Imatges de pÓgina

his obedience was rewarded with a seventh and more reAbraham márkable visit from God. Abraham, who dwelt still at entertains


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to retract, if not to contradict that circumcision is an help to
himself, in this very point, fertility ; and that those who
when he affirms, that are circumcised, are apter for
nation practised it, but what procreation than those who are
received it first from the Egyp- not. Now for the modern,
tians; and a little after owns, we mean the Christian writers;
that he did not know which these do not indeed affirm
of the two had it first, the absolutely,that Abraham learn-
Egyptians or Ethiopians,thoughed it from the Egyptians; but
he is inclined to believe the that it is poffible he might
former (46). As for the rest have seen it in Egypt, and be
of the antients,who are on that so much taken with it, that
side the question, as they have God, in compaffion to his in-
blindly followed Herodotus, all firmity, whose faith could not
their authority centres in him. fuftain itself without some out-
However, it is certain, that ward and visible symbol, might
neither they, nor any other fanctify this Egyptian cere-
nation we know of, the Jewish mony, by retrenching all that
excepted, did practise it uni- was superstitious in it, and
versally. The priests were give it to him, and his pofte-
indeed obliged to be circum- rity, as a sensible token of his
cised, but the rest of the peo- alliance with them (48).
ple were left wholly at their Only le Clerc (49) fubjoins
liberty. Neither doth it ap- an argument, which, in his
pear, that they practised it up- opinion, turns the scale very
on a religious account, as the much on the Egyptian lide ;
Fews did. Philo (47) has for, says he, Abraham's fa-
given us the reafons why those mily, at his first coming into
nations used circumcifion ; Egypt, was so inconfiderable,
namely, first, in order to a- and his pofterity afterwards
void a diftemper called a car- so hated and despised by the
buncle, to which they, who Egyptians, that it is by no
were not circumcised, were means probable, that proud
often fubject. Secondly, for nation Thould have received
the sake of cleanliness, by cut- such a ceremony from them.
ting off whatever was apt to But might not this be the very
harbour any filth ; and for this motive that determined them
reason it was, that they shaved in favour of it ? Was it not
their bodies all over. The natural for the Egyptians, no
third is fymbolical, and foreign less fuperftitious than haughty,
to our subject. The last is, to infer, that fince it procured

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(46) Idem ibid. c. 104. Vid. Calm. dissert. de circumcis. (47) Pb ?. de circumcis. pag. 810. ap. eund. (48) Spenc. de leg. ritual. Jud. Le Clerc in loco (49) Id. biblioth, an. & mod. par. i. p. 250.


Mamre, was sitting one day at the door of his tent, under a tree, when he beheld, afar off, three men, whom he took


fuch great and valuable bles- and that therefore the Jews fings to that despised people, might as well have it from the it could not fail of proving Egyptians. As for the reason more successful to them, if of its being injoined on the once they admitted it amongst eighth day after the child's them might not Joseph's birth, the best we have met time have been a proper crisis with is that of Cuneus (50); to recommend it to them ? and that children were not thought were not those motives we sufficiently clean or perfect, duhave mentioned out of Philo, ring the first seven days, being of its being reputed a promo- ftill full of the corruption they ter of fertility, cleanliness, and brought from the womb. And health, sufficient to recom- this seems to be the reason mend it? and, lastly, might of God's ordaining, that no not this be the very reason beast that was offered to him, which made the Egyptian wo- should be less than eight days men use it as well as the men old (51). Circumcision there. However that be, the notion fore being a kind of folemn of the Hebrews having re- offering of a child to God ceived it from them, seems so it seems highly reasonable, contrary to the design and con- that the same law should be duct of God to preserve observed in it, as was injointhem from the superstitions of ed concerning victims. But, as other nations, that it meets to the eighth day being chosen with but few advocates; and, rather than any other afterindeed, it seems more reasona- wards, without seeking for ble to think, that the Egyp- myfteries in that number, as tians had it from some other fome are fond of doing, it will nation, whether the Arabs (as be fufficient to say, that the Bochart thinks, by reason of child being reckoned perfect the difference there was be- and fit at that age, and there tween the Jewish and Egyp. being a necessity of fixing a tian circumcision), or from any day for it, and not to leave other of their neighbours, or it to the choice of the parents, even, that they might ftumble no time could be fitter than upon that ceremony, without that; because the child is then knowing, or having it from least sensible of the smart, any, than to suppose, that one and least in danger of being must have it from the other ; hurt by it.

(50) Cun. apud Bajnag, rep. Hebr. P. 351.

(50) Levitico

Ixli. 274


to be strangers; he went to meet them, and in the moft civil and respectful manner invited them to come and


The last inquiry we need them, by overcoming those make upon this subject of cir- obstacles. Why did not God cumcision is, the reafons of give him Isaac, till the laws its institution: and here we of nature seemed to exclude shall only me on one or two all hopes of his ever being a of those that are thought moft father? it was to try his faith. considerable. The first is to- Why did God command pical ; because the heat of the him to facrifice that very fon climate required it, for the to whom so many blessings reasons mentioned above. Se- belonged, but to the same condly, political, in order to purpose ? Why did God set so distinguish those who were in long an interval between the the covenant of God, from promise of a son, and the acother nations. Thirdly, mo- complishment of that promise, ral ; to imply the circumci- that Sarah, thinking it imposfion of the heart, and the fible she should become a momortification of carnal appe- ther, did give him her maid tites. Fourthly, religious; in Hagar? Why was Ilomael that it was, first, the symbol born so many years before and seal of the covenant made Ifaac, &c. but to make ftill between God and Abraham, fresh trials of his faith? Why and his seed, and figurative of might not then God have the the faith which was to be in fame views in injoining him CHRIST (52). To these rea

to be circumcised ? He not fons we shall subjoin one more only makes him wait for this 'out of a modern author (53), fon near twenty years, though which the reader will hardly promised in fo solemn a manmeet with elsewhere: he writes ner; but, when that time is thus: we reckon circumcision nearly elapsed, and Abraham amongst the trials of Abra- thinks himself on the eve of ham's faith. It is easy to receiving the reward of his observe, by very many cir-faith, God crosses his hopes cumstances of that patriarch's afresh, and commands him life, that he was designed as a to undergo an operation that pattern to all the faithful. The seemed wholly to put an end more his faith was tried, the to them. Abraham could not more conspicuous it became; but look upon circumcision as the more difficulties he ob- dangerous in that hot country, ferved in the accomplishment even to young men, much of God's promises, the more more to

one of his years; he shewed the great idea he and consequently, that it must had of him that had made put him quite out of condition

(52) Targ. Onkel. Villet. En al, : Teft.

(53) Saurin difs, bij. da V.


take a small refreshment with him ; and, having obtained their consent, ordered a feast to be got ready for themy, And in this interview it was, that his divine guest confirm- A son proed his promise of Sarah's having a son within the year. mised to Sarah, who was listening at the tent-door, and thought Sarah. herself past child-bearing, burst out into a laughter; and the stranger asked the reason of it in such a serious tone, as ftruck her with a fright. She would fain have denied it; but it was to no purpose, that the endeavoured to hide any thing from the person that spoke to her, who dismissed her with this gentle reproof, that she was highly in the wrong to mistrust what he had said to her, since nothing was impossible with God. The three heavenly guests (for such they were) rose up in order to proceed on their journey, and Abraham courteously accompanied them some part of the way. At length one of them, whom the original calls the LORD (T), as a further mark of his favour,

began y Genef. xvii. pafr.

of ever being a father. The (T) The name Jehovah command of his having the 717, by which Mofes calls covenant in his flesh, seemed the stranger that talked to Aas opposite to the promise of braham, being looked upon by his having a son, as that of his the generality of Jews and sacrificing that fon, was to the Chriflians, to be the incompromise of his being the fa- municable name of God, it ther of many nations. Not- is believed by the far greatest withstanding which, Abra part of the latter, that it was ham's faith triumphed over the Son of God who appeared this obstacle also, he being fully in that form : however others, perfuaded, that God could particularly fome modern ones not only renew the strength of (55), maintain, that it was buc an old man, but likewise make an angel, who spoke to him in him fruitful after his having the person of God.

But it undergone an operation which is not probable, either that seemed fo contrary to it. It Moses should call an angel by is to extol this triumph, that that name, or that Abraham the Scripture observes, he was should intercede with him as ninety-nine years old when he he doth, when he says, That was circumcised ; and it was be far from thee, to destroy to preserve the memory of it, the good with the wicked'; that God injoined that cere. shall not the Judge of the mony to all his posterity, &c. world do right? or lastly, that (54).

an angel should peremptorily

(54) Gen. xvii. 24.

(55) Le Clerc comment, in loco

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s time ar began to reveal a moft dreadful secret to him ; which was, that the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah was gone up to hea.

his ven ; and that he was going down fully resolved to destroy them utterly, if, upon inquiry, he found their sit bir wickedness equal to the cry of it. Whether the remem- o

and brance that Lot was in one of those cities, or rather his natural compassion, gave the good patriarch fresh courage

to intercede for those righteous men that might be found Abraham among the wicked; he did not cease expoftulating with pup pleads for him, till he had obtained a promise, that if there were Sodom. but ten righteous men found in the place, he would spare tem

it for their fakes : upon which the Lord departed from
him. The fate of those cities, and Lot's deliverance, path
have been already related * : as for Abraham, he saw the
next morning the thick smoke of those unfortunate places,
ascending like that of a furnace y.
Not long after, Abraham, leaving the plains of Mamre


and the probably to be out of the stench of the vale of Siddim, went and dwelt in the country of the Philistines between Cadesh and Shur 2, where the same adventure happened to him which he had met with in Egypt, Sarah, whom neither her pregnancy, nor advanced age (the being now

ninety years old), had deprived of her beauty, was again Abime- desired by Abraham to pass for his fifter. Abime lech, king lech takes of that country, found her still charming enough to inSarah.

vite her to his bed; but the LORD appeared to him in a Is threat. dream and threatened him with immediate death, if he did ened by

not immediately restore her untouched to her husband, who God, and was a prophet very dear to him ; in consequence of which, restores

Abraham had his wife returned to him, with confiderable ber. presents a (W).


2: the


Supr. vol. č. p. 121, & feqy. y Genes. xix.

De his,
vid. vol. ii. p. 486, sub not. a Genes, xx. per tot. See
also vol. ii. p. 225, & seqq.
fay, If I find forty, thirty, or tion, in Abimelech's speech to
twenty righteous men in the Sarah, which runs thus : B.-
place, I will spare it for their bold, i have given thy brother
Takes. It is therefore more

a thousand pieces of filver: be-
probable, that it was Christ hold, he is' to thee a covering

, who is emphatically of the eyes and thus be called the Judge of all the

was reproved. For it is plast

, world.

the king was purchasing Abra

. (W) There seems to be a ham's friendship, and not quas. double mistake in our tranfla reling with him or his wifei


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