehension seemed
best calculated to produce a renovation of heart utterly failed, while the
Spirit of God has successfully operated by methods and in situations the
least expected to avail! Happy solitude that brings us into the society
of God! Welcome affliction that subdues us to his will!

In the transports of holy affection, Hagar addressed Jehovah by a phrase,
importing "Thou, God, seest me;" and intimated the unexpected but welcome
nature of the discoveries she had made, and of that influence which drew
her after God in faith, and hope, and love:--"Have I also here looked
after him that seeth me?" As a memento of this wonderful interposition,
she named the spring of water by which she was sitting, "Beer-lahai-roi,"
that is, "The well of him that liveth and seeth me."

Hagar, in adopting this language, expressed her _grateful sense of the
divine interposition_. She felt conscious that in her present
circumstances she might have perished alone and unpitied; or, if she had
survived, and taken up her residence in Egypt she would have remained
destitute of the religious instruction already received, and the future
advantages of pious intercourse. Her gratitude was blended with a feeling
of humility, a consciousness of unworthiness. What could be more
surprising, than that an angel should descend from the splendour of the
divine presence, to converse with a poor wanderer in the wilderness of
Shur, and console her by such wonderful promises? These benevolent spirits
appear to have maintained a frequent intercourse with the best inhabitants
of our globe in former ages, and to have been intrusted with the holy
ministration of attending the Son of God in his incarnate state. If, since
the completion of the canon of Scripture, the necessity of angelic visits
be superseded, we ought nevertheless to record the goodness of a
superintending Providence. He who forms a just estimate of his mercies,
may surely fill the diary of every day with grateful notices, and cannot
take even a cursory retrospect of the years of past existence, without
recollecting some striking interpositions which should often renew his
praise and thanksgiving. Have we not been sustained in weakness, guided in
perplexity, healed in sickness, supplied in poverty, or defended in
danger? Let not insensibility and forgetfulness add to the already large
accumulations of our guilt.

The words of Hagar ought also to be regarded as indicative of _pious
resignation of spirit_ amidst the adversities of life. It is common in
calamitous circumstances, or in afflictions which seem immediately
occasioned by others upon whom we may have been dependent, or with whom we
have been in any way connected, to exclaim against the cruelty of our
enemy, or the malice of such as have been instrumental in producing our
unhappiness; but Hagar utters no complaints against Sarah, who had driven
her into the wilderness, where she and her infant offspring might
have perished.

This is instructive. Admitting that we are not mistaken in our views, and
that others may be really cruel; if we consider affliction aright, we
shall leave the instrument to the judgment of God, and be solicitous only
of glorifying him, by possessing our souls in patience. Joseph afterward
was an illustrious specimen of this disposition. "Now, therefore," said he
to his brethren, "be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me
hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life."

All second causes constitute but the machinery on which the great First
Cause operates. If we look merely to _them_, we shall find an endless
source of disquietude: if to _him_, who regulates the whole system of
means, we cannot fail of obtaining satisfaction and peace of mind.
Resignation is to be distinguished from a stoical indifference, or a
sullen insensibility, occasioned by the conviction that, as afflictions
could not be avoided, they must be borne; that it is in vain to struggle
or resist; and that our weakness renders endurance necessary, however
irksome. It consists rather in a pious acquiescence in the will of Heaven,
arising from a persuasion that God knows what is really best for us; and
that his dispensations, however painful or opposite to our wishes, will
prove conducive to our real benefit. He uses the corrective rod, not the
destroying sword. If he amputate the disordered member, it is to save
the life.

_Cheerful hope for the future_ seems also to breathe through the
expressions of Hagar, in which she is worthy of our imitation. Past
interpositions form a solid foundation for future confidence. "Surely,"
said David, "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
Disconsolate believer, be assured that the pillar of cloud, which has
hitherto directed thy path, shall accompany thee to the very borders of
Canaan! "Fear not," says Jehovah, "for I am with thee; be not dismayed,
for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I
will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness--I will never
leave thee, nor forsake thee."

It is natural to wish to pry into futurity. We are impatient to penetrate
the clouds that envelope us, and to discern the distant course which
Providence has prescribed for our feet. Curiosity combines with
self-interest to urge this inquiry; but the reproof which Peter received
is justly merited by ourselves: "What is that to thee? Follow thou me." If
we follow Christ, we have nothing to dread; if we desert him, we have
nothing to hope. Futurity can be no source of alarm to him who is
conscious of acting right. It is filled with no "Gorgons, and hydras, and
chimeras dire," but to the distempered imagination of the guilty spirit;
and, therefore, if we would escape _misery_, we must resist _sin_.

The language in question may be considered as expressive of
_self-dedication._ "Thou, God, seest me," my wants, my wishes, my entire
situation! I have no will but thine; no desire but what I readily submit
that thou shalt gratify or disappoint according to thy pleasure. If thou
inflict chastisement, I will cheerfully sustain it; if thou afford
prosperity, I will humbly enjoy and improve it. I will no longer live to
myself; I am not my own. I agree to the transfer of all my powers,
talents, and possessions to thy service. My whole being shall henceforth
be at thy disposal; it shall become thy absolute and inalienable property:
this is a "living sacrifice" which I admit to be "reasonable," which I
rejoice to believe is "holy and acceptable." In time past I have "sown to
the flesh;" let this suffice--another principle influences me--another
motive shall evermore predominate.

A resolution of this nature must be dictated by the lowest opinion of
ourselves, and the highest idea of God: and what is our proper situation,
but in the dust? and where should we place God, but on the throne? To
acknowledge this in theory, and to abandon it in practice, is to trifle
both with ourselves and with him.

Entire dedication to God is by no means incompatible with the duties of
life. It is possible to be "diligent in business," but "fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord." We contend not for a voluntary seclusion from society,
seeking the retirements of the cloister or the retreats of the wilderness:
but we plead with you, whatever situation you occupy, to set God always
before your eyes, to act as in his sight, and daily to realize the true
character of saints as "strangers and pilgrims on earth." Religion, that
flower of paradise, was never intended to "waste its sweetness on the
desert air;" but to flourish in society, and to diffuse its sacred
perfumes in every walk of life.

This elevation of piety, so far from poisoning the springs of human joy,
so far from imbittering the cordials of our cup, will refine every
enjoyment and purify every pleasure. It will blunt the keen edge of
sorrow, and smooth the asperities of adversity. It will bring down heaven
to earth, and render death itself a desirable passage to everlasting life.
Let us accustom ourselves to contemplate the most eminent examples of this
spirit, that, by daily imitating them, we may, through grace, be
progressively "meetening" for the participation of their inheritance.

If it were not Hagar's immediate intention, her language may at least be
adopted to express a _constant sense of the divine omniscience_. No idea
is so calculated to animate us in the discharge of duty, or to sustain us
in submission to evil. In the ancient Olympic games, how must the
consciousness of twenty or thirty thousand witnesses of their efforts have
stimulated the Grecian combatants, ranged as they were around them in an
amphitheatre, and consisting of the first magistrates of the kingdom! But
how much more impressive and awful is the persuasion that the great eye of
the universe is upon us in our Christian race; that the "King
eternal, immortal, invisible," watches every movement, and beholds with
approbation or kindles into wrath, as we persevere or draw back to
perdition! He sees in solitude and in society, in the crowded city and the
distant wilderness. On the one hand, he witnesses the aversion and
rebellion of the wicked; on the other, he gathers the tears of penitence
into his bottle, records the petitions of faith in his book, and amidst
the music of angels, bends his listening ear to the sighs of the

Let Christians remember that they have a mighty struggle to sustain, but
their resources are inexhaustible. They have to contend with the powers of
darkness and the corruptions of nature. In the issue of this contest
heaven and hell are interested; the one, that you should fail; the other,
that you should come off "more than conquerors." Angels are waiting on the
shores of immortality to see the final result, and are already tuning
their harps to sound your victory through the universe. The ascended
Saviour addresses you from the skies: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I
will give thee a crown of life."

In the preceding chapter, the occasion of Hagar's second banishment from
the family of Abraham was related. During the festivities which were
observed at the weaning of Isaac, her son indulged himself in profane
mockery; the consequence of which was, that Sarah insisted upon the
instant expulsion of mother and child. Notwithstanding Abraham's
repugnance to this proceeding, he was induced to it by divine a command.
Early in the morning he dismissed Hagar and her son, with a bottle of
water and some bread, with which she hastened away into the wilderness of
Beersheba. This scanty supply was soon exhausted, and the unhappy
fugitives became reduced to the greatest distress. What could an
unprotected female do in such melancholy circumstances, but simply commit
herself to the guidance of Providence, and pursue, though she knew not
whither, her adventurous way? Past deliverances ought to inspire
confidence in every season of suffering; and we cannot but hope that her
mind was long consoled, by the recollection of the heavenly interposition
which she had enjoyed sixteen years ago, in her first banishment. No
resentful feelings, no irritating language is recorded; and doubtless
Abraham dismissed her with as much kindness as the peculiarity of the
circumstances admitted.

But behold a most tragical scene. In a few days the water is spent in the
bottle. Poor Hagar pants along the solitary desert, turning hither and
thither in search of some scanty supply. Not a drop of refreshment is to
be found; till at length, arriving at some shrubs, she sat down with her
exhausted--and, as she imagined, her _dying_ child, beneath the welcome
shade. Nothing but silence and solitude reigned around her. The burning
sun had scorched up every sign of vegetation. She was driven from a pious
family; but she had no home, no friend, no helper! Officious kindness,
which often soothes the agonies of death, was denied her. None were at
hand to soothe her mind, or wipe away her tears; and her maternal heart
was rent by the distracting expectation of her son's dissolution. At the
very point of despair, she left Ishmael under a shrub, and retired to some
distance to avoid the sight of his expiring agonies.

Who can imagine the pain of this excruciating moment, or the bitterness of
the tears she shed! O what lamentations did she utter, and perhaps what
self-reproaches for her undervaluation of past mercies! What regrets that
she encouraged, or probably did not suppress and correct, the perverse
spirit of her son!

While we pity her desperate condition, we must not apologize for her sins.
After the remarkable assurances which the angel had given her on a former
occasion, it was criminal unbelief in Hagar to sit down in despondency,
and conclude that she and her son must inevitably perish: and yet this is
but a specimen of the distrust which is too frequently manifested, even by
those who profess to rely upon the promises of God. Happy for us, if, in
cases of far less extremity, we have not been tempted to forget our
mercies and relinquish our confidence!

The sighs of the lad were heard. An angel again appeared to his desponding
mother--"What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not, for God hath heard the voice
of the lad where he is: arise, and lift up the lad, and hold him in thine
hand; for I will make him a great nation." At the instant of this address,
God is said to have opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water, whence
she replenished the bottle, and supplied her fainting son. He revived, and
afterward settled in the wilderness of Paran with his mother, and probably
maintained her by the use of the bow. So wonderfully does the providence
of God accomplish its predestined purposes!

This distressing circumstance in the life of Hagar was a link in a great
chain of events, which were connected together by an invisible agency, and
held in the divine hands. A superficial observer might see nothing in all
that transpired but a curious concurrence of ordinary events. The
insolence of Ishmael irritated the temper of Sarah; she procured his
expulsion, and that of his mother from her household; retiring in
disgrace, she narrowly escaped destruction in the wilderness, and
afterward took up a casual residence in the vicinity. But if we pay a
proper attention to these events, we shall view them with another eye.
Every circumstance was connected with a vast providential plan, and tended
to illustrate the power and sovereignty of God in the accomplishment of
his designs. The folly of Ishmael, the conduct of Sarah, the compliance
of Abraham, the various occurrences connected with the settlement in
Paran, concurred to _fulfil a divine prediction_, and thus to evince the
superintendence of God over all human affairs. "Surely the wrath of man
shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath wilt thou restrain."

Lot's Wife.

Chapter IV.

Delusions to which the Young in particular are exposed--Lot's erroneous
Choice--Sin brings Punishment--Advantages of Lot's Wife--Her remarkable
Deliverance--Her Guilt--General Causes of Apostacy traced, Fear, Love of
the World, Levity of Mind, Pride--Doom of Lot's Wife.

"Judge not," said our Saviour, "according to the appearance, but judge
righteous judgment." This is a maxim which, though originally uttered in
vindication of his character against the reproaches of the Jews, is
capable of a more extensive application.

Captivated by the fascinating exterior of the world, the prospect of
temporal advantage, and diversified enjoyment, how many neglect to
regulate their desires by those superior principles which Revelation
inculcates, and which alone can secure substantial happiness! The young,
especially suffer by this delusion. Lively in imagination, but immature in
judgment; easily, and therefore frequently deceived; they are hurried into
those premature determinations which cannot be corrected when they come to
discover their mistakes. It is to be deeply deplored, when young persons,
through refusing to listen to the dictates of wisdom or the suggestions of
experienced age, precipitate themselves into misery, and sacrifice to the
fleeting possessions and pleasures of this life, the higher interests of
another existence. Deeming themselves privileged to disregard, if not to
ridicule religion, by virtue of their age, rank, or talents; and living as
though they held their present being by no precarious tenure, they trifle
away their time in criminal indulgences, and "lose their own souls" by a
guilty procrastination. To persons of this class, Solomon suggests a most
important truth, in the form of a sarcastic appeal--"Rejoice, O young man
in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth; and
walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know
thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."

There are also young persons of another description, who, though partially
influenced by such motives, possess upon the whole a different character.
Their inconsistencies, although highly detrimental, result rather from
temporary illusion than from radical depravity. The passions which through
grace are habitually subjugated to the yoke of reason and religion,
acquire, on some occasions, a momentary ascendency; and, as the apostle
describes it, "they do" that which they "allow not," and that which they
"would," they "do not." They are, for a time, inveigled by their
senses--their eyes are dazzled, and their minds perverted. Their mistakes
both of judgment and of feeling, connect themselves, perhaps, with a long
series of disasters, neither to be foreseen nor prevented. Sometimes the
individual himself does not discover his error for a lapse of years;
continuing under the deception, till the course of providential events
awakens him from the dream of enjoyment, and successive afflictions
restore him to his "right mind."

If at that unhappy moment, when Lot, regarding temporal advantages only,
and forgetting his religious dangers, "lifted up his eyes and beheld all
the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord
destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the
land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar"--if he could have anticipated the
melancholy consequences of one false step, surely he would not have chosen
the plain of Jordan for a residence, or pitched his tent towards the city
of Sodom! Infinitely better had it been for him to have accompanied
Abraham to Mamre, or even to have lived in a retired and desolate

The most exalted piety does not necessarily exempt the individual who
possesses it from the trials of life; but it prepares the mind for
enduring and improving them. In some instances, it obviates those external
calamities which befall an ungodly world, supplying the means of escaping
from many of the punishments and penalties which the wicked suffer; but,
in all cases, it prevents that anguish which arises from the secret
conviction, that the afflictions of life are the consequences of personal
guilt and misconduct--sent, it is true, for their ultimate benefit; but
sent in judgment, and expressive of displeasure. Sin is always pernicious.
It not only involves the impenitent in present sufferings and future wo,
but inflicts even on the people of God, in proportion to the degree in
which it prevails, embarrassments and calamities.

If we direct our course by mere worldly considerations, however fair the
prospect may seem, the luxuriant plain is likely to become overspread with
confusion, and deluged with misery. In consequence of the fatal choice of
Lot, he soon became a captive, then a fugitive. He lost his liberty, his
peace, his possessions, and finally his dearest connexion in life, by one
of those awful dispensations in which the hand of God is so visible, the
punishment of sin so striking, and the lessons of divine justice so
terrible. We are admonished to "remember Lot's wife;" and truly, her
_advantages_, her _deliverance_, her _guilt_, and her _doom_, furnish so
many subjects of instructive reflection.

The ADVANTAGES of Lot's wife were considerable. She was the nearest
connection of a "just or pious man;" who though he dwelt in Sodom, the
very rendezvous of all the vices, "vexed his righteous soul from day to
day," with the "unlawful deeds," and "filthy conversation" of its wicked

Obvious and lamentable as were the defects in the character of Lot, it
must, nevertheless, be admitted that he was a man of eminent piety--a
piety the more conspicuous, from the circumstances in which he was placed.
His fellow citizens were inexpressibly depraved; so much so, that in all
the annals of sacred and profane history, we find no parallel example.
Sodom was, in fact, one mass of pollution. High and low, rich and poor,
seem to have been infected with moral contamination; and every day their
excessive immoralities dared the vengeance of Heaven. Lot stood alone and
unsupported, struggling against the torrent of iniquity that flowed down
every street, and inundated with its filthiness the adjacent cities of
the plain.

Society animates the desponding spirit amidst discouragements. It inspires
diligence, quickens zeal, and strengthens against resistance. The example
of the multitude often operates with pernicious influence in situations
where the pious experience considerable co-operation; and considering the
weakness of human nature, the force of temptation, the numerous instances
of defection which occur even within the pale of the Christian church,
continuance in well doing is a just cause of congratulation under any
circumstances. But that this holy man should have remained steadfast and
immoveable amidst the abominations of Sodom, is a proof of the confirmed
stability and superior excellence of his religion. Neither promises nor
threatenings, neither ridicule nor flattery could divert him from his
course. He was neither to be cajoled nor coerced; but set his face like a
flint, and pursued the narrow path of obedience to God with undeviating
perseverance. Piety had, in fact, exalted him to a higher sphere, and,
like the sun, that pursues his circuit alike through the calm or the
stormy day, the obstructions which impiety seemed to throw in his path,
proved nothing but cloud and vapour before his resistless progress.

It must have been a singular privilege to have sustained the intimate
relationship of a _wife_ to one so excellent, and at a period, not only
when immorality had acquired such an odious ascendency in the particular
place of their residence, but when there was little religion in the world.
His favoured partner had every opportunity of knowing his views upon the
most important religious topics, and especially of being informed or
reminded of the great designs of eternal Providence respecting the future
mission of our Saviour; to which bright consummation of human happiness
the saints of God, in the remotest ages, look forward with confident

She had, besides, the best means of observing the influence of true
religion upon the character. She saw him in every position, and witnessed
his conduct every day. If she were no stranger to many of his
imperfections, and these attach more or less to every one in the present
state, she could not fail of perceiving a mighty contrast between his
general deportment and spirit, and that of the guilty inhabitants of
Sodom. He was not only unseduced by their example, but detested their
practices; and bore a decided, if it were an unavailing, testimony against
them. She must have seen that his passions were under the regulation of
principles to which _they_ were perfect strangers; and that his whole
character was cast in a different mould. His fellow-citizens, indeed,
possessed the advantage of his public example and judicious reproofs,
although they were too base to receive any impression; but _she_ saw him
at home, and had the privilege of domestic intercourse. There he presented
his private and frequent devotions--there, no doubt, he erected the family
altar, and day by day offered the solemn sacrifices of prayer and praise.
Upon that house the eye of God was fixed, and there his blessing
descended. One voice in Sodom, discordant to the universal chorus of
imprecation and blasphemy was harmonious in the ear of Heaven--one
hallowed flame ascended amidst the fires of lust--one drop of purity
mingled with an ocean of wickedness!

Whether the wife of Lot were benefited by his example, or properly
observant of his actions, or whether she were infected by the general
contagion, it is not possible to ascertain with certainty: her subsequent
conduct renders us suspicious of her having been, if not a practitioner of
atrocious crimes, at least in love with the world, and destitute of
real religion.

Some of the best of men have suffered this severe affliction. The chosen
companions of their pilgrimage have been strangers to their religious
feelings, and could cherish no kindred sympathies. Instead of proving
help meets, they have been hinderances; instead of assisting, they have
retarded their journey. In some cases, this must be imputed to themselves,
as their _own fault_. They have been misled by their passions; and, in
consequence of "entering into temptation," they have plunged themselves
into inevitable wretchedness. This is a sin which, we should hope, is not
often committed; and, as a means of prevention, we would enforce a
contrary conduct by all the authority which can attach to the language of
an inspired adviser. Paul exhorts us to marry "only in the Lord;" and he
sustains his admonitions by irresistible argument: "Be ye not unequally
yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness
with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and
what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth
with an infidel?"

There is one case, in which we must rather pity than censure this
incongruous association. Previous to that essential change of character
which is introductory to the kingdom of heaven, and which the New
Testament represents as being "brought out of darkness into marvellous
light," the woman and the man have, perhaps, become "equally yoked" in
unbelief. At the period of their early matrimonial connection, no
dissimilarity in point of religious principle existed. Both were "lovers
of pleasure more than lovers of God;" and unhappily, neither of them felt
the importance of securing permanent and solid enjoyment, by constructing
it on the basis of genuine religion. Resembling others in the same period
of youth and illusion, they embarked on the smooth and inviting surface,
unaware of what storms awaited them, or what dangers lurked in the
perilous sea of life. It was, morning--the scene was new--the prospect
gay--and their fair horizon seemed to encircle an earthly paradise! They
knew not it was a _painted_ landscape, and that "pure and undefiled
religion" alone could effectually prepare them for the disappointment.

Since that period, one of this happy pair has become "a follower of God,"
the other remains "a servant of sin"--the one has discovered the paramount
importance of the interest of eternity, the other has not yet learned the
necessity of salvation, or the value of the soul. Now is fulfilled the
prediction of Christ, "I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am
come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against
her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's
foes shall be those of _his own household_."

Let those who are thus united together by the conjugal tie, although
dissimilar in character, be excited to a consideration of their respective
duties. The religious party should pursue a system of conciliation and
kindness, as best calculated to exemplify the excellence of religion, and
_win_ the disobedient yoke-fellow; and the irreligious husband or wife
should study the virtuous peculiarities, and worthy example, of the pious
partner: the one being anxious to exhibit the genuine effect of
religion--the other to examine with impartiality, and an unprejudiced
attention, the operation of grace.

Another circumstance to which our attention is directed, in the history of
Lot's wife, is her DELIVERANCE from the miraculous conflagration of Sodom.
The angelic messengers who were sent to Lot, conducted him and his family
from the scene of danger. They first distinctly predicted the destruction
of the city, on account of its extreme iniquity, and intimated that they
were commissioned to execute this awful purpose of eternal justice. They
then inquired about his relations, commanding him to bring them out of the
place; but, with a spirit of infatuation too common to the impenitent, the
earnest solicitations of Lot were utterly rejected, and even ridiculed.
"Up," said he, "get you out of this place, for the Lord will destroy this
city! But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law."

On the ensuing morning, at a very early hour, the two commissioned angels
urged Lot to use all possible despatch in his departure, and to take with
him his wife and daughters. The predestined moment was at hand; the
windows of heaven were opening, and the burning tempest ready to descend.
"And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand
of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being
merciful unto him; and they brought him forth, and set him without the
city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that
he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in
all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed."

This narrative intimates with sufficient plainness that Lot's wife and
daughters were spared for _his sake_; and that it was nothing but the
impenitent obstinacy of his other family connexions, that prevented their
escape. They would not listen, even though he "lingered," probably, to
persuade them to accompany his flight; they must, therefore, perish. It
appears that his wife and daughters also were reluctant, as the angels
were obliged to take them each by the hand, and conduct them into the
plain; but, _for the sake of Lot_, they were happily compelled to flee. If
this woman had not been the wife, and these the daughters of a _good man_,
they would have shared the tremendous fate of the other inhabitants of
the city; their near connection with him, unquestionably saved their
otherwise unprotected lives.

Humiliating as the sentiment may be to the enemies of religion, it is
clearly deducible from this affecting narrative, and strikingly confirmed
by other scriptural accounts, that righteous persons are the salt of the
earth; the means, not only of preserving it from becoming an entire mass
of corruption, but of averting the judgments of Heaven from others; and
especially of preserving those from awful calamity, who are more
immediately connected with them by the ties of consanguinity or

The escape of Lot's wife and daughters, on this disastrous occasion, was
an illustration of the promise which had but a short time before been made
to Abraham, when he was permitted to commune with Jehovah respecting the
destruction of this city. Having been informed of the divine
determinations, Abraham, deeply affected with the condition of his wicked
neighbours, but feeling a peculiar concern for his nephew, drew near with
holy boldness to inquire whether the righteous and the wicked were to be
involved in the same common catastrophe; and whether, if fifty righteous
persons could be found, the city might not be spared? To this he obtained
full consent: upon which he ventured to limit the pious number, for whose
sake all the inhabitants should be spared, to forty-five--then to
forty--to thirty--to twenty--and to ten; "And the Lord said, I will not
destroy it for ten's sake."

Here it is observable, that the patriarch did not request the preservation
of the wicked for _their own sake_, or because of any supposed severity in
the predicted punishment, but solely for the sake of the _righteous_ who
might be discovered in the place. Value your connexion, then, with the
people of God. To be born of pious parents, or to be situated amidst
religious advantages, is an unspeakable favour. The church of Christ,
especially, is a privileged spot--there celestial mercy takes her
favourite walks--thither she conveys her choicest blessings--and to that
sacred enclosure from the world, she extends her most powerful protection.
How many families, besides the house of Obed-edom, have been blessed
"because of the ark of God!"

[Sidenote: Years before Christ, 1897.] The inspired history, in the next
place, particularly points out the GUILT of Lot's wife. As soon as this
favoured family had reached the suburbs, and at a moment when the rising
sun shed his unclouded radiance over the devoted scene, and, consequently,
indicated no approaching storm, the mighty tragedy commenced. Down came
the burning sulphureous deluge upon Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim;
which, mingling with the bituminous soil of the valley, and blazing with
inconceivable intensity, spread sudden, awful, and universal desolation.
From this horrible moment, the site of these ancient cities became
converted into a lake, which, from its bituminous quality, is termed the
lake _Asphaltites_, and sometimes the _Dead Sea_, from the idea that no
creature can exist in its waters. [11]

During this miraculous tempest, the wife of Lot, who was now flying to
Zoar, "LOOKED BACK FROM BEHIND HIM;" and in consequence, suffered an
instantaneous judgment, which we shall presently have occasion to notice.

And was this the whole amount of her criminality? Was it a mere glance of
the eye, for which she is become an object of execration, and a warning to
all ages? Was this the single action for which she suffered?--Have we not
been led to suppose, that apostacy is rather a _course of conduct_, than
the perpetration of any particular crime, however atrocious? And yet does
not the wife of Lot appear to have been punished as an apostate?

Beware of forming a hasty judgment, and recollect that, in some cases, a
single action is an infallible criterion of a most impious character. It
is the _last in a series of crimes_, although, perhaps, the only
_discovered_ iniquity. The rest have been concealed by circumstances, or
by artifice; and, like the apex and point of a rock piercing the surface
of the deep, which indicates its immense magnitude and elevation above the
bottom of the ocean, _one_ considerable act of baseness indicates the real
existence of an immense accumulation of secret iniquity. Such was the
character of _Judas,_ and probably of _Lot's wife_.

The recorded action in question indicated, in fact, a very complicated
crime. It was a direct disobedience to an express and solemn command; and
whether the command respected a mere look, or a mighty undertaking, the
_principle_ which influenced the conduct, was equally censurable. We must
abstain from _whatever_ is interdicted, whether it respect the tasting of
fruit, as in the case of Eve, or the looking back to relinquished
possessions, as in the example of Lot's wife. Unbelief was also a probable
concomitant in this transgression. She might doubt the reality of the
threatened destruction, or be influenced by a spirit of unhallowed
curiosity: or, if she heard the descending tempest, some dread of being
overtaken by it might induce her to look back. But, above all, our Lord,
in commenting upon her conduct, intimates that her _heart_ lingered after
the possessions she had left, and her look implied a _wish_ to return to
their enjoyment.

The case of this woman is peculiarly affecting, from other considerations.
It has been already stated, she had peculiar advantages, being the wife of
a righteous man--she had thus far escaped the pollutions of Sodom, and
avoided its destiny--she had obeyed the voice of the celestial messenger,
and was led forth under a heavenly ministration--she was in the company of
the pious--participated the deliverance of her husband, and was on the
point of having completely escaped--Sodom was left behind--Zoar was at
hand--the raging storm was desolating the devoted cities, while the bright
sun of the morning lighted the fugitives on their way. Before, all was
smiling! Behind, all was tempestuous!--Salvation, if they persevered!
Perdition, if they retreated or looked back!--It is written in the book of
God--may it be written indelibly on every heart--"If any man draw back, my
soul shall have no pleasure in him."

It will conduce to the purposes of instruction, if we generalize this
subject, by briefly stating a few of the most usual causes of apostacy
from God; some of which are strictly applicable to the history of
Lot's wife.

Sometimes it originates in _fear_; and though every period could furnish
instances, we must expect to find them principally in times of
persecution. Many, under the awful apprehension of excruciating torments,
and some even from very inferior reasons of alarm, have signed their
recantation of principles which they had long professed to venerate; but
few have imitated the noble heroism of a CRANMER, who publicly denounced
his own recantation, and resolutely thrust the hand that signed it first
into the fire, on the day of his martyrdom, calling it, "this unworthy
right hand!"

But in all ages a _love of the world_ may be justly considered as a much
more prevalent occasion of apostacy than fear. Demas, and the wife of Lot,
live again in a thousand wretched examples. It may be acknowledged
difficult to point out in all cases with perfect exactitude, the precise
line of demarkation between a proper and an inordinate pursuit of worldly
good, and thus to detect the first commencement of an avaricious temper,
the embryo germ of an apostate disposition; but at least no difficulty
should remain with _the individual himself_ in deciding upon his own
actual state, even though he be not guilty of flagrant immoralities, if
conscious that his heart is in his covetousness--if the love of gain have
usurped the dominion of his soul, and dethroned the love of God--if he
gladly embrace every opportunity of promoting his worldly interest, and
obey but slowly and reluctantly the calls of duty. Let him apprehend that
he is drifting along to ruin--let him fear, and fear justly, that the
pleasant gale of success to which he has expanded all his powers, is only
bearing him upon the rocks of eternal destruction. Be not deceived, though
they appear covered with flowers of surpassing beauty, and exquisite
fragrance. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

_Levity of mind_ is a frequent occasion of apostacy. It predisposes the
unhappy individual to the ruinous influence of vicious society and
injurious publications. These, most fatally adapted to their purpose, soon
induce the unwary to neglect, and finally to despise all religious
institutions. The apostle Paul intimates that some are "tossed to and fro,
and carried about with every wind of doctrine," like clouds which,
possessing no solidity, are driven in every direction through the
atmosphere. Persons of this description are easily persuaded by a
plausible reasoner, that his opinions are true, and with equal facility
submit to the next artful sophist, who avows even contrary sentiments. The
natural effect of this inconstancy will be, a disregard of ALL truth, and
a ready admission of every sceptical principle. When the mind is in such a
state of fluctuation and uncertainty, or rather the willing slave of every
tyrant, it is well prepared for vice: it will admit a criminal thought, as
well as a sentimental error, and the same plausibility which could
successfully insinuate a sceptical principle, can excite to an immoral
practice. In the circles of gay dissipation, every remaining scruple is
easily dissipated; the poison of "evil communications" is voraciously
swallowed, and "good morals are corrupted."

Such a disposition is closely allied to _pride,_ which often "goes
before, destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Praised by their
companions as persons of distinguished genius, or admired for a natural
wit, they sacrifice every thing to flattery. They have been stimulated to
believe that the possession of religion is a decisive proof of
intellectual inferiority; or at least, that a punctilious observance of
its practices, or a fervent attachment to its peculiar doctrines, is
enthusiastic. They listen to the artful seducer, who assures them that
their principles are too evidently drawn from the lessons of the nursery,
and that it is time to shake off--their own penetration, indeed, will lead
them to discard--the mere prejudices of an illiberal education. It is not
improbable they may meet with some advocate of deistical principles or
libertine conduct, who zealously instils into them the maxim of the
well-known Earl of Shaftesbury, that "whoever is searching for truth,
should examine if they cannot find out something that may be justly
laughed at;" and if they can be persuaded as he was, "not to think on the
subject of religion, without endeavouring to put himself in as good a
humour as possible," it is not unlikely they may adopt what he calls a
_natural suspicion_, that "the holy records themselves were no other than
the pure invention and artificial compliment of an interested party, in
behalf of the richest corporation and most profitable monopoly which could
be erected in the world."

In the scriptural statement of the fall of man, it appears that pride and
sensuality were the first dispositions which polluted the human mind in
paradise, and their contaminating influence has descended upon the whole
human race. From these two springs the torrent of corruption originated,
and has never ceased to pursue its course and widen its channel through
the successive ages of time. "When the woman saw that the tree was good
for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired
to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and gave
also unto her husband with her, and he did eat."

The DOOM of Lot's wife is one of the most memorable in the records of
either profane or sacred history. It is said, that "she became a pillar of
salt," or a nitro-sulphureous pillar; the singularity and severity of her
punishment being thus proportioned to the atrocity of her crime. When we
recollect that Jehovah afterward proclaimed himself to Moses as "the Lord,
the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in
goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and
transgression, and sin;" that he is frequently celebrated by the inspired
writers, as "ready to pardon, slow to anger, of great kindness, plenteous
in mercy, full of compassion;" that he is represented by the apostle John
as "love" itself; and that infinite benignity is essential to his nature,
and characteristic of his dispensations--we cannot but tremble at the
sight of such a visitation.

Inexpressibly awful as the overthrow of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim
appears, there is an additional feature of horror in the destruction of
this woman. Our imagination is bewildered amidst the general ruin of
multitudes; while, by the contemplation of an individual instance,
appointed to a separate and peculiar punishment, we become excited to
deeper feeling. From the very constitution of our nature, we view the doom
of numbers with a diminished impression; we have not time to select and
meditate upon the peculiarities of individual agonies, and regard them
only in one vast heterogeneous mass, consigned to one common portion of
suffering: but the emotion is widely different, and incalculably more
poignant, when a solitary example is presented to us, alike distinguished
for guilt and for punishment. In the present case, too, the degree of
sensibility excited into action is necessarily more acute, from the very
circumstance forbidding us to pity, and demanding an unmingled
overwhelming sense of omnipotent justice. Nor is this a censurable, but a
necessary feeling, indicative of a proper coincidence of mind with the
perfect will of Heaven: it is allied to the sentiments attributed to purer
spirits, who, when they witness the seven angels distributing the seven
last plagues in which is filled up the wrath of God, are represented as
standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.--"And they sing the
song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, great
and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy
ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify
thy name? for thou only art holy, for all nations shall come and worship
before thee: for thy JUDGMENTS are made manifest." In the same spirit, the
heavens, the holy apostles and prophets, are called upon to rejoice over
Babylon in the hour of her destruction; and a great voice of much people
is heard in heaven, saying, "Alleluia; salvation and glory, and honour,
and power, unto the Lord our God; for true and righteous are his
JUDGMENTS." "And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever
and ever."

The justice of God displayed even in the awful form which it assumes in
the punishment of the wife of Lot, is, in fact, only a modification of
goodness, and therefore a proper reason both for angelic and human
celebration. The love of order is no less essential to a holy being than
the love of mercy; and therefore it is compatible with the most perfect
goodness, in its association with justice, to punish transgressors either
on their own account or for the sake of others--either for the purpose of
individual correction or of general warning. It would be a far less
display of goodness to suffer men to persevere in sin without any
control, than to arrest them by some powerful stroke. In the former case,
they not only plunge into ruin themselves, but draw others, by their fatal
and malignant attraction, into perdition: in the latter, a salutary
precaution is given to such as lie within the reach of their mischievous
influence. Whatever has a tendency to prevent sin is a benevolent exercise
of power; because sin is the source of individual and universal misery: if
it had never entered into this world, man would still have been happy; and
when, in the merciful appointments of Heaven, the guilt which now stains
the moral creation shall be purified away by the efficacy of the blood of
Christ, paradise will be restored, and the long-renowned tabernacle of God
again descend to be with men. To this glorious consummation of human
felicity, all the dispensations of Providence point; and to produce it,
all his judgments are inflicted: the promises and the threatenings have
each a similar design, and will ultimately promote the same general
object. The tempest and the tornado have their peculiar uses, as well as
the small rain that descends upon the tender herb. "Mercy and truth meet
together--righteousness and peace kiss each other."

In turning our eyes, then, towards the plain of Sodom, we must combine a
sentiment of holy reverence with trembling horror. The destiny of the
atrocious sinner was intended to produce salutary apprehensions in her
surviving relatives, and in all her posterity. Upon that accursed plain
Eternal Justice erected a monument of infinite displeasure; but the hand
which raised the pillar of salt, at the same time inscribed upon it, in
characters too large and legible to be mistaken, "FEAR GOD, AND KEEP HIS

The terrific nature of this judgment was enhanced by the _instantaneous_
manner in which it occurred. No sooner did the wife of Lot look back, than
she was converted into a pillar of salt, [12]--_this moment_ in the midst
of life, and apparently escaping from the scene of danger--_the next_, a
monument of wrath! What a transition from happiness to misery! What a
descent from the summit of hope to the depths of despair! Mercy had almost
conducted her to Zoar--Guilt transported her to the abyss of wo! She had
even tasted the cup of blessing; but, dashing it from her lips in the
spirit of daring rebellion, she was made to drink "the wine-cup of fury."

It elucidates the divine condescension and forbearance, when the wicked,
instead of being withered at a touch, are allowed time for reflection.--
The ordinary dispensations of Providence are characterized by a merciful
tardiness: the daring transgressor is addressed by reiterated appeals,
and perhaps placed under a course of moral discipline: he is not smit by
the thunder, or blasted by the lightning; but a series of smaller
precursory punishments precedes a great catastrophe: his way is hedged up;
reproofs, remonstrances, losses, afflictions, bereavements, constitute so
many obstructions thrown across the path to perdition; and if he perish,
it is necessary to force his way through them with a daring and infatuated
heroism: voices from heaven and earth precede the infliction of merited
vengeance, saying with loud and harmonious exclamations, "Let the wicked
forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return
unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he
will abundantly pardon."

But in the present melancholy instance, the wife of Lot was cut off as in
a moment: she was ripe for the sickle, and justice delayed not to gather
her into the storehouse of wrath; she cumbered the ground by her
impieties, and was worthy of no additional cultivation. Here we behold an
awful specimen of the obstinacy of sinners, the effect of disobedience,
and the determination of God, in a visible and striking manner, to
vindicate his holy name.

Reader! flatter not yourself that the circumstance of having hitherto
escaped remarkable judgment is any real indemnification against future
punishment: do not imagine that the supreme God is unobservant, because he
is not vindictive; that it is possible to elude his eye, because you have
not yet been slain by his sword. The delay, which is intended as a
benefit, may, and often does, by perversion, aggravate the sinner's doom:
and indeed it is one of the most lamentable proofs of human degeneracy,
that the very circumstance in which the goodness of God is singularly
apparent, and which ought to lead to repentance, is made the occasion of
more atrocious crime and more resolute perseverance.

But delay is no evidence of indifference; and if justice have hitherto
slept, it is to be apprehended it will rise with recruited vigour. While
you go on still in your trespasses, be assured the glittering sword is
drawing from its scabbard--it is even whetting to the final stroke!


Chapter V.

Section I.

Progress of Time--Patriarchal mode of Living--Abraham's Solicitude
respecting the Settlement of his Son--sends his Servant to procure him a
Wife--his Arrival in the Vicinity of Nahor--his Meeting with
Rebekah--her Behaviour, and their Conversation--the Good Qualities
already discoverable in Rebekah, which render her Worthy of
Imitation--her industrious and domesticated Habits--Unaffected

Rapid, irresistible, and certain is the progress of time. The few
incidents of which human life consists, transpire in quick succession; the
few years of which it is composed, even in cases of the greatest
longevity, soon elapse: the cradle and the grave seem placed very near
each other; and scarcely does the voice of congratulation cease at our
birth, before it is succeeded by the lamentations of sorrow at
our funeral.

There is a wide difference, however, in the actual impression, between
passing through the details of existence in daily and hourly engagements,
which, from their variety, produce an illusion of slowness and a vague
idea of almost interminable continuance, and looking at expended years
_after their termination_, or at successive lives in the perspective of
history. In the latter case, events appear crowded together, the
intervening spaces are riot distinctly perceptible, and the distance is
diminished. If the life of an Abraham, an Isaac, or a Jacob, had been
presented to us in the form of a daily journal of occurrences, how easily
might it have been expanded into a volume equal in dimensions to the whole
inspired record; and how distant would each eventful period of their
respective lives have appeared! how vast would have seemed the space
between them if minuter circumstances had been formally detailed in the
order of months, and days, and hours! Even a single year assumes a
considerable magnitude when viewed as three hundred and sixty-five days,
each day and night as four-and-twenty hours, each hour as sixty successive
minutes, and each minute or hour as occupied with its appropriate and
necessary engagements: but when we ascend that elevated spot to which
history conducts us, and look back upon the long track of time, and
through the course of revolving centuries, we reflect at once on those
images of Scripture with which our imagination has been so often arrested,
and see that the motion of the "weaver's shuttle" scarcely represents the
"swiftness" of our days; the passing shadows that fly across the plain,
imperfectly display the nothingness of fleeting years; "the little time"
in which the "vapour appeareth," is but faintly expressive of the manner
in which life "vanisheth away." It is almost impossible to observe the
small number of pages which relate all that is really worth recording, of
hundreds and even thousands of years, without being deeply affected. A few
chapters suffice to state the principal circumstances relating to the
creation, destruction, and renewal of the world; and a single book
contains, in addition to this information, the lives of patriarchs the
most distinguished, and the account of ages the most eventful and
extraordinary. Solemn consideration--"one generation passeth away, and
another cometh!"

We have been led into these reflections chiefly by observing how rapidly
the inspired writer passes from one event to another in the life of
Abraham, though many years intervened; and especially by noticing the
_immediate_ connexion in which the death and burial of Sarah are placed
with the marriage of Isaac: so nearly allied, so few are the intermediate
steps between the most joyful and the most painful events of human
existence! A marriage to-day--a funeral to-morrow! This hour
congratulated--the next lamented! "Great and marvellous are thy works, O
Lord God Almighty: just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."

The family histories of the patriarchs are rendered peculiarly attractive
by the simplicity of their manners, and their pastoral mode of living. We
are transported into ages, around which antiquity throws a powerful charm,
and revelation an extraordinary lustre. What are scenes of blood, and
acclamations of triumph, in comparison with the private history of a man
of peace, and a man of piety? what are heroic deeds to virtuous
achievements? and what the most splendid page of secular history to the
beautiful and interesting account of the various transactions relating to
the union of Isaac and Rebekah?

These are so intimately blended together, that the present chapter must
embrace at least a brief notice of them, in order to form an adequate idea
of the heroine of this inimitable Scripture narrative.

[Sidenote: Years before Christ, 1856]

Abraham had now attained the venerable age of one hundred and forty years;
his beloved Sarah was no more; and after weeping over her grave, and
negociating for the entire possession of the field of Ephron in Machpelah,
where she was interred, as a family burying-place, his thoughts were
forcibly attracted towards the day of his own dissolution. "The Lord had
blessed him in all things," but his affections were detached from earthly
possessions, and permanently fixed upon his unchangeable inheritance in
the skies. He "desired a better country, that is, a heavenly; wherefore
God was not ashamed to be called his God, for he had prepared for him
a city."

Previous to his departure, Abraham felt solicitous respecting the
adjustment of his temporal affairs, and particularly the settlement and
marriage of his beloved son. Actuated not merely by the common anxiety of
a parent, who knows that the credit and happiness of his family depend on
the propriety of the connection which he may form; but contemplating with
the eye of faith his future posterity, the patriarch called his eldest and
confidential servant. This was Eliezer of Damascus, the steward of his
house; and, in case of his death, the manager of his affairs. He was,
unquestionably, under that divine direction, which in this as in every
other concern of life, he anxiously sought. It is pleasing to witness the
result which was so evidently connected with the prudence and piety of his
proceedings, and which points us to the never-failing promise, "In all thy
ways acknowledge him, and lie shall direct thy paths," Isaac is not,
indeed, distinctly mentioned, but he was no stranger to prayer; and
having attained his fortieth year, he had doubtless felt a laudable
anxiety to enter into the honourable state of matrimony, expressed his
desires to God, and after concerting the proper measures with his father,
patiently waited the will of Providence.

Abraham explained his views to Eliezer, and exacted a solemn oath
respecting the punctual fulfilment of his commission, in which some of the
characteristic principles of this illustrious saint were conspicuous. In
the selection of a wife for his son, he seems uninfluenced by worldly
policy. He wishes him to connect him with virtue rather than wealth;
knowing that the latter is not only uncertain, but unnecessary to the
purposes of real happiness.

It has been often said, there are "few happy matches;" but the cause of
this fact is seldom traced or regarded. If our calculations be founded
solely upon a reference to temporal interests, if the importance of a
connexion be measured merely by the probable amount of gold it may
produce, or the degree of worldly influence it is likely to confer, we may
add another item to the sum of probabilities--that of _disappointment_.
The inconsistencies into which this strange match-making infatuation has
betrayed some of the greatest and best of men, is truly deplorable; and if
it do not incur immediate calamity, it certainly excites the divine
displeasure. God requires to be honoured in this, no less than in every
other transaction.

Abraham also evinced his characteristic aversion of idolatry. He desired
his servant not to seek a wife for Isaac in Chaldea, but to proceed to
Haran in Mesopotamia, to the house of Nahor his brother. He was particular
in requiring him to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of
the earth, that he would not take his son a wife of the daughters of the
Canaanites, among whom he resided. The danger of his posterity becoming
blended with idolaters, and contracting their habits, induced him to use
this solemn precaution; although his faith realized the peopling of this
country, by his descendants. His servant put his hand upon his thigh, in
confirmation of the agreement, [13] and immediately prepared for his
journey. The distance from Hebron, the present residence of Abraham, to
Haran, was about seventeen days' journey; and the servant must have
travelled about four hundred and sixty miles.

Servants may learn, from this example, the kind of conduct which adorns
their station. They should be punctual in the discharge of their duties,
and readily comply with the directions they receive. Eliezer felt himself
bound to comply with his master's injunctions, and not only proceeded on
his distant expedition without reluctance and murmuring, but with that
despatch which proves his whole heart was engaged in his duty. If any
should plead, that it was, no doubt, a privilege to have such a master,
and any one would have been happy in such a situation, let them be
reminded that this is a very questionable position; for it is common for
servants to disregard the authority, or undervalue the character of the
best masters and mistresses; but their duty is not to be measured by the
virtue or even the kindness, of their domestic superiors, the apostle
expressly ordaining obedience "not only to the good and gentle, but also
to the froward."

Upon Eliezer's arrival in the vicinity of the city of Nahor, he made his
camels kneel down by a well, intending to supply them as soon as possible
with water. The whole retinue was, no doubt, sufficiently weary with the
journey. It was evening, and about the customary hour when the women of
the country came out to fetch a supply of water. This faithful and pious
servant was aware of this circumstance, but, previous to the arrival of
any of these strangers, he betook himself to solemn and effectual prayer.
His words are remarkable: "O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee
send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham.
Behold, I stand here by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of
the city come out to draw water: and let it come to pass, that the damsel
to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher I pray thee, that I may drink;
and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also; let the
same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby
shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master!"

While the words of supplication were still upon the tongue of this worthy
servant, behold a damsel of singular beauty approaches the well! It is, in
fact, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor;
and whom an invisible but all-wise Providence had sent at this precise
moment, and by this happy concurrence of circumstances, introduced to the
travelling stranger. Beautiful, young, and artless; bearing a pitcher upon
her shoulder, which she hastened to the well to fill for the necessary
supply of the family; we cannot imagine a more finished picture of
loveliness, or one to which the Miltonian description of Eve, as first
beheld by her admiring partner, is more justly applicable:

With what all earth or heaven could bestow
To make her amiable; on she came
Led by her heav'nly Maker, though unseen.

"Grace was in all her steps, heav'n in her eye,
In every gesture, dignity and love."

She speedily descended to the reservoir of water, and filled her pitcher.
[14] The servant was attracted by her remarkable appearance, for she
seemed "like the lily among thorns;" but, at present, remained silent.
Intent upon her proper business, she did not indulge an idle curiosity,
and waste her time, by stopping to make inquiries respecting the stranger,
and his train of camels, which were reclining near the well; nor would she
have been detained a moment, had not a motive of kindness prompted her to
listen to his solicitations for help. He, at length, hastened to meet her,
and requested to drink a little of the water with which she had just
replenished her pitcher. This was granted with the utmost readiness; she
let down the vessel from her shoulder, and desired him to take whatever he
pleased. After this, she kindly offered to supply all his train of camels;
and, regardless of the trouble which such officious hospitality
occasioned, she did not even wait for a reply, but ran to fill the trough,
by repeated draughts of water.

All this time, the man, who, by the way might have rendered this lovely
young woman some assistance, stood gazing in silent astonishment. There
was so striking a coincidence between her conduct, and the wishes he had
been expressing, that he could not help connecting them together.
"Wondering at her, he held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his
journey prosperous or not." It seems strange that he should have felt even
a momentary hesitation upon the subject, but it exemplifies the frequent
state of our minds respecting anticipated blessings. We seek them with an
importunity which procures their communication, but, when actually
bestowed, we scarcely believe them to be in our possession, and are too
reluctant to recognize the divine bounty. But what has been sought with
eagerness ought to be acknowledged with promptitude.

As soon as the camels had been supplied, the good man presented Rebekah
with a suitable token of his thankfulness. It consisted of a golden
ear-ring, of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands, of ten
shekels weight of gold. These were, probably, the costly ornaments which
Abraham had commissioned his servant to bestow upon the future wife of his
son; and which, as he had now seen the accomplishment of his prayer, he no
longer hesitated to give this interesting young woman.

Availing himself of the present favourable opportunity of entering into
some conversation with her, he inquired whose daughter she might be, and
whether she thought her father could afford him and his attendants; and
camels, sufficient accommodation? In the east this was so common an act of
hospitality, that the question did not appear strange, or the request
obtrusive. It was, besides, dictated by a strong suspicion, if not a full
assurance, that he had attained the object of his journey. She gave a
prompt and kind answer: "I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah,
which she bare unto Naoh. She said, moreover, unto him, we have both straw
and provender enough, and room to lodge in," The man bowed in thankfulness
to _her_, but in more expressive praise and gratitude to GOD. His heart
was full, and his tongue could no longer remain silent. "Blessed," said
he, "be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my
master of his mercy and his truth. I, being in the way, the Lord led me to
the house of my master's brethren." This was the language of _faith_--he
recognizes the divine "mercy and truth" which had promised to multiply and
extend the family of Abraham. It was the voice of _gratitude_--for he
remembers the way in which God had conducted him, and sees the concurrence
of Providence in all that had transpired. It contained also a delicate
intimation to the young women, not only that he came from her venerable
relative, but had some important business with her family. Rebekah made
all possible haste back, and soon circulated through the family the joyful
intelligence of this arrival.

In reviewing what has been hitherto related of this charming story, and
the circumstances of the first interview between the servant of Abraham
and the future wife of Isaac, we beg to present to our young female
readers, a more distinct statement and recommendation of the good
qualities discoverable in Rebekah.

1. Observe her _industrious and domesticated habits._ She was high-born,
and had great connections--she possessed a commanding beauty of person
and fascination of manners--but yet she did not indulge in indolence, or
in frivolous pursuits. At that period luxury and refinement had not
corrupted simplicity of manners, the affairs of a family were usually
under the more direct inspection and management of its principal members,
and custom did not prescribe an avoidance of all careful, nor even of all
laborious, interference in domestic concerns. But there was a cheerfulness
and an assiduity in the whole deportment of Rebekah, that proved it not
merely custom, but a sense of duty that influenced her. She was attentive
to her proper business, neither omitting nor performing it negligently. It
is very unbecoming to see young persons resisting the wishes of their kind
parents, who having had a better experience than themselves, are desirous
of training them to domestic usefulness. Ill do they requite parental
affection, which has devoted, perhaps, a considerable portion of
hard-earned profits to their education in useful branches of knowledge, or
to their acquirement of polite accomplishments: by refusing to assist in
family arrangements, or to submit to that wise after-discipline, by which
they may be prepared to occupy important situations in future life. It is
not the proper business of a woman to _shine_, to court admiration, or to
display superficial acquirements; nor, on the other hand, does either
reason or religion reduce her to the inferior situation of a domestic
drudge; but her education is ill bestowed, and perversely misapplied, if
it unfit her for the appropriate duties of her station, if it make her
proud and petulent, if it raise her above her sphere, and if it indispose
her to a proper "care for the things of the world, how she may please
her husband."

In modern times it would be unjust to impute the entire blame to the young
women themselves; much is attributable to the _system_ which has been
adopted in their education. Nothing indeed can justify, and few things can
be said in extenuation of the guilt of an arrogant disposition, unyielding
to the wishes of tender though perhaps less educated parents; but it is to
be regretted, that the useful is often far less regarded in public
seminaries than the ornamental; and that, while the exterior is polished,
the mind remains comparatively uncultivated. We shall not be understood to
require a total exclusion of elegant instruction, or polite
accomplishments; but let the understanding be well directed, the memory
amply stored, the judgment constantly exercised, the hands usefully
employed, the temper carefully watched and disciplined--above all, let
religion and the fear of God be the basis of the whole fabric, that "our
daughters may be as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a
palace."--"By daughters families are united and connected to their mutual
strength, as the part of a building are by the corner-stones; and when
they are graceful and beautiful, both in _body_ and _mind_, they are then
_polished_ after the similitude of a nice and curious structure. When we
see our daughters well established, and stayed with wisdom and discretion,
as corner-stones are fastened in the building; when we see them by faith
united to Christ as the chief corner-stone, adorned with the graces of
God's Spirit, which are the polishing of that which is naturally rough,
and become _women professing godliness_; when we see them purified and
consecrated to God as living _temples_, we think ourselves happy in them."

2. We see in Rebekah's interview with the servant of Abraham, a pattern of
_unaffected simplicity_. It is this which throws an inexpressible charm
over the narrative. We see nothing but _nature_; not a particle of false
delicacy or finesse. There is no study, no aim to please, no acting a part
to court esteem, no suspicions about her, and no concealments; but, in
every word and motion, the most perfect artlessness. "When unadorned" she
approaches the well to draw the evening supply of water, she seems
"adorned the most."

Let young ladies beware of affectation. It is one of the most disgusting
qualities that can attach to female character. It will never win esteem,
but will excite ridicule. There is reason to believe that it is frequently
produced in a gradual and almost imperceptible manner, but it takes the
deeper root, and extends the wider influence in consequence of a slow
growth. It is not always easy to make the individual herself sensible of
possessing it, but the surest way of preventing its baneful influence, is
to guard against whatever has a tendency to produce it. Be
yourself--simple and natural. The art of pleasing is--to please without
art. Aim not to shine in borrowed feathers, or to acquire the
peculiarities of another, especially when they are obviously incongruous
with your own native character; and avoid thinking of yourself as of a
person of great consequence in every circle, for this is a most infallible
means of really becoming of no consequence at all.

The only sufficient security against affectation of every kind, is
Christian humility. An inspired writer admonishes us to be clothed with
it; and, where this is wanting, every attempt to conceal deformities of
character will resemble only the thinnest veil, which may be seen through
by the most careless observer. This recommendation may possibly appear to
some rather antiquated and obsolete; we shall, nevertheless, persist in
it, as of essential importance; and support it by quoting the reference of
the apostle to him who has best exemplified the principle, and whose
Spirit alone can effectually impress it upon the heart: "Let nothing be
done through strife or _vain glory_, but in _lowliness of mind_, let each
esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things,
but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you which
was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not
robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took
upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and
being found in fashion as a man, he _humbled himself_, and became obedient
unto death, even the death of the cross."

3. The _modesty_ of Rebekah was conspicuous. Vain is the effort to obtain
admiration, without this quality. Confining the term to the general
behaviour of females in society, which is its most common application, it
may be considered as opposed to obstrusiveness, and as contradistinguished
from bashfulness. Rebekah waited till the servant of Abraham addressed
her, before she paid any attention to him; and when he put the questions
which have been related, she readily gave him an answer.

Forwardness is so unbecoming the female character, so opposite to all real
delicacy of mind, that no intermixture of other qualities can render it
tolerable. If it be associated with rare and brilliant powers, or very
eminent acquirements, it is calculated to excite envy and hatred, because
it never fails to produce an overbearing conduct. But whatever another's
consciousness of mental inferiority may be, this unhallowed temper will
produce determined resistance. The very worm that crawls upon the earth
will resent the giant's tread. If, on the contrary, it be united to
shallowness of capacity, it will render its unhappy possessor utterly
contemptible notwithstanding other exterior attractions which might
otherwise command attention. It is, in this case, the effect of egregious
ignorance; and so far from extorting respect, it only serves to expose
that inbecility, which, but for this strange mode of attempt at
concealment, might have remained, in a considerable measure, undetected.

Genuine modesty is also distinguishable from extreme bashfulness. As the
usages of civilized society do, by no means, banish females from social
intercourse, it is requisite in avoiding forwardness to retain a certain
degree of self-possession. Boldness and excessive timidity are the two
extremes to be avoided. The latter is irksome, both to the individual
herself, and to others with whom she may be called to associate. It
produces an unnatural character, and, perhaps, may be classed with
affectation. It is to be feared, that many who blush at the merest
trifles, and are confounded at maintaining the least interchange of
sentiment, are too little ashamed of sin, and too unacquainted with the
state of their own hearts. The young need not be mortified at any
deformity but vice, nor afraid even of confessing ignorance, or making
inquiries, so long as they show a proper solicitude for improvement. It
is, in fact, a consciousness of ignorance that leads to the acquisition of
knowledge. It inspires the desire of information, and stimulates to the
use of every means of acquiring it; but a vain and conceited mind is
really ignorant, and is likely to remain so, while it presumes
upon wisdom.

4. _Courtesy_ was another conspicuous feature in the character of Rebekah.
The stranger had no sooner requested a little supply of water, than she
lets down the pitcher from her shoulder, and manifests the most obliging
disposition to render him service. Her whole proceeding evinces good
humour and affability in the highest degree, and the "law of kindness is
in her tongue." Josephus relates that there were other young females with
her, who were asked for water, but refused; and that Rebekah reproved them
for their churlishness. Her civilities were connected essentially with her
promotion, though she had no selfish purpose in view: they resulted solely
from a pure and disinterested generosity of spirit.

Let young women remember that an unfeeling and disobliging temper is
unworthy of their character, and opposite to their real interest. It is at
once a neglect of duty, and a certain forfeiture of esteem. Courteousness
is peculiarly suited to their age and sex, and particularly expected of
them. Nor should the exercise of this disposition be restricted merely to
their superiors or equals; it ought to characterize their behaviour to
their dependents and inferiors. If young people display affability only
when in company with others, who move in the same, or in a more elevated
sphere of life than themselves, but assume consequence, and betray an
arrogant spirit amongst their servants; we cannot but suspect that their
good qualities are only apparent, and their motives selfish. The true
character of every person is to be learned at home, and at times when no
exterior influences operate to make persons different from themselves.
Then the mask is taken off, meretricious ornaments are dispensed with,
and consequently native qualities appear. Tyrannical conduct may compel
obedience, but an amiable spirit alone can command affection, and render
servitude pleasant. There are, indeed, great constitutional differences;
but it is no apology for petulance to say, it is natural to us, or that we
were born irritable. Our constitutional imperfections ought to be
carefully watched, and resolutely corrected. Irregularities of temper are
capable of being subdued by the vigorous efforts of religious principle.
It is possible, by careful and constant discipline, to subdue the most
untamed spirit; and is equally politic, because it renders its possessor
disagreeable to others, and miserable in herself.

It is on many accounts not only wicked, but foolish, to conduct yourselves
with provoking superciliousness towards inferiors. Courtesy is easily
practised, and the reverse dangerous to your own peace and comfort.
Besides, it is scarcely possible to think of a human being so utterly
contemptible, that his esteem is not worth possessing, or so morose that
he may not be conciliated by kindness: and in a world in which we are
liable to such reverses, and exposed to such reproaches, the friendship of
the meanest person may be advantageous. Hence, it is well remarked by Dr.
Barrow, "the great Pompey, the glorious triumpher over nations, and
admired darling of fortune, was at last beholden to a slave for the
composing his ashes, and celebrating his funeral obsequies. The honour of
the greatest men depends on the estimation of the least: and the good-will
of the meanest peasant is a brighter ornament to the fortune, a greater
accession to the grandeur of a prince, than the most radiant gem in his
royal diadem. However, the spite and enmity of one (and him the most weak
otherwise and contemptible) person, may happen to spoil the content of our
whole life, and deprive us of the most comfortable enjoyments thereof; may
divert our thoughts from our delightful employments, to a solicitous care
of self-preservation and defence; may discompose our minds with vexatious
passions; may, by false reports, odious suggestions, and slanderous
defamations, blast our credit, raise a storm of general hatred, and
conjure up thousands of enemies against us; may, by insidious practices,
supplant and undermine us, prejudice our welfare, endanger our estate, and
involve us in a bottomless gulf of trouble."

5. We may take occasion, from Rebekah's kindness, to commend another
quality for which she was distinguished--_humanity to animals_. Abraham's
servant merely requested some water to quench his own thirst; but she felt
for the dumb creatures that attended him, who could only express their
wants by signs. She offered to supply his camels, and hastened to fill the
troughs, that they might drink. How kind, how considerate was this! There
are few persons of a really amiable temper, who do not cherish an
attachment to animals; still we should distinguish between a proper
attention to their necessities and comforts, and that excessive caressing
fondness which is unbecoming a rational being.

But in what language shall we sufficiently denounce _cruelty_ to animals?
Are they not the creatures of God; and endowed with capacities both of
pain and pleasure? Why should we inflict unnecessary pain, even upon the
meanest reptile? Who has given us authority to do so? By what argument, or
by what sophistry, shall we seek a justification of such conduct? Why
should we abridge the short span of existence allotted to the inferior
creation, especially when we recollect that "the spirit of a beast goeth
downward;" and that, being destitute of immortality, the whole period of
their enjoyment is limited to the short date of their life on earth? It is
the mark of a debased mind to seek amusement from the writhings of
defenceless creatures, to sport even with the agonies of a fly. Parents
and guardians of youth should particularly guard against the encouragement
of a principle of cruelty, by allowing this practice. Children should not
be suffered to indulge in such abuses, but should rather be taught to set
a proper value upon the life and liberty of an animal. The subsequent
maltreatment of the lower creation, many of the outrageous passions that
in maturer life disgrace the uneducated part of society, and even the cold
insensibility to the necessities of others, which so often obtains in the
higher circles, may be traced to this early commencement. The future
tyrant is formed in the hours of sportive cruelty; and he who in infancy
practices on a fly, may in maturity domineer over an empire. It is
important to trace evil passions and principles to their origin, to watch
their developement and first operations, and, at the earliest possible
period, to implant corrective sentiments in the youthful mind.

Solomon represents it as characteristic of "a righteous man," that he is
"merciful to his beast;" and if it be censurable to assail the meanest
insect which is not positively noxious, how much more to abuse those
animals which contribute to our domestic comfort and security? This may be
done, not only by beating, goading, and over-driving the laborious ox, or
the swift-paced horse, by whom we cultivate our fields, or pursue our
commercial concerns; but by stinting them of food, supplying them with
insufficient or inferior provender, or leaving them to careless or
peculating hands. Jacob was a specimen of kindness to animals--Balaam of
brutality. The Mosaic law wisely and mercifully provided for the ox which
trod out the corn, an enactment worthy of the supreme legislator, and
coincident with the feelings of every humane heart.


The Servant of Abraham cordially received into the House of Laban--tells
his Story--proposes to take Rebekah--Consent of her Family--her
Readiness to go--the Interview with Isaac--Rebekah become his
Wife--their Anxieties--Birth of Jacob and Esau--Isaac's Death-bed, and
Rebekah's unwarrantable Proceedings--her Solicitude respecting her
Son's future Conduct.

We left the good old servant of Abraham at the well of water--we
listened to his grateful acknowledgments to Heaven for prospering his
journey--and we saw the interesting daughter of Bethuel run home to inform
her friends of the extraordinary circumstance that had occurred. She had
met a stranger--he had accepted her assistance, and presented her with
costly ornaments--he had requested the customary rites of hospitality--he
had been praying like a servant of the most high God--he had even
intimated that he was travelling to fulfil some special commission of his
master and their relative, the venerable Abraham! Every heart welcomed the
tidings, and mutual congratulation circulated through the family.

Laban, the brother of Rebekah, whoso mercenary spirit viewed with
peculiar satisfaction the ear-ring and bracelets which had been presented
to his sister, hastened immediately to the well, and gave the messenger of
Abraham a warm invitation to his home: "Come in," said he, "thou blessed
of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the
house and room for the camels." If we were quite certain that this pious
language was dictated by a proportionable purity of motive, we should be
highly gratified with it; but, alas! how common is it to use words of
customary congratulation without meaning, and to sacrifice sincerity to

The man accepted the invitation; his camels were soon ungirded and
supplied with provender, water was furnished to wash his feet and those of
his men, and the table spread with a plentiful supply of provision for
their refreshment. We need not be surprised, however, that he refuses to
eat till he has introduced the important business upon which he came! the
good man's heart is overflowing, and he prefers the discharge of his duty
before his "necessary food." O that all our obedience to God were
characterized by a similar zeal and fidelity!

"Speak on," said Laban: upon which, with admirable skill and perfect
ingenuousness, he recounts a series of simple facts, interweaving his
narrative with such touching arguments as proved irresistible: he stated
without the vanity of a superior domestic who was actually the steward of
the family, that he was "Abraham's servant;" and then proceeds to mention,
not his own exploits, or merit, or influence, but the opulence and
prosperity of his master; his becoming great and rich in "flocks and
herds, and silver and gold, and men-servants and maid-servants, and camels
and asses," he devoutly ascribes to "the Lord:" but at the same time gives
the fact a prominence in his discourse well calculated to conciliate the
persons he addressed, and prepare them for his subsequent statements. He
now proceeds to mention Isaac, taking care to intimate the weighty
considerations, that he was the son of the illustrious patriarch whom he
served, by Sarah his beloved wife; born at an advanced period of their
lives, and therefore young, as well as the child of promise, and heir of
all the wealth which his master possessed. He then explicitly refers to
the solemn oath by which he had been bound to seek a wife for his son; not
amongst the idolatrous Canaanites near his own residence, but amongst his
kindred in Haran. Dear is the name of _kindred_, especially when families
are separated at such distances of time and space from each other, that
they scarcely expect to meet again in an unbroken circle, and renew the
embraces of friendship. It is then the tenderest sensibilities are
excited, the fondest remembrances renewed, and the heart becomes
accessible to every endearing impression!

Eliezer, having now gained the ear and won the regard of the listening
circle, next adverts to the conversation which had passed previously to
the commencement of his journey; in which he exhibits to great advantage
the faith of his master Abraham, and the particular direction of his
wishes, By repeating the story of his interview with Rebekah at the well,
in connexion with the command to seek a wife for Isaac among the kindred
of the family, he points at once to the object he had in view, and appeals
to their piety in estimating the movements of Providence. They must
consider whether all these concurring circumstances were not evidences of
a divine interposition, and whether some important consequences were not
likely to result from the proposed connexion: "And now, if you will deal
kindly and truly with my master, tell me; if not, tell me; that I may turn
to the right hand or to the left." In all this the very spirit of his
master is conspicuous in the servant; he had not lived with Abraham in
vain; a similar fear of God was before his eyes, and the same solicitude
to fulfil the duties of his station; he could not eat, he could not drink,
till he had disburdened his full heart, and ascertained the probability of
success in his important mission.

Every servant may here take a lesson of fidelity to his master on earth,
and every servant of Christ especially, who sustains the ministerial
character, may see a fine specimen of the ardour, energy, and affection
with which it becomes him to execute his high commission. This delicate
service upon which Abraham's servant was sent to Nahor, was honourably
discharged; but how much more "he that winneth souls is wise!"

What could the friends of Rebekah say to the appeal they had heard? Laban
and Bethuel were overwhelmed. There was a mysterious singularity in the
whole train of circumstances, calculated to impress the most indifferent
and superficial mind, and they bowed to the interposing wisdom of the
Supreme Disposer. As soon as the solemn feeling produced by such an
extraordinary narrative was sufficiently regulated to permit them to
speak, they joined in expressions of devout acknowledgment and submissive
consent; "The thing proceedeth from the Lord; we cannot speak unto thee
bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before thee; take her and go, and let her
be thy master's son's wife, as the Lord hath spoken."

This was a moment of exquisite satisfaction; but whence did it originate?
Not surely so much in worldly as in religious considerations. The period
was arrived, that anxious period to the parent, for the marriage of his
lovely Rebekah; and now he was satisfied with the disposal of her to a
distant relation. A worldly mind would have rejoiced indeed in the outward
suitability of the match, but especially in the flattering prospect of
great possessions which it presented. These inferior views too generally
and too exclusively influence matrimonial alliances; the hearts both of
the young and the aged are captivated by the splendours of life, as if
they necessarily secured the possession of real happiness, or as if they
could compensate for the absence of those mental and moral qualities which
can alone constitute the basis of substantial comfort. But in the present
instance, whatever pleasure might be lawfully derived from the assurances
which were given of the opulence of Abraham, and from the endearing
circumstance of the already existing relationship between the two
families, it was the perception of a _Providence_, superintending and
guiding the whole arrangement, that occasioned these most delightful
feelings; it was not an idolatrous, but a pious connexion, and God had
given the most striking indications of his will.

Let parents remember, that with whatever temporal prosperities they may
connect their beloved daughters, there is no security for permanent
happiness without real religion; and let children consider, that if the
fear of God do not possess their own breasts, and influence their
matrimonial choice, the delirium of pleasure will soon be past, and a
sense of inexpressible vacuity be left behind. The world is a gay
deceiver, and life a fleeting dream; the mists of illusion which gather
over the morning of existence, gradually disappear as the day advances;
and this imagined scene of enchantment, this fairy-land of pleasure
subsides into the reality of a thorny wilderness. The only preparation for
such a change, is a piety which seeks its happiness on high, and knows
that no earthly condition can form a paradise without the presence of the
blessed God.

The faithful servant, having adored the divine goodness for thus evidently
prospering his way, gave suitable presents to this happy family; jewels of
silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, were presented to the young and
beautiful bride elect, and "precious things" to her mother and brother:
after this he could eat, necessary food being sweetened by temporal and
spiritual blessings.

The next morning, faithful to his commission, and eager to return, he
presses for a dismission, to which we need not wonder that the brother and
mother object, requiring him to remain at least ten days: still he urges
his request, and pleads that the Lord had prospered his way: but how
natural is their reluctance to part in a moment from so dear a daughter,
never perhaps to see her face again! They at length agree to defer the
decision of the affair to herself: Rebekah, with all the frankness so
remarkable in her whole deportment, instantly replied, "I will go."

It may appear mysterious, that when her parents pleaded only for a few
days, when modesty would even seem to have dictated a little delay; and
when filial tenderness must have powerfully resisted so sudden and
immediate a departure, that she should express so prompt a compliance,
without even stipulating for a single day. Something perhaps may be justly
imputed to the times, but far more to the religious state of her own mind;
a sense of duty overwhelmed a feeling of reluctance, together with every
inferior consideration. She was doubtless in the habit of daily
intercourse with God, and in fervent prayer had sought divine direction:
she saw an overruling providence--God was in the affair--his finger,
visible to the eye of faith, pointed out the way in which she should go,
and with unhesitating obedience she confessed her readiness to part with
all the felicities of home to seek a distant alliance, at the voice of
that sovereign Power to whom she committed her future destiny. Flattering
as the scene before her must have appeared to a mere worldly eye, the
sacrifices she made at this moment of compliance were certainly most
considerable. What could have led to such an answer, when standing between
the tears, the tenderness, the entreaties of parental and fraternal
affection, and the urgency of a mere stranger, the _servant_ too of her
future house--but a faith which overcame the world, and dictated her holy
resolution? _Heaven_ appointed her journey, and _nature_ pleaded in vain.

To every reader we recommend the noble principle which actuated this young
heroine. Let inclination bow to a sense of duty--let God be obeyed rather
than man--let not only authority be resisted, but even the fondest
endearments sacrificed to the divine requirements. Apply this principle to
a higher occasion, and remember that the Son of God has declared, "If any
man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and
children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot
be my disciple; and whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me,
cannot be my disciple."

How tender, how affectionate is the parting scene! How the heart speaks in
every word! The whole group seems placed before our eyes; and we witness
the tears that flow, the sighs that heave each bosom; we seem to hear the
faltering yet fond accent, in which the dear forsaken family pronounce
the last benediction, "Thou art our sister; be thou the mother of
thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which
hate them."

Behold Rebekah, quitting the scene of her infancy and youth; Painful was
the sacrifice, but pleasant the service: a thousand objects would revive
the remembrance of past occupations and occurrences; a thousand
circumstances rush into her memory; her susceptible mind would often
retrace the scenes once so familiar, now to be abandoned for ever;
affection would often recal the names of Bethuel and Laban, and filial
tenderness would weep at the thought of maternal anxiety. She was about to
commit her happiness to the disposal of another--to form another
connexion--to seek another home--the young plant was removed by Providence
to take root in a new soil and situation. This is always a moment of
trial, and in the usual manner of estimating life, an experiment of
doubtful issue; but he who "commits his way to the Lord," and "leans not
to his own understanding," but at the call of duty, in the spirit of
prayer, dissolves or forms connections, may reasonably hope for the
"blessing which maketh rich" in all the essentials of happiness. Young
people! venture not upon a single step without a previous application for
guidance to the "throne of grace," lest by inconsideration and rashness
you forfeit the favours you might have secured by piety. At your eventful
period of life the transactions of _one day_ are likely to affect the
welfare _many succeeding years_; and if you would reap a future harvest of
joy, you must sow in present tears and prayers.

No incident of the journey is mentioned till the cavalcade was nearly
arrived at Hebron; they then saw a person walking in a thoughtful
attitude; and Rebekah, suspecting probably that he might be one of the
household establishment of Abraham, inquired of the servant, "What man is
this that walketh in the field to meet us?" The servant informed her that
it was his young master, the son of Abraham; he was come into the field
for the purposes of meditation and prayer. She instantly took a veil and
covered herself, alighting from the camel. This was done in compliance
with the usages of the times, as a part of the ceremonial belonging to the
presentation of a bride to her intended husband: the eastern brides are
generally veiled in a particular manner upon such occasions. This custom
seems at once expressive of female modesty and subjection.

Isaac appears to have avoided addressing her when he perceives the veil,
but taking the servant aside, he learns from his mouth the long and
pleasing tale of every circumstance in his journey; he participates the
general feeling, and with emotions of gratitude and gladness conducts his
Rebekah into the tent of Sarah, whose loss he had so deeply regretted,
that now for the first time, he was comforted respecting it. After the
customary mode, Rebekah became his wife, and he loved her. [16]

Peace be to that dwelling, the residence of a dutiful son and a tender
husband--a kind, generous, open-hearted, pious wife! Dear were the ties of
nature which united them, but still dearer the bonds of religion! It was a
day they never could forget--it was a friendship that could never be
dissolved! What could be wanting to complete their bliss? Approving
friends, reciprocal attachment, concurring providences, smiling heaven,
sanctioned the proceeding. At present their cup was full to the brim--not
a bitter ingredient mingled in the portion. But while we congratulate
their situation, let us imitate their example; and if we would participate
a similar felicity, cherish a similar spirit: we may be fully assured that
real piety will sweeten the pleasures and possessions of life; it may even
prevent, and will certainly sanctify, disappointments.

We are, however, easily misled; looking only at the outward appearance,
(and in general little more can be known of the history of families,) it
is common to fancy the prosperous, and persons of the greatest
connections, really possessed of the most abundant share of happiness. In
some cases every earthly good seems to be the allotted portion, and we are
ready to imagine that sorrow has found no means of access, no door of
admission: but a very slight knowledge of the world is sufficient to
ascertain that there is a "crook in every lot," and that this world is not
the destined abode of unmingled enjoyment. This remark is exemplified in
the history of Isaac and Rebekah. Twenty years elapsed, and they had no
children: this must have been a severe affliction, not only because at
that period a general hope of being connected with the Messiah led all
pious persons to be solicitous of a family, but because Isaac was the son
of promise, the multiplication of his seed was distinctly recorded, and he
had formed his matrimonial connection in the fear of God. As he partook
of the trial, he seems to have been endowed with the spirit of his
illustrious father; though he lived childless, he did not cherish
despondency, but "entreated the Lord for his wife," which was the only
effectual means of procuring the blessing.

[Sidenote: Years before Christ, 1836.] His prayer was heard; but this new
favour was attended with unusual anxieties, which proved signs of future
events. She ultimately bore twins, of which the elder was destined to
serve the younger. As names were usually given in reference to the
circumstances attending the birth of children, so _Esau_ signified _red,_
in allusion to his colour, and _Jacob_ signified the _supplanter._ Esau,
and his posterity the Edomites, were of a sanguinary disposition, and
peculiarly hostile to Israel; Jacob supplanted his brother in the
birthright; Esau was "a cunning hunter, a man of the field;" Jacob, a "a
plain man, dwelling in tents."

From the earliest period of their lives we may trace the existence of
those partialities in the two parents which have so frequently disquieted
the otherwise most harmonious families. The Scriptures assign a particular
cause for the fondness which Isaac cherished for Esau, which seems a most
lamentable weakness in so venerable a man: it arose from his eating of his
venison; for he was given to the indulgence of his appetite. Surely when
we observe how the greatest of men have been guilty of some of the most
unaccountable littleness, it should awaken us to holy jealousy over
ourselves, and induce us to establish a system of constant, laborious, and
impartial self-inspection.

The occasion of Rebekah's partiality is not distinctly recorded; it might
possibly have originated in his being more domestic, and attentive to
herself. [17] The usual effects resulted from these partialities: Isaac
was blind to the sins of his son, who soon pursued a course of conduct
that occasioned both his parents the deepest grief; while Rebekah's
fondness involved herself and her favourite child in the greatest

[Sidenote: Years before Christ, 1750.]

Having attained an advanced period of life, and becoming conscious of
increasing infirmities, Isaac took measures to convey the patriarchal
benediction and the blessings of the covenant to his posterity. With this
view he called his eldest son, and in accents of fondness requested him to
go and procure him that savoury kind of food to which he was so partial;
after which he expressed his intention of pronouncing the blessing, and
thus securing for him, as he imagined, the mercies of the Abrahamic
covenant. Overhearing this conversation, Rebekah thinks of her favourite
son, and instantly devises a plan to supersede his elder brother. This
was, indeed, conformable to the determination of Providence; but is no
justification of her sinful policy. If it were even her intention to
accomplish the divine promises, the plea would not vindicate her doing
evil, that good might come.

Her object being to countervail the design of her husband, she instantly
commences a system of manoeuvring to carry her point. We must consider her
now as under a particular temptation, and evidently acting inconsistently
with the natural ingenuousness of her character, no less than with the
principles of her religion. The proper course would have been that of
persuasion, entreaty, or remonstrance; but under the apprehension that
Isaac's extravagant attachment to his darling child would render this
unavailable, she deviates at once from the path of rectitude to gain her
purpose. It is most unfortunate when the heads of families are influenced
by opposite wishes, and refuse a fair, candid exposition of their own
views to each other. Confidence is the basis of friendship, and in no case
should be cherished with more assiduous care than in domestic life.

Active in the execution of a scheme she had so promptly devised, Rebekah
states to Jacob all that had passed between his father and his elder
brother; proposing, or rather commanding him to go to the flock with all
possible despatch, and fetch two kids of the goats; "and I," says she,
"will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth; and thou
shall bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee
before his death." Jacob hesitates--not, however, as we could have wished,
at the execution of the plan; but solely because he is apprehensive of its
failing, and producing unhappy consequences. Jacob was pacified by his
mother's offer to run all hazards, and incur the whole responsibility of
the transaction. She reiterates her request with all the fervour that a
better cause should have inspired; and has not long to wait in a state of
irksome suspense, before the favourite of her excessive affection returns
with the kids. Not a moment is to be lost--every thing is put in
requisition--the savoury meat is soon prepared. The hunter's speed is
outstripped by management and artifice--in vain he toils over the
lengthening field. Jacob is introduced, by his mother, into Isaac's
apartment, clothed in the goodly raiment of Esau, covered on the more
exposed parts of the body with the skins of the kids, to make him resemble
his hairy brother; and presents the food with due formality and
dissembling eagerness to the blind old patriarch. Some suspicions,
however, are awakened--"Who is it?"--"I am Esau, thy first-born."--"How
can this be--how quickly thou hast returned?"--The young man blushes and
trembles--but he must either confess or persevere--there was no
alternative--the mother's eyes probably intimated that he _must_ persist
in his deception. Awful to relate! he ascribes his good success,
personating Esau, to "the Lord." Isaac pursues other measures to obtain
satisfaction. His voice appears altered, and he begs to _feel_ his
son--the falsehood silences, but does not satisfy him. At length, he is
persuaded--he blesses him, and eats the venison. Though the dupe of
atrocious artifice, Isaac is, nevertheless, under supernatural direction,
and was afterwards unable to revoke his benediction.

But what did Rebekah gain by this detestable contrivance? She saw, indeed,
her favourite son inheriting the blessing; but this would have descended
upon him without her interference, according to the predeterminations of
Providence. She saw also a just recrimination upon her deceit on the part
of observant Heaven. The original dislike of the two brothers was kindled
into a raging flame. Esau burned with indignation at being thus cajoled,
and resolved to avail himself of the day of mourning for his father, to
satiate his resentment in his brother's blood: and Rebekah, to save both
their lives, was obliged to send her guilty, but favourite son, to a
distance. Thus were the latter days of both the parents imbittered by
their indiscreet and criminal partialities!

After the departure of Jacob, the fond mother becomes not merely
solicitous for his safety, but anxious respecting his future conduct. She
reflects on the temptation to form an idolatrous alliance to which he
might become exposed, unchecked by parental authority, and under
circumstances which would naturally induce him to seek a shelter from the
storm of adversity in the bosom of conjugal endearment. If the language of
Rebekah, upon this occasion, be tinctured with impatience, we cannot but
feel gratified to see it founded upon religious sentiment. "And Rebekah
said to Isaac, I am weary of my life, because of the daughters of Heth: if
Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the
daughters of the land, what good shall my life do to me?"

We are unwilling to part with Rebekah precisely at this point of her
history; but here it is that the sacred narrative drops her name. It is
written, however, we doubt not, on the imperishable pages of another
volume, which is emphatically styled, "the Lamb's book of life."

This abrupt termination suggests, amongst other considerations, the
_truth_ of the narrative. If it had been the purpose of the writer to
exhibit the subject of his story to the admiration of posterity, or to
display his own powers, rather than to represent fact or record
instructive biography, he would have carefully avoided whatever tended to
diminish the interest of the whole, and give it an unfinished appearance.
By concealing some of the more unsightly parts of the picture, and by
rendering prominent others of a more attractive character, he might have
contrived to accomplish an _effect_, though at the expense of truth and
reality. But the sentiments and prepossessions of the writer disappear
from the narrative of Scripture. There is no effort to conceal any facts
which may be supposed to weaken the general impression, or to introduce
explanatory or encomiastic statements which may be thought to strengthen
and enhance it. In every page, in every sentence, it is apparent that the
great object is instruction, and not amusement. The historian has no
private views--no partialities--no misconceptions--the pen of inspiration
is dipped in the fountain of truth, and "holy men of God spake as they
were moved by the Holy Ghost."

Let the sad inconsistencies which disgrace the closing part of Rebekah's
history, awaken every reader to a just sense of the importance of a
persevering uniformity of character. It is of great consequence, that we
adorn the religion we profess, and that our light shine more and
more--that we grow in grace as we advance in years, and that we do not
resemble the changing wind or the inconstant wave. Let us improve the
failure and irregularity of others to the purpose of self-examination;
and, while we neither extenuate nor aggravate their faults, aim to avoid
them. We have enough to encourage, yet sufficient to caution us, A life of
unblemished piety is almost as rare an occurrence, as a day of unclouded
brightness; but many such adorn the annals of the church, and the grace of
God is fully competent to multiply their number.


Chapter VI.

Proceedings of the new King of Egypt--Birth of Moses--Conduct of
Miriam--Preservation of Moses--Escape of Israel--Miriam's Zeal in
celebrating the Event--her Character formed by early
advantages--Contrasted with Michal--she engages with Aaron in a Plot
against Moses--God observes it--Trial--Punishment of Leprosy inflicted
upon Miriam--her Cure--dies at Kadesh--general Remarks on
Slander--debasing Nature of Sin--Hope of escaping Punishment
fallacious--Danger of opposing Christ--Exhortation to imitate the
Temper of Moses.

The family of Amram was distinguished by a very striking peculiarity. All
the three younger branches of which it consisted, Aaron, Moses, and
Miriam, because eminent in ancient Israel. Their history is considerably
intermingled; but the latter, from the design of this work, will claim our
chief attention.

[Sidenote: Years before Christ 1571.]

Sixty-four years had elapsed from the death of Joseph, when the "_new_
king over Egypt," influenced by an ill-founded jealousy of the Israelites,
adopted one of those measures to which weak and wicked princes are
sometimes excited by an unhappy combination of bad counsel, and
mean-spirited perverseness. Instead of regarding this people, who had been
prodigiously multiplied by a series of unexampled prosperities, as the
most valuable portion of his subjects, and the best security to his crown;
this Pharaoh was jealous of their strength, and determined to weaken it by
a course of systematic oppression. This he called "dealing _wisely_ with
them;" whereas it would have been infinitely wiser, even upon principles
of mere political prudence, to say nothing of justice and humanity, to
have conciliated by kind treatment, rather than have exasperated by
barbarous exactions, six hundred thousand of his subjects!

His plan was, in the first place, to set over them taskmasters, to afflict
them with extraordinary burdens; but, to his extreme mortification, "the
more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew." Still his
obstinacy did not permit the least relaxation of that rigorous discipline
he had imposed: although, while he imbittered their lives, he failed of
promoting his own interest. Disappointment exasperated his malignity; and
he issued orders to certain Hebrew women, of whom Shiphrah and Puah are
named as the principal in their office, to destroy every male child that
should be born. They ventured, however, to disobey this mandate; the fear
of God not allowing them to commit murder, though enjoined to do so by
royal authority. The king called them to an account for their
disobedience, and "charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born
ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive."
When we have such an awful display of the excess of human passions, that
fearful band of banditti that is for ever disturbing the peace of society,
it should inspire us with holy solicitude to suppress the first emotions
of sin in our hearts, and to aspire after the dignity and the bliss of
dominion over ourselves. Alas! how many who have been victorious over
foreign powers, could never achieve this nobler conquest of internal

The command of Pharaoh to his too tractable slaves, introduces us to the

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