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have been erroneous or defective, and to find excuses for being exempted from hard and dangerous duties. But Abraham to the last was ready to receive further instruction, and to do as he was commanded, leaving consequences with God. This shows that the admonition to walk before him, and be perfect, had not been given him in vain.
ABRAHAM ENTERTAINING ANGELS, AND INTERCEDING FOR SODOM.
Ver. 1-3. The time drawing nigh that the promise should be fulfilled, God's appearances to Abraham are frequently repeated. That which is here recorded seems to have followed the last at a very little distance. Sitting one day in a kind of porch, at his tent door, which screened him from the heat of the sun, he lift ир his eyes,
and lo, three men stood at a little distance from him. To him they appeared to be three strangers on a journey, and as such he treated them. His conduct on this occasion is held up in the Epistle to the Hebrews as an example of hospitality ; and an admirable example it affords. His generosity on this occasion is not more conspicuous than the amiable manner in which it was expressed. The instant he saw them, he rises up, as by a kind of instinctive courtesy, to bid them welcome to his tent, and that in the most respectful manner. Though an old man, and they perfect strangers to him, he no sooner saw them than he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground; and observing one of them, as it should seem, presenting himself to him before the other, he said to him, My lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant.
Ver. 4, 5. And whereas they were supposed to be weary, and overcome with the heat, he persuades them to wash their feet, and sit down under the shade of the spreading oak near his tent, and take a little refreshment, though it were but a morsel of bread to comfort their hearts ; after which they might go forward on their journey. Something may be said of the customs of those times and
countries, and of there being then but few if any inns for the accommodation of strangers : but it certainly affords a charming specimen of patriarchal urbanity, and an example of the manner in which kindness and hospitality should be shown. To impart relief in an ungracious and churlish manner, destroys the value of it. We see also in this conduct the genuine fruits of true religion. That which in worldly men is mere complaisance, dictated often by ambition, in Abrabam was kindness, goodness, sympathy, and humbleness of mind. It is to the honour of religion that it produces those amiable dispositions which the worst of men are constrained, for their own reputation, to imitate. If such dispositions and such behaviour were universal, the world would be a paradise.
Ver. 6—8. The supposed strangers having consented to accept the invitation, the good old man, as full of pleasure as if he had found a prize, resolves to entertain them with something better than a morsel of bread, though he had modestly used that language. Hastening to Sarah, he desires her to get three measures of fine meal, and bake cakes upon the bearth ; wbile he, old as he was, runs to the herd, and fetches a calf, tender and good, and gives it to one of his young men, with orders to kill and dress it immediately. And now, the table being spread beneath the cooling shade of the oak, the veal, with butter and milk to render it more palatable, is placed upon it, and Abraham himself waited on bis guests. Such was the style of patriarchal simplicity and hospitality. As yet, Abrabam does not appear to have suspected wbat kind of guests he was entertaining. He might probably be struck from the first with their mien and appearance, which seem to have excited bis highest respect; yet he considered them merely as strangers, and as such entertained them. It was thus that be entertained angels
Ver. 9, 10. But while they sat at dinner under the tree, inquiry was made after Sarah his wife. Abraham answered, Behold, she is in the tent. This inquiry must excite some surprise ; for how should these strangers know the name of Abraham's wife, and her new name too; and why should they inquire after ber? But if the inquiry must strike Abraham with surprise, what followed must have a still greater effect. He who was the first in the train
on their arrival, and whom he had addressed in terms of the highest respect, now adds, I will certainly return unto thee, according to the time of life, and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. This language must remind him of the promise which he had so lately received, and convince him that the speaker was no other than Jehovah, under the appearance of a man.
of the Old Testament bistory we often read of similar appearances ; particularly to Jacob at Peniel, to Moses at the bush, and to Joshua by Jericho. The divine personage, who in this manner appeared to men, must surely have been no other than the Son of God, who thus occasionally assumed the form of that nature, which it was his intention, in the fulness of time, actually to take upon him. It was thus, that being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God ; that is, he spake and acted all along as God, and did not consider himself in so doing as arrogating any thing which did not properly belong to him.
Ver. 11–15. Sarah, having overheard what was said concerning her, and knowing that according to the ordinary course of things she was too old to have a son, laughed within herself at the saying. She supposed, however, that as it was to herself, the whole was unknown : but it was not. The same word is used as was before used of Abrabam, but it was not the same thing. His laughter was that of joy and surprise : hers had in it a mixture of unbelief, wbich called forth the reproof of Jehovah. Jehovah (the same personage who is elsewhere called an angel and a man) said unto Abraham, in the hearing of his wife, Wherefore did Sarah laugh? And to detect the sinfulness of this laughter, he points
? out the principle of it-it was saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old? which principle he silences by asking, Is any thing too hard for Jehovah? And then he solemnly repeats the promise, as that which ought to suffice : At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. This language, while it proved that he who uttered it was a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, covered Sarah's face with confusion. In her fright, she denies having laughed; but the denial was in vain. He who knew all things replied, Nay, but thou didst laugh. We may imagine that what