« 이전계속 »
my herdmen and thy herdmen : for we be brethren." Then he makes the most open and
generous proposal. “Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Abraham might have laid a stress upon his authority, as the elder and the principal; he might have said, the whole land is mine ; he might have required his kinsman to remain with, and to forego every object of contention, or to remove to what quarter Abraham might appoint. But such was not the Patriarch's temper : he sought not this world's wealth; he was not ansious to possess the best of the land ; he desired peace and the favour of God, and for these he was willing to waive his own rights.
Now this conduct is a practical comment upon that precept of the Gospel; “ if it be sible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." We are shewn the excellence of avoiding strife, and of leaving off contention before it be meddled with. We are instructed
by Abraham's example not to be ever consulting our own interest, and insisting upon our own rights ; but rather to forego our claims, and even to suffer wrong, that we may live in peace and quietness. And there is more advantage in this than many are aware of. It is the great preservative of our own private comfort; it keeps our minds free from angry and irritable feelings, than which we can have no greater tormentors; and leaves us the blessing of enjoying communion with God in a serene and quiet spirit. Moreover, the history will shew us that Abraham lost nothing, even in a temporal respect, by his condescension and liberality ; for he secured the blessing of the Lord, and that maketh rich. Though Lot had his choice of all the land, and he used it in pitching upon that which was the most fruitful, yet we do not find him prospering like Abraham. Nay he was soon obliged to become indebted to the patriarch for the recovery of his property, and even of his personal liberty. Thus godliness has the promise of the life which now is, as well as of that which is to come; and
Abraham, seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, had all other things added to him.
IV. The last circumstance in the history of Abraham to which I would at present call your attention is, his engagement in war. This sounds strangely, and seems contrary to the peaceable disposition which he had before shewn. But here was an unjust invasion of a country bordering upon him; and Abraham appears in the character of a protector of the oppressed. The history is briefly this. An assault was made by five confederate nations upon Sodom and its associates. These proved unable to withstand the force of the invaders. Sodom and Gomorrah were sacked, their goods seized as the property of the victors, and the inhabitants marched off to become their slaves. Lot was amongst them. When he had separated himself from Abraham, and gone to live in so wicked a place as Sodom, we might well expect to hear of some mischief befalling him. And now we find him seized as a prisoner by the victorious army, and being carried away into captivity.
But intelligence of his distress is brought to Abraham, who immediately arms all his own servants, joins with him the neighbouring people, pursues the invaders returning with their prey, overtakes, attacks, defeats them, and rescues Lot, and all the plunder which they had taken, out of their hands. And here another instance of his moderation and liberality appears. Had he been selfish and ambitious, he might have seized the whole for himself, and taken possession of the country as his own; but having recovered his kinsman, and brought back all the people, and their goods, he desired no more; he returned contentedly to his own settlement, refusing to accept even the reward which the King of Sodom would have given him. He waited in faith and patience till the Lord should put him into possession of the land, in no wise desiring to run before the time.
“Seekest thou high things unto thyself,” saith the Apostle, “ seek them not.” content with such things, as ye have.” Wait patiently for the fulfilment of all the Lord's promises to you. Though they tarry, wait for
them. All shall be accomplished in due time; and not one thing shall fail of them. Filling up the duties of your respective situations, doing good unto all men as every man hath need, and exhibiting that christian temper which each occasion calls for, commit your way unto the Lord, nor doubt the sure fulfilment of your Saviour's encouraging declaration, “ Fear not, little flock, for it is your father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,"
Another occurrence took place on his return with the recovered spoil, which introduces to our notice a person of whom very extraordinary mention is made in the scriptures. This is Melchisedek, the King of Salem, a priest also of the most high God, who, as it is here recorded, brought forth bread and wine for Abraham, and blessed him; and to whom Abraham, with due respect unto his priestly office, “
tithes of all.” Mention is again made of him in the hundred and tenth Psalm, and more particularly in the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: from which we learn that he was an eminent type of our