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• He that is slow to anger is better than the miglity: and he that ruleth bis spirit, than he that taketh a
city.” At the same time this history shows, that, by · ove imprudent action, a man may bring himself into circumstances so difficult to act in, that the path of right may be that which “ the vulture's eye hath not seen,” so difficult to discover. It scarcely seems justifiable in Abram to have abandoned Hagar entirely to the power of Sarai:-". And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.” Hagar did not lose her original situation as the female slave of Sarai, by becoming the wife of Abram; she still remained under her authority • Verse 7. “And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness"-as at a stand, not knowing what step to take. In the providence of God, children are so dependent on their parents, wives on their hasbands, and servants on their masters, for protection and support, that shame and sorrow usually follow any attempt to shake off their authority, as pride and self-will have generally led to that kind of conduct which makes their yoke -uneasy.
Verse 8. “ Hagar, Sarai's maid.” Observe the manner of address, which, by reminding her of her situation as bandmaid to Sarai, was fitted to bumble that pride which first taught her to despise her mistress, and then impatiently to flee from her rebuke. “Whence camest thou ? and whither wilt thou go?"Let us ask ourselves the same questions. Whence camest thou? To whom dost thou belong? Who formed thee? Art thou thine own master? Is this world thine all? Art thou placed here to eat, and drink, and play, and bustle about, thy little bour, and forget thy God, and the aocount which thou must one day render? O consider ! reflect! Whither wilt thou go? Eternity is before thee. Thou canst not escape that. Whether thou wilt or not, thou must live through eternity; thou canst not shake off thine im
mortality. Shall it be a blessing to thee, or a curse? Shall death be thy friend or thine enemy?
Verse 9th. “Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.”. 6. Servants, be subject to them that are your masters, with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” Such are the commands of Scripture. · Verse 10th. He, who spake to Hagar, and who is in these verses called “the angel of the Lord,” speaks as an almighty power, “I will multiply thy seed;" and in the 11th and 12th verses, like one who has a knowledge of future events. “ Thou shalt bear, a son, &c.” “And he will be a wild man, &c.”. We may observe that the word angel signifies messenger or servant; it is usually understood to mean a created spirit, one of those hosts that surround the throne of God, and do his pleasure; but the term is also applied in the Old Testament to Christ, the only begotten of the Father, and is probably to be so una derstood in this case. .
But let us examine what was said to Hagar. The angel declared to her that she was with child, and should bear a son; and also what should be the character of him, and his descendants. He should be "a wild man;"—the quiet occupations of the husbandman or the shepherd should never be practised, by him; “ His hand should be against every man, and every man's hand against him," --between him, and all the neighbouring tribes or nations, a contipual hostility should exist; and yet, “He should dwell in the presence of all his brethren,”-he should maintain his ground, should never be overcome or subdued. Now this remarkable prophecy bas been in a course of fulfilment, from the time it was spoken to the present day. Of himself we are told, (Gen, xxi. 20.) that, “ He dwelt in the wilderness, and be came an archer;" supporting himself, and those belonging to bim, in a manner which denoted, and would tend to strengthen, an active, bold, resolute,
violent, and crafty character. And that he dies in the presence of all his brethren, asserting his rights, none making him afraid. And through the course of 3,700 years, (the period of time from the manhood, of Ishmael, to the present day,) the same character has invariably applied to his descendants. In Isa. xiii. 20. and Jer. iii. 2. they are mentioned by the name of Arabians, (which in itself signifies a sower of sedition, a lier in wait,) as living in tents, and lying in wait in the wilderness: and, in profane history, they are distinguished as a lawless race of freebootérs, subsisting by plundering their neighbours; and always maintaining their independence, notwithstanding the attempts of many powerful nations to subdue them. From the beginning to the present day, they have preserved their freedom, and remain a lasting monument of the truth of Divine Revelation.
Verse 13th. It is interesting to trace the progress of Hagar's mind in her return to God; first acknowledging his perfect knowledge of her, and then tracing up her deliverance to his grace and mercy. She appears to have been living in forgetfulness of God, forgetfulness of his right over her, and of his presence with her. But now she felt that God was near her. "Thou God seest me."-Thus may every one of us say.Never for one moment has thine eye been withdrawn from me. Every word that I have spoken, every thought that I have conceived, every secret desire that I have cherished, have been all open to Thee, from the first moment of my existence, Feelings and intentions, which we should be ashamed to avow to a fellow-creature, we cannot conceal froin God! Sins which we but faintly remember, or have long since forgotten, are present to him, as the deed of yesterday. Time does not blot them out of his book, as it does from the record of our memory. « Thou God seest." It is said of some men that “they have no fear of God before their eyes :" their unconcern proceeds from their forgetfulness of this
attribute. If they did not put the thought of God's omniscience from them, could they, as they do, form plans and habits of life in direct opposition to his will---rushing into sin, as a horse rusheth into the battle? Could they, as they do, profane his sabbaths, and ridicule his word ; and, not content with doing it themselves, strive to tempt others also to walk in their steps?, ... '
But the faithful children of God are made happy by the thought that the eye of God is upon them. They would not hide a wish from their beavenly Fa. ther, it they could. It is their highest pleasure to pour out their hearts before Him, as to the tenderest parent: for they know that," as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pities” them, that He knows tlieir weakness, and will deliver them; their igno, rance, and will instruct them; their sips, and will pardon them. And are we not all of us constantly reminded of the presence of God? Are not the res turning Sabbath, the Village Church, the passing bell, the unopened Bible, the lisped prayer of one little ones, the wasting sickness, and above all, the example of a true Christian; so many voices, calling out to us to consider that there is a God, before whom we must stand in the judgment; that there is an eternity, to which we are fast approaching: an invisible world to which we shall soon belong?'. z.. i...? : ;:. . . ; T. B. P.!
6. MEDITATION OF A SINNER.;
What am I?-A rational being, if I choose to be directed by the dictates of the Word of God; but, on the contrary, if I allow myself to be led astray by my passions and neglect the only true wisdom, forgetting the Creator, and loving his works more than Himself, I am irrational, and subject moreover to the power of my eternal enemy.
For what was I made? I was made to glorify my Creator in my actions, by leading a life according to his cominands, and the example of our blessed Saviour; not to be a stumbling-block to others, but to let my light so shine before men that they might see my good works, and glorify my Father who is in heaven. And to this end, also, I have been preserved so long by the favour of my Maker, whose number - less proofs of fatherly kindness and interposition I neglect to profit by, being blinded by my own carnal will and worldly pursuits. And these ends t'sel. dom remember or think of; or, if I do, it is only for à moment, and they are soon driven out of my mind by the vanities of the world. I have not answered, but have shamefully perverted them, and, since I came into the world, have neglected the commands of my God, the example of my Saviour (whom by my sips I have crucified afresh), and been careless about my own salvation. · When I have attended the service of my God, it has been in general carelessly, and with frivolous thoughts running in my head, and drawing me from that which ought to be my only concern. My private prayers have been sometimes neglected, often hurried over, or merely uttered with my lips, whilst my soul has been engaged in worldly concerns. I have neglected to profit by the frequent warnings and admonitions conveyed to me in various ways by a God, who is indeed merciful, but who will not be despised and trifled with.
It is impossible that my allowed course of actions can bear tbe future judgment. When weighed in the balance of a just God, I shall be found greatly wanting. .
That holy temper which can alone fit me for the enjoyment of God, is not in me ; but such a one as", is more suitable for that place where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.