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ourably as he had done from those which before had thronge ed around him. Discouraged, no doubt, by the numerous disappointments that had already befallen him in a land in which he had anticipated a far different lot, and well nigh overwhelmed by this last calamity which augured se illy for his future prospects, he was assailed on his depar ture with a new and strong temptation. He had witness ed much of the oppressions and misrule of power in the country of Chaldea; he had no doubt found society but little better regulated among the tribes of Palestine; and as Egypt was still more distant from the original seats of
it was natural to suppose that there he might expect to see less of the fear of God, and to be more in danger from the craft or power of men. Sarai, his wife, wat uncommonly beautiful; and he feared that the Egyptians would make little scruple about rising pon a stranger, or practising secretly against his life, in order to render her their own without dispute. An account of the conduct that sprang from these reflections fills up the remainder of of the chapter. The history is interesting, but at the same time so plain as scarcely to require a comment. It is sufficient to remark that our now discouraged veteran forgot that God is an all-sufficient helper. In fear of his life, in fear that force or treachery might assail it, while he left none behind him to perpetuate his name, the promise of descendants who yet should cover Canaan, the promise of that country as a sure and ample heritage, appears not to have been regarded as a guarantee of life. In evil hour he staggered and ceased to trust in God. And now he was left to lean on his own resources, we pray you
mark the schemes he adopted and the character he for the time sustained. He fell from the independence of high-minded virtue he fell from the frank and ingenuous courses which it is the privilege of none but the innocent to tread, Sarai was his half-sister, as well as his wife; she was the daughter of his father, though of a different mother. To prevent the plots of the Egyptians against his life, he reBolved to conceal their more intimate relationship, and to acknowledge her only as his sister. Thus he calculated on deceiving the Egyptians by telling half the truth. And full of this scheme he addressed himself to Sarai, in the most moving style: "he said unto Sarai, bis wife," &c. "My soul shall live because of thee.”
We will not say that there was nothing moving in this appeal to the generosity of Sarai. But surely it was not flattering to the af fection of his wife to suppose that such a moving plea was pecessary. It was by no means honourable to the feelings of Abram to suspect that Sarai stood in need of such an impulse to shield a husband's life. But we forget that Abram had already ceased to trust the kind and faithful protection of his Maker: it was distrust of God that led him to the adoption of this crooked policy; and it cannot be surprising that they who have buried all right feelings toward God, and who can themselves meanly stoop to disingenuous courses, should be forward to distrust the integrity of others too.
Sarai, however, if she felt the wrong, does not appear to have resented it. She agreed to the arrangement propos sied by Abram; and under protection of this poor and mean deceit, which imbecility had borrowed to supply the place of confidence in God, down they came together to the land of Egypt. There most happily the state of society proved far better than our patriarch had anticipated. In Egypt the law wae still bupreme, for it was guaranteed by some remaining fear of God. Had Abram discovered this, bet fore he announced his relationship to Sarai, there would have been no reason for their supporting the deception. But the step appears to have been taken irrecoverably be fore they were aware that it was by no means necessary. They could not afterwards recall it without certain and indelible disgrace.
And now mark the natural consequence of their crook. ed course. Abram indeed was safe from fraud and vion lence. That he would have been, though he had publicly owned his wife. He was even caressed and loaded with wealth, on account of his sister Sarai.
But what now was life to him who loved her tenderly; of what value were additional servants and flocks to him who was already lord of more than would have rendered a dozen men quite wealthy. The beautiful Sarai, the wife of his youth, was likely to cease from being his forever. The fame of her beauty had reached the court of Pharoah. As the sister of Abram, any man might address her. And as poligamy was even then common in the East, there was no reason why the monarch might not add another to his collection of beauties. She was taken to his house, and began to sub mit to that preparatory training so indispensable to the exaltation of an eastern sultana. And now might our patriarch well rue the day in which he deserted confidence in heaven for the shallow and disengenuous devices of his cunning. Had he now put in his claim he had no sécurie ty that it would have been regarded by the monarch: he had no security that his Sarai herself might not be seduced by the splendor of her destiny to leave him, an old and hapless stranger, and cleave to her Egyptian lord.
But that Providence which be bad distrusted, dishon
,gured, deserted, was kind to him at the moment when thus bowed down under sorrow, sin and shame. “The Lord plagued Pharoah and his house with great plagues, because of Sarai, Abram's wife.” What was the nature of this visitation, we do not pretend to guess. It is sufficient that the Egyptians were wise to discern the tokens of offended heaven. And strict inquisition being made for the cause, it was discovered that Sarai was the wife of Abram. Thus our patriarch was delivered from hopeless sorrow; but he was at the same time whelmed under welldeserved and public shame. God, who had interposed to save him from a calamity which must have overthrown forever his towering prospects, would nevertheless not res mit this penance, doubtless the most painiul which an elevated and ingenuous mind can feel.
We pass over the indignant but appropriate expostulation of the Egyptian king. It is sufficient to remark that it affords undoubted evidence of the safety and honour that would have awaited Abram had he relied on that Providence which compelled his flight to Egypt, and re fused to listen to those fears which prompted a policy so disengenuous and dishonorable. And now the truth once discovered in a way which exposed him to the bitterest self-reproach, and to the contempt and indignati in of the very men who had sheltered him and honoured him; he is admitted no more to the presence of him whose confidence he had most abused: "Pharoah commanded his men concerning him, and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had."
We will not follow our patriarch to-day on his return to Palestine. Painful and humiliating as it really was to be thus roughly and contemptuously dismissed, painful as it
is to as to contemplate this blot in one of the brightest characters that ever adorned human nature, we leave his memory for a while to the well-merited shame of disingenuousness and cowardice. It is fit that you should know him as be really was, a man of like passions and weakness. es with others; it is fit that you should see with what unsparing freedom the scriptures delineate the faults as well as excellencies of their most favored characters; it is fit that you should see that Abram, as an offender, had good and frequent reason to betake him to those sacrifices which symbolized the efficacy of Messiah's death; and it is fit that you
should see that in our weak and wicked world the best often fall far below that region of moral grandeur, in which our thoughtlessness is apt to dicate that tie sacerely pious must of necessity uniformly move, or forseit their claim to the name and hopes of christians.
But let no man pour contempt on the memory of our patriarch, because he sometimes fell. At least let none attempt it but those who take up their home in the heights to which he generally soared, and successfully buffet the whirlwinds that sometimes brought him down. On next Lord's day we will prove this man a hero, who once trembled and fell before imaginary dangers: we will shew him to you opposing his single might to a host of many kings; his single household to their well-appointed armies: and with unequalled magnanimity and with unrivalled modesty, consecrating to frieudship and to God a victory that to this hour ranks him among the first of heroes as well as first of
Till then we leave our patriarch, after having learned from him this single lesson; that still the fear of God is the beginning of true wisdom; and that he who is so un