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advantages which it presents taken first into the account? Do you enquire whether the Gospel is preached? what opportunities present themselves for the instruction of yourselves and your families in true religion ? what probability there is that your souls may prosper there! Alas, do not many remove merely from the motives of Lot ? that they may advance their worldly interests ? that they may carry on a more lucrative trade ? I willingly grant that these considerations may be permitted to have weight, when the opportunities of religious improvement are also duly considered: but numbers act upon these motives without so much as a thought how they shall spiritually profit ; and not a few change their situation even from worse motives still, because some other will afford them more amusements and worldly pleasures, and exhibits more of
pomp and vanity. My brethren, the use of the scriptures is to admonish and guide us; and very important instruction is here set forth. Let the example of Abraham teach us our wisdom and our duty, that in all our removals we may principally consider the growth of our souls in grace : and further, that, whenever we do remove, we may carry our religion along with us, and rear up an altar, at least in our own families, for the worship of God.
II. The next circumstance which we have to notice respecting Abraham is, his removal into Egypt, and his strange behaviour on that occasion in a particular case. Some time after his arrival in Canaan, there occurred a very grievous famine. Now this would be a great trial to Abraham. It would seem to cast disappointment on his hopes and expectations, and might tend to make him regret the country which he had left. In a following part of the history we shall find the Israelites murmuring on a similar occasion, and saying, “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full !” So Abraham might have wished that he had remained in Ur or in Haran : and truly if he had been mindful of that country from whence he came out, he had bere an inducement to return. But though
the circumstance was calculated to shake his faith, it yet remained firm. He only therefore went down into Egypt, purposing, soon as the scarcity was over, to return again into Canaan. And here, when we least expect it, we find him exbibiting a want of faith in one particular, though in the principal matter he had maintained it so honourably. Being afraid lest the beauty of Sarah his wife should bring him into danger, he had recourse to an unjustifiable expedient, in pretending that she was his sister. In one sense indeed she was his sister, as being the daughter of his father, though not of his mother : but still this was a mere prevarication, wholly unbecoming his character, and not to be defended or excused. It is not recorded for our imitation, but as a warning. And herein the excellency of the Scriptures appears, that with impartial fidelity they relate the errors and failings, as well as the graces and excellencies, of the characters which they describe ; that we may learn what to avoid, at the same time that we are instructed what to pursue.
And it is remarkable that many of the Saints are recorded
to have fallen in those very things, for which, in general, they were most distinguished. Thus Abraham, the most illustrious of all men for his faith, sins through distrust. Moses, the meekest of all men, once speaks unadvisedly with his lips. Peter, the eager intrepid disciple, falls through fear. No perfect and sinless character is ever brought before us, except in the blessed Jesus. In all others we see a faithful delineation of human nature, with its infection remaining, even in those who are most under the influence of grace.
We are hereby taught to be humble and watchful; never to depend upon our own strength, nor ever, acquitting ourselves well on one side, to be negligent and forgetful on another. Let us learn also our need of
prayer, that God may watch over us, and keep us; that we may not be led into temptation; but that we may have grace sufficient for us in every place, and every circumstance. We should learn also to abhor all deception and everything that approximates to a lie. “Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.” Let the simplicity and sincerity, which the Gospel inculcates, be manifested in every word and every transaction.
III. The next circumstance to be observed is, the separation which took place between Abraham and Lot. Hitherto Lot had accompanied his uncle, he had come with him from Ur and from Haran, had followed him into Egypt, and had returned with him from thence into Canaan. Both of them had now increased exceedingly in substance. Their flocks and herds were become so numerous that the land was not able to support them; and this led to disputes and quarrels among their servants respecting the pasturage and wells. Thus we see that increased wealth brings additional cares and troubles with it: and the occupation and division of property has ever been, and is still, a fruitful source of strife and contention in families. But Abraham's conduct is here very much to his honour. He is determined to have no altercation with his nephew. All his language is kind and gentle. “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between