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ROOK 71. HISTORY CONNECTED. 115 that they were far from being so full of distress as tlris representation makes them. For, 1. Ishmael was not an infant at the time of their going from Abraham, but at least fifteen or sixteen years old. Ishmael was born when Abraham was eighty six,' Isaac when he was a hundred;' so that Ishmael was fourteen at the birth of Isaac, and Isaac was perhaps two years old when Sarah weaned him, therefore Ishmael might be sixteen when Abraham sent him and his mother away. Hagar therefore had not a little child to provide for, but a youth capable of being a comfort, and assistant to her. 2. The circumstances of the world were such at this time, that it was easy for any person to find a sufficient and comfortable livelihood in it. Mankind were so few, that there was in every country ground to spare; so that any one, who had flocks and a family, might be permitted to settle any where, and feed and maintain them, and in a little time might grow and increase and become very wcalthy. Besides, the creatures of the world were so numerous that a person who had no flocks or herds, might in the wild and uncultivated grounds, kill enough of all sorts for maintenance, without injuring any one, or being molested for so doing. And thus Ishmael dwelt in the Wilderness, and became an archer. Again, they might let themselves for hire to those who had a great stock of cattle to look after, and find an easy and suffi. cient maintenance in their service ; as good as Hagar and Ishmael had had even with Abraham. We see no reason to think that Hagar met with many difficulties
Gen xvi, 16.
Gen. xxi. 5.
in providing for herself, or her son. In a few years she saw him in so comfortable a way of living, that she got him a wife out of another country to come and live with him : she took him a wife out of the land of Egypt." 3. Ishmael, and consequently Hagar with him fared no worse, than the younger chil. dren used to fare in those days, when they were dismissed in order to settle in the world; for we find that in this manner the children which Abraham had by Keturah were dealt by.* Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac; but unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham bad, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac bis son, while he yet lived, castward, unto the East country. And much in this manner even Jacob, who was to be heir of the blessing, was sent away from his father. Esau was the eldest son, and as such was to inherit bis father's substance ; accordingly when his father died, he came from Seir to take what was gotten for him by his father in the land of Canaan ;' for we have no reason to suppose that Jacob received any thing at Isaac's death; his brother left him only bis own substance to increase with in the land : yet we find he had enough to maintain his wives and a numerous family, and all this the mere product of his own industry.' When he first went from his father, he was sent a long journey to Padan-aram ; we read of no servants nor equipage going with him, nor any accommodations prepared for his journey. He was sent, as we now a-days might say, to seek bis for.
* Chap. xxv. 6.
Gen. xxi. 21. , 3 Chap. xxxvi. 6.
21 ya tune, only instructe:1 to seek it amongst his kins-folk 7, he and relations; ? and he went to seek it upon so uncercome tain a foundation, that we find him most earnestiy, the Is praying to God to be with him in the way that he was y He to go, and not suffer him to want the necessaries of
life to support him, but to give him bread to eat, and raiment to put on; a yet we see by letting himself for hire to Laban, he both married his daughters, and in a few years became the master of a very considerable substance. 4. We mistake therefore, not duly con. sidering the circumstances of these times, in supposing that Hagar and Ishmael had been such sufferers by Abraham's dismissing them. At first it might perhaps be disputed, whether Ishmael the first-born, or Isaac the son of his wife, should be Abraham's heir ; but after this point was determined, and God himself had declared that in Isaac Abraham's seed was to be called,
a provision was to be made, that Ishmael should go into and plant a family of his own, or he must have been
Isaac's bond-man or servant, if he had continued in Abraham's family. Here then was only that provision made for him, which the then circumstances of the world directed fathers to make for their younger chil. dren, and not any hardship put upon either Hagar or' her sun. And through their wandering in the Wilder. ness until they wanted water had almost destroyed them, yet that was only an accident, and no fault of Abraham; and after it pleased Gon to extricate them
'Gen. chap. xxviii,
a Ver. 20. · Chap. xxi. 12.
out of this difficulty, we have no reason to suppose that they met with any further hardships; but being free from servitude, they easily, by taking wild beasts and taming them, and by sowing corn got a stock, and became in a few years a very flourishing family.
Abimelech saw. the increasing prosperity of Abra. ham, and fearing that he would in time grow too powerful a subject, made him swear, that he would never injure him or his people. Some little disputes had arisen between Abimelech's servants and Abraham's about a well, which Abraham's servants had dug; but Abimelech and Abraham, after a little expostulation, quickly came to a good understanding, and both made a covenant, and sware unto each other.d Abraham continued still to flourish ; and his son Isaac being now near a man, it pleased God to make a very remarkable trial of Abraham's fidelity. He required him to offer his son Isaac o for a burnt-offering ; which without doubt must at first be a great shock to him. He had before been directed to send away Ishmael, and assured that the blessings promised to his posterity were not to take place in any part of that branch of his family; but that Isaac should be the son of the promise, and that his descendants should be the heirs of that happiness aud prosperity, which God had promised him; and now God was pleased to require him with his own hands to destroy this his son, his only son Isaac. How could these things be? What would become of God's promises, if this child, to whom
d Gen. xxi. 22, &c.
• Gen. xxii.
they were appropriated, were thus to perish? The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews gives a very clegant account of the method by which Abraham made
himself casy in this particular :' By faith (says he) en !
Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises, offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac
shall thy seed be called ; accounting that God . mm
was able to raise him up even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure. He considered, that God had given him his son in a very extraordinary manner; his wife, who bare him, being past
the usual time of having children ;and that the thus e explain giving him a son, was in a manner raising him one from
the dead; for it was causing a mother to have one, who there was naturally speaking dead in this respect, and not to guys be conceived capable of bearing; that God almighty make ?? could as certainly raise him really from the dead, as v. He at first cause him to be born of so aged a parent. By tollerike this way of thinking he convinced himself, that his -at shack faith was not unreasonable, and then fully determined nd awal to act according to it; and so took his son and went to ud to be the place appointed, built the altar, and laid his son
of that upon the wood, and took the knife, with a full reso. be the solution to kill the victim ; but here his hand was stop. hould be ped by a distinct and audible voice from heaven. The ich G6 angel of the Lond called to him out of heaven, and
sed said, Abraham, Abraham ; and he said, here am I. La his son And he said, lay not thine hand upon the lnd, neither
his chabin 'Hew. xi. 27, 28, 29.
5 llebrew xi, 11.