Page images

hand.* But not a word of this is heard; for his heart was set on his errand. He has no objection however to tell of the glory of bis master; for this would tend to promote the object. Nor does he fail to acknowledge the hand of God in it: The Lord hath blessed my master greatly. And if they were worthy to be connected with Abraham, this would tend farther to promote the object; yea, more than all the riches and glory of Abraham without it.

Ver. 36. And now for the first time, he makes mention of Isaac. A messenger less ingenuous might have given a hint of this kind to the damsel, when he presented her with the ear-rings and bracelets : but so did not Abraham's servant. Not an intimation of the kind is given till he is before her parents. In their presence, and that of the whole family, he frankly makes mention of his master's son ; and as his object was to recommend him to their esteem, and to prepossess Rebekah in his favour, it is admi. rable to see how he accomplishes his end. All is in the form of a simple narrative; yet every moving consideration is worked into it that the subject will admit of. In only this single verse we observe four circumstances touched upon, each of which would have a powerful effect--He was the son of the highly honoured Abraham-by the much-loved Sarah-in their old age-(of course he himself must be young)--and was made heir of all bis father's substance.

Ver. 37, 38. From hence he proceeds to a still more explicit mention of the object of his journey, mixing with it such grounds or reasons as must ingratiate both his master and his master's son in their esteem, and so tend to accomplish his design. He informs them that Abraham was utterly averse to his son's being united with a daughter of Canaan; so much so, that he even made him solemnly swear upon the subject. The family at Haran might possibly have thought that ere now Abraham had forgotten bis old friends, and formed new connexions : but they would perceive by this that he had not. There is a charming delicacy in his introducing the subject of marriage. He speaks of a wife being

* See Esther v. 11, 12.

And now,

taken for his master's son ; but first mentions it in reference to the daughters of Canaan, whom he must not take, before he suggests any thing of the person he wished to take ; thus giving them to infer what was coming, ere he expressed it. having intimated the family whom his master preferred, he represents him as speaking of them in the most affectionate language : My father's house, my kindred.

Ver. 39–41. Next he repeats what passed between his master and bimself, as to the supposed willingness or unwillingness of the party; and here also we see much that will turn to account. In expressing Abraham's persuasion in the affair, he appeals to their piety. It was saying, in effect, The band of God is in it; and this, with godly minds, would be sure to weigh. Indeed it did weigh ; for when required to give an answer, it was this: The thing proceedeth from the Lord. Religion, thus mingled with natural affection, sanctifies it, and renders. sweetness itself more sweet. In repeating also the words of Abraham, Thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house, he touches and re-touches the strings of fraternal love. And in that he intimates that his master had laid nothing more upon him than to tell his tale, and leave the issue to the Lord, he gives them to understand that whether they were willing or unwilling, he should be clear of his oath. In this, and several other parts of this pleasant story, our thoughts must needs run to the work of Christ's servants, in espousing souls to him. They may be clear of the blood of all men, though sinners may be unwilling : and it is their duty to tell them so; that while, on the one hand, they allure them by exhibiting the glory of their Master, they may, on the other, convince them that their message is not to be trifled with. Both are means appointed of God to bring them to Christ; and if the Lord be with them in their work, such will be the effect.

Ver. 42–49. The repeating of the interview with Rebekah at the well, was all admirably in point, and of a tendency to bring the matter to a crisis. I came to the well—I called on the God of my master Abraham-I asked for a sign-a sign was given me every thing answered to my prayer-judge ye-let Rebekah

[ocr errors]

judge whether the band of the Lord be not in it. And now,

if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me, and if not, tell me ; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.'

Ver. 50—52. With this simple, but interesting account, the whole family is overcome: one sentiment bows every mind. Rebekah says nothing ; but her heart is full. It is an affair in which little or nothing seems left for creatures to decide. The thing, say they, proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee good or bad. Behold, Rebekah is before thee; take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the Lord hath spoken! Such was the happy result of this truly religious courtship ; and the good man, who saw God in all things, still keeps up his character. Hearing their words, he bowed himself to the earth, and worshipped God! How sweet would all our temporal concerns be rendered, if they were thus intern.ingled with godliness!

Ver. 53. The main things being settled, he, according to the customs of those times, presents the bride elect with jewels of silver, jewels of gold, and raiment, suited to the occasion; and farther to conciliate the esteem of the family, he gave also to her, brother, and to her mother precious things. Presents, when given from sincere affection, are very proper, and productive of good effects. It is by a mutual interchange of kind offices that love is often kindled, and always kept alive. Our Saviour accepted the presents which were offered him, not only of food, but raiment, and even the anointing of his feet. Where love exists, it is natural and grateful to express it in acts of kindness.

Ver. 54–58. The good man would not eat till he had told his errand : but now that his work is done, he and the men who were with him both eat and drink : and doubtless it would add to the enjoyment of their meal, to know that the Lord had made their way prosperous. The next morning, having accomplished his object, the diligent and faithful servant wants to be going. To this proposal, however, though honourable to him as a servant, the mother and the brother object; pleading for a few days, ten at least, ere they parted; nor does their objection seem to be unreasonable. Though willing upon the whole that she should



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

go ; yet parting is trying work, especially when they considered that they might never see her more in this world, as in truth they never did. The man, however, knows not how to consent to it ; but entreats that he might not be hindered, seeing the Lord had prospered his way. Whether we consider him as too pressing, in this case, or not, we may lay it down as a general rule, nerer to bioder those who are engaged in a right way, and who have received manifest tokens that God hath blessed them in it. The Case being somewhat difficult, and neither of the parties disposed to disoblige the other, they consent to leave it to the decision of the damsel herself. A few days to take leave of her friends could not, we may suppose, have been disagreeable to her ; but seeing, as she did, so much of God in the affair, and the man's heart so deeply set upon it ; feeling also her own heart entirely in it, she would not so much as seem to make light of it, or hinder it even for an hour; but far from all affectation, answered, I will go.

Ver. 59, 60. And now, preparation is made for her departure. Before she goes she must be provided with a nurse. Rebekah's having been employed in drawing water, we see, was no proof of the poverty of her parents, but rather of the simplicity of the times. Daughters were not yet taught to be so delicate as scarcely to adventure to set the sole of their foot upon the ground. But now that she is going to leave her family, it is desirable that she should have one of its domestics, who had probably been brought up with her from her childbood, who in times of affliction would kindly wait on her, and at all times be a friend and companion. The name of this nurse was Deborah. We hear no more of her till we are told of her death. She

appears to have survived her mistress, and to have died in the family of Jacob, much lamented. Chap. xxxv. 8.

To an affectionate nurse, they added a parting blessing. The language used in it shows that Abraham's servant had told them of the promises which God had made to his master, and which were to be fulfilled in Isaac and his posterity. They speak as believing the truth of them, and as having their hearts full of hope and joy, amidst the natural sorrow which must have attended the parting scene. They blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister ; be thou the


[ocr errors]

mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those that hate them!

Ver. 61-63. Taking leave of Haran, they go on their way towards Canaan. A little before their arrival at Hebron, they are unexpectedly met by a person who was taking an evening walk. This was no other than Isaac. It may be thought that he was looking out, in hope of meeting them; but we are expressly told that his walk was for another purpose, namely, to meditate. It is a word which is sometimes used for prayer, and hence it is so rendered in the margin of our Bibles. He was a man of reflection and prayer; and in the cool of the evening it might be common for him to retire an hour to converse, as we should say, with himself, and with his God. Admitting that the thought might occur, I may possibly see my father's servant on his return,' still his object would be, on such an important turn in his life, to commit the matter to God. Those blessings are likely to prove substantial and durable, which are given us in answer to prayer.

Ver. 64, 65. Rebekah, having espied a stranger approaching towards them, inquires of her guide whether he knew him; and being told that it was no other than his young master, she modestly alighted from the camel, and took a veil and covered herself. This eastern head-dress might, in the present instance, answer a double purpose : First, it would express her subjection to her husband, as being already his espoused wife. Secondly, it would prevent that confusion which the exposure of her person, espe. cially in so sudden and unexpected a manner, must have occasioned.

Ver. 66, 67. Isaac, observing her to have put on her veil, very properly avoids addressing himself to her; but walking awhile with the servant by himself, heard the whole narrative of his journey, which appears to have wrought on his mind as the foriner had wrought on that of Rebekah. And now the marriage is consummated. Isauc brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. In this tender manner is the admirable story closed. Who can forbear wishing them all happiness? The union of filial and conjugal affection is not the least honourable trait in the character of this amiable man. He brought VOL. V.


« PreviousContinue »