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Differently situated as we are, with regard to station, land, and customs, we may yet imitate her faithfulness in all her household duties-her love and reverence to her husband-her tenderness to her child-her quiet, unpretending, domestic, yet dignified fulfilment of all which she was called upon to do. We may learn from her to set no value on personal charms, save as they may enhance the gratification of those who love us best; or of rank and station, save as they demand from us yet deeper gratitude towards God, and more extended usefulness towards man. We may learn too, from her history, that is better to wait for the Lord-to leave in His hands the fulfilment of our ardent wishes-than to seek to compass them by human means. We may trace and feel that nothing, in truth, is too wonderful for the Lord; that He will do what pleaseth Him, however we may deem it hopeless and in vain. Direct revelations. as vouchsafed to Sarah, indeed, we have not; but God has, in His deep mercy, granted us His word-the record of all HE HAS DONE-that we may feel He is still OUR God; and though He worketh now in secret—for our sins have hid from us His ways-yet He worketh for us still, and hath compassion and mercy and love for each of us individually, even as He had for Sarah, and her bond-woman Hagar. All these to us, as women, her history reveals as women of Israel O yet more.—It is of no stranger in race and clime and faith we read. It is of OUR OWN-of one from whom Israel hath descended in a direct, unshadowed line-of one-the beloved and cherished partner of that chosen servant and beloved friend of the Eternal, for whose sake revelation was given to mankind-Israel made not alone the nation,
but the FIRST-BORN of the Lord; and that law bestowed, which revealed a God of "love, long-suffering and gracious, plenteous in mercy and truth;"-instructed us - how to tread our earthly path, so as to give happiness to ourselves and fellow-creatures-to be acceptable to Him;-and pointed with an angel-finger to that immortal goal, where man shall live for ever!
Is it nothing to be the lineal descendants of one so favored-nothing to hold in our hands and shrine in our hearts, the record of her life from whom the race of promise sprung? Nothing, to peruse the wonderful manifestations of the Lord's love to her to feel that from Him direct, was Sarah's patent of nobility, and yet possess the privilege of being her descendant? Will the women of Israel feel this as nothing—will they disdain their princely birth—their heavenly heritage? Will they scorn to look back on Sarah as their ancestor, and yet long for earthly distinctions, earthly rank? No! O no! Let us but think of these things-of those from whom we have descended, and our minds will become ennobled, our hearts enlarged. We shall scorn the false shame which would descend to petty meannesses to hide our faith, and so exalt us in the sight of a Gentile world. Humbled, cast off for a little moment as we are liable to persecution, scorn, contumely-to be despised and rejected" of men-to bear the burden of affliction from all who choose to afflict-still, still, we cannot lose our blessed heritage unless we cast it off;we cannot be deprived of our birthright, unless, like Esau, we exchange it for mere worldly pelf, and momentary (because earthly) gratification. We are still Israelites still the chosen, the beloved, the ARISTOCRACY of the Lord.
IN the same beautiful country whence, nearly seventy years previous, the son of Terah had been called by the divine command, still dwelt the children of his brother, Nahor. Contrary to the long period of childlessness which had been the portion of Abraham, eight sons were born unto Nahor. And when tidings of his family again reached the patriarch, just after the offered sacrifice of his son, he heard that his brother was also a grandfather-Bethuel, one of his sons, having married, and possessing sons and one fair daughter. The many wanderings of Abraham, the distance to which he had removed, and the almost impossibility of obtaining reciprocal intelligence, had, of course, prevented family intercourse. Yet, by the notice taken of Abraham's having unexpectedly received intelligence of his kindred, and also by the momentous events recorded in the xxiv. chapter, it is evident that both Abraham and Nahor retained a vivid recollection of, and continued affection towards, each other-an affecting illustration of the doctrine we so earnestly uphold that Holy Writ never fails to inculcate-alike by precept, character and narrative—the ascendancy, necessity, and beauty of the natural affections. Though elected to know and serve the Lord, and to promulgate the knowledge of the true religion throughout the world, still, no forgetfulness, no contempt of the less favored of his father's house actuated Abraham. In simple, questionless obedience to his God, he had departed from all the haunts, the friends of his
youth; but to a disposition so strongly affectionate as his own, often and often must the yearnings have returned, to learn somewhat of the brother of his love. The characters of the Bible are all human: though we are but too apt to judge them by any and every other test than that of humanity. Religion, instead of deadening, ever deepens and strengthens mere human feelings. No one has ever yet truly and devotedly loved God, without feeling every natural affection heightened and more precious. Indifference in any one single point is utterly banished. It cannot exist with true spirituality; and therefore do we always find in the Bible, the strongest, most affectionate feelings, actuating the chosen servants of the Lord.
From a careful consideration of this portion of Bible history, and of Laban's family in the sequel, it appears probable, that Abraham had other reasons besides those of kindred, for wishing his son to choose a wife from the daughters of Mesopotamia, instead of those of Canaan. Had the patriarch's kindred been merely idolatrous as the other families of the earth, it is not likely that the mere recital of the steward should have called forth Laban and Bethuel's answering exclamation-" The thing proceedeth from the LORD, we cannot speak unto thee bad or good!"—nor many years afterward, in Laban's intercourse with his nephew, his entreaty, "Tarry with me, for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake." It would seem from these simply recorded facts, that though they worshipped images, which are referred to more than once in the sequel, their religion was certainly purer than that of the Canaanites. It was from his father's house Abraham
had been elected and called by the Almighty. His firm rejection and abhorrence of idols, his meek and gentle un-upbraiding conduct, his departure in simple obedience to an unknown Being,-all this was probably remembered, and so commented upon by his kindred, that his memory had more influence than his presence; and vague notions of the religion and the God whom he had followed and preached, mingled with the imageworship which they still retained. These notions, very possibly strengthened by the rumours of Abraham's continued communings with this mysterious God, and the many manifestations of a superhuman agency vouchsafed to him which, by slow degrees, reached even Mesopotamia, prepared them to acknowledge and even believe in Him; though, from ignorance as to the manner of worship which could be acceptable to a Being so awful and invisible, they adhered to the worship of their fathers.
Abraham no doubt felt that it would be easy to impart to the daughter of such a race, the true and spiritual religion, of which the Patriarch's own family was the only witness. There would be no fear of her retaining and secretly promulgating the impure and idolatrous notions which would undoubtedly have been the case with the daughters of Canaan ;—and this, acting powerfully on the affecting recollections of kindred and home, appears to me the real cause of Abraham's intense anxiety to take a wife for his son Isaac from the daughters of his father's house.
Meanwhile the daughter of Bethuel had grown into beautiful womanhood, beloved and cherished alike by her parents and brothers, and pursuing with cheerful