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his obedience was rewarded with a seventh and more reAbraham márkable visit from God. Abraham, who dwelt still at entertains
to retract, if not to contradict that circumcision is an help to
(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.
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
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
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).
Supr. vol. č. p. 121, & feqy. y Genes. xix.
a thousand pieces of filver: be-
, who is emphatically of the eyes and thus be called the Judge of all the
was reproved. For it is plast
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