« PreviousContinue »
manifest the implicit obedience of faith in the 'conduct of his servant. Such an assertion of his right would manifest his goodness in refusing to exercise it. Hence, when children were sacrificed to Moloch, who had no such right, Jehovah could say in regard of himself, It is what I commanded not, nor spake it, peither came it into my mind.” God never accepted but one human sacrifice; and blood in that case was not shed at his command, but by the wicked hands of men. It is necessary, however, that we should resign our lives, and every thing we have to his disposal. We cannot be said to love him supremely, if father, or mother, or wife, or children, or our own lives, be preferred before him. The way to enjoy our temporal comforts is to resign them to God. When we have in this manner given them up, and receive them again at his hand, they become 'much sweeter, and are accompanied with blessings of greater value.
But in this transaction there seems to be a still higher design ; namely, to predict in a figure the great substitute which God in due time should see and provide. The very place of it, called the mount of the Lord, seems to bave been marked out as the scene of great events ; and of that kind too in which a substitutional sacrifice was offered and accepted. Here it was that David offered burnt-offerings, and peace-offerings, and called upon the Lord; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt-offering, and commanded the angel of death to put up his sword.* It was upon the same mountain that Solomon was afterwards directed to build the temple. And if it were not at the very spot, it could not be far distant that the Saviour of the world was crucified. Mount Moriah was large enough to give name to a tract of land about it. (Ver. 2.) Mount Calvary therefore was probably a lesser mountain, which ascended from a certain part of it. Hither then was led God's own Son, his only Son, whom he loved, and in whom all nations of the earth were to be blessed ; nor was he spared at the awful crisis by means of a substitute, but was himself freely delivered up as the substitute of others. One
* 1 Chron. xxi. 26, 27,
+ 2 Chron. iii. 1.
reason of the high approbation which God expressed of Abraham's conduct might be, its affording some faint likeness of what would shortly be his own.
The chapter concludes with an account of Nahor's family, who settled at Haran. Probably this bad not been given, but for the connexion which it had with the church of God. From them, Isaac and Jacob took them wives; and it is as preparatory to those events that the genealogy is recorded.
THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF SARAH.
We have no such account of the death of any woman before, or of the respect paid to her memory, as is here given of Sarah. She was not without her faults, and who is ? But she was upon the whole a great female character. As such her name stands recorded in the New Testament among the worthies, and the memory of her was more than usually blessed.
Ver. 1, 2. Observe, (1.) The time of her death. She was younger by ten years than Abraham, and yet died thirty-eight years before him. Human life is a subject of very uncertain calculation : God often takes the youngest before the eldest. She lived, however, thirty-seven years after the birth of Isaac, to a good old age, and went back as a shock of corn ripe in its season. (2.) The place. It was anciently called Kirjath-Arba, afterwards
Hebron, situated in the plain of Mamre, where Abraham had lived more than twenty years before he went into the land of the Philistines, and whither he had since returned.* Here Sarah died, and here Abraham mourned for her. We may take notice of the forms of it. He came to mourn; that is, he came into her tent where she died, and looked at her dead body: his eye affected his heart. There was none of that false delicacy of inodern times which shuns to see, or attend the burial of near relations. Let him see her, and let him weep: it is the last tribute of affection which he will be able in that manner to pay her. We should
also notice the sincerity of it: he wept. Many affect to mourn who do not weep; but Abraham both mourned and wept. Relid gion does not stop the course of nature, though it moderates it ; and, by inspiring the hope of a blessed resurrection, prevents our being swallowed up of overmuch sorrow.
Ver. 3, 4. From mourning, which was commonly accompanied with sitting on the ground, * Abraham at length stood up from before his dead, and took measures to bury her. It is proper to indulge in weeping for a time, but there is a time for it to abate; and it is well there is. The necessary cares attending life are often a merciful mean of rousing the mind from the torpor of melancholy. But see what a change death makes. Those faces which once excited strong sensations of pleasure, require now to be buried out of our sight. In those times, and long afterwards, they appear to have had no public burying-places; and Abraham, often removing from place to place, and not knowing where his lut might be cast at the time, had not provided one. He had therefore at this time a burying-place to seek. As yet he had no inheritance in the land, though the whole was given him in promise. We see him here pleading for a grave, as a stranger and a sojourner. This language is commented upon, by the Apostle to the Hebrews: They confessed, says he, that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth ; and they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. Abraham did not sustain this character alone, nor merely on account of his having no inheritance in Canaan ; for Israel when put in possession of the land were taught to consider it properly the Lord's, and themselves as strangers and sojourners with him in it.t Even David, who was king of Israel, made the same confession.
Ver. 5–16. One admires to observe the courteous behaviour between Abraham and the Canaanites, for Heth was a son of Canaan. On his part, having signified his desire, and receiving a respectful answer, he bowed himself to them; and when he had fixed upon a spot in his mind, he does not ask it of the owner, but requests them to entreat him on his behalf : expressing also his desire to
* Job. i. 20. ii. 13. Lam. i. 1.
+ Lev. xxv. 23.
* Psa. xxix. 12.