An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828)/Genesis

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I. We have now before us the Holy Bible, or Book, for so Bible signifies. We call it the Book, by way of eminency; for it is incomparably the best book that ever was written, the Book of books, shining like the sun, in the firmament of learning; other valuable and useful books, like the moon and stars, borrowing their light from it. We call it the Holy Book; because it was written by holy men, and indited by the Holy Ghost; it is perfectly pure from all falsehood and corrupt intention; and the manifest tendency of it is to promote holiness among men. The great things of God's Law and Gospel are here written to us, that they might be reduced to a greater certainty, might spread further, remain longer, and be transmitted to distant places and ages, more pure and entire than possibly they could be by report and tradition: and we shall have a great deal to answer for, if these things which belong to our peace, being thus committed to us in black and white, be neglected by us as a strange and foreign thing, Hos. viii. 12. The Scriptures, or Writings of the several inspired penmen, from Moses down to St. John, in which divine light, like that of the morning, shone gradually, (the sacred Canon being now completed,) are all put together in this blessed Bible, which, thanks be to God, we have in our hands, and they make as perfect a day as we are to expect on this side heaven. Every part was good, but altogether very good. This is the light that shines in a dark place, 2 Peter i. 19, and a dark place indeed the world would be, without the Bible.

II. We have before us that part of the Bible which we call the Old Testament, containing the acts and monuments of the church, from the creation almost to the coming of Christ in the flesh, which was about four thousand years, the truths then revealed, the laws then enacted, the devotions then paid, the prophecies then given, and the events which concerned that distinguished body, so far as God saw fit to preserve to us the knowledge of them. This is called a Testament, or Covenant, (Διαθήκη) because it was a settled declaration of the will of God concerning man in a Federal way, and had its force from the designed death of the great Testator, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Rev. xiii. 8. It is called the Old Testament, with relation to the New, which does not cancel and supersede it, but crown and perfect it, by the bringing in of that better hope which was typified and foretold in it: the Old Testament still remains glorious, though the New far exceeds in glory, 2 Cor. iii. 9.

III. We have before us that part of the Old Testament, which we call the Pentateuch, or five Books of Moses, that servant of the Lord who excelled all the other prophets, and typified the Great Prophet. In our Saviour's distribution of the books of the Old Testament into the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, or Hagiographa, these are the Law; for they contain not only the laws given to Israel, in the four last, but the laws given to Adam, to Noah, and to Abraham, in the first. These five books were, for ought we know, the first that ever were written; for we have not the least mention of any writing in all the book of Genesis, nor till God bid Moses write, Exod. xvii. 14.; and some think Moses himself never learned to write, till God set him his copy in the writing of the Ten Commandments upon the tables of stone. However, we are sure these books are the most ancient writings now extant, and therefore best able to give us a satisfactory account of the most ancient things.

IV. We have before us the first and longest of those five books, which we call Genesis; written, some think, when Moses was in Midian, for the instruction and comfort of his suffering brethren in Egypt. I rather think he wrote it in the wilderness, after he had been in the Mount with God, where, probably, he received full and particular instructions for the writing of it. And as he framed the tabernacle, so he did the more excellent and durable fabric of this book, exactly according to the pattern showed him in the mount; into which it is better to resolve the certainty of the things herein contained, than into any tradition which possibly might be handed down from Adam to Methuselah, from him to Shem, from him to Abraham, and so to the family of Jacob. Genesis is a name borrowed from the Greek. It signifies the original, or generation: fitly is this book so called, for it is a history of originals—the creation of the world, the entrance of sin and death into it, the invention of arts, the rise of nations, and especially the planting of the church, and the state of it in its early days. It is a history of generations—the generations of Adam, Noah, Abraham, &c. not endless, but useful genealogies. The beginning of the New Testament is called Genesis too, Matt. i. 1. (Βίβλος γενέσεως). The Book of the Genesis, or Generation, of Jesus Christ. Blessed be God for that Book which shows us our remedy, as this opens our wound. Lord, open our eyes, that we may see the wondrous things both of thy Law and Gospel!


The foundation of all religion being laid in our relation to God as our Creator, it was fit that that book of divine revelations, which was intended to be the guide, support, and rule, of religion in the world, should begin, as it does, with a plain and full account of the creation of the world—in answer to that first inquiry of a good conscience, Where is God my Maker? Job 35. 10. Concerning this, the pagan philosophers wretchedly blundered, and became vain in their imaginations; some asserting the world's eternity and self-existence, others ascribing it to a fortuitous concourse of atoms: thus the world by wisdom knew not God, but took a great deal of pains to lose him. The holy scripture, therefore, designing by revealed religion to maintain and improve natural religion, to repair the decays of it, and supply the defects of it, since the fall, for the reviving of the precepts of the law of nature; lays down, at first, this principle of the unclouded light of nature, That this world was, in the beginning of time, created by a Being of infinite wisdom and power, who was himself before all time, and all worlds. The entrance into God's word gives this light, Ps. 119. 130. The first verse of the Bible gives us a surer and better, a more satisfying and useful knowledge of the origin of the universe, than all the volumes of the philosophers. The lively faith of humble christians understands this matter better than the elevated fancy of the greatest wits, Heb. 11. 3.

We have three things in this chapter, I. A general idea given us of the work of creation, v. 1, 2.   II. A particular account of the several days' work, registered, as in a journal, distinctly and in order. The creation of the light, the first day, v. 3..5; of the firmament, the second day, v. 6..8; of the sea, the earth, and its fruits, the third day, v. 9..13; of the lights of heaven, the fourth day, v. 14..19; of the fish and fowl, the fifth day, v. 20..33; of the beasts, v. 24, 25; of man, v. 26..28; and of food for both, the sixth day, v. 29, 30.   III. The review and approbation of the whole work, v. 31.

1.IN the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

In this verse we have the work of creation in its epitome, and in its embryo.

I. In its epitome, v. 1. where we find, to our comfort, the first article of our creed, that God the Father Almighty is the Maker of heaven and earth, and as such we believe in him. Observe, in this verse, four things.

1. The effect produced; the heaven and the earth, that is, the world, including the whole frame and furniture of the universe, the world and all things therein, Acts 17. 24. The world is a great house, consisting of upper and lower stories, the structure stately and magnificent, uniform and convenient, and every room well and wisely furnished. It is the visible part of the creation that Moses here designs to account for; therefore, he mentions not the creation of angels: but as the earth has not only its surface adorned with grass and flowers, but also its bowels enriched with metals and precious stones, which partake more of its solid nature and are more valuable, though the creation of them is not mentioned here; so the heavens are not only beautified to our eye with glorious lamps which garnish its outside, of whose creation we here read, but they are within replenished with glorious beings, out of our sight, more celestial, and more surpassing them in worth and excellency, than the gold or sapphires do the lilies of the field. In the visible world it is easy to observe, (1.) Great variety; several sorts of beings vastly differing in their nature and constitution from each other. Lord, how manifold are thy works, and all good! (2.) Great beauty; the azure sky and verdant earth are charming to the eye of the curious spectator, much more the ornaments of both. How transcendent then must the beauty of the Creator be! (3.) Great exactness and accuracy; to those that, with the help of microscopes, narrowly look into the works of nature, they appear far more fine than any of the works of art. (4.) Great power; it is not a lump of dead and inactive matter, but there is virtue more or less, in every creature; the earth itself has a magnetic power. (5.) Great order; a mutual dependence of being, an exact harmony of motions, and an admirable chain and connexion of causes. (6.) Great mystery; there are phenomena in nature, which cannot be solved, secrets which cannot be fathomed or accounted for. But from what we see of heaven and earth, we may easily enough infer the eternal power and Godhead of the great Creator, and may furnish ourselves with abundant matter for his praises. And let our make and place, as men, remind us of our duty as christians, which is, always to keep heaven in our eye, and the earth under our feet.

2. The Author and Cause of this great work, GOD; the Hebrew word is Elohim, which bespeaks, (1.) The power of God the Creator. El signifies the strong God; and what less than an almighty strength could bring all things out of nothing? (2.) The plurality of persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This plural name of God, in Hebrew, which speaks of him as many, though he is one, was to the gentiles perhaps a savour of death unto death, hardening them in their idolatry; but it is to us a savour of life unto life, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, which, though but darkly intimated in the Old Testament, is clearly revealed in the New. The Son of God, the eternal Word and Wisdom of the Father, was with him, when he made the world, Prov. 8. 30. nay, we are often told that the world was made by him, and nothing made without him, John 1. 3, 10. Eph. 3. 9. Col. 1. 16. Heb. 1. 2. O what high thoughts should this form, in our minds, of that great God whom we draw nigh to in religious worship, and that great Mediator in whose name we draw nigh!

3. The manner in which this work was effected; God created, that is, made it out of nothing; there was not any pre-existent matter out of which the world was produced. The fish and fowl were indeed produced out of the waters, and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth and those waters were made out of nothing. By the ordinary power of nature, it is impossible that something should be made out of nothing; no artificer can work, unless he has something to work on. But by the almighty power of God, it is not only possible that something should be made of nothing, (the God of nature is not subject to the laws of nature,) but in the creation, it is impossible it should be otherwise, for nothing is more injurious to the honour of the Eternal Mind than the supposition of eternal matter. Thus the excellency of the power is of God, and all the glory is to him.

4. When this work was produced; In the beginning, that is, in the beginning of time, when that clock was first set a going: time began with the production of those beings that are measured by time. Before the beginning of time there was none but that Infinite Being that inhabits eternity. Should we ask why God made the world no sooner, we should but darken counsel by words without knowledge; for how could there be sooner or later in eternity? And he did make it in the beginning of time, according to his eternal counsels before all time. The Jewish Rabbins have a saying, that there were seven things which God created before the world, by which they only mean to express the excellency of these things—The Law; Repentance; Paradise; Hell; the throne of Glory; the House of the Sanctuary; and the Name of the Messiah. But to us it is enough to say, In the beginning was the Word, John 1. 1.

Let us learn hence, (1.) That atheism is folly, and atheists are the greatest fools in nature; for they see there is a world that could not make itself, and yet they will not own there is a God that made it. Doubtless, they are without excuse, but the god of this world has blinded their minds. (2.) That God is sovereign Lord of all, by an incontestible right. If he be the Creator, no doubt, he is the Owner and Possessor, of heaven and earth. (3.) That with God all things are possible, and therefore happy are the people that have him for their God, and whose help and hope stand in his name, Ps. 121.2.—124.8. (4.) That the God we serve, is worthy of, and yet is exalted far above, all blessing and praise, Neh. 9. 5, 6. If he made the world, he needs not our services, nor can be benefited by them, Acts 17. 24, 25, and yet he justly requires them, and deserves our praise, Rev. 4. 11. If all is of him, all must be to him.

II. Here is the work of creation in its embryo, (v. 2.) where we have an account of its first matter, and the first Mover.

1. A chaos was the first matter; it is here called the earth, (though the earth, properly taken, was not made till the third day, v. 10.) because it did most resemble that which afterward was called earth, mere earth, destitute of its ornaments, such a heavy unwieldy mass was it; it is also called the deep, both for its vastness, and because the waters which were afterward separated from the earth, were now mixed with it. This immense mass of matter was it, out of which all bodies, even the firmament and visible heavens themselves, were afterward produced by the power of the Eternal Word. The Creator could have made his work perfect at first, but by this gradual proceeding he would show what is, ordinarily, the method of his providence and grace. Observe the description of this chaos. (1.) There was nothing in it desirable to be seen, for it was without form, and void. Tohu and Bohu, confusion and emptiness; so those words are rendered, Isa. 34. 11. It was shapeless, it was useless, it was without inhabitants, without ornaments, the shadow or rough draught of things to come, and not the image of the things, Heb. 10. 1. The earth is almost reduced to the same condition again by the sin of man, under which the creation groans; See Jer. 4. 23; I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void. To those who have their hearts in heaven, this lower world, in comparison with that upper, still appears to be nothing but confusion and emptiness. There is no true beauty to be seen, no satisfying fulness to be enjoyed, in this earth, but in God only. (2.) If there had been any thing desirable to be seen, yet there was no light to see it by; for darkness, thick darkness, was upon the face of the deep. God did not create this darkness, (as he is said to create the darkness of affliction, Isa. 45. 7,) for it was only the want of light, which yet could not be said to be wanted, till something was made, that might be seen by it; nor needs the want of it be much complained of, when there was nothing to be seen but confusion and emptiness. If the work of grace in the soul is a new creation, this chaos represents the state of an unregenerate graceless soul: there is disorder, confusion, and every evil work; it is empty of all good, for it is without God; it is dark, it is darkness itself: this is our condition by nature, till almighty grace effects a blessed change.

2. The Spirit of God was the first Mover; he moved upon the face of the waters. When we consider the earth without form, and void, methinks, it is like the valley full of dead and dry bones. Can these live? Can this confused mass of matter be formed into a beautiful world? Yes, if a spirit of life from God enter into it, Ezek. 37. 9. Now there is hope concerning this thing; for if the Spirit of God begins to work, and if he work, who or what shall hinder? God is said to make the world by his Spirit, Ps. 33. 6, Job. 26. 13, and by the same Mighty Worker the new creation is effected. He moved upon the face of the deep, as Elijah stretched himself upon the dead child; as the hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and hovers over them, to warm and cherish them. Matt. 23, 37, as the eagle stirs up her nest, and flutters over her young, (it is the same word that is here used,) Deut. 32. 11. Learn hence, That God is not only the Author of all being, but the Fountain of life, and Spring of motion. Dead matter would be for ever dead, if he did not quicken it. And this makes it credible to us, that God should raise the dead. That power which brought such a world as this, out of confusion, emptiness, and darkness, at the beginning of time, can, at the end of time, bring our vile bodies out of the grave, though it be a land of darkness as darkness itself, and without any order, Job. 10. 22, and can make them glorious bodies.

3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4, And God saw the light that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

We have here a further account of the first day's work. In which observe,

I. That the first of all visible beings which God created, was light; not that by it he himself might see to work, (for the darkness and light are both alike to him,) but that by it we might see his works, and his glory in them, and might work our works while it is day. The works of Satan and his servants are works of darkness; but he that doeth truth, and doeth good, cometh to the light, and coveteth it, that his deeds may be made manifest, John 3. 21. Light is the great beauty and blessing of the universe: like the first-born, it does, of all visible beings, most resemble its great Parent in purity and power, brightness and beneficence; it is of great affinity with a spirit, and is next to it; though by it we see other things, and are sure that it is, yet we know not its nature, nor can describe what it is, or by what way the light is parted, Job 38. 19, 24. By the sight of it let us be led to, and assisted in, the believing contemplation of Him who is Light, infinite and eternal Light, 1 John 1. 5, and the Father of Lights, James 1. 17, and who dwells in inaccessible light, 1 Tim. 6. 16. In the new creation, the first thing wrought in the soul, is light: the blessed Spirit captivates the will and affections by enlightening the understanding, so coming into the heart by the door, like the good shepherd whose own it is, while sin and Satan, like thieves and robbers, climb up some other way. They that by sin were darkness, by grace become light in the Lord.

II. That the light was made by the word of God's power; he said, Let there be Light; he willed and appointed it, and it was done immediately; there was light, such a copy as exactly answered the original idea in the Eternal Mind. O the power of the word of God! He spake, and it was done; done really, effectually, and for perpetuity, not in show only, and to serve a present turn, for he commanded, and it stood fast: with him it was dictum, factum—a word, and a world. The word of God, that is, his will and the good pleasure of it, is quick and powerful. Christ is the Word, the essential eternal Word, and by him the light was produced, for in him was light, and he is the true Light, the Light of the world, 1 John 9.—9. 5. The divine light which shines in sanctified souls is wrought by the power of God, the power of his word, and of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, opening the understanding, scattering the mists of ignorance and mistake, and giving the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, as, at first, God commanded the light to shine out of darkness, 2 Cor. 4. 6. Darkness had been perpetually upon the face of fallen man, if the Son of God had not come, and given us an understanding, 1 John 5. 20.

III. That the light which God willed, when it was produced, he approved of; God saw the light that it was good. It was exactly as he designed it, and it was fit to answer the end for which he designed it. It was useful and profitable; the world, which now is a palace, would have been a dungeon without it. It was amiable and pleasant; truly light is sweet, Eccles. 11. 7, it rejoiceth the heart, Prov. 15. 30. What God commands he will approve and graciously accept of, and be well pleased with the work of his own hands. That is good indeed, which is so in the sight of God, for he sees not as man sees. If the light be good, how good is he that is the Fountain of light, from which we receive it, and to whom we owe all praise for it, and all the services we do by it!

IV. That God divided the light from the darkness, so put them asunder, as that they could never be joined together or reconciled; for what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Cor. 6. 14. And yet he divided time between them, the day for light, and the night for darkness, in a constant and regular succession to each other. Though the darkness was now scattered by the light, yet it was not condemned to a perpetual banishment, but takes its turn with the light, and has its place, because it has its use; for as the light of the morning befriends the business of the day, so the shadows of the evening befriend the repose of the night, and draw the curtains about us, that we may sleep the better; See Job 7. 2. God has thus divided time between light and darkness, because he would daily remind us that this is a world of mixtures and changes. In heaven there is perfect and perpetual light, and no darkness at all; in hell, utter darkness, and no gleam of light. In that world, between these two there is a great gulf fixed; but in this world, they are counterchanged, and we pass daily from one to another; that we may learn to expect the like vicissitudes in the providence of God, peace and trouble, joy and sorrow, and may set the one over against the other, and accommodate ourselves to both, as we do to the light and darkness, bidding both welcome, and making the best of both.

V. That God divided them from each other by distinguishing names; he called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. He gave them names, as Lord of both; for the day is his, the night also is his, Ps. 74. 16. He is the Lord of time, and will be so, till day and night shall come to an end, and the stream of time be swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. Let us acknowledge God in the constant succession of day and night, and consecrate both to his honour, by working for him every day, and resting in him every night, and meditating in his law day and night.

VI. That this was the first day's work, and a good day's work it was; the evening and the morning were the first day. The darkness of the evening was before the light of the morning, that it might serve for a foil to it, to set it off, and make it shine the brighter. This was not only the first day of the world, but the first day of the week. I observe it, to the honour of that day, because the new world began on the first day of the week likewise, in the resurrection of Christ, as the Light of the world, early in the morning. In him, the day-spring from on high has visited the world; and happy are we, for ever happy, if that Day-star arise in our hearts.

6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament, from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

We have here an account of the second day's work, the creation of the firmament: in which observe,

I. The command of God concerning it; Let there be a firmament, and expansion, so the Hebrew word signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all that is visible above the earth, between it, and the third heaven; the air, its higher, middle, and lower regions; the celestial globe, and all the spheres and orbs of light above: it reaches as high as the place where the stars are fixed, for that is called here the firmament of Heaven, v. 14, 15, and as low as the place where the birds fly, for that also is called the firmament of Heaven, v. 20. When God had made the light, he appointed the air to be the receptacle and vehicle of its beams, and to be as a medium of communication between the invisible and the visible world; for though between heaven and earth there is an inconceivable distance, yet there is not an unpassable gulf, as there is between heaven and hell. This firmament is not a wall of partition, but a way of intercourse. See Job 26. 7.—37. 18. Ps. 104. 3. Amos 9. 6.

II. The creation of it. Lest it should seem as if God had only commanded it to be done, and some one else had done it, he adds, And God made the firmament. What God requires of us, he himself works in us, or it is not done. He that commands faith, holiness, and love, creates them by the power of his grace going along with his word, that he may have all the praise. Lord, give what thou commandest, and then command what thou pleasest. The firmament is said to be the work of God's fingers, Ps. 8. 3. Though the vastness of its extent declares it to be the work of his arm stretched out, yet the admirable fineness of its constitution shows that it is a curious piece of art, the work of his fingers.

III. The use and design of it; to divide the waters from the waters, that is, to distinguish between the waters that are wrapt up in the clouds, and those that cover the sea; the waters in the air, and those in the earth. See the difference between these two, carefully observed, Deut. 11. 10, 11, where Canaan is, upon this account, preferred to Egypt, that Egypt was moistened, and made fruitful, with the waters that are under the firmament; but Canaan with waters from above, out of the firmament; even the dew of heaven, which tarrieth not for the sons of men, Mic. 5. 7. God has, in the firmament of his power, chambers, store-chambers, whence he watereth the earth, Ps. 104. 13.—65. 9, 10. He has also treasures, or magazines, of snow and hail, which he hath reserved against the day of battle and war, Job 38. 22, 23. O what a great God is he, who has thus provided for the comfort of all that serve him, and the confusion of all that hate him! It is good having him our friend, and bad having him our enemy.

IV. The naming of it; He called the firmament Heaven. It is the visible heaven, the pavement of the holy city; above the firmament God is said to have his throne, Ezek. 1. 26, for he has prepared it in the heavens; the heavens therefore are said to rule, Dan. 4. 26. Is not God in the height of heaven? Job 22. 12. Yes, he is, and we should be led by the contemplation of the heavens that are in our eye, to consider Our Father which is in heaven. The height of the heavens should remind us of God's supremacy, and the infinite distance that is between us and him; the brightness of the heavens and their purity should remind us of his glory and majesty, and perfect holiness; the vastness of the heavens, their encompassing of the earth, and the influence they have upon it, should remind us of his immensity and universal providence.

9. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11. And God said. Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13. And the evening and the morning were the third day.

The third day's work is related in these verses; the forming of the sea and the dry land, and the making of the earth fruitful. Hitherto the power of the Creator had been exerted and employed about the upper part of the visible world; the light of heaven was kindled, and the firmament of heaven fixed; but now he descends to this lower world, the earth, which was designed for the children of men, designed both for their habitation, and for their maintenance; and here we have an account of the fitting of it for both, the building of their house, and the spreading of their table. Observe,

I. How the earth was prepared to be a habitation for man; by the gathering of the waters together, and the making of the dry land to appear; thus, instead of that confusion which was, v. 2, when earth and water were mixed in one great mass, behold, now, there is order, by such a separation as rendered them both useful. God said, Let it be so, and it was so; no sooner said than done. 1. The waters which had covered the earth, were ordered to retire, and to gather into one place, namely, those hollows which were fitted and appointed for their reception and rest: the waters, thus cleared, thus collected, and thus lodged in their proper place, he called Seas; for though they are many, in distant regions, and washing several shores, yet either above ground, or under ground, they have communication with each other, and so they are one, and the common receptacle of waters, into which all the rivers flow, Eccl. 1. 7. Waters and seas often, in scripture, signify troubles and afflictions, Ps. 69. 2, 14, 15.—42. 7. God's own people are not exempted from these in this world; but it is their comfort, that they are only waters under the heaven, (there is none in heaven,) and that they are all in the place that God has appointed them, and within the bounds that he has set them. How the waters were gathered together, at first, and how they are still bound and limited by the same Almighty Hand that first confined them, is elegantly described, Ps. 104. 6...9, and is there mentioned as matter of praise. They that go down to the sea in ships, ought to acknowledge daily the wisdom, power, and goodness, of the Creator, in making the great waters serviceable to man for trade and commerce; and they that tarry at home, must own themselves indebted to him that keeps the sea with bars and doors in its decreed place, and stays its proud waves. Job 38. 10, 11.   2. The dry land was made to appear, and emerge out of the waters, and was called Earth, and given to the children of men. The earth, it seems, was in being, before; but it was of no use, because it was under water: thus many of God's gifts are received in vain, because they are buried; make them to appear, and they become serviceable. We who, to this day, enjoy the benefit of the dry land, (though, since this, it was once deluged, and dried again,) must own ourselves tenants to, and dependents upon, that God whose hands formed the dry land, Ps. 95. 5. Jonah 1. 9.

II. How the earth was furnished for the maintenance and support of man, v. 11, 12. Present provision was now made, by the immediate products of the upstart earth, which in obedience to God's command, was no sooner made, than it became fruitful, and brought forth grass for the cattle, and herb for the service of man. Provision was likewise made for time to come, by the perpetuating of the several kinds of vegetables, which are numerous, various, and all curious, and every one having its seed in itself after its kind, that, during the continuance of man upon the earth, food might be fetched out of the earth, for his use and benefit. Lord, what is man, that he is thus visited and regarded—that such care should be taken, and such provision made, for the support and preservation of those guilty and obnoxious lives which have been, a thousand times, forfeited! Observe here, 1. That not only the earth is the Lord's, but the fulness thereof and he is the rightful Owner and sovereign Disposer, not only of it, but of all its furniture. The earth was emptiness, v. 2. but now, by a word's speaking, it is become full of God's riches, and his they are still; his corn and his wine, his wool and his flax, Hos. 2. 9. Though the use of them is allowed to us, the property still remains in him, and to his service and honour they must be used. 2. That common providence is a continued creation, and in it, our Father worketh hitherto. The earth still remains, under the efficacy of this command, to bring forth grass, and herbs, and its annual products; though, being according to the common course of nature, they are not standing miracles, yet they are standing instances of the unwearied power, and unexhausted goodness, of the world's great Maker and Master. 3. That though God, ordinarily, makes use of the agency of second causes, according to their nature, yet he neither needs them, nor is tied to them; for though the precious fruits of the earth are usually brought forth by the influences of the sun and moon, Deut. 33. 14, yet here we find the earth bearing a great abundance of fruit, probably ripe fruit, before the sun and moon were made. 4. That it is good to provide things necessary, before we have occasion to use them: before the beasts and man were made, here were grass and herb prepared for them. God thus dealt wisely and graciously with man; let not man then be foolish and unwise for himself. 5. That God must have the glory of all the benefit we receive from the products of the earth, either for food or physic. It is he that hears the heavens, when they hear the earth, Hos. 2. 21, 22. And if we have, through grace, an interest in him who is the Fountain, when the streams are dried up, and the fig-tree doth not blossom, we may rejoice in him.

14. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven, to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth, 18. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

This is the history of the fourth day's work, the creating of the sun, moon, and stars, which are here accounted for, not as they are in themselves, and in their own nature, to satisfy the curious, but as they are in relation to this earth, to which they serve as lights; and this is enough to furnish us with matter for praise and thanksgiving. Holy Job mentions this as an instance of the glorious power of God, that by his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens; Job 26. 13; and here we have an account of that garniture, which is not only so much the beauty of the upper world, but so much the blessing of this lower; for though heaven is high, yet it hath respect to this earth, and therefore should have respect from it. Of the creation of the lights of heaven we have an account.

I. In general, v. 14, 15, where we have, 1. The command given concerning them; Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven. God had said, v. 3, Let there be light, and there was light: but that was, as it were, a chaos of light, scattered and confused; now it was collected and modelled, and made into several luminaries, and so rendered both more glorious, and more serviceable. God is the God of order, and not of confusion; and as he is Light, so he is the Father and Former of lights. Those lights were to be in the firmament of heaven, that vast expanse which encloses the earth, and is conspicuous to all; for no man, when he hath lighted a candle, puts it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; Luke 8. 16; and a stately golden candlestick the firmament of heaven is, from which these candles give light to all that are in the house. The firmament itself is spoken of as having a brightness of its own, Dan. xii. 3, but that was not sufficient to give light to the earth; and perhaps, for that reason, it is not expressly said of the second day's work, in which the firmament was made, that it was good, because, till it was adorned with these lights on the fourth day, it was not become serviceable to man. 2. The use they were intended to be of to this earth. (1.) They must be for the distinction of times, of day and night, summer and winter, which are interchanged by the motion of the sun; whose rising makes day, his setting night; his approach towards our tropic makes summer, his recess to the other, winter: and thus, under the sun, there is a season to every purpose, Eccl. 3. 1.   (2.) They must be for the direction of actions. They are for signs of the change of weather, that the husbandman may order his affairs with discretion, foreseeing by the face of the sky, when second causes have begun to work, whether it will be fair or foul, Matt. 16. 2, 3. They do also give light upon the earth, that we may walk, (John 11. 9,) and work, (John 9. 4,) according as the duty of every day requires. The lights of heaven do not shine for themselves, nor for the world of spirits above, they need them not; but they shine for us, and for our pleasure and advantage. Lord, what is man, that he should be thus regarded! Ps. 8. 3, 4. How ungrateful and inexcusable are we, if, when God has set up these lights for us to work by, we sleep, or play, or trifle away the time of business, and neglect the great work we were sent into the world about! The lights of heaven are made to serve us, and they do it faithfully, and shine, in their season, without fail: but we are set as lights in this world to serve God; and do we in like manner, answer the end of our creation? No, we do not; our light does not shine before God, as his lights shine before us, Matth. v. 14. We burn our Master's candles; but do not mind our Master's work.

II. In particular, v. 6...18. The lights of heaven are, the sun, moon, and stars; and these are all the work of God's hands. 1. The sun is the greatest light of all, one hundred and sixty-six times greater than the earth, and the most glorious and useful of all the lamps of Heaven; a noble instance of the Creator's wisdom, power, and goodness, and an invaluable blessing to the creatures of this lower world. Let us learn from Ps. 19. 1...6. how to give unto God the glory due to his name, as the Maker of the sun. 2. The moon is a lesser light, and yet is here reckoned one of the greater lights, because, though, in regard of its magnitude and borrowed light, it is inferior to many of the stars, yet, by virtue of its office, as ruler of the night, and in respect of its usefulness to the earth, it is more excellent than they. Those are most valuable, that are most serviceable; and those are the greater lights, not that have the best gifts, but that humbly and faithfully do the most good with them. Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. Matt. 20. 26.   3. He made the stars also; which are here spoken of, as they appear to vulgar eyes, without distinguishing between the planets and the fixed stars, or accounting for their number, nature, place, magnitude, motions, or influences; for the scriptures were written, not to gratify our curiosity, and make us astronomers, but to lead us to God, and make us saints. Now these lights are said to rule, v. 16, 18, not that they have a supreme dominion, as God has, but they are deputy governors, rulers under him. Here the lesser light, the moon, is said to rule the night; but, Ps. 136. 9, the stars are mentioned as sharers in that government, the moon and stars to rule by night. No more is meant, than that they give light, Jer. 31. 35. The best and most honourable way of ruling, is, by giving light, and doing good: those command respect, that live a useful life, and so shine as lights.

Learn from all this, (1.) The sin and folly of that ancient idolatry, the worshipping of the sun, moon, and stars, which, some think, took rise, or countenance at least, from some broken traditions in the patriarchal age, concerning the rule and dominion of the lights of heaven. But the account here given of them plainly shows that they are both God's creatures, and man's servants; and therefore it is both a great affront to God, and a great reproach to ourselves, to make deities of them, and give them divine honours; see Deut 4. 19.   (2.) The duty and wisdom of daily worshipping that God who made all these things, and made them to be that to us, which they are. The revolutions of the day and night oblige us to the solemn sacrifice of prayers and praises, every morning and evening.

20. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

Each day, hitherto, has produced very noble and excellent beings, which we can never sufficiently admire; but we do not read of the creation of any living creature, till the fifth day, which these verses gives us an account of. The work of creation not only proceeded gradually from one thing to another, but rose and advanced gradually from that which was less excellent to that which was more so, teaching us to press toward perfection, and endeavour that our last works may be our best works. It was on the fifth day that the fish and fowl were created, and both out of the waters; though there is one kind of flesh, of fishes, and another, of birds, yet they were made together, and both out of the waters; for the power of the first Cause can produce very different effects from the same second causes.

I. The making of the fish and fowl, at first, v. 20, 21. God commanded them to be produced; he said. Let the waters bring forth abundantly; not as if the waters had any productive power of their own, but, "Let them be brought into being, the fish in the waters, and the fowl out of them." This command he himself executed; God created great whales, &c. Insects, which perhaps, are as various and as numerous as any species of animals, and their structure as curious, were part of this day's work, some of them being allied to the fish, and others to the fowl. Mr. Boyle (I remember) says, he admires the Creator's wisdom and power as much in an ant as in an elephant. Notice is here taken of the various sorts of fish and fowl, each after their kind; and of the great numbers of both that were produced, for the waters brought forth abundantly; and particular mention is made of great whales, the largest of fishes, whose bulk and strength, exceeding that of any other animal, are remarkable proofs of the power and greatness of the Creator. The express notice here taken of the whale, above all the rest, seems sufficient to determine what animal is meant by the Leviathan, Job 41. 1. The curious formation of the bodies of animals, their different sizes, shapes, and natures, with the admirable powers of the sensitive life with which they are endued, when duly considered, serve, not only to silence and shame the objections of atheists and infidels, but to raise high thoughts and high praises of God in pious and devout souls, Ps. 104. 25, &c.

II. The blessing of them, in order to their continuance. Life is a wasting thing; its strength is not the strength of stones, it is a candle that will burn out, if it be not first blown out; and therefore the wise Creator not only made the individuals, but provided for the propagating of the several kinds, v. 22. God blessed them, saying. Be fruitful, and multiply. God will bless his own works, and not forsake them; and what he doeth it shall be for a perpetuity, Eccl. 3. 14. The power of God's providence preserves all things, as, at first, his creating power produced them. Fruitfulness is the effect of God's blessing, and must be ascribed to it; the multiplying of the fish and fowl, from year to year, is still the fruit of this blessing. Well, let us give to God the glory of the continuance of these creatures to this day for the benefit of man. See Job 12. 7..9. It is pity that fishing and fowling, recreations innocent in themselves, should be ever abused to divert any from God and their duty, while they are capable of being improved to lead us to the contemplation of the wisdom, power, and goodness of him that made all these things, and to engage us to stand in awe of him, as the fish and fowl do of us.

24. And God said. Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

We have here the first part of the sixth day's work. The sea was, the day before, replenished with its fish, and the air with its fowl; and, this day, were made the beast of the earth, cattle, and the creeping things that pertain to the earth. Here, as before, 1. The Lord gave the word; he said, Let the earth bring forth, not as if the earth had any such prolific virtue as to produce these animals, or as if God resigned his creating power to it; but, "Let these creatures now come into being upon the earth, and out of it, in their respective kinds, conformable to the ideas of them in the divine counsels concerning their creation." 2. He also did the work; he made them all after their kind, not only of divers shapes, but of divers natures, manners, food, and fashions: some to be tame about the house, others to be wild in the fields: some living upon grass and herbs, others upon flesh; some harmless, and others ravenous; some bold, and others timorous; some for man's service, and not his sustenance, as the horse; others for his sustenance, and not his service, as the sheep; others for both, as the ox; and some for neither, as the wild beasts. In all which appears the manifold wisdom of the Creator.

26. And God said. Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

We have here the second part of the sixth day's work, the creation of man, which we are, in a special manner, concerned to take notice of, that we may know ourselves. Observe,

I. That man was made last of all the creatures, that it might not be suspected that he had been, any way, a helper to God in the creation of the world: that question must be for ever humbling and mortifying to him, Where wast thou, or any of thy kind, when I laid the foundations of the earth? Job 38. 4. Yet it was both an honour and a favour to him, that he was made last; an honour, for the method of the creation was, to advance from that which was less perfect to that which was more so; and a favour, for it was not fit he should be lodged in the palace designed for him, till it was completely fitted up and furnished for his reception. Man, as soon as he was made, had the whole visible creation before him, both to contemplate, and to take the comfort of. Man was made the same day that the beasts were, because his body was made of the same earth with their's; and while he is in the body, he inhabits the same earth with them: God forbid that by indulging the body and the desires of it, we should make ourselves like the beasts that perish!

II. That man's creation was a more signal and immediate act of divine wisdom and power than that of the other creatures. The narrative of it is introduced with something of solemnity, and a manifest distinction from the rest: hitherto, it had been said, Let there be light, and Let there be a firmament; or, "Let the earth, or waters, bring forth such a thing;" but now the word of command is turned into a word of consultation, "Let us make man, for whose sake the rest of the creatures were made: this is a work we must take into our own hands." In the former, he speaks as one having authority, in this as one having affection, for his delights were with the sons of men, Prov. 8. 31. It should seem as if this were the work which he longed to be at; as if he had said, "having at last settled the preliminaries, let us now apply ourselves to the business, Let us make man." Man was to be a creature different from all that had been hitherto made. Flesh and spirit, heaven and earth, must be put together in him, and he must be allied to both worlds. And therefore God himself not only undertakes to make, but is pleased so to express himself, as if he called a council to consider of the making of him; Let us make man. The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, consult about it, and concur in it, because man, when he was made, was to be dedicated and devoted to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Into that Great Name we are, with good reason, baptised, for to that Great Name we owe our being. Let them rule man, who said. Let us make man.

III. That man was made in God's image, and after his likeness; two words to express the same thing, and making each other the more expressive; image and likeness denote the likest image, the nearest resemblance of any of the visible creatures. Man was not made in the likeness of any creature that went before him, but in the likeness of his Creator; yet still, between God and man there is an infinite distance. Christ only is the express image of God's person, as the Son of his Father, having the same nature. It is only some of God's honour, that is put upon man, who is God's image, only as the shadow in the glass, or the king's impress upon the coin. God's image upon man consists in these three things, 1. In his nature and constitution, not those of his body, (for God has not a body,) but those of his soul. This honour indeed God has put upon the body of man, that the Word was made flesh, the Son of God was clothed with a body like unto our's, and will shortly clothe our's with a glory like unto his. And this we may safely say, That he by whom God made the worlds, not only the great world, but man the little world, formed the human body, at the first, according to the platform he designed for himself in the fulness of time. But it is the soul, the great soul, of man, that does especially bear God's image. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent, immortal spirit, an influencing active spirit, herein resembling God, the Father of Spirits, and the Soul of the world. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. The soul of man, considered in its three noble faculties, understanding, will, and active power, is perhaps the brightest clearest looking-glass in nature, wherein to see God. 2. In his place and authority. Let us make man in our image, and let them have dominion. As he has the government of the inferior creatures, he is, as it were, God's representative, or viceroy, upon earth; they are not capable of fearing and serving God, therefore God has appointed them to fear and serve man. Yet his government of himself by the freedom of his will, has in it more of God's image than his government of the creatures. 3. In his purity and rectitude. God's image upon man consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, Eph. 4. 24. Col. 3. 10. He was upright, Eccl. 7. 29. He had an habitual conformity of all his natural powers to the whole will of God. His understanding saw divine things clearly and truly, and there were no errors or mistakes in his knowledge: his will complied readily and universally with the will of God, without reluctancy or resistance: his affections were all regular, and he had no inordinate appetites or passions: his thoughts were easily brought, and fixed, to the best subjects, and there was no vanity or ungovernableness in them. All the inferior powers were subject to the dictates and directions of the superior, without any mutiny or rebellion. Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents, in having the image of God upon them. And this honour put upon man, at first, is a good reason why we should not speak ill one of another, Jam. 3. 9, nor do ill one to another, Gen. 9. 6, and a good reason why we should not debase ourselves to the service of sin, and why we should devote ourselves to God's service. But how art thou fallen, O son of the morning! How is this image of God upon man defaced! How small are the remains of it, and how great the ruins of it! The Lord renew it upon our souls by his sanctifying grace!

IV. That man was made male and female, and blessed with the blessing of fruitfulness and increase. God said. Let us make man, and immediately it follows, So God created man; he performed what he resolved. With us, saying and doing are two things; but they are not so with God. He created him male and female, Adam and Eve; Adam, first out of earth, and Eve out of his side. ch. 2. It should seem that of the rest of the creatures, God made many couples, but of man, did not he make one? (Mal. 2. 15.) though he had the residue of the Spirit: whence Christ gathers an argument against divorce, Matth. 19. 4, 5. Our first father, Adam, was confined to one wife; and if he had put her away, there was no other for him to marry, which plainly intimated that the bond of marriage was not to be dissolved at pleasure. Angels were not made male and female, for they were not to propagate their kind, (Luke 20. 34...36.) but man was made so, that the nature might be propagated, and the race continued. Fires and candles, the luminaries of this lower world, because they waste, and go out, have a power to light more; but it is not so with the lights of heaven, stars do not kindle stars. God made but one male and one female, that all the nations of men might know themselves to be made of one blood, descendants from one common stock, and might thereby be induced to love one another. God, having made them capable of transmitting the nature they had received, said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. Here he gave them, 1. A large inheritance; Replenish the earth; that is it, that is bestowed upon the children of men. They were made to dwell upon the face of all the earth, Acts 17. 26. That is the place in which God has set man to be the servant of his providence, in the government of the inferior creatures, and, as it were, the intelligence of this orb; to be the receiver of God's bounty, which other creatures live upon, but do not know it: to be likewise the collector of his praises in this lower world, and to pay them into the exchequer above, Ps. 145. 10, and (lastly) to be a probationer for a better state. 2. A numerous, lasting family, to enjoy this inheritance; pronouncing a blessing upon them, in the virtue of which their posterity should extend to the utmost corners of the earth, and continue to the utmost period of time. Fruitfulness and increase depend upon the blessing of God: Obed-Edom had eight sons, for God blessed him, 1 Chron. 26. 5. It is owing to this blessing which God commanded at first, that the race of mankind is still in being, and that as one generation passeth away, another cometh.

V. That God gave to man, when he had made him, a dominion over the inferior creatures, over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air: though man provides for neither, he has power over both, much more over every living thing that moveth upon the earth, which are more under his care, and within his reach. God designed, hereby, to put an honour upon man, that he might find himself the more strongly obliged to bring honour to his Maker. This dominion is very much diminished and lost by the fall: yet God's providence continues so much of it to the children of men, as is necessary to the safety and support of their lives, and God's grace has given to the saints a new and better title to the creature than that which was forfeited by sin; for all is our's, if we are Christ's, 1 Cor. 3. 22.

29. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

We have here the third part of the sixth day's work which was, not any new creation, but a gracious provision of food for all flesh, Ps. 136. 25. He that made man and beast, thus took care to preserve both, Ps. 36. 6. Here is,

I. Food provided for man, v. 29. Herbs and fruits must be his meat, including corn, and all the products of the earth; these were allowed him, but (it should seem) not flesh, till after the flood, ch. 9. 3. And before the earth was deluged, much more, before it was cursed, for man's sake, its fruits, no doubt, were more pleasing to his taste, and more strengthening and nourishing to the body, than marrow and fatness, and all the portion of the king's meat, are now. See here, 1. That which should make us humble. As we are made out of the earth, so we are maintained out of it. Once indeed, man did eat angels' food, bread from heaven; but they died, John 6. 49: it was to them but as food out of the earth, Ps. 104. 14. There is meat that endures to everlasting life; the Lord evermore give us that! 2. That which should make us thankful. The Lord is for the body; from him we receive all the supports and comforts of this life, and to him we must give thanks. He gives us all things richly to enjoy, not only for necessity, but plenty, dainties, and varieties, for ornament and delight. How much are we indebted! How careful should we be, as we live upon God's bounty, to live to his glory! 3. That which should make us temperate, and content with our lot. Though Adam had dominion given him over fish and fowl, yet God confined him, in his food, to herbs and fruits; and he never complained of it. Though afterwards he coveted forbidden fruit, for the sake of the wisdom and knowledge he promised himself from it, yet we never read that he coveted forbidden flesh. If God give us food for our lives, let us not, with murmuring Israel, ask food for our lusts, Ps. 78. 18. See Dan. 1 15.

II. Food provided for the beasts, v. 30. Doth God take care for oxen? Yes, certainly; he provides food convenient for them, and not for oxen only, which were used in his sacrifices, and man's service, but even the young lions and the young ravens are the care of his providence, they ask and have their meat from God. Let us give to God the glory of his bounty to the inferior creatures, that are all fed, as it were, at his table, every day. He is a great Housekeeper, a very rich and bountiful one, that satisfies the desire of every living thing. Let this encourage God's people to cast their care upon him, and not to be solicitous respecting what they shall eat, and what they shall drink. He that provided for Adam without his care, and still provides for all the creatures without their care, will not let those that trust him, want any good thing, Matth. 6. 26. He that feeds his birds, will not starve his babes.

31. And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

We have, here, the approbation and conclusion of the whole work of creation. As for God, his work is perfect; and if he begin, he will also make an end, in providence and grace, as well as here in creation. Observe,

I. The review God took of his work; he saw every thing that he had made: so he does still; all the works of his hands are under his eye. He that made all, sees all; he that made us, sees us. Ps. 139. 1...16. Omniscience cannot be separated from Omnipotence. Known unto God are all his works, Acts 15. 18. But this was the Eternal Mind's solemn reflection upon the copies of its own wisdom, and the products of its own power. God has hereby set us an example of reviewing our works. Having given us a power of reflection, he expects we should use that power, see our way, Jer. 2. 23, and think of it, Ps. 119. 59. When we have finished a day's work, and are entering upon the rest of the night, we should commune with our own hearts about what we have been doing that day; so likewise, when we have finished a week's work, and are entering upon the sabbath rest, we should thus prepare to meet our God; and when we are finishing our life's work, and are entering upon our rest in the grave, that is a time to bring to remembrance, that we may die repenting, and so take leave of it.

II. The complacency God took in his work. When we come to review our works, we find, to our shame, that much has been very bad; but when God reviewed his, all was very good. He did not pronounce it good, till he had seen it so; to teach us, not to answer a matter before we hear it. The work of creation was a very good work. All that God made, was well made, and there was no flaw or defect in it. 1. It was good. Good, for it is all agreeable to the mind of the Creator, just as he would have it to be; when the transcript came to be compared with the great original, it was found to be exact, no errata in it; not one misplaced stroke. Good, for it answers the end of its creation, and is fit for the purpose for which it was designed. Good, for it is serviceable to man, whom God had appointed lord of the visible creation. Good, for it is all for God's glory; there is that in the whole visible creation, which is a demonstration of God's being and perfections, and which tends to beget, in the soul of man, a religious regard to him, and veneration of him. 3. It was very good. Of each day's work, (except the second,) it was said that it was good, but now, it is very good. For, 1. Now, man was made, who was the chief of the ways of God, who was designed to be the visible image of the Creator's glory, and the mouth of the creation in his praises. 2. Now, all was made; every part was good, but altogether, very good. The glory and goodness, the beauty and harmony, of God's works, both of providence and grace, as this of creation, will best appear, when they are perfected. When the top stone is brought forth, we shall cry, Grace, grace, unto it, Zech. 4. 7, Therefore judge nothing before the time.

III. The time when this work was concluded. The evening and the morning were the sixth day. So that in six days God made the world. We are not to think but that God could have made the world in an instant. He that said, Let there be light, and there was light, could have said, "Let there be a world," and there would have been a world, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, as at the resurrection. 1 Cor. 15. 52. But he did it in six days, that he might show himself a free-agent, doing his own work, both in his own way, and in his own time; that his wisdom, power, and goodness, might appear to us, and be meditated upon by us, the more distinctly; and that he might set us an example of working, six days, and resting, the seventh; it is therefore made the reason of the fourth commandment. So much would the sabbath conduce to the keeping up of religion in the world, that God had an eye to it, in the timing of his creation. And now, as God reviewed his work, let us review our meditations upon it, and we shall find them very lame and defective, and our praises low and flat; let us therefore stir up ourselves, and all that is within us, to worship him that made the heaven, earth, and sea, and the fountains of waters, according to the tenor of the everlasting Gospel which is preached to every nation, Rev. 14. 6, 7. All his works, in all places of his dominion, do bless him; and therefore, bless thou the Lord, O my soul.


This chapter is an appendix to the history of the creation, more particularly explaining, and enlarging, upon, that part of the history, which relates immediately to man, the favourite of this lower world. We have in it, I. The institution and sanctification of the sabbath, which was made for man, to further his holiness and comfort, v. 1..3.   II. A more particular account of man's creation, as the centre and summary of the whole work, v. 4..7.   III. A description of the garden of Eden, and the placing of man in it under the obligations of a law and covenant, v. 8..17.   IV. The creation of the woman, her marriage to the man, and the institution of the ordinance of marriage, v. 18..25.

1.THUS the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work, which God created and made.

We have here,

I. The settlement of the kingdom of nature, in God's resting from the work of creation, v. 1, 2. Where observe, 1. That the creatures, made both in heaven and earth, are the hosts, or armies of them, which denotes them to be numerous, but marshalled, disciplined, and under command. How great is the sum of them! And yet every one knows and keeps his place. God uses them as his hosts for the defence of his people, and the destruction of his enemies; for he is the Lord of hosts, of all these hosts, Dan. 4. 35.   2. That the heavens and the earth are finished pieces, and so are all the creatures in them. So perfect is God's work, that nothing can be added to it, or taken from it, Eccl. 3. 14. God that began to build, showed himself well-able to finish. 3. That after the end of the first six days, God ceased from all works of creation. He has so ended his work, as that though, in his providence, he worketh hitherto, (John 5. 17.) preserving and governing all the creatures, and particularly forming the spirit of man within him, yet he does not make any new species of creatures. In miracles, he has controlled and over-ruled nature, but never changed its settled course, or repealed, or added to, any of its establishments. 4. That the eternal God, though infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself, yet took a satisfaction in the work of his own hands. He did not rest, as one weary, but as one well-pleased with the instances of his own goodness, and the manifestations of his own glory.

II. The commencement of the kingdom of grace, in the sanctification of the sabbath-day, v. 3. He rested on that day, and took a complacency in his creatures, and then sanctified it, and appointed us, on that day, to rest and take a complacency in the Creator; and his rest is, in the fourth commandment, made a reason for our's, after six days' labour. Observe, 1. That the solemn observation of one day in seven, as a day of holy rest, and holy work, to God's honour, is the indispensable duty of all those to whom God has revealed his holy sabbaths. 2. That the way of sabbath-sanctification, is the good old way, Jer. 6. 16. Sabbaths are as ancient as the world; and I see no reason to doubt that the sabbath, being now instituted in innocency, was religiously observed by the people of God throughout the patriarchal age. 3. That the sabbath of the Lord is truly honourable, and we have reason to honour it; honour it, for the sake of its antiquity, its great Author, the sanctification of the first sabbath by the holy God himself, and, in obedience to him, by our first parents in innocency. 4, That the sabbath-day is a blessed day, for God blessed it; and that which he blesses is blessed indeed. God has put an honour upon it, has appointed us, on that day, to bless him, and was promised, on that day, to meet us and bless us. 5. That the sabbath-day is a holy day, for God has sanctified it. He has separated and distinguished it from the rest of the days of the week, and he has consecrated it, and set it apart to himself and his own service and honour. Though it is commonly taken for granted, that the christian sabbath we observe, reckoning from the creation, is not the seventh but the first day of the week, yet being a seventh day, and we, in it, celebrating the rest of God the Son, and the finishing the work of our redemption, we may and ought to act faith upon this original institution of the sabbath-day, and to commemorate the work of creation, to the honour of the great Creator, who is therefore worthy to receive, on that day, blessing, and honour, and praise, from all religious assemblies.

4. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. 5. And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. 7. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

In these verses,

I. Here is a name given to the Creator, which we have not yet met with, and that is Jehovah; the LORD in capital letters, which is constantly used, in our English translation, to intimate that in the original it is Jehovah. All along, in the first chapter, he was called Elohim, a God of power, but now Jehovah Elohim, a God of power and perfection, a finishing God. As we find him known by his name Jehovah, when he appeared to perform what he had promised, Exod. 6. 3, so now we have him known by that name, when he had perfected what he had begun. Jehovah is that great and incommunicable name of God, which denotes his having his being of himself, and his giving his being to all things; fitly therefore is he called by that name, now that heaven and earth are finished.

II. Further notice taken of the production of plants and herbs, because they were made and appointed to be food for man, v. 5, 6, where observe, 1. The earth did not bring forth its fruits of itself, by any innate virtue of its own, but purely by the almighty power of God, which formed every plant and every herb, before it grew in the earth. Thus grace in the soul, that plant of renown, grows not of itself in nature's soil, but is the work of God's own hands. 2. Rain also is the gift of God; it came not till the Lord God caused it to rain. If rain be wanted, it is God that withholds it; if rain come plentifully in its season, it is God that sends it; if it come in a distinguishing way, it is God that causeth it to rain upon one city, and not upon another, Amos 4. 7.   3. Though God, ordinarily, works by means, yet he is not tied to them, but when he pleases, he can do his own work without them. As the plants were produced before the sun was made, so they were before there was either rain to water the earth, or man to till it. Therefore, though we must not tempt God in the neglect of means, yet we must trust God in the want of means. 4. Some way or other, God will take care to water the plants that are of his own planting. Though, as yet, there was no rain, God made a mist equivalent to a shower, and with it watered the whole face of the ground. Thus he chose to fulfil his purpose by the weakest means, that the excellency of the power might be of God. Divine grace descends like a mist or silent dew, and waters the church without noise, Deut. 32. 2.

III. A more particular account of the creation of man, v. 7. Man is a little world, consisting of heaven and earth, soul and body; now here we have an account of the original of both, and the putting of both together: let us seriously consider it, and say, to our Creator's praise, We are fearfully and wonderfully made, Ps. 139. 14. Elihu, in the patriarchal age, refers to this history, when he says, Job 33. 6, I also am formed out of the clay, and v. 4, The breath of the Almighty hath given me life, and ch. 32. 8, There is a spirit in man. Observe then,

1. The mean original, and yet the curious structure, of the body of man. (1.) The matter was despicable. He was made of the dust of the ground, a very unlikely thing to make a man of; but the same Infinite Power that made the world of nothing, made man, its master-piece, of next to nothing. He was made of the dust, the small dust, such as is upon the surface of the earth. Probably, not dry dust, but dust moistened with the mist that went up, v. 6. He was not made of gold-dust, powder of pearl, or diamond dust, but common dust, dust of the ground. Hence he is said to be of the earth, χοϊκὸς.—dusty, 1 Cor. 15. 47. And we also are of the earth, for we are of his offspring, and of the same mould. So near an affinity is there between the earth and our earthly parents, that our mother's womb, out of which we were born, is called the earth; (Ps. 139. 15.) and the earth, in which we must be buried, is called our mother's womb, Job 1. 21. Our foundation is in the earth, Job 4. 19. Our fabric is earthly, and the fashioning of it like that of an earthen vessel. Job 10. 9. Our food is out of the earth, Job 28. 5. Our familiarity is with the earth, Job 17. 14. Our fathers are in the earth, and our own final tendency is to it; and what have we to be proud of then? Isa. 51. 1. (2.) Yet the Maker was great, and the make fine. The Lord God, the great Fountain of being and power, formed man. Of the other creatures it is said, that they were created and made; but of man, that he was formed, which denotes a gradual process in the work with great accuracy and exactness. To express the creation of this new thing, he takes a new word; a word (some think) borrowed from the potter's forming his vessel upon the wheel, for we are the clay, and God the Potter, Isa. 64. 8. The body of man is curiously wrought, Ps. 139. 15, 16. Materiam superabat opus—The workmanship exceeded the materials. Let us present our bodies to God as living sacrifices, Rom. 12. 1; as living temples, 1 Cor. 6. 19; and then these vile bodies shall shortly be new-formed like Christ's glorious body, Phil. 3. 21.

2. The high original, and yet the admirable serviceableness, of the soul of man. (1.) It takes its rise from the breath of heaven, and is produced by it. It was not made of the earth, as the body was; it is pity then that it should cleave to the earth, and mind earthly things. It came immediately from God, he gave it to be put into the body, (Eccl. 12. 7.) as, afterward, he gave the tables of stone of his own writing to be put into the ark, and the urim of his own framing to be put into the breast-plate. Hence God is not only the Former, but the Father, of spirits. Let the soul which God has breathed into us, breathe after him; and let it be for him, since it is from him. Into his hands let us commit our spirits, for from his hands we had them. (2.) It takes its lodging in a house of clay, and is the life and support of it. It is by it, that man is a living soul, that is, a living man; for the soul is the man. The body would be a worthless, useless, loathsome carcase, if the soul did not animate it. To God that gave us these souls, we must shortly give an account of them, how we have employed them, used them, proportioned them, and disposed of them: and if then it be found that we have lost them, though it were to gain the world, we are undone for ever. Since the extraction of the soul is so noble, and its nature and faculties are so excellent, let us not be of those fools that despise their own souls, by preferring their bodies before them, Prov. 15. 32. When our Lord Jesus anointed the blind man's eyes with clay, perhaps he intimated that it was he who first formed the man out of the clay; and when he breathed on his disciples, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, he intimated that it was he who first breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life. He that made the soul, is alone able to new-make it.

8. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food: the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 10. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. 11. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12. And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx-stone. 13. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. 14. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria, And the fourth river is Euphrates. 15. And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it.

Man consisting of body and soul, a body made out of the earth, and a rational immortal soul the breath of heaven, we have, in these verses, the provision that was made for the happiness of both; he that made him, took care to make him happy, if he could but have kept himself so, and known when he was well off. That part of man by which he is allied to the world of sense, was made happy; for he was put in the paradise of God: that part by which he is allied to the world of spirits, was well provided for; for he was taken into covenant with God. Lord, what is man, that he should be thus dignified? Man that is a worm! Here we have,

I. A description of the garden of Eden, which was intended for the mansion and demesne of this great lord, the palace of this prince. The inspired penman, in this history, writing for the Jews first, and calculating his narratives for the infant-state of the church, describes things by their outward sensible appearances, and leaves us, by further discoveries of the divine light, to be led into the divine understanding of the mysteries couched under them. Spiritual things were strong meat, which they could not yet bear; but he writes to them as unto carnal, 1 Cor. 3. 1. Therefore he does not so much insist upon the happiness of Adam's mind, as upon that of his outward estate. The Mosaic history, as well as the Mosaic law, has rather the patterns of heavenly things, than the heavenly things themselves, Heb. 9. 23. Observe,

1. The place appointed for Adam's residence was a garden; not an ivory house, or a palace overlaid with gold, but a garden furnished and adorned by nature, not by art. What little reason have men to be proud of stately and magnificent buildings, when it was the happiness of man in innocency, that he needed none! As clothes came in with sin, so did houses. The heaven was the roof of Adam's house; and never was any roof so curiously ceiled and painted: the earth was his floor; and never was any floor so richly inlaid: the shadow of the trees was his retirement, under them were his dining-rooms, his lodging-rooms; and never were any rooms so finely hung as these; Solomon's, in all their glory, were not arrayed like them. The better we can accommodate ourselves to plain things, and the less we indulge ourselves with those artificial delights which have been invented to gratify men's pride and luxury, the nearer we approach to a state of innocency. Nature is content with a little, and that which is most natural; grace with less; but lust with nothing.

2. The contrivance and furniture of this garden were the immediate work of God's wisdom and power. The Lord God planted this garden, that is, he had planted it—upon the third day, when the fruits of the earth were made. We may well suppose it to have been the most accomplished place for pleasure and delight that ever the sun saw; when the all-sufficient God himself designed it to be the present happiness of his beloved creature, man, in innocency, and a type and figure of the happiness of the chosen remnant in glory. No delights can be agreeable or satisfying to a soul, but those that God himself has provided and appointed for it; no true paradise, but of God's planting; the light of our own fires, and the sparks of our own kindling, will soon leave us in the dark, Isa. 50. 11. The whole earth was now a paradise, compared with what it is since the fall, and since the flood; the finest gardens in the world are a wilderness, compared with what the whole face of the ground was before it was cursed for man's sake: yet that was not enough; God planted a garden for Adam. God's chosen ones shall have distinguishing favours showed them.

3. The situation of this garden was extremely sweet; it was in Eden, which signifies delight and pleasure. The place is here particularly pointed out by such marks and bounds as were sufficient, (I suppose,) when Moses wrote, to specify the place to those who knew that country; but now, it seems, the curious cannot satisfy themselves concerning it. Let it be our care to make sure a place in the heavenly paradise, and then we need not perplex ourselves with a search after the place of the earthly paradise. It is certain, wherever it was, it had all desirable conveniences, and (which never any house or garden on earth was) without any inconvenience; beautiful for situation, the joy and glory of the whole earth was this garden: doubtless, it was earth in its highest perfection.

4. The trees with which this garden was planted. (1.) It had all the best and choicest trees in common with the rest of the ground. It was beautified and adorned with every tree that, for its height or breadth, its make or colour, its leaf or flower, was pleasant to the sight, and charmed the eye; it was replenished and enriched with every tree that yielded fruit grateful to the taste, and useful to the body, and so, good for food. God, as a tender Father, consulted not only Adam's profit, but his pleasure; for there is a pleasure consistent with innocency, nay, there is a true and transcendent pleasure in innocency. God delights in the prosperity of his servants, and would have them easy; it is owing to themselves, if they be uneasy. When Providence puts us into an Eden of plenty and pleasure, we ought to serve him with joyfulness and gladness of heart, in the abundance of the good things he gives us. But, (2.) It had two extraordinary trees peculiar to itself; on earth there were not their like. [1.] There was the tree of life in the midst of the garden, which was not so much a memorandum to him of the Fountain and Author of his life, nor perhaps any natural means to preserve or prolong life; but it was chiefly intended to be a sign and seal to Adam, assuring him of the continuance of life and happiness, even to immortality and everlasting bliss, through the grace and favour of his Maker, upon condition of his perseverance in this state of innocency and obedience. Of this he might eat and live. Christ is now to us the Tree of Life, Rev. 2. 7.—22. 2, and the Bread of life, John 6. 48. 53.   [2.] There was the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so called, not because it had any virtue in it to beget or increase useful knowledge, surely then it would not have been forbidden; but, First, Because there was an express positive revelation of the will of God concerning this tree, so that by it he might know moral good and evil. What is good? It is good not to eat of this tree. What is evil? It is evil to eat of this tree. The distinction between all other moral good and evil was written in the heart of man by nature; but this which resulted from a positive law, was written upon this tree. Secondly, Because, in the event, it proved to give Adam an experimental knowledge of good by the loss of it, and of evil by the sense of it. As the covenant of grace has in it, not only, Believe and be saved, but also, Believe not, and be damned, Mark 16. 16, so the covenant of innocency had in it, not only "Do this and live," which was sealed and confirmed by the tree of life, but, "Fail and die," which man was assured of by this other tree; "Touch it at your peril:" so that, in these two trees, God set before Adam good and evil, the blessing and the curse, Deut. 30. 19. These two trees were as two sacraments.

5. The rivers with which this garden was watered, v. 10...14. These four rivers (or one river branched into four streams) contributed much both to the pleasantness and the fruitfulness of this garden. The land of Sodom is said to be well-watered every where as the garden of the Lord, ch. 13. 10. Observe, That which God plants, he will take care to keep watered. The trees of righteousness are set by the rivers, Ps. 1. 3. In the heavenly paradise there is a river infinitely surpassing these; for it is a river of the water of life, not coming out of Eden, as this, but proceeding out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb, Rev. 22. 1. a river that makes glad the city of our God, Ps. 46. 4. Hiddekel and Euphrates are rivers of Babylon, which we read of elsewhere; by these the captive Jews sat down and wept, when they remembered Zion, Ps. 137. 1. but methinks they had much more reason to weep, (and so have we,) at the remembrance of Eden; Adam's paradise was their prison; such wretched work has sin made. Of the land of Havilah, it is said, v. 11, 12, that the gold of that land was good, and that there was bdellium, and the onyx-stone: surely this is mentioned, that the wealth which the land of Havilah boasted of, might be as a foil to that which was the glory of the land of Eden. Havilah had gold, and spices, and precious stones; but Eden had that which was infinitely better, the tree of life, and communion with God. So we may say of the Africans and Indians; "They have the gold, but we have the gospel. The gold of their land is good, but the riches of our's are infinitely better."

II. The placing of man in this paradise of delight, v. 15, where observe,

1. How God put him in possession of it. The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden; so v. 8, 15. Note here, (1.) That man was made out of paradise; for, after God had formed him, he put him into the garden: he was made of common clay, not of paradise-dust. He lived out of Eden before he lived in it, that he might see that all the comforts of his paradise-state were owing to God's free grace. He could not plead a tenant right to the garden, for he was not born upon the premises, nor had any thing but what he received; all boasting was hereby for ever excluded. (2.) The same God that was the Author of his being, was the Author of his bliss: the same hand that made him a living soul, planted the tree of life for him, and settled him by it; he that made us, is alone able to make us happy; he that is the Former of our bodies, and the Father of our spirits; he, and none but he, can effectually provide for the felicity of both. (3.) It adds much to the comfort of any condition, if we have plainly seen God going before us, and putting us into it. If we have not forced providence, but followed it, and taken the hints of direction it has given us, we may hope to find a paradise there, where otherwise we could not have expected it; see Ps. 47. 4.

2. How God appointed him business and employment; he put him there, not like Leviathan into the waters, to play therein, but to dress the garden, and to keep it. Paradise itself was not a place of exemption from work. Note here, (1.) That we were none of us sent into the world to be idle. He that made us these souls and bodies, has given us something to work with; and he that gave us this earth for our habitation, has made us something to work on. If either a high extraction, or a great estate, or a large dominion, or perfect innocency, or a genius for pure contemplation, or a small family, could have given a man a writ of ease, Adam had not been set to work; but he that gave us being, has given us business, to serve him and our generation, and to work out our salvation: if we do not mind our business, we are unworthy of our being and maintenance. (2. ) That secular employments will very well consist with a state of innocency, and a life of communion with God. The sons and heirs of heaven, while they are here in this world, have something to do about this earth, which must have its share of their time and thoughts; and if they do it with an eye to God, they are as truly serving him in it, as when they are upon their knees. (3.) "That the husbandman's calling is an ancient and honourable calling; it was needful even in paradise. The garden of Eden, though it needed not to be weeded, (for thorns and thistles were not yet a nuisance,) yet it must be dressed and kept. Nature, even in its primitive state, left room for the improvements of art and industry. It was a calling fit for a state of innocency, making a provision for life, and not for lust; and giving man an opportunity of admiring the Creator, and acknowledging his providence; while his hands were about his trees, his heart might be with his God. (4.) There is a true pleasure in the business which God calls us to, and employs us in; Adam's work was so far from being an allay, that it was an addition, to the pleasures of paradise; he could not have been happy, if he had been idle: it is still a law, He that will not work, has no right to eat, 2 Thess. 3. 10. Prov. 27. 23.

III. The command which God gave to man in innocency, and the covenant he then took him into. Hitherto, we have seen God, man's powerful Creator, and his bountiful Benefactor; now he appears as his Ruler and Lawgiver. God put him into the garden of Eden, not to live there as he might list, but to be under government. As we are not allowed to be idle in this world, and to do nothing, so we are not allowed to be wilful, and do what we please. When God had given man a dominion over the creatures, he would let him know that still he himself was under the government of his Creator.

16. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. 17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.

Observe here,

I. God's authority over man, as a creature that had reason and freedom of will. The Lord God commanded the man, who stood now as a public person, the father and representative of all mankind, to receive law, as he had lately received a nature, for himself, and all his. God commanded all the creatures, according to their capacity; the settled course of nature is a law, Ps. 148. 6.—104. 9. The brute-creatures have their respective instincts; but man was made capable of performing reasonable service, and therefore receives, not only the command of a Creator, but the command of a Prince and Master. Though Adam was a very great man, a very good man, and a very happy man, yet the Lord God commanded him; and the command was no disparagement to his greatness, no reproach to his goodness, nor any diminution at all to his happiness. Let us acknowledge God's right to rule us, and our own obligations to be ruled by him; and never allow any will of our own, in contradiction to, or competition with, the holy will of God.

II. The particular act of this authority, in prescribing to him what he should do, and upon what terms he should stand with his Creator. Here is,

1. A confirmation of his present happiness to him, in that grant, Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat. This was not only an allowance of liberty to him, in taking the delicious fruits of paradise, as a recompense for his care and pains in dressing and keeping it, (1 Cor. 9. 7, 10.) but it was, withal, an assurance of life to him, immortal life, upon his obedience. For the tree of life being put in the midst of the garden, v. 9, as the heart and soul of it, doubtless, God had an eye to that, especially in this grant; and therefore, when, upon his revolt, this grant is recalled, no notice is taken of any tree of the garden as prohibited to him, except the tree of life, ch. 3. 22, of which it is there said, he might have eaten and lived for ever, that is, never died, nor ever lost his happiness. "Continue holy as thou art, in conformity to thy Creator's will, and thou shalt continue happy as thou art, in the enjoyment of thy Creator's favour, either in this paradise, or in a better." Thus, upon condition of perfect personal and perpetual obedience, Adam was sure of paradise to himself and his heirs for ever.

2. A trial of his obedience, upon pain of the forfeiture of all his happiness; but of the other tree, which stood very near the tree of life, (for they are both said to be in the midst of the garden,) and which was called the tree of knowledge, in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die; as if he had said, "Know, Adam, that thou art now upon thy good behaviour, thou art put into paradise upon trial; be observant, be obedient, and thou art made for ever; otherwise thou wilt be as miserable, as now thou art happy." Here, (1.) Adam is threatened with death, in case of disobedience; dying thou shalt die, denoting a sure and dreadful sentence, as, in the former part of this covenant, eating thou shalt eat, denotes a free and full grant. Observe, [1.] That even Adam, in innocency, was awed with a threatening; fear is one of the handles of the soul, by which it is taken hold of and held. If he then needed this hedge, much more do we now. [2.] The penalty threatened, is death, Thou shalt die, that is, "Thou shalt be debarred from the tree of life, and all the good that is signified by it, all the happiness thou hast, either in possession or prospect; and thou shalt become liable to death, and all the miseries that preface it and attend it." [3.] This was threatened as the immediate consequence of sin. In the day thou eatest, thou shalt die, that is, "Thou shalt become mortal and capable of dying, the grant of immortality shall be recalled, and that defence shall depart from thee. Thou shalt become obnoxious to death, like a condemned malefactor that is dead in law;" (only because Adam was to be the root of mankind, he was reprieved;) "nay, the harbingers and forerunners of death shall immediately seize thee, and thy life, henceforward, shall be a dying life:" and this surely; it is a settled rule, the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (2.) Adam is tried with a positive law, not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Now it was very proper to make trial of his obedience by such a command as this, [1.] Because the reason of it is fetched purely from the will of the Law-maker. Adam had in his nature an aversion to that which was evil in itself, and therefore he is tried in a thing which was evil, only because it was forbidden; and being in a small thing, it was the more fit to prove his obedience by. [2.] Because the restraint of it is laid upon the desires of the flesh and of the mind, which, in the corrupt nature of man, are the two great fountains of sin. This prohibition checked both his appetite towards sensitive delights and his ambition of curious knowledge; that his body might be ruled by his soul, and his soul by his God.

Thus easy, thus happy, was man in his state of innocency, having all that heart could wish to make him so. How good was God to him! How many favours did he load him with! How easy were the laws he gave him! How kind the covenant he made with him! Yet man, being in honour, understood not his own interest, but soon became as the beast that perish.

18. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 19. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Here we have,

1. An instance of the Creator's care of man, and his fatherly concern for his comfort, v. 18. Though God had let him know that he was a subject, by giving him a command, v. 16, 17, yet here he lets him know also, for his encouragement in his obedience, that he was a friend, and a favourite, and one whose satisfaction he was tender of. Observe,

1. How God graciously pitied his solitude; It is not good that man, this man, should be alone. Though there was an upper world of angels, and a lower world of brutes, and he between them, yet there being none of the same nature and rank of beings with himself, none that he could converse familiarly with, he might be truly said to be alone. Now he that made him, knew both him, and what was good for him, better than he did himself, and he said, "It is not good that he should continue thus alone." (1.) It is not for his comfort; for man is a sociable creature, it is a pleasure to him to exchange knowledge and affection with those of his own kind, to inform and to be informed, to love and to be beloved. What God here says of the first man, Solomon says of all men, (Eccl. 4. 9, &c. ) that two are better than one, and woe to him that is alone. If there were but one man in the world, what a melancholy man must he needs beǃ Perfect solitude would turn a paradise into a desert, and a palace into a dungeon. Those therefore are foolish who are selfish, and would be placed alone in the earth. (2.) It is not for the increase and continuance of his kind; God could have made a world of men, at first, to replenish the earth, as he replenished heaven with a world of angels: but the place would have been too straight for the designed number of men to live together at once; therefore God saw it fit to make up that number by a succession of generations, which, as God had formed man, must be from two, and those male and female; one will be ever one.

2. How God graciously resolved to provide society for him. The result of this reasoning concerning him, was, this kind resolution, I will make a help meet for him; a help like him, (so some read it,) one of the same nature, and the same rank of beings; a help near him, (so others,) one to cohabit with him, and to be always at hand; a help before him, (so others,) one that he should look upon with pleasure and delight. Note hence, (1.) That in our best state in this world, we have need of one another's help; for we are members one of another, and the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee, 1 Cor. 12. 21. We must therefore be glad to receive help from others, and give help to others, as there is occasion. (2.) That it is God only who perfectly knows our wants, and is perfectly able to supply them all, Phil. 4. 19. In him alone our help is, and from him are all our helpers. (3.) That a suitable wife is a help meet, and is from the Lord. The relation is then likely to be comfortable, when meetness directs and determines the choice, and mutual helpfulness is the constant care and endeavour, 1 Cor. 7. 33, 34. (4.) That family society, if that is agreeable, is a redress sufficient for the grievance of solitude. He that has a good God, a good heart, and a good wife, to converse with, and yet complains he wants conversation, would not have been easy and content in paradise; for Adam himself had no more: yet even before Eve was created, we do not find that he complained of being alone, knowing that he was not alone, for the Father was with him. Those that are most satisfied in God and his favour, are in the best way, and in the best frame, to receive the good things of this life, and shall be sure of them, as far as Infinite Wisdom sees good.

II. An instance of the creatures' subjection to man, and his dominion over them, v. 19, 20. Every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, God brought to Adam; either by the ministry of angels, or by a special instinct, directing them to come to man as their master, teaching the ox betimes to know his owner. Thus God gave man livery and seisin of the fair estate he had granted him, and put him in possession of his dominion over the creatures. God brought them to him, that he might name them, and so might give, 1. A proof of his knowledge, as a creature endued with the faculties both of reason and speech, and so, taught more than the beasts of the earth, and made wiser than the fowls of heaven, Job. 35. 11. And 2. A proof of his power. It is an act of authority to impose names, (Dan. 1. 7.) and of subjection to receive them. The inferior creatures did now, as it were, do homage to their prince at his inauguration, and swear fealty and allegiance to him. If Adam had continued faithful to his God, we may suppose the creatures themselves would so well have known and remembered the names Adam now gave them, as to have come at his call, at any time, and answered to their names. God gave names to the day and night, to the firmament, to the earth, and sea; and he calleth the stars by their names, to show that he is the supreme Lord of these; but he gave Adam leave to name the beasts and fowls, as their subordinate lord; for, having made him in his own image, he thus puts some of his honour upon him.

III. An instance of the creatures' insufficiency to be a happiness for man: but among them all, for Adam there was not found a help meet for him. Some make these to be the words of Adam himself; observing all the creatures come to him by couples to be named, he thus intimates his desire to his Maker. "Lord, these have all helps meet for them; but what shall I do? Never, never a one, for me." It is rather God's judgment upon the review. He brought them all together, to see if there were ever a suitable match for Adam in any of the numerous families of the inferior creatures; but there was none. Observe here, 1. The dignity and excellency of the human nature; on earth there was not its like, nor its peer to be found among all visible creatures; they were all looked over, but it could not be matched among them all. 2. The vanity of this world and the things of it; put them all together, and they will not make an help meet for man. They will not suit the nature of the soul, nor supply its needs, nor satisfy its just desires, nor run parallel with its never-failing duration. God creates a new thing to be an help meet for man—not so much the woman, as the Seed of the woman.

21. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. 22. And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Here we have,

I. The making of the woman, to be an help meet for Adam. This was done upon the sixth day, as was also the placing of Adam in Paradise, though it is here mentioned after an account of the seventh day's rest; but what was said in general, (ch. 1. 27.) that God made man male and female, is more distinctly related here. Observe,

1. That Adam was first formed, then Eve, (1 Tim. 2. 13.) and she was made of the man, and for the man, (1 Cor. 11. 8, 9.) all which are urged there as reasons for the humility, modesty, silence, and submissiveness, of that sex in general, and particularly the subjection and reverence which wives owe to their own husbands. Yet man being made last of the creatures, as the best and most excellent of all, Eve's being made after Adam, and out of him, puts an honour upon that sex, as the glory of the man, 1 Cor. 11. 7. If man is the head, she is the crown; a crown to her husband, the crown of the visible creation. The man was dust refined, but the woman was dust double-refined, one remove further from the earth.

2. That Adam slept while his wife was making, that no room might be left to imagine that he had herein directed the spirit of the Lord, or been his counsellor, Isa. 40. 13. He had been made sensible of his want of a help meet; but God having undertaken to provide him one, he does not afflict himself with any care about it, but lies down and sleeps sweetly, as one that had cast all his care on God, with a cheerful resignation of himself and all his affairs, to his Maker's will and wisdom; Jehovah-jireh, let the Lord provide when and whom he pleases. If we graciously rest in God, God will graciously work for us, and work all for good.

3. That God caused a sleep to fall on Adam, and made it a deep sleep, that so the opening of his side might be no grievance to him; while he knows no sin, God will take care he shall feel no pain. When God, by his providence, does that to his people, which is grievous to flesh and blood, he not only consults their happiness in the issue, but, by his grace, he can so quiet and compose their spirits, as to make them easy under the sharpest operations.

4. That the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to top him, not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib, and without any diminution to his strength or comeliness; for doubtless, the flesh was closed without a scar, but, in lieu thereof, he had a help meet for him, which abundantly made up his loss: what God takes away from his people, he will, one way or other, restore with advantage. In this, (as in many other things,) Adam was a figure of him that was to come; for out of the side of Christ the second Adam, his spouse the church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross; in order to which, his side was opened, and there came out blood and water, blood to purchase his church, and water to purify it to himself. See Eph. 5. 25, 26.

II. The marriage of the woman to Adam. Marriage is honourable, but this surely was the most honourable marriage that ever was, in which God himself had all along an immediate hand. Marriages (they say) are made in Heaven: we are sure this was; for the man, the woman, the match, were all God's own work: he, by his power, made them both, and now, by his ordinance, made them one. This was a marriage made in perfect innocency, and so was never any marriage since.

1. God, as her Father, brought the woman to the man, as his second self, and an help meet for him; when he had made her, he did not leave her to her own disposal; no, she was his child, and she must not marry without his consent. Those are likely to settle to their comfort, who, by faith and prayer, and a humble dependence upon Providence, put themselves under a divine conduct. That wife that is of God's making by special grace, and of God's bringing by special providence, is likely to prove a help meet for a man.

2. From God, as his Father, Adam received her, v. 23. "This is now bone of my bone; Now I have what I wanted, and which all the creatures could not furnish me with, an help meet for me." God's gifts to us are to be received with a humble and thankful acknowledgment of his wisdom in suiting them to us, and his favour in bestowing them on us. Probably, it was revealed to Adam in a vision, when he was asleep, that this lovely creature, now presented to him, was a piece of himself, and was to be his companion, and the wife of his covenant. Hence some have fetched an argument to prove that glorified saints in the heavenly paradise shall know one another. Further, in token of his acceptance of her, he gave her a name, not peculiar to her, but common to her sex; she shall be called woman, Isha, a she-man, differing from man in sex only, not in nature; made of man, and joined to man.

III. The institution of the ordinance of marriage, and the settling of the law of it, v. 24. The sabbath and marriage were two ordinances instituted in innocency; the former for the preservation of the church, the latter, for the preservation of the world of mankind. It appears by Matth. 19. 4, 5, that it was God himself who said here, "A man must leave all his relations, to cleave to his wife;" but whether he spake it by Moses, the penman, or by Adam, who spake, v. 23. is uncertain; it should seem, they are the words of Adam, in God's name, laying down this law to all his posterity. 1. See here how great the virtue of a divine ordinance is; the bonds of it are stronger even than those of nature. To whom can we be more firmly bound than to the fathers that begat us, and the mothers that bare us? Yet the son must quit them, to be joined to his wife, and the daughter forget them, to cleave to her husband, Ps. 45. 10, 11.   2. See how necessary it is that children should take their parents' consent along with them in their marriage; and how unjust they are to their parents, as well as undutiful, if they marry without it; for they rob them of their right to them, and interest in them, and alienate it to another, fraudulently and unnaturally. 3. See what need there is both of prudence and prayer in the choice of this relation, which is so near and so lasting. That had need be well-done, which is to be done for life. 4. See how firm the bond of marriage is, not to be divided and weakened by having many wives, (Mal. 2. 15.) nor to be broken or cut off by divorce, for any cause, but fornication, or voluntary desertion. 5. See how dear the affection ought to be between husband and wife; such as there is to our own bodies, Eph. 5. 28. They two are one flesh; let them them be one soul.

IV. An evidence of the purity and innocency of that state wherein our first parents were created, v. 25. They were both naked: they needed no clothes for defence against cold or heat, for neither could be injurious to them; they needed none for ornament, Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these; nay, they needed none for decency, they were naked, and had no reason to be ashamed; They knew not what shame was, so the Chaldee reads it. Blushing is now the colour of virtue, but it was not then the colour of innocency. They that had no sin in their conscience, might well have no shame in their faces, though they had no clothes to their backs.


The story of this chapter is perhaps as sad a story (all things considered) as any we have in all the Bible. In the foregoing chapters, we have had the pleasant view of the holiness and happiness of our first parents, the grace and favour of God, and the peace and beauty of the whole creation, all good, very good: but here the scene is altered. We have here an account of the sin and misery of our first parents, the wrath and curse of God against them, the peace of the creation disturbed, and its beauty stained and sullied, all bad, very bad. How is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed! O that, our hearts were deeply affected with this record! For we are all nearly concerned in it; let it not be to us as a tale that is told. The general content of this chapter we have, Rom. 5. 12. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. More particularly, we have here, I. The innocent tempted, v. 1..5.   II. "The tempted transgressing, v. 6..8.   III. The transgressors arraigned, v. 9, 10.   IV. Upon their arraignment, convicted, v. 11..13.   V. Upon their conviction, sentenced, v. 14..19.   VI. After sentence, reprieved, v. 20, 21.   VII. Notwithstanding their reprieve, execution in part done, v. 22..24. And were it not for the gracious intimations here given of redemption by the promised Seed, they, and all their degenerate guilty race had been left in endless despair.

1.NOW the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said. Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2. And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

We have here an account of the temptation with which Satan assaults our first parents, to draw them to sin, and which proved fatal to them. And here observe,

I. The tempter, and that was the Devil, in the shape and likeness of a serpent.

1. It is certain it was the Devil that beguiled Eve, the Devil and Satan is the old serpent, Rev. 12. 9, a malignant spirit, by creation an angel of light, and an immediate attendant upon God's throne; but by sin become an apostate from his first state, and a rebel against God's crown and dignity. Multitudes of them fell; but this that attacked our first parents, was surely the prince of the devils, the ringleader in rebellion: no sooner was he a sinner then he was a Satan, no sooner a traitor than a tempter, as one enraged against God and his glory, and envious of man and his happiness. He knew he could not destroy man, but by debauching him. Balaam could not curse Israel, but he could tempt Israel, Rev. 2. 14. The game therefore which Satan had to play, was, to draw our first parents to sin, and so to separate between them and their God. Thus the Devil was, from the beginning, a murderer, and the great mischief-maker. The whole race of mankind had here, as it were, but one neck, and at that Satan struck. The adversary and enemy is that wicked one.

2. It was the Devil in the likeness of a serpent. Whether it was only the visible shape and appearance of a serpent, as some think those were of which we read, Exod. 7. 12, or whether it was a real living serpent, actuated and possessed by the Devil, is not certain; by God's permission it might be either. The Devil chose to act his part in a serpent, (1.) Because it is a specious creature, has a spotted dappled skin, and then went erect. Perhaps it was a flying serpent, which seemed to come from on high as a messenger from the upper world, one of the Seraphim; for the fiery serpents were flying, Isa. 14. 29. Many a dangerous temptation comes to us in gay fine colours that are but skin-deep, and seems to come from above; for Satan can seem an angel of light. And, (2.) Because it is a subtle creature; that is here taken notice of. Many instances are given of the subtlety of the serpent, both to do mischief, and to secure himself in it when it is done. We are bid to be wise as serpents. But this serpent, as actuated by the Devil, no doubt, was more subtle than any other; for the Devil, though he had lost the sanctity, retains the sagacity, of an angel, and is wise to do evil. He knew of more advantage by making use of the serpent, than we are aware of. Observe, There is not any thing by which the Devil serves himself and his own interest more than by unsanctified subtlety. What Eve thought of this serpent speaking to her, we are not likely to tell, when I believe she herself did not know what to think of it. At first, perhaps, she supposed it might be a good angel, and yet, afterward, might suspect something amiss. It is remarkable that the Gentile idolaters did many of them worship the Devil in the shape and form of a serpent; thereby avowing their adherence to that apostate spirit, and wearing his colours.

II. The person tempted was the woman, now alone, and at a distance from her husband, but near the forbidden tree. It was the Devil's subtlety, 1. To assault the weaker vessel with his temptations; though perfect in her kind, yet we may suppose her inferior to Adam in knowledge, and strength, and presence of mind. Some think Eve received the command, not immediately from God, but at second hand by her husband, and therefore might the more easily be persuaded to discredit it. 2. It was his policy to enter into discourse with her, when she was alone. Had she kept close to the side out of which she was lately taken, she had not been so much exposed. There are many temptations to which solitude gives great advantage; but the communion of saints contributes much to their strength and safety. 3. He took advantage by finding her near the forbidden tree, and, probably, gazing upon the fruit of it, only to satisfy her curiosity. They that would not eat the forbidden fruit, must not come near the forbidden tree. Avoid it, pass not by it, Prov. 4. 15.   4. Satan tempted Eve, that by her he might tempt Adam; so he tempted Job by his wife, and Christ by Peter. It is his policy to send temptations by unsuspected hands, and their's that have most interest in us and influence upon us.

III. The temptation itself, and the artificial management of it. We are often, in scripture, told of our danger by the temptations of Satan; his devices, 2 Cor. 2. 11; his depths, Rev. 2. 24; his wiles, Eph. 6. 11. The greatest instances we have of them, were in his tempting of the two Adams, here, and Matth. 4. In this, he prevailed; but in that, he was baffled. What he spake to them of whom he had no hold by any corruption in them, he speaks in us by our own deceitful hearts and their carnal reasonings, which make his assaults on us less discernible, but not less dangerous. That which the Devil aimed at, was to persuade Eve to eat forbidden fruit; and, to do this, he took the same method that he does still. 1. He questions whether it were a sin or no, v. 1.   2. He denies that there was any danger in it, v. 4.   3. He suggests much advantage by it, v. 5. And these are his common topics.

1. He questions whether it were a sin or no, to eat of this tree, and whether really the fruit of it were forbidden. Yea; hath God said, Ye shall not eat? The first word intimated something said before, introducing this, and with which it is connected; perhaps some discourse Eve had with herself, which Satan took hold of, and grafted this question upon. In the chain of thoughts, one thing strangely brings in another, and perhaps something bad at last. Observe here, (1.) He does not discover his design at first, but puts a question which seemed innocent; "I hear a piece of news, pray, is it true; has God forbidden you to eat of this tree?" Thus he would begin a discourse, and draw her into a parley. Those that would be safe, have need to be suspicious, and shy of talking with the tempter. (2.) He quotes the command fallaciously, as if it were a prohibition, not only of that tree, but of all; God had said. Of every tree ye may eat, except one. He, by aggravating the exception, endeavours to invalidate the concession; Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree? The divine law cannot be reproached, unless it be first misrepresented. (3.) He seems to speak it tauntingly, upbraiding the woman with her shyness of meddling with that tree; as if he had said, "You are so nice and cautious, and so very precise, because God has said, Ye shall not eat." The Devil, as he is a liar, so he is a scoffer, from the beginning; and the scoffers of the last days are his children. (4.) That which he aimed at in the first onset, was, to take off her sense of the obligation of the command. "Surely, you are mistaken, it cannot be that God should tie you out from this tree; he would not do so unreasonable a thing." See here, That it is the subtlety of Satan to blemish the reputation of the divine law, as uncertain, or unreasonable, and so to draw people to sin; and that it is therefore our wisdom to keep up a firm belief of, and a high respect for, the command of God. Has God said, "Ye shall not lie, nor take his name in vain, nor be drunk, &c.?" "Yes, I am sure he has, and it is well said, and by his grace I will abide by it, whatever the tempter suggests to the contrary."

Now, in answer to this question, the woman gives him a plain and full account of the law they were under, v. 2, 3. Where observe, [1.] It was her weakness to enter into discourse with the serpent: she might have perceived by his question, that he had no good design, and should therefore have started back with a Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence to me. But her curiosity, and perhaps her surprise, to hear a serpent speak, led her into further talk with him. Note, It is a dangerous thing to treat with a temptation, which ought at first to be rejected with disdain and abhorrence. The garrison that sounds a parley, is not far from being surrendered. Those that would be kept from harm, must keep out of harm's way. See Prov. 14. 7.—19. 27. [2.] It was her wisdom to take notice of the liberty God had granted them, in answer to his sly insinuation, as if God had put them into paradise, only to tantalize them with the sight of fair but forbidden fruits. "Yea," says she, "we may eat of the fruit of the trees, thanks to our Maker, we have plenty and variety enough allowed us." Note, To prevent our being uneasy at the restraints of religion, it is good often to take a view of the liberties and comforts of it. [3.] It was an instance of her resolution, that she adhered to the command, and faithfully repeated it, as of unquestionable certainty, "God hath said, I am confident he hath said it, Ye shall not eat of the fruit of this tree;" and that which she adds, Neither shall ye touch it, seems to have been with a good intention, not (as some think) tacitly to reflect upon the command as too strict, (Touch not, taste not, handle not,) but to make a fence about it: "We must not eat, therefore we will not touch. It is forbidden in the highest degree, and the authority of the prohibition is sacred to us." [4.] She seems a little to waver about the threatening, and is not so particular and faithful in the repetition of that as of the precept. God had said. In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die; all she makes of that is, Lest ye die. Note, Wavering faith, and wavering resolutions give great advantage to the tempter.

2. He denies that there was any danger in it; though it might be the transgressing of a precept, yet it would not be the incurring of a penalty, v. 4. Ye shall not surely die. "Ye shall not dying die," so the word is, in direct contradiction to what God had said. Either, (1.) "It is not certain that ye shall die," so some. "It is not so sure as ye are made to believe it is." Thus Satan endeavours to shake that which he cannot overthrow, and invalidates the force of divine threatenings by questioning the certainty of them; and when once it is supposed possible that there may be falsehood or fallacy in any word of God, a door is then opened to downright infidelity. Satan teaches men first to doubt, and then to deny; he makes sceptics first, and so by degrees makes them atheists. Or, (2.) "It is certain ye shall not die," so others. He avers his contradiction with the same phrase of assurance that God hath used in ratifying the threatening. He began to call the precept in question, v. 1, but finding that the woman adhered to that, he quitted that battery, and made his second onset upon the threatening, where he perceived her to waver; for he is quick to spy all advantages, and to attack the wall where it is weakest, Ye shall not surely die. This was a lie, a downright lie; for, [1.] It was contrary to the word of God, which we are sure is true; see 1 John 2. 21, 27. It was such a lie as gave the lie to God himself [2.] It was contrary to his own knowledge; when he told them there was no danger in disobedience and rebellion, he said that which he knew, by woeful experience, to be false. He had broken the law of his creation, and had found, to his cost, that he could not prosper in it; and yet he tells our first parents they shall not die. He conceals his own misery, that he might draw them into the like; thus he still deceives sinners into their own ruin. He tells them, though they sin they shall not die; and gains credit rather than God, who tells them, The wages of sin is death. Now hope of impunity is a great support to all iniquity, and impenitency in it: I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, Deut. 29. 19.

3. He promises them advantage by it, v. 5. Here he follows his blow, and it was a blow at the root, a fatal blow to the tree we are branches of. He not only would undertake they should be no losers by it, thus binding himself to save them from harm; but (if they would be such fools as to venture upon the security of one that was himself become a bankrupt) he undertakes they shall be gainers by it, unspeakable gainers. He could not have persuaded them to run the hazard of ruining themselves, if he had not suggested to them a great probability of mending themselves.

(1.) He insinuates to them the great improvements they would make by eating of this fruit. And he suits the temptation to the pure state they were now in, proposing to them, not any carnal pleasures or gratifications, but intellectual delights and satisfactions. These were the baits with which he covered his hook. [1.] "Your eyes shall be opened; you shall have much more of the power and pleasure of contemplation than now you have; you shall fetch a larger compass in your intellectual views, and see further into things than now you do." He speaks as if now they were but dim-sighted, and short-sighted, in comparison of what they would be then. [2.] "You shall be as gods, as Elohim, mighty gods; not only omniscient, but omnipotent too:" or, "You shall be as God himself, equal to him, rivals with him; you shall be sovereigns, and no longer subjects; self-sufficient, and no longer depending." A most absurd suggestion! As if it were possible for creatures of yesterday to be like their Creator that was from eternity, [3.] "You shall know good and evil, that is, every thing that is desirable to be known." To support this part of the temptation, he abuses the name given to this tree: it was intended to teach the practical knowledge of good and evil, that is, of duty and disobedience; and it would prove the experimental knowledge of good and evil, that is, of happiness and misery. In these senses, the name of the tree was a warning to them not to eat of it; but he perverts the sense of it, and wrests it to their destruction, as if this tree would give them a speculative notional knowledge of the natures, kinds, and originals, of good and evil. And, [4.] All this presently; "In the day ye eat thereof, you will find a sudden and immediate change for the better." Now in all these insinuations, he aims to beget in them. First, Discontent with their present state, as if it were not so good as it might be, and should be. Note, No condition will of itself bring contentment, unless the mind be brought to it. Adam was not easy, no not in paradise, nor the angels in their first state, Jude 6. Secondly, Ambition of preferment, as if they were fit to be gods. Satan had ruined himself by desiring to be like the Most High, Isa. 14. 12..14, and therefore seek to infect our first parents with the same desire, that he might ruin them too.

(2.) He insinuates to them that God had no good design upon them, in forbidding them this fruit. "For God doth know how much it will advance you; and therefore, in envy and ill-will to you, he hath forbidden it:" as if he durst not let them eat of that tree, because then they would know their own strength, and would not continue in an inferior state, but be able to cope with him; or as if he begrudged them the honour and happiness which their eating of that tree would prefer them to. Now, [1.] This was a great affront to God, and the highest indignity that could be done him; a reproach to his power, as if he feared his creatures; and much more a reproach to his goodness, as if he hated the work of his own hands, and would not have those whom he has made, to be made happy. Shall the best of men think it strange to be misrepresented and evil spoken of, when God himself is so? Satan, as he is the accuser of the brethren before God, so he accuses God before the brethren; thus he sows discord, and is the father of them that do so. [2.] It was a most dangerous snare to our first parents, as it tended to alienate their affections from God, and so to withdraw them from their allegiance to him. Thus still the Devil draws people into his interest by suggesting to them hard thoughts of God, and false hopes of benefit and advantage by sin. Let us therefore, in opposition to him, always think well of God as the best good, and think ill of sin as the worst of evils: thus let us resist the Devil, and he will flee from us.

6. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. 7. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Here we see what Eve's parley with the tempter ended in; Satan, at length, gains his point, and the strong hold is taken by his wiles. God tried the obedience of our first parents by forbidding them the tree of knowledge, and Satan does, as it were, join issue with God, and in that very thing undertakes to seduce them into a transgression; and here we find how he prevailed, God permitting it for wise and holy ends.

I. We have here the inducements that moved them to transgress. The woman being deceived by the tempter's artful management, was ringleader in the transgression, 1 Tim. 2. 14. She was first in the fault; and it was the result of her consideration, or rather, her inconsideration.

1. She saw no harm in this tree, more than in any of the rest. It was said of all the rest of the fruit trees with which the garden of Eden was planted, that they were pleasant to the sight, and good for food, ch. 2. 9. Now, in her eye, this was like all the rest; it seemed as good for food as any of them, and she saw nothing in the colour of its fruit, that threatened death or danger; it was as pleasant to the sight as any of them, and therefore, "What hurt could it do to them? Why should this be forbidden them rather than any of the rest?" Note, When there is thought to be no more harm in forbidden fruit than in other fruit, sin lies at the door, and Satan soon carries the day. Nay, perhaps, it seemed to her to be better for food, more grateful to the taste, and more nourishing to the body, than any of the rest, and to her eye it was more pleasant than any. We are often betrayed into snares by an inordinate desire to have our senses gratified. Or, if it had nothing in it more inviting than the rest, yet it was the more coveted, because it was prohibited. Whether it were so in her or not, we find that in us, that is, in our flesh, in our corrupt nature, there dwells a strange spirit of contradiction, Nitimur in vetitum—We desire what is prohibited.

2. She imagined more virtue in this tree than in any of the rest; that it was a tree not only not to be dreaded, but to be desired to make one wise, and therein excelling all the rest of the trees. This she saw, that is, she perceived and understood it by what the Devil had said to her; and some think that she saw the serpent eat of that tree, and that he told her he thereby had gained the faculties of speech and reason, whence she inferred its power to make one wise, and was persuaded to think, "If it made a brute creature rational, why might it not make a rational creature divine?" See here how the desire of unnecessary knowledge, under the mistaken notion of wisdom, proves hurtful and destructive to many. Our first parents, who knew so much, did not know this, that they knew enough. Christ is a Tree to be desired to make one wise, (Col. 2. 3.   1 Cor. 1. 30.) Let us, by faith, feed upon him, that we may be wise to salvation. In the heavenly paradise, the tree of knowledge will not be a forbidden tree; for there, we shall know as we are known; let us therefore long to be there, and, in the mean time, not exercise ourselves in things too high, or too deep for us, nor covet to be wise above what is written.

II. The steps of the transgression; no steps upward, but downward toward the pit—steps that took hold on hell.

1. She saw: she should have turned away her eyes from beholding vanity; but she enters into temptation, by looking with pleasure on the forbidden fruit. Observe, A great deal of sin comes in at the eye. At those windows Satan throws in those fiery darts which pierce and poison the heart. The eye affects the heart with guilt as well as grief. Let us therefore, with holy Job, make a covenant with our eyes, not to look on that which we are in danger of lusting after, Prov. 23. 31. Matth. 5. 28. Let the fear of God be always to us for a covering of the eyes, ch. 20. 16.

2. She took: it was her own act and deed. The Devil did not take it, and put it into her mouth, whether she would or no; but she herself took it. Satan may tempt, but he cannot force; may persuade us to cast ourselves down, but he cannot cast us down, Matth. 4. 6. Eve's taking was stealing, like Achan's taking the accursed thing, taking that which she had no right to. Surely, she took it with a trembling hand.

3. She did eat: when she looked, perhaps she did not intend to take, or when she took, not to eat; but it ended in that. Note, The way of sin is downhill; a man cannot stop himself when he will: the beginning of it is as the breaking forth of water, to which it is hard to say, "Hitherto thou shalt come and no further:" Therefore it is our wisdom to suppress the first motions of sin, and to leave it off, before it be meddled with. Obsta principiis—Nip mischief in the bud.

4. She gave also to her husband with her: it is probable that he was not with her when she was tempted; surely if he had, he would have interposed to prevent the sin; but he came to her when she had eaten, and was prevailed with by her to eat likewise; for it is easier to learn that which is bad, than to teach that which is good. She gave it to him, persuading him with the same arguments that the serpent had used with her, adding this to all the rest, that she herself had eaten of it, and found it so far from being deadly, that it was extremely pleasant and grateful: stolen waters are sweet. She gave it to him, under colour of kindness; she would not eat these delicious morsels alone; but really it was the greatest unkindness she could do him. Or perhaps she gave it to him, that if it should prove hurtful, he might share with her in the misery; which indeed looks strangely unkind, and yet may, without difficulty, be supposed to enter into the heart of one that had eaten forbidden fruit. Note, Those that have themselves done ill, are commonly willing to draw in others to do the same. As was the Devil, so was Eve, no sooner a sinner than a tempter.

4. He did eat, overcome by his wife's importunity. It is needless to ask, "What would have been the consequence, if Eve only had transgressed?" The wisdom of God, we are sure, would have decided the difficulty according to equity; but, alas, the case was not so; Adam also did eat. "And what great harm if he did?" say the corrupt and carnal reasonings of a vain mind. What harm? Why, there was in it disbelief of God's word, together with confidence in the Devil's; discontent with his present state; pride in his own merits; an ambition of the honour which comes not from God; envy at God's perfections; and indulgence of the appetites of the body. In neglecting the tree of life which he was allowed to eat of, and eating of the tree of knowledge which was forbidden, he plainly showed a contempt of the favours which God had bestowed on him, and a preference given to those God did not see fit for him. He would be both his own carver, and his own master; would have what he pleased, and do what he pleased: his sin was, in one word, disobedience, Rom. 5. 19; disobedience to a plain, easy, and express command, which, probably, he knew to be a command of trial. He sins against great knowledge, against many mercies, against light and love, the clearest light, and the dearest love, that ever sinner sinned against. He had no corrupt nature within him to betray him; but had a freedom of will, not enslaved, and was in his full strength, not weakened or impaired. He turned aside quickly. Some think he fell the very day on which he was made: though I see not how to reconcile that with God's pronouncing all very good, in the close of that day: others suppose he fell on the sabbath-day; the better day, the worse deed: however, it is certain that he kept his integrity but a very little while; being in honour, he continued not. But the greatest aggravation of his sin, was, that he involved all his posterity in sin and ruin by it. God having told him that his race should replenish the earth, surely he could not but know that he stood as a public person, and that his disobedience would be fatal to all his seed; and if so, it was certainly the greatest treachery, as well as the greatest cruelty, that ever was. The human nature being lodged entirely in our first parents, from henceforward it could not but be transmitted from them under an attainder of guilt, a stain of dishonour, and an hereditary disease of sin and corruption. And can we say, then, that Adam's sin had but little harm in it?

III. The immediate consequences of the transgression. Shame and fear seized the criminals, ipso facto—in the fact itself; these came into the world along with sin, and still attend it.

1. Shame seized them unseen, v. 7, where observe,

(1.) The strong convictions they fell under, in their own bosoms; The eyes of them both were opened. It is not meant of the eyes of the body; those were opened before, as appears by this, that the sin came in at them; Jonathan's eyes were enlightened by eating forbidden fruit, 1 Sam. 14. 27, that is, he was refreshed and revived by it; but their's were not so. Nor is it meant of any advances made hereby in true knowledge; but the eyes of their consciences were opened, their hearts smote them for what they had done. Now, when it was too late, they saw the folly of eating forbidden fruit. They saw the happiness they had fallen from, the misery they were fallen into. They saw a loving God provoked, his grace and favour forfeited, his likeness and image lost, dominion over the creatures gone. They saw their natures corrupted and depraved, and felt a disorder in their own spirits which they had never before been conscious of. They saw a law in their members warring against the law of their minds, and captivating them both to sin and wrath. They saw, as Balaam, when his eyes were opened, (Numb. 22. 31.) the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand; and perhaps they saw the serpent that had abused them, insulting over them. The text tells us, they saw that they were naked, that is, [1.] That they were stripped, deprived of all the honours and joys of their paradise state, and exposed to all the miseries that might justly be expected from an angry God; they were disarmed, their defence was departed from them. [2.] That they were shamed, for ever shamed, before God and angels; they saw themselves disrobed of all their ornaments and ensigns of honour, degraded from their dignity, and disgraced in the highest degree, laid open to the contempt and reproach of heaven, and earth, and their own consciences. Now, see here. First, what a dishonour and disquietment sin is; it makes mischief wherever it is admitted, sets men against themselves, disturbs their peace, and destroys all their comforts: sooner or later, it will have shame, either the shame of true repentance which ends in glory, or that shame and everlasting contempt, to which the wicked shall rise at the great day: sin is a reproach to any people. Secondly, What a deceiver Satan is; he told our first parents, when he tempted them, that their eyes should be opened; and so they were, but not as they understood it; they were opened, to their shame and grief, not to their honour or advantage. Therefore, when he speaks fair, believe him not. The most malicious mischievous liars often excuse themselves with this, that they are only equivocations; but God will not so excuse them.

(2.) The sorry shift they made, to palliate these convictions, and to arm themselves against them; they sewed, or platted fig-leaves together; and, to cover, at least, part of their shame from one another, they made themselves aprons. See here what is commonly the folly of those that have sinned. [1.] That they are more solicitous to save their credit before men, than to obtain their pardon from God; they are backward to confess their sin, and very desirous to conceal it, as much as maybe; I have sinned, yet honour me. [2.] That the excuses men make, to cover and extenuate their sins, are vain and frivolous; like the aprons of fig-leaves, they make the matter never the better, but the worse; the shame, thus hid, becomes the more shameful: yet thus we are all apt to cover our transgressions as Adam, Job 31. 33.

2. Fear seized them immediately upon their eating the forbidden fruit, v. 8. Observe here,

(1.) What was the cause and occasion of their fear; they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. It was the approach of the Judge, that put them into a fright: and yet he came in such a manner, as made it formidable only to guilty consciences. It is supposed that he came in a human shape, and that he who judged the world now, was the same that shall judge the world at the last day, even that man whom God has ordained: he appeared to them now, (it should seem,) in no other similitude than that in which they had seen him when he put them into paradise; for he came to convince and humble them, not to amaze and terrify them. He came into the garden, not descending immediately from Heaven in their view, as afterward on mount Sinai, (making either thick darkness his pavilion, or the flaming fire his chariot,) but he came into the garden, as one that was still willing to be familiar with them. He came walking, not running, not riding upon the wings of the wind, but walking deliberately, as one slow to anger; teaching us, when we are ever so much provoked, not to be hot or hasty, but to speak and act considerately, and not rashly. He came in the cool of the day, not in the night, when all fears are doubly fearful, nor in the heat of the day, for he came not in the heat of his anger; Fury is not in him, Isa. 27. 4. Nor did he come suddenly upon them; but they heard his voice at some distance, giving them notice of his coming, and, probably, it was a still small voice, like that in which he came to inquire after Elijah. Some think they heard him discoursing with himself concerning the sin of Adam, and the judgment now to be passed upon him; perhaps, as he did concerning Israel, Hos. 11. 8, 9. How shall I give thee up? Or rather, they heard him calling for them, and coming toward them.

(2.) What was the effect and evidence of their fear; they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God: a sad change! Before they had sinned, if they had heard the voice of the Lord God coming toward them, they would have run to meet him, and with a humble joy welcomed his gracious visits; but now that it was otherwise, God was become a terror to them, and then, no marvel that they were become a terror to themselves, and full of confusion; their own consciences accused them, and set their sin before them in its colours; their fig-leaves failed them, and would do them no service; God was come forth against them as an enemy, and the whole creation was at war with them; and as yet, they knew not of any mediator between them and an angry God, so that nothing remained but a certain fearful looking for of judgment. In this fright, they hid themselves among the bushes; having offended, they fled for the same. Knowing themselves guilty, they durst not stand a trial, but absconded, and fled from justice. See here,

[1.] The falsehood of the tempter, and the frauds and the fallacies of his temptations: he promised them they should be safe, but now they cannot so much as think themselves so; he said they should not die, and yet now they are forced to fly for their lives; he promised them they should be advanced, but they see themselves abased, never did they seem so little as now; he promised them they should be knowing, but they see themselves at a loss, and know not so much as where to hide themselves; he promised them they should be as gods, great, and bold, and daring, but they are as criminals discovered, trembling, pale, and anxious to escape: they would not be subjects, and so they are prisoners. [2.] The folly of sinners, to think it either possible, or desirable, to hide themselves from God: can they conceal themselves from the Father of lights? Ps. 139. 7, &c. Jer. 23. 24. Will they withdraw themselves from the Fountain of life, who alone can give help and happiness? Jon. 2. 8.   [3.] The fears that attend sin; all that amazing fear of God's appearances, the accusations of conscience, the approaches of trouble, the assaults of inferior creatures, and the arrests of death which is common among men, all these are the effect of sin. Adam and Eve, who were partners in the sin, were sharers in the shame and fear that attended it; and though hand joined in hand, (hands so lately joined in marriage,) yet could they not animate or fortify one another: miserable comforters they were become to each other!

9. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10. And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

We have here the arraignment of these deserters before the righteous judge of heaven and earth, who, though he is not tied to observe formalities, yet proceeds against them with all possible fairness, that he may be justified when he speaks. Observe here,

1. The startling question with which God pursued Adam, and arrested him. Where art thou? Not as if God did not know where he was; but thus he would enter the process against him. "Come, where is this foolish man?" Some make it a bemoaning question, "Poor Adam, what is become of thee?" "Alas for thee!" (so some read it,) "How art thou fallen, Lucifer, son of the morning! Thou that wast my friend and favourite, whom I have done so much for, and would have done so much more for; hast thou now forsaken me, and ruined thyself? Is it come to this?" It is rather an upbraiding question, in order to his conviction and humiliation. Where art thou? Not, In what place, but, In what condition? "Is this all thou hast gotten by eating forbidden fruit? Thou that wouldest vie with me, dost thou now fly from me?" Note, (1.) Those who by sin have gone astray from God, should seriously consider where they are; they are afar off from all good, in the midst of their enemies, in bondage to Satan, and in the high road to utter ruin. This inquiry after Adam may be looked upon as a gracious pursuit in kindness to him, and in order to his recovery. If God had not called to him, to reclaim him, his condition had been as desperate as that of fallen angels; this lost sheep had wandered endlessly, if the good shepherd had not sought after him, to bring him back, and in order to that, reminded him where he was, where he should not be, and where he could not be, either happy or easy. Note, (2.) If sinners will but consider where they are, they will not rest till they return to God.

2. The trembling answer which Adam gave to this question, v. 10, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid: he does not own his guilt, and yet in effect confesses it, by owning his shame and fear; but it is the common fault and folly of those that have done an ill thing, when they are questioned about it, to acknowledge no more than what is so manifest that they cannot deny it. Adam was afraid, because he was naked; not only unarmed, and therefore afraid to contend with God, but unclothed, and therefore afraid so much as to appear before him. We have reason to be afraid of approaching to God, if we be not clothed and fenced with the righteousness of Christ; for nothing but that, will be armour of proof, and cover the shame of our nakedness. Let us therefore put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and then draw near with humble boldness.

11. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12. And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

We have here the offenders found guilty by their own confession, and yet endeavouring to excuse and extenuate their fault; they could not confess and justify what they had done, but they confess and palliate it. Observe,

I. How their confession was extorted from them: God put it to the man, v. 11, Who told thee that thou wast naked? "How camest thou to be sensible of thy nakedness as thy shame?" Hast thou eaten of the forbidden tree? Note, Though God knows all our sins, yet he will know them from us, and requires from us an ingenuous confession of them; not that he may be informed, but that we may be humbled. In this examination, God reminds him of the command he had given him: "I commanded thee not to eat of it, I thy Maker, I thy Master, I thy Benefactor; I commanded thee to the contrary." Sin appears most plain, and most sinful, in the glass of the commandment, therefore God here sets it before Adam; and in it we should see our faces. The question put to the woman, was, v. 13, What is this that thou hast done? "Wilt thou also own thy fault, and make confession of it? And wilt thou see what an evil thing it was?" Note, It concerns those who have eaten forbidden fruit themselves, and especially those who have enticed others to it likewise, seriously to consider what they have done. In eating forbidden fruit, we have offended a great and gracious God, broken a just and righteous law, violated a sacred and most solemn covenant, and wronged our own precious souls by forfeiting God's favour, and exposing ourselves to his wrath and curse: in enticing others to it, we do the Devil's work, make ourselves guilty of other men's sins, and accessary to their ruin. What is this that we have done?

II. How their crime was extenuated by them in their confession. It was to no purpose to plead not guilty; the show of their countenances testified against them, therefore they become their own accusers. I did eat, says the man, "And so did I," says the woman: for when God judges, he will overcome: but these do not look like penitent confessions; for instead of aggravating the sin, and taking shame to themselves, they excuse the sin, and lay the shame and blame on others.

1. Adam lays all the blame upon his wife. "She gave me of the tree, and pressed me to eat it, which I did, only to oblige her;" a frivolous excuse. He ought to have taught her, not to have been taught by her; and it was no hard matter to determine which of the two he must be ruled by, his God or his wife. Learn hence, never to be brought to sin by that which will not bring us off in the judgment: let not that bear us up in the commission, which will not bear us out in the trial: let us therefore never be overcome by importunity to act against our consciences, nor ever displease God, to please the best friend we have in the world. But this is not the worst of it; he not only lays the blame upon his wife, but expresses it so as tacitly to reflect on God himself: "It is the woman which thou gavest me, and gavest to be with me as my companion, my guide, and my acquaintance; she gave me of the tree, else I had not eaten of it." Thus he insinuates that God was accessary to his sin: he gave him the woman, and she gave him the fruit; so that he seemed to have it but at one remove from God's own hand. Note, There is a strange proneness in those that are tempted, to say they are tempted of God; as if our abusing of God's gifts would excuse our violation of God's laws. God gives us riches, honours, and relations, that we may serve him cheerfully in the enjoyment of them; but if we take occasion from them to sin against him, instead of blaming Providence for putting us into such a condition, we must blame ourselves for perverting the gracious designs of Providence therein.

2. Eve lays all the blame upon the serpent; The serpent beguiled me. Sin is a brat that nobody is willing to own; a sign that it is a scandalous thing. Those that are willing enough to take the pleasure and profit of sin, are backward enough to take the blame and shame of it. "The serpent, that subtle creature of thy making, which thou didst permit to come into paradise to us, he beguiled me," or, made me to err; for our sins are our errors. Learn hence, (1.) That Satan's temptations are all beguilings, his arguments are all fallacies, his allurements are all cheats; when he speaks fair, believe him not. Sin deceives us, and, by deceiving, cheats us. It is by the deceitfulness of sin, that the heart is hardened; see Rom. 7. 11. Heb. 3. 13.   (2.) That though Satan's subtlety drew us into sin, yet it will not justify us in sin: though he is the tempter, we are the sinners; and indeed it is our own lust that draws us aside and entices us, Jam. 1. 14. Let it not therefore lessen our sorrow and humiliation for sin, that we are beguiled into it; but rather let it increase our self-indignation, that we should suffer ourselves to be beguiled by a known cheat and a sworn enemy. Well, this is all the prisoners at the bar have to say, why sentence should not be passed, and execution awarded, according to law; and this all is next to nothing, in some respects, worse than nothing.

14. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shall thou eat, all the days of thy life. 15. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The prisoners being found guilty by their own confession, beside the personal and infallible knowledge of the Judge, and nothing material being offered in arrest of judgment, God immediately proceeds to pass sentence; and, in these verses, he begins (where the sin began) with the serpent. God did not examine the serpent, nor ask him what he had done, or why he did it; but immediately sentenced him, 1. Because he was already convicted of rebellion against God, and his malice and wickedness were notorious, not found by secret search, but openly avowed and declared as Sodom's. 2. Because he was to be for ever excluded from all hope of pardon; and why should any thing be said to convince and humble him, who was to find no place for repentance? His wound was not searched, because it was not to be cured. Some think the condition of the fallen angels was not declared desperate and helpless, until now that they had seduced man into the rebellion.

The sentence passed upon the tempter may be considered,

I. As lighting upon the serpent, the brute-creature which Satan made use of, which was, as the rest, made for the service of man, but was now abused to his hurt; therefore, to testify a displeasure against sin, and a jealousy for the injured honour of Adam and Eve, God fastens a curse and reproach upon the serpent, and makes it to groan, being burthened, 2 Cor. 5. 4. The Devil's instruments must share in the Devil's punishments; thus the bodies of the wicked, though only instruments of unrighteousness, shall partake of everlasting torments with the soul, the principal agent. Even the ox that killed a man, must be stoned, Exod. 21. 28, 29. See here, how God hates sin, and especially how much displeased he is with those that entice others into sin: it is a perpetual brand upon Jeroboam's name, that he made Israel to sin. Now,

1. The serpent is here laid under the curse of God; Thou art cursed above all cattle; even the creeping things, when God made them, were blessed of him, ch. 1. 22, but sin turned the blessing into a curse. The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, v. 1, and here, cursed above every beast in the field: unsanctified subtlety often proves a great curse to a man; and the more crafty men are to do evil, the more mischief they do, and, consequently, they shall receive the greater damnation. Subtle tempters are the most accursed creatures under the sun.

2. He is here laid under man's reproach and enmity. (1.) He is to be for ever looked upon as a vile and despicable creature, and a proper object of scorn and contempt; "Upon thy belly thou shall go, no longer upon feet, or half erect, but thou shalt crawl along, thy belly cleaving to the earth;" an expression of a very abject miserable condition, Ps. 44. 25; "and thou shalt not avoid eating dust with thy meat." His crime was, that he tempted Eve to eat that which she should not; his punishment was, that he was necessitated to eat that which he would not. Dust thou shalt eat; denoting not only a base and despicable condition, but a mean and pitiful spirit: it is said of those whose courage is departed from them, that they lick the dust like a serpent, Mic. 7. 17. How sad it is, that the serpent's curse should be the covetous worldling's choice, whose character it is, that they pant after the dust of the earth! Amos 2. 7. These choose their own delusions, and so shall their doom be. (2.) He is to be for ever looked upon as a venomous noxious creature, and a proper object of hatred and detestation: I will put enmity between thee and the woman. The inferior creatures being made for man, it was a curse upon any of them, to be turned against man, and man against them; and this is part of the serpent's curse. The serpent is hurtful to man, and often bruises his heel, because it can reach no higher; nay notice is taken of his biting the horses' heels, ch. 49. 17. But man is victorious over the serpent, and bruises his head, that is, gives him a mortal wound, aiming to destroy the whole generation of vipers. It is the effect of this curse upon the serpent, that though that creature is subtle and very dangerous, yet it prevails not, (as it would if God gave it commission,) to the destruction of mankind; but this fear of serpents is much reduced by that promise of God to his people, Ps. 91. 13, Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder, and that of Christ to his disciples, Mark 16. 18, They shall take up serpents; witness Paul, who was unhurt by the viper that fastened upon his hand. Observe here, that the serpent and the woman had just now been very familiar and friendly in discourse about the forbidden fruit, and a wonderful agreement there was between them; but here they are irreconcilably set at variance. Note, Sinful friendships justly end in mortal feuds: those that unite in wickedness, will not unite long.

II. This sentence may be considered as levelled at the Devil, who only made use of the serpent, as his vehicle in this appearance, but was himself the principal agent. He that spoke through the serpent's mouth, is here struck at through the serpent's side, and is principally intended in the sentence, which, like the pillar of cloud and fire, has a dark side toward the Devil, and a bright side toward our first parents and their seed. Great things are contained in these words.

1. A perpetual reproach is here fastened upon that great enemy both to God and man. Under the cover of the serpent, he is here sentenced to be, (1.) Degraded and accursed of God. It is supposed that pride was the sin that turned angels into devils, which is here justly punished by a great variety of mortifications couched under the mean circumstances of a serpent crawling on his belly, and licking the dust. How art thou fallen, O Lucifer! He that would be above God, and would head a rebellion against him, is justly exposed here to contempt, and lies to be trodden on; a man's pride will bring him low, and God will humble those that will not humble themselves. (2.) Detested and abhorred of all mankind; even those that are really seduced into his interest, yet profess a hatred and abhorrence of him; and all that are born of God, make it their constant care to keep themselves, that that wicked one touch them not, 1 John 5. 18. He is here condemned to a state of war and irreconcilable enmity. (3.) Destroyed and ruined, at last, by the great Redeemer, signified by the breaking of his head; his subtle politics shall be all baffled, his usurped power shall be entirely crushed, and he shall be for ever a captive to the injured honour of the divine sovereignty: by being told of this now, he was tormented before the time.

2. A perpetual quarrel is here commenced between the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of the Devil among men; war is proclaimed between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. That war in Heaven between Michael and the Dragon began now. Rev. 12. 7. It is the fruit of this enmity, (1.) That there is a continual conflict between grace and corruption in the hearts of God's people: Satan, by their corruptions, assaults them, buffets them, sifts them, and seeks to devour them; they, by the exercise of their graces, resist him, wrestle with him, quench his fiery darts, force him to flee from them. Heaven and hell can never be reconciled, nor light and darkness; no more can Satan and a sanctified soul, for these are contrary the one to the other. (2.) That there is likewise a continual struggle between the wicked and the godly in this world. They that love God, account those their enemies, that hate him, Ps. 139. 21, 22. And all the rage and malice of persecutors against the people of God, are the fruit of this enmity, which will continue while there is a godly man on this side heaven, and a wicked man on this side hell; Marvel not therefore, if the world hate you, 1 John 3. 13.

3. A gracious promise is here made of Christ, as the Deliverer of fallen man from the power of Satan; though it was expressed to the serpent, yet it was expressed in the hearing of our first parents, who, doubtless, took the hints of grace here given them, and saw a door of hope opened to them; else, the following sentence upon themselves would have overwhelmed them. Here was the dawning of the gospel-day: no sooner was the wound given, than the remedy was provided and revealed; here, in the head of the book, as the word is, (Heb. 10. 7.) in the beginning of the Bible, it is written of Christ, that he should do the will of God. By faith in this promise, we have reason to think, our first parents, and the patriarchs before the flood, were justified and saved; and to this promise, and the benefit of it, instantly serving God day and night, they hoped to come. Notice is here given them of three things concerning Christ.

(1.) His incarnation; that he should be the Seed of the woman, the Seed of that woman; therefore his genealogy, Luke 3, goes so high as to show him to be the son of Adam, but God does the woman the honour to call him rather her seed, because she it was whom the Devil had beguiled, and on whom Adam had laid the blame; herein God magnifies his grace, in that though the woman was first in the transgression, yet she shall be saved by child-bearing, (as some read it,) that is, by the promised Seed which shall descend from her, 1 Tim. 2. 15. He was likewise to be the seed of a woman only, a virgin; that he might not be tainted with the corruption of our nature; he was sent forth, made of a woman, Gal. 4. 4, that this promise might be fulfilled. It speaks great encouragement to sinners, that their Saviour is the Seed of the woman, bone of our bone, Heb. 2. 11. 14. Man is therefore sinful and unclean, because he is born of a woman, (Job 25. 4.) and therefore his days are full of trouble, Job 14. 1. But the Seed of the woman was made sin and a curse for us, so saving us from both.

(2.) His sufferings and death; pointed at in Satan's bruising his heel, that is, his human nature. Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, to draw him into sin; and some think it was Satan that terrified Christ in his agony, to have driven him to despair. It was the Devil that put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ, of Peter to deny him, of the chief priests to prosecute him, of the false witnesses to accuse him, and of Pilate to condemn him; aiming in all this, by destroying the Saviour, to ruin the salvation; but, on the contrary, it was by death that Christ destroyed him that had the power of death, Heb. 2. 14. Christ's heel was bruised, when his feet were pierced and nailed to the cross, and Christ's sufferings are continued in the sufferings of the saints for his name. The Devil tempts them, casts them into prison, persecutes and slays them; and so bruises the heel of Christ, who is afflicted in their afflictions. But while the heel is bruised on earth, it is well that the Head is safe in heaven.

(3.) His victory over Satan thereby. Satan had now trampled upon the woman, and insulted over her; but the Seed of the woman should be raised up in the fulness of time to avenge her quarrel, and to trample upon him, to spoil him, to lead him captive, and to triumph over him, Col. 2. 15. He shall bruise his head, that is, he shall destroy all his politics and his powers, and give a total overthrow to his kingdom and interest. Christ baffled Satan's temptations, rescued souls out of his hands, cast him out of the bodies of people, dispossessed the strong man armed, and divided the spoil; by his death, he gave a fatal and incurable blow to the Devil's kingdom, a wound to the head of this beast, that can never be healed. As his gospel gets ground, Satan falls, Luke 10. 18, and is bound, Rev. 20. 2. By his grace, he treads Satan under his people's feet, Rom. 16. 20, and will shortly cast him into the lake of fire, Rev. 20. 10. And the Devil's perpetual overthrow will be the complete and everlasting joy and glory of the chosen remnant.

16. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

We have here the sentence passed upon the woman for her sin: two things she is condemned to, a state of sorrow, and a state of subjection; proper punishments of a sin in which she had gratified her pleasure and her pride.

1. She is here put into a state of sorrow; one particular of which only is specified, that, in bringing forth children; but it includes all those impressions of grief and fear which the mind of that tender sex is most apt to receive, and all the common calamities which they are liable to. Note, Sin brought sorrow into the world; that was it that made the world a vale of tears, brought showers of trouble upon our heads, and opened springs of sorrows in our hearts, and so deluged the world: had we known no guilt, we should have known no grief. The pains of child-bearing, which are great to a proverb, a scripture-proverb, are the effect of sin; every pang and every groan of the travailing woman, speak aloud the fatal consequences of sin: this comes of eating forbidden fruit. Observe, 1. The sorrows are here said to be multiplied, greatly multiplied; all the sorrows of this present time are so; many are the calamities which human life is liable to, of various kinds, and often repeated, the clouds returning after the rain; no marvel that our sorrows are multiplied, when our sins are; both are innumerable evils. The sorrows of child-bearing are multiplied; for they include, not only the travailing throes, but the indispositions before, (it is sorrow from the conception,) and the nursing toils and vexations after; and after all, if the children prove wicked and foolish, they are, more than ever, the heaviness of her that bare them. Thus are the sorrows multiplied; as one grief is over, another succeeds in this world. 2. It is God that multiplies our sorrows; I will do it. God, as a righteous Judge, does it, which ought to silence us under all our sorrows; as many as they are, we have deserved them all, and more; nay, God, as a tender Father, does it for our necessary correction, that we may be humbled for sin, and weaned from the world by all our sorrows; and the good we get by them, with the comfort we have under them, will abundantly balance all our sorrows, how greatly soever they are multiplied.

II. She is here put into a state of subjection; the whole sex, which, by creation, was equal with man, is, for sin, made inferior, and forbidden to usurp authority, 1 Tim. 2. 11, 12. The wife particularly is hereby put under the dominion of her husband, and is not sui juris—at her own disposal; of which see an instance in that law, Numb. 30. 6..8, where the husband is empowered, if he please, to disannul the vows made by the wife. This sentence amounts only to that command. Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; but the entrance of sin has made that duty a punishment, which otherwise it would not have been. If man had not sinned, he would always have ruled with wisdom and love; and if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed with humility and meekness, and then the dominion had been no grievance: but our own sin and folly make our yoke heavy. If Eve had not eaten forbidden fruit herself, and tempted her husband to it, she had never complained of her subjection; therefore it ought never to be complained of, though harsh; but sin must be complained of, that made it so. Those wives, who not only despise and disobey their husbands, but domineer over them, do not consider that they not only violate a divine law, but thwart a divine sentence.

Lastly, Observe here, how mercy is mixed with wrath in this sentence; the woman shall have sorrow, but it shall be in bringing forth children, and the sorrow shall be forgotten for joy that a child is born, John 16. 21. She shall be subject, but it shall be to her own husband that loves her, not to a stranger, or an enemy: the sentence was not a curse, to bring her to ruin, but a chastisement, to bring her to repentance. It was well that enmity was not put between the man and the woman, as there was between the serpent and the woman.

17. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. 18. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. 19. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.

We have here the sentence passed upon Adam, which is prefaced with a recital of his crime, v. 17, Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife. He excused the fault, by laying it on his wife, She gave it me: but God does not admit the excuse; she could but tempt him, she could not force him; though it was her fault to persuade him to eat it, it was his fault to hearken to her. Thus men's frivolous pleas will, in the day of God's judgment, not only be over-ruled, but turned against them, and made the grounds of their sentence, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee. God put marks of his displeasure on Adam in three instances.

I. His habitation is, by this sentence, cursed; Cursed is the ground for thy sake; and the effect of that curse is, Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee. It is here intimated that his habitation should be changed; he should no longer dwell in a distinguished, blessed, paradise, but should be removed to common ground, and that, cursed. The ground, or earth, is here put for the whole visible creation, which, by the sin of man, is made subject to vanity, the several parts of it being not so serviceable to man's comfort and happiness, as they were designed to be when they were made, and would have been if he had not sinned. God gave the earth to the children of men, designing it to be a comfortable dwelling to them; but sin has altered the property of it, it is now cursed for man's sin; that is, it is a dishonourable habitation, it bespeaks man mean, that his foundation is in the dust; it is a dry and barren habitation, its spontaneous productions are now weeds and briars, something nauseous or noxious; what good fruits it produces, must be extorted from it by the ingenuity and industry of man. Fruitfulness was its blessing, for man's service, ch. 1. 11. 29; and now barrenness was its curse, for man's punishment. It is not what it was in the day it was created. Sin turned a fruitful land into barrenness; and man, being become as the wild ass's colt, has the wild ass's lot, Job 39. 6; the wilderness for his habitation, and the barren land his dwelling, Ps. 68. 6. Had not this curse been, in part, removed, for aught I know, the earth had been for ever barren, and had never produced any thing but thorns and thistles. The ground is cursed, that is, doomed to destruction, at the end of time, when the earth, and all the works that are therein, shall be burnt-up for the sin of man, the measure of whose iniquity will then be full, 2 Pet. 3. 7, 10. But observe a mixture of mercy in this sentence; 1. Adam is not himself cursed, as the serpent was, v. 14, but only the ground for his sake. God had blessings in him, even the holy seed; Destroy it not, for that blessing is in it, Isa. 65. 8. And he had blessings in store for him; therefore he is not directly and immediately cursed, but, as it were, at second hand. 2. He is yet above ground; the earth does net open, and swallow him up, only it is not what it was: as he continues alive, notwithstanding his degeneracy from his primitive purity and rectitude, so the earth continues to be his habitation, notwithstanding its degeneracy from its primitive beauty and fruitfulness. 3. This curse upon the earth, which cut off all expectations of a happiness in things below, might direct and quicken him to look for bliss and satisfaction only in things above.

II. His employments and enjoyments are all imbittered to him.

1. His business shall from henceforth become a toil to him, and he shall go on with it in the sweat of his face, v. 19. His business, before he sinned, was a constant pleasure to him: the garden was then dressed without any uneasy labour, and kept without any uneasy care; but now, his labour shall be a weariness, and shall waste his body; his care shall be a torment, and shall afflict his mind. The curse upon the ground, which made it barren, and produce thorns and thistles, made his employment about it much more difficult and toilsome. If Adam had not sinned, he had not sweat. Observe here, (1.) That labour is our duty, which we must faithfully perform: we are bound to work, not as creatures only, but as criminals; it is part of our sentence, which idleness daringly defies. (2.) That uneasiness and weariness with labour are our just punishment, which we must patiently submit to, and not complain of, since they are less than our iniquity deserves. Let not us, by inordinate care and labour, make our punishment heavier than God has made it; but rather, study to lighten our burthen, and wipe off our sweat, by observing Providence in all, and expecting rest shortly.

2. His food shall from henceforth become (in comparison with what it had been) unpleasant to him. (1.) The matter of his food is changed: he must now eat the herb of the field, and must no longer be feasted with the delicacies of the garden of Eden: having by sin made himself like the beasts that perish, he is justly turned to be a fellow-commoner with them, and to eat grass as oxen, till he know that the heavens do rule. (2.) There is a change in the manner of his eating it; in sorrow, (v. 17.) and in the sweat of his face, (v. 19.) he must eat of it. Adam could not but eat in sorrow all the days of his life, remembering the forbidden fruit he had eaten, and the guilt and shame he had contracted by it. Observe [1.] That human life is exposed to many miseries and calamities, which very much imbitter the poor remains of its pleasure and delights: some never eat with pleasure, (Job 21. 25.) through sickness or melancholy; all, even the best, have cause to eat with sorrow for sin; and all, even the happiest in this world, have some allays to their joy: troops of diseases, disasters, and deaths, in various shapes, entered the world with sin, and still ravage it. [2.] That the righteousness of God is to be acknowledged in all the sad consequences of sin; Wherefore then should a living man complain? Yet, in this part of the sentence, there is also a mixture of mercy; he shall sweat, but his toil shall make his rest the more welcome when he returns to his earth, as to his bed; he shall grieve, but he shall not starve; he shall have sorrow, but in that sorrow he shall eat bread, which shall strengthen his heart under his sorrows. He is not sentenced to eat dust as the serpent, only to eat the herb of the field.

3. His life also is but short; considering how full of trouble his days are, it is in favour to him, that they are few; yet death being dreadful to nature, (yea, though life be unpleasant,) that concludes the sentence. "Thou shalt return to the ground out of which thou wast taken; thy body, that part of thee which was taken out of the ground, shall return to it again: for dust thou art." That points to, (1.) The first original of his body; it was made of the dust, nay, it was made dust, and was still so; so that there needed no more than to recall the grant of immortality, and to withdraw the power which was put forth to support it, and then he would, of course, return to dust. Or, (2.) To the present corruption and degeneracy of his mind; Dust thou art, that is, "Thy precious soul is now lost and buried in the dust of the body, and the mire of the flesh; it was made spiritual and heavenly, but it is become carnal and earthy." His doom is therefore read; "To dust thou shalt return. Thy body shall be forsaken by thy soul, and become itself a lump of dust; and then it shall be lodged in the grave, the proper place for it, and mingle itself with the dust of the earth," our dust, Ps. 104. 29, Earth to earth, dust to dust. Observe here, [1.] That man is a mean frail creature, little as dust, the small dust of the balance; light as dust, altogether lighter than vanity; weak as dust, and of no consistency, our strength not the strength of stones; he that made us, considers it, and remembers that we are dust, Ps. 103. 14. Man is indeed the chief part of the dust of the world, Prov. 8. 26, but still he is dust. [2.] That he is a mortal dying creature, and hastening to the grave. Dust may be raised, for a time, into a little cloud, and may seem considerable while it is held up by the wind that raised it; but when the force of that is spent, it falls again, and returns to the earth out of which it was raised; such a thing is man; a great man is but a great mass of dust, and must return to his earth. [3.] That sin brought death into the world; if Adam had not sinned, he had not died, Rom. 5. 12. God intrusted Adam with a spark of immortality, which he, by a patient continuance in well-doing, might have blown up into an everlasting flame; but he foolishly blew it out by wilful sin: and now death is the wages of sin, and sin the sting of death.

We must not go off from this sentence upon our first parents, which we are all so nearly concerned in, and feel from, to this day, till we have considered two things.

First, How fitly the sad consequences of sin upon the soul of Adam and his sensual race, were represented and figured out by this sentence, and perhaps were more intended in it than we are aware of. Though that misery only is mentioned, which affected the body, yet that was a pattern of spiritual miseries, the curse that entered into the soul. 1. The pains of a woman in travail represent the terrors and pangs of a guilty conscience, awakened to a sense of sin; from the conception of lust, these sorrows are greatly multiplied, and, sooner or later, will come upon the sinner like pain upon a woman in travail, which cannot be avoided. 2. The state of subjection which the woman was reduced to, represents that loss of spiritual liberty and freedom of will, which is the effect of sin. The dominion of sin in the soul is compared to that of a husband, Rom. 7. 1..5; the sinner's desire is towards it, for he is fond of his slavery, and it rules over him. 3. The curse of barrenness which was brought upon the earth, and its produce of briers and thorns, are a fit representation of the barrenness of a corrupt and sinful soul in that which is good, and its fruitfulness in evil. It is all grown over with thorns, and nettles cover the face of it; and therefore it is nigh unto cursing, Heb. 6. 8.   4. The toil and sweat bespeak the difficulty which, through the infirmity of the flesh, man labours under, in the service of God, and the work of religion; so hard is it now become to enter into the kingdom of heaven. 5. The imbittering of his food to him bespeaks the soul's want of the comfort of God's favour, which is life, and the bread of life. 6. The soul, like the body, returns to the dust of this world, its tendency is that way; it has an earthy taint, John 3. 31.

Secondly, How admirably the satisfaction our Lord Jesus made by his death and sufferings, answered to the sentence here passed upon our first parents! 1. Did travailing pains come in with sin? We read of the travail of Christ's soul, Isa. 53, 11, and the pains of death he was held by, are called ὡδῖναι, Acts, 2. 24, the pains of a woman in travail, 2. Did subjection come in with sin? Christ was made under the law. Gal. 4. 4.   3. Did the curse come in with sin? Christ was made a curse for us, died a cursed death. Gal. 3. 13. 4. Did thorns come in with sin? He was crowned with thorns for us. 5. Did sweat come in with sin? He sweat for us, as it had been great drops of blood. 6. Did sorrow come in with sin? He was a man of sorrows, his soul was, in his agony, exceeding sorrowful. 7. Did death come in with sin? He became obedient unto death. Thus is the plaster as wide as the wound; blessed be God for Jesus Christ!

20. And Adam called his wife's name Eve ; because she was the mother of all living.

God having named the man, and called him Adam, which signifies red earth; Adam, in further token of dominion, named the woman, and called her Eve, that is, life. Adam bears the name of the dying body. Eve of the living soul. The reason of the name is here given, some think, by Moses the historian, others, by Adam himself, because she was, that is, was to be, the mother of all living. He had before called her Ishah, woman, as a wife: here he calls her Evah, life, as a mother. Now, 1. If this was done by divine direction, it was an instance of God's favour, and, like the new naming of Abraham and Sarah, it was a seal of the covenant, and an assurance to them, that, notwithstanding their sin and his displeasure against them for it, he had not reversed that blessing wherewith he had blessed them. Be fruitful and multiply; it was likewise a confirmation of the promise now made, that the Seed of the woman, of this woman, should break the serpent's head. 2. If Adam did it of himself, it was an instance of his faith in the word of God: doubtless it was not done, as some have suspected, in contempt or defiance of the curse, but rather in a humble confidence and dependence upon the blessing; (1.) The blessing of a reprieve, admiring the patience of God, and that he should spare such sinners to be the parents of all living, and that he did not immediately shut up those fountains of the human life and nature, because they could send forth no other than polluted, poisoned, streams; (2.) The blessing of a Redeemer, the promised Seed, to whom Adam had an eye, in calling his wife Eve, life; for he should be the life of all the living, and in him all the families of the earth should be blessed, in hope of which he thus triumphs.

21. Unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

We have here a further instance of God's care concerning our first parents, notwithstanding their sin. Though he correct his disobedient children, and put them under the marks of his displeasure, yet he does not disinherit them, but, like a tender father, provides the herb of the field for their food, and coats of skins for their clothing; thus the father provided for the returning prodigal, Luke 15. 22, 23. If the Lord had been pleased to kill them, he would not have done this for them. Observe, 1. That clothes came in with sin; we had had no occasion for them, either for defence or decency, if sin had not made us naked, to our shame. Little reason therefore we have to be proud of our clothes, which are but the badges of our poverty and infamy. 2. That when God made clothes for our first parents, he made them warm and strong, but coarse and very plain, not robes of scarlet, but coats of skin. Their clothes were made, not of silk and satin, but plain skins, not trimmed, nor embroidered, none of the ornaments which the daughters of Zion afterwards invented, and prided themselves in. Let the poor that are meanly clad, learn hence not to complain; having food and a covering, let them be content; they are as well done to, as Adam and Eve were: and let the rich that are finely clad, learn hence not to make the putting on of apparel their adorning, 1 Pet. 3. 3.   3. That God is to be acknowledged with thankfulness, not only in giving us food, but in giving us clothes also, ch. 28. 20. The wool and the flax are his, as well as the corn and the wine, Hos. 2. 9.   4. Those coats of skin had a significancy. The beasts whose skins they were, must be slain, slain before their eyes, to show them what death is, and (as it is Eccl. 3. 18.) that they may see that they themselves are beasts, mortal, and dying. It is supposed that they were slain, not for food, but for sacrifice, to typify the Great Sacrifice, which in the latter end of the world, should be offered once for all: thus the first thing that died, was a sacrifice, or Christ in a figure, who is therefore said to be the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. These sacrifices were divided between God and man, in token of reconciliation; the flesh was offered to God, a whole burnt-offering, the skins were given to man for clothing; signifying that Jesus Christ having offered himself to God a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, we are to clothe ourselves with his righteousness as with a garment, that the shame of our nakedness may not appear. Adam and Eve made for themselves aprons of fig-leaves, a covering too narrow for them to wrap themselves in, Is. 28. 20. Such are all the rags of our own righteousness. But God made them coats of skins, large, and strong, and durable, and fit for them; such is the righteousness of Christ, therefore put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.

22. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23. Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Sentence being passed upon the offenders, we have here execution, in part, done upon them immediately. Observe here,

I. How they were justly disgraced and shamed before God and the holy angels, by that ironical upbraiding of them with the issue of their enterprise, "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil. A goodly god he makes! Does he not? See what he has got, what preferments, what advantages, by eating forbidden fruit!" This was said, to awaken and humble them, and to bring them to a sense of their sin and folly, and to repentance for it, that seeing themselves thus wretchedly deceived by following the Devil's counsel, they might henceforth pursue the happiness God should offer, in the way he should prescribe. God thus fills their faces with shame, that they may seek his name, Ps. 83. 16. He puts them to this confusion, in order to their conversion. True penitents will thus upbraid themselves, "What fruit have I now by sin? Rom. 6. 21. Have I gained what I foolishly promised myself in a sinful way? No, no, it never proved what it pretended to, but the contrary."

II. How they were justly discarded, and shut out of paradise, which was a part of the sentence implied in that, Thou shalt eat the herb of the field. Here we have,

1. The reason God gave why he shut him out of paradise; not only because he had put forth his hand, and taken of the tree of knowledge, which was his sin; but lest he should again put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, (which is now forbidden him by the law,) and should dare to eat of that tree, and so profane a divine sacrament, and defy a divine sentence, and yet flatter himself with a conceit that thereby he should live for ever. Observe, (1.) There is a foolish proneness in those that have rendered themselves unworthy of the substance of christian privileges, to catch at the signs and shadows of them. Many that like not the terms of the covenant, yet, for their reputation's sake, are fond of the seals of it. (2.) It is not only justice, but kindness, to such, to be denied them; for by usurping that which they have no title to, they affront God, and make their sin the more heinous; and by building their hopes upon a wrong foundation, they render their conversion the more difficult, and their ruin the more deplorable.

2. The method God took, in giving him this bill of divorce, and expelling and excluding him from this garden of pleasure. He turned him out, and kept him out.

(1.) He turned him out, from the garden to the common. This is twice mentioned, v. 23, he sent him forth, and then, v. 24, he drove him out. God bade him go out; told him that that was no place for him, he should no longer occupy and enjoy that garden: but he liked the place too well to be willing to part with it, and therefore God drove him out, made him go out, whether he would or no. This signified the exclusion of him, and all his guilty race, from that communion with God, which was the bliss and glory of paradise; the token of God's favour to him, and his delight in the sons of men which he had in his innocent estate, were now suspended; the communications of his grace were withheld, and Adam became weak, and like other men, as Samson when the Spirit of the Lord was departed from him; his acquaintance with God was lessened and lost, and that correspondence which had been settled between man and his Maker, was interrupted and broken off. He was driven out, as one unworthy of this honour, and incapable of this service. Thus he and all mankind, by the fall, forfeited and lost communion with God.

But whither did he send him, when he turned him out of Eden? He might justly have chased him out of the world, Job 18. 18, but he only chased him out of the garden. He might justly have cast him down to hell, as the angels that sinned were, when they were shut out from the heavenly paradise, 2 Pet. 2. 4. But man was only sent to till the ground, out of which he was taken. He was sent to a place of toil, not to a place of torment. He was sent to the ground, not to the grave; to the work-house, not to the dungeon, not to the prison-house; to hold the plough, not to drag the chain. His tilling of the ground would be recompensed by his eating of its fruits; and his converse with the earth whence he was taken, was improveable to good purposes, to keep him humble, and to remind him of his latter end. Observe then, that though our first parents were excluded from the privileges of their state of innocency, yet they were not abandoned to despair; God's thoughts of love designing them for a second state of probation upon new terms.

(2.) He kept him out, and forbade him all hopes of a re-entry; for he placed at the east of the garden of Eden a detachment of cherubims. God's hosts, armed with a dreadful and irresistible power, represented by flaming swords which turned every way, on that side the garden which lay next to the place whither Adam was sent, to keep the way that led to the tree of life, so that he could not either steal or force an entry; for who can make a pass against an angel on his guard, or gain a pass made good by such a force? Now this intimated to Adam, [l.] That God was displeased with him; though he had mercy in store for him, yet, at present, he was angry with him, was turned to be his enemy, and fought against him, for here was a sword drawn, Num. 22, 23, and he was to him a consuming fire, for it was a flaming sword. [2.] That the angels were at war with him; no peace with the heavenly hosts, while he was in rebellion against their Lord and our's. [3.] That the way to the tree of life was shut up, namely, that way which, at first, he was put into, the way of spotless innocency. It is not said that the cherubims were set to keep him and his for ever from the tree of life: (thanks be to God, there is a paradise set before us, and a tree of life in the midst of it, which we rejoice in the hopes of;) but they were set to keep that way of the tree of life, which hitherto they had been in, that is, it was henceforward in vain for him and his to expect righteousness, life, and happiness, by virtue of the first covenant, for it was irreparably broken, and could never be pleaded, nor any benefit taken by it. The command of that covenant being broken, the curse of it is in full force; it leaves no room for repentance, but we are all undone, if we be judged by that covenant. God revealed this to Adam, not to drive him to despair, but to do him a service by quickening him to look for life and happiness in the promised Seed, by whom the flaming sword is removed. God and his angels are reconciled to us, and a new and living way into the holiest is consecrated and laid open for us.


In this chapter, we have both the world and the church in a family, in a little family, in Adam's family; and a specimen given of the character and state of both in after-ages, nay, in all ages to the end of time. As all mankind were represented in Adam, so that great distinction of mankind into saints and sinners, godly and wicked, the children of God and the children of the wicked one, was here represented in Cain and Abel; and an early instance is given of the enmity which was lately put between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. We have here, I. The birth, names, and callings, of Cain and Abel, v. 1, 2.  II. Their religion, and different success in it, v. 3, 4. and part of v. 5.  III. Cain's anger at God, and the reproof of him for that anger, v. 5..7.  IV. Cain's murder of his brother, and the process against him for that murder. The murder committed, v. 8. The proceedings against him. 1. His arraignment, v. 9, former part. 2. His plea, v. 9, latter part. 3. His conviction, v. 10.  4. The sentence passed upon him, v. 11, 12.  5. His complaint against the sentence, v. 13. 14.   6. The ratification of the sentence, v 15.   7. The execution of the sentence, v. 15, 16.  V. The family and posterity of Cain, v. 17..24.  VI. The birth of another son and grandson of Adam, v. 25, 26.

1.AND Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. 2. And she again bare his brother Abel: and Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters, ch. 5. 4. But Cain and Abel seem to have been the two eldest; and some think they were twins, and, as Esau and Jacob, the elder hated, and the younger loved. Though God had cast them out of paradise, he did not write them childless; but to show that he had other blessings in store for them, he preserved to them the benefit of that first blessing of increase. Though they were sinners, nay, though they felt the humiliation and sorrow of penitents, they did not write themselves comfortless, having the promise of a Saviour to support themselves with. We have here,

1. The names of their two sons. 1. Cain signifies possession; for Eve, when she bare him, said, with joy and thankfulness, and great expectation, I have gotten a man from the Lord. Observe, Children are God's gifts, and he must be acknowledged in the building up of our families. It doubles and sanctifies our comfort in them, when we see them coming to us from the hand of God, who will not forsake the works and gifts of his own hand. Though Eve bare him with the sorrows that were the consequence of sin, yet she did not lose the sense of the mercy in her pains. Comforts, though allayed, are more than we deserve; and therefore our complaints must not drown our thanksgivings. Many suppose that Eve had a conceit that this son was the promised Seed, and that therefore she thus triumphed in him; it may indeed be read, I have gotten a man, the Lord; God-man. If so, she was wretchedly mistaken, as Samuel, when he said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before me, 1 Sam. 16. 6. When children are born, who can foresee what they will prove? He that was thought to be a man, the Lord, or, at least, a man from the Lord, and for his service as priest of the family, became an enemy to the Lord. The less we expect from creatures, the more tolerable will disappointments be. 2. Abel signifies vanity; when she thought she had obtained the promised Seed in Cain, she was so taken up with that possession, that another son was as vanity to her. To those who have an interest in Christ, and make him their all, other things are as nothing at all. It intimates likewise, that the longer we live in this world, the more we may see of the vanity of it; what, at first, we are fond of, as a possession, afterward we see cause to be dead to, as a trifle. The name given to this son is put upon the whole race, Ps. 39. 5. Every man is at his best estate, Abel, vanity. Let us labour to see both ourselves and others so. Childhood and youth are vanity.

II. The employments of Cain and Abel. Observe, 1. They both had a calling. Though they were heirs apparent to the world, their birth noble, and their possessions large; yet they were not brought up in idleness. God gave their father a calling, even in innocency, and he gave them one. Note, It is the will of God that we should every one of us have something to do in this world. Parents ought to bring up their children to business: Give them a Bible, and a calling; (said good Mr. Dodd;) and God be with them. 2. Their employments were different, that they might trade and exchange with one another, as there was occasion. The members of the body politic have need one of another; and mutual love is helped by mutual commerce. 3. Their employments belonged to the husbandman's calling, their father's profession; a needful calling, for the king himself is served of the field, but a laborious calling, which required constant care and attendance: it is now looked upon as a mean calling, the poor of the land serve for vine-dressers, and husbandmen, Jer. 52. 16. But the calling was far from being a dishonour to them; rather, they might have been an honour to it. 4. It should seem, by the order of the story, that Abel, though the younger brother, yet entered first into his calling, and, probably, his example drew in Cain. 5. Abel chose that employment which most befriended contemplation and devotion, for, to these a pastoral life has been looked upon as being peculiarly favourable. Moses and David kept sheep, and in their solitudes conversed with God. Note, That calling and that condition of life are best for us, and to be chosen by us, which are best for our souls; that which least exposes us to sin, and gives us most opportunity of serving and enjoying God.

3. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5. But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Here is,

1. The devotion of Cain and Abel. In process of time, when they had made some improvement in their respective callings, Heb. At the end of days, either at the end of the year, when they kept their feasts of in-gathering, or, perhaps, an annual fast in remembrance of the fall; or, at the end of the days of the week, the seventh day, which was the sabbath—at some set time, Cain and Abel brought to Adam, as the priest of the family, each of them an offering to the Lord; for the doing of which we have reason to think there was a divine appointment given to Adam, as a token of God's favour to him, and his thoughts of love toward him and his, notwithstanding their apostasy. God would thus try Adam's faith in the promise, and his obedience to the remedial law; he would thus settle a correspondence again between heaven and earth, and give shadows of good things to come. Observe here, 1. That the religious worship of God is no novel invention, but an ancient institution. It is that which was from the beginning, (1 John 1. 1.) it is the good old way, Jer. 6. 16. The city of our God is indeed that joyous city whose antiquity is of ancient days, Isa. 23. 7. Truth got the start of error, and piety of profaneness. 2. That it is a good thing for children to be well-taught when they are young, and trained up betimes in religious services, that when they become to be capable of acting for themselves, they may, of their own accord, bring an offering to God. In this nurture of the Lord parents must bring up their children, Eph. 6. 4. ch. 18. 19.   3. That we should every one of us honour God with what we have, according as he has prospered us. According as their employments and possessions were, so they brought their offering. See 1 Cor. 16. 1, 2. Our merchandise and our hire, whatever it is, must be holiness to the Lord, Isa. 23. 18. He must have his dues of it in works of piety and charity, the support of religion and the relief of the poor; thus we must now bring our offering with an upright heart; and with such sacrifices God is well-pleased. 4. That hypocrites and evil doers may be found going as far as the best of God's people in the external services of religion. Cain brought an offering with Abel; nay, Cain's offering is mentioned first, as if he were the more forward of the two. A hypocrite may, possibly, hear as many sermons, say as many prayers, and give as much alms, as a good christian; and yet, for want of sincerity, come short of acceptance with God. The Pharisee and Publican went to the temple to pray, Luke 18. 10.

II. The different success of their devotions. That which is to be aimed at in all acts of religion, is, God's acceptance; we speed well if we attain that, but in vain do we worship if we miss of that, 2 Cor. 5. 9. Perhaps to a stander-by, the sacrifices of Cain and Abel would have seemed both alike good. Adam accepted them both, but God did not, who sees not as man sees. God had respect to Abel and to his offering, and showed his acceptance of it, probably, by fire from heaven; but to Cain and to his offering he had not respect. We are sure there was a good reason for this difference; the Governor of the world, though an absolute sovereign, does not act arbitrarily in dispensing his smiles and frowns.

1. There was a difference in the characters of the persons offering. Cain was a wicked man, led a bad life, under the reigning power of the world and the flesh; and therefore his sacrifice was an abomination to the Lord, Prov. 15. 8, a vain oblation, Isa. 1. 13. God had no respect to Cain himself, and therefore no respect to his offering, as the manner of the expression intimates. But Abel was a righteous man, he is called righteous Abel, Matth. 23. 35, his heart was upright, and his life was pious; he was one of those whom God's countenance, beholds, Ps. 11. 7. and whose prayer is therefore his delight, Prov. 15. 8. God had respect to him as a holy man, and therefore to his offering as a holy offering. The tree must be good, else the fruit cannot be pleasing to the heart-searching God.

2. There was a difference in the offerings they brought. It is expressly said, Heb. 11. 4, Abel's was a more excellent sacrifice than Cain's: either, (1.) In the nature of it. Cain's was only a sacrifice of acknowledgement offered to the Creator; the meat-offerings of the fruit of the ground were no more, and, for aught I know, might have been offered in innocency: but Abel brought a sacrifice of atonement, the blood whereof was shed in order to remission; thereby owning himself a sinner, deprecating God's wrath, and imploring his favour in a Mediator; or, (2.) In the qualities of the offering. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, any thing that came next to hand, what he had not occasion for himself, or what was not marketable; but Abel was curious in the choice of his offering; not the lame, or the lean, or the refuse, but the firstlings of the flock, the best he had, and the fat thereof, the best of those best. Hence the Hebrew doctors give it for a general rule, that every thing that is for the name of the good God, must be the goodliest and best. It is fit that he who is the first and best should have the first and best of our time, strength, and service.

3. The great difference was this, that Abel offered in faith, and Cain did not. There was a difference in the principle upon which they went. Abel offered with an eye to God's will as his rule, and God's glory as his end, and in dependence upon the promise of a Redeemer: but Cain did what he did, only for company's sake, or to save his credit, not in faith, and so it turned into sin to him. Abel was a penitent believer, like the Publican that went away justified: Cain was unhumbled; his confidence was within himself; he was like the Pharisee who glorified himself, but was not so much as justified before God.

III. Cain's displeasure at the difference God made between his sacrifice and Abel's. Cain was very wroth, which presently appeared in his very looks, for his countenance fell; which bespeaks, not so much his grief and discontent, as his malice and rage. His sullen churlish countenance, and a down-look, betrayed his passionate resentments: he carried ill-nature in his face, and the show of his countenance witnessed against him. This anger bespeaks, 1. His enmity to God, and the indignation he had conceived against him for making such a difference between his offering and his brother's. He should have been angry at himself for his own infidelity and hypocrisy, by which he had forfeited God's acceptance; and his countenance should have fallen in repentance and holy shame, as the Publican's, who would not lift up so much as their eyes to heaven, Luke 18. 13. But instead of that, he flies out against God, as if he were partial and unfair in distributing his smiles and frowns, and as if he had done him a deal of wrong. Note, It is a certain sign of an unhumbled heart, to quarrel with those rebukes which we have, by our own sin, brought upon ourselves. The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and then, to make bad worse, his heart fretteth against the Lord, Prov. 19. 3.   2. His envy of his brother who had the honour to be publicly owned. Though his brother had no thought of having any slur put upon him, nor did now insult over him to provoke him, yet he conceived a hatred of him as an enemy, or, which is equivalent, a rival. Note, (1.) It is common for those who have rendered themselves unworthy of God's favour by their presumptuous sins, to have indignation against those who are dignified and distinguished by it. The Pharisees walked in this way of Cain, when they neither entered into the kingdom of God themselves, nor suffered those that were entering, to go in, Luke 11. 52. Their eye is evil, because their master's eye, and the eye of their fellow-servants, are good. (2.) Envy is a sin that commonly carries with it, both its own discovery in the paleness of the looks, and its own punishment in the rottenness of the bones.

6. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? 7. If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

God is here reasoning with Cain, to convince him of the sin and folly of his anger and discontent, and to bring him into a good temper again, that further mischief might be prevented. It is an instance of God's patience and condescending goodness, that he would deal thus tenderly with so bad a man, in so bad an affair. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Thus the father of the prodigal argued the case with the elder son, Luke 15. 28, &c. And God with those Israelites, who said, The way of the Lord is not equal, Ezek. 18. 25. God puts Cain himself upon inquiring into the cause of his discontent, and considering whether it were indeed a just cause, Why is thy countenance fallen? Observe,

I. That God takes notice of all our sinful passions and discontents. There is not an angry look, an envious look, or a fretful look, that escapes his observing eye.

II. That most of our sinful heats and disquietudes would soon vanish before a strict and impartial inquiry into the cause of them. "Why am I wroth? Is there a real cause, a just cause, a proportionable cause for it? Why am I so soon angry? Why so very angry, and so implacable?" To reduce Cain to his right mind again, it is here made evident to him,

1. That he had no reason to be angry at God, for that he had proceeded according to the settled and invariable rules of government, suited to a state of probation. He sets before men life and death, the blessing and the curse; and then renders to them according to their works, and differences them according as they difference themselves—so shall their doom be. The rules are just, and therefore his ways, according to those rules, must needs be equal, and he will be justified when he speaks.

(1.) God sets before Cain life and a blessing. "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? No doubt, thou shalt, nay, thou knowest thou shalt;" either, [I.] "If thou hadst done well, as thy brother did, thou shouldest have been accepted, as he was." God is no respecter of persons, hates nothing that he has made, denies his favour to none but those who have forfeited it, and is an enemy to none but those who, by sin, have made him their enemy: so that if we come short of acceptance with him, we must thank ourselves, the fault is wholly our own; if we had done our duty, we had not missed of his mercy. This will justify God in the destruction of sinners, and will aggravate their ruin; there is not a damned sinner in hell, but, if he had done well, as he might have done, had been a glorified saint in heaven. Every mouth will shortly be stopped with this. Or, [2.] "If now thou do well, if thou repent of thy sin, reform thy heart and life, and bring thy sacrifice in a better manner, if thou not only do that which is good, but do it well; thou shalt yet be accepted, thy sin shall be pardoned, thy comfort and honour restored, and all shall be well." See here the effect of a Mediator's interposal between God and man; we do not stand upon the footing of the first covenant, which left no room for repentance, but God is come upon new terms with us. Though we have offended, if we repent and return, we shall find mercy. See how early the gospel was preached, and the benefit of it here offered even to one of the chief of sinners.

(2.) He sets before him death and a curse. "But if not well," that is, "Seeing thou didst not do well, not offer in faith, and in a right manner; sin lies at the door", that is, "sin was imputed to thee, and thou wast frowned upon and rejected as a sinner. So high a charge had not been laid at thy door, if thou hadst not brought it upon thyself, by not doing well." Or, as it is commonly taken, "If now thou dost not do well, if thou persist in this wrath, and, instead of humbling thyself before God, harden thyself against him; sin lies at the door," that is, [1.] Further sin. "Now that anger is in thy heart, murder is at the door." The way of sin is downhill, and men go from bad to worse. They who do not sacrifice well, but are careless and remiss in their devotion to God, expose themselves to the worst temptations; and perhaps the most scandalous sin lies at the door. They who do not keep God's ordinances, are in danger of committing all abominations. Lev. 18. 30. Or, [2.] The punishment of sin. So near akin are sin and punishment, that the same word in Hebrew signifies both. If sin be harboured in the house, the curse waits at the door, like a bailiff, ready to arrest the sinner when ever he looks out. It lies as if it slept, but it lies at the door where it will soon be awaked, and then it will appear that the damnation slumbered not. Sin will find thee out, Numb. 32. 23. Yet some choose to understand this also as an intimation of mercy. "If thou doest not well, sin, that is, the sin-offering, lies at the door, and thou mayest take the benefit of it." The same word signifies sin, and a sacrifice for sin. "Though thou hast not done well, yet do not despair; the remedy is at hand; the proposition is not far to seek; lay hold on it, and the iniquity of the holy things shall be forgiven thee." Christ, the great sin-offering, is said to stand at the door, Rev. 3. 20. And those well deserve to perish in their sins, that will not go to the door for an interest in the sin-offering. All this considered, Cain had no reason to be angry at God, but at himself only.

2. He shows him that he had no reason to be angry at his brother; "Unto thee shall be his desire, he shall continue his respect to thee as an elder brother, and thou, as the first-born, shalt rule over him as much as ever." God's acceptance of Abel's offering did not transfer the birthright to him, (which Cain was jealous of,) nor put upon him that excellency of dignity and excellency of power which are said to belong to it, ch. 49. 3. God did not so intend it; Abel did not so interpret it; there was no danger of its being improved to Cain's prejudice; why then should he be so much exasperated? Observe here, (1.) That the difference which God's grace makes, does not alter the distinctions which God's providence makes, but preserves them, and obliges us to do the duty which results from them: believing servants must be obedient to unbelieving masters. Dominion is not founded in grace, nor will religion warrant disloyalty or disrespect in any relation. (2.) That the jealousies which civil powers have sometimes conceived of the true worshippers of God as dangerous to their government, enemies to Caesar, and hurtful to kings and provinces, (on which suspicion persecutors have grounded their rage against them,) are very unjust and unreasonable. Whatever may be the case with some who call themselves christians, it is certain that christians indeed are the best subjects, and the quiet in the land; their desire is toward their governors, and they shall rule over them

8. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

We have here the progress of Cain's anger, and the issue of it in Abel's murder; which may be considered two ways.

I. As Cain's sin; and a scarlet, crimson sin it was, a sin of the first magnitude, a sin against the light and law of nature, and which the consciences even of bad men have startled at. See in it, 1. The sad effects of sin's entrance into the world, and into the hearts of men. See what a root of bitterness the corrupt nature is, which bears this gall and wormwood. Adam's eating forbidden fruit seemed but a little sin, but it opened the door to the greatest. 2. A fruit of the enmity which is in the seed of the serpent against the seed of the woman. As Abel leads the van in the noble army of martyrs, Matth. 23. 35, so Cain stands in the front of the ignoble army of persecutors, Jude 11. So early did he that was after the flesh, persecute him that was after the spirit; and so it is now, more or less. Gal. 4. 29, and so it will be, till the war shall end in eternal salvation of all the saints, and the eternal perdition of all that hate them. 3. See also what comes of envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness; if they be indulged and cherished in the soul, they are in danger of involving men in the horrid guilt of murder itself. Rash anger is heart-murder, Matth. 5. 21, 22. Much more is malice so; he that hates his brother, is already a murderer before God: and if God leave him to himself, he wants nothing but an opportunity of being a murderer before the world.

Many were the aggravations of Cain's sin. (1.) It was his brother, his own brother, that he murdered; his own mother's son, Ps. 50. 20, whom he ought to have loved; his younger brother, whom he ought to have protected. (2.) He was a good brother; one who had never done him any wrong, nor given him the least provocation, in word or deed, but one whose desire had been always toward him, and who had been, in all instances, dutiful and respectful to him. (3.) He had fair warning given him, before, of this; God himself had told him what would come of it, yet he persisted in his barbarous design. (4.) It should seem that he covered it with a show of friendship and kindness. He talked with Abel his brother, freely and familiarly, lest he should suspect danger, and keep out of his reach. Thus Joab kissed Abner, and then killed him. According to the Septuagint,* [1]he said to Abel, Let us go into the field; if so, we are sure Abel did not understand it (according to the modern sense) as a challenge, else he would not have accepted it, but as a brotherly invitation to go together to their work. The Chaldee-Paraphrast adds, that Cain, when they were in discourse in the field, maintained that there was no judgment to come, no future state, no rewards and punishments in the other world; and that when Abel spake in defence of the truth, Cain took that occasion to fall upon him. However, (5.) That which the scripture tells us was the reason for which he slew him, was a sufficient aggravation of the murder; it was because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous, so that herein he showed himself to be of that wicked one, 1 John 3. 12, a child of the devil, as being an enemy to all righteousness, even in his own brother; and, in this, employed immediately by the destroyer. Nay, (6.) In killing his brother, he directly struck at God himself; for God accepting of Abel was the provocation pretended; and for that very reason he hated Abel, because God loved him. (7.) The murder of Abel was the more inhuman, because there were now so few men in the world to replenish it. The life of a man is precious at any time; but it was in a special manner precious now, and could ill be spared.

II. As Abel's suffering. Death reigned ever since Adam sinned, but we read not of any taken captive by him till now; and now, 1. The first that dies, is a saint, one that was accepted and beloved of God; to show that though the promised Seed was so far to destroy him that had the power of death, as to save believers from its sting, yet that still they should be exposed to its stroke. The first that went to the grave went to heaven; God would secure to himself the first fruits, the first-born to the dead, that first opened the womb into another world. Let this take off the terror of death, that it was betimes the lot of God's chosen, which alters the property of it. Nay, 2. The first that dies, is a martyr, and dies for his religion; and of such it may more truly be said than of soldiers, that they die in the field of honour. Abel's death has not only no curse in it, but it has a crown in it; so admirably well is the property of death altered, that it is not only become innocent and inoffensive to those that die in Christ, but honourable and glorious to those that die for him. Let us not think it strange concerning the fiery trial, nor shrink if we be called to resist unto blood; for we know there is a crown of life for all that are faithful unto death.

9. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? 10. And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. 12. When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

We have here a full account of the trial and condemnation of the first murderer; civil courts of judicature not being yet erected for this purpose, as they were afterward, ch. 9. 6. God himself sits Judge; for he is the God to whom vengeance belongs, and who will be sure to make inquisition for blood, especially the blood of saints.


I. The arraignment of Cain; The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? Some think Cain was thus examined, the next sabbath after the murder was committed, when the sons of God came, as usual, to present themselves before the Lord, in a religious assembly, and Abel was missing, whose place did not use to be empty; for the God of heaven takes notice who is present at, and who is absent from, public ordinances. Cain is asked, not only because there was just cause to suspect him, he having discovered a malice against Abel, and having been last with him, but because God knew him to be guilty; yet he asks him, that he might draw from him a confession of the crime; for those who would be justified before God, must accuse themselves; and the penitent will do so.

II. Cain's plea; he pleads not guilty, and adds rebellion to his sin. For, 1. He endeavours to cover a deliberate murder with a deliberate lie; I know not. He knew well enough what was become of Abel, and yet had the impudence to deny it. Thus, in Cain, the Devil was both a murderer, and a liar, from the beginning. See how sinners' minds are blinded, and their hearts hardened by the deceitfulness of sin: those are strangely blind, that think it possible to conceal their sins from a God that sees all; and those are strangely hard, that think it desirable to conceal them from a God who pardons those only that confess. 2. He impudently charges his Judge with folly and injustice, in putting this question to him. Am I my brother's keeper? He should have humbled himself, and have said, Am not I my brother's murderer? But he flies in the face of God himself, as if he had asked him an impertinent question, which he was no way obliged to give an answer to, "Am I my brother's keeper? Surely he is old enough to take care of himself, nor did I ever take any charge of him." Some think he reflects on God and his providence, as if he had said, "Art not thou his keeper? If he be missing, on thee be the blame, and not on me, who never undertook to keep him." Note, a charitable concern for our brethren, as their keepers, is a great duty, which is strictly required of us, but is generally neglected by us. They who are unconcerned in the affairs of their brethren, and take no care, when they have opportunity, to prevent their hurt in their bodies, goods, or good name, especially in their souls, do, in effect, speak Cain's language. See Lev. 19. 17. Phil. 2. 4.

III. The conviction of Cain, v. 10. God gave no direct answer to his question, but rejected his plea as false and frivolous; "What hast thou done? Thou makest a light matter of it; but hast thou considered what an evil thing it is; how deep the stain, how heavy the burthen, of this guilt is? Thou thinkest to conceal it; but it is to no purpose, the evidence against thee is clear and incontestable, the voice of thy brother's blood cries." He speaks as if the blood itself were both witness and prosecutor; because God's own knowledge testified against him, and God's own justice demanded satisfaction. Observe here, 1. Murder is a crying sin, none more so. Blood calls for blood, the blood of the murdered for the blood of the murderer; it cries, in the dying words of Zechariah, 2 Chron. 24. 22. The Lord look upon it, and require it; or in those of the souls under the altar, Rev. 6. 10, How long. Lord, holy and true? The patient sufferers cried for pardon. Father, forgive them; but their blood cries for vengeance. Though they hold their peace, their blood has a loud and constant cry, which the ear of the righteous God is always open to. 2. The blood is said to cry from the ground, the earth, which is said, v. 11, to open her mouth to receive his brother's blood from his hand. The earth did, as it were, blush to see her own face stained with such blood, and, therefore, opened her mouth to hide that which she could not hinder. When the heaven revealed his iniquity, the earth also rose up against him, (Job 20. 27.) and groaned for being thus made subject to vanity, Rom. 8. 20, 22. Cain, it is likely, buried the blood and the body, to conceal his crime; but murder will out. He did not bury them so deep but the cry of them reached heaven. 3. In the original, the word is plural, thy brother's bloods, not only his blood, but the blood of all those that might have descended from him. Or, the blood of all the seed of the woman, who should, in like manner, seal the truth with their blood: Christ puts all on one score, Matth.23. 35. Or, because account was kept of every drop of blood shed. How well is it for us, that the blood of Christ speaks better things than that of Abel! Heb. 12. 24. Abel's blood cried for vengeance, Christ's blood cries for pardon.

IV. The sentence passed upon Cain, And now art thou cursed from the earth, v. 11. Observe here,

1. He is cursed, separated to all evil, laid under the wrath of God, as it is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, Rom. 1. 18. Who knows the extent and weight of a divine curse, how far it reaches, how deep it pierces? God's pronouncing a man cursed makes him so; for those whom he curses, are cursed indeed. The curse for Adam's disobedience terminated on the ground, Cursed is the ground for thy sake; but that for Cain's rebellion fell immediately upon himself, Thou art cursed; for God had mercy in store for Adam, but none for Cain. We have all deserved this curse, and it is only in Christ that believers are saved from it, and inherit the blessing. Gal. 3. 10, 13.

2. He is cursed from the earth. Thence the cry came up to God, thence the curse came upon Cain. God could have taken vengeance by an immediate stroke from heaven, by the sword of an angel, or by a thunderbolt; but he chose to make the earth the avenger of blood; to continue him upon the earth, and not immediately to cut him off, and yet to make even that his curse. The earth is always near us, we cannot fly from it; so that if that be the executioner of divine wrath, it is unavoidable; it is sin, that is, the punishment of sin, lying at the door. Cain found his punishment there, where he chose his portion, and set his heart.

Two things we expect from the earth; and by this curse both are denied to Cain, and taken from him, sustenance and settlement. (1.) Sustenance out of the earth is here withheld from him. It is a curse upon him in his enjoyments, and particularly in his calling; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength. Note, Every creature is to us what God makes it; a comfort or a cross; a blessing or a curse. If the earth yield not her strength to us, we must therein acknowledge God's righteousness; for we have not yielded our strength to him. The ground was cursed before, to Adam, but it was now doubly cursed to Cain. That part of it which fell to his share, and which he had the occupation of, was made unfruitful and uncomfortable to him by the blood of Abel. Note, The wickedness of the wicked brings a curse upon all they do, and all they have, Deut. 28. 15, &c. and that curse imbitters all they have, and disappoints them in all they do. (2.) Settlement on the earth is here denied him. A fugitive and a vagabond shall thou be in the earth. By this he was condemned. [1] To perpetual disgrace and reproach among men. It should be ever looked upon as a scandalous thing to harbour him, converse with him, or show him any countenance. And justly was a man that had divested himself of all humanity, abhorred and abandoned by all mankind, and made infamous. [2.] To perpetual disquietude and horror in his own mind. His own guilty conscience should haunt him wherever he went, and make him Magor-missabib, a terror round about. What rest can those find, what settlement, that carry their own disturbance with them in their bosoms wherever they go? they must needs be fugitives, that are thus tossed. There is not a more restless fugitive upon earth, than he that is continually pursued by his own guilt, nor a viler vagabond than he that is at the beck of his own lusts.

This was the sentence passed upon Cain; and even in this there was mercy mixed, inasmuch, as he was not immediately cut off, but had space given him to repent; for God is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish.

13. And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me, shall slay me. 15. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

We have here a further account of the proceedings against Cain.

I. Here is Cain's complaint of the sentence passed upon him, as hard and severe. Some make him to speak the language of despair; and read it, Mine iniquity is greater than that it may be forgiven; and so what he says, is a reproach and affront to the mercy of God, which those only shall have the benefit of, that hope in it. There is forgiveness with the God of pardons for the greatest sins and sinners; but they forfeit it, who despair of it. Just before, Cain made nothing of his sin; but now, he is in the other extreme: Satan drives his vassals from presumption to despair. We cannot think too ill of sin, provided we do not think it unpardonable. But Cain seems rather to speak the language of indignation; My punishment is greater than I can bear; and so, what he says, is a reproach and affront to the justice of God, and a complaint, not of the greatness of his sin, but of the extremity of his punishment, as if that were disproportionable to his merits. Instead of justifying God in the sentence, he condemns him; not accepting the punishment of his iniquity, but quarrelling with it. Note, Impenitent unhumble hearts are therefore not reclaimed by God's rebukes, because they think themselves wronged by them; and it is an evidence of great hardness to be more concerned about our sufferings than about our sins. Pharaoh's care was concerning this death only, not this sin, Exod. 10. 17; so was Cain's here. He is a living man, and yet complains of the punishment of his sin, Lam. 3. 39. He thinks himself rigorously dealt with, when really he is favourably treated; and he cries out of wrong, when he has more reason to wonder that he is out of hell. Woe unto him that thus strives with his Maker, and enters into judgment with his judge!

Now, to justify this complaint, observe his descants upon the sentence. 1. He sees himself excluded by it from the favour of God; and concludes that, being cursed, he was hid from God's face; which is indeed the true nature of God's curse; damned sinners find it so, to whom it is said. Depart from me, ye cursed. Those are cursed indeed, that are for ever shut out from God's love and care, and from all hopes of his grace. 2. He sees himself expelled from all the comforts of this life; and concludes that, being a fugitive, he was, in effect, driven out this day from the face of the earth. As good have no place on earth, as not have a settled place. Better rest in the grave, than not rest at all. 3. He sees himself excommunicated by it, and cut off from the church, and forbidden to attend on public ordinances. His hands being full of blood, he must bring no more vain oblations, Isa. 1. 13, 15. Perhaps this he means, when he complains that he was driven out from the face of the earth, for, being shut out of the church, which none had yet deserted, he was hid from God's face, being not admitted to come with the sons of God to present himself before the Lord. 4. He sees himself exposed by it to the hatred and ill-will of all mankind. It shall come to pass, that every one that finds me, shall slay me. Wherever he wanders, he goes in peril of his life, at least he thinks so; and like a man in debt, thinks every one he meets, a bailiff. There were none alive but his near relations; yet even of them he is justly afraid, who had himself been so barbarous to his brother. Some rend it, Whatsoever finds me, shall slay me; not only, Whosoever among men, but Whatsoever among all the creatures: seeing himself thrown out of God's protection, he sees the whole creation armed against him. Note, Unpardoned guilt fills men with continual terrors, Prov. 28. 1. Job 15. 20, 21. Ps. 53. 5. It is better to fear and not sin, than to sin and then fear. Dr. Lightfoot thinks this word of Cain should be read as a wish: Now, therefore, let it be that any that finds me, may kill me. Being bitter in his soul, he longs for death, but it comes not, Job 3. 20...22. as those under spiritual torments do. Rev. 9. 5, 6.

II. Here is God's confirmation of the sentence; for when he judges, he will overcome, v. 15. Observe, 1. How Cain is protected in wrath by this declaration, notified, we may suppose, to all that little world which was then in being, Whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold; because thereby the sentence he was under (that he should be a fugitive and a vagabond) would be defeated. Condemned prisoners are under the special protection of the law; they that are appointed sacrifices to public justice, must not be sacrificed to private revenge. God having said, in Cain's case, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, it had been a daring usurpation for any man to take the sword out of God's hand, a contempt put upon an express declaration of God's mind, and therefore, avenged seven-fold. Note, God has wise and holy ends in protecting and prolonging the lives even of very wicked men. God deals with some, according to that prayer, Ps. 59. 11, Slay them not, lest my people forget; scatter them by thy power. Had Cain been slain immediately, he had been forgotten, Eccl. 8. 10; but now he lives, a more fearful and lasting monument of God's justice, hanged in chains, as it were. 2. How he is marked in wrath; The Lord set a mark upon Cain, to distinguish him from the rest of mankind, and to notify that he was the man that murdered his brother, whom nobody must hurt, but every body must hoot at. God stigmatized him, (as some malefactors are burnt in the cheek,) and put upon him such a visible and indelible mark of infamy and disgrace, as would make all wise people shun him, so that he could not be otherwise than a fugitive and a vagabond, and the offscouring of all things.

16. And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. 17. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. 18. And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.

We have here a further account of Cain, and what became of him after he was rejected of God.

I. He tamely submitted to that part of his sentence, by which he was hid from God's face. For, (v. 16.) he went out from the presence of the Lord, that is, he willingly renounced God and religion, and was content to forego the privileges, so that he might not be under its precepts. He forsook Adam's family and altar, and cast off all pretensions to the fear of God, and never came among good people, nor attended on God's ordinances, any more. Note, Hypocritical professors, that have dissembled and trifled with God Almighty, are justly left to themselves, to do something that is grossly scandalous, and so throw off that form of godliness which they have been a reproach to, and under colour of which they have denied the power of it. Cain went out now from the presence of the Lord, and we never find that he came into it again, to his comfort. Hell is destruction from the presence of the Lord, 2 Thes. 1. 9. It is a perpetual banishment from the fountain of all good. This is the choice of sinners; and so shall their doom be, to their eternal confusion.

II. He endeavoured to confront that part of the sentence by which he was made a fugitive and a vagabond, for,

1. He chose his land. He went and dwelt on the east of Eden, somewhere distant from the place where Adam and his religious family resided, distinguishing himself and his accursed generation from the holy seed, his camp from the camp of the saints and the beloved city, Rev. 20. 9. On the east of Eden, the cherubim were, with the flaming sword; ch. 3. 24. there he chose his lot, as if to defy the terrors of the Lord. But his attempt to settle was in vain; for the land he dwelt in, was to him the land of Nod, that is, shaking, or trembling, because of the continual restlessness and uneasiness of his own spirit. Note, Those that depart from God, cannot find rest any where else. When Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, he never rested after. Those that shut themselves out of Heaven, abandon themselves to a perpetual trembling; "Return therefore to thy rest, O my soul, to thy rest in God; else thou art for ever restless."

2. He builded him a city for a habitation, v. 17. He was building a city, so some read it, ever building it, but, a curse being upon him and the work of his hands, he could not finish it. Or, as we read it, he builded a city, in token of a fixed separation from the church of God, to which he had no thoughts of ever returning. This city was to be the head quarters of the apostasy. Observe here, (1.) Cain's defiance of the divine sentence. God said he should be a fugitive and a vagabond; had he repented and humbled himself, that curse might have turned into a blessing, as that of the tribe of Levi was, that they should be divided in Jacob, and scattered in Israel; but his impenitent unhumbled heart walking contrary to God, and resolving to fix, in spite of heaven, that which might have been a blessing, turned into a curse. (2.) See what was Cain's choice, after he had forsaken God; he pitched upon a settlement in this world, as his rest for ever. They who looked for the heavenly city, on earth, chose to dwell in tabernacles; but Cain, as one that minded not that city, built him one on earth. They that are cursed of God, are apt to seek their settlement and satisfaction here below, Ps. 17. 14. (3.) See what method Cain took to defend himself against the terrors with which he was perpetually haunted. He undertook this building, to divert his thoughts from the consideration of his own misery, and to drown the clamours of a guilty conscience with the noise of axes and hammers. Thus many baffle their convictions, by thrusting themselves into a hurry of worldly business. (4.) See how wicked people often get the start of God's people, and out-go them in outward prosperity. Cain and his cursed race dwell in a city, while Adam and his blessed family dwell in tents; we cannot judge of love or hatred by all that is before us, Eccl. 9. 1, 2.

3. His family was also built up. Here is an account of his posterity, at least, the heirs of his family, for seven generations. His son was Enoch; of the same name, but not of the same character, with that holy man that walked with God, ch. 5. 22. Good men and bad may bear the same names; but God can distinguish between Judas Iscariot, and Judas not Iscariot, John 14. 22. The names of more of his posterity are mentioned, and but just mentioned; not as those of the holy seed, ch. 5, where we have three verses concerning each, whereas here we have three or four in one verse. They are numbered in haste, as not valued or delighted in, in comparison with God's chosen.

19. And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20. And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. 21. And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. 22. And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

We have here some particulars concerning Lamech, the seventh from Adam in the line of Cain. Observe,

I. His marrying of two wives. It was one of the degenerate race of Cain, who first transgressed that original law of marriage, that two only should be one flesh. Hitherto, one man had but one wife at a time; but Lamech took two. From the beginning it was not so, Mal. 2. 15. Matth. 19. 5.   See here, 1. That those who desert God's church and ordinances, lay themselves open to all manner of temptation. 2. That when a bad custom is begun by bad men, sometimes men of better characters are through unwariness, drawn in to follow them. Jacob, David, and many others, who were otherwise good men, were afterward insnared in this sin which Lamech had begun.

II. His happiness in his children, notwithstanding this. Though he sinned, in marrying two wives, yet he was blessed with children by both, and those, such as lived to be famous in their generation; not for their piety, no mention is made of that, (for aught that appears, they were the heathen of that age,) but for their ingenuity. They were not only themselves men of business, but men that were serviceable to the world, and eminent for the invention, or, at least, the improvement, of some useful art.

1. Jabal was a famous shepherd; he delighted himself much in keeping cattle, and was so happy in devising methods of doing it to the best advantage, and instructing others in them, that the shepherds of those times, nay, the shepherds of after-times, called him father; or, perhaps, his children after him being brought up to the same employment, the family was a family of shepherds.

2. Jubal was a famous musician, and particularly an organist, and the first that gave rules for that noble art or science of music. When Jabal had set them in a way to be rich, Jubal put them in a way to be merry. Those who spend their days in wealth, will not be without the timbrel and harp, Job 21. 12, 13. From his name, Jubal, probably the jubilee-trumpet was so called; for the best music was that which proclaimed liberty and redemption. Jabal was their Pan, and Jubal their Apollo.

3. Tubal-Cain was a famous smith, who greatly improved the art of working in brass and iron, for the service both of war and husbandry. He was their Vulcan. See here,

(1.) That worldly things are the only things that carnal wicked people set their hearts upon, and are most ingenious and industrious about. So it was with this impious race of cursed Cain. Here was a father of shepherds, and a father of musicians, but not a father of the faithful: here is one to teach in brass and iron, but none to teach the good knowledge of the Lord: here are devices how to be rich, and how to be mighty, and how to be merry: but nothing of God, or of his fear and service among them. Present things fill the hearts of most people. (2.) That even those who are destitute of the knowledge and grace of God, may be endued with many excellent useful accomplishments, which may make them famous and serviceable in their generation. Common gifts are given to bad men, while God chooses to himself the foolish things of the world.

23. And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech; for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt: 24. If Cain shall be avenged seven-fold, truly Lamech seventy and seven-fold.

By this speech of Lamech, which is here recorded, and, probably, was much talked of in those times, he further appears to have been a bad man, as Cain's accursed race generally were.


I. How haughtily and imperiously he speaks to his wives, as one that expected a mighty regard and observance. Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech. No marvel that he who had broken one law of marriage, by taking two wives, broke another, which obliged him to be kind and tender to those he had taken, and to give honour to the wife as to the weaker vessel. Those are not always the most careful to do their own duty, that are highest in their demands of respect from others, and most frequent in calling upon their relations to know their place, and do their duty.

II. How bloody and barbarous he was to all about him. I have slain, or, (as it is in the margin,) I would slay a man in my own wound, and a young man in my hurt. He owns himself a man of a fierce and cruel disposition, that would lay about him without mercy, and kill all that stood in his way; be it a man, or a young man, nay, though he himself were in danger to be wounded and hurt in the conflict. Some think, because (v. 24.) he compares himself with Cain, that he had murdered some of the holy seed, the true worshippers of God, and that he acknowledges this to be the wounding of his conscience, and the hurt of his soul; and yet that like Cain, he continued impenitent, trembling and yet unhumbled. Or, his wives, knowing what manner of spirit he was of, how apt both to give and to resent provocation, were afraid lest somebody or other would be the death of him. "Never fear," says he, "I defy any man to set upon me; I will slay him, be he a man, or a young man." Note, It is a common thing for fierce and bloody men to glory in their shame, (Philip. 3. 19.) as if it were both their safety and their honour, that they care not how many lives are sacrificed to their angry resentments, nor how much they are hated, provided they may be feared. Oderint, dum metuant——Let them hate, provided they fear.

III. How impiously he presumes even upon God's protection in his wicked way, v. 24. He had heard that Cain should be avenged seven-fold, v. 15; that is, that if any man should dare to kill Cain, he should be severely reckoned with, and punished, for so doing, though Cain deserved to die a thousand deaths for the murder of his brother; and hence he infers, that if any one should kill him for the murders he had committed, God would much more avenge his death. As if the special care God took to prolong and secure the life of Cain, for special reasons peculiar to his case, and indeed for his sorer punishment, as the beings of the damned are continued——as if this care were designed for a protection to all murderers. Thus Lamech perversely argues, "If God provided for the safety of Cain, much more for mine; who, though I have slain many, yet never slew my own brother, and upon no provocation, as he did." Note, The reprieve of some sinners, and the patience God exercised toward them, are often abused to the hardening of others in the like sinful ways, Eccl. 8. 11. But though justice strike some slowly, others cannot therefore be sure but that they may be taken away with a swift destruction. Or, if God should bear long with those who thus presume upon his forbearance, they do but hereby treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath. Now this is all we have upon record in scripture concerning the family and posterity of cursed Cain, till we find them all cut off and perishing in the universal deluge.

25, And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. 26. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos; then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.

This is the first mention of Adam in the story of this chapter. No question, the murder of Abel, and the impenitence and apostasy of Cain, were a very great grief to him and Eve; and the more, because their own wickedness did now correct them, and their backslidings did reprove them. Their folly had given sin and death entrance into the world; and now they smarted by it, being, by means thereof, deprived of both their sons in one day, ch. 27. 45. When parents are grieved by their children's wickedness, they should take occasion thence to lament that corruption of nature which was derived from them, and which is the root of bitterness. But here we have that which was a relief to our first parents in their affliction.

I. God gave them to see the rebuilding of their family, which was sorely shaken and weakened by that sad event. For, 1. They saw their seed, another seed instead of Abel, v. 25. Observe God's kindness and tenderness toward his people, in his providential dealings with them; when he takes away one comfort from them, he gives them another instead of it, which may prove a greater blessing to them than that was, in which they thought their lives were bound up. This other seed was he in whom the church was to be built up and perpetuated; and he comes instead of Abel; for the succession of professors is the revival of the martyrs, and as it were the resurrection of God's slain witnesses. Thus we are baptized for the dead, 1 Cor. 15. 29; that is, we are, by baptism, admitted into the church, for or instead of those who, by death, especially by martyrdom, are removed out of it; and we fill up their room. They who slay God's servants, hope thus to wear out the saints of the Most High; but they will be deceived. Christ shall still see his seed; God can out of stones raise up children for him, and make the blood of the martyrs the seed of the church, whose lands, we are sure, shall never be lost for want of heirs. This son, by a prophetic spirit, they called Seth, that is, set, settled, or placed; because, in his seed, mankind should continue to the end of time, and from him the Messiah should descend. While Cain, the head of the apostasy, is made a wanderer, Seth, from whom the true church was to come, is one fixed. In Christ and his church is the only true settlement. 2. They saw their seed's seed, v. 26. To Seth was born a son called Enos, that general name for all men, which bespeaks the weakness, frailty, and misery, of man's state. The best men are most sensible of these, both in themselves and their children. We are never so settled, but we must remind ourselves that we are frail.

II. God gave them to see the reviving of religion in their family, v. 26, Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord. It is small comfort to a good man to see his children's children, if he do not, withal, see peace upon Israel, and those that come of him walking in the truth. Doubtless, God's name was called upon before, but now, 1. The worshippers of God began to stir up themselves to do more in religion than they had done; perhaps not more than had been done at first, but more than had been done of late, since the defection of Cain. Now, men began to worship God, not only in their closets and families, but in public and solemn assemblies. Or, now, there was so great a reformation in religion, that it was as it were, a new beginning of it. Then may refer, not to the birth of Enos, but to the whole foregoing story; then, when men saw in Cain and Lamech the sad effects of sin, by the workings of natural conscience; then, they were so much the more lively and resolute in religion. The worse others are, the better we should be, and the more zealous. 2. The worshippers of God began to distinguish themselves; the margin reads it, Then began men to be called by the name of the Lord, or, to call themselves by it. Now, that Cain and those who had deserted religion, had built a city, and begun to declare for impiety and irreligion, and called themselves the Sons of men; those that adhered to God, began to declare for him and his worship, and called themselves the Sons of God. Now began the distinction between professors and profane, which has been kept up ever since, and will be while the world stands.


This chapter is the only authentic history extant of the first age of the world, from the creation to the flood, containing (according to the verity of the Hebrew text) 1656 years, as may easily be computed by the ages of the Patriarchs, before they begat that son, through whom the line went down to Noah. This is none of those which the apostle calls endless genealogies, 1 Tim. 1. 4, for Christ who was the end of the Old Testament law, was also the end of the Old Testament genealogies; toward him they looked, and in him they centred. The genealogy here recorded, is inserted briefly in the pedigree of our Saviour, Luke 3. 36..38, and is of great use, to show that Christ was the Seed of the woman, that was promised. We have here an account, I. Concerning Adam, v. 1..5.   II. Seth, v. 6..8.   III. Enos, v. 9..11.   IV. Cainan, v. 12..14.   V. Mahalaleel, v. 15..17.   VI. Jared, v. 18..20.   VII. Enoch, v. 21..24.   VIII. Methuselah, v. 25..27.   IX. Lamech and his son Noah, v. 28..32. All scripture, being given by inspiration of God, is profitable, though not all alike profitable.

1.THIS is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him: 2. Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created: 3. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: 4. And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: 5. And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

The first words of the chapter are the title or argument of the whole chapter; it is the book of the generations of Adam, it is the list or catalogue of the posterity of Adam; not of all, but only of the holy seed which were the substance thereof, Isa. 6. 13, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, Rom. 9. 5, the names, ages, and deaths, of those that were the successors of the first Adam in the custody of the promise, and the ancestors of the second Adam. The genealogy begins with Adam himself.

Here is,

I. His creation, v. 1, 2. Where we have a brief rehearsal of what was before at large related concerning the creation of man. This is what we have need frequently to hear of, and carefully to acquaint ourselves with. Observe here, 1. That God created man. Man is not his own maker, therefore he must not be his own master; but the Author of his being must be the Director of his motions and the centre of them. 2. That there was a day in which God created man; he was not from eternity, but of yesterday; he was not the first-born, but the junior of the creation. 3. That God made him in his own likeness, righteous and holy, and therefore, undoubtedly, happy; man's nature resembled the divine nature more than that of any of the creatures of this lower world. 4. That God created them male and female, (v. 2.) for their mutual comfort as well as for the preservation and increase of their kind. Adam and Eve were both made immediately by the hand of God, both made in God's likeness; and therefore between the sexes there is not that great distance and inequality which some imagine. 5. That God blessed them. It is usual for parents to bless their children; so God, the common Father, blessed his: but earthly parents can only beg a blessing, it is God's prerogative to command it. It refers chiefly to the blessing of increase, not excluding other blessings. 6. That he called their name Adam. Adam signifies earth, red earth. Now, (1.) God gave him this name. Adam had himself named the rest of the creatures, but he must not choose his own name, lest he should assume some glorious pompous title. But God gave him a name which would be a continual memorandum to him of the meanness of his original, and oblige him to look unto the rock whence he was hewn, and the hole of the pit whence he was digged, Isa. 51. 1. Those have little reason to be proud, who are so near akin to dust. (2.) He gave this name both to the man and to the woman. Being, at first, one by nature, and afterward, one by marriage, it was fit they should both have the same name, in token of their union. The woman is of the earth, earthy, as well as the man.

II. The birth of his son Seth, v. 3. He was born in the hundred and thirtieth year of Adam's life; and, probably, the murder of Abel was not long before. Many other sons and daughters were born to Adam, besides Cain and Abel, before this; but no notice is taken of them, because an honourable mention must be made of his name only, in whose loins Christ and the church were. But that which is most observable here concerning Seth, is, that Adam begat him in his own likeness, after his image. Adam was made in the image of God; but when he was fallen and corrupt, he begat a son in his own image, sinful and defiled, frail, mortal, and miserable, like himself; not only a man like himself, consisting of body and soul, but a sinner like himself, guilty and obnoxious, degenerate and corrupt. Even the man after God's own heart owns himself conceived and born in sin, Ps. 51. 5. This was Adam's own likeness, the reverse of that divine likeness in which Adam was made; but, having lost it himself, he could not convey it to his seed. Note, Grace does not run in the blood, but corruption does. A sinner begets a sinner, but a saint does not beget a saint.

III. His age and death. He lived, in all, nine hundred and thirty years; and then he died, according to the sentence passed upon him, To dust thou shalt return. Though he did not die in the day he ate forbidden fruit, yet in that very day he became mortal; then he began to die: his whole life after was but a reprieve, a forfeited, condemned, life; nay it was a wasting, dying, life: he was not only like a criminal sentenced, but as one already crucified, that dies slowly, and by degrees.

6. And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: 7. And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters: 8. And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died. 9. And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan: 10. And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters: 11. And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died. 12. And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel: 13. And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters: 14. And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died. 15. And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared: 16. And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters: 17. And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died. 18. And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch: 19. And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 20. And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.

We have here all that the Holy Ghost thought fit to leave upon record concerning five of the patriarchs before the flood, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, and Jared. There is nothing observable concerning any of these particularly, though we have reason to think they were men of eminence, both for prudence and piety, in their day: but, in general,

I. Observe how largely and expressly their generations are recorded. This matter, one would think, might have been delivered in fewer words; but it is certain that there is not one idle word in God's books, whatever there is in men's. It is thus plainly set down, 1. To make it easy and intelligible to the meanest capacity: when we are informed how old they were when they begat such a sen, and how many years they lived after, a very little skill in arithmetic will enable a man to tell how long they lived in all; yet the Holy Ghost sets down the sum total, for the sake of those that have not even so much skill as that. 2. To show the pleasure God takes in the names of his people; we found Cain's generation numbered in haste, ch. 4. 18, but this account of the holy seed is enlarged upon, and given in words at length, and not in figures; we are told how long they lived, that lived in God's fear, and when they died, that died in his favour; but as for others, it is no matter. The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot.

II. Their life is reckoned by days, v. 8, all the days of Seth, and so of the rest; which intimates the shortness of the life of man, when it is at the longest, and the quick revolution of our times on earth. If they reckon by days, surely we must reckon by hours, or, rather make that our frequent prayer, (Ps. 90. 12.) Teach us to number our days.

III. Concerning each of them, except Enoch, it is said, and he died. It is implied in the numbering of the years of their life, that their life, when those years were numbered and finished, came to an end; and yet it is still repeated, and he died: to show that death passed upon all men without exception, and that it is good for us particularly to observe and improve the deaths of others for our own edification. Such a one was a strong healthful man, but he died; such a one was a great and rich man, but he died: such a one was a wise politic man, but he died; such a one was a very good man, perhaps a very useful man, but he died, &c.

IV. That which is especially observable, is, that they all lived very long; not one of them died till he had seen the revolutions of almost eight hundred years, and some of them lived much longer; a great while for an immortal soul to be imprisoned in a house of clay. The present life surely was not to them such a burthen as, commonly, it is now, else they would have been weary of it; nor was the future life so clearly revealed then as it is now under the gospel, else they would have been impatient to remove to it: long life to the pious patriarchs was a blessing, and made them blessings. 1. Some natural causes may be assigned for their long life in those first ages of the world. It is very probable that the earth was more fruitful, the productions of it more strengthening, the air more healthful, and the influences of the heavenly bodies more benign, before the flood than they were after. Though man was driven out of paradise, yet the earth itself was then paradisiacal; a garden, in comparison with its present wilderness state: and some think that their great knowledge of the creatures, and of their usefulness both for food and medicine, together with their sobriety and temperance, contributed much to it; yet we do not find that those who were intemperate, as many were, Luke 17. 27, were as short-lived as intemperate men generally are now. 2. It must chiefly be resolved into the power and providence of God; he prolonged their lives, both for the more speedy replenishing of the earth, and for the more effectual preservation of the knowledge of God and religion, then, when there was no written word, but tradition was the channel of its conveyance. All the patriarchs here, except Noah, were born before Adam died; so that from him they might receive a full and satisfactory account of the creation, paradise, the fall, the promise, and those divine precepts which concerned religious worship and a religious life: and if any mistake arose, they might have recourse to him while he lived, as to an oracle, for the rectifying of it, and, after his death, to Methuselah, and others, that had conversed with him: so great was the care of Almighty God to preserve in his church the knowledge of his will, and the purity of his worship.

21 . And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: 22. And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah, three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 23. And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years: 24. And Enoch walked with God: and he was not: for God took him.

The accounts here run on for several generations without any thing remarkable, or any variation but of the names and numbers; but, at length, there comes in one that must not be passed over so, of whom special notice must be taken, and that is Enoch, the seventh from Adam: the rest, we may suppose, did virtuously, but he excelled them all, and was the brightest star of the patriarchial age. It is but little that is recorded concerning him; but that little is enough to make his name great, greater than the name of the other Enoch, who had a city called by his name. Here are two things concerning him:

I. His gracious conversation in this world, which is twice spoken of, v. 22, Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah; and again v. 24, Enoch walked with God. Observe,

1. The nature of his religion, and the scope and tenor of his conversation; he walked with God, which denotes, (1.) True religion; what is godliness, but walking with God? The ungodly and profane are without God in the world, they walk contrary to him; but the godly walk with God, which presupposes reconciliation to God, for two cannot walk together, except they be agreed, Amos 3. 3, and includes all the parts and instances of a godly, righteous, and sober, life: to walk with God, is to set God always before us, and to act as those that are always under his eye. It is to live a life of communion with God, both in ordinances and providences; it is to make God's word our rule, and his glory our end, in all our actions; it is to make it our constant care and endeavour in every thing to please God, and in nothing to offend him; it is to comply with his will, to concur with his designs, and to be workers together with him: it is to be followers of him as dear children. (2.) Eminent religion. He was entirely dead to this world, and did not only walk after God, as all good men do, but he walked with God, as if he were in heaven already: he lived above the rate, not only of other men, but of other saints; not only good in bad times, but the best in good times. (3.) Activity in promoting religion among others: executing the priest's office is called walking before God, 1 Sam. 2. 30, 35, and see Zech. 3. 7. Enoch, it should seem, was a priest of the most high God, and, as Noah, who is likewise said to walk with God, he was a preacher of righteousness, and prophesied of Christ's second coming, Jude 14, Behold, the Lord cometh with his holy myriads. Now the Holy Spirit instead of saying, Enoch lived, says, Enoch walked with God; for it is the life of a good man to walk with God. This was, [1.] The business of Enoch's life, his constant care and work; while others lived to themselves and the world, he lived to God. [2.] It was the joy and support of his life; communion with God was to him better than life itself; To me to live is Christ, Phil. 1. 21.

2. The date of his religion. It is said, v. 21, he lived sixty-five years, and begat Methuselah; but, v. 22, he walked with God after he begat Methuselah; which intimates that he did not begin to be eminent for piety, till about that time; at first he walked but as other men. Great saints arrive at their eminence by degrees.

3. The continuance of his religion; he walked with God three hundred years, as long as he continued in this world: the hypocrite will not pray always; but the real saint that acts from a principle, and makes religion his choice, will persevere to the end, and walk with God while he lives, as one that hopes to live for ever with him, Ps. 104. 33.

II. His glorious removal to a better world: as he did not live like the rest, so he did not die like the rest, v. 24, he was not, for God took him; that is, as it is explained, Heb. 11. 3, He was translated that he should not see death, and was not found because God had translated him. Observe,

1. When he was thus translated. (1.) What time of his life it was; when he had lived but three hundred and sixty-five years, (a year of years,) which, as men's ages went then, was in the midst of his days; for there was none of the patriarchs, before the flood, that did not more than double that age: but why did God take him so soon? Surely, because the world, which was now grown corrupt, was not worthy of him; or, because he was so much above the world, and so weary of it, as to desire a speedy removal out of it; or, because his work was done, and done the sooner for his minding it so closely. Note, God often takes them soonest whom he loves best; and the time they lose on earth is gained in heaven, to their unspeakable advantage. (2.) What time of the world; it was when all the patriarchs, mentioned in this chapter, were living, except Adam, who died 57 years before, and Noah, who was born 69 years after; they two had sensible confirmations to their faith other ways, but to all the rest, who were, or might have been witnesses of Enoch's translation, that was a sensible encouragement to their faith and hope concerning a future state.

2. How his removal is expressed. He was not for God took him. (1.) He was not any longer in this world; it was not the period of his being, but of his being here; he was not found, so the apostle explains it from the LXX, not found by his friends, who sought him, as the sons of the prophets sought Elijah, 2 Kings 2. 17; not found by his enemies, who, some think, were in quest of him, to put him to death in their rage against him for his eminent piety: it appears by his prophecy, that there were then many ungodly sinners, who spake hard speeches, and, probably did hard things too, against God's people, Jude 15, but God hid Enoch from them, not under heaven, but in heaven. (2.) God took him body and soul to himself in the heavenly paradise, by the ministry of angels, as, afterward, he took Elijah. He was changed, as those saints shall be, that will be found alive at Christ's second coming. Whenever a good man dies, God takes him, fetches him hence, and receives him to himself. The apostle adds concerning Enoch, that before his translation, he had this testimony that he pleased God, and this was the good report he obtained. Note,

[1.] Walking with God, pleases God. [2.] We cannot walk with God, so as to please him, but by faith. [3.] God himself will put an honour upon those that by faith walk with him so as to please him. He will own them now, and witness for them before angels and men at the great day: they that have not this testimony before the translation, yet shall have it after. [4.] Those whose conversation in the world is truly holy, shall find their removal out of it truly happy. Enoch's translation was not only an evidence to faith of the reality of a future state, and of the possibility of the body's existing in glory in that state; but it was an encouragement to the hope of all that walk with God, that they shall be forever with him: signal piety shall be crowned with signal honours.

25. And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech: 26. And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters: 27. And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

Concerning Methuselah observe, 1. The signification of his name, which some think, was prophetical, his father Enoch being a prophet; Methuselah signifies, he dies, there is a dart, or, a sending forth, namely, of the deluge, which came the very year that Methuselah died. If indeed his name was so intended, and so explained, it was fair warning to a careless world, a long time before the judgment came. However, this is observable, that the longest liver that ever was, carried death in his name, that he might be reminded of its coming surely, though it came slowly. 2. His age: he lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years, the longest we read of, that ever any man lived to, on earth; and yet he died: the longest liver must die at last. Neither youth nor age will discharge from that war, for that is the end of all men: none can challenge life by long prescription, nor make that a plea against the arrests of death. It is commonly supposed that Methuselah died a little before the flood; the Jewish writers say, "seven days before," referring to ch. 7. 10, and that he was taken away from the evil to come; which goes upon this presumption which is generally received, that all these patriarchs in this chapter were holy good men. I am loath to offer any surmise to the contrary; and yet I see not that that can be any more inferred from their enrolment here among the ancestors of Christ, than that all those kings of Judah were so, whose names are recorded in his genealogy, many of whom, we are sure, were much otherwise: and if this be questioned, it may be suggested as probable, that Methuselah was himself drowned with the rest of the world; for it is certain that he died that year.

28. And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: 29. And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed: 30. And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters: 31. And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died: 32. And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Here we have the first mention of Noah, of whom we shall read much in the following chapters. Here is,

I. His name, with the reason of it: Noah signifies rest; his parents gave him that name, with the prospect of his being a more than ordinary blessing to his generation. This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed. Here is, 1. His complaint of the calamitous state of human life; by the entrance of sin, and the entail of the curse for sin, it is become very miserable: our whole life is spent in labour, and our time filled up with continual toil. God having cursed the ground, it is as much as some can do, with the utmost care and pains, to fetch a hard livelihood out of it. He speaks as one fatigued with the business of this life, and grudging that so many of our thoughts and precious minutes, which otherwise might have been much better employed, are unavoidably spent for the support of the body. 2. His comfortable hopes of some relief by the birth of this son: This same shall comfort us; which denotes not only the desire and expectation which parents generally have concerning their children, that when they grow up, they will be comforts to them, and helpers in their business, though they often prove otherwise; but it denotes also an apprehension and prospect of something more: very probably, there were some prophecies that went before him, as a person that should be wonderfully serviceable to his generation, which they so understood as to conclude that he was the promised Seed, the Messiah that should come: and then intimates that a covenant-interest in Christ as our's, and the believing expectation of his coming, furnish us with the best and surest comforts, both in reference to the wrath and curse of God which we have deserved, and to the toils and troubles of this present time which we are often complaining of. "Is Christ our's? Is heaven our's? This same shall comfort us."

II. His children, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. These Noah begat, (the eldest of these,) when he was 500 years old. It should seem that Japheth was the eldest, ch. 10. 21; but Shem is put first, because on him the covenant was entailed, as appears ch. 9. 26, where God is called the Lord God of Shem; to him, it is probable, the birth-right was given, and from him, it is certain, both Christ the Head, and the church the body, were to descend; therefore he is called Shem, which signifies a name, because in his posterity the name of God should always remain, till he should come out of his loins, whose name is above every name; so that in putting Shem first, Christ was in effect put first, who in all things must have the pre-eminence.


The most remarkable thing we have upon record concerning the old world, is, the destruction of it by the universal deluge, which this chapter begins the story of; wherein we have, I. The abounding iniquity of that wicked world, v. 1..5. and v. 11, 12.   II. The righteous God's just resentment of that abounding iniquity, and his holy resolution to punish it, v. 6, 7.   III. The special favour of God to his servant Noah. 1. In the character given of him, v. 8..10.   2. In the communication of God's purpose to him, v. 13, 17.   3. In the directions he gave him to make an ark for his own safety, v. 14..16.   4. In the employing of him for the preservation of the rest of the creatures, v. 18..21. Lastly, Noah's obedience to the instructions given him, v. 22. And this concerning the old world is written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the new world are come.

1.AND it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them: 2. That the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair: and they took them wives of all which they chose.

For the glory of God's justice, and for warning to a wicked world, before the history of the ruin of the old world, we have a full account of its degeneracy, its apostasy from God and rebellion against him. The destroying of it was an act, not of absolute sovereignty, but of necessary justice for the maintaining of the honour of God's government. Now here we have an account of two things which occasioned the wickedness of the old world.

1. The increase of mankind. Men began to multiply upon the face of the earth. This was the effect of the blessing, ch. 1. 23, and yet man's corruption so abused and perverted this blessing, that it turned into a curse. Thus sin takes occasion by the mercies of God to be the more exceeding sinful. Prov. 29. 16, When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth. The more sinners, the more sin; and the multitude of offenders embolden men: infectious diseases are more destructive in populous cities; and sin is a spreading leprosy. Thus in the New Testament church, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring, Acts 6. 1, and we read of a nation that was multiplied, not to the increase of their joy, Isa. 9. 3. Numerous families need to be well governed, lest they should become wicked families.

2. Mixed marriages, v. 2. The sons of God, that is, the professors of religion, who were called by the name of the Lord, and called upon that name, married the daughters of men, that is, those that were profane, and strangers to God and godliness. The posterity of Seth did not keep by themselves, as they ought to have done, both for the preservation of their own purity, and in detestation of the apostasy; they intermingled themselves with the excommunicated race of Cain; they took them wives of all that they chose. But what was amiss in these marriages? (1.) They chose only by the eye; they saw that they were fair, which was all they looked at. (2.) They followed the choice which their own corrupt affections made; they took all that they chose, without advice and consideration. But, (3.) That which proved of such bad consequence to them, was, that they married strange wives, were unequally yoked with unbelievers, 2 Cor. 6. 14. This was forbidden to Israel, Deut. 7. 3, 4. It was the unhappy occasion of Solomon's apostasy, 1 Kings 11. 1..4, and was of bad consequence to the Jews after their return out of Babylon, Ezra 9. 1, 2. Note, Professors of religion, in marrying both themselves and their children, should make conscience of keeping within the bounds of profession. The bad will sooner debauch the good than the good reform the bad. Those that profess themselves the children of God, must not marry without his consent, which they have not, if they join in affinity with his enemies.

3. And the Lord said. My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

This comes in here, 1. As a token of God's displeasure at those who married strange wives; he threatens to withdraw his Spirit from them, whom they had grieved by such marriages, contrary to their convictions. Fleshly lusts are often punished with spiritual judgments, the sorest of all judgments. Or, 2. As another occasion of the great wickedness of the old world; the Spirit of the Lord, being provoked by their resistance of his motions, ceased to strive with them, and then all religion was soon lost among them. This he warns them of before, that they might not further vex his holy Spirit, but by their prayers might stay him with them. Observe in this verse,

1. God's resolution not always to strive with man by his Spirit. The Spirit then strove by Noah's preaching, 1 Pet. 3. 19, 20, and by inward checks; but it was in vain with the most of men; therefore, says God, He shall not always strive. Note, (1.) The blessed Spirit strives with sinners, by the convictions and admonitions of conscience, to turn them from sin to God. (2.) If the Spirit be resisted, quenched, and striven against; though he strive long, he will not strive always, Hos. 4. 17.   (3.) Those are ripening apace for ruin, whom the Spirit of grace has left off striving with.

2. The reason of that resolution; For that he also is flesh, that is, incurably corrupt, and carnal, and sensual, so that it is labour lost to strive with him. Can the Ethiopian change his skin? He also, that, is, All, one as well as another, they are all sunk into the mire of flesh. Note, (1.) It is the corrupt nature, and inclination of the soul toward the flesh, that oppose the Spirit's strivings, and render them ineffectual. (2.) When a sinner has long adhered to that interest, and sided with the flesh against the Spirit, the Spirit justly withdraws his agency, and strives no more. None lose the Spirit's strivings, but those that have first forfeited them.

3. A reprieve granted, notwithstanding; yet his days shall be 120 years; so long I will defer the judgment they deserve, and give them space to prevent it by their repentance and reformation. Justice said, Cut them down; but mercy interceded, Lord, let them alone this year also; and so far mercy prevailed, that a reprieve was obtained for six-score years. Note, The time of God's patience and forbearance toward provoking sinners is sometimes long, but always limited: reprieves are not pardons; though God bear a great while, he will not bear always.

4. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown: 5, And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

We have here a further account of the corruption of the old world. When the sons of God had matched with the daughters of men, though it was very displeasing to God, yet he did not immediately cut them off, but waited to see what the issue of these marriages would be, and which side the children would take after; and it proved, (as it usually does,) that they took after the worst side. Here is,

I. The temptation they were under to oppress and do violence; they were giants, they were men of renown; they became too hard for all about them, and carried all before them, 1. With their great bulk, as the sons of Anak, Numb. 13. 33, and 2. With their great name, as the king of Assyria, Isa. 37. 11. These made them the terror of the mighty in the land of the living; and thus armed, they daringly insulted the rights of all their neighbours, and trampled upon all that is just and sacred. Note, Those that have so much power over others as to be able to oppress them, have seldom so much power over themselves as not to oppress; great might is a very great snare to many. This degenerate race slighted the honour their ancestors had obtained by virtue and religion, and made themselves a great name by that which was the perpetual ruin of their good name.

II. The charge exhibited and proved against them, v. 5. The evidence produced was incontestable; God saw it, and that is instead of a thousand witnesses. God sees all the wickedness that is among the children of men; it cannot be concealed from him now, and if it be not repented of, it shall not be concealed by him shortly. Now, what did God take notice of ?

1. He observed all the streams of sin that flowed along in men's lives, and the breadth and depth of those streams; he saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Observe the connection of this with what goes before; the oppressors were mighty men, and men of renown; and then God saw that the wickedness of man was great. Note, The wickedness of a people is great indeed, when the most notorious sinners are men of renown among them. Things are bad, when bad men are not only honoured notwithstanding their wickedness, but honoured for their wickedness, and the vilest men exalted; wickedness is then great, when great men are wicked. Their wickedness was great, that is, abundance of sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people; and such sin as was in its own nature most gross, and heinous, and provoking; and committed daringly, and with a defiance of heaven; nor was any care taken by those who had power in their hands, to restrain and punish it. This God saw. Note, All the sins of sinners are known to God the Judge: those that are most conversant in the world, though they see much wickedness in it, yet they see but little of that which is; but God sees all, and judges aright concerning it, how great it is, nor can he be deceived in his judgment.

2. He observed the fountain of sin that was in men's hearts: any one might see that the wickedness of man was great, for they declared their sin as Sodom; but God's eye went further; he saw that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. A sad sight, and very offensive to God's holy eye! This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring: all the violence and oppression, all the luxury and wantonness, that were in the world, proceeded from the corruption of nature; lust conceived them, Jam. 1. 15. See Matth. 15. 19. (1.) The heart was naught: that was deceitful and desperately wicked; the principles were corrupt, and the habits and dispositions evil. (2.) The thoughts of the heart were so; thought is sometimes taken for the settled judgment or opinion, and that was bribed, and biassed, and misled; sometimes for the workings of the fancy, and those were always either vain or vile, either weaving the spider's web, or hatching the cocatrice's eggs. (3.) The imagination of the thoughts of the heart was so, that is, their designs and devices were wicked. They did not do evil only through carelessness, as those that walk at all adventures, not heeding what they do; but they did evil deliberately, and designedly, contriving how to do mischief. It was bad indeed; for it was only evil, continually evil, and every imagination was so. There was no good to be found among them, no not at anytime: the stream of sin was full, and strong, and constant; and God saw it; see Ps. 14. 1..3.

6. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart: 7. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Here is,

I. God's resentment of man's wickedness; he did not see it as an unconcerned spectator, but as one injured and affronted by it; he saw it as a tender father sees the folly and stubbornness of a rebellious and disobedient child, which not only angers him, but grieves him, and makes him wish he had been written childless. The expressions here used, are very strange. It repented the Lord that he had made man upon the earth, that he had made a creature of such noble powers and faculties, and had put him on this earth, which he built and furnished on purpose to be a convenient, comfortable habitation for him ; and it grieved him at his heart. These are expressions after the manner of men, and must be understood so as not to reflect upon the honour of God's immutability or felicity.

1. It does not bespeak any passion or uneasiness in God; (nothing can create disturbance to the eternal mind;) but it bespeaks his just and holy displeasure against sin and sinners; against sin as odious to his holiness, and against sin as obnoxious to his justice. He is pressed by the sins of his creatures, Amos 2. 13, wearied, Isa. 43. 24, broken, Ezek. 6. 9, grieved, Ps. 95. 10, and here, grieved to the heart, as men are when they are wronged and abused by those they have been very kind to, and therefore repent of their kindness, and wish they had never fostered that snake in their bosom, which now hisses in their face, and stings them to the heart. Does God thus hate sin? And shall not we hate it? Has our sin grieved him to the heart? And shall not we be grieved and pricked to the heart for it? O that this consideration might humble us, and shame us, and that we may look on him whom we have thus grieved, and mourn! Zech. 12. 10.

2. It does not bespeak any change in God's mind; for he is in one mind, and who can turn him? With him there is no variableness. But it bespeaks a change of his way; when God had made man upright, he rested and was refreshed, Exod. 31. 17, and his way toward him was such as showed he was pleased with the work of his own hands; but now that man was apostatized, he could not do otherwise than show himself displeased: so that the change was in man, not in God. God repented that he had made man; but we never find him repenting that he redeemed man, though that was a work of much greater expense, because special and effectual grace is given to secure the great ends of redemption; so that those gifts and callings are without repentance, Rom. 11. 29.

II. God's resolution to destroy man for his wickedness, v. 7. Observe, 1. When God repented that he had made man, he resolved to destroy man. Thus they that truly repent of sin, will resolve, in the strength of God's grace, to mortify sin, and to destroy it, and so to undo what they have done amiss; we do but mock God in saying that we are sorry for our sin, and that it grieves us to the heart, if we continue to indulge it. In vain do we pretend a change of our mind, if we do not evidence it by a change of our way. 2. He resolves to destroy man; the original word is very significant, I will wipe off man from the earth, (so some,) as dirt or filth is wiped off from a place which should be clean, and is thrown to the dunghill, the proper place for it. See 2 Kings 21. 13. Those that are the spots of the places they live in, are justly wiped away by the judgments of God. I will blot out man from the earth, (so others,) as those lines are blotted out of a book, which displease the author; or, as the name of a citizen is blotted out of the rolls of the freemen, when he is dead, or disfranchised. 3. He speaks of man as his own creature then, when he resolves upon his ruin, Man whom I have created; "Though I have created him, that shall not excuse him." Isa. 27. 11, He that made him, will not save him; he that is our Creator, if he shall not be our Ruler, will be our Destroyer. Or, "Because I have created him, and he has been so undutiful and so ungrateful to his Creator, therefore I will destroy him:" those forfeit their lives that do not answer the end of their living. 4. Even the brute creatures were to be involved in this destruction. Beasts and creeping things, and the fowl of the air. These were made for man, and therefore must he destroyed with man; for it follows, It repenteth me that I have made them; for the end of their creation also was frustrated: they were made, that man might serve and honour God with them; and therefore were destroyed, because he had served his lusts with them, and made them subject to vanity. 5. God took up this resolution concerning men, after his Spirit had been long striving with them in vain. None are ruined by the justice of God but those that hate to be reformed by the grace of God.

8. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 9. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. 10. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

We have here Noah distinguished from the rest of the world, and a peculiar mark of honour put upon him.

1. When God was displeased with the rest of the world, he favoured Noah, v. 8, But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This vindicates God's justice in his displeasure against the world, and shows that he had strictly examined the character of every person in it, before he pronounced it universally corrupt; for, there being one good man, he found him out, and smiled upon him. It also magnifies his grace towards Noah, that he was made a vessel of God's mercy, when all mankind besides were become the generation of his wrath: distinguishing favours bring under peculiarly strong obligations. Probably, Noah did not find favour in the eyes of men ; they hated and persecuted him, because both by his life and preaching he condemned the world: but he found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and that was honour and comfort enough. God made more account of Noah than of all the world besides; and this made him greater and more truly honourable than all the giants that were in those days, who became mighty men, and men of renown. Let this be the top of your ambition, to find grace in the eyes of the Lord; herein let us labour, that, present or absent, we may be accepted of him, 2 Cor. 5. 9. Those are highly favoured, whom God favours.

2. When the rest of the world was corrupt and wicked, Noah kept his integrity, v. 9, These are the generations of Noah: this is the account we have to give of him; Noah was a just man. This character of Noah comes in here either, (1.) As the reason of God's favour to him; his singular piety qualified him for singular tokens of God's loving kindness. Those that would find grace in the eyes of the Lord, must be as Noah was, and do as Noah did: God loves those that love him: or (2.) As the effect of God's favour to him: it was God's good-will to him that produced this good work in him; he was a very good man, but he was no better than the grace of God made him, 1 Cor. 15. 10. Now observe his character; [1. ] He was a just man, that is, justified before God by faith in the promised Seed; for he was an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, Heb. 11. 7. He was sanctified, and had right principles and dispositions implanted in him; and he was righteous in his conversation, one that made conscience of rendering to all their due, to God his due, and to men their's. Note, None but a downright honest man, can find favour with God; that conversation which will be pleasing to God, must be governed by simplicity and godly sincerity, not by fleshly wisdom, 2 Cor. 1. 12. God has sometimes chosen the foolish things of the world, but he never chose the knavish things of it. [2.] He was perfect, not with a sinless perfection, but a perfection of sincerity; and it is well for us, that by virtue of the covenant of grace, upon the score of Christ's righteousness, sincerity is accepted as our gospel perfection. [3.] He walked with God, as Enoch had done before him; he was not only honest, but devout: he walked, that is, he acted with God, as one always under his eye; he lived a life of communion with God; it was his constant care to conform himself to the will of God, to please him, and to approve himself to him. Note, God looks down upon those with an eye of favour, who sincerely look up to him with an eye of faith. But, [4.] That which crowns his character, is, that thus he was, and thus he did, in his generation, in that corrupt degenerate age, in which his lot was cast. It is easy to be religious, when religion is in fashion; but it is an evidence of strong faith and resolution, to swim against a stream to heaven, and to appear for God, when no one else appears for him: so Noah did, and it is upon record, to his immortal honour.

11. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

The wickedness of that generation is here again spoken of, 1. As a foil to Noah's piety; he was just and perfect, when all the earth was corrupt: or, 2, As a further justification of God's resolution to destroy the world, which he was now about to communicate to his servant Noah.

1. All kind of sin was found among them, for v. 11, it is said that the earth was (1.) Corrupt before God, that is, in the matters of God's worship; either they had other gods before him, or, they worshipped him by images, or, they were corrupt and wicked in despite and contempt of God, daring him and defying him to his face. (2.) The earth was also filled with violence, and injustice toward men; there was no order or regular government; no man was safe in the possession of that which he had the most clear and incontestable right to, no not the most innocent life, nothing but murders, rapes, and rapine. Note, Wickedness, as it is the shame of the human nature so it is the ruin of human society; it takes away conscience and the fear of God, and men become beasts and devils to one another, like the fishes of the sea, where the greater devour the lesser. Sin fills the earth with violence, and so turns the world into a wilderness, into a cock-pit.

2. The proof and evidence of it were undeniable; for God looked upon the earth, and was himself an eye-witness of the corruption that was in it, of which before, v. 5. The righteous judge in all his judgments proceeds upon the infallible certainty of his own omniscience, Ps. 33. 13.

3. That which most aggravated the matter, was the universal spreading of the contagion. All flesh had corrupted his way. It was not some particular nations or cities that were thus wicked, but the whole world of mankind were so: there was none that did good, no, not one, beside Noah. Note, When wickedness is become general and universal, ruin is not far off; while there is a remnant of praying people in a nation to empty the measure as it fills, judgments may be kept off a great while; but when all hands are at work to pull down the fences by sin, and none stand in the gap to make up the breach, what can be expected but an inundation of wrath?

13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14. Make thee an ark of gopher-wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above ; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third, stories shalt thou make it. 17. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life from under heaven ; and every thing that is in the earth, shall die. 18. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. 19. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 21. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee ; and it shall be for food for thee and for them.

Here it appears indeed, that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; God's favour to him was plainly intimated in what he said to him, v. 8..10, where his name is mentioned five times in five lines, when once might have served to make the sense clear, as if the Holy Ghost took a pleasure in perpetuating his memory, but it appears much more in what he says to him in these verses — the informations and instructions here given him.

1. God here makes Noah the man of his counsel; communicating to him his purpose to destroy this wicked world by water, as, afterward, he told Abraham his resolution concerning Sodom, ch. 18. 17, Shall I hide from Abraham? So here, Shall I hide from Noah, the thing that I do, seeing that he shall become a great nation? Note, The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, Ps. 25. 14; it was with his servants the prophets, Amos 3. 7, by a spirit of revelation, informing them particularly of his purposes; it is with all believers, by a spirit of wisdom and faith, enabling to understand and apply the general declarations of the written word, and the warnings there given.

Now, 1. God told Noah, in general, that he would destroy the world, v. 13, The end of all flesh is come before me; I will destroy them, that is, The ruin of this wicked world is decreed and determined; it is come; that is, it will come surely, and come quickly. Noah, it is likely, in preaching to his neighbours, had warned them, in general, of the wrath of God that they would bring upon themselves by their wickedness, and now God seconds it by a particular denunciation of wrath, that Noah might try if that would work upon them; whence observe, (1.) That God confirmeth the words of his messengers, Isa. 44. 26. (2.) That to him that has, and uses what he has for the good of others, more shall be given, more full instructions. 2. He told him particularly, that he would destroy the world by a flood of waters, v. 17, And behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth. God could have destroyed all mankind by the sword of an angel, a flaming sword turning every way, as he destroyed all the first-born of the Egyptians, and the camp of the Assyrians; and then there needed no more than to set a mark upon Noah and his family for their preservation ; but God chose to do it by a flood of waters, which should drown the world. The reasons, we may be sure, were wise and just, though to us unknown. God has many arrows in his quiver, and he may use which he pleases: as he chooses the rod with which he will correct his children, so he chooses the sword with which he will cut off his enemies.

Observe the manner of expression, I, even I, do bring a flood; I that am infinite in power, and therefore can do it, infinite in justice, and therefore will do it. (1.) It bespeaks the certainty of the judgment; I, even I, will do it; that cannot but be done effectually, which God himself undertakes the doing of; see Job 11. 10. (2.) It bespeaks the tendency of it to God's glory, and the honour of his justice; thus he will be magnified and exalted in the earth, and all the world shall be made to know that he is the God to whom vengeance belongs: methinks the expression here is somewhat like that, Isa. 1. 24, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries.

II. God here makes Noah the man of his covenant, another Hebrew periphrasis of a friend, v. 18, But with thee will I establish my covenant. 1. The covenant of providence; that the course of nature shall be continued to the end of time, notwithstanding the interruption which the flood would give to it; this promise was immediately made to Noah and his sons, ch. 9. 8, &c. They were as trustees for all this part of the creation, and a great honour was thereby put upon him and his. 2. The covenant of grace; that God would be to him a God, and that out of his seed God would take to himself a people. Note, (1.) When God makes a covenant, he establishes it, he makes it sure, he makes it good; his are everlasting covenants. (2.) The covenant of grace has in it the recompense of singular services, and the fountain and foundation of all distinguishing favours; we need desire no more, either to make up our losses for God, or to make up a happiness for us in God, than to have his covenant established with us.

III. God here makes Noah a monument of sparing mercy, by putting him in a way to secure himself in the approaching deluge, that he might not perish with the rest of the world. I will destroy them, says God, with the earth, v. 13. "But make thee an ark; I will take care to preserve thee alive." Note, Singular piety shall be recompensed with distinguishing salvations, which are in a special manner obliging. This will add much to the honour and happiness of glorified saints, that they shall be saved, when the greatest part of the world is left to perish.

Now, 1. God directs Noah to make an ark, v. 14..16. This ark was like the hulk of a ship, fitted not to sail upon the waters, (there was no occasion for that, when there should be no shore to sail to,) but to float upon the waters, waiting for their fall. God could have secured Noah by the ministration of angels, without putting him to any care or pains or trouble, himself; but he chose to employ him in making that which was to be the means of his preservation, both for the trial of his faith and obedience, and to teach us that none shall be saved by Christ, but those only that work out their salvation; we cannot do it without God, and he will not without us: both the providence of God, and the grace of God, own and crown the endeavours of the obedient and diligent.

God gave him very particular instructions concerning this building, which could not but be admirably well-fitted for the purpose, when Infinite Wisdom itself was the Architect. (1.) It must be made of gopher wood: Noah, doubtless knew what sort of wood that was, though now we do not, whether cedar, or cypress, or what other. (2.) He must make it three stories high within. (3.) He must divide it into cabins, with partitions, places fitted for the several sorts of creatures, so as to lose no room. (4.) Exact dimensions are given him, that he might make it proportionable, and might have room enough in it to answer the intention, and no more. Note, [1.] Those that work for God, must take their measures from him, and carefully observe them. [2.] It is fit that he who appoints us our habitation, should fix the bounds and limits of it. (5.) He must pitch it within and without; without, to shed off the rain, and to prevent the water from soaking in; within, to take away the ill smell of the beasts, when kept close. Observe, God does not bid him paint it, but pitch it. If God give us habitations that are safe, and warm, and wholesome, we are bound to be thankful, though they are not magnificent or nice. (6.) He must make a little window toward the top, to let in light, and (some think) that through that window he might behold the desolations to be made in the earth. (7.) He must make a door in the side of it, by which to go in and out.

2. God promises Noah, that he and his should be preserved alive in the ark, v. 18, Thou shalt come into the ark. Note, What we do in obedience to God, we ourselves are likely to have the comfort and benefit of; If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself. Nor was he himself only saved in the ark, but his wife, and his sons, and his sons' wives. Observe, (1.) The care of good parents; they are solicitous not only for their own salvation, but for the salvation of their families, and especially their children. (2.) The happiness of those children that have godly parents; their parents' piety often procures them temporal salvation, as here; and it furthers them in the way to eternal salvation, if they improve the benefit of it.

IV. God here makes Noah a great blessing to the world, and herein makes him an eminent type of the Messiah, though not the Messiah himself, as his parents expected, ch. 5. 29.

1. God made him a preacher to the men of that generation. As a watchman, he received the word from God's mouth, that he might give them warning, Ezek. 3. 17. Thus while the long-suffering of God waited, by his spirit in Noah, he preached to the old world, who, when St. Peter wrote, were spirits in prison, 1 Pet. 3. 18..20, and herein he was a type of Christ, who, in a land and age wherein all flesh had corrupted their way, went about preaching repentance, and warning men of a deluge of wrath coming.

2. God made him a saviour to the inferior creatures, to keep the several kinds of them from perishing and being lost in the deluge, v. 19..21. This was a great honour put upon him, that not only in him the race of mankind should be kept up, and that from him should proceed a new world, the church, the soul of that world, and Messiah, the Head of that church; but that he should be instrumental to preserve the inferior creatures, and so mankind should in him acquire a new title to them and their service. (1.) He was to provide shelter for them, that they might not be drowned. Two of every sort, male and female, he must take with him into the ark; and lest he should make any difficulty of gathering them together, and getting them in, God promises, v. 20, that they should of their own accord come to him. He that makes the ox to know his owner and his crib, then made him know his preserver and his ark. (2.) He was to provide sustenance for them, that they might not be starved, v. 21. He must victual his ship according to the number of his crew, that great family which he had now the charge of, and according to the time appointed for his confinement. Herein also he was a type of Christ, to whom it is owing that the world stands, by whom all things consist, and who preserves mankind from being totally cut off and ruined by sin; in him the holy seed is saved alive, and the creation rescued from the vanity under which it groans. Noah saved those whom he was to rule, so does Christ, Heb. 5. 9.

22. Thus did Noah, according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

Noah's care and diligence in building the ark may be considered,

1. As an effect of his faith in the word of God, God had told him he would shortly drown the world; he believed it, feared the threatened deluge, and, in that fear, prepared the ark. Note, We ought to mix faith with the revelation God has made of his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; the threatenings of the word are not false alarms. Much might have been objected against the credibility of this warning given to Noah. "Who could believe that the wise God, who made the world, should so soon unmake it again; who had drawn the waters off the dry land, ch. 1. 9, 10, should cause them to cover it again? How would this be reconciled with the mercy of God, which is over all his works; especially that the innocent creatures should die for man's sin? Whence would water be had sufficient to deluge the world? And, if it must be so, why should notice be given of it to Noah only?" But Noah's faith triumphed over all these corrupt reasonings.

2. As an act of obedience to the command of God; had he consulted with flesh and blood, many objections would have been raised against it. To rear a building, such a one as he never saw, so large, and of such exact dimensions, would put him upon a great deal of care, and labour, and expense; it would be a work of time, the vision was for a great while to come; his neighbours would ridicule him for his credulity, and he would be the song of the drunkards; his building would be called Noah's folly; if the worst came to the worst, as we say, each would fare as well as his neighbours. But these, and a thousand such objections, Noah by faith got over; his obedience was ready and resolute. Thus did Noah willingly and cheerfully, without murmuring and disputing. God says, Do this, and he does it: it was also punctual and persevering; he did all exactly according to the instructions given him, and having begun to build, did not give off till he had finished it: so did he, and so must we do.

3. As an instance of wisdom for himself, thus to provide for his own safety; he feared the deluge, and therefore prepared the ark. Note, When God gives warning of approaching judgments, it is our wisdom and duty to provide accordingly. See Exod. 9. 20, 21. Ezek. 3. 18. We must prepare to meet the Lord in his judgments on earth, flee to his name as a strong tower. Prov. 18. 10, enter into our chambers, Isa. 26. 20, 21, especially prepare to meet him at death, and in the judgment of the great day, build upon Christ the Rock, Matth. 7. 24, go into Christ the Ark.

4. As intended for warning to a careless world: and it was fair warning of the deluge coming; every blow of his axes and hammers was a call to repentance, a call to them to prepare arks too. But since by it he could not convince the world, by it he condemned the world, Heb. 11. 7.


In this chapter, we have the performance of what was foretold in the foregoing chapter, both concerning the destruction of the old world, and the salvation of Noah; for we may be sure that no word of God shall fall to the ground. There we left Noah busy about his ark, and full of care to get it finished in time, while the rest of his neighbours were laughing at him for his pains. Now here we see what was the end thereof; the end of his care, and of their carelessness. And this famous period of the old world gives us some idea of the state of things, when the world that now is, shall be destroyed by fire, as that was by water. See 2 Pet. 3. 6, 7. We have, in this chapter, I. God's gracious call to Noah to come into the ark, v. 1, and to bring the creatures that were to be preserved alive, along with him, v. 2, 3, in consideration of the deluge at hand, v. 4. II. Noah's obedience to this heavenly vision, v. 5. When he was six hundred years old, he came with his family into the ark, v. 6, 7, and brought the creatures along with him, v. 8, 9, an account of which is repeated, v. 13..16, to which is added God's tender care to shut him in. III. The coming of the threatened deluge, v. 10, the causes of it, v. 11, 12, the prevalency of it, v. 17..20. IV. The dreadful desolations that were made by it in the death of every living creature upon earth, except those that were in the ark, v. 21..23. V. The continuance of it in full sea, before it began to ebb, one hundred and fifty days, v. 24.

1.AND the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou, and all thy house, into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. 2. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. 3. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female: to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. 4. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

Here is,

I. A gracious invitation of Noah and his family into a place of safety, now that the flood of waters was coming on, v. 1.

1. The call itself is very kind, like that of a tender father to his children, to come in doors, when he sees night or a storm coming; Come thou, and all thy house, that small family that thou hast, into the ark. Observe, (l.) Noah did not go into the ark till God bade him; though he knew it was designed for his place of refuge, yet he waited for a renewed command, and had it. It is very comfortable to follow the calls of Providence, and to see God going before us in every step we take. (2.) God does not bid him go into the ark, but come into it, implying that God would go with him, would lead him into it, accompany him in it, and in due time bring him safe out of it. Note, Wherever we are, it is very desirable to have the presence of God with us, for that is all in all, to the comfort of every condition. This was it that made Noah's ark, which was a prison, to be to him not only a refuge, but a palace. (3.) Noah had taken a great deal of pains to build the ark, and now he was himself preserved alive in it. Note, What we do in obedience to the command of God, and in faith, we ourselves shall certainly have the comfort of, first or last. (4.) Not he only, but his house also, his wife and children, are called with him into the ark. Note, It is good to belong to the family of a godly man; it is safe and comfortable to dwell under such a shadow. One of Noah's sons was Ham, who proved afterward a bad man, yet he was saved in the ark; which intimates, [1.] That wicked children often fare the better for the sake of their godly parents. [2.] That there is a mixture of bad with good in the best societies on earth, and we are not to think it strange; in Noah's family there was a Ham, and in Christ's family there was a Judas: there is no perfect purity on this side heaven. (6.) This call to Noah was a type of the call which the gospel gives to poor sinners. Christ is an ark already prepared, in whom alone we can be safe, when death and judgment come; now the burthen of the song is, "Come, come;" the word says, "Come;" ministers say, "Come;" the Spirit says, "Come, come into the ark."

2. The reason for this invitation is a very honourable testimony to Noah's integrity. For thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Observe, (1.) Those are righteous indeed, that are righteous before God, that have not only the form of godliness by which they appear righteous before men, who may easily be imposed upon, but the power of it, by which they approve themselves to God, who searches the heart, and cannot be deceived in men's character. (2.) God takes notice of, and is pleased with, those that are righteous before him; Thee have I seen. In a world of wicked people, God could see one righteous Noah; that single grain of wheat could not be lost, no not in so great a heap of chaff. The Lord knows them that are his. (3.) God that is a Witness to, will shortly be a witness for, his people's integrity; he that sees it, will proclaim it before angels and men, to their immortal honour. They that obtain mercy to be righteous, shall obtain witness that they are righteous. (4.) God is, in a special manner, pleased with those that are good in bad times and places. Noah was therefore illustriously righteous, because he was so in that wicked and adulterous generation. (5.) Those that keep themselves pure in times of common iniquity, God will keep safe in times of common calamity; those that partake not with others in their sins, shall not partake with them in their plagues; those that are better than others, are, even in this life, safer than others, and it is better with them.

II. Here are necessary orders given concerning the brute creatures that were to be preserved alive with Noah in the ark, v. 2, 3. They were not capable of receiving the warning and directions themselves, as man was, who herein is taught more than the beasts of the earth, and made wiser than the fowls of heaven — that he is endued with the power of foresight; therefore man is charged with the care of them: being under his dominion, they must be under his protection; and though he could not secure every individual, yet he must carefully preserve every species, that no tribe, no not the least considerable, might entirely perish out of the creation. Observe in this, 1. God's care for man, and for his comfort and benefit; we do not find that Noah was solicitous of himself about this matter; but God consults our happiness more them we do ourselves. Though God saw that the old world was very provoking, and foresaw that the new one would be little better; yet he would preserve the brute creatures for man's use: Doth God take care for oxen? 1 Cor. 9. 9. Or was it not rather for man's sake that this care was taken? 2. Even the unclean beasts (which were least valuable and profitable) were preserved alive in the ark; for God's tender mercies are over all his works, and not only over those that are of the most eminence and use. 3. Yet more of the clean were preserved than of the unclean, (1.) Because the clean were most for the service of man; and therefore, in favour to him, more of them were preserved, and are still propagated. Thanks be to God, that there are not herds of lions as there are of oxen, nor flocks of tigers as there are of sheep. (2.) Because the clean were for sacrifice to God; and therefore in honour to him, more of them were preserved, three couple for breed, and the odd seventh for sacrifice, ch. 8. 20. God gives us six for one in earthly things, as in the distribution of the days of the week, that in spiritual things we should be all for him. What is devoted to God's honour, and used in his service, is particularly blessed and increased.

III. Here is notice given of the now imminent approach of the flood, v. 4, Yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain. 1. "It shall be seven days yet, before I do it." After the 120 years were expired, God grants them a reprieve of seven days longer; both to show how slow he is to anger, and that punishing work is his strange work, and also to give them some further space for repentance; but all in vain; these seven days were trifled away, after all the rest; they continued secure and sensual until the day that the flood came. 2. "It shall be but seven days." While Noah told them of the judgment at a distance, they were tempted to put off their repentance, because the vision was for a great while to come; but now he is ordered to tell them that it is at the door, that they have but one week more to turn them in, but one sabbath more to improve; to see if that will now, at last, awaken them to consider the things that belonged to their peace, which otherwise would soon be hidden from their eyes. But it is common for those who have been careless of their souls during the years of their health, when they have looked upon death at a distance, to be as careless during the days, the seven days, of their sickness, when they see it approaching, their hearts being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

5. And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him. 6. And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. 7. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. 8. Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, 9. There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah. 10. And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.

Here is Noah's ready obedience to the commands that God gave him.

1. He went into the ark, upon notice that the flood would come after seven days, though, probably, as yet there appeared no visible sign of its approach, no cloud arising that threatened it, nothing done toward it, but all continued serene and clear; for as he prepared the ark by faith in the warning given, that the flood would come, so he went into it by faith in this warning, that it would come quickly, though he did not see that the second causes had yet begun to work. In every step he took, he walked by faith, and not by sense. During these seven days, it is likely, he was settling himself and his family in the ark, and distributing the creatures into their several apartments, which was the conclusion of that visible sermon which he had long been preaching to his careless neighbours, and which, one would think, might have awakened them; but, not obtaining that desired end, it left their blood upon their own heads.

2. He took all his family along with him; his wife, to be his companion and comfort; (though it should seem that, after this, he had no children by her;) his sons, and his sons' wives, that by them not only his family, but the world of mankind, might be built up. Observe, Though men were to be reduced to so small a number, and it would be very desirable to have the world speedily repeopled, yet Noah's sons were to have each of them but one wife, which strengthens the arguments against having many wives; for from the beginning of this new world it was not so: as, at first, God made, so now he kept alive, but one woman for one man; see Matth. 19. 4, 8.

3. The brute-creatures readily went in with him: the same hand that at first brought them to Adam to be named, now brought them to Noah to be preserved; the ox now knew his owner, and the ass his protector's crib, nay, even the wildest creatures flocked to it; but man was become more brutish than the brutes themselves, and did not know, did not consider, Isa. 1. 3.

11. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

I. The date of this great event; this is carefully recorded, for the great certainty of the story.

1. It was in the 600th year of Noah's life, which, by computation, appears to be 1656 years from the creation. The years of the old world are reckoned, not by the reigns of the giants, but by the lives of the patriarchs; saints are of more account with God than princes: The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance. Noah was now a very old man, even as men's years went then. Note, (1.) The longer we live in this world, the more we see of the miseries and calamities of it; it is therefore spoken of as the privilege of those that die young, that their eyes shall not see the evil which is coming. 2 Kings 22. 20. (2.) Sometimes God exercises his old servants with extraordinary trials of obedient patience. The oldest of Christ's soldiers must not promise themselves a discharge from their warfare, till death discharge them. Still they must gird on their harness, and not boast as though they had put it off. As the year of the deluge is recorded, so,

2. We are told that it was in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, which is reckoned to be about the beginning of November; so that Noah had had a harvest just before, from which to victual his ark.

II. The second causes that concurred to this deluge; in the self-same day that Noah was fixed in the ark, the inundation began. Note, 1. Desolating judgments come not, till God has provided for the security of his own people; see ch. 19. 22, I can do nothing till thou be come thither: and we find, Rev. 7. 3, the winds are held till the servants of God are sealed. 2. When good men are removed, judgments are not far off; for they are taken away from the evil to come, Isa. 57. 1. When they are called into the chambers, hidden in the grave, hidden in heaven, then God is coming out of his place to punish, Isa. 26. 20, 21.

Now see what was done on that day, that fatal day to the world of the ungodly. 1. The fountains of the great deep were broken up. Perhaps there needed no new creation of waters; what were already made to be, in the common course of providence, blessings to the earth, were now by an extraordinary act of divine power, made the ruin of it. God has laid up the deep in storehouses, (Ps. 33. 7.) and now he broke up those stores. As our bodies have in themselves those humours, which, when God pleases, become the seeds and springs of mortal diseases; so the earth had in its bowels those waters, which, at God's command, sprang up, and flooded it. God had, in the creation, set bars and doors to the waters of the sea, that they might not return to cover the earth, (Ps. 104. 9. Job 38. 9..11.) and now he only removed those ancient landmarks, mounds, and fences; and the waters of the sea returned to cover the earth, as they had done at first, ch. 1. 9. Note, All the creatures are ready to fight against sinful man, and any of them is able to be the instrument of his ruin, if God do but take off the restraints by which they are held in, during the day of God's patience. 2. The windows of heaven were opened, and the waters which were above the firmament were poured out upon the world; those treasures which God has reserved against the day of trouble, the day of battle and war, Job 38. 22, 23. The rain, which ordinarily descends in drops, then came down in streams, or spouts, as they call them in the Indies, where clouds have been often known to burst, as they express it there, when the rain descends in a much more violent torrent than we have ever seen in the greatest shower. We read, Job 26. 8, that God binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them; but now the bond was loosed,the cloud was rent, and such rains descended as were never known before or since, in such abundance, and of such continuance: the thick cloud was not, as ordinarily it is, wearied with waterings, (Job 37. 11,) that is, soon spent and exhausted; but still the clouds returned after the rain, and the divine power brought in fresh recruits. It rained, without intermission or abatement, forty days and forty nights, (v. 12. ) and that, upon the whole earth at once, not, as sometimes, upon one city, and not upon another. God made the world in six days, but he was forty days in destroying it; for he is slow to anger; but though the destruction came slowly and gradually, yet it came effectually.

Now learn from this, (1.) That all the creatures are at God's disposal, and that he makes what use he pleases of them, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy, as Elihu speaks of the rain, Job 37. 12, 13. (2.) That God often makes that which should be for our welfare, to become a trap, Ps. 69. 22. That which usually is a comfort and benefit to us, becomes, when God pleases, a scourge and a plague to us. Nothing is more needful or useful than waters, both the springs of the earth, and the showers of heaven; and yet now, nothing is more hurtful, nothing more destructive: every creature is to be what God makes it. (3.) That it is impossible to escape the righteous judgments of God, when they come against sinners with commission; for God can arm both heaven and earth against them; see Job 20. 27. God can surround men with the messengers of his wrath, so that if they look upward, it is with horror and amazement; if they look to the earth, behold, trouble and darkness, Isa. 8. 21, 22. Who then is able to stand before God, when he is angry? (Lastly,) In this destruction of the old world by water, God gave a specimen of the final destruction of the world that now is, by fire; we find the apostles setting the one of these over-against the other, 2 Pet. 3. 6, 7. As there are waters under the earth, so AEtna, Vesuvius, and other volcanoes, proclaim to the world that there are subterranean fires too; and fire often falls from heaven, many desolations are made by lightning; so that when the time predetermined comes, between these two fires the earth and all the works therein shall be burnt up; as the flood was brought upon the old world out of the fountains of the great deep, and through the windows of heaven.

13. In the self-same day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; 14. They and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. 15. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. 16. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him : and the Lord shut him in.

Here is repeated what was related before of Noah's entrance into the ark, with his family and the creatures that were marked for preservation.

I. It is thus repeated, for the honour of Noah, whose faith and obedience herein shone so bright, by which he obtained a good report, and who herein appeared so great a favourite of Heaven, and so great a blessing to this earth.

II. Notice is here taken of the beasts going in each after his kind, according to the phrase used in the history of the creation, ch. 1. 21..25, to intimate that just as many kinds as were created at first, were saved now, and no more; and that this preservation was as a new creation; a life remarkably protected, is, as it were, a new life.

III. Though all enmities and hostilities between the creatures ceased, for the present, and ravenous creatures were not only so mild and manageable, as that the wolf and the lamb lay down together, but so strangely altered, as that the lion did eat straw like an ox, Isa. 11. 6, 7, yet, when this present occasion was over, the restraint was taken off, and they were still of the same kind as ever; for the ark did not alter their constitution. Hypocrites in the church, that externally conform to the laws of that ark, may yet be unchanged; and then it will appear, one time or other, what kind they are after.

IV. It is added, (and the circumstance deserves our notice,) The Lord shut him in, v. 16. As Noah continued his obedience to God, so God continued his care of Noah; and here it appeared to be a very distinguishing care; for the shutting of his door set up a partition wall between him and all the world besides. God shut the door, 1. To secure him, and keep him safe in the ark. The door must be shut very close, lest the waters should break in, and sink the ark, and very fast, lest any without should break it down. Thus God made up Noah, as he makes up his jewels, Mal. 3. 17.   2. To seclude all others, and keep them for ever out. Hitherto, the door of the ark stood open, and if any, even during the last seven days, had repented and believed, for aught I know, they might have been welcomed into the ark; but now, the door was shut, and they were cut off from all hopes of admittance: for God shutteth, and none can open.

V. There is much of our Gospel-duty and privilege to be seen in Noah's preservation in the ark. The apostle makes it a type of our baptism, that is, our christianity, 1 Pet. 3. 20, 21. Observe then, 1. It is our great duty, in obedience to the gospel-call, by a lively faith in Christ, to come into that way of salvation which God has provided for poor sinners. When Noah came into the ark, he quitted his own house and lands; so must we quit our own righteousness and our worldly possessions, whenever they come into competition with Christ. Noah must, for a while, submit to the confinements and inconveniences of the ark, in order to his preservation for a new world; so those that come into Christ to be saved by him, must deny themselves, both in sufferings and services. 2. Those that come into the ark themselves, should bring as many as they can in with them, by good instructions, by persuasions, and by a good example: What knowest thou, O man, but thou mayest thus save thy wife, (1 Cor. 7. 16.) as Noah did his. There is room enough in Christ for all comers. 3. Those that by faith come into Christ, the Ark, shall by the power of God be shut in, and kept as in a strong hold by the power of God, 1 Pet. 1. 5. God put Adam into paradise, but he did not shut him in, and so he threw himself out; but when he put Noah into the ark, he shut him in, and so when he brings a soul to Christ, he insures the salvation: it is not in our own keeping, but in the Mediator's hand. 4. The door of mercy will shortly be shut against those that now make light of it. Now, knock, and it shall be opened; but the time will come, when it shall not, Luke 13. 25.

17. And the flood was forty days upon the earth ; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. 18. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. 19. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. 20. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

We are here told,

1. How long the flood was increasing; forty days, v. 17. The profane world which believed not that it would come, probably, when it came, flattered themselves with hopes that it would soon abate, and never come to extremity; but still it increased, it prevailed. Note, (1.) When God judges, he will overcome. If he begin, he will make an end; his way is perfect both in judgment and mercy. (2.) The gradual approaches and advances of God's judgments, which are designed to bring sinners to repentance, are often abused to the hardening of them in their presumption.

2. To what degree they increased; they rose so high, that not only the low flat countries were deluged, but, to make sure work, and that none might escape, the tops of the highest mountains were overflowed, fifteen cubits, that is, seven yards and a half. So that in vain was salvation hoped for from hills or mountains, Jer. 3. 23. None of God's creatures are so high, but his power can overtop them; and he will make them know that wherein they deal proudly, he is above them. Perhaps the tops of the mountains were washed down by the strength of the waters, which helped much toward the prevailing of the waters above them; for it is said, Job 12. 15, He sends out the waters, and they not only overflow, but overturn, the earth. Thus the refuge of lies was swept away, and the waters overflowed the hiding-place of those sinners, (Isa. 28. 17.) and in vain they fly to them for safety. Rev. 6. 16. Now the mountains departed, and the hills were removed, and nothing stood a man in stead but the covenant of peace, Isa. 54. 10. There is no place on earth so high as to set men out of the reach of God's judgments, Jer. 49. 16. Obad. 3. 4. God's hand will find out all his enemies, Ps. 21. 8. Observe how exactly they are fathomed, (fifteen cubits,) not by Noah's plummet, but by his knowledge who weigheth the waters by measure. Job 28. 25.

3. What became of Noah's ark, when the waters thus increased; it was lift up above the earth, (v. 17. ) and went upon the face of the waters, v. 18. When all other buildings were demolished by the waters, and buried under them, the ark alone subsisted. Observe, (1.) The waters which brake down every thing else, bare up the ark. That which to unbelievers is a savour of death unto death, is to the faithful a savour of life unto life. (2.) The more the waters increased, the higher the ark was lifted up toward heaven. Thus sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions; and as troubles abound, consolations much more abound.

21. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: 22. All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land died. 23. And every living substance was destroyed, which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven: and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. 24. And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.

Here is,

I. The general destruction of all flesh by the waters of the flood. Come and see the desolations which God makes in the earth, Psal. 46. 8, and how he lays heaps upon heaps. Never did death triumph, from his first entrance unto this day, as it did then. Come, and see Death upon his pale horse, and hell following with him, Rev. 6. 7, 8.

1. All the cattle, fowl, and creeping things, died, except the few that were in the ark. Observe how this is repeated, All flesh died, v. 21. All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was on the dry land, v. 22. Every living substance, v. 23. And why so? Man only had done wickedly, and justly is God's hand against him; but these sheep, what have they done? I answer, (1.) We are sure God did them no wrong; he is the sovereign Lord of all life, for he is the sole Fountain and Author of it. He that made them as he pleased, might unmake them when he pleased; and who shall say unto him, What doest thou? May he not do what he will with his own, which were created for his pleasure? (2.) God did admirably serve the purposes of his own glory by their destruction, as well as by their creation. Herein his holiness and justice were greatly magnified; by this appears that he hates sin, and is highly displeased with sinners, when even the inferior creatures, because they are the servants of man, and part of his possession, and because they have been abused to be the servants of sin, are destroyed with him. This makes the judgment the more remarkable, the more dreadful, and consequently, the more expressive of God's wrath and vengeance. The destruction of the creatures was their deliverance from the bondage of corruption, which deliverance the whole creation now groans after, Rom. 8. 21, 22. It was likewise an instance of God's wisdom. As the creatures were made for man when he was made, so they were multiplied: and therefore, now that mankind was reduced to so small a number, it was fit that the beasts should proportionably be reduced, otherwise they would have had the dominion, and would have replenished the earth, and the remnant of mankind that was left would have been overpowered by them. See how God considered this in another case, Exod. 23. 29. Lest the beast of the field multiply against thee.

2. All the men, women, and children, that were in the world, (except what were in the ark,) died. Every man, v. 21, and v. 23, and perhaps they were as many as are now upon the face of the earth, if not more. Now,

(1.) We may easily imagine what terror and consternation seized on them when they saw themselves surrounded. Our Saviour tells us, that till the very day that the flood came, they were eating and drinking, Luke 17. 26, 27, they were drowned in security and sensuality, before they were drowned in those waters; crying. Peace, peace, to themselves; deaf and blind to all divine warnings. In this posture death surprised them, as 1 Sam. 30. 16, 17. But O what an amazement were they in then! Now they see and feel that which they would not believe and fear, and are convinced of their folly when it is too late; now they find no place for repentance, though they seek it carefully with tears.

(2.) We may suppose that they tried all ways and means possible for their preservation, but all in vain. Some climb to the tops of trees or mountains, and spin out their terrors there awhile. But the flood reaches them, at last, and they are forced to die with the more deliberation. Some, it is likely, cling to the ark, and now hope that that may be their safety, which they had so long made their sport. Perhaps some get to the top of the ark, and hope to shift for themselves there; but either they perish there for want of food, or, by a speedier despatch, a dash of rain washes them off that deck. Others, it may be, hoped to prevail with Noah for admission into the ark, and pleaded old acquaintance, Have we not eaten and drunk in thy presence? Hast thou not taught in our streets? "Yes," might Noah say, "I have, many a time, to little purpose. I called, but ye refused; ye set at naught all my counsel, Prov. 1. 24, 25, and now it is not in my power to help you: God has shut the door, and I cannot open it." Thus it will be at the great day. Neither climbing high in an outward profession, nor claiming relation to good people, will bring men to heaven. Matt. 7. 22.-25. 8, 9. Those that are not found in Christ, the Ark, are certainly undone, for ever; salvation itself cannot save them. See Isa. 10. 3.

(3.) We may suppose that some of those who perished in the deluge, had themselves assisted Noah, or were employed by him, in the building of the ark, and yet were not so wise as by repentance to secure themselves a place in it. Thus wicked ministers, though they may have been instrumental to help others to heaven, will themselves be thrust down to hell.

Let us now pause awhile, and consider this tremendous judgment! Let our hearts meditate terror, the terror of this destruction: let us see, and say, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; who can stand before him when he is angry? Let us see, and say, It is an evil thing, and a bitter, to depart from God. The sin of sinners will, without repentance, be their ruin, first or last; if God be true it will. Though hand join in hand, yet the wicked shall not go unpunished. The righteous God knows how to bring a flood upon the world of the ungodly, 2 Pet. 2. 5. Eliphaz appeals to this story as a standing warning to a careless world, Job. 22. 15, 16, Hast thou marked the old way, which wicked men have trodden, which were cut down out of time, and sent into eternity, whose foundation was overflown with the flood?

II. The special preservation of Noah and his family, v. 23, Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. Observe, 1. Noah lives; when all about him were monuments of justice, thousands falling on his right hand, and ten thousands on his left, he was a monument of mercy; only with his eyes might he behold and see the reward of the wicked, Ps. 91. 7, 8. In the floods of great waters, they did not come nigh him, Ps. 32. 6. We have reason to think, that while the long-suffering of God waited, Noah not only preached to, but prayed for, that wicked world, and would have turned away the wrath; but his prayers return into his own bosom, and are answered only in his own escape; which is plainly referred to, Ezek. 14. 14, Noah, Daniel, and Job, shall but deliver their own souls. A mark of honour shall be set on intercessors. 2. He but lives. Noah remains alive, and that is all; he is, in effect, buried alive; cooped up in a small place, alarmed with the terrors of the descending rain, the increasing flood, and the shrieks and outcries of his perishing neighbours — his heart overwhelmed with melancholy thoughts of the desolations made: but he comforts himself with this, that he is in the way of duty, and in the way of deliverance. And we are taught, Jer. 45. 4, 5, that when desolating judgments are abroad, we must not seek great or pleasant things to ourselves, but reckon it an unspeakable favour, if we have our lives given us for a prey.


In the close of the foregoing chapter, we left the world in ruins, and the church in straits ; but in this chapter, we have the repair of the one, and the enlargement of the other. Now the scene alters, and another state of things begins to be presented to us, and the brighter side of that cloud which there appeared so black and dark: for though God contend long, he will not contend for ever, nor be always wroth. We have here, I. The earth made anew, by the recess of the waters, and the appearing of the dry land, now a second time, and both gradual. 1. The increase of the waters is stayed, v. 1, 2.   2. They begin sensibly to abate, v. 3.   3. After sixteen days' ebbing, the ark rests, v. 4.   4. After sixty days' ebbing, the tops of the mountains appeared above water, v. 5.   5. After forty days' ebbing, and twenty days before the mountains appeared, Noah began to send out his spies, a raven and a dove, to gain intelligence, v. 6..12.   6. Two months after the appearing of the tops of the mountains, the waters were gone, and the face of the earth was dry, v. 13, though not dried so as to be fit for man till almost two months after, v. 14.   II. Man placed anew upon the earth. In which, 1. Noah's discharge and departure out of the ark, v. 15..19.   2. His sacrifice of praise, which he offered to God upon his enlargement, v. 20.   3. God's acceptance of his sacrifice, and the promise he made, thereupon, not to drown the world again, v. 21, 22. And thus, at length, mercy rejoices against judgment.

1.AND God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged. 2. The fountains also of the deep, and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; 3. And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days, the waters were abated.

Here is,

I. An act of God's grace. God remembered Noah and every living thing. This is an expression after the manner of men; for not any of his creatures, Luke 12. 6, much less any of his people, are forgotten of God, Isa. 49. 15, 16. But,

1. The whole race of mankind, except Noah and his family, was now extinguished, and gone into the land of forgetfulness, to be remembered no more; so that God's remembering Noah was the return of his mercy to mankind, of whom he would not make a full end. It is a strange expression, Ezek. 5. 13, When I have accomplished my fury in them, I will be comforted. The demands of divine justice had been answered by the ruin of those sinners; he had eased him of his adversaries, Isa. 1. 24, and now his spirit was quieted, Zech. 6. 8, and he remembered Noah and every living thing. He remembered mercy in wrath, Hab. 3. 2, remembered the days of old, Isa. 63. 11, remembered the holy seed, and then remembered Noah.

2. Noah himself, though one that had found grace in the eyes of the Lord, yet seemed to be forgotten in the ark, and perhaps began to think himself so; for we do not find that God had told him how long he should be confined, and when he shall be released. Very good men have sometimes been ready to conclude themselves forgotten of God, especially when their afflictions have been unusually grievous and long. Perhaps Noah, though a great believer, yet when he found the flood continuing so long after it might reasonably be presumed to have done its work, was tempted to fear lest he that shut him in, would keep him in, and began to expostulate, How long wilt thou forget me? But at length, God returned in mercy to him, and that is expressed by remembering him. Note, Those that remember God, shall certainly be remembered by him, how desolate and disconsolate soever, their condition may be. He will appoint them a set time, and remember them, Job 14. 13.

3. With Noah, God remembered every living thing; for though his delight is especially in the sons of men, yet he rejoices in all his works, and hates nothing that he has made. He takes special care not only of his people's persons, but of their possessions; of them and all that belongs to them. He considered the cattle of Nineveh, Jonah 4. 11.

II. An act of God's power over wind and water, neither of which is under man's control, but both at his beck. Observe,

1. He commanded the wind, and said to that, Go, and it went, in order to the carrying off of the flood. God made a wind to pass over the earth. See here, (1.) What was God's remembrance of Noah; it was his relieving of him. Note, those whom God remembers, he remembers effectually, for good; he remembers us to save us, that we may remember him to serve him. (2.) What a sovereign dominion God has over the winds! He has them in his fist, Prov. 30. 4, and brings them out of his treasure, Ps. 135. 7. He sends them when, and whither, and for what purposes, he pleases. Even stormy winds fulfil his word, Ps. 148. 8. It should seem, while the waters increased, there was no wind; for that would have added to the toss of the ark; but now God sent a wind, when it would not be troublesome. Probably, it was a north wind, for that drives away rain. However, it was a drying wind, such a wind as God sent to divide the Red-sea before Israel, Exod. 14. 21.

2. He remanded the waters, and said to them, Come, and they came. (1.) He took away the cause. He sealed up the springs of those waters, the fountains of the great deep, and the windows of heaven. Note, [1.] As God had a key to open, so he has a key to shut up again, and to stay the progress of judgments by stopping the causes of them: and the same hand that brings the desolation, must bring the deliverance; to that hand therefore our eye must ever be. He that wounds is alone able to heal. See Job 12. 14, 15.   [2.] When afflictions have done the work for which they are sent, whether killing work or curing work, they shall be removed. God's word shall not return void, Isa. 55. 10, 11.   (2.) Then the effect ceased; not all at once, but by degrees. The waters assuaged, v. 1, returned from off the earth continually, v. 3. Heb. they were going and returning; which denotes a gradual departure. The heat of the sun exhaled much, and perhaps the subterraneous caverns soaked in more. Note, As the earth was not drowned in a day, so it was not dried in a day. In the creation, it was but one day's work to clear the earth from the waters that covered it, and to make it dry land; nay, it was but half a day's work, ch. 1. 9, 10. But the work of creation being finished, this work of providence was effected by the concurring influence of second causes, yet thus enforced by the almighty power of God. God usually works deliverance for his people gradually, that the day of small things may not be despised, nor the day of great things despaired of, Zech. 4. 10. See Prov. 4. 18.

4. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. 5. And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.

Here we have the effects and evidences of the ebbings of the waters. 1. The ark rested. This was some satisfaction to Noah, to feel the house he was in, upon firm ground, and no longer moveable. It rested upon a mountain, whither it was directed, not by Noah's prudence, (he did not steer it,) but by the wise and gracious providence of God, that it might rest the sooner. Note, God has times and places of rest for his people after their tossings; and many a time he provides for their seasonable and comfortable settlement without their own contrivance, and quite beyond their own foresight. The ark of the church, though sometimes tossed with tempests, and not comforted, Isa. 54. 11, yet has its rests, Acts 9. 31.   2. The tops of the mountains were seen, like little islands, appearing above the water. We must suppose that they were seen by Noah and his sons; for there were none besides to see them: it is probable that they had looked through the window of the ark every day, like the longing mariners, after a tedious voyage, to see if they could discover land, or as the prophet's servant, 1 Kings 18. 43, 44, and at length they spy ground, and enter the day of the discovery in their journal. They felt ground above forty days before they saw it, according to Dr. Lightfoot's computation, whence he infers that if the waters decreased proportionably, the ark drew eleven cubits in water.

6. And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: 7. And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. 8. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; 9. But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. 10. And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 11. And the dove came in to him in the evening ; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive-leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. 12. And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.

We have here an account of the spies which Noah sent forth to bring him intelligence from abroad, a raven and a dove. Observe here,

I. That though God had told Noah particularly when the flood would come, even to a day, (ch. 7. 4.) yet he did not give him a particular account by revelation at what times, and by what steps it should go away. 1. Because the knowledge of the former was necessary to his preparing of the ark, and settling of himself in it; but the knowledge of the latter would serve only to gratify his curiosity, and the concealing of it from him would be the needful exercise of his faith and patience. And, 2. He could not foresee the flood, but by revelation; but he might, by ordinary means, discover the decrease of it, and therefore God was pleased to leave him to the use of them.

II. That though Noah by faith expected his enlargement, and by patience waited for it, yet he was inquisitive concerning it, as one that thought it long to be thus confined. Note, Desires of release out of trouble, earnest expectations of it, and inquiries concerning its advances towards us, will very well consist with the sincerity of faith and patience. He that believes does not make haste to run before God, but he does make haste to go forth to meet him, Isa. 28. 16. Particularly, 1. Noah sent forth a raven through the window of the ark, which went forth, as the Hebrew phrase is, going forth and returning, that is flying about, and feeding on the carcases that floated, but returning to the ark for rest; probably, not in it, but upon it. This gave Noah little satisfaction; therefore, 2. He sent forth a dove, which returned the first time with no good news, but, probably, wet and dirty; but, the second time, she brought an olive-leaf in her bill, which appeared to be first plucked off; a plain indication that now the trees, the fruit-trees, began to appear above water.

Note here, (1.) That Noah sent forth the dove the second time, seven days after the first time, and the third time was after seven days too; and, probably, the first sending of her out was seven days after the sending forth of the raven, which intimates that it was done on the sabbath-day, which, it should seem, Noah religiously observed in the ark. Having kept the sabbath in a solemn assembly of his little church, he then expected special blessings from heaven, and inquired concerning them. Having directed his prayer, he looked up, Ps. 5. 3.   (2.) The dove is an emblem of a gracious soul, which finding no rest for its foot, no solid peace or satisfaction in this world, this deluged, defiling world, returns to Christ as to its Ark, as to its Noah. The carnal heart, like the raven, takes up with the world, and feeds on the carrions it finds there; but return thou to thy rest, O my soul, to thy Noah, so the word is, Ps. 116, 7. O that I had wings like a dove, to flee to him! Ps. 55. 6. And as Noah put forth his hand, and took the dove, and pulled her in to him, into the ark, so Christ will graciously preserve, and help, and welcome, those that fly to him for rest. (3.) The olive-branch, which was an emblem of peace, was brought not by the raven, a bird of prey, nor by a gay and proud peacock, but by a mild, patient, humble, dove. It is a dove-like disposition that brings into the soul earnests of rest and joy. (4.) Some make these things an allegory. The law was first sent forth like the raven, but brought no tidings of the assuaging of the waters of God's wrath, with which the world of mankind was deluged; therefore, in the fulness of time, God sent forth his gospel, as the dove, in the likeness of which the Holy Spirit descended, and this presents us with an olive-branch, and brings in a better hope.

13. And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked and, behold, the face of the ground was dry. 14. And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.

Here is,

1. The ground dry; (v. 14.) that is, all the water carried off it, which, upon the first day of the first month, (a joyful new-year's-day it was,) Noah was himself an eye-witness of. He removed the covering of the ark, not the whole covering, but so much as would suffice to give him a prospect of the earth about it; and a most comfortable prospect he had. For behold, behold and wonder, the face of the ground was dry. Note, (1.) It is a great mercy to see ground about us. Noah was more sensible of it than we are: for mercies restored are much more affecting than mercies continued. (2.) The divine power which now renewed the face of the earth, can renew the face of an afflicted troubled soul, and of a distressed persecuted church. He can make dry ground to appear there where it seemed to have been lost and forgotten, Ps. 18. 16.

2. The ground dried, (v. 14.) so as to be a fit habitation for Noah. Observe, Though Noah saw the ground dry the first day of the first month, yet God would not suffer him to go out of the ark till the twenty-seventh day of the second month. Perhaps Noah, being somewhat weary of his restraint, would have quitted the ark at first, but God, in kindness to him, ordered him to stay so much longer. Note, God consults our benefit, rather than our desires; for he knows what is good for us better than we do for ourselves, and how long it is fit our restraints should continue, and desired mercies should be delayed. We would go out of the ark before the ground is dried; and perhaps, if the door be shut, are ready to remove the covering, and to climb up some other way; but we should be satisfied that God's time of showing mercy is certainly the best time, when the mercy is ripe for us, and we are ready for it.

15. And God spake unto Noah, saying, 16. Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee. 17. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth ; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth. 18. And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him: 19. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.

Here is,

I. Noah's dismission out of the ark, v. 15...17. Observe, 1. Noah did not stir till God bid him. As he had a command to go into the ark, (ch. 7. 1.) so, how tedious soever his confinement there was, he would wait for a command to go out of it again. Note, We must in all our ways acknowledge God, and set him before us in all our removes. Those only go under God's protection, that follow God's direction, and submit to his government. Those that steadily adhere to God's word as their rule, and are guided by his grace as their principle, and take hints from his providence to assist them in their application of general directions to particular cases, may in faith see him guiding their motions in their march through this wilderness. 2. Though God detained him long, yet at last he gave him his discharge; for the vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak, it shall speak the truth, (Hab. 2. 3.) it shall not lie. 3. God had said, Come into the ark, which intimated that God went in with him; now he says, not, Come forth, but Go forth, which intimates that God, who went in with him, stood with him all the while, till he sent him out safe; for he has said, I will not leave thee. 4. Some observe, that when they were ordered into the ark, the men and the women were mentioned separately, ch. 6. 18, Thou and thy sons, and thy wife and thy sons' wives; whence they infer that, during the time of mourning, they were apart, and their wives apart, Zech. 12. 12. But now God did as it were new marry them, sending out Noah and his wife together, and his sons and their wives together, that they might be fruitful and multiply. 5. Noah is ordered to bring the creatures out with him; that having taken the care of feeding them so long, and been at so much pains about them, he might have the honour of leading them forth by their armies, and receiving their homage.

II. Noah's departure when he had his dismission. As he would not go out without leave, so he would not, out of fear or humour, stay in when he had leave, but was in all points observant of the heavenly vision. Though he had been now a full year and ten days a prisoner in the ark, yet when he found himself preserved there, not only for a new life, but for a new world, he saw no reason to complain of his long confinement. Now observe, 1. Noah and his family came out alive, though one of them was a wicked Ham, whom, though he escaped the flood, God's justice could have taken away by some other stroke. But they are all alive. Note, When families have been long continued together, and no breaches made upon them, it must be looked upon as a distinguishing favour, and attributed to the Lord's mercies. 2. Noah brought out all the creatures that went in with him, except the raven and the dove, who, probably, were ready to meet their mates at their coming out. Noah was able to give a very good account of his charge; for of all that were given him he had lost none, but was faithful to him that appointed him, pro hac vice — on this occasion, high steward of his household.

20. And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord ; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar. 21. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour ; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. 22. While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.

Here is,

I. Noah's thankful acknowledgment of God's favour to him, in completing the mercy of his deliverance, v. 20.   1. He builded an altar. Hitherto he had done nothing without particular instructions and commands from God. He had a particular call into the ark, and another out of it; but altars and sacrifices being already of divine institution for religious worship, he did not stay for a particular command thus to express his thankfulness. Those that have received mercy from God, should be forward in returning thanks; and do it, not of constraint, but willingly. God is pleased with free-will offerings, and praises that wait for him. Noah was now turned out into a cold and desolate world, where one would have thought his first care would have been to build a house for himself; but, behold, he begins with an altar for God: God, that is the first, must be first served; and he begins well that begins with God. 2. He offered a sacrifice upon his altar, of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, one, the odd seventh that we read of, ch. 7. 2, 3.

Here observe, (1.) He offered only those that were clean; for it is not enough that we sacrifice, but we must sacrifice that which God appoints, according to the law of sacrifice, and not a corrupt thing. (2.) Though his stock of cattle was so small, and that rescued from ruin at so great an expense of care and pains, yet he did not grudge to give God his dues out of it. He might have said, "Have I but seven sheep to begin the world with, and must one of those seven be killed and burnt for sacrifice: Were it not better to defer it, till we have more plenty?" No, to prove the sincerity of his love and gratitude, he cheerfully gives the seventh to his God, as an acknowledgment that all was his, and owing to him. Serving God with our little, is the way to make it more; and we must never think that wasted, with which God is honoured. (3.) See here the antiquity of religion: the first thing we find done in the new world, was an act of worship, Jer. 6. 16. We are now to express our thankfulness, not by burnt-offerings, but by the sacrifices of praise, and the sacrifices of righteousness, by pious devotions, and a pious conversation.

II. God's gracious acceptance of Noah's thankfulness. It was a settled rule in the patriarchal age, If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? Noah was so. For,

1. God was well pleased with the performance, v. 21. He smelled a sweet savour, or a savour of rest, from it; as it is in the Hebrew. As when he had made the world at first on the seventh day, he rested and was refreshed, so now that he had new-made it, in the sacrifice of the seventh he rested. He was pleased with Noah's pious zeal, and these hopeful beginnings of the new world, as men are with fragrant and agreeable smells: though his offering was small, it was according to his ability, and God accepted it. Having caused his anger to rest upon the world of sinners, he here caused his love to rest upon this little remnant of believers.

2. Hereupon he took up a resolution never to drown the world again. Herein he had an eye, not so much to Noah's sacrifice, as to Christ's sacrifice of himself, which was typified and represented by it, and which was indeed an offering of a sweet-smelling savour, Eph. 5. 2. Good security is here given, and that which may be relied upon.

(1.) That this judgment should never be repeated. Noah might think, "To what purpose should the world be repaired, when, in all probability, for the wickedness of it, it will quickly be in like manner ruined again?" "No," says God, "it never shall." It was said, ch. 6. 6, It repented the Lord that he had made man; now here it speaks as if it repented him that he had destroyed man; neither means a change of his mind, but both a change of his way. It repented him concerning his servants, Deut. 32. 36. Two ways this resolve is expressed: [1.] I will not again curse the ground, Hebrew, I will not add to curse the ground any more. God had cursed the ground upon the first entrance of sin (ch. 3. 17.); when he had drowned it, he had added to that curse; but now he determines not to add to it any more. [2.] Neither will I again smite any more every living thing, that is, it was determined that whatever ruin God might bring upon particular persons, or families, or countries, he would never again destroy the whole world, till the day shall come when time shall be no more. But the reason of this resolve is very surprising, for it seems the same in effect with the reason given for the destruction of this world, ch. 6. 5. Because the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. But there is this difference; there it is said, The imagination of man's heart is evil continually, that is, "His actual transgressions continually cry against him;" here it is said, It is evil from his youth or childhood. It is bred in the bone, he brought it into the world with him, he was shapen and conceived in it. Now, one would think, it should follow, "Therefore that guilty race shall be wholly extinguished, and I will make a full end." No: "Therefore I will no more take this severe method; for, First, He is rather to be pitied, for it is all the effect of sin dwelling in him; and it is but what might be expected from such a degenerate race: he is called a transgressor from the womb, and therefore it is not strange that he deals so very treacherously," Isa. 48. 8. Thus God remembers that he is flesh, corrupt and sinful, Ps. 78. 39. Secondly, "He will be utterly ruined; for if he be dealt with according to his deserts, one flood must succeed another till all be destroyed." See here, 1. That outward judgments, though they may terrify and restrain men, yet cannot, of themselves, sanctify and renew them; the grace of God must work with those judgments. Man's nature was as sinful after the deluge as it had been before. That God's goodness takes occasion from man's badness to magnify itself the more; his reasons of mercy are all drawn from himself, not from any thing in us.

(2.) That the course of nature should never be discontinued, v. 22, While the earth remaineth, and man upon it, there shall be summer and winter, not all winter as had been this last year; "day and night," not all night, as probably it was while the rain was descending. Here, [1.] It plainly intimated that this earth is not to remain always; it, and all the works in it, must shortly be burnt up; and we look for new heavens and a new earth, when all these things must be dissolved. But, [2.] As long as it does remain, God's providence will carefully preserve the regular succession of times and seasons, and cause each to know its place. To this we owe it, that the world stands, and the wheel of nature keeps its track. See here how changeable the times are, and yet how unchangeable. First, The course of nature always changing. As it is with the times, so it is with the events of time, they are subject to vicissitudes, day and night, summer and winter, counterchanged. In heaven and hell it is not so, but on earth God hath set the one over against the other.   Secondly, Yet never changed; it is constant in this inconstancy; these seasons have never ceased, nor shall cease, while the sun continues such a steady measurer of time, and the moon such a faithful witness in heaven. This is God's covenant of the day and of the night, the stability of which is mentioned for the confirming of our faith in the covenant of grace, which is no less inviolable, Jer. 33. 20. We see God's promises to the creatures made good, and thence may infer that his promises to all believers shall be so.


Both the world and the church were now again reduced to a family, the family of Noah, of the affairs of which this chapter gives us an account, which we are the more concerned to take cognizance of, because from this family we are all descendants. Here is, I. The covenant of providence settled with Noah and his sons, v. 1..11. In this covenant, 1. God promises them to take care of their lives, so that (1.) They should replenish the earth, v. 1, 7.   (2.) They should be safe from the insults of the brute creatures, which should stand in awe of them, v. 2.   (3.) They should be allowed to eat flesh for the support of their lives; only they must not eat blood, v. 3, 4.   (4.) The world should never be drowned again, v. 8..11.   2. God requires of them to take care of one another's lives, and of their own, v. 5, 6.   II. The seal of that covenant, namely, the rainbow, v. 12..17.   III. A particular passage of a story concerning Noah and his sons, which occasioned some prophecies that related to after-times. 1. Noah's sin and shame, v. 20, 21.   2. Ham's impudence and impiety, v. 22.   3. The pious modesty of Shem and Japheth, v. 23.   4. The curse of Canaan, and the blessing of Shem and Japheth, v. 24..27.   IV. The age and death of Noah, v. 28, 29.

1.AND God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3. Every moving thing that liveth, shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things: 4. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man: 6. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man: 7. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

We read, in the close of the foregoing chapter, the very kind things which the Lord said in his heart, concerning the remnant of mankind which was now left to be the seed of a new world. Now here we have those kind things spoken to them; in general, God blessed Noah and his sons, v. 1, that is, he assured them of his good will to them, and his gracious intentions concerning them. This follows from what he said in his heart. Note, All God's promises of good flow from his purposes of love, and the counsels of his own will. See Eph. 1. 11. — 3. 11, and compare Jer. 29. 11, I know the thoughts that I think towards you. We read, ch. 8. 20, how Noah blessed God, by his altar and sacrifice. Now here we find God blessing Noah. Note, 1. God will graciously bless (that is, do well for) them who sincerely bless (that is, speak well of) him. 2. Those that are truly thankful for the mercies they have received, take the readiest way to have them confirmed and continued to them.

Now here we have the Magna Charta — the Great Charter of this new kingdom of nature which was now to be erected, and incorporated, the former charter having been forfeited and seized.

I. The grants of this charter are kind and gracious to men. Here is,

1. A grant of lands of vast extent, and a promise of a great increase of men to occupy and enjoy them. The first blessing is here renewed, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, v. 1, and repeated, v. 7, for the race of mankind was, as it were, to begin again. Now, (1.) God sets the whole earth before them, tells them it is all their own, while it remains, to them and their heirs. Note, The earth God has given to the children of men, for a possession and habitation, Ps. 115. 16. Though it is not a paradise, but a wilderness rather, yet it is better than we deserve. Blessed be God, it is not hell. (2.) He gives them a blessing, by the force and virtue of which, mankind should be both multiplied and perpetuated upon earth; so that, in a little time, all the habitable parts of the earth should be more or less inhabited; and though one generation should pass away, yet another generation should come, while the world stands, so that the stream of the human race should be supplied with a constant succession, and run parallel with the current of time, till both be delivered up together into the ocean of eternity. Though death should still reign, and the Lord would still be known by his judgments, yet the earth should never again be dispeopled as now it was, but still replenished. Acts 17. 24..26.

2. A grant of power over the inferior creatures, v. 2. He grants, (1.) A title to them. Into your hands they are delivered, for your use and benefit. (2.) A dominion over them, without which the title would avail little. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast. This revives a former grant, ch. 1. 28, only with this difference, that man in innocence ruled by love, fallen man rules by fear. Now this grant remains in force, and thus far we have still the benefit of it. [1.] That those creatures which are any way useful to us, are reclaimed, and we use them either for service, or food, or both, as they are capable. The horse and ox patiently submit to the bridle and yoke, and the sheep is dumb both before the shearer, and before the butcher; for the fear and dread of man are upon them. [2.] Those creatures that are any way hurtful to us are restrained, so that though now and then man may be hurt by some of them, yet they do not combine together to rise up in rebellion against man, else God could by these destroy the world as effectually as he did by a deluge; it is one of God's sore judgments, Ezek. 14. 21. What is it that keeps wolves out of our towns, and lions out of our streets, and confines them to the wilderness, but this fear and dread? Nay, some have been tamed, James 3. 7.

3. A grant of maintenance and subsistence, v. 3, Every moving thing that liveth, shall be meat for you. Hitherto, most think, man had been confined to feed only upon the products of the earth, fruits, herbs, and roots, and all sorts of corn and milk; so was the first grant, ch. 1. 29. But the flood having perhaps washed away much of the virtue of the earth, and so rendered its fruits less pleasing, and less nourishing; God now enlarged the grant, and allowed man to eat flesh, which perhaps man himself never thought of, till now that God directed him to it, nor had any more desire to, than a sheep has to suck blood like a wolf. But now man is allowed to feed upon flesh, as freely and safely as upon the green herb. Now here see, (1.) That God is a good Master, and provides, not only that we may live, but that we may live comfortably, in his service; not for necessity only, but for delight. (2.) That every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, 1 Tim. 4. 4. Afterward, some meats that were proper enough for food, were prohibited by the ceremonial law; but from the beginning, it seems, it was not so, and therefore it is not so under the gospel.

II. The precepts and provisos of this charter are no less kind and gracious, and instances of God's good-will to man. The Jewish doctors speak so often of the seven precepts of Noah, or of the sons of Noah, which, they say, were to be observed by all nations, that it may not be amiss to set them down. The first against the worship of idols. The second against blasphemy, and requiring to bless the name of God. The third against murder. The fourth against incest and all uncleanness. The fifth against theft and rapine. The sixth requiring the administration of justice. The seventh against eating of flesh with the life. These the Jews required the observation of from the proselytes of the gate. But the precepts here given, all concern the life of man.

1. Man must not prejudice his own life by eating that food which is unwholesome and prejudicial to his health, v. 4, Flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, that is, raw flesh, shall ye not eat, as the beasts of prey do." It was necessary to add this limitation to the grant of liberty to eat flesh, lest, instead of nourishing their bodies by it, they should destroy them. God would hereby show, (1.) That though they were lords of the creatures, yet they were subjects to the Creator, and under the restraint of his law. (2.) That they must not be greedy and hasty in taking their food, but stay the preparing of it; not like Saul's soldiers, 1 Sam. 14. 32, nor riotous eaters of flesh, Prov. 23. 20. (3.) That they must not be barbarous and cruel to the inferior creatures; they must be Lords, but not Tyrants; they might kill them for their profit, but not torment them for their pleasure; nor tear away the member of a creature while it was yet alive, and eat that. (4.) That during the continuance of the law of sacrifices, in which the blood made atonement for the soul, Lev. 17. 11, (signifying that the life of the sacrifice was accepted for the life of the sinner,) blood must not be looked upon as a common thing, but must be poured out before the Lord, 2 Sam. 23. 16, either upon his altar, or upon his earth. But now that the great and true sacrifice is offered, the obligation of the law ceases with the reason of it.

2. Man must not take away his own life, v. 5, Your blood of your lives will I require. Our lives are not so our own, as that we may quit them at our own pleasure, but they are God's, and we must resign them at his pleasure; if we any way hasten our own deaths, we are accountable to God for it.

3. The beasts must not be suffered to hurt the life of man; at the hand of every beast will I require it. To show how tender God was of the life of man, though he had lately made such destruction of lives, he will have the beast put to death, that kills a man. This was confirmed by the law of Moses, Exod. 21. 28, and I think it would not be unsafe to observe it still. Thus God showed his hatred of the sin of murder, that men might hate it the more, and not only punish, but prevent it. And see Job 5. 23.

4. Wilful murderers must be put to death. This is the sin which is here designed to be restrained by the terror of punishment. (1.) God will punish murderers. At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man; that is, "I will avenge the blood of the murdered upon the murderer," 2 Chron. 24. 22. When God requires the life of a man at the hand of him that took it away unjustly, the murderer cannot render that, and therefore must render his own in lieu of it, which is the only way left of making restitution. Note, The righteous God will certainly make inquisition for blood, though men cannot, or do not. One time or other, in this world or in the next, he will both discover concealed murders, which are hidden from man's eye, and punish avowed and justified murders, which are too great for man's hand. (2.) The magistrate must punish murderers, v. 6, Whoso sheddeth man's blood, whether upon a sudden provocation, or having premeditated it, (for rash anger is heart-murder as well as malice prepense. Matt. 5. 21, 22.) by man shall his blood be shed, that is, by the magistrate, or whoever is appointed or allowed to be the avenger of blood. There are those who are ministers of God for this purpose, to be a protection to the innocent, by being a terror to the malicious and evil-doers, and they must not bear the sword in vain, Rom, 13. 14. Before the flood, as it should seem by the story of Cain, God took the punishment of murder into his own hands; but now he committed this judgment to men, to masters of families at first, and afterwards, to the heads of countries, who ought to be faithful to the trust reposed in them. Note, Wilful murder ought always to be punished with death. It is a sin which the Lord would not pardon in a Prince, 2 Kings, 24. 3, 4, and which therefore a Prince should not pardon in a Subject. To this law there is a reason annexed; for in the image of God made he man at first: man is a creature dear to his Creator, and therefore ought to be so to us; God put honour upon him, let us not then put contempt upon him. Such remains of God's image are still even upon fallen man, as that he who unjustly kills a man, defaces the image of God, and does dishonour to him. When God allowed men to kill their beasts, yet he forbade them to kill their slaves; for these are of a much more noble and excellent nature, not only God's creatures, but his image. Jam. 3. 9. All men have something of the image of God upon them; but magistrates have, besides, the image of his power, and the saints the image of his holiness, and therefore those who shed the blood of princes or saints, incur a double guilt.

8. And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, 9. And I, behold, I, establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you: 10. And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth: 11. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

Here is,

I. The general establishment of God's covenant with this new world, and the extent of that covenant, v. 9, 10. Where observe, 1. That God is graciously pleased to deal with man in the way of a covenant; wherein God greatly magnifies his condescending favour, and greatly encourages man's duty and obedience, as a reasonable and gainful service. 2. That all God's covenants with man are of his own making, I, behold, I. It is thus expressed, both to raise our admiration, ("Behold, and wonder, that though God be high, yet he has this respect to man,") and to confirm our assurances of the validity of the covenant. "Behold, and see, I make it; I that am faithful, and able to make it good." 3. That God's covenants are established firmer than the pillars of heaven, or the foundations of the earth, and cannot be disannulled. 4. That God's covenants are made with the covenanters and with their seed; the promise is to them and their children. 5. That those may be taken into covenant with God, and receive the benefits of it, who yet are not capable of restipulating, or giving their own consent. For this covenant is made with every living creature, every beast of the earth.

II. The particular intention of this covenant; it was designed to secure the world from another deluge, v. 11, There shall not any more be a flood. God had drowned the world once, and, still it is as filthy and provoking as ever, and God foresaw the wickedness of it, and yet promised he would never drown it any more; for he deals not with us according to our sins. It is owing to God's goodness and faithfulness, not to any reformation of the world, that it has not often been deluged, and that it is not deluged now. As the old world was ruined, to be a monument of justice, so this world remains to this day, a monument of mercy, according to the oath of God, that the waters of Noah should no more return to cover the earth, Isa. 54. 9. This promise of God keeps the sea and clouds in their decreed place, and sets them gates and bars; hitherto they shall come, Job 38. 10, 11. If the sea should flow but for a few days, as it does twice every day for a few hours, what desolation would it make! And how destructive would the clouds be, if such showers as we have sometimes seen, were continued long! But God, by flowing seas, and sweeping rains, shows what he could do in wrath; and yet, by preserving the earth from being deluged between both, shows what he can do in mercy, and will do in truth. Let us give him the glory of his mercy in promising, and truth in performimg. This promise does not hinder, 1. But that God may bring other wasting judgments upon mankind; for though he has here bound himself not to use this arrow any more, yet he has other arrows in his quiver. 2. Not but that he may destroy particular places and countries by the inundations of the sea or rivers. 3. Nor will the destruction of the world at the last day by fire, be any breach of his promise. Sin that drowned the old world, will burn this.

12. And God said. This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15. And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

Articles of agreement among men are sealed, that the covenants may be the more solemn, and the performances of the covenants the more sure, to mutual satisfaction; God therefore being willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his councils, has confirmed his covenant by a seal, (Heb. 6. 17.) which makes the foundations we build on, stand sure, 2 Tim. 2. 19. The seal of this covenant of nature was natural enough; it was the rainbow, which, it is likely, was seen in the clouds before, when second causes concurred, but was never a seal of the covenant, till now that it was made so by a divine institution. Now concerning this seal of the covenant. Observe,

1. This seal is affixed with repeated assurances of the truth of that promise which it was designed to be the ratification of. I set my bow in the cloud, (v. 13.) it shall be seen in the cloud, (v. 14.) that the eye may affect the heart, and confirm the faith; and it shall be the token of the covenant (v. 12, 13.); and I will remember my covenant, that the waters shall no more become a flood, v. 15. Nay, as if the Eternal Mind needed a memorandum, I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, v. 16. Thus here is line upon line, that we might have a sure and strong consolation, who have laid hold on this hope. 2. The rainbow appears then when the clouds are most disposed to wet, and returns after the rain; then when we have most reason to fear the rain prevailing, God shows this seal of the promise that it shall not prevail. Thus God obviates our fears with such encouragements as are both suitable and seasonable. 3. The thicker the cloud, the brighter the bow in the cloud. Thus as threatening afflictions abound, encouraging consolations much more abound, 2 Cor. 1. 5.   4. The rainbow appears when one part of the sky is clear, which intimates mercy remembered in the midst of wrath; and the clouds are hemmed as it were with the rainbow, that it may not overspread the heavens; for the bow is coloured rain, or the edges of a cloud gilded. 5. The rainbow is the reflection of the beams of the sun, which intimates that all the glory and significancy of the seals of the covenant are derived from Christ the Sun of righteousness, who is also described with a rainbow about his throne (Rev. 4. 3.) and a rainbow upon his head (Rev. 10. 1.); which bespeaks not only his majesty, but his mediatorship. 6. The rainbow has fiery colours in it, to signify, that though God will not again drown the world, yet when the mystery of God shall be finished, the world shall be consumed by fire. 7. A bow bespeaks terror, but it has neither string nor arrow, as the bow ordained against the persecutors has; (Ps. 7. 12, 13.) and a bow alone will do little execution; it is a bow, but it is directed upward, not toward the earth ; for the seals of the covenant were intended for comfort, not to terrify. Lastly, As God looks upon the bow, that he may remember the covenant, so should we, that we also may be ever mindful of the covenant, with faith and thankfulness.

18. And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19. These are the three sons of Noah : and of them was the whole earth overspread. 20. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21. And he drank of the vine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.

Here is,

I. Noah's family and employment. The names of his sons are again mentioned, (v. 18, 19.) as those from whom the whole earth was overspread. By which it appears that Noah, after the flood, had no more children: all the world came from these three. Note, God, when he pleases, can make a little one to become a thousand, and greatly increase the latter end of those whose beginning was small. Such are the power and efficacy of a divine blessing. The business Noah applied himself to, was that of a husbandman, Hebr. a man of the earth, that is, a man dealing in the earth, that kept ground in his hand, and occupied it. We are all naturally men of the earth, made of it, living on it, and hastening to it: many are sinfully so, addicted to earthly things. Noah was led by his calling to trade in the fruits of the earth. He began to be a husbandman; that is, some time after his departure out of the ark, he returned to his old employment, from which he had been diverted by the building of the ark first, and, probably, afterward, by the building of a house on dry-land for himself and family. For this good while he had been a carpenter, but now he began again to be a husbandman. Observe, Though Noah was a great man, and a good man, an old man, and a rich man, a man greatly favoured by Heaven, and honoured on earth, yet he would not live an idle life, nor think the husbandman's calling below him. Note, Though God by his providence may take us off from our callings for a time, yet when the occasion is over, we ought with humility and industry to apply ourselves to them again; and in the calling wherein we are called, therein faithfully to abide with God, 1 Cor. 7. 24.

II. Noah's sin and shame. He planted a vineyard; and when he had gathered his vintage probably, he appointed a day of mirth and feasting in his family, and had his sons and their children with him, to rejoice with him in the increase of his house, as well as in the increase of his vineyard; and we may suppose he prefaced his feast with a sacrifice to the honour of God. If that was omitted, at was just with God to leave him to himself, that he who did not begin with God, might end with the beasts; but we charitably hope the case was different. And perhaps he appointed this feast, with a design, at the close of it, to bless his sons, as Isaac, ch. 27. 3, 4, That I may eat, and that my soul may bless thee. At this feast, he drank of the wine; for who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit of it? But he drank too liberally, more than his head at this age would bear; for he was drunken. We have reason to think he was never drunken before or after; observe how he came now to be overtaken in this fault. It was his sin, and a great sin, so much the worse for its being so soon after a great deliverance; but God left him to himself, as he did Hezekiah, (2 Chron. 32. 31.) and has left this miscarriage of his upon record, to teach us, 1. That the fairest copy that ever mere man wrote since the fall, had its blots and false strokes. It was said of Noah, that he was perfect in his generations (ch. 6. 9.); but this shows that it is meant of sincerity, not a sinless perfection. 2. That sometimes those, who, with watchfulness and resolution, have by the grace of God, kept their integrity in the midst of temptation, have, through security, and carelessness, and neglect of the grace of God, been surprised into sin, when the hour of temptation has been over. Noah, who had kept sober in drunken company, is now drunken in sober company. Let him that thinks he stands take heed. 3. That we have need to be very careful when we use God's good creatures plentifully, lest we use them to excess. Christ's disciples must take heed, lest at any time their hearts be overcharged, Luke 21. 34.

Now the consequence of Noah's sin was shame. He was uncovered within his tent, made naked to his shame, as Adam when he had eaten forbidden fruit. Yet Adam sought concealment; Noah is so destitute of thought and reason, that he seeks no covering. This was a fruit of the vine, that Noah did not think of. Observe here the great evil of the sin of drunkenness. (1.) It discovers men; what infirmities they have, they betray when they are drunken, and what secrets they are intrusted with, are then easily got out of them. Drunken porters keep open gates. (2.) It disgraces men, and exposes them to contempt. As it shows them, so it shames them. Men say and do that when drunken, which, when they are sober, they would blush at the thoughts of, Hab. 2. 15, 16.

III. Ham's impudence and impiety: (v. 22.) he saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren. To see it accidentally and involuntarily, would not have been a crime; but, 1. He pleased himself with the sight, as the Edomites looked upon the day of their brother, (Obad. 12.) pleased and insulting. Perhaps Ham had sometimes been himself drunken, and reproved for it by his good father, whom he was therefore pleased to see thus overcome. Note, It is common for those who walk in false ways themselves, to rejoice at the false steps which they sometimes see others make. But charity rejoices not in iniquity, nor can true penitents, that are sorry for their own sins, rejoice in the sins of others. 2. He told his two brethren without, (in the street, as the word is,) in a scornful deriding manner, that his father might seem vile unto them. It is very wrong, (1.) To make a jest of sin, (Prov. 14. 9.) and to be puffed up with that for which we should rather mourn, 1 Cor. 5. 2. And (2.) To publish the faults of any, especially of parents, whom it is our duty to honour. Noah was not only a good man; but had been a good father to him ; and this was a most base disingenuous requital to him for his tenderness. Ham is here called the father of Canaan, which intimates that he who was himself a father, should have been more respectful to him that was his father.

IV. The pious care of Shem and Japheth to cover their poor father's shame, v. 23. They not only would not see it themselves, but provided that no one else might see it; herein setting us an example of charity with reference to other men's sin and shame; we must not only not say, A confederacy, with those that proclaim it, but we must be careful to conceal it, or however to make the best of it, so doing as we would be done by. 1. There is a mantle of love to be thrown over the faults of all, 1 Pet. 4. 8.    Beside that, there is a robe of reverence to be thrown over the faults of parents and other superiors.

24. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.


I. Noah comes to himself. He awoke from his wine: sleep cured him, and, we may suppose, so cured him, that he never relapsed into that sin afterward. Those that sleep as Noah did, should awake as he did, and not as that drunkard, Prov. 23. 35. who says when he awakes, I will seek it yet again.

II. The spirit of prophecy comes upon him, and, like dying Jacob, he tells his sons what should befal them, ch. 49. 1.   v. 25.

1. He pronounces a curse on Canaan the son of Ham, in whom Ham is himself cursed; either, because this son of his was now more guilty than the rest, or, because the posterity of this son was afterward to be rooted out of their land, to make room for Israel. And Moses here records it for the animating of Israel in the wars of Canaan; though the Canaanites were a formidable people, yet they were of old an accursed people, and doomed to ruin. The particular curse is, a servant of servants, that is, the meanest and most despicable servant, shall he be, even to his brethren. Those who by birth were his equals, shall by conquest be his lords. This certainly points at the victories obtained by Israel over the Canaanites, by which they were all either put to the sword, or put under tribute, (Josh. 9. 23.   Judg. 1. 28, 30, 33, 35.) which happened not till about 800 years after this. Note, (1.) God often visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, especially when the children inherit their fathers' wicked dispositions, and imitate the father's wicked practices, and do nothing to cut off the entail of a curse. (2.) Disgrace is justly put upon those that put disgrace upon others, especially that dishonour and grieve their own parents. An undutiful child that mocks at his parents, is no more worthy to be called a son, but deserves to be made as a hired servant, nay as a servant of servants, among his brethren. (3.) Though divine curses operate slowly, yet, first or last, they will take effect. The Canaanites were under a curse of slavery, and yet, for a great while, had the dominion; for a family, a people, a person, may lie under the curse of God, and yet may long prosper in the world, till the measure of their iniquity, like that of he Canaanites, be full. Many are marked for ruin, that are not yet ripe for ruin. Therefore, Let not thine heart envy sinners.

2. He entails a blessing upon Shem and Japheth.

(1.) He blesses Shem, or, rather blesses God for him, yet so that it entitles him to the greatest honour and happiness imaginable, v. 26. Observe, [1.] He calls the Lord, the God of Shem; and happy, thrice happy is that people whose God is the Lord, Ps. 144. 15. All blessings are included in this. This was the blessing conferred on Abraham and his seed; the God of Heaven was not ashamed to be called their God, Heb. 11. 16. Shem is sufficiently recompensed for his respect to his father by this, that the Lord himself puts his honour upon him, to be his God, which is a sufficient recompense for all our services and all our sufferings for his name. [2.] He gives to God the glory of that good work which Shem had done, and, instead of blessing and praising him that was the instrument, he blesses and praises God that was the Author. Note, The glory of all that is at any time well done by ourselves or others, must be humbly and thankfully transmitted to God, who works all our good works in us and for us. When we see men's good works, we should glorify, not them, but our Father, Matt. 5. 16. Thus David, in effect, blessed Abigail, when he blessed God that sent her, 1 Sam. 25. 32, 33, for it is an honour and favour to be employed for God, and used by him in doing good. [3.] He foresees and foretels, that God's gracious dealings with Shem and his family, would be such as would evidence to all the world that he was the God of Shem, on which behalf thanksgivings would by many be rendered to him. Blessed be the Lord God of Shem. [4.] It is intimated that the church should be built up and continued in the posterity of Shem; for of him came the Jews, who were, for a great while, the only professing people God had in the world. [5.] Some think reference is here had to Christ, who was the Lord God that in his human nature, should descend from the loins of Shem; for of him, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. [6.] Canaan is particularly enslaved to him; He shall be his servant. Note, Those that have the Lord for their God, shall have as much of the honour and power of this world as he sees good for them.

(2.) He blesses Japheth, and, in him, the isles of the Gentiles, which were peopled by his seed, v. 27, God shall enlarge Japheth, and he will dwell in the tents of Shem. Now,

[1.] Some make this to belong wholly to Japheth, and to bespeak either, First, His outward prosperity, that his seed should be so numerous, and so victorious, that they should be masters of the tents of Shem; which was fulfilled, when the people of the Jews, the most eminent of Shem's race, were tributaries to the Grecians first, and afterward to the Romans, both of Japheth's seed. Note, Outward prosperity is no infallible mark of the true church; the tents of Shem are not always the tents of the conqueror. Or, Secondly, It bespeaks the conversion of the Gentiles, and the bringing of them into the church; and then we would read it, God shall persuade Japheth, (for so the word signifies,) and then, being so persuaded, he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, that is, Jews and Gentiles shall be united together in the gospel-fold; after many of the Gentiles shall have been proselyted to the Jewish religion, both shall be one in Christ, Eph. 2. 14, 15. And the christian church, mostlv made up of the Gentiles, shall succeed the Jews in the privileges of church-membership; the latter having first cast themselves out by their unbelief, the Gentiles shall dwell in their tents, Rom. 11. 11, &c. Note, It is God only that can bring those again into the church, who have separated themselves from it. It is the power of God that makes the gospel of Christ effectual to salvation, Rom. 1. 16. And again. Souls are brought into the church, not by force, but by persuasion, Ps. 110. 3. They are drawn by the cords of a man, and persuaded by reason to be religious.

[2.] Others divide this between Japheth and Shem, Shem having net been directly blessed, v. 26. First, Japheth has the blessing of earth beneath; God shall enlarge Japheth, enlarge his seed, enlarge his border; Japheth's posterity peopled all Europe, a great part of Asia, and perhaps America. Note, God is to be acknowledged in all our enlargements. It is he that enlarges the coast, and enlarges the heart. And again. Many dwell in large tents, that do not dwell in God's tents, as Japheth did. Secondly, Shem has the blessing of Heaven above: He shall, that is, God shall, dwell in the tents of Shem, that is, "From his loins Christ shall come, and in his seed the church shall be continued." The birth-right was now to be divided between Shem and Japheth, Ham being utterly discarded; in the principality they equally share, Canaan shall be servant to both; the double portion is given to Japheth, whom God shall enlarge; but the priesthood was given to Shem, for God shall dwell in the tents of Shem: and certainly we are more happy, if we have God dwelling in our tents, than if we had there all the silver and gold in the world. It is better to dwell in tents with God than in palaces without him; in Salem, where is God's tabernacle, there is more satisfaction than in all the isles of the Gentiles. Thirdly, They both have dominion over Canaan; Canaan shall be servant to them; so some read it. When Japheth joins with Shem, Canaan falls before them both. When strangers become friends, enemies become servants.

28. And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29. And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.

Here see, 1. How God prolonged the life of Noah; he lived 950 years; 20 more than Adam, and but 19 less than Methuselah; this long life was a further reward of his signal piety, and a great blessing to the world, to which, no doubt, he continued a preacher of righteousness, with this advantage, that now all he preached to, were his own children. 2. How God put a period to his life at last; though he lived long, yet he died, having, probably, first seen many that descended from him, dead before him. Noah lived to see two worlds, but being an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, when he died, he went to see a better than either.


This chapter shows more particularly what was said in general, ch. 9. 19, concerning the three sons of Noah, that of them was the whole earth overspread; and the fruit of that blessing, ch. 9. 1, 7, replenish the earth. It is the only certain account extant of the original of nations; and yet perhaps there is no nation but that of the Jews, that can be confident from which of these 70 fountains (for so many there are here) it derives its streams. Through the want of early records, the mixtures of people, the revolutions of nations, and distance of time — the knowledge of the lineal descent of the present inhabitants of the earth is lost; nor were any genealogies preserved but those of the Jews, for the sake of the Messiah; only in this chapter, we have a brief account, I. Of the posterity of Japheth, v. 2..5.   II. The posterity of Ham, v. 6..20. and in that particular notice taken of Nimrod, v. 8..10.   III. The posterity of Shem, v. 21..31.

1.NOW these are the generations of the sons of Noah; Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. 2. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. 3. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. 4. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

Moses begins with Japheth's family; either because he was the eldest, or, because his family lay remotest from Israel, and had least concern with them, at the time when Moses wrote; and therefore he mentions that race very briefly; hastening to give account of the posterity of Ham, who were Israel's enemies, and of Shem, who were Israel's ancestors: for it is the church that the scripture is designed to be the history of, and of the nations of the world, only as they were some way or other related to Israel, and interested in the affairs of Israel. Observe, 1. Notice is taken that the sons of Noah had sons born to them after the flood, to repair and rebuild the world of mankind which the flood had ruined. He that had killed, now makes alive. 2. The prosperity of Japheth were allotted to the isles of the Gentiles, (v. 5.) which were, solemnly, by lot, after a survey, divided among them, and, probably, this island of our's among the rest; all places beyond the sea from Judea, are called isles, Jer. 25. 22. and this directs us to understand that promise, Isa. 42. 4, the isles shall wait for his law, of the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Christ.

6. And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. 7. And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Shebah, and Dedan. 8. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. 10. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh,in the land of Shinar. 11. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, 12. And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city. 13. And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, 14. And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.

That which is observable and improvable in these verses, is, the account here given of Nimrod, v. 8..11. He is here represented as a great man in his day. He began to be a mighty one in the earth, that is, whereas those that went before him, were content to stand upon the same level with their neighbours, and though every man bare rule in his own house, yet no man pretended any further; Nimrod's aspiring mind could not rest here; he was resolved to tower above his neighbours, and not only so, but to lord it over them. The same spirit that actuated the giants before the flood, (who became mighty men, and men of renown, ch. 6. 4.) now revived in him; so soon was that tremendous judgment which the pride and tyranny of those mighty men brought upon the world, forgotten. Note, there are some, in whom ambition and affectation of dominion seem to be bred in the bone; such there have been, and will be, notwithstanding the wrath of God often revealed from heaven against them. Nothing on this side hell, will humble and break the proud spirits of some men, in this, like Lucifer, Isa. 14. 14, 15. Now,

I. Nimrod was a great hunter; this he began with, and for this, became famous to a proverb. Every great hunter is, in remembrance of him, called a Nimrod. 1. Some think he did good with his hunting, served his country by ridding it of the wild beasts which infested it, and so insinuated himself into the affections of his neighbours, and got to be their prince: those that exercise authority, either are, or at least, would be called, benefactors, Luke 22. 25.   2. Others think that under pretence of hunting, he gathered men under his command, in pursuit of another game he had to play, which was to make himself master of the country, and to bring them into subjection. He was a mighty hunter, that is, He was a violent invader of his neighbour's rights and properties, and a persecutor of innocent men, carrying all before him, and endeavouring to make all his own by force and violence. He thought himself a mighty prince, but before the Lord, that is in God's account, he was but a mighty hunter. Note, Great conquerors are but great hunters. Alexander and Cesar would not make such a figure in scripture history as they do in common history; the former is represented in prophecy but as a he-goat, pushing, Dan. 8. 5. Nimrod was a mighty hunter against the Lord, so the LXX; that is, (1.) He set up idolatry, as Jeroboam did, for the confirming of his usurped dominion: that he might set up a new government, he set up a new religion upon the ruin of the primitive constitution of both: Babel was the mother of harlots. Or, (2.) He carried on his oppression and violence, in defiance of God himself; daring Heaven with his impieties, as if he and his huntsmen could outbrave the Almighty, and were a match for the Lord of Hosts and all his armies: As if it were a small thing to weary men, he thinks to weary my God also, Isa. 7. 13.

II. Nimrod was a great ruler, v. 10, The beginning of his kingdom was Babel. Some way or other, by arts or arms, he got into power, either chosen to it, or forcing his way to it; and so laid the foundations of a monarchy, which was afterward a head of gold, and the terror of the mighty, and bid fair to be universal. It does not appear that he had any right to rule by birth; but either his fitness for government recommended him, as some think, to an election; or, by power and policy, he advanced gradually, and perhaps insensibly, into the throne. See the antiquity of civil government, and particularly that form of it, which lodges the sovereignty in a single person. If Nimrod and his neighbours began, other nations soon learned, to incorporate under one head for their common safety and welfare, which, however it began, proved so great a blessing to the world, that things were reckoned to go ill indeed when there was no king in Israel.

III. Nimrod was a great builder; probably he was architect in the building of Babel, and there he began his kingdom; but when his project to rule all the sons of Noah was baffled by the confusion of tongues, out of that land he went forth into Assyria (so the margin reads it, v. 11.) and built Nineveh, &c. that having built these cities, he might command them, and rule over them. Observe in Nimrod the nature of ambition: 1. It is boundless; much would have more, and still cries, Give, give. 2. It is restless; Nimrod, when he had four cities under his command, could not be content till he had four more. 3. It is expensive; Nimrod will rather be at the charge of rearing cities than not have the honour of ruling them. The spirit of building is the common effect of a spirit of pride. 4. It is daring, and will stick at nothing; Nimrod's name signifies rebellion, which (if indeed he did abuse his power to the oppression of his neighbours) teaches us that tyrants to men are rebels to God, and their rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.

15. And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, 16. And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgashite, 17. And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, 18. And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. 19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest unto Sodom and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, and even unto Lasha. 20. These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.

Observe here, 1. That the account of the posterity of Canaan, of the families and nations that descended from him, and of the land they possessed, is more particular than of any other in this chapter; because these were the nations that were to be subdued before Israel, and their land was, in process of time, to become the holy land, Immanuel's land; and this God had an eye to, when, in the mean time he cast the lot of that accursed devoted race in that spot of ground which he had spied out for his own people; this Moses takes notice of, Deut. 32. 8, When the most high divided to the nations their inheritance, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. 2. That by this account it appears that the posterity of Canaan were both numerous and rich, and very pleasantly seated; and yet Canaan was under a curse, a divine curse, and not a curse causeless. Note, Those that are under the curse of God, may yet perhaps thrive and prosper greatly in this world; for we cannot know love or hatred, the blessing or the curse, by what is before us, but by what is within us, Eccl. 9. 1. The curse of God always works really, and always terribly: but perhaps it is a secret curse, a curse to the soul, and does not work visibly; or a slow curse, and does not work immediately; but sinners are by it reserved for, and bound over to, a day of wrath. Canaan here has a better land than either Shem or Japheth, and yet they have a better lot, for they inherit the blessing.

21. Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born. 22. The children of Shem; Elam and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram. 23. And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash. 24. And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber. 25. And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg ; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan. 26. And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, 27. And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah, 28. And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, 29. And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab : all these were the sons of Joktan. 30. And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sepher a mount of the east. 31. These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations. 32. These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

Two things especially are observable in this account of the posterity of Shem.

I. The description of Shem, v. 21. We have not only his name, Shem, which signifies a name, but two titles to distinguish him by.

1. He was the father of all the children of Eber: Eber was his great-grandson; but why should he be called the father of all his children, rather than of all Arphaxad's, or Salah's, &c? Probably, because Abraham and his seed, God's covenant-people, not only descended from Heber, but from him were called Hebrews, ch. 14. 13, Abram the Hebrew. St. Paul looked upon it as his privilege, that he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, Phil. 3. 5. Eber himself, we may suppose, was a man eminent for religion in a time of general apostasy, and a great example of piety to his family; and the holy tongue being commonly called from him the Hebrew, it is probable that he retained it in his family, in the confusion of Babel, as a special token of God's favour to him; and from him the professors of religion were called the children of Eber; now, when the inspired penman would give them an honourable title, he calls him the father of the Hebrews; though, when Moses wrote this, they were a poor despised people, bond-slaves in Egypt, yet, being God's people, it was an honour to a man to be akin to them. As Ham, though he had many sons, is disowned by being called the father of Canaan, on whose seed the curse was entailed, ch. 9. 22, so Shem, though he had many sons, is dignified with the title of the father of Eber, on whose seed the blessing was entailed. Note, A family of saints is more truly honourable than a family of nobles; Shem's holy seed than Ham's royal seed, Jacob's twelve patriarchs than Ishmael's twelve princes, ch. 17. 20. Goodness is true greatness.

2. He was the brother of Japheth the elder, by which it appears that though Shem is commonly put first, yet he was not Noah's first-born, but Japheth was older. But why should this also be put as part of Shem's title and description, that he was the brother of Japheth, since that had been, in effect, said often before? And was he not as much brother to Ham? Probably, this was intended to signify the union of the Gentiles with the Jews in the church. He had mentioned it as Shem's honour, that he was the father of the Hebrews; but lest Japheth's seed should therefore be looked upon as for ever shut out from the church, he here reminds us that he was the brother of Japheth, not in birth only, but in blessing, for Japheth was to dwell in the tents of Shem. Note, (1.) Those are brethren in the best manner, that are so by grace, and that meet in the covenant of God, and in the communion of saints. (2.) God, in dispensing his grace, does not go by seniority, but the younger sometimes gets the start of the elder in coming into the church; so the last shall be first, and the first last.

II. The reason of the name of Peleg, v. 25, because in his days, (that is about the time of his birth, when his name was given him,) was the earth divided among the children of men that were to inhabit it; either, when Noah divided it by an orderly distribution of it, as Joshua divided the land of Canaan by lot, or when, upon their refusal to comply with that division, God, in justice, divided them by the confusion of tongues; whichsoever of these was the occasion, pious Heber saw cause to perpetuate the remembrance of it in the name of his son; and justly may our sons be called by the same name, for in our days, in another sense, is the earth, the church, most wretchedly divided.


The old distinction between the sons of God, and the sons of men, (professors and profane,) survived the flood, and now appeared again, when men began to multiply: according to this distinction, we have, in this chapter, I. The dispersion of the sons of men at Babel, v. 1..9, where we have, 1. Their presumptuous provoking design, which was, to build a city and a tower, v. 1..4.   2. The righteous' judgment of God upon them in disappointing their design, by confounding their language, and so scattering them, v. 5..9.   II. The pedigree of the sons of God down to Abraham, v. 10..26, with a general account of his family, and removal out of his native country, v, 27..32.

1.AND the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

The close of the foregoing chapter tells us, that by the sons of Noah, or, among the sons of Noah, the nations were divided in the earth after the flood, that is, were distinguished into several tribes or colonies; and the places they had hitherto lived in together being grown too straight for them, it was either appointed by Noah, or agreed upon among his sons, which way each several tribe or colony should steer its course, beginning with the countries that were next them, and designing to proceed further and further, and to remove to a greater distance from each other, as the increase of their several companies should require. Thus was the matter well settled, one hundred years after the flood, about the time of Peleg's birth: but the sons of men, it should seem, were loath to scatter into distant places; they thought, the more the merrier, and the safer, and therefore they contrived to keep together, and were slack to go to possess the land which the Lord God of their fathers had given them. Josh. 18. 3, thinking themselves wiser than either God or Noah. Now here we have,

I. The advantages which befriended their design of keeping together. 1. They were all of one language, v. 1. If there were any different languages before the flood, yet Noah's only, which, it is likely, was the same with Adam's, was preserved through the flood, and continued after it. Now, while they all understood one another, they would be the more likely to love one another, and the more capable of helping one another, and the less inclinable to separate one from another. 2. They found a very convenient commodious place to settle in, v. 2, a plain in the land of Shinar, a spacious plain, and able to contain them all, a fruitful plain, and able, according as their present numbers were, to support them all; though perhaps they had not considered what room there would be for them when their numbers should be increased. Note, Inviting accommodations, for the present, often prove too strong temptations to the neglect of both duty and interest, as it respects futurity.

II. The method they took to bind themselves to one another, and to settle together in one body. Instead of coveting to enlarge their borders by a peaceable departure under the divine protection, they contrived to fortify them, and as those that were resolved to wage war with heaven, they put themselves into a posture of defence. Their unanimous resolution is, let us build a city and a tower. It is observable, that the first builders of cities, both in the old world, ch. 4. 17, and in the new world here, were not men of the best character and reputation: tents served God's subjects to dwell in, cities were first built by those that were rebels against him, and revolters from him. Observe here,

1. How they excited and encouraged one another to set about this work. They said, Go to, let us make brick, v. 3, and again v. 4, Go to, let us build us a city; by mutual excitements they made one another more daring and resolute. Note, Great things may be brought to pass, when the undertakers are numerous and unanimous, and stir up one another to it. Let us learn to provoke one another to love and to good works, as sinners stir up and encourage one another to wicked works. See Ps, 122. 1. Isa. 2. 3, 5. Jer. 50. 5.

2. What materials they used in their building. The country being plain, yielded neither stone nor mortar, yet that did not discourage them from their undertaking, but they made brick to serve instead of stone, and slime or pitch instead of mortar. See here, (1.) What shift these will make, that are resolute in their purposes: were we but thus zealously affected in a good thing, we should not stop our work so often as we do, under pretence that we want conveniences for carrying it on. (2.) What a difference there is between men's building and God's; when men build their Babel, brick and slime are their best materials; but when God builds his Jerusalem, he lays even the foundations of it with sapphires, and all its borders with pleasant stones, Isa. 54, 11. 12. Rev. 21. 19.

3. For what ends they built. Some think they intended hereby to secure themselves against the waters of another flood. God had told them indeed he would not again drown the world; but they would trust to a tower of their own making, rather than to a promise of God's making, or an ark of his appointing: if, however, they had had this in their eye, they would have chosen to build their tower upon a mountain, rather than upon a plain; but three things, it seems, they aimed at in building this tower.

(1.) It seems designed for an affront to God himself; for they would build a tower, whose top might reach to heaven, which bespeaks a defiance of God, or at least a rivalship with him; they will be like the Most High, or come as near him as they can, not in holiness, but in height. They forget their place, and, scorning to creep on the earth, resolve to climb to heaven, not by the door, or ladder, but some other way.

(2.) They hoped hereby to make them a name; they would do something to be talked of now, and to give posterity to know that there had been such men as they in the world; rather than die and leave no memorandum behind them, they would leave this monument of their pride, and ambition, and folly. Note, [1.] Affectation of honour, and a name among men, inspires with a strange ardour for great and difficult undertakings, and often betrays to that which is evil, and offensive to God. [2.] It is just with God to bury those names in the dust, which are raised by sin. These Babel-builders put themselves to a great deal of foolish expense, to make them a name; but they could not gain even this point, for we do not find in any history the name of so much as one of these Babel-builders; Philo Judaeus says, They engraved every one his name upon a brick, in perpetuam rei memoriam — as a perpetual memorial; yet neither did that serve their purpose.

(3.) They did it to prevent their dispersion; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. "It was done," (says Josephus,) "in disobedience to that command, ch. 9. 1, Replenish the earth." God orders them to scatter; "No," say they, "we will not, we will live and die together." In order hereunto, they engage themselves, and one another, in this vast undertaking. That they might unite in one glorious empire, they resolve to build this city and tower, to be the metropolis of their kingdom, and the centre of their unity. It is probable that the hand of ambitious Nimrod was in all this: he could not content himself with the command of a particular colony, but aimed at universal monarchy; in order to which, under pretence of uniting for their common safety, he contrives to keep them in one body, that, having them all under his eye, he might not fail to have them under his power. See the daring presumption of these sinners: here is, [1.] A bold opposition to God; "You shall be scattered," says God; "But we will not," say they; Woe unto him that thus strives with his maker. [2.] A bold competition with God. It is God's prerogative to be universal Monarch, Lord of all, and King of kings; the man that aims at it, offers to step into the throne of God, who will not give his glory to another.

5. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men builded. 6. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

We have here the quashing of the project of the Babel-builders, and the turning of the counsel of those froward men headlong, that God's counsel might stand, in spite of them. Here is,

I. The cognizance that God took of the design that was on foot, v. 5, The Lord came down to see the city: it is an expression after the manner of men; he knew it as clearly and fully as men know that which they come to the place to view. Observe, 1. Before he gave judgment upon their cause, he inquired into it; for God is incontestably just and fair in all his proceedings against sin and sinners, and condemns none unheard. 2. It is spoken of as an act of condescension in God, to take notice even of this building, which the undertakers were so proud of; for he humbles himself to behold the transactions, even the most considerable ones, of this lower world, Ps. 113. 6. 3. It is said to be the tower which the children of men built; which intimates, (1.) Their weakness and frailty as men: it was a very foolish thing for the children of men, worms of the earth, to defy Heaven, and to provoke the Lord to jealousy: Are they stronger than he? (2.) Their sinfulness and obnoxiousness: they were the sons of Adam, so it is in the Hebrew; nay, of that Adam, that sinful disobedient Adam, whose children are by nature children of disobedience, children that are corrupters. (3.) Their distinction from the children of God, the professors of religion, from whom these daring builders had separated themselves, and built this tower to support and perpetuate the separation. Pious Eber is not found among this ungodly crew; for he and his are called the children of God, and therefore their souls come not into the secret, nor unite themselves to the assembly, of these children of men.

II. The counsels and resolves of the Eternal God concerning this matter; he did not come down merely as a spectator, but as a Judge, as a Prince, to look upon these proud men, and abase them. Job 40. 11...14.

Observe, 1. He suffered them to proceed a good way in their enterprise, before he put a stop to it; that they might have space to repent, and, if they had so much consideration left, might be ashamed of it, and weary of it, themselves; and if not, that their disappointment might be the more shameful, and every one that passed by, might laugh at them, saying, These men began to build, and were not able to finish; that so the works of their hands, from which they promised themselves immortal honour, might turn to their perpetual reproach. Note, God has wise and holy ends in permitting the enemies of his glory to carry on their impious projects a great way, and to prosper long in their enterprises.

2. When they had, with much care and toil, made some considerable progress in their building, then God determined to break their measures, and disperse them.

Observe, (1.) The righteousness of God, which appears in the considerations upon which he proceeded in this resolution, v. 6. Two things he considered, [1.] Their oneness, as a reason why they must be scattered: "Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; if they continue one, much of the earth will be left uninhabited; the power of their prince will soon be exorbitant; wickedness and profaneness will be insufferably rampant, for they will strengthen one another's hands in it; and, which is worst of all, they will be an overbalance to the church, and these children of men, if thus incorporated, will swallow up the little remnant of God's children." Therefore it is decreed that they must not be one. Note, Unity is policy, but it is not the infallible mark of a true church; yet, while the builders of Babel, though of different families, dispositions, and interests, were thus unanimous in opposing God, what a pity it is, and what a shame, that the builders of Zion, though united in one common Head and Spirit, should be divided, as they are, in serving God! But marvel not at the matter; Christ came not to send peace. [2.] Their obstinacy; now nothing will be restrained from them; and this is a reason why they must be crossed and thwarted in their design: God had tried, by his commands and admonitions, to bring them off from this project, but in vain; therefore he must take another course with them. See here, First, The sinfulness of sin, and the wilfulness of sinners; ever since Adam would not be restrained from the forbidden tree, his unsanctified seed have been impatient of restraint, and ready to rebel against it. Secondly, See the necessity of God's judgments upon earth, to keep the world in some order, and to tie the hands of those that will not be checked by law. (2.) The wisdom and mercy of God in the methods that were taken for the defeating of this enterprise; (v. 7. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language: this was not spoken to the angels, as if God needed either their advice, or their assistance, but God speaks it to himself, or the Father to the Son and Holy Ghost; they said, Go to, let us make brick; and Go to, let us build us a tower; animating one another to the attempt; and now God says, Go to, let us confound their languages; for if men stir up themselves to sin, God will stir up himself to take vengeance, Isa. 59. 17, 18. Now observe here, [1.] The mercy of God, in moderating the penalty, and not making that proportionable to the offence; for he deals not with us according to our sins: he does not say, "Let us go down now in thunder and lightning, and consume these rebels in a moment;" or, "Let the earth open, and swallow up them and their building, and let them go down quick into hell, who are climbing to heaven the wrong way;" no, only, "Let us go down, and scatter them:" they deserved death, but are only banished or transported; for the patience of God is very great towards a provoking world. Punishments are chiefly reserved for the future state; God's judgments on sinners in this life, compared with these, are little more than restraints. [2.] The wisdom of God, in pitching upon an effectual expedient to stay proceedings, which was the confounding of their language, that they might not understand one another's speech, nor could they well join hands when their tongues were divided; so that this would be a very proper method, both for taking them off from their building, (for if they could not understand one another, they could not help one another,) as also for disposing them to scatter; for when they could not understand one another, they could not employ one another. Note, God has various means, and effectual ones, to baffle and defeat the projects of proud men that set themselves against him, and particularly to divide them among themselves, either by dividing their spirits, (Judges 9. 23.) or by dividing their tongues, as David prays, Ps. 55. 9.

III. The execution of these counsels of God, to the blasting and defeating of the counsels of men, v. 8, 9. God made them know whose word should stand, his or their's, as the expression is, Jer. 44. 28. Notwithstanding their oneness and obstinacy, God was too hard for them, and wherein they dealt proudly, he was above them; for who ever hardened his heart against him and prospered? Three things were done;

1. Their language was confounded. God, who, when he made man, taught him to speak, and put words into his mouth fit to express the conceptions of his mind by, now made those builders to forget their former language, and to speak and understand a new one, which yet was the same to those of the same tribe or family, but not to others; those of one colony could converse together, but not with those of another. Now, (1.) This was a great miracle, and a proof of the power which God has upon the minds and tongues of men, which he turns as the rivers of water. (2.) This was a great judgment upon those builders; for being thus deprived of the knowledge of the ancient and holy tongue, they were become incapable of communicating with the true church, in which it was retained; and, probably, it contributed much to their loss of the knowledge of the true God. (3.) We all suffer by it, to this day: in all the inconveniences we sustain by the diversity of languages, and all the pains and trouble we are at to learn the languages we have occasion for, we smart for the rebellion of our ancestors at Babel. Nay, and those unhappy controversies, which are strifes of words, and arise from our misunderstanding of one another's language, for aught I know, are owing to this confusion of tongues. (4.) The project of some to frame an universal character, in order to an universal language, how desirable soever it may seem, is yet, I think, but a vain attempt; for it is to strive against a divine sentence, by which the languages of the nations will be divided while the world stands. (5.) We may here lament the loss of the universal use of the Hebrew tongue, which, from this time, was the vulgar language of the Hebrews only, and continued so till the captivity in Babylon, where, even among them, it was exchanged for the Syriac. (6.) As the confounding of tongues divided the children of men, and scattered them abroad, so the gift of tongues, bestowed upon the apostles, (Acts 2.) contributed greatly to the gathering together of the children of God, which were scattered abroad, and the uniting of them in Christ, that with one mind and mouth they might glorify God, Rom. 15. 6.

2. Their building was stopped; they left off to build the city. This was the effect of the confusion of their tongues; for it not only incapacitated them for helping one another, but, probably, struck such a damp upon their spirits, that they could not proceed, since they saw, in this, the hand of the Lord gone out against them. Note, [1.] It is wisdom to leave off that which we see God fights against. [2.] God is able to blast and bring to naught all the devices and designs of Babel-builders. He sits in heaven, and laughs at the counsels of the kings of the earth against Him and his Anointed; and will force them to confess that there is no wisdom nor counsel against the Lord, Prov. 21. 30. Isa. 8. 9, 10.

3. The builders were scattered abroad from thence upon the face of the whole earth, v. 8, 9. They departed in companies, after their families, and after their tongues, (ch. 10. 5, 20, 31.) to the several countries and places allotted to them in the division that had been made, which they knew before, but would not go to take the possession of till now that they were forced to it. Observe here, [1.] That the very thing which they feared, came upon them; they feared dispersion, they sought to evade it by an act of rebellion, and by that act they brought upon themselves the evil with all its horrors; for we are most likely to fall into that trouble which we seek to evade by indirect and sinful methods. [2.] That it was God's work; The Lord scattered them. God's hand is to be acknowledged in all scattering providences; if the family be scattered, relations scattered, churches scattered, it is the Lord's doing. [3.] That though they were as firmly in league with one another as could be, yet the Lord scattered them: for no man can keep together what God will put asunder. [4.] That thus God justly took vengeance on them for their oneness in that presumptuous attempt to build their tower; shameful dispersions are the just punishment of sinful unions; Simeon and Levi, who had been brethren in iniquity, were divided in Jacob, ch. 49. 5, 7. Ps. 83. 3...13. [5.] That they left behind them a perpetual memorandum of their reproach, in the name given to the place; it was called Babel, confusion. They that aim at a great name, commonly come off with a bad name. [6.] The children of men were now finally scattered, and never did, nor ever will, come all together again, till the great day, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him, Matth. 25. 31, 32.

10. These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad, two years after the flood: 11. And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad, five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 12. And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: 13. And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah, four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 14. And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: 15. And Salah lived after he begat Eber, four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 16. And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: 17. And Eber lived after he begat Peleg, four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. 18. And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: 19. And Peleg lived after he begat Reu, two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters. 20. And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: 21. And Reu lived after he begat Serug, two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. 22. And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: 23. And Serug lived after he begat Nahor, two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 24. And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: 25. And Nahor lived after he begat Terah, an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 26. And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

We have here a genealogy, not an endless genealogy; for here it ends in Abram, the friend of God, and leads further to Christ, the promised Seed, who was the Son of Abram, and from Abram the genealogy of Christ is reckoned, (Matth. 1. 1, &c.) so that put ch. 5. ch. 11, and Matth. 1, together, and you have such an entire genealogy of Jesus Christ as cannot be produced, for aught I know, concerning any person in the world, out of his line, and at such a distance from the fountain-head. And laying these three genealogies together, we shall find that twice ten, and thrice fourteen, generations or descents, passed between the first and second Adam, making it clear concerning Christ, not only that he was the Son of Abraham, but the Son of man, and the Seed of the woman. Observe here, 1. That nothing is left upon record concerning those of this line, but their names and ages; the Holy Ghost seeming to hasten through them to the story of Abram. How little do we know of those that are gone before us in this world, even those that lived in the same places where we live, as we likewise know little of those that are our contemporaries, in distant places; we have enough to do, to mind the work of our own day, and let God alone to require that which is past, Eccl. 3. 15.   2. That there was an observable gradual decrease in the years of their lives; Shem reached to 600 years, which yet fell short of the age of the patriarchs before the flood; the three next came short of 500; the three next did not reach to 300; after them, we read not of any that attained to 200, but Terah ; and, not many ages after this, Moses reckoned 70 or 80 to be the utmost men ordinarily arrive at: when the earth began to be replenished, men's lives began to shorten; so that the decrease is to be imputed to the wise disposal of providence, rather than to any decay of nature; for the elect's sake, men's days are shortened; and being evil, it is well they are few, and attain not to the years of the lives of our fathers, ch. 47. 9.   3. That Eber, from whom the Hebrews were denominated, was the longest lived of any that were born after the flood; which perhaps was the reward of his singular piety, and strict adherence to the ways of God.

27. Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. 28. And Haran died before his father Terah, in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. 29. And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. 30. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 31. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot, the son of Haran, his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan, and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. 32. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

Here begins the story of Abram, whose name is famous, henceforward, in both Testaments; we have here,

I. His country; Ur of the Chaldees, that was the land of his nativity, an idolatrous country, where even the children of Eber themselves were degenerated. Note, Those who are, through grace, heirs of the land of promise, ought to remember what was the land of their nativity; what was their corrupt and sinful state by nature; the rock out of which they were hewn.

II. His relations; mentioned for his sake, and because of their interest in the following story. 1. His father was Terah, of whom it is said, Josh. 24. 2, that he served other gods, on the other side of the flood: so early did idolatry gain footing in the world, and so hard is it even for those that have some good principles, to swim against the stream. Though it is said, v. 26, that when Terah was seventy years old, he begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran, (which seems to tell us that Abram was the eldest son of Terah, and born in his 70th year,) yet, by comparing v. 32, which makes Terah to die in his 205th year, with Acts 7. 4, (where it is said that Abram removed from Haran, when his father was dead,) and with ch. 12. 4, (where it is said that he was but 75 years old when he removed from Haran,) it appears that he was born in the 130th year of Terah, and, probably, was his youngest son; for, in God's choices, the last are often first, and the first last. We have, 2. Some account of his brethren. (1.) Nahor, out of whose family both Isaac and Jacob had their wives. (2.) Haran, the father of Lot, of whom it is here said, v. 28, that he died before his father Terah. Note, Children cannot be sure that they shall survive their parents: for death does not go by seniority, taking the eldest first: the shadow of death is without any order, Job 10. 22. It is likewise said that he died in Ur of the Chaldees, before the happy removal of the family out of that idolatrous country. Note, It concerns us to hasten out of our natural state, lest death surprise us in it. 3. His wife was Sarai, who, some think, was the same with Iscah, the daughter of Haran. Abram himself says of her, that she was the daughter of his father, but not the daughter of his mother, ch. 20. 12. She was ten years younger than Abram.

III. His departure out of Ur of the Chaldees, with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and the rest of his family, in obedience to the call of God, of which we shall read more, ch. 12. 1, &c. This chapter leaves them in Haran, or Charran, a place about the midway between Ur and Canaan, where they dwelt till Terah's head was laid, probably because the old man was unable, through the infirmities of age, to proceed in his journey. Many reach to Charran, and yet fall short of Canaan; they are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither.


The pedigree and family of Abram we had an account of in the foregoing chapter ; here, the Holy Ghost enters upon his story; henceforward, Abram and his seed are almost the only subject of the sacred history. In this chapter we have, I. God's call of Abram to the land of Canaan, v. 1..3.   II. Abram's obedience to this call, v. 4, 5.   III. His welcome to the land of Canaan, v. 6, 7.   IV. His journey to Egypt, with an account of what happened to him there. Abram's flight and fault, v. 10..13. Sarai's danger, and deliverance, v. 14..20.

1.NOW the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee. 2. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

We have here the call by which Abram was removed out of the land of his nativity into the land of promise; which was designed both to try his faith and obedience, and also to separate him, and set him apart, for God and for special services and favours which were further designed. The circumstances of this call we may be somewhat helped to the knowledge of, from Stephen's speech, Acts 7. 2, where we are told, 1. That the God of glory appeared to him, to give him this call; appeared in such displays of his glory, as left Abram no room to doubt the divine authority of this call. God spake to him afterward in divers manners; but this first time, when the correspondence was to be settled, he appeared to him as the God of glory, and spake to him. 2. That this call was given him in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran; therefore we rightly read it, The Lord had said unto Abram, namely, in Ur of the Chaldees; and, in obedience to this call, as Stephen further relates the story, v. 4, he came out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran, or Haran, about five years, and from thence, when his father was dead, by a fresh command, pursuant to the former, God removed him into the land of Canaan. Some think that Haran was in Chaldea, and so was still a part of Abram's country; or that he, having staid there five years, began to call it his country, and to take root there, till God let him know that this was not the place he was intended for. Note, If God loves us, and has mercy in store for us, he will not suffer us to take up our rest any where short of Canaan, but will graciously repeat his calls, till the good work begun, be performed, and our souls repose in God only.

In the call itself, we have a precept and a promise.

I. A trying precept, v. 1, Get thee out of thy country. Now,

1. By this precept he was tried whether he loved God better than he loved his native soil and dearest friends, and whether he could willingly leave all, to go along with God. His country was become idolatrous, his kindred and his father's house were a constant temptation to him, and he could not continue with them without danger of being infected by them; therefore, Get thee out, לך לך Vade tibi—Get thee gone, with all speed, escape for thy life, look not behind thee, ch. 19. 7. Note, Those that are in a sinful state are concerned to make all haste possible out of it. Get out for thyself, (so some read it,) that is, for thine own good. Note, Those who leave their sins and turn to God, will themselves be unspeakable gainers by the change, Prov. 9. 12. This command which God gave to Abram, is much the same with the gospel-call by which all the spiritual seed of faithful Abram are brought into covenant with God. For, (1.) Natural affection must give way to divine grace: our country is dear to us, our kindred dearer, and our father's house dearest of all; and yet they must all be hated, Luke 14. 26, that is, we must love them less than Christ, hate them in comparison with him, and, whenever any of these come in competition with him, they must be postponed, and the preference given to the will and honour of the Lord Jesus. (2.) Sin and all the occasions of it, must be forsaken, and, particularly, bad company; we must abandon all the idols of iniquity which have been set up in our hearts, and get out of the way of temptation, plucking out even a right eye that leads us to sin, Matth. 5. 29, willingly parting with that which is dearest to us, when we cannot keep it without hazard of our integrity. Those that resolve to keep the commandments of God, must quit the society of evil doers, Ps. 119. 115. Acts 2. 40. (3.) The world, and all our enjoyments in it, must be looked upon with a holy indifference and contempt; we must no longer look upon it as our country, or home, but as our inn, and must, accordingly, sit loose to it, and live above it, get out of it in affection.

2. By this precept he was tried, whether he could trust God further than he saw him; for he must leave his own country, to go to a land that God would show him; he does not say, "It is a land that I will give thee," but merely, "a land that I will show thee." Nor does he tell him what land it was, or what kind of land; but he must follow God with an implicit faith, and take God's word for it, though he had no particular securities given him, that he should be no loser by leaving his country, to follow God. Note, Those that will deal with God, must deal upon trust; we must quit the things that are seen, for things that are not seen, and submit to the sufferings of this present time, in hopes of a glory that is yet to be revealed, Rom. 8. 18, for it doth not yet appear, what we shall be, 1 John, 3. 2, any more than it did to Abram, when God called him to a land he would show him, so teaching him to live in a continual dependence upon his direction, and with his eye ever toward him.

II. Here is an encouraging promise, nay, it is a complication of promises, many, and exceeding great and precious. Note, All God's precepts are attended with promises to be obedient; when he makes himself known to us as a Commander, he makes himself known also as a Rewarder; if we obey the command, God will not fail to perform the promise. Here are six promises.

1. I will make of thee a great nation; when God took him from his own people, he promised to make him the head of another; he cut him off from being the branch of a wild olive, to make him the root of a good olive. This promise was, (1.) A great relief to Abram's burthen; for he had now no child. Note, God knows how to suit his favours to the wants and necessities of his children. He that has a plaster for every sore, will provide one for that first, that is most painful. (2.) A great trial to Abram's faith; for his wife had been long barren, so that if he believe, it must be against hope, and his faith must build purely upon that power which can out of stories raise up children unto Abraham, and make them a great nation. Note, [1.] God makes nations; by him they are born at once, Isa. 66. 8, and he speaks to build and plant them, Jer. 18. 9. And [2.] If a nation be made great in wealth and power, it is God that makes it great. [3.] God can raise great nations out of dry ground, and can make a little one to be a thousand.

2. I will bless thee; either particularly, with the blessing of fruitfulness and increase, as he had blessed Adam and Noah; or in general, "I will bless thee with all manner of blessings, both of the upper and the nether springs: leave thy father's house, and I will give thee a father's blessing, better than that of thy progenitors." Note, Obedient believers shall be sure to inherit the blessing.

3. I will make thy name great; by deserting his country, he lost his name there: "Care not for that," says God, "but trust me, and I will make thee a greater name than ever thou couldest have had there." Having no child, he feared he should have no name; but God will make him a great nation, and so make him a great name. Note, (1.) God is the fountain of honour, and from him promotion comes, 1 Sam. 2, 8. (2.) The name of obedient believers shall certainly be celebrated, and made great: the best report is that which the elders obtained by faith, Heb. 11. 2.

4. Thou shall be a blessing; that is, (1.) "Thy happiness shall be a sample of happiness, so that those who would bless their friends, shall only pray that God would make them like Abram;" as Ruth 4. 11. Note, God's dealings with obedient believers, are so kind and gracious, that we need not desire for ourselves or our friends to be any better dealt with; that is blessedness enough. (2.) "Thy life shall be a blessing to the places where thou shalt sojourn." Note, Good men are the blessings of their country, and it is their unspeakable honour and happiness to be made so.

5. I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; this made it a kind of a league offensive and defensive, between God and Abram. Abram heartily espoused God's cause, and here God promises to interest himself in his; (1.) He promises to be a Friend to his friends, to take kindnesses shown to him as done to himself, and to recompense them accordingly. God will take care that none be losers, in the long run, by any service done for his people; even a cup of cold water shall be rewarded. (2.) He promises to appear against his enemies; there were those that hated and cursed even Abram himself; but while their causeless curses could not hurt Abram, God's righteous curse would certainly overtake and ruin them, Numb. 24. 9. This is a good reason why we should bless them that curse us, because it is enough that God will curse them, Ps. 38. 13..15.

6. In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed; this was the promise that crowned all the rest; for it points at the Messiah, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. Note, (1.) Jesus Christ is the great Blessing of the world, the greatest that ever the world was blessed with; he is a family-blessing, by him salvation is brought to the house, Luke 19. 9. When we reckon up our family blessings, let us put Christ in the imprimis—the first place, as the Blessing of blessings. But how are all the families of the earth blessed in Christ, when so many are strangers to him? Answer, [1.] All that are blessed, are blessed in him. Acts 4. 12. [2.] All that believe, of what family soever they are, shall be blessed in him. [3.] Some of all the families of the earth are blessed in him. [4.] There are some blessings which all the families of the earth are blessed with in Christ; for the gospel-salvation is a common salvation, Jude 3.   (2.) It is a great honour to be related to Christ; this made Abram's name great, that the Messiah was to descend from his loins, much more than that he should be the father of many nations. It was Abram's honour to be his father by nature; it will be our's to be his brethren by grace, Matt. 12. 50.

4. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

Here is,

I. Abram's removal out of his country; out of Ur first, and afterward out of Haran, in compliance with the call of God; so Abram departed; he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but did as he was bidden, not conferring with flesh and blood. Gal. 1. 15, 16. His obedience was speedy and without delay, submissive and without dispute; for he went out, not knowing whither he went, Heb. 11. 8, but knowing whom he followed, and under whose direction he went. Thus God called him to his foot, Isa. 41. 2.

II. His age when he removed; he was seventy and five years old, an age when he should rather have had rest and settlement; but if God will have him to begin the world again now in his old age, he will submit. Here is an instance of an old convert.

III. The company and cargo that he took with him.

1. He took his wife, and his nephew Lot, with him; not by force and against their wills, but by persuasion. Sarai, his wife, would be sure to go with him; God had joined them together, and nothing should put them asunder. If Abram leave all to follow God, Sarai will leave all to follow Abram; though neither of them knew whither. And it was a mercy to Abram to have such a companion in his travels, a help meet for him. Note, It is very comfortable when husband and wife agree to go together in the way to heaven. Lot also, his kinsman, was influenced by Abram's good example, who was perhaps his guardian after the death of his father, and he was willing to go along with him too. Note, Those that go to Canaan, need not go alone; for though few find the strait gate, blessed be God, some do; and it is our wisdom to go with those with whom God is, Zech. 8. 23, wherever they go.

2. They took all their effects with them; all their substance and moveable goods, that they had gathered. For, (1.) With themselves they would give up their all, to be at God's disposal, would keep back no part of the price, but venture all in one bottom, knowing it was a good bottom. (2.) They would furnish themselves with that which was requisite, both for the service of God, and the supply of their family, in the country whither they were going. To have thrown away his substance, because God had promised to bless him, had been to tempt God, not to trust him. (3.) They would not be under any temptation to return, therefore they leave not a hoof behind, lest that should make them mindful of the country from which they came out.

3. They took with them the souls that they had gotten, that is, (1.) The servants they had bought, which were part of their substance, but are called souls, to remind masters that their poor servants have souls, precious souls, which they ought to take care of, and provide food convenient for. (2.) The proselytes they had made, and persuaded to attend the worship of the true God, and to go with them to Canaan: the souls which (as one of the Rabbins expresses it) they had gathered under the wings of the Divine Majesty. Note, Those who serve and follow God themselves, should do all they can to bring others to serve and follow him too. Those souls they are said to have gained; we must reckon ourselves true gainers, if we can but win souls to Christ.

IV. Here is their happy arrival at their journey's end. They went forth to go into the land of Canaan, so they did before, (ch. 11. 31.) and then took up short; but now they held on their way, and, by the good hand of their God upon them, to the land of Canaan they came; where, by a fresh revelation, they were told that this was the land God promised to show them. They were not discouraged by the difficulties they met with in their way, nor diverted by the delights they met with; but pressed forward. Note, 1. Those that set out for heaven, must persevere to the end, still reaching forth to those things that are before. 2. That which we undertake, in obedience to God's command, and a humble attendance upon his providence, will certainly succeed, and end with comfort at last.

6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 7. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. 8. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. 9. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

One would have expected that Abram having had such an extraordinary call to Canaan, some great event should have followed upon his arrival there; that he should have been introduced with all possible marks of honour and respect, and that the kings of Canaan should immediately have surrendered their crowns to him, and done him homage: but, lo! he comes not with observation, little notice is taken of him; for still God will have him to live by faith, and to look upon Canaan, even when he was in it, as a land of promise: therefore observe here,

I. How little comfort he had in the land he came to; for, 1. He had it not to himself; the Canaanite was then in the land. He found the country peopled and possessed by Canaanites, who were likely to be but bad neighbours, and worse landlords; and, for aught that appears, he could not have ground to pitch his tent on, but by their permission: thus the accursed Canaanites seemed to be in better circumstances than blessed Abram. Note, The children of this world have commonly more of it than God's children. 2. He had not a settlement in it. He passed through the land, v. 6. He removed to a mountain, v. 8. He journeyed, going on still, v. 9. Observe here, (1.) That sometimes it is the lot of good men to be unsettled, and obliged often to remove their habitation. Holy David had his wanderings, his flittings, Ps. 56. 8.   (2.) Our removes in this world are often into various conditions.

Abram sojourned, first, in a plain, v. 6, then, in a mountain, v. 8. God had set the one over against the other. (3.) All good people must look upon themselves as strangers and sojourners in this world, and by faith sit loose to it as a strange country. So Abram did, Heb. 11. 8..14.   (4.) While we are here in this present state, we must be journeying, and going on still from strength to strength, as having not yet attained.

II. How much comfort he had in the God he followed; when he could have little satisfaction in converse with the Canaanites, whom he found there, he had abundance of pleasure in communion with that God who brought him thither, and did not leave him. Communion with God is kept up by the word and by prayer, and by these according to the methods of that dispensation, Abram's communion with God was kept up in the land of his pilgrimage.

1. God appeared to Abram; probably, in a vision, and spake to him good words, and comfortable words, Unto thy seed will I give this land. Note, (1.) No place or condition of life can shut us out from the comfort of God's gracious visits. Abram is a sojourner, unsettled, among the Canaanites; and yet here also he meets with him that lives and sees him. Enemies may part us and our tents, us and our altars, but not us and our God. Nay, (2.) With respect to those that faithfully follow God in a way of duty, though he lead them from their friends, he will himself make up that loss by his gracious appearances to them. (3.) God's promises are sure and satisfying to all those who conscientiously observe and obey his precepts: and those who, in compliance with God's call, leave or lose any thing that is dear to them, shall be sure of something else abundantly better in lieu of it. Abram had left the land of his nativity, "Well," says God, "I will give thee this land," Matth. 19. 29.   (4.) God reveals himself and his favours to his people by degrees; before he had promised to show him this land, now, to give it him: as grace is growing, so is comfort. (5.) It is comfortable to have land of God's giving, not by providence only, but by promise. (6.) Mercies to the children are mercies to the parents. "I will give it, not to thee, but to thy seed;" it is a grant in reversion, to his seed, which yet, it should seem, Abram understood also as a grant to himself of a better land in reversion, of which this was a type; for he looked for a heavenly country, Heb. 11. 16.

2. Abram attended on God in his instituted ordinances. He built an altar unto the Lord, who appeared to him, and called on the name of the Lord, v. 7, 8. Now consider this, (1.) As done upon a special occasion; when God appeared to him, then and there he built an altar, with an eye to the God who appeared to him. Thus he returned God's visit, and kept up his correspondence with Heaven, as one that resolved it should not fail on his side; thus he acknowledged with thankfulness, God's kindness to him in making him that gracious visit and promise; and thus he testified his confidence in, and dependence upon, the word which God had spoken. Note, An active believer can heartily bless God for a promise which he does not yet see the performance of, and build an altar to the honour of God who appears to him, though he does not yet appear for him. (2.) As his constant practice, whithersoever he removed. As soon as Abram was got to Canaan, though he was but a stranger and sojourner there, yet he set up, and kept up the worship of God in his family; and wherever he had a tent, God had an altar, and that, an altar sanctified by prayer. For he not only minded the ceremonial part of religion, the offering of sacrifice; but he made conscience of the natural duty of seeking to his God, and calling on his name, that spiritual sacrifice with which God is well-pleased; he preached concerning the name of the Lord, that is, he instructed his family and neighbours in the knowledge of the true God, and his holy religion. The souls he had gotten in Haran, being discipled, must be further taught. Note, Those that would approve themselves the children of faithful Abram, and would inherit the blessing of Abram, must make conscience of keeping up the solemn worship of God, particularly in their families, according to the example of Abram: the way of family worship is a good old way, is no novel invention, but the ancient usage of all the saints. Abram was very rich, and had a numerous family, was now unsettled, and in the midst of enemies; and yet, wherever he pitched his tent, he built an altar: wherever we go, let us not fail to take our religion along with us.

10. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt, to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. 11. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife. Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: 12. Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. 13. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake: and my soul shall live because of thee.

Here is,

I. A famine in the land of Canaan, a grievous famine; that fruitful land was turned into barrenness, not only to punish the iniquity of the Canaanites who dwelt therein, but to exercise the faith of Abram who sojourned therein; and a very sore trial it was: it tried what he would think, 1. Of God that brought him hither: whether he would not be ready to say, with his murmuring seed, that he was brought forth to be killed with hunger, Exod. 16. 3. Nothing short of a strong faith could keep up good thoughts of God under such a providence. 2. Of the land of promise; whether he would think the grant of it worth the accepting, and a valuable consideration for the relinquishing of his own country, when, for aught that now appeared, it was a land that ate up the inhabitants: now he was tried, whether he could preserve an unshaken confidence that the God who brought him to Canaan, would maintain him there, and whether he could rejoice in him as the God of his salvation, when the fig-tree did not blossom, Hab. 3. 17, 18. Note, (1.) Strong faith is commonly exercised with divers temptations, that it may be found to praise, and honour, and glory, 1 Pet. 1. 6, 7.   (2.) It pleases God sometimes to try those with great afflictions, who are but young beginners in religion. (3.) It is posssible for a man to be in the way of duty, and in the way to happiness, and yet meet with great troubles and disappointments.

II. Abram's remove into Egypt, upon occasion of this famine. See how wisely God provides that there should be plenty in one place when there was scarcity in another, that as member of the great body, we may not say to one another, I have no need of you. God's providence took care there should be a supply in Egypt, and Abram's prudence made use of the opportunity; for we tempt God, and do not trust him, if, in the time of distress, we use not the means he has graciously provided for our preservation; we must not expect needless miracles. But that which is especially observable here, to the praise of Abram, is, that he did not offer to return, upon this occasion, to the country from which he came out, nor so much as towards it. The land of his nativity lay north-east from Canaan: and therefore, when he must, for a time, quit Canaan, he chooses to go to Egypt which lay south-west, the contrary way, that he might not so much as seem to look back; see Heb. 11. 15, 16. Further observe, when he went down into Egypt, it was to sojourn there, not to dwell there. Note, 1. Though Providence, for a time, may cast us into bad places, yet we ought to tarry there no longer than needs must; we may sojourn there, where we may not settle. 2. A good man, while he is on this side heaven, wherever he is, is but a sojourner.

III. A great fault which Abram was guilty of, in denying his wife, and pretending that she was his sister. The scripture is impartial in relating the misdeeds of the most celebrated saints, which are recorded, not for our imitation, but for cur admonition; that he who thinks he stands, may take heed lest he fall. 1. His fault was, dissembling his relation to Sarai, equivocating concerning it, and teaching his wife, and, probably, all his attendants, to do so too. What he said, was, in a sense, true, (ch. 20. 12.) but with a purpose to deceive; he so concealed a further truth, as, in effect, to deny it, and to expose thereby both his wife and the Egyptians to sin. 2. That which was at the bottom of it, was a jealous timorous fancy he had, that some of the Egyptians would be so charmed with the beauty of Sarai, (Egypt producing few such beauties,) that if they should know he was her husband, they would find some way or other to take him off, that they might marry her. He presumes they would rather be guilty of murder than adultery; such a heinous crime was it then accounted, and such a sacred regard was paid to the marriage-bond: hence he infers, without any good reason, They will kill me. Note, The fear of man brings a snare, and many are driven to sin by the dread of death, Luke 12. 4, 5. The grace Abram was most eminent for, was, faith; and yet he thus fell, through unbelief and distrust of the Divine Providence, even after God had appeared to him twice. Alas, what will become of the willows, when the cedars are thus shaken?

14. And it came to pass that when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman, that she was very fair. 15. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. 16. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels. 17. And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues, because of Sarai Abram's wife. 18. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19. Why saidst thou, She is my sister? So I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. 20. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

Here is,

I. The danger Sarai was in of having her chastity violated by the king of Egypt. And, without doubt, the peril of sin is the greatest peril we can be in. Pharaoh's princes (his pimps rather) saw her, and observing what a comely woman she was, they commended her before Pharaoh; not for that which was really her praise—her virtue and modesty, her faith and piety, (those were no excellencies in their eyes,) but for her beauty, which they thought too good for the embraces of a subject, and worthy the admiration of the king; and she was presently taken into Pharaoh's house, as Esther into the seraglio of Ahasuerus, (Esth. 2. 8.) in order to her being taken into his bed. Now we must not look upon Sarai as standing fair for preferment, but as entering into temptation; and the occasions of it were, her own beauty, which is a snare to many, and Abram's equivocation, which is a sin that commonly is an inlet to much sin. While Sarai was in this danger, Abram fared the better for her sake; Pharaoh gave him sheep, and oxen, &c. (v. 16.) to gain his consent with her whom they supposed his sister. We cannot think that Abram expected this when he came down into Egypt, much less that he had an eye to it when he denied his wife; but God brought good out of evil. And thus the wealth of the sinner proves, some way or other, laid up for the just.

II. The deliverance of Sarai from this danger. For if God did not deliver us, many a time, by prerogative, out of those straits and distresses which we bring ourselves into by our own sin and folly, and which therefore we could not expect any deliverance from by promise, we should soon be ruined, nay, we had been ruined long before this. He deals not with us according to our deserts.

1. God chastised Pharaoh, and so prevented the progress of his sin. Note, Those are happy chastisements, that hinder us in a sinful way, and effectually bring us to our duty, and particularly to the duty of restoring that which we have wrongfully taken and detained. Observe, Not Pharaoh only, but his house, was plagued ; probably, those princes especially that had commended Sarai to Pharaoh. Note, Partners in sin are justly made partakers in the punishment. Those that serve others' lusts, must expect to share in their plagues. We are not told particularly what these plagues were; but, doubtless, there was something in the plagues themselves, or some explication added to them, sufficient to convince them that it was for Sarai's sake that they were thus plagued.

2. Pharaoh reproved Abram, and then dismissed him with respect.

(1.) The reproof was calm, but very just; What is this that thou hast done? What an improper thing! How unbecoming a wise and good man! Note, If those that profess religion, do that which is unfair and disingenuous, especially if they say that which borders upon a lie, they must expect to hear of it, and have reason to thank those that will tell them of it. We find a prophet of the Lord justly reproved and upbraided by a heathen ship-master, Jon. 1. 6. Pharaoh reasons with him, Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Intimating, that if he had known that, he would not have taken her into his house. Note, It is a fault too common among good people, to entertain suspicions of others beyond what there is cause for. We have often found more of virtue, honour, and conscience, in some people, than we thought they possessed; and it ought to be a pleasure to us to be thus disappointed, as Abram was here, who found Pharaoh to be a better man than he expected. Charity teaches us to hope the best.

(2.) The dismission was kind, and very generous. He returned him his wife without offering any injury to her honour, v. 19, Behold thy wife, take her. Note, Those that would prevent sin, must remove the temptation, or get out of the way of it. He also sent him away in peace, and was so far from any design to kill him, as he apprehended, that he took particular care of him. Note, We often perplex and insnare ourselves with fears which soon appear to have been altogether groundless. We often fear, where no fear is. We fear the fury of the oppressor, as though he were ready to destroy, when really there is no danger, Isa. 51. 13. It had been more for Abram's credit and comfort, to have told the truth at first; for, after all, honesty is the best policy. Nay, it is said, v. 20, Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; that is, [1.] He charged them not to injure him in any thing. Note, It is not enough for those in authority, that they do not hurt themselves, but they must restrain their servants, and those about them, from doing hurt. Or, [2.] He appointed them, when Abram was disposed to return home, after the famine, to conduct him safe out of the country, as his convoy. Probably, he was alarmed by the plagues, v. 17, and inferred from them, that Abram was a particular favourite of Heaven, and therefore, through fear of their return, took special care he should receive no injury in his country.

Note, God has often raised up friends for his people, by making men know that it is at their peril if they hurt them. It is a dangerous thing to offend Christ's little ones, Matth. 18. 6. To this passage, among others, the Psalmist refers, Ps. 105. 13..15. He reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not mine anointed. Perhaps, if Pharaoh had not sent him away, he would have been tempted to stay in Egypt, and to forget the land of promise. Note, Sometimes God makes use of the enemies of his people, to convince them, and remind them, that this world is not their rest, but that they must think of departing. Lastly, Observe a resemblance between this deliverance of Abram out of Egypt, and the deliverance of his seed thence: 430 years after Abram went into Egypt on occasion of a famine, they went thither, on occasion of a famine also; he was fetched out with great plagues on Pharaoh, so were they; as Abram was dismissed by Pharaoh, and enriched with the spoil of the Egyptians, so were they. For God's care of his people is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.


In this chapter, we have a further account concerning Abram. I. In general, of his condition and behaviour in the land of promise, which was now the land of his pilgrimage. 1. His removes, v. 1, 3, 4, 18.   2. His riches, v. 2, 3. His devotion, v. 4, 18.   II. A particular account of a quarrel that happened between him and Lot. 1. The unhappy occasion of their strife, v. 5, 6.   2. The parties concerned in the strife, with the aggravation of it, v. 7.   III. The making up of the quarrel, by the prudence of Abram, v. 8, 9.   IV. Lot's departure from Abram to the plain of Sodom, v. 10..12.   V. God's appearance to Abram, to confirm the promise of the land of Canaan to him, v. 14..17.

1.AND Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. 3. And he went on his journies from the south even to Beth-el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Hai; 4. Unto the place of the altar which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Here is,

I. Abram's return out of Egypt, v. 1. He came himself, and brought all his with him, back again to Canaan. Note, Though there may be occasion to go sometimes into places of temptation, yet we must hasten out of them as soon as possible. See Ruth 1. 6.

II. His wealth, v. 2, He was very rich. He was very heavy, so the Hebrew word signifies. For riches are a burthen, and they that will be rich, do but load themselves with thick clay, Hab. 2. 6. There is a burthen of care in getting them, fear in keeping them, temptation in using them, guilt in abusing them, sorrow in losing them, and a burthen of account, at last, to be given up concerning them. Great possessions do but make men heavy and unwieldy. Abram was not only rich in faith and good works, and in the promises, but he was rich in cattle, and in silver and gold. Note, 1. God in his providence, sometimes makes good men rich men, and teaches them how to abound, as well as how to suffer want. 2. The riches of good men are the fruits of God's blessing. God had said to Abram, I will bless thee; and that blessing made him rich without sorrow. Prov. 10. 22.   3. True piety will very well consist with great prosperity. Though it is hard for a rich man to get to heaven, yet it is not impossible, Mark 10. 23, 24. Abram was very rich, and yet very religious. Nay, as piety is a friend to outward prosperity, 1 Tim. 4. 8, so outward prosperity, if well managed, is an ornament to piety, and an opportunity of doing so much the more good.

III. His removal to Beth-el, v. 3, 4. Thither he went, not only because there he had formerly had his tent, and he was willing to go among his old acquaintance; but because there he had, formerly, had his altar: and, though the altar was gone, (probably, he himself having taken it down, when he left the place, lest it should be polluted by the idolatrous Canaanites,) yet he came to the place of the altar, either to revive the remembrance of the sweet communion he had had with God in that place, or, perhaps, to pay the vows he had there made to God when he undertook his journey into Egypt. Long afterward, God sent Jacob to this same place, on that errand, ch. 35. 1, Go up to Beth-el, where, thou vowedst the vow. We have need to be reminded, and should take all occasions to remind ourselves, of our solemn vows; and perhaps the place where they were made, may help to bring them fresh to mind, and it may therefore do us good.

IV. His devotion there. His altar was gone, so that he could not offer sacrifice; but he called on the name of the Lord, as he had done, ch. 12. 8. Note, 1. All God's people are praying people. You may as soon find a living man without breath, as a living christian without prayer. 2. Those that would approve themselves upright with their God, must be constant and persevering in the services of religion. Abram did not leave his religion behind him in Egypt, as many do in their travels. 3. When we cannot do what we would, we must make conscience of doing what we can, in the acts of devotion. When we want an altar, let us not be wanting in prayer, but, wherever we are, call on the name of the Lord.

5. And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. 6. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. 7. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8. And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. 9. 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.

We have here an unhappy falling-out between Abram and Lot, who had hitherto been inseparable companions; (see v. 1, and ch. 12. 4,) but now parted.

I. The occasion of their quarrel was their riches. We read, v. 2, how rich Abram was; now here we are told, v. 5, that Lot which went with Abram, was rich too; God blessed him with riches, because he went with Abram. Note, 1. It is good being in good company, and going with those with whom God is, Zech. 8. 23.   2. Those that are partners with God's people in their obedience and sufferings, shall be sharers with them in their joys and comforts, Isa. 66. 10. Now, they both being very rich, the land was not able to bear them that they might dwell comfortably and peaceably together. So that their riches may be considered, (1.) As setting them at a distance one from another; because the place was too strait for them, and they had not room for their stock, it was necessary they should live asunder. Note, Every comfort in this world has its cross attending it. Business is a comfort: but it has this inconvenience in it, that it allows us not the society of those we love, so often, nor so long, as we could wish. (2.) As setting them at variance one with another. Note, Riches are often an occasion of strife and contention among relations and neighbours. This is one of those foolish and hurtful lusts, which they that will be rich, fall into, 1 Tim. 6. 9. Riches not only afford matter for contention, and are the things most commonly striven about; but they also stir up a spirit of contention, by making people proud and covetous. Meum and tuumMine and Thine, are the great make-bates of the world. Poverty and travail, wants and wanderings, could not separate between Abram and Lot; but riches did it. Friends are soon lost; but God is a Friend from whose love neither the height of prosperity, nor the depth of adversity, shall separate us.

II. The immediate instruments of the quarrel were their servants. The strife began between the herdmen of Abram's cattle, and the herdmen of Lot's cattle, v. 7. They strove, it is probable, which should have the better pasture, or the better water; and both interested their masters in the quarrel. Note, Bad servants often make a great deal of mischief in families, by their pride and passion, their lying, slandering, and tale-bearing. It is a very wicked thing for servants to do ill offices between relations and neighbours, and to sow discord; those that do so, are the Devil's agents, and their masters' worst enemies.

III. The aggravation of the quarrel was, that the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land, this made the quarrel, 1. Very dangerous; if Abram and Lot cannot agree to feed their flocks together, it is well if the common enemy do not come upon them, and plunder them both. Note, The division of families and churches often proves the ruin of them. 2. Very scandalous. No doubt, the eyes of all the neighbours were upon them, especially because of the singularity of their religion, and the extraordinary sanctity they professed; and notice would soon be taken of this quarrel, and improvement made of it, to their reproach, by the Canaanites and Perizzites. Note, The quarrels of professors are the reproach of profession, and give occasion, as much as any thing, to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.

IV. The making up of this quarrel was very happy. It is best to preserve the peace, that it be not broken; but the next best is, if differences do happen, with all speed to accommodate them, and quench the fire that is broken out. The motion for staying this strife was made by Abram, though he was the senior and superior relation.

1. His petition for peace was very affectionate. Let there be no strife, I pray thee. Abram here shows himself to be a man, (1.) Of a cool spirit, that had the command of his passion, and knew how to turn away wrath with a soft answer. Those that would keep the peace, must never render railing for railing. (2.) Of a condescending spirit; he was willing to beseech even his inferior to be at peace, and made the first overture of reconciliation. Conquerors reckon it their glory to give peace by power; and it is no less so to give peace by the meekness of wisdom. Note, The people of God should always approve themselves a peaceable people; whatever others are for, they must be for peace.

2. His plea for peace was very cogent. (1.) "Let there be no strife between me and thee. Let the Canaanites and Perizzites contend about trifles; but let not me and thee fall out, who know better things, and look for a better country." Note, Professors of religion should, of all others, be careful to avoid contention. Ye shall not be so, Luke 22. 26. We have no such custom, 1 Cor. 11. 16. "Let there be no strife between me and thee, who have lived together and loved one another, so long." Note, The remembrance of old friendships should quickly put an end to new quarrels which at any time happen. (2.) Let it be remembered that we are brethren, Heb. We are men brethren; a double argument. [1.] We are men; and, as men, we are mortal creatures, we may die to-morrow, and are concerned to be found in peace; we are rational creatures, and should be ruled by reason. We are men, and not brutes, men, and not children; we are sociable creatures, let us be so to the uttermost. [2.] We are brethren. Men of the same nature, of the same kindred and family, of the same religion; companions in obedience, companions in patience. Note, The consideration of our relation to each other, as brethren, should always prevail to moderate our passions, and either to prevent, or put an end to, our contentions. Brethren should love as brethren.

3. His proposal for peace was very fair. Many who profess to be for peace, yet will do nothing towards it; but Abram hereby approved himself a real friend to peace, that he proposed an unexceptionable expedient for the preserving of it, v. 9, Is not the whole land before thee? As if he had said, "Why should we quarrel for room, while there is room enough for us both?" (1.) He concludes that they must part, and is very desirous that they should part friends. Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. What could be expressed more affectionately? He does not expel him, and force him away, but advises that he should separate himself. Nor does he charge him to depart, but humbly desires him to withdraw. Note, Those that have power to command, yet, sometimes, for love's sake, and peace sake, should rather beseech, as Paul Philemon, v. 8, 9. When the great God condescends to beseech us, we may well afford to beseech one another, to be reconciled, 2 Cor. 5. 20. (2.) He offers him a sufficient share of the land they were in. Though God had promised Abram to give this land to his seed, ch. 12. 7, and it does not appear that ever any such promise is made to Lot, which Abram might have insisted on, to the total exclusion of Lot; yet he allows him to come in partner with him, and tenders an equal share to one that had not an equal right, and will not make God's promise to patronise his quarrel, nor under the protection of that, put any hardship upon his kinsman. (3.) He gives him his choice, and offers to take up with his leavings; If thou wilt take the left hand, I will go to the right. There was all the reason in the world, that Abram should choose first; yet he recedes from his right. Note, It is a noble conquest, to be willing to yield for peace sake; it is the conquest of ourselves, and our own pride and passion, Matth. 5. 39, 40. It is not only the punctilios of honour, but even interest itself, that, in many cases, must be sacrificed to peace.

10. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well-watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13. But the men of Sodom were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.

We have here the choice that Lot made when he parted from Abram; upon this occasion, one would have expected, 1. That he should have expressed an unwillingness to part from Abram, and that, at least, he should have done it with reluctancy. 2. That he should have been so civil as to have remitted the choice back again to Abram. But we find not any instance of deference or respect to his uncle, in the whole management. Abram having offered him the choice, without compliment he accepted it, and made his election. Passion and selfishness make men rude. Now, in the choice which Lot made, we may observe,

I. How much he had an eye to the goodness of the land. He beheld all the plain of Jordan, the flat country in which Sodom stood, that it was admirably well watered every where, (and perhaps the strife had been about water, which made him particularly fond of the convenience,) and so Lot chose him all that plain, v. 10, 11. That valley which was like the garden of Eden itself, now yielded him a most pleasant prospect; it was, in his eye, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth; and therefore he doubted not that it would yield him a comfortable settlement, and that in such a fruitful soil he should certainly thrive, and grow very rich; and this was all he looked at. But what came of it? Why, the next news we hear of him, is, that he is in the briers among them, he and his carried captive; while he lived among them, he vexed his righteous soul with their conversation, and never had a good day with them, till, at last, God fired the town over his head, and forced him to the mountain for safety, who chose the plain for wealth and pleasure. Note, Sensual choices are sinful choices, and seldom speed well. Those who in choosing relations, callings, dwellings, or settlements, are guided and governed by the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, or the pride of life, and consult not the interests of their souls and their religion, cannot expect God's presence with them, nor his blessing upon them, but are commonly disappointed even in that which they principally aimed at, and miss of that which they promised themselves satisfaction in. In all our choices, this principle should over-rule us, That this is the best for us, which is best for our souls.

II. How little he considered the badness of the inhabitants. But the men of Sodom were wicked, v. 13. Note, 1. Though all are sinners, yet some are greater sinners than others; the men of Sodom were sinners of the first magnitude, sinners before the Lord, that is, impudent daring sinners; they were so, to a proverb; hence we read of those that declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not, Isa. 3. 9.   2. That some sinners are the worse for living in a good land. So the Sodomites were; for this was the iniquity of Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness; and all these were supported by the great plenty their country afforded, Ezek. 16. 49. Thus the prosperity of fools destroys them. 3. That God often gives great plenty to great sinners. Filthy Sodomites dwell in a city, a fruitful plain, while faithful Abram and his pious family dwell in tents upon the barren mountains. 4. When wickedness is come to the height, ruin is not far off. Abounding sins are sure presages of approaching judgments. Now Lot's coming, to dwell among the Sodomites may be considered, (1.) As a great mercy to them, and a likely means of bringing them to repentance; for now they had a prophet among them, and a preacher of righteousness; if they had he hearkened to him, they might have been reformed, and the ruin prevented. Note, God sends preachers, before he sends destroyers; for he is not willing that any should perish. (2.) As a great affliction to Lot, who was not only grieved to see their wickedness, (2 Pet. 2. 7, 8.) but was molested and persecuted by them, because he would not do as they did. Note, It has often been the vexatious lot of good men, to live among wicked neighbours, to sojourn in Mesech, (Ps. 120. 5.) and it cannot but be the more grievous, if, as Lot here, they have brought it upon themselves by an unadvised choice.

14. And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, north-ward, and south-ward, and east-ward, and west-ward: 15. For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. 17. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. 18. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.

We have here an account of a gracious visit which God made to Abram, to confirm the promise to him and his. Observe,

I. When it was that God renewed and ratified the promise; after that Lot was separated from him, that is, 1. After the quarrel was over; for those are best prepared for the visits of divine grace, whose spirits are calm and sedate, and not ruffled with any passion. 2. After Abram's humble self-denying condescensions to Lot for the preserving of peace; it was then that God came to him with this token of his favour. Note, God will abundantly make up in spiritual peace, what we lose for the preserving of neighbourly peace. When Abram had willingly offered Lot one half of his right, God came, and confirmed the whole to him. 3. After he had lost the comfortable society of his kinsman, by whose departure his hands were weakened, and his heart saddened; then God came to him with these good words, and comfortable words. Note, Communion with God may, at any time, serve to make up the want of conversation with our friends; when our relations are separated from us, yet God is not. 4. After Lot had chosen that pleasant, fruitful vale, and was gone to take possession of it; lest Abram should be tempted to envy him, and to repent that he had given him the choice, God comes to him, and assures him that what he had, should remain to him and his heirs for ever; so that though Lot perhaps had the better land, yet Abram had the better title; Lot had the paradise, such as it was, but Abram had the promise; and the event soon made it appear that, however it seemed now, Abram had really the better part. See Job 22. 20. God owned Abram after his strife with Lot, as the churches did Paul after his strife with Barnabas, Acts 15. 39, 40.

II. The promises themselves which God now comforted and enriched Abram with. Two things he assures him of; a good land, and a numerous issue to enjoy it.

1. Here is the grant of a good land, a land famous above all lands, for it was to be the holy land, and Immanuel's land; this is the land here spoken of. (1.) God here shows Abram the land, as he had promised, (ch. 12. 1.) and afterward he showed it to Moses from the top of Pisgah. Lot had lifted up his eyes, and beheld the plain of Jordan, (v. 10) and he was gone to enjoy what he saw: "Come," says God to Abram, "now lift thou up thine eyes, and look, and see thine own." Note, That which God has to show us, is infinitely better and more desirable than any thing that the world has to offer to our view. The prospects of an eye of faith are much more rich and beautiful than those of an eye of sense. Those for whom the heavenly Canaan is designed in the other world, have sometimes, by faith, a comfortable prospect of it in their present state; for we look at the things that are not seen, as real, though distant. (2.) He secures this land to him and his seed for ever; (v. 15.) To thee will I give it: and again (v. 17.) I will give it unto thee; every repetition of the promise is a ratification of it. To thee and thy seed, not to Lot and his seed; they were not to have their inheritance in this land, and therefore Providence so ordered it, that he should be separated from Abram first, and then the grant should be confirmed to him and his seed; thus God often brings good out of evil, and makes men's sins and follies subservient to his own wise and holy counsels. To thee and thy seed; to thee, to sojourn as a stranger; to thy seed, to dwell and rule in as proprietors. To thee, that is, to thy seed. The granting it to him and his for ever, intimates that it was typical of the heavenly Canaan, which is given to the spiritual seed of Abram for ever, Heb. 11. 14. (3.) He gives him livery and seisin of it, though it was a reversion, v. 17, Arise, walk through the land. Enter and take possession, survey the parcels, and it will appear better than upon a distant prospect." Note, God is willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his covenant, and the inestimable worth of covenant-blessings. Go, walk about Zion, Ps. 48. 12.

2. Here is the promise of a numerous issue to replenish this good land, so that it should never be lost for want of heirs, v. 16, I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, that is, "They shall increase incredibly, and, take them altogether, they shall be such a great multitude as no man can number." They were so in Sodom's time, 1 Kings 4. 20. Judah and Israel were many as the sand which is by the sea in multitude. This God here gives him the promise of. Note, The same God that provides the inheritance, provides the heirs. He that has prepared the holy land, prepares the holy seed; he that gives glory, gives grace to make meet for glory.

Lastly, We are told what Abram did, when God had thus confirmed the promise to him, v. 12.   1. He removed his tent. God bid him walk through the land, that is, "Do not think of fixing in it, but expect to be always unsettled, and walking through it to a better Canaan:" in compliance with God's will herein, he removes his tent, conforming himself to the condition of a pilgrim. 2. He builded there an altar, in token of his thankfulness to God for the kind visit he had made him. Note, When God meets us with gracious promises, he expects that we should attend with our humble praises.


We have four things in the story of this chapter. I. A war with the king of Sodom and his allies, v. 1..11.   II. The captivity of Lot in that war, v. 12.   III. Abram's rescue of Lot from that captivity, with the victory he obtained over the conquerors, v. 13..16.   IV. Abram's return from that expedition, (v. 17.) with an account of what passed, 1. Between him and the king of Salem, v. 18..20.   2. Between him and the king of Sodom, v. 21..24. So that here we have that promise to Abram, in part, fulfilled, that God would make his name great.

1.AND it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; 2. That these made war with Berah king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. 3. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt-sea. 4. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth-Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh-Kiriathaim, 6. And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness. 7. And they returned, and came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezon-tamar. 8. And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela; (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; 9. With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. 10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slime-pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there ; and they that remained fled to the mountain. 11. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12. And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

We have here an account of the first war that ever we read of in scripture, which (though the wars of the nations make the greatest figure in history, we had not had the record of, if Abram and Lot had not been concerned in it. Now concerning this war, we may observe,

I. The parties engaged in it. The invaders were four kings; two of them no less than kings of Shinar and Elam, that is, Chaldea and Persia; yet, probably, not the sovereign princes of those great kingdoms in their own persons, but either officers under them, or rather the heads and leaders of some colonies which came out of those great nations, and settled themselves near Sodom, but retained the names of the countries from which they had their original. The invaded were the kings of five cities that lay near together in the plain of Jordan; Sodom; Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar. Four of them are named, but not the fifth, the king of Bela; either because he was much more mean and inconsiderable, or because he was much more wicked and inglorious, than the rest, and worthy to be forgotten.

II. The occasion of this war was, the revolt of the five kings from under the government of Chedorlaomer. Twelve years they served him. Small joy had they of their fruitful land, while thus they were tributaries to a foreign power, and could not call what they had their own. Rich countries are a desirable prey, and idle luxurious countries are an easy prey, to growing greatness. The Sodomites were the posterity of Canaan whom Noah had pronounced a servant to Shem, from whom Elam descended; thus soon did that prophecy begin to be fulfilled. In the 13th year, beginning to be weary of their subjection, they rebelled, denied their tribute, and attempted to shake off the yoke, and retrieve their ancient liberties. In the 14th year, after some pause and preparation, Chedorlaomer, in conjunction with his allies, set himself to chastise the rebels, to reduce the revolters; and, since he could not have it otherwise, to fetch his tribute from them upon the point of his sword. Note, Pride, covetousness, and ambition, are the lusts from which wars and fighting come. To those insatiable idols the blood of thousands has been sacrificed.

III. The progress and success of the war. The four kings laid the neighbouring country waste, and enriched themselves with the spoil of them, v. 5...7, upon the alarm of which, it had been the wisdom of the king of Sodom to submit, and desire conditions of peace; for how could he grapple with an enemy thus flushed with victory? But he would rather venture the utmost extremity than yield, and it sped accordingly; Quos Deus destruet, eos dementat — Those whom God means to destroy, he delivers up to infatuation.

1. The forces of the king of Sodom and his allies were routed; and, it should seem, many of them perished in the slime-pits, who had escaped the sword, v. 10. In all places, we are surrounded with deaths of various kinds, especially in the field of battle.

2. The cities were plundered, v. 11. All the goods of Sodom, and particularly their stores and provisions of victuals, were carried off by the conquerors. Note, When men abuse the gifts of a bountiful providence to gluttony and excess, it is just with God, and his usual way, by some judgment or other, to strip them of that which they have so abused, Hos. 2. 8, 9.

3. Lot was carried captive, v. 12. They took Lot among the rest, and his goods. Now Lot may here be considered, (1.) As sharing with his neighbours in this common calamity. Though he was himself a righteous man, and (which here is expressly noticed) Abram's brother's son, yet he was involved with the rest in this trouble. Note, [1.] All things come alike to all, Eccl. 9. 2. The best of men cannot promise themselves to be exempted from the greatest troubles in this life; neither our own piety, nor our relation to those who are the favourites of heaven, will be our security, when God's judgments are abroad. [2.] Many an honest man fares the worse for his wicked neighbours; it is therefore our wisdom to separate ourselves, or, at least, to distinguish ourselves from them, 2 Cor. 6. 17, and so deliver ourselves, Rev. 18. 4.   (2.) As smarting for the foolish choice he made of a settlement here: this is plainly intimated here, when it is said, They took Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom. So near a relation of Abram should have been a companion and disciple of Abram, and should have abode by his tents; but if he choose to dwell in Sodom, he must thank himself, if he share in Sodom's calamities. Note, When we go out of the way of our duty, we put ourselves from under God's protection, and cannot expect that the choices which are made by our lusts, should issue to our comfort. Particular mention is made of their taking Lot's goods, those goods which had occasioned his contest with Abram, and his separation from him. Note, It is just with God to deprive us of those enjoyments by which we have suffered ourselves to be deprived of our enjoyment of him.

13. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. 14. And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

We have here an account of the only military action we ever find Abram engaged in; and this he was prompted to not by his avarice or ambition, but purely by a principle of charity; it was not to enrich himself, but to help his friend. Never was any military expedition undertaken, prosecuted, and finished, more honourably than this of Abram's.

Here is,

I. The tidings brought him of his kinsman's distress. Providence so ordered it, that he now sojourned not far off, that he might be a very present help. 1. He is here called Abram the Hebrew, that is, the son and follower of Heber, in whose family the profession of the true religion was kept up in that degenerate age. Abram herein acted like a Hebrew — in a manner not unworthy the name and character of a religious professor. 2. The tidings were brought by one that had escaped with his life for a prey. Probably, he was a Sodomite, and as bad as the worst of them; yet, knowing Abram's relation to Lot, and concern for him, he implores his help, and hopes to speed for Lot's sake. Note, The worst of men, in the day of their trouble, will be glad to claim acquaintance with those that are wise and good, and so get an interest in them. The rich man in hell, called Abram Father; and the foolish virgins make court to the wise for a share of their oil.

II. The preparations he made for this expedition. The cause was plainly good, his call to engage in it was clear; and therefore, with all speed, he armed his trained servants, born in his house, to the number of three hundred and eighteen. A great family, but a small army, about as many as Gideon's that routed the Midianites, Judg. 7. 7. He drew out his trained servants, or his catechised servants, not only instructed in the art of war, which was then far short of the perfection which later and worse ages have improved it to, but instructed in the principles of religion; for Abram commanded his household to keep the way of the Lord. This shows that Abram was, 1. A great man, who had so many servants depending upon him, and employed by him; which was not only his strength and honour, but gave him a great opportunity of doing good, which is all that is truly valuable and desirable in great places and great estates. 2. A good man, who not only served God himself, but instructed all about him in the service of God. Note, Those that have great families, have not only many bodies, but many souls beside their own, to take care of and provide for. Those that would be found the followers of Abram, must see that their servants be catechised servants. 3. A wise man; for though he was a man of peace, yet he disciplined his servants for war, not knowing what occasion he might have, some time or other, so to employ them. Note, Though our holy religion teaches us to be for peace, yet it does not forbid us to provide for war.

III. His allies and confederates in this expedition. He prevailed with his neighbours, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, (with whom he kept up a fair correspondence,) to go along with him. It was his prudence thus to strengthen his own troops with their auxiliary forces; and, probably, they saw themselves concerned, in interest, to act, as they could, against this formidable power, lest their own turn should be next. Note, 1. It is our wisdom and duty to behave ourselves so respectfully and obligingly towards all men, as that, whenever there is occasion, they may be willing and ready to do us a kindness. 2. Those who depend on God's help, yet, in times of distress, ought to make use of men's help, as Providence offers it; else they tempt God.

IV. His courage and conduct were very remarkable. 1. There was a great deal of bravery in the enterprise itself, considering the disadvantages he lay under. What could one family of husbandmen and shepherds do against the armies of four princes, who now came fresh from blood and victory? It was not a vanquished, but a victorious army, that he was to pursue; nor was he constrained by necessity to this daring attempt, but moved to it by generosity; so that, all things considered, it was, for aught I know, as great an instance of true courage as ever Alexander or Caesar was celebrated for. Note, Religion tends to make men, not cowardly, but truly valiant. The righteous is bold as a lion. The true christian is the true hero. 2. There was a great deal of policy in the management of it. Abram was no stranger to the stratagems of war; he divided himself, as Gideon did his little army, Judg. 7. 16, that he might come upon the enemy from several quarters at once, and so make his few seem a great many; he made his attack by night, that he might surprise them. Note, Honest policy is a good friend both to our safety, and to our usefulness. The serpent's head (provided it be nothing akin to the old serpent) may well become a good christian's body, especially if it have a dove's eye in it, Matt. 10. 16.

V. His success was very considerable, v. 15, 16. He defeated his enemies, and rescued his friends; and we do not find that he sustained any less. Note, Those that venture in a good cause, with a good heart, are under the special protection of a good God, and have reason to hope for a good issue. Again, It is all one with the Lord to save by many or by few, 1 Sam. 14. 6. Observe,

1. He rescued his kinsman; twice here he is called his brother Lot; the remembrance of the relation that was between them, both by nature and grace, made him forget the little quarrel that had been between them, in which Lot had by no means acted well towards Abram. Justly might Abram have upbraided Lot with his folly in quarrelling with him and removing from him, and have told him that he was well enough served, he might have known when he was well off: but, in the charitable breast of pious Abram, it is all forgiven and forgotten; and he takes this opportunity to give a real proof of the sincerity of his reconciliation. Note, (1.) We ought to be ready, whenever it is in the power of our hands, to succour and relieve those that are in distress, especially our relations and friends. A brother is born for adversity, Prov. 17. 17. A friend in need is a friend indeed. (2.) Though others have been wanting in their duty to us, yet we must not therefore deny our duty to them. Some have said that they can more easily forgive their enemies than their friends: but we shall see ourselves obliged to forgive both, if we consider, not only that our God, when we were enemies, reconciled us, but also that he passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage, Mic. 7. 18.

2. He rescued the rest of the captives, for Lot's sake; though they were strangers to him, and such as he was under no obligation to at all; nay, though they were Sodomites, sinners before the Lord exceedingly, and though, probably, he might have recovered Lot alone by ransom; yet he brought back all the women and the people, and their goods, v. 16. Note, As we have opportunity, we must do good to all men. Our charity must be extensive, as opportunity offers itself. Wherever God gives life, we must not grudge the help we can give to support it. God does good to the just and unjust, and so must we, Matt. 5. 45. This victory which Abram obtained over the kings, the prophet seems to refer to, Isa. 41. 2, Who raised up the righteous man from the east, and made him rule over kings? And some suggest that as before, he had a title to this land by grant, so now, by conquest.

17. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale. 18. And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, Possessor of heaven and earth: 20. And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

This paragraph begins with the mention of the respect which the king of Sodom paid to Abram, at his return from the slaughter of the kings; but before a particular account is given of that, the story of Melchizedek is briefly related. Concerning whom, observe,

I. Who he was. He was king of Salem and priest of the most high God; and other glorious things are said of him, Heb. 7. 1, &c.   1. The rabbins, and most of our rabbinical writers, conclude that Melchizedek was Shem the son of Noah, who was king and priest to those that descended from him, according to the patriarchal model. But this is not at all probable; for why should his name be changed? And how came he to settle in Canaan? 2. Many christian writers have thought that this was an appearance of the Son of God himself, our Lord Jesus, known to Abram, at this time, by this name, as, afterward, Hagar called him by another name, ch. 16. 13. He appeared to him as a righteous king, owning a righteous cause, and giving peace. It is hard to think that any mere man should be said to be without father, without mother, and without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, Heb. 7. 3. It is witnessed of Melchizedek, that he liveth, and that he abideth a priest continually, v. 3, 8; nay, v. 13, 14, the apostle makes him of whom these things are spoken, to be our Lord who sprang out of Judah. It is likewise hard to think that any mere man should, at this time, be greater than Abram in the things of God, and that Christ should be a priest after the order of any mere man, and that any human priesthood should so far excel that of Aaron as it is certain that Melchizedek's did. 3. The most received opinion is, that Melchizedek was a Canaanite prince, that reigned in Salem, and kept up the true religion there; but if so, why he should occur here only in all the story of Abram, why Abram should have altars of his own, and not attend the altars of his neighbour Melchizedek who was greater than he, seems unaccountable. Mr. Gregory of Oxford tells us, that the Arabic Catena, which he builds much upon the authority of, gives this account of Melchizedek: That he was the son of Heraclim, the sen of Peleg, the son of Eber, and that his mother's name was Salathiel, the daughter of Gomer, the son of Japheth, the son of Noah.

II. What he did. 1. He brought forth bread and wine, for the refreshment of Abram and his soldiers, and in congratulation of their victory. This he did as a king, teaching us to do good and to communicate, and to be given to hospitality, according to our ability; and representing the spiritual provisions of strength and comfort which Christ has laid up for us in the covenant of grace for our refreshment, when we are wearied with our spiritual conflicts. 2. As priest of the most high God, he blessed Abram, which we may suppose a greater refreshment to Abram than his bread and wine were. Thus God, having raised up his son Jesus, has sent him to bless us, as one having authority; and these whom he blesses, are blessed indeed. Christ went to heaven when he was blessing his disciples, Luke 24. 51, for that is it which he ever lives to do.

III. What he said, v. 19, 20. Two things were said by him, 1. He blessed Abram from God, v. 19, Blessed be Abram, blessed of the most high God. Observe the titles he here gives to God, which are very glorious: (1.) The most high God, which bespeaks his absolute perfections in himself, and his sovereign dominion over all the creatures; he is King of kings. Note, It will greatly help both our faith and our reverence in prayer, to eye God as the most high God, and to call him so. (2.) Possessor of heaven and earth, that is, rightful Owner, and sovereign Lord, of all the creatures; because he made them. This bespeaks him a great God, and greatly to be praised, Ps. 24. 1, and them a happy people who have an interest in his favour and love. 2. He blessed God for Abram, v. 20, and blessed be the most high God. Note, (1.) In all our prayers, we must praise God, and join Hallelujahs with all our Hosannahs. These are the spiritual sacrifices we must offer up daily, and upon particular occasions. (2.) God, as the most high God, must have the glory of all our victories, Exod. 17. 15.   1 Sam. 7. 10, 12.   Judg. 5. 1, 2.   2 Chron. 20. 21. In them he shows himself higher than our enemies, Exod. 18. 11, and higher than we; for without him we could do nothing. (3.) We ought to give thanks for others' mercies as for our own; triumphing with them that triumph. (4.) Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, is the Mediator both of our prayers and praises, and not only offers up our's, but his own for us. See Luke 10. 21.

IV. What was done to him. Abram gave him tithes of all, that is, of the spoils, Heb. 7. 4. This may be looked upon, 1. As a gratuity presented to Melchizedek, by way of return for his tokens of respect. Note, They that receive kindness, should show kindness. Gratitude is one of nature's laws. 2. As an offering vowed and dedicated to the most high God, and therefore put into the hands of Melchizedek his priest. Note, (1.) When we have received some signal mercy from God, it is very fit that we should express our thankfulness by some special act of pious charity. God must always have his dues out of our substance; especially when, by any particular providence, he has either preserved or increased it to us. (2.) That the tenth of our increase is a very fit proportion to be set apart for the honour of God, and the service of his sanctuary. (3.) That Jesus Christ, our great Melchizedek, is to have homage done him, and to be humbly acknowledged by every one of us as our King and Priest; and not only the tithe of all, but all we have, must be surrendered and given up to him.

21. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23. That I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: 24. Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

We have here an account of what passed between Abram and the king of Sodom, who succeeded him that fell in the battle, v. 10, and thought himself obliged to do this honour to Abram, in return for the good services he had done him.

Here is,

I. The king of Sodom's grateful offer to Abram, v. 21, Give me the soul, and take thou the substance: so the Hebrew reads it. Here he fairly begs the persons, but as freely bestows the goods on Abram. Note, 1. Where a right is dubious and divided, it is wisdom to compound the matter by mutual concessions rather than to contend. The king of Sodom had an original right both to the persons and to the goods, and it would bear a debate whether Abram's acquired right by rescue would supersede his title, and extinguish it; but, to prevent all quarrels, the king of Sodom makes this fair proposal. 2. Gratitude teaches us to recompense to the utmost of our power those that have undergone fatigues, run hazards, and been at expense, for our service and benefit. Who goes a warfare at his own charges? 1 Cor. 9. 7. Soldiers purchase their pay dearer than any labourers, and are well worthy of it, because they expose their lives.

II. Abram's generous refusal of this offer. He not only resigned the persons to him, who, being delivered out of the hand of their enemies, ought to have served Abram, but he restored all the goods too. He would not take from a thread to a shoe-latchet, not the least thing that had ever belonged to the king of Sodom or any of his. Note, A lively faith enables a man to look upon the wealth of this world with a holy contempt, 1 John 5. 4. What are all the ornaments and delights of sense to one that has God and heaven ever in his eye? He resolves even to a thread and a shoe-latchet; for a tender conscience fears offending in a small matter.

Now, 1. Abram ratifies this resolution with a solemn oath. I have lift up mine hand to the Lord, that I will not take any thing, v. 22. Here observe, (1.) The titles he gives to God, The most high God, the Possessor of heaven and earth, the same that Melchizedek had just now used, v. 19. Note, It is good to learn of others how to order our speech concerning God, and to imitate those who speak well in divine things. This improvement we are to make of the conversation of devout good men, we must learn to speak after them. (2.) The ceremony used in this oath, I have lift up my hand. In religious swearing we appeal to God's knowledge of our truth and sincerity, and imprecate his wrath if we swear falsely; the lifting up of the hand is very significant and expressive of both. (3.) The matter of the oath, namely, that he would not take any reward from the king of Sodom, was lawful, but what he was not antecedently obliged to. [1.] Probably, Abram vowed, before he went to the battle, that if God would give him success, he would, for the glory of God, and the credit of his profession, so far deny himself and his own right, as to take nothing of the spoils to himself. Note, The vows we have made when we are in pursuit of a mercy, must be carefully and conscientiously kept when we have obtained the mercy, though they were made against our interest. A citizen of Zion, if he has sworn, whether it be to God or man, though it prove to his own hurt, yet he changeth not, Ps. 15. 4. Or, [2. ] Perhaps Abram, now when he saw cause to refuse the offer made him, at the same time confirmed his refusal with this oath, to prevent further importunity. Note, First, There may be good reason sometimes why we should debar ourselves of that which is our undoubted right, as St. Paul, 1 Cor. 8. 13.—9. 12. Secondly, That strong resolutions are of good use to put by the force of temptations.

2. He backs his refusal with a good reason. Lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich; which would reflect reproach, (1.) Upon the promise and covenant of God, as if they would not have enriched Abram without the spoils of Sodom. And, (2.) Upon the piety and charity of Abram, as if all he had in his eye, when he undertook that hazardous expedition, was to enrich himself. Note, [1.] We must be very careful that we give not occasion to others to say things which they ought not. [2. ] The people of God must, for their credit's sake, take heed of doing any thing that looks mean or mercenary, or that savours of covetousness and self-seeking. Probably, Abram knew the king of Sodom to be a proud and scornful man, and one that would, though most unreasonably, be apt to turn such a thing as this to his reproach afterward; when we have to do with such men, we have need to act with particular caution.

3. He limits his refusal with a double proviso, v. 24. In making vows, we ought carefully to insert the necessary exceptions, that we may not afterward say before the angel, It was an error, Eccl. 5. 6. Abram here excepts, (1.) The food of his soldiers; they were worthy of their meat while they trod out the corn. This would give no colour to the king of Sodom to say that he had enriched Abram. (2.) The shares of his allies and confederates. Let them take their portion. Note, Those who are strict in restraining their own liberty, yet ought not to impose those restraints upon the liberties of others, nor to judge of them accordingly; we must not make ourselves the standard to measure others by. A good man will deny himself that liberty which he will not deny another, contrary to the practice of the Pharisees, Matt. 23. 4. There was not the same reason why Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, should quit their right, that there was why Abram should. They did not make the profession that he made, nor were they, as he was, under the obligation of a vow; they had not the hopes that Abram had of a portion in the other world, and therefore, by all means, let them take their portion of this.


In this chapter, we have a solemn treaty between God and Abram, concerning a covenant that was to be established between them. In the former chapter, we had Abram in the field with kings, here in the mount with God; and though there he looked great, yet, methinks, here he looks much greater; that honour have the great men of the world, but this honour have all the saints. The covenant to be settled between God and Abram, was a covenant of promises; accordingly, here is, I. A general assurance of God's kindness and good-will to Abram, v. 1.   II. A particular declaration of the purposes of his love concerning him, in two things: 1. That he would give him a numerous issue, v. 2..6.   2. That he would give him Canaan for an inheritance, v. 7...21. Either an estate without an heir, or an heir without an estate, would but have been a half comfort to Abram. But God ensures both to him; and that which made these two, the promised seed, and the promised land, comforts indeed to this great believer, was, that they were both typical of those two invaluable blessings, Christ and heaven; and so, we have reason to think, Abram eyed them.

1.AFTER these things, the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.

Observe here,

I. The time when God had this treaty with Abram: After these things. 1. After that famous act of generous charity which Abram had done, in rescuing his friends and neighbours out of distress, and that, not for price nor reward; after that, God made him this gracious visit. Note, Those that show favour to men, shall find favour with God. 2. After that victory which he had obtained over four kings: lest Abram should be too much elevated and pleased with that, God comes to him, to tell him he had better things in store for him. Note, A believing converse with spiritual blessings is an excellent means to keep us from being too much taken up with temporal enjoyments. The gifts of common providence are not comparable to those of covenant-love.

II. The manner in which God conversed with Abram; The word of the Lord came unto Abram, that is, God manifested himself and his will to Abram in a vision; which supposes Abram awake, and some visible appearance of the Shechinah, or some sensible token of the presence of the divine glory. Note, The methods of divine revelation are adapted to our state in a world of sense.

III. The gracious assurance God gave him of his favour to him. 1. He called him by name, Abram, which was a great honour to him, and made his name great, and was also a great encouragement and assistance to his faith. Note, God's good word then does us good, when it is spoken by his Spirit to us in particular, and brought to our hearts. The word says, Ho, every one, Isa. 55. 1; the Spirit says, Ho, such a one. 2. He cautioned him against being disquieted and confounded; Fear not, Abram. Abram might fear lest the four kings he had routed, should rally again, and fall upon him to his ruin; " No," says God, "Fear not. Fear not their revenges, nor thy neighbours' envy; I will take care of thee." Note, (1.) Where there is great faith, yet there may be many fears, 2 Cor. 7. 5. (2.) God takes cognizance of his people's fears though ever so secret, and knows their souls, Ps. 31. 7. (3.) It is the will of God that his people should not give way to prevailing fears, whatever happens. Let the sinners in Zion be afraid, but fear not, Abram. 3. He assured him of safety and happiness; that he should for ever be, (1.) As safe as God himself could keep him; I am thy Shield, or, somewhat more emphatically, I am a Shield to thee, present with thee, actually caring for thee. See 1 Chron. 17. 24. Not only the God of Israel, but a God to Israel. Note, The consideration of this, that God himself is, and will be, a Shield to his people to secure them from all destructive evils, and a Shield ready to them, and a Shield round about them, should be sufficient to silence all their perplexing tormenting fears. (2.) As happy as God himself could make him; I will be thy exceeding great Reward; not only thy Rewarder, but thy Reward. Abram had generously refused the rewards which the king of Sodom offered him, and here God comes, and tells him he shall be no loser by it. Note, [1.] The rewards of believing obedience and self-denial, are exceeding great, 1 Cor. 2. 9.   [2.] God himself is the chosen and promised felicity of holy souls; chosen in this world, promised in a better. He is the portion of their inheritance, and their cup.

2. And Abram said. Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3. And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir: but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels, shall be thine heir. 5. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them. And he said unto him. So shall thy seed be. 6. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

We have here the assurance given to Abram of a numerous offspring which should descend from him. In which, observe,

I. Abram's repeated complaint, v. 2, 5. This was that which gave occasion to this promise. The great affliction that sat heavy upon Abram, was the want of a child; and the complaint of this he here pours out before the Lord, and shows before him his trouble, Ps. 142. 2. Note, Though we must never complain of God, yet we have leave to complain to him, and to be large and particular in the statement of our grievances; and it is some ease to a burthened spirit, to open its case to a faithful and compassionate friend; such a friend God is, whose ear is always open. Now his complaint is four-fold.

1. That he had no child, v. 3, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed; not only no son, but no seed; if he had had a daughter, from her the promised Messiah might have come, who was to be the seed of the woman; but he had neither son nor daughter. He seems to lay an emphasis on that, to me. His neighbours were full of children, his servants had children born in his house; "But to me," he complains, "thou hast given me none;" and yet God had told him he should be a favourite above all. Note, (1.) Those that are written childless, must see God writing them so. (2.) God often withholds those temporal comforts from his own children, which he gives plentifully to others that are strangers to him.

2. That he was never likely to have any; intimated in that, I go, or "I am going, childless, going into years, going down the hill apace; nay, I am going out of the world, going the way of all the earth. I die childless." So the LXX. "I leave the world, and leave no child behind me."

3. That his servants were, for the present, and were likely to be to him, instead of sons. While he lived, the steward of his house was Eliezer of Damascus; to him he committed the care of his family and estate, who might be faithful, but only as a servant, not as a son. When he died, one born in his house would be his heir, and would bear rule over all that for which he had laboured, Eccl. 2. 18, 19, 21. God had already told him that he would make of him a great nation, ch. 12. 2, and his seed as the dust of the earth, ch. 13. 16, but he had left him in doubt whether it should be his seed begotten, or his seed adopted, by a son of his loins, or only a son of his house. "Now, Lord," says Abram, "if it be only an adopted son, it must be one of my servants, which will reflect disgrace upon the promised Seed, that is to descend from him." Note, While promised mercies are delayed, our unbelief and impatience are apt to conclude them denied.

4 That the want of a son was so great a trouble to him, that it took away the comfort of all his enjoyments. "Lord what wilt thou give me? All is nothing to me, if I have not a son." Now (1.) If we suppose that Abram looked no further than a temporal comfort, this complaint was culpable. God had, by his providence, given him some good things, and more by his promise; and yet Abram makes no account of them, because he has not a son. It did very ill become the father of the faithful to say, What wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless? immediately after God had said, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. Note, Those do not rightly value the advantages of their covenant-relation to God and interest in him, who do not think it sufficient to balance the want of any creature-comfort whatever. But, (2.) If we suppose that Abram, herein, had an eye to the Promised Seed, the importunity of his desire was very commendable; all was nothing to him if he had not the earnest of that great blessing, and an assurance of his relation to the Messiah, which God had already encouraged him to maintain the expectation. He has wealth, and victory, and honour; but, while he is kept in the dark about the main matter, it is all nothing to him. Note, Till we have some comfortable evidence of our interest in Christ and the new covenant, we should not rest satisfied with any thing else. "This, and the other, I have; but what will this avail me, if I go Christless?" Yet thus far the complaint was culpable, that there was some diffidence of the promise at the bottom of it, and a weariness of waiting God's time. Note, True believers sometimes find it hard to reconcile God's promises and his providences, when they seem to disagree.

II. God's gracious answer to this complaint. To the first part of the complaint, (v. 2.) God gave no immediate answer, because there was something of fretfulness in it; but when he renewed his address somewhat more calmly, (v. 3.) God answered him graciously. Note, If we continue instant in prayer, and yet pray with a humble submission to the divine will, we shall not seek in vain. 1. God gave him an express promise of a son, v. 4. This that is born in thy house, shall not be thine heir, as thou fearest, but one that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. Note, (1.) God makes heirs; he says, "This shall not, and this shall;" whatever men devise and design, in settling their estates, God's counsel shall stand. (2.) God is often better to us than our own fears, and gives the mercy we had long despaired of. 2. To affect him the more with surprise, he took him out, and showed him the stars, (this vision being early in the morning before day,) and then tells him, So shall thy seed be, v. 5. (1.) So numerous; the stars seem innumerable to a common eye: Abram feared he should have no child at all, but God tells him that the descendants from his loins should be so many as not to be numbered. (2.) So illustrious, resembling the stars in splendour: for to them pertained the glory, Rom. 9. 4. Abram's seed, according to his flesh, were like the dust of the earth, (ch. 13. 16.) but his spiritual seed are like the stars of heaven, not only numerous, but glorious, and very precious.

III. Abram's firm belief of the promise God now made him, and God's favourable acceptance of his faith, v. 6.   1. He believed in the Lord, that is, he believed the truth of that promise which God had now made him, resting upon the irresistible power, and the inviolable faithfulness, of him that made it; Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Note, Those who would have the comfort of the promises, must mix faith with the promises. See how the apostle magnifies this faith of Abram, and makes it a standing example, Rom. 4. 19..21, He was not weak in faith; he staggered not at the promise; he was strong in faith; he was fully persuaded. The Lord work such a faith in every one of us! Some think that his believing in the Lord, respected, not only the Lord promising, but the Lord promised, the Lord Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant. He believed in him, that is, received and embraced the divine revelation concerning him, and rejoiced to see his day, though at so great a distance, John 8. 56.   2. God counted it to him for righteousness; that is, upon the score of this, he was accepted of God, and, as the rest of the patriarchs, by faith he obtained the witness that he was righteous, Heb. 11. 4. This is urged in the New Testament, to prove that we are justified by faith without the works of the law; (Rom. 4. 3. Gal. 3. 6.) for Abram was so justified, while he was yet uncircumcised. If Abram that was so rich in good works, was not justified by them, but by his faith, much less can we, that are so poor in them. This faith, which was imputed to Abram for righteousness, had lately struggled with unbelief, (v. 2.) and, coming off a conqueror, it was thus crowned, thus honoured. Note, A fiducial, practical, acceptance of, and dependence upon, God's promise of grace and glory, in and through Christ, is that, which according to the tenor of the new covenant, gives us a right to all the blessings contained in that promise. All believers are justified as Abram was, and it was his faith that was counted to him for righteousness.

7. And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. 8. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? 9. And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon. 10. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. 11. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.

We have here the assurance given to Abram, of the land of Canaan for an inheritance.

I. God declares his purpose concerning it, v. 7. Observe here, Abram made no complaint in this matter, as he had done for the want of a child. Note, Those that are sure of an interest in the Promised Seed, will see no reason to doubt of a title to the promised land. If Christ is our's, heaven is our's. Observe, again, When he believed the former promise, (v. 6. ) then God explained and ratified this to him. Note, To him that has (improves what he has) more shall be given. Three things God here reminds Abram of for his encouragement concerning the promise of this good land.

1. What God is in himself: I am the Lord Jehovah; and therefore, (1.) "I may give it thee, for I am sovereign Lord of all, and have a right to dispose of the whole earth." (2.) "I can give it thee, whatever opposition may be made, though by the sons of Anak." God never promises more than he is able to perform, as men often do. (3.) "I will make good my promise to thee;" Jehovah is not a man that he should lie.

2. What he had done for Abram: he had brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees, out of the fire of the Chaldees, so some, that is, (1.) From their idolatries: for the Chaldeans worshipped the fire: or, (2.) From their persecutions. The Jewish writers have a tradition that Abram was cast into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship idols, and was miraculously delivered. It is rather a place of that name. Thence God brought him by an effectual call; brought him with a gracious violence; snatched him as a brand out of the burning. This was, [1.] A special mercy; "I brought thee, and left others, thousands, to perish there;" God called him alone, Isa. 51. 2   [2.] A spiritual mercy; a mercy to his soul, a deliverance from sin, and its fatal consequences. If God save our souls, we shall want nothing that is good for us. [3.] A fresh mercy; lately bestowed, and therefore should the mercy be affecting; as that in the preface to the commandments, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Egypt lately. [4.] A foundation mercy; the beginning of mercy, peculiar mercy to Abram, and therefore a pledge of further mercy, Isa. 66. 9. Observe how God speaks of it as that which he gloried in, I am the Lord that brought thee out. He glories in it as an act both of power and grace; compare Isa. 29. 22, where he glories in it, long afterward. Thus saith the Lord who redeemed Abram, redeemed him from sin.

3. What he intended to do yet further for him; "I brought thee hither, on purpose to give thee this land to inherit it, not only to possess it, but to possess it as an inheritance, which is the sweetest and surest title." Note, (1.) The providence of God has secret but gracious designs in all its various dispensations toward good people; we cannot conceive the projects of providence, till the event shows them in all their mercy and glory. (2.) The great thing God designs in all his dealings with his people, is, to bring them safe to heaven. They are chosen to salvation, (2 Thess. 2. 13.) called to the kingdom, (1 Thess. 2. 12.) begotten to the inheritance, (1 Pet. 1. 3, 4.) and by all made meet for it, Col. 1. 12, 13.   2 Cor. 4. 17.

II. Abram desires a sign, v. 8, Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? This did not proceed from distrust of God's power, or promise, as that of Zecharias; but he desired this, 1. For the strengthening and confirming of his own faith; he believed, (v. 6.) but here he prays, Lord, help me against my unbelief. Now he believed, but he desired a sign to be treasured up against an hour of temptation, not knowing how his faith might, by some event or other, be shocked and tried. Note, We all need, and should desire, helps from heaven for the confirming of our faith, and should improve sacraments, which are instituted signs for that purpose. See Judg. 6. 36..40.   2 Kings 20. 8..10. Isa. 7. 11, 12.   2. For the ratifying of the promise of his posterity, that they also might be brought to believe it. Note, Those that are satisfied themselves, should desire that others also might be satisfied, of the truth of God's promises. John sent his disciples to Christ, not so much for his own satisfaction as for their's, Matt 11. 2. 3. Canaan was a type of heaven. Note, It is a very desirable thing to know that we shall inherit the heavenly Canaan, that is, to be confirmed in our belief of the truth of that happiness, and to have the evidences of our title to it more and more cleared up to us.

III. God directs Abram to make preparations for a sacrifice, intending by that to give him a sign, and Abram makes preparation accordingly, v. 9..11, Take me an heifer, &c. Perhaps Abram expected some extraordinary sign from heaven; but God gives him a sign upon a sacrifice. Note, Those that would receive the assurances of God's favour, and would have their faith confirmed, must attend instituted ordinances, and expect to meet with God in them. Observe, 1. God appointed that each of the beasts used for this service should be three years old, because then they were at their full growth and strength. God must be served with the best we have, for he is the best. 2. We do not read that God gave Abram particular directions how to manage these beasts and fowls, knowing that he was so well versed in the law and custom of sacrifices, that he needed not any particular directions; or, perhaps, instructions were given him, which he carefully observed, though they are not recorded: at least, it was intimated to him, that they must be prepared for the solemnity of ratifying a covenant; and he well knew the manner of preparing them. 3. Abram took as God appointed him, though as yet he knew not how these things should become a sign to him. This was not the first instance of Abram 's implicit obedience. He divided the beasts in the midst, according to the ceremony used in confirming covenants, (Jer. 34. 18, 19.) where it is said, They cut the calf in twain and passed between the parts. 4. Abram having prepared according to God's appointment, now set himself to wait for the sign God might give him by these, like the prophet upon his watch-tower, Hab. 2. 1. While God's appearing to own his sacrifice, was deferred, Abram continued waiting, and his expectations were raised by those delays; when the fowls came down upon the carcases to prey upon them, as common and neglected things, Abram drove them away, (v. 11.) believing that the vision would, at the end, speak, and not lie. Note, A very watchful eye must be kept upon our spiritual sacrifices, that nothing be suffered to prey upon them, and render them unfit for God's acceptance. When vain thoughts, like these fowls, come down upon our sacrifices, we must drive them away, and not suffer them to lodge within us, but attend on God without distraction.

12. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. 13. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14. And also that nation whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

We have here a full and particular discovery made to Abram of God's purposes concerning his seed. Observe,

I. The time when God came to him with this discovery; when the sun was going down, or declining, about the time of the evening oblation, 1 Kings 18. 36. Dan. 9. 21. Early in the morning, before day, while the stars were yet to be seen, God had given him orders concerning the sacrifices, (v. 5.) and we may suppose it was, at least his morning's work to prepare them and set them in order; when he had done this, he abode by them, praying and waiting till towards evening. Note, God often keeps his people long in expectation of the comforts he designs them, for the confirmation of their faith: but though the answers of prayer, and the performance of promises, come slowly, yet they come surely; at evening time it shall be light.

II. The preparatives for this discovery; 1. A deep sleep fell upon Abram, not a common sleep through weariness or carelessness, but a divine ecstasy, like that which the Lord God caused to fall upon Adam, (ch. 2. 21.) that being hereby wholly taken off from the view of things sensible, he might be wholly taken up with the contemplation of things spiritual. The doors of the body were locked up, that the soul might be private and retired, and might act the more freely, and like itself. 2. With this sleep, a horror of great darkness fell upon him; a sudden change! But just before, we had him solacing himself in the comforts of God's covenant, and in communion with him: and here a horror of great darkness falls upon him. Note, The children of light do not always walk in the light, but sometimes clouds and darkness are round about them. This great darkness, which brought horror with it, was designed, (1.) To strike an awe upon the spirit of Abram, and to possess him with a holy reverence, that the familiarity which God was pleased to admit him to, might not breed contempt. Note, Holy fear prepares the soul for holy joy; the spirit of bondage makes way for the spirit of adoption. God wounds first, and then heals; humbles first, and then lifts up, Isa. 6. 5, 6. (2.) To be a specimen of the methods of God's dealings with his seed; they must first be in the horror and darkness of Egyptian slavery, and then enter with joy into the good land; and therefore he must have the foretaste of their sufferings, before he had the foresight of their happiness. (3.) To be an indication of the nature of that covenant of peculiarity which God was now about to make with Abram. The Old Testament dispensation, which was founded on that covenant, was a dispensation, [1.] Of darkness and obscurity, 2 Cor. 3. 13. [2.] Of dread and horror, Heb. 12. 18, &c.

III. The prediction itself; several things are here foretold.

1. The suffering state of Abram's seed for a long time, v. 13. Let not Abram flatter himself with the hopes of nothing but honour and prosperity in his family: no, he must knew of a surety, that which he was loath to believe, that the promised seed should be a persecuted seed. Note, (1.) God sends the worst first; we must first suffer and then reign. (2.) He lets us know the worst before it comes, that when it comes, it may not be a surprise to us, John 16. 4. Now we have here, [1.] The particulars of their sufferings. First, They shall be strangers; so they were, first in Canaan, Ps. 105. 12, and afterward in Egypt: before they were lords of their own land, they were strangers in a strange land. The inconveniencies of an unsettled state, make a happy settlement the more welcome. Thus the heirs of heaven are, first, strangers on earth, a land that is not their's. Secondly, They shall be servants; so they were to the Egyptians, Exod. 1. 13. See how that which was the doom of the Canaanites, ch. 9. 25, proves the distress of Abram's seed; they are made to serve, but with this difference, the Canaanites serve under a curse, the Hebrews under a blessing, and the upright shall have dominion in the morning, Ps. 49. 14. Thirdly, They shall be sufferers. Those whom they serve, shall afflict them; see Exod. 1. 11. Note, Those that are blessed and beloved of God, are often sorely afflicted by wicked men; and God foresees it, and takes cognizance of it. [2.] The continuance of their sufferings; four hundred years. This persecution began with mocking, when Ishmael, the son of an Egyptian, persecuted Isaac, who was born after the spirit, ch. 21. 9. Gal. 4. 29. It continued in loathing; for it was an abomination to the Egyptians to eat bread with the Hebrews, ch. 43. 32, and it came, at last, to murder, the basest of murders, that of their new-born children; so that more or less, it continued 400 years, though in extremity, not so many. This was a long time, but a limited time.

2. The judgment of the enemies of Abram's seed, v. 14, That nation whom they shall serve, even the Egyptians, will I judge. This points at the plagues of Egypt, by which God not only constrained the Egyptians to release Israel, but punished them for all the hardships they had put upon them. Note, (1.) Though God may suffer persecutors and oppressors to trample upon his people a great while, yet he will certainly reckon with them at last; for his day is coming, Ps. 37. 12, 13. (2.) The punishment of persecutors is the judgment of them; it is a righteous thing with God, and a particular act of justice, to recompense tribulations to those that trouble his people. The judging of the church's enemies, is God's work. I will judge: God can do it, for he is the Lord; he will do it, for he is his people's God, and he has said, Vengeance is mine, I will repay. To him therefore we must leave it, to be done in his way and time.

3. The deliverance of Abram's seed out of Egypt; that great event is here foretold. Afterward, shall they come out with great substance. It is here promised, (1.) That they shall be enlarged; afterward, they shall come out, that is, either, after they have been afflicted 400 years, when the days of their servitude are fulfilled, then they may expect deliverance; or, after the Egyptians are judged and plagued. Note, The destruction of oppressors is the redemption of the oppressed; they will not let God's people go, till they are forced to it. (2.) That they should be enriched; they shall come out with great substance this was fulfilled, Exod. 12. 15, 36. God took care they should have, not only a good land to go to, but a good stock to bring with them.

4. Their happy settlement in Canaan, v. 16. They shall not only come out of Egypt, but they shall come hither again, hither to the land of Canaan, wherein thou now art. The discontinuance of their possession shall be no defeasance of their right; we must not reckon those comforts lost for ever, that are intermitted for a time. The reason why they must not have the land of promise in possession till the fourth generation, is, because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. Israel cannot be possessed of Canaan, till the Amorites be dispossessed; and they are not yet ripe for ruin. The righteous God has determined that they shall not be cut off, till they have persisted in sin so long, and arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that there may appear some equitable proportion between their sin and their ruin; and therefore till it come to that, the seed of Abram must be kept out of possession. Note, (1.) The measure of sin fills gradually: those that continue impenitent in wicked ways, are treasuring up unto themselves wrath. (2.) Some people's measure of sin fills slowly. The Sodomites, who were sinners before the Lord exceedingly, soon filled their measure; so did the Jews, who were in profession near to God; but the iniquity of the Amorites was long in the filling up. (3.) That this is the reason of the prosperity of wicked people; the measure of their sins is not yet full. The wicked live, become old, and are mighty in power, while God is laying up their iniquity for their children, Job 21. 7, 19. See Matt. 23. 32. Deut. 32. 34.

5. Abram's peaceful quiet death and burial, before these things should come to pass, v. 15. As he should not live to see that good land in the possession of his family, but must die as he lived, a stranger in it; so, to balance that, he should not live to see the troubles that should come upon his seed, much less to share in them. This is promised to Josiah, 2 Kings 22. 23. Note, Good men are sometimes greatly favoured by being taken away from the evil to come, Isa. 57. 1. Let this satisfy Abram, that, for his part, (1.) He shall go to his fathers in peace. Note, [1.] Even the friends and favourites of Heaven are not exempt from the stroke of death; Are we greater than our father Abram which is dead? John 8. 53. [2.] Good men die willingly; they are not fetched, they are not forced, but they go; their soul is not required, as his, Luke 12. 20, but cheerfully resigned: they would not live always. [3.] At death we go to our fathers, to all our fathers that are gone before us to the state of the dead, Job 21. 32, 33, to our godly fathers that are gone before us to the state of the blessed, Heb. 12. 23. The former thought helps to take off the terror of death, the latter puts comfort into it. [4.] Whenever a godly man dies, he dies in peace. If the way be piety, the end is peace, Ps. 37. 37. Outward peace, to the last, is promised to Abram; peace and truth in his days, whatever should come after, 2 Kings 20. 19. Peace with God, and everlasting peace, are sure to all the seed. (2.) He shall be buried in a good old age. Perhaps mention is made of his burial here, where the land of Canaan is promised him, because a burying place was the first possession he had in it. He shall not only die in peace, but die in honour, die, and be buried decently; not only die in peace, but die in season, Job 5. 25, 26. Note, [1.] Old age is a blessing; it is promised in the fifth commandment; it is pleasing to nature; and a great opportunity to usefulness; [2.] Especially if it be a good old age: their's may be called a good old age, First, That are old and healthful, not loaded with such distempers as make them weary of life; Secondly, That are old and holy, old disciples, Acts 21. 16, whose hoary head is found in the way of righteousness, Prov. 16. 31. old and useful, old and exemplary for godliness; their's is indeed a good old age.

17. And it came to pass that when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 18. In the same day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19. The Kenites, and the Kennizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20. And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21. And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Here is,

I. The covenant ratified, v. 17; the sign which Abram desired, was given at length, when the sun was gone down, so that it was dark; for that was a dark dispensation.

1. The smoking furnace signified the affliction of his seed in Egypt; they were there in the iron furnace, Deut. 4. 20, the furnace of affliction, Isa. 48. 10, labouring in the very fire. They were there in the smoke, their eyes darkened, that they could not see to the end of their troubles, and they at a loss to conceive what God would do with them; clouds and darkness were round about them.

2. The burning lamp denotes comfort in this affliction: and this God showed Abram, at the same time that he showed him the smoking furnace. (1.) Light denotes deliverance out of the furnace; their salvation was as a lamp that burneth, Isa. 62. 1. When God came down to deliver them, he appeared in a bush that burned, and was not consumed, Exod. 3. 2.   (2.) The lamp denotes direction in the smoke; God's word was their lamp; this word to Abram was so, it was a light shining in a dark place; perhaps this burning lamp prefigured the pillar of cloud and fire, which led them out of Egypt, in which God was. (3.) The burning lamp denotes the destruction of their enemies who kept them so long in the furnace: see Zech. 12.6. The same cloud that enlightened the Israelites, troubled and burned the Egyptians.

3. The passing of these between the pieces, was the confirming of the covenant God now made with him, that he might have strong consolation, being fully persuaded that what God promised, he would certainly perform. It is probable that this furnace and lamp, which passed between the pieces, burned, and consumed them, and so completed the sacrifice, and testified God's acceptance of it, as of Gideon's, Judg. 6. 21. Manoah's, Judg. 13. 19, 20. and Solomon's, 2 Chron. 7. 1. so it intimates, (1.) That God's covenants with man are made by sacrifice, Ps. 50. 5; by Christ, the great Sacrifice: no agreement without atonement. (2.) God's acceptance of our spiritual sacrifices, is a token for good, and an earnest of further favours: see Judg. 13. 23. And by this we may know that he accepts our sacrifices, if he kindle in our souls a holy fire of pious and devout affections in them.

II. The covenant repealed and explained, v. 18, In that same day, that day never to be forgotten, the Lord made a covenant with Abram, that is, gave a promise to Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given the land. Here is, 1. A rehearsal of the grant: he had said before, To thy seed will I give this land, ch. 12. 7.— 13. 15. But here he says, I have given it; that is, (1.) I have given the promise of it, the charter is sealed and delivered, and cannot be disannulled. Note, God's promises are God's gifts, and are so to be accounted of. (2.) The possession is as sure, in due time, as if it were now actually delivered to them: what God has promised, is as sure as if it were already done; hence it is said, He that believes hath everlasting life, John 3. 36, for he shall as surely go to heaven as if he were there already. 2. A recital of the particulars granted, such as is usual in the grants of land. He specifies the boundaries of the land intended hereby to be granted, v. 18. And then, for the greater certainty, as is usual in such cases, he mentions in whose tenure and occupation these lands now were. Then several nations or tribes, are here spoken of, v. 19..21. that must be cast out, to make room for the seed of Abram. They were not possessed of all these countries, when God brought them into Canaan. The bounds are fixed much narrower, Num. 34. 2, 3, &c. But, (1.) In David's time and Solomon's, their jurisdiction extended to the utmost of these limits, 2 Chron. 9. 26.   (2.) It was their own fault that they were not sooner and longer in possession of all these territories. They forfeited their right by their sins, and by their own sloth and cowardice kept themselves out of possession. 3. The land granted, is here described in its utmost extent, because it was to be a type of the heavenly inheritance, where there is room enough: in our Father's house are many mansions. The present occupants are named, because their number and strength, and long prescription, should be no hindrance to the accomplishment of this promise in its season, and to magnify God's love to Abram and his seed, in giving to that one nation the possession of many nations: so precious were they in his sight, and so honourable, Isa. 43. 4.


Hagar is the person mostly concerned in the story of this chapter, an obscure Egyptian woman, whose name and story we had never heard of, if Providence had not brought her into the family of Abram. Probably, she was one of those maid-servants, which the kind of Egypt, among other gifts, bestowed upon Abram, ch. 12, 16. Concerning her, we have four things in this chapter; I. Her marriage to Abram her master, v. 1..3.   II. Her misbehaviour toward Sarai, her mistress, v. 4, 6.   III. Her discourse with an angel that met her in her flight, v. 7..14.   IV. Her deliverance of a son, v. 15, 16.

1.NOW Sarai, Abram's wife, bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3. And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

We have here the marriage of Abram to Hagar, who was his secondary wife; herein, though some excuse may be made for him, he cannot be justified; for from the beginning it was not so; and when it was so, it seems to have proceeded from an irregular desire to build up their families for the speedier peopling of the world and the church: it must not be so now. Christ has reduced this matter to the first institution, and makes the marriage union to be between one man and one woman only.


I. The maker of this match (would one think it?) was Sarai herself: she said to Abram, I pray thee go in unto my maid, v. 2. Note, 1. It is the policy of Satan to tempt us by our nearest and dearest relations, or those friends that we have an opinion of and an affection for. The temptation is most dangerous, when it is sent by a hand that is least expected: it is our wisdom therefore to consider, not so much who speaks, as what is spoken. 2. God's commands consult our comfort and honour, much better than our own contrivances do. It had been much more for Sarai's interest, that Abram should have kept to the rule of God's law, than that he should have been guided by her foolish projects; but we often do ill for ourselves.

II. The inducement to it was Sarai's barrenness.

1. Sarai bare Abram no children; she was very fair, ch. 12. 14; she was an agreeble dutiful wife, and a sharer with him in his large possessions; and yet written childless. Note, (1.) God dispenses his gifts variously, loading us with benefits, but not overloading us: some cross or other is appointed to be an allay to great enjoyments. (2.) The mercy of children is often given to the poor, and denied to the rich; given to the wicked, and denied to good people; though the rich have most to leave them, and good people would take most care of their education: God does herein as it has pleased him.

2. She owned God's providence in this affliction; the Lord hath restrained me from bearing. Note, (1.) As where children are, it is God that gives them, ch. 33. 5, so where they are wanted, it is he that withholds them, ch. 30. 2. This evil is of the Lord. (2.) It becomes us to acknowledge this, that we may bear it, and improve it, as an affliction of his ordering for wise and holy ends.

3. She used this as an argument with Abram to marry his maid; and he was prevailed with by this argument to do it. Note, (1.) When our hearts are too much set upon any creature-comfort, we are easily put upon the use of indirect methods for the obtaining of it: inordinate desires commonly produce irregular endeavours: if our wishes be not kept in a submission to God's providence, our pursuits will scarcely be kept under the restraints of his precepts. (2.) It is for want of a firm dependence upon God's promise, and a patient waiting for God's time, that we go out of the way of our duty to catch at expected mercy; He that believes, does not make haste.

4. Abram's compliance with Sarai's proposal, we have reason to think, was from an earnest desire of the Promised Seed, on whom the covenant should be entailed. God had told him that his heir should be a son of his body, but had not yet told him that it should be a son by Sarai; therefore he thought, "Why not by Hagar: since Sarai herself proposed it?" Note, (1.) Foul temptations may have very fair pretences, and be coloured with that which is very plausible. (2.) Fleshly wisdom, as it anticipates God's time of mercy, so it puts us out of God's way. (3.) This would be happily prevented, if we would ask counsel of God by the word and by prayer, before we attempt that which is important and suspicious: herein Abram was wanting; he married without God's consent. This persuasion came not of him that called him.

4. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. 5. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee. 6. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

We have here the immediate bad consequences of Abram's unhappy marriage to Hagar; a deal of mischief it made quickly: when we do not well, both sin and trouble lie at the door; and we may thank ourselves for the guilt and grief that follow us, when we go out of the way of our duty. See it in this story.

I. Sarai is despised, and thereby provoked and put into a passion, v. 4. Hagar no sooner perceives herself with child by her master, than she looks scornfully upon her mistress, upbraids her perhaps with her barrenness, insults over her, to make her to fret, as 1 Sam. 1. 6, and boasts of the prospect she had of bringing an heir to Abram, to that good land and to the promise; now she thinks herself a better woman than Sarai, more favoured by Heaven, and likely to be better beloved by Abram; and therefore she will not take it as she has done. Note, 1. Mean and servile spirits, when favoured and advanced either by God or man, are apt to grow haughty and insolent, and to forget their place and original. See Prov. 29. 21.—30. 21..23. It is a hard thing to bear honour aright. 2. We justly suffer by those whom we have sinfully indulged, and it is a righteous thing with God, to make those instruments of our trouble, whom we have made instruments of our sin, and to insnare us in our own evil counsels; this stone will return upon him that rolleth it.

II. Abram is clamoured upon, and cannot be easy while Sarai is out of humour; she accosts him violently, and very unjustly charges him with the injury, (v. 5.) My wrong be upon thee; with a most unreasonable jealousy, suspecting that he countenanced Hagar's insolence; and, as one not willing to hear what Abram had to say for the rectifying of the mistake, and the clearing of himself, she rashly appeals to God in the case, The Lord judge between me and thee; as if Abram had refused to right her. Thus does Sarai, in her passion, speak as one of the foolish women speaketh. Note, 1. It is an absurdity which passionate people are often guilty of, to quarrel with others for that which they themselves must bear the blame of: Sarai could not but own that she had given her maid to Abram, and yet she cries out, My wrong be upon thee, when she should have said, What a fool was I to do so! That is never said wisely, which pride and anger have the inditing of; when passion is upon the throne, reason is out of doors, and is neither heard nor spoken. 2. Those are not always in the right, who are most loud and forward in appealing to God; rash and bold imprecations are commonly evidences of guilt and a bad cause.

III. Hagar is afflicted and driven from the house, v. 6. Observe,

1. Abram's meekness resigns the matter of the maid-servant to Sarai, whose proper province it was to rule that part of the family; Thy maid is in thy hand: though she was his wife, he would not countenance or protect her in any thing that was disrespectful to Sarai, for whom he still retained the same affection that ever he had. Note, Those who would keep up peace and love, must return soft answers to hard accusations; husbands and wives particularly should agree, and endeavour not to be both angry together: yielding pacifies great offences; see Prov. 15. 1.

2. Sarai's passion will be revenged upon Hagar; she dealt hardly with her, not only confining her to her usual place and work, as a servant, but probably, making her to serve with rigour. Note, God takes notice of, and is displeased with the hardships which harsh masters unreasonably put upon their servants: they ought to forbear threatening, with Job's thought, Did not he that made me, make him? Job 31. 15.

3. Hagar's pride cannot bear it, her high spirit is become impatient of rebuke; she fled from her face; she not only avoided her wrath for the present, as David did Saul's, but she totally deserted her service, and ran away from the house, forgetting, (1.) What wrong she hereby did to her mistress, whose servant she was, and to her master, whose wife she was. Note, Pride will hardly be restrained by any bonds of duty, no not by many. (2.) That she herself had first given the provocation, by despising her mistress. Note, Those that suffer for their faults, ought to bear it patiently, 1 Pet. 2. 20.

7. And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? And whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

Here is the first mention we have in scripture of an angel's appearance. Hagar was a type of the law, which was given by the disposition of angels; but the world to come is not put in subjection to them, Heb. 2. 5. Observe,

I. How the angel arrested her in her flight, v. 7. It should seem, she was making toward her own country; for she was in the way to Shur, which lay toward Egypt. It were well if our afflictions would make us think of our home, the better country. But Hagar was now out of her place, and out of the way of her duty, and going further astray, when the angel found her. Note, 1. It is a great mercy to be stopped in a sinful way, either by conscience or by providence. 2. God suffers those that are out of the way, to wander a while, that when they see their folly, and what a loss they have brought themselves to, they may be the better disposed to return. Hagar was not stopped till she was in the wilderness, and had sat down weary enough, and glad of clear water to refresh herself with: God brings us into a wilderness, and there meets us, Hos. 2. 14.

II. How he examined her, v. 8. He called her Hagar, Sarai's maid, 1. As a check to her pride: though she was Abram's wife, and, as such, was obliged to return, yet he calls her Sarai's maid, to humble her. Note, Though civility teaches us to call others by their highest titles, yet humility and wisdom teach us to call ourselves by the lowest. 2. As a rebuke to her flight: Sarai's maid ought to be in Sarai's tent, and not wandering in the wilderness, and sauntering by a fountain of water. Note, It is good for us often to call to mind what our place and relation are. See Eccl. 10. 4.

Now, (1.) The questions the angel put to her, were proper and very pertinent. [1.] "Whence camest thou? Consider that thou art running away, both from the duty thou wast bound to, and the privileges thou wast blessed with, in Abram's tent." Note, it is a great advantage to live in a religious family, which those ought to consider, who have that advantage, yet upon every slight inducement, are forward to quit it. [2.] "Whither wilt thou go? Thou art running thyself into sin, in Egypt." (if she return to that people, she will return to their gods,) "and into danger, in the wilderness" through which she must travel, Deut. 8. 15. Note, Those who are forsaking God and their duty, would do well to remember not only whence they are fallen, but whither they are falling. See Jer 2.18. What hast thou to do (with Hagar) in the way of Egypt? John 6. 68.

(2.) Her answer was honest, and a fair confession; I flee from the face of my mistress. In which [1.] She acknowledges her fault in fleeing from her mistress, and yet, [2.] excuses it, that it was from the face, or displeasure of her mistress. Note, Children and servants must be treated with mildness and gentleness, lest we provoke them to take any irregular courses, and so become accessary to their sin, which will condemn us, though it will not justify them.

(3.) How he sent her back, with suitable and compassionate counsel, v. 9, "Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hand. Go home, and humble thyself for what thou hast done amiss, and beg pardon, and resolve for the future, to behave thyself better." He makes no question but she would be welcome, though it does not appear that Abram sent after her. Note, Those, that are gone away from their place and duty, when they are convinced of their error, must hasten their return and reformation, how mortifying soever it may be.

10. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. 12. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. 13. And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? 14. Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

We may suppose that the angel having given Hagar that good counsel, (v. 9.) to return to her mistress, she immediately promised to do so, and was setting her face homeward; and then the angel went on to encourage her with an assurance of the mercy God had in store for her and her seed: for God will meet those with mercy, that are returning to their duty: I said, I will confess, and thou forgavest, Ps. 32. 5.

Here is,

I. A prediction concerning her posterity, given her for her comfort in her present distress. Notice is taken of her condition; Behold, thou art with child; and therefore this is not a fit place for thee to be in. Note, It is a great comfort to women with child to think that they are under the particular cognizance and care of the Divine Providence, God graciously considers that case, and suits supports to it.

Now, 1. The angel assures her of a safe delivery, and that of a son, which Abram desired. This fright and ramble of her's might have destroyed her hope of an offspring; but God dealt not with her according to her folly; Thou shalt bear a son: she was saved in child-bearing, not only by providence, but by promise.

2. He names her child, which was an honour both to her and it; call him Ishmael, God will hear; and the reason is, because the Lord has heard; he has, and therefore he will. Note, The experience we have had of God's seasonable kindness to us in distress, should encourage us to hope for the like help in the like exigencies, Ps. 10. 17. He has heard thy affliction. Note, (1.) Even there where there is little cry of devotion, the God of pity sometimes graciously hears the cry of affliction: tears speak as well as prayers. This speaks comfort to the afflicted, that God not only sees what their afflictions are, but hears what they say. (2.) That seasonable succours, in the day of affliction, ought always to be remembered with thankfulness to God. Such a time, in such a strait, the Lord heard the voice of my affliction, and helped me. See Deut. 26. 7. Ps. 31. 22.

3. He promises her a numerous offspring, v. 10, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, Hebr. Multiplying, I will multiply it, that is, multiply it in every age, so as to perpetuate it. It is supposed that the Turks at this day descend from Ishmael; and they are a great people. This was in pursuance of the promise made to Abram, ch. 13, 16, I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth. Note, Many that are children of godly parents, have, for their sakes, a very large share of outward common blessings, though, like Ishmael, they are not taken into covenant; many are multiplied that are not sanctified.

4. He gives a character of the child she should bear, which, however it may seem to us, perhaps was not very disagreeable to her, v. 12, He will be a wild man; a wild ass of a man, so the word is; rude and bold, and fearing no man; untamed, untractable, living at large, and impatient of service and restraint. Note, The children of the bondwoman, who are out of covenant with God, are, as they were born, like the wild ass's colt; it is grace that reclaims men, civilizes them, and makes them wise, and good for something. It is foretold, (1.) That he should live in strife, and in a state of war; his hand against every man, that is his sin; and every man's hand against him, that is his punishment. Note, Those that have turbulent spirits, have commonly troublesome lives; they that are provoking, vexatious, and injurious to others, must expect to be repaid in their own coin. He that has his hand and tongue against every man, shall have every man's tongue and hand against him; and he has no reason to complain of it. And yet, (2.) That he should live in safety, and hold his own against all the world; he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren; though threatened and insulted by all his neighbours, yet he shall keep his ground, and, for Abram's sake, more than his own, shall be able to make his part good with them: accordingly we read, ch. 25. 18, that he died, as he lived, in the presence of all his brethren. Note, Many that are much exposed by their own imprudence, yet are strangely preserved by the Divine Providence; so much better is God to them than they deserve, who not only forfeit their lives by sin, but hazard them.

II. Hagar's pious reflection upon this gracious appearance of God to her, v. 13, 14. Observe in what she said,

1. Her awful adoration of God's omniscience and providence, with application of it to herself; she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, that is, thus she made confession of his name, this she said to his praise, Thou God seest me: this should be with her, his name for ever, and this his memorial, by which she will know him and remember him while she lives, Thou God seest me. Note, (1.) The God with whom we have to do, is a seeing God, an all-seeing God. God is, (as the ancients expressed it) all eye. (2. ) We ought to acknowledge this with application to ourselves. He that sees all, sees me, as David, Ps. 139. 1, O God, thou hast searched me and known me. (3.) A believing regard to God, as a God that sees us, will be of great use to us in our returns to him. It is a proper word for a penitent: [1.] "Thou seest my sin and folly:" I have sinned before thee, says the prodigal; in thy sight, says David. [2.] "Thou seest my sorrow and affliction;" that Hagar especially refers to: when we have brought ourselves into distress by our own folly, yet God has not forsaken us. [3.] "Thou seest the sincerity and seriousness of my return and repentance. Thou seest my secret mournings for sin, and secret motions toward thee." [4.] "Thou seest me, if in any instance I depart from thee," Ps. 44. 20, 21. This thought should always restrain us from sin, and excite us to duty; Thou God seest me.

2. Her humble admiration of God's favour to her: "Have I here also looked after him that seeth me? Have I here seen the back parts of him that seeth me?" So it might be read, for the word is much the same with that, Exod. 33. 23. She saw not face to face, but as through a glass darkly, 1 Cor. 13. 12. Probably, she knew not who it was that talked with her, till he was departing, as Judges 6. 21, 22.—13.21; and then she looked after him, with a reflection like that of the two disciples, Luke 24. 31, 32. Or, Have I seen him that sees me? Note, (1.) The communion which holy souls have with God, consists in their having an eye of faith toward him, as a God that has an eye of favour toward them. The intercourse is kept up by the eye. (2.) The privilege of our communion with God, is to be looked upon with wonder and admiration, considering what we are, who are admitted to this favour. "Have I? I that am so mean, I that am so vile?" 2 Sam. 7. 18. This privilege is thus to be looked upon, considering the place where we are thus favoured; "here also? Not only in Abram's tent, and at his altar, but here also, in this wilderness? Here, where I never expected it, where I was out of the way of my duty? Lord, how is it?" John 14. 22. Some make the answer to this question to be negative, and so look upon it as a penitent reflection: "Have I here also, in my distress and affliction, looked after God? No, I was as careless and unmindful of him as ever I used to be; and yet he has thus visited and regarded me:" for God often prevents us with his favours, and is found of those that seek him not, Isa. 65. 1.

III. The name which this gave to the place, v. 14, Beer-lahai-roi, The well of him that lives and sees me. It is probable that Hagar put this name upon it; and it was retained long after, in perpetuam rei memoriam—a lasting memorial of this event. This was the place, where the God of glory manifested the special cognizance and care he took of a poor woman in distress. Note, 1. He that is all-seeing, is ever-living; he lives and sees us. 2. Those that are graciously admitted into communion with God, and receive seasonable comforts from him, should tell others what he has done for their souls, that they also may be encouraged to seek him, and trust in him. 3. God's gracious manifestations of himself to us are to be had in everlasting remembrance by us, and should never be forgotten.

15. And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. 16. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

It is here taken for granted, though not expressly recorded, that Hagar did as the angel commanded her, returned to her mistress, and submitted herself; and then, in the fulness of time, she brought forth her son. Note, Those who obey divine precepts, shall have the comfort of divine promises. This was the son of the bond-woman that was born after the flesh, Gal. 4. 23, representing the unbelieving Jews, v. 25. Note, 1. Many who can call Abraham father, yet are born after the flesh, Matt. 3. 9.   2. The carnal seed in the church are sooner brought forth than the spiritual. It is an easier thing to persuade men to assume the form of godliness, than to submit to the power of godliness.


This chapter contains articles of agreement covenanted and concluded upon between the great Jehovah, the Father of mercies, on the one part, and pious Abram, the Father of the faithful, on the other part. Abram is therefore called the friend of God, not only because he was the man of his council, but because he was the man of his covenant; both these secrets were with him: mention was made of this covenant, ch. 15. 18, but here it is particularly drawn up, and put into the form of a covenant, that Abram might have strong consolation. Here is, I. The circumstances of the making of this covenant, the time and manner, v. 1, and the posture Abram was in, v. 3.   II. The covenant itself. In the general scope of it, v. 1. And afteeward, in the particular instances. 1. That he should be the father of many nations, v. 4, 6. and, in token of that, his name was changed, v. 5.   2. That God would be a God to him and his seed, and would give them the land of Canaan, v. 7, 8. And the seal of this part of the covenant was circumcision, v. 9...14.   3. That he should have a son by Sarai, and in token of that, her name was changed, v. 15, 16. This promise Abram received, v. 17. And his request for Ishmael (v. 18.) was answered, abundantly to his satisfaction, v. 19..22.   III. The circumcision of Abram and his family, according to God's appointment, v. 22..27.

1.AND when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 3. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying.

Here is,

I. The time when God made Abram this gracious visit; when he was 99 years old, full 13 years after the birth of Ishmael. 1. So long, it should seem, God's extraordinary appearances to Abram were intermitted; and all the communion he had with God, was only in the usual way of ordinances and providences. Note, There are some special comforts which are not the daily bread, no not of the best saints, but they are favoured with them now and then. On this side heaven, they have convenient food, but not a continual feast. 2. So long the promise of Isaac was deferred. (1.) Perhaps to correct Abram's over-hasty marrying of Hagar. Note, The comforts we sinfully anticipate, are justly delayed. (2.) That Abram and Sarai being so far stricken in age, God's power, in this matter, might be the more magnified, and their faith the more tried. See Deut. 32. 36. John 11. 6, 15.   (3.) That a child so long waited for, might be an Isaac, a son indeed, Isa. 54. 1.

II. The way in which God made this covenant with him; The Lord appeared to Abram, in the Shechinah, some visible display of God's immediate glorious presence with him. Note, God first makes himself known to us, and gives us a sight of him by faith, and then takes us into his covenant.

III. The posture Abram put himself into upon this occasion. He fell on his face while God talked with him, v. 3. Either, 1. As one overcome by the brightness of the divine glory, and unable to bear the sight of it, though he had seen it several times before: Daniel and John did likewise, though they were also acquainted with the visions of the Almighty, Dan. 8. 17.—10. 9, 15. Rev. 1. 17. Or, 2. As one ashamed of himself, and blushing to think of the honours done to one so unworthy: he looks upon himself with humility, and upon God with reverence, and, in token of both, falls on his face, putting himself into a posture of adoration. Note, (1.) God graciously condescends to talk with those whom he takes into his covenant and communion with himself. He talks with them by his word, Prov. 6. 22. He talks with them by his Spirit, John 14. 26. This honour have all his saints. (2.) Those that are admitted into fellowship with God, are, and must be, very humble and very reverent in their approaches to him. If we say we have fellowship with him, and the familiarity breeds contempt, we deceive ourselves. (3.) Those that would receive comfort from God, must set themselves to give glory to God, and to worship at his footstool.

IV. The general scope and summary of the covenant, laid down as the foundation on which all the rest was built; it is no other than the covenant of grace, still made with all believers in Jesus Christ, v. 1. Observe here,

1. What we may expect to find God to us; I am the Almighty God; by this name he chose to make himself known to Abram rather than by his name Jehovah, Exod. 6. 3. He used it to Jacob, ch. 35. 11. They called him by this name, ch. 28. 3.—43. 14.—48. 3; It is the name of God that is mostly used throughout the book of Job, at least thirty times in the discourses of that book. After Moses, Jehovah is more frequently used, and this very rarely; I am El-shaddai; it bespeaks the almighty power of God, either, (1.) As an avenger, from שדה he laid waste, so some; and they think God took this title from the destruction of the old world. This is countenanced by Isa. 13. 6, and Joel 1. 15. Or, (2.) As a benefactor, ש for אשר who, and די sufficient. He is a God, that is enough; or, as our old English translation reads it here very significantly, I am God all-sufficient. Note, The God with whom we have to do, is a God that is enough. [1.] He is enough in himself; he is self-sufficient; he has every thing, and he needs not any thing. [2.] He is enough to us, if we be in covenant with him: we have all in him, and we have enough in him; enough to satisfy our most enlarged desires, enough to supply the defect of every thing else, and to secure to us a happiness for our immortal souls: see Ps. 16. 5, 6.—73. 25.

2. What God requires that we be to him; the covenant is mutual, Walk before me, and be thou perfect, that is, upright and sincere; for herein the covenant of grace is well-ordered, that sincerity is our gospel perfection. Observe, (1.) That to be religious, is to walk before God in our integrity; it is to set God always before us, and to think, and speak, and act, in every thing, as those that are always under his eye. It is to have a constant regard to his word as our rule, and to his glory as our end, in all our actions, and to be continually in his fear. It is to be inward with him in all the duties of religious worship, for in them particularly we walk before God, 1 Sam. 2. 30, and to be entire for him, in all holy conversation. I know no religion but sincerity. (2.) That upright walking with God, is the condition of our interest in his all-sufficiency. If we neglect him, or dissemble with him, we forfeit the benefit and comfort of our relation to him. (3.) A continual regard to God's all-sufficiency, will have a great influence upon our upright walking with him.

4. As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram; but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

The promise here is introduced with solemnity: "As for me," says the great God, "behold, behold and admire it, behold and be assured of it, my covenant is with thee;" as before, v. 2, I will make my covenant. Note, The covenant of grace is a covenant of God's own making; this he glories in, (as for me,) and so may we. Now here,

I. It is promised to Abram, that he should be a father of many nations: that is, 1. That his seed after the flesh, should be very numerous, both in Isaac and Ishmael, and in the sons of Keturah; something extraordinary is doubtless included in this promise, and we may suppose that the event answered to it, and that there have been, and are, more of the children of men descended from Abraham, than from any one man at an equal distance with him from Noah, the common root. 2. That all believers, in every age, should be looked upon as his spiritual seed, and that he should be called, not only the friend of God, but the father of the faithful. In this sense, the Apostle directs us to understand this promise, Rom. 4. 16, 17. He is the father of those in every nation, that by faith enter into covenant with God, and (as the Jewish writers express it) are gathered under the wings of the divine Majesty.

II. In token of this, his name was changed from Abram, a high father, to Abraham, the father of a multitude. This was, 1. To put an honour upon him: it is spoken of as the glory of the church, that she shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name, Isa. 62. 2. Princes dignified their favourites, by conferring new titles upon them; thus was Abraham dignified by him that is indeed the Fountain of honour: all believers have a new name, Rev. 2. 17. Some think it added to the honour of Abraham's new name, that a letter of the name Jehovah was inserted into it, as it was a disgrace to Jeconiah to have the first syllable of his name cut off, because it was the same with the first syllable of that sacred name, Jer. 22. 28. Believers are named from Christ, Eph. 3. 15.   2. To encourage and confirm the faith of Abraham; while he was childless, perhaps even his own name was sometimes an occasion of grief to him: why should he be called a high father, who was not a father at all? But now that God had promised him a numerous issue, and had given him a name which signified so much, that name was his joy. Note, God calls things that are not, as though they were. It is the apostle's observation upon this very thing, Rom. 4. 17; he called Abraham the father of a multitude, because he should prove to be so in due time, though as yet he had but one child.

7. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 9. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee, in their generations. 10. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you, and thy seed after thee; every man-child among you shall be circumcised. 11. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12. And he that is eight days old, shall be circumcised among you, every man-child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14. And the uncircumcised man-child, whose flesh of his fore-skin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

Here is,

I. The continuance of the covenant; intimated in three things. 1. It is established; not to be altered or revoked: it is fixed, it is ratified, it is made as firm as the divine power and truth can make it. 2. It is entailed; it is a covenant, not with Abraham only, (then it would die with him,) but with his seed after him, not only his seed after the flesh, but his spiritual seed. 3. It is everlasting in the evangelical sense and meaning of it. The covenant of grace is everlasting; it is from everlasting in the counsels of it, and to everlasting in the consequences of it; and the external administration of it is transmitted with the seal of it to the seed of believers, and the internal administration of it by the Spirit, to Christ's seed in every age.

II. The contents of the covenant; it is a covenant of promises, exceeding great and precious promises. Here are two, which, indeed, are all sufficient. 1. That God would be their God, v. 7, 8. All the privileges of the covenant, all its joys, and all its hopes, are summed up in this: a man needs desire no more than this, to make him happy. What God is himself, that he will be to his people; his wisdom their's, to guide and counsel them; his power their's, to protect and support them; his goodness their's, to supply and comfort them. What faithful worshippers can expect from the God they serve, believers shall find in God as their's. This is enough, yet not all. 2. That Canaan should be their everlasting posession, v. 8. God had before promised this land to Abraham, and his seed, ch. 15. 18. But here, where it is promised for an everlasting possession, surely it must he looked upon as a type of heaven's happiness, that everlasting rest which remains for the people of God, Heb. 4. 9. This is that better country to which Abraham had an eye, and the grant of which was that which answered to the vast extent and compass of that promise, that God would be to them a God; so that if God had not prepared and designed this, he would have been ashamed to be called their God, Heb. 11. 16. As the land of Canaan was secured to the seed of Abraham, according to the flesh, so heaven is secured to all his spiritual seed, by a covenant, and for a possession, truly everlasting. The offer of this eternal life is made in the word, and confirmed by the sacraments, to all that are under the external administration of the covenant; and the earnest of it is given to all believers, Eph. 1. 14. Canaan is here said to be the land wherein Abraham was a stranger; and heaven is a land to which we are strangers, for it does not yet appear what we shall be.

III. The token of the covenant, and that is circumcision, for the sake of which the covenant is itself called the covenant of circumcision, Acts 7. 8. It is here said to be the covenant which Abraham and his seed must keep, as a copy or counterpart, v. 9, 10. It is called a sign and seal, Rom. 4. 11, for it was, 1. A confirmation to Abraham and his seed, of those promises which were God's part of the covenant, assuring them that they should be fulfilled; that in due time Canaan should be their's: and the continuance of this ordinance, after Canaan was their's, intimates that that promise looked further, to another Canaan, which they must still be in expectation of: see Heb. 4, 8. 2. An obligation upon Abraham and his seed, to that duty which was their part of the covenant; not only to the duty of accepting the covenant and consenting to it, and the putting away of the corruption of the flesh, (which were more immediately and primarily signified by circumcision,) but, in general, to the observation of all God's commands, as they should at any time hereafter be intimated and made known to them; for circumcision made men debtors to do the whole law, Gal. 5. 3. They who will have God to be to them a God, must consent and resolve to be to him a people.

Now, (1.) Circumcision was a bloody ordinance; for all things by the law were purged with blood, Heb. 9. 22. See Exod. 24. 8. But the blood of Christ being shed, all bloody ordinances are now abolished; circumcision therefore gives way to baptism. (2.) It was peculiar to the males; though the women also were included in the covenant, for the man is the head of the woman. In our kingdom, the oath of allegiance is required only from men: some think that the blood of the males only was shed in circumcision, because respect was had in it to Jesus Christ, and his blood. (3.) It was the flesh of the fore-skin that was to be cut off, because it is by ordinary generation that sin is propagated, and with an eye to the Promised Seed, who was to come from the loins of Abraham. Christ having not yet offered himself for us, God would have man to enter into covenant by the offering of some part of his own body, and no part could be better spared. It is a secret part of the body: for the true circumcision is that of the heart: this honour God put upon an uncomely part, 1 Cor. 12. 23, 24.   (4.) The ordinance was to be administered to children when they were eight days old, and not sooner: that they might gather some strength to be able to undergo the pain of it, and that at least one sabbath might pass ever them. (5.) The children of the stranger, of whom the master of the family was the true domestic owner, were to be circumcised, v. 12, 13, which looked favourably upon the gentiles, who should, in due time, be brought into the family of Abraham by faith: see Gal. 3. 14.   (6.) The religious observance of this institution was required, under a very severe penalty, v. 14. The contempt of circumcision was a contempt of the covenant; if the parents did not circumcise their children, it was at their peril, as in the case of Moses, Exod. 4. 24, 25. With respect to those that were not circumcised in their infancy, if, when they grew up, they did not themselves come under this ordinance, God would surely reckon with them. If they cut not off the flesh of their fore-skin, God would cut them off from their people. It is a dangerous thing to make light of divine institutions, and to live in the neglect of them.

15. And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18. And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 19. And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 20. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. 21. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. 22. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

Here is,

I. The promise made to Abram of a son by Sarai, that son in whom the promise, made to him, should be fulfilled, that he should be the father of many nations; for she also shall be a mother of nations, and kings of people shall be of her, v. 16. Note, 1. God reveals the purposes of his good-will to his people by degrees. God had told Abraham, long before, that he should have a son by Sarai. 2. The blessing of the Lord makes fruitful, and adds no sorrow with it, no such sorrow as was in Hagar's case. "I will bless her with the blessing of fruitfulness, and then thou shalt have a son of her." 3. Civil government and order are a great blessing to the church. It is promised, not only that people, but kings of people, should be of her; not a headless rout, but a well-modelled, well-governed society.

II. The ratification of this promise was the change of Sarai's name into Sarah, v. 15, the same letter added to her name that was to Abraham's, and for the same reasons. Sarai signifies my princess, as if her honour were confined to one family only; Sarah signifies a princess, namely of multitudes; or, signifying that from her should come the Messiah, the Prince, even the Prince of the kings of the earth.

III. Abraham's joyful, thankful entertainment of this gracious promise, v. 17. Upon this occasion, he expressed, 1. Great humility; he fell on his face. Note, The more honours and favours God confers upon us, the lower we should be in our own eyes, and the more reverent and submissive before God. 2. Great joy; he laughed, it was a laughter of delight, not of distrust. Note, Even the promises of a holy God, as well as his performances, are the joys of holy souls; there is the joy of faith, as well as the joy of fruition. Now it was that Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day; now he saw it, and was glad, John 8. 56, for as he saw heaven in the promise of Canaan, so he saw Christ in the promise of Isaac. 3. Great admiration ; Shall a child be born to him that is an 100 years old? He does not here speak of it as at all doubtful, (for we are sure that he staggered not at the promise, Rom. 4. 20.) but as very wonderful, and that which could not be effected but by the almighty power of God, and as very kind, and a favour which was the more affecting and obliging for this, that it was extremely surprising, Ps. 126. 1, 2.

IV. Abraham's prayer for Ishmael, v. 18, O that Ishmael might live before thee! This he speaks, not as desiring that Ishmael might be preferred before the son he should have by Sarah; but, dreading lest he should be abandoned and forsaken of God, he puts up this petition on his behalf. Now that God is talking with him, he thinks he has a very fair opportunity to speak a good word for Ishmael, and he will not let it slip. Note, 1. Though we ought not to prescribe to God, yet he gives us leave, in prayer, to be humbly free with him, and particular in making known our requests, Phil. 4. 6. Whatever is the matter of our care and fear, should be spread before God in prayer. 2. It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, for all their children, as Job, who offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all, Job 1. 5. Abraham would not have it thought, when God promised him a son by Sarah, which he so much desired, that then his son by Hagar was forgotten; no, still he bears him upon his heart, and shows a concern for him. The prospect of further favours must not make us unmindful of former favours. 3. The great thing we should desire of God for our children, is, that they may live before him, that is, that they may be kept in covenant with him, and may have grace to walk before him in their uprightness; spiritual blessings are the best blessings, and which we should be most earnest with God for, both for ourselves, and others. Those live well, that live before God.

V. God's answer to his prayer; and it is an answer of peace; Abraham could not say that he sought God's face in vain.

1. Common blessings are secured to Ishmael, v. 20, As for Ishmael, whom thou art in so much care about, I have heard thee; he shall find favour for thy sake; I have blessed him, that is, I have many blessings in store for him. (1.) His posterity shall be numerous; I will multiply him exceedingly, more than his neighbours: this is the fruit of the blessing, as that, ch. 1. 28.   (2.) They shall be considerable; twelve princes shall he beget: we may charitably hope that spiritual blessings also were bestowed upon him, though the visible church was not brought out of his loins, and the covenant was not lodged in his family. Note, Great plenty of outward good things is often given to those children of godly parents, who are born after the flesh, for their parents' sake.

2. Covenant-blessings are reserved for Isaac, and appropriated to him, v. 19, 21. If Abraham, in his prayer for Ishmael, meant that he would have the covenant made with him, and the Promised Seed to come from him; then, God did not answer him in the letter, but in that sense which was equivalent, nay, which was every way better. (1.) God repeats to him the promise of a son by Sarah; she shall bear thee a son indeed. Note, [1.] Even true believers need to have God's promises doubled and repeated to them, that they may have strong consolation, Heb. 6. 18. [2.] Children of the promise are children indeed. (2.) He names that child, calls him Isaac, Laughter; because Abraham rejoiced in spirit, when this son was promised him. Note, If God's promises be our joy, his mercies promised shall in due time be our exceeding joy. Christ will be Laughter to them that look for him; they that now rejoice in hope, shall shortly rejoice in having that which they hope for: this is laughter that is not mad. (3.) He entails the covenant upon that child; I will establish my covenant with him. Note, God takes whom he pleases into covenant with himself, according to the good pleasure of his will: see Rom. 9. 8, 18. Thus was the covenant settled between God and Abraham, with its several limitations and remainders, and then the covenant ended; God left off talking with him, and the vision disappeared, God went up from Abraham. Note, Our communion with God here is broken and interrupted; in heaven it will be a continual and everlasting feast.

23. And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their fore-skin in the self-same day, as God had said unto him. 24. And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his fore-skin. 25. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his fore-skin. 26. In the self-same day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. 27. And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

We have here Abraham's obedience to the law of circumcision; he himself, and all his family, were circumcised; so receiving the token of the covenant, and distinguishing themselves from other families that had no part nor lot in the matter. 1. It was an implicit obedience; he did as God said unto him, and did not ask why or wherefore. God's will was not only a law to him, but a reason; he did it, because God bid him. 2. It was a speedy obedience; in the self-same day, v. 23, 26. Sincere obedience is not dilatory, Ps. 119. 60. While the command is yet sounding in our ears, and the sense of duty is fresh, it is good to apply ourselves to it immediately, lest we deceive ourselves by putting it off to a more convenient season. 3. It was an universal obedience; he did not circumcise his family, and excuse himself, but set them an example; nor did he take the comfort of the seal of the covenant to himself only, but desired that all might share with him in it: this is a good example to masters of families; they and their houses must serve the Lord. Though God's covenant was not established with Ishmael, yet he was circumcised; for children of believing parents, as such, have a right to the privileges of the visible church, and the seals of the covenant, whatever they may prove afterward; Ishmael is blessed, and therefore circumcised. 4. Abraham did this, though much might be objected against it: though circumcision was painful, though to grown men it was shameful; though, while they were sore and unfit for action, their enemies might take advantage against them, as Simeon and Levi did against the Shechemites; though Abraham was 99 years old, and had been justified and accepted of God long since; though so strange a thing done religiously, might be turned to his reproach by the Canaanite and the Perizzite that dwelt then in the land; yet God's command was sufficient to answer these, and a thousand such objections; what God requires, we must do, not conferring with flesh and blood.


We have an account in this chapter of another interview between God and Abraham, probably, within a few days after the former, as a reward of his cheerful obedience to the law of circumcision. Here is, I. The kind visit, which God made him, and the kind entertainment which he gave to that visit, v. 1..8.   II. The matters discoursed of between them. 1. The purposes of God's love concerning Sarah, v. 9..15.   2. The purposes of God's wrath concerning Sodom. (1.) The discovery God made to Abraham of his design to destroy Sodom, v. 16. .22.   (2.) The intercession Abraham made for Sodom, v. 23..33.

1.AND the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent-door in the heat of the day; 2. And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent-door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3. And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4. Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5. And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that, ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said. Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

This appearance of God to Abraham seems to have had in it more of freedom and familiarity, and less of grandeur and majesty, than those we have hitherto read of; and therefore more resembles that great visit, which, in the fulness of time, the Son of God was to make to the world; when the Word would be made flesh, and appear as one of us. Observe here,

I. How Abraham expected strangers, and how richly his expectations were answered, v. 1, He sat in the tent-door, in the heat of the day; not so much to repose or divert himself, as to seek an opportunity of doing good, by giving entertainment to strangers and travellers, there being perhaps no inns to accommodate them. Note, 1. We are likely to have the most comfort of those good works that we are most free and forward to. 2. God graciously visits those in whom he has first raised the expectation of him, and manifests himself to those that wait for him. When Abraham was thus sitting, he saw three men coming toward him. These three men were three spiritual heavenly beings, now assuming human bodies, that they might be visible to Abraham, and conversable with him. Some think that they were all created angels, others, that one of them was the Son of God, the Angel of the covenant, whom Abraham distinguished from the rest, v. 3, and who is called Jehovah, v. 13. The apostle improves this, for the encouragement of hospitality, Heb. 13. 2. Those that have been forward to entertain strangers, have entertained angels, to their unspeakable honour and satisfaction. Where, upon a prudent and impartial judgment, we see no cause to suspect ill, charity teaches us to hope well, and to show kindness accordingly; it is better to feed five drones, or wasps, than to starve one bee.

II. How Abraham entertained those strangers, and how kindly his entertainment was accepted. The Holy Ghost takes particular notice of the very free and affectionate welcome which Abraham gave to the strangers. 1. He was complaisant and respectful to them; forgetting his age, he ran to meet them in the most obliging manner, and bowed himself toward the ground, though as yet he knew nothing of them, but that they appeared graceful respectable men. Note, Religion does not destroy, but improves good manners, and teaches us to honour all men. Decent civility is a great ornament to piety. 2. He was very earnest and importunate for their stay, and took it as a great favour, v. 3, 4. Note, (1.) It becomes those whom God has blessed with plenty, to be liberal and open hearted in their entertainments, according to their ability, and (not to compliment, but cordially) to bid their friends welcome: we should take a pleasure in showing kindness to any; for both God and man love a cheerful giver. Who would eat the bread of him that has an evil eye? Prov. 23. 6, 7.   (2.) Those that would have communion with God, must earnestly desire it, and pray for it. God is a Guest worth entreating. 3. His entertainment, though it was very free, yet was plain and homely, and there was nothing in it of the gaiety and niceness of these times. His dining-room was an harbour under a tree; no rich table-linen, no side-board set with plate; his feast was a joint or two of veal, and some cakes baked on the hearth, and both hastily dressed up; here were no dainties, no varieties, no forced-meats, no sweet-meats, but good plain wholesome food, though Abraham was very rich, and his guests very honourable. Note, We ought not to be curious in our diet: let us be thankful for food convenient, though it be homely and common; and not be desirous of dainties, for they are deceitful meat to those that love them and set their hearts upon them. 4. He and his wife were both of them very attentive, and busy, in accommodating their guests with the best they had, Sarah herself is cook and baker; Abraham runs to fetch the calf, brings out the milk and butter, and thinks it not below him to wait at table, that he might show how heartily welcome his guests were. Note, (1.) Those that have real merit, need not take state upon them. (2.) Hearty friendship will stoop to anything but sin, Christ himself has taught us to wash one another's feet, in humble love. They that thus abase themselves, shall be exalted. Here Abraham's faith showed itself in good works; and so must our's, else it is dead, Jam. 2. 21, 26. The father of the faithful was famous for charity, and generosity, and good house-keeping; and we must learn of him to do good, and communicate. Job did not eat his morsel alone, Job 31. 17.

9. And they said unto him, Where, is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard itin the tent-door, which was behind him. 11. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well-stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, after I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13. And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed, I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 15. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

These heavenly guests, (being sent to confirm the promise lately made to Abraham, that he should have a son by Sarah,) while they are receiving Abraham's kind entertainment, thus return his kindness: he receives angels, and has angels' reward; a gracious message from Heaven, Matt. 10. 41.

I. Care is taken that Sarah should be within hearing. She must conceive by faith, and therefore the promise must be made to her, Heb. 11. 11. It was the modest usage of that time, that the women did not sit at meat with men, at least, not with strangers, but confined themselves to their own apartments; therefore Sarah is here out of sight; but she must not be out of hearing. The angels inquire, v. 9, Where is Sarah thy wife? By naming her, they gave intimation enough to Abraham that though they seemed strangers, yet they very well knew him and his family; by inquiring after her, they showed a friendly kind concern for the family and relations of one whom they found respectful to them. It is a piece of common civility, which ought to proceed from a principle of christian love, and then it is sanctified. And by speaking of her, (she over-hearing it,) they drew her to listen to what was further to be said. Where is Sarah thy wife? say the angels; Behold, in the tent, said Abraham. Where should she be else ? There she is in her place, as she used to be, and is now within call. Note, 1. The daughters of Sarah must learn of her, to be chaste keepers at home, Titus 2. 5. There is nothing got by gadding. 2. Those are most likely to receive comfort from God and his promises, that are in their place, and in the way of their duty, Luke 2. 8.

II. The promise is then renewed and ratified, that she should have a son, v. 10, "I will certainly return unto thee, and visit thee next time, with the performance, as now I do, with the promise." God will return to those that bid him welcome, that entertain his visits: "I will return thy kindness, Sarah thy wife shall have a son;" it is repeated again, v. 14. Thus the promises of the Messiah were often repeated in the Old Testament, for the strengthening of the faith of God's people. We are slow of heart to believe, and therefore have need of line upon line to the same purport. This is that word of promise which the apostle quotes, Rom. 9. 9, as that, by the virtue of which Isaac was born. Note, 1. The same blessings which others have from common providence, believers have from the promise, which makes them very sweet, and very sure. 2. The spiritual seed of Abraham owe their life, and joy, and hope, and all, to the promise. They are born by the word of God, 1 Pet. 1. 23.

III. Sarah thinks this too good news to be true, and therefore cannot as yet find in her heart to believe it, v. 12, Sarah laughed within herself. It was not a pleasing laughter of faith, like Abraham's, ch. 17. 17, but it was a laughter of doubting and mistrust. Note, The same thing may be done from very different principles, which God only can judge of, who knows the heart. The great objection which Sarah could not get over, was her age. "I am waxed old, and past child-bearing in the course of nature; especially having been hitherto barren; and (which magnifies the difficulty) My lord is old also." Observe here, 1. Sarah calls Abraham her lord; it was the only good word in this saying, and the Holy Ghost takes notice of it to her honour, and recommends it to the imitation of all christian wives, 1 Pet. 3. 6, Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, in token of respect and subjection. Thus must the wife reverence her husband, Eph. 5. 33. And thus must we be apt to take notice of what is spoken decently and well, to the honour of them that speak it, though it may be mixed with that which is amiss, over which we should cast a mantle of love. 2. Human improbability often sets up in contradiction to the divine promise. The objections of sense are very apt to stumble and puzzle the weak faith even of true believers. It is hard to cleave to the First Clause, when second causes frown. 3. Even there where is true faith, yet there are often sore conflicts with unbelief; Sarah could say, Lord, I believe, (Heb. 11. 11.) and yet must say, Lord, help my unbelief.

IV. The angel reproves the indecent expressions of her distrust, v. 13, 14. Observe, 1. Though Sarah was most kindly and generously entertaining these angels, yet, when she did amiss, they reproved her for it, as Christ reproved Martha in her own house, Luke 10. 40, 41. If our friends be kind to us, we must not therefore be so unkind to them as to suffer sin upon them. 2. God gave this reproof to Sarah by Abraham her husband; to him he said, Why did Sarah laugh? Perhaps, he had not told her of the promise that had been given him some time before to this purport; if he had communicated it to her with its ratifications, she would hardly have been so surprised at it now. Or, Abraham was told of it, that he might tell her of it; mutual reproof, when there is occasion for it, is one of the duties of that relation. 3. The reproof itself is plain, and backed with a good reason. Wherefore did Sarah laugh? Note, (1.) It is good to inquire into the reason of our laughter, that it may not be the laughter of a fool, Eccl. 7. 6. "Wherefore did I laugh?" (2.) Our unbelief and distrust are a great offence to the God of heaven. He justly takes it ill, to have the objections of sense set up in contradiction to his promise, as Luke 1. 18. Here is a question asked, which is enough to answer all the cavils of flesh and blood; Is any thing too hard for the Lord? Heb. too wonderful, that is, [1.] Is anything so secret as to escape his cognizance? No, not Sarah's laughing, though it was only within herself. Or, [2.] Is any thing so difficult as to exceed his power? No, not the giving of a child to Sarah in her old age.

V. Sarah foolishly endeavours to conceal her fault, v. 15, She denied, saying, I did not laugh; thinking nobody could disprove her: she told this lie, because she was afraid; but it was in vain to attempt concealing it from an all-seeing eye; she was told, to her shame, Thou didst laugh. Now, 1. There seems to be in Sarah a retraction of her distrust. Now that she perceived, by laying circumstances together, that it was a divine promise which had been made concerning her, she renounces all doubting distrustful thoughts about it. But, 2. There was withal a sinful attempt to cover a sin with a lie. It is a shame to do amiss, but a greater shame to deny it; for thereby we add iniquity to our iniquity. Fear of a rebuke often betrays us into this snare. See Isa. 57. 11, Whom hast thou feared, that thou hast lied? But we deceive ourselves, if we think to impose upon God; he can and will, bring truth to light, to our shame. He that covers his sin, cannot prosper; for the day is coming, which will discover it.

16. And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 17. And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18. Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19. For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. 20. And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21. I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is to come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.

The messengers from heaven had now despatched one part of their business, which was an errand of grace to Abraham and Sarah, and which they delivered first; but now they have before them work of another nature: Sodom is to be destroyed, and they must do it, ch. 19. 13. Note, As with the Lord there is mercy, so he is the God to whom vengeance belongs. Pursuant to their commission, we here find, 1. That they looked toward Sodom, v. 16, they set their faces against it in wrath: as God is said to look unto the host of the Egyptians, Exod. 14. 24. Note, Though God has long seemed to connive at sinners, from which they have inferred that the Lord does not see, does not regard; yet, when the day of his wrath comes, he will look towards them. 2. That they went toward Sodom, v. 22, and accordingly, we find two of them at Sodom, ch. 19. 1. Whether the third was the Lord, before whom Abraham yet stood, and to whom he drew near, v. 23, as most think, or whether the third left them before they came to Sodom, and the Lord before whom Abraham stood, was the Shechinah, or that appearance of the Divine Glory which Abraham had formerly seen and conversed with, is uncertain. However, we have here, (1.) The honour Abraham did to his guests; he went with them to bring them on the way, as one that was loath to part with such good company, and was desirous to pay his utmost respects to them. This is a piece of civility, proper to be showed to our friends; but it must be done as the apostle directs, (3 John 6.) after a godly sort. (2.) The honour they did to him; for those that honour God, he will honour; God communicated to Abraham his purpose to destroy Sodom, and not only so, but entered into a free conference with him about it. Having taken him, more closely than before, into covenant with himself, ch. 17, he here admits him into more intimate communion with himself than ever, as the man of his counsel. Observe here,

I. God's friendly thoughts concerning Abraham, (v. 17..19.) where we have his resolution to make known to Abraham his purpose concerning Sodom, with the reasons of it. If Abraham had not brought them on their way, perhaps he had not been thus favoured; but he that loves to walk with wise men, shall be wise, Prov. 13. 20. See how God is pleased to argue with himself; Shall I hide from Abraham (or, as some read it, Am I concealing from Abraham) that thing which I do? "Can I go about such a thing, and not tell Abraham?" Thus does God, in his counsels, express himself, after the manner of men, with deliberation. But why must Abraham be of the cabinet council? The Jews suggest that because God had granted the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed, therefore he would not destroy those cities which were a part of that land, without his knowledge and consent. But God here gives two other reasons.

1. Abraham must know, for he is a friend and a favourite, and one that God has a particular kindness for, and great things in store for. He is to become a great nation; and not only so, but in the Messiah which is to come from his loins, All nations of the earth shall be blessed. Note, The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, Ps. 25. 14. Prov. 3. 32. Those that by faith live a life of communion with God, cannot but know more of his mind than other people, though not with a prophetical, yet with a prudential, practical, knowledge. They have a better insight than others into what is present, (Hos. 14. 9. Ps. 107. 43.) and a better foresight of what is to come, at least, so much as suffices for their conduct and for their comfort.

2. Abraham must know, for he will teach his household, v. 19, I know Abraham very well, that he will command his children and his household after him.

Consider this, (1.) As a very bright part of Abraham's character and example. He not only prayed with his family, but he taught them as a man of knowledge, nay, he commanded them as a man in authority, and was prophet and king, as well as priest, in his own house. Observe, [1.] God having made the covenant with him and his seed, and his household being circumcised, pursuant to that, he was very careful to teach and rule them well. Those that expect family-blessings, must make conscience of family-duty. If our children be the Lord's, they must be nursed for him; if they wear his livery, they must be trained up in his work. [2.] Abraham not only took care of his children, but of his household; his servants were catechised servants. Masters of families should instruct, and inspect the manners of, all under their roof. The poorest servants have precious souls that must be looked after. [3.] Abraham made it his care and business to promote practical religion in his family. He did not fill their heads with matters of nice speculation, or doubtful disputation; but he taught them to keep the way of the Lord, and to do judgment and justice, that is, to be serious and devout in the worship of God, and to be honest in their dealings with all men. [4.] Abraham, herein, had an eye to posterity, and was in care not only that his household with him, but that his household after him, should keep the way of the Lord; that religion might flourish in his family, when he was in his grave. [5.] His doing this, was the fulfilling of the conditions of the promises which God had made him. Those only can expect the benefit of the promises, that make conscience of their duty.

(2.) We may consider this as the reason why God would make known to him his purpose concerning Sodom, because he was communicative of his knowledge, and improved it for the benefit of those that were under his charge. Note, To him that hath, shall be given, Matth. 13. 12.—25. 29. Those that make a good use of their knowledge, shall know more.

II. God's friendly talk with Abraham; in which he makes known to him his purpose concerning Sodom, and allows him a liberty of application to him about that matter. 1. He tells him of the evidence there was against Sodom, v. 20, The cry of Sodom is great. Note, Some sins, and the sins of some sinners, cry aloud to Heaven for vengeance. The iniquity of Sodom was crying iniquity, that is, it was so very provoking, that it even urged God to punish. 2. The inquiry he would make upon this evidence, v. 21, I will go down now and see. Not as if there were any thing concerning which God is in doubt, or in the dark; but he is pleased thus to express himself after the manner of men, (1.) To show the incontestable equity of all his judicial proceedings. Men are apt to suggest that his way is not equal; but let them know that his judgments are the result of an eternal council, and are never rash or sudden resolves. He never punishes upon report, or common fame, or the information of others, but upon his own certain and infallible knowledge. (2.) To give example to magistrates, and those in authority, with the utmost care and diligence to inquire into the merits of a cause, before they give judgment upon it. (3.) Perhaps the decree is here spoken of as not yet peremptory, that room and encouragement might be given to Abraham to make intercession for them. Thus God looked if there were any to intercede, Isa. 59. 16.

23. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24. Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? 25. That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ? 26. And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. 27. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: 28. Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. 29. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake. 30. And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall be thirty found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. 31. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be found twenty there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake. 32. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. 33. And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

Communion with God is kept up by the word and by prayer. In the word, God speaks to us; in prayer, we speak to him. God had spoken to Abraham his purposes concerning Sodom; now from thence Abraham takes occasion to speak to God on Sodom's behalf. Note, God's word then does us good, when it furnishes us with matter for prayer, and excites us to it. When God has spoken to us, we must consider what we have to say to him upon it.


I. The solemnity of Abraham's address to God on this occasion, v. 23, Abraham drew near. The expression intimates, 1. A holy concern; he engaged his heart to approach to God, Jer. 30. 21, "Shall Sodom be destroyed, and I not speak one good word for it?" 2. A holy confidence; he drew near with an assurance of faith, drew near as a prince, Job 31. 37. Note, When we address ourselves to the duty of prayer, we ought to remember that we are drawing near to God, that we may be filled with a reverence of him. Lev. 10. 3.

II The general scope of this prayer. It is the first solemn prayer we have upon record in the Bible: and it is a prayer for the sparing of Sodom. Abraham, no doubt, greatly abhorred the wickedness of Sodom, he would not have lived among them, as Lot did, if they would have given him the best estate in their country; and yet he prayed earnestly for them. Note, Though sin is to be hated, sinners are to be pitied and prayed for. God delights not in their death, nor should we desire, but deprecate, the woeful day. 1. He begins with a prayer that the righteous among them might be spared, and not involved in the common calamity; having an eye particularly to just Lot, whose disingenuous carriage toward him he had long since forgiven and forgotten; witness his friendly zeal to rescue him before by his sword, and now by his prayers. 2. He improves this into a petition, that all might be spared for the sake of the righteous that were among them, God himself countenancing this request, and in effect putting him upon it by his answer to his first address, v. 26, Note, We must pray, not only for ourselves, but for others also; for we are members of the same body, at least, of the same body of mankind. All we are brethren.

III. The particular graces eminent in this prayer.

1. Here is great faith; and it is the prayer of faith that is the prevailing prayer. His faith pleads with God, orders the cause, and fills his mouth with arguments. He acts faith especially upon the righteousness of God, and is very confident, (1.) That God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked, v. 23. No, that be far from thee, v. 25. We must never entertain any thought that derogates from the honour of God's righteousness. See Rom. 3. 5, 6. Note, [1.] The righteous are mingled with the wicked in this world. Among the best there are, commonly, some bad, and among the worst some good. Even in Sodom, one Lot. [2.] Though the righteous be among the wicked, yet the righteous God will not, certainly he will not destroy the righteous with the wicked. Though in this world they may be involved in the same common calamities, yet in the great day, a distinction will be made. (2.) That the righteous shall not be as the wicked, v. 25. Though they may suffer with them, yet they do not suffer like them. Common calamities are quite another thing to the righteous, than what they are to the wicked, Isa. 27. 7.   (3.) That the Judge of all the earth will do right; undoubtedly he will, because he is the Judge of all the earth; it is the apostle's argument, Rom. 3. 5, 6. Note, [1.] God is the Judge of all the earth; he gives charge to all, takes cognizance of all, and will pass sentence upon all. [2.] That God Almighty never did, nor ever will do, any wrong to any of the creatures, either by withholding that which is right, or by exacting more than is right, Job 34. 10, 11.

2. Here is great humility. (1.) A deep sense of his own unworthiness, v. 27, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes; and again, v. 31, he speaks as one amazed at his own boldness, and the liberty God graciously allowed him, considering God's greatness,—he is the Lord; and his own meanness,—but dust and ashes. Note, [1.] The greatest of men, the most considerable and deserving, are but dust and ashes, mean and vile, before God; despicable, frail and dying. [2.] Whenever we draw near to God, it becomes us reverently to acknowledge the vast distance that there is between us and God. He is the Lord of glory, we are worms of the earth. [3.] The access we have to the throne of grace, and the freedom of speech allowed us, are just matter of humble wonder, 2 Sam. 7. 18. (2.) An awful dread of God's displeasure. O let not the Lord be angry, v. 30, and again, v. 32. Note, [1.] The importunity which believers use in their addresses to God, is such, that if they were dealing with a man like themselves, they could not but fear that he would be angry with them. But he with whom we have to do, is God and not man; and, however he may seem, is not really, angry with the prayers of the upright, (Ps. 80. 4.) for they are his delight, (Prov. 15. 8.) and he is pleased when he is wrestled with. [2.] That even when we receive special tokens of the divine favour, we ought to be jealous over ourselves, lest we make ourselves obnoxious to the divine displeasure; and therefore we must bring the Mediator with us in the arms of our faith, to atone for the iniquity of our holy things.

3. Here is great charity. (1.) A charitable opinion of Sodom's character: as bad as it was, he thought there were several good people in it. It becomes us to hope the best of the worst places. Of the two, it is better to err in that extreme. (2.) A charitable desire of Sodom's welfare: he used all his interest at the throne of grace for mercy for them. We never find him thus earnest in pleading with God for himself and his family, as here for Sodom.

4. Here are great boldness, and believing confidence. (1.) He took the liberty to pitch upon a certain number of righteous ones which he supposed might be in Sodom. Suppose there be fifty, v. 24.   (2.) He drew upon God's concessions, again and again. As God granted much, he still begged more, with the hope of gaining his point. (3.) He brought the terms as low as he could for shame, (having prevailed for mercy if there were but ten righteous ones in five cities,) and perhaps so low, that he concluded they would have been spared.

IV. The success of the prayer. He that thus wrestled, prevailed wonderfully; as a prince he had power with God: it was but to ask and have. 1. God's general good-will appears in this, that he consented to spare the wicked for the sake of the righteous. See how swift God is to show mercy; he even seeks a reason for it. See what great blessings good people are to any place, and how little those befriend themselves, that hate and persecute them. 2. His particular favour to Abraham appeared in this, that he did not leave off granting, till Abraham left off asking. Such is the power of prayer. Why then did Abraham leave off asking, when he had prevailed so far as to get the place spared, if there were but ten righteous in it? Either, (1.) Because he owned that they deserved to perish, if there were not so many; as the dresser of the vineyard, who consented that the barren tree should be cut down, if one year's trial more did not make it fruitful, Luke 13. 9. Or, (2.) Because God restrained his spirit from asking any further. When God has determined the ruin of a place, he forbids it to be prayed for, Jer 7. 16.—11. 14.—14. 11.

Lastly, Here is the breaking up of the conference, v. 33.   1. The Lord went his way. The visions of God must not be constant in this world, here it is by faith only that we are to set God before us. God did not go away, till Abraham had said all he had to say; for he is never weary of hearing prayer, Isa. 59. 1.   2. Abraham returned unto his place, not puffed up with the honour done him, nor by these extraordinary interviews taken off from the ordinary course of duty; he returned to his place, to observe what the event would be; and it proved that his prayer was heard, and yet Sodom not spared, because there were not ten righteous in it. We cannot expect too little from man, nor too much from God.


The contents of this chapter we have, 2 Pet. 2. 6..8, where we find that God, turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, and delivered just Lot. It is the history of Sodom's ruin, and Lot's rescue from that ruin. We read, ch. 18, of God's coming to take a view of the present state of Sodom; what its wickedness was, and what righteous persons there were in it: now here we have the result of that inquiry. I. It was found, upon trial, that Lot was very good, v. 1..3, and it did not appear that there was one more of the same character. II. It was found that the Sodomites were very wicked, and vile, v. 4..11.   III. Special care was therefore taken for the securing of Lot and his family, in a place of safety, v. 12..23.   IV. Mercy having rejoiced therein, justice shows itself in the ruin of Sodom, and the death of Lot's wife, v. 24..26. with a general repetition of the story, v. 27..29.   V. A foul sin that Lot was guilty of, in committing incest with his two daughters, v. 30..38.

1.AND there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; 2. And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet; and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. 3. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

These angels, it is likely, were two of the three that had just before been with Abraham; the two created angels that were sent to execute God's purpose concerning Sodom. Observe here,

I. There was but one good man in Sodom, and these heavenly messengers soon found him out. Wherever we are, we should inquire out those of the place that live in the fear of God, and should choose to associate ourselves with them; Matth. 10. 11, Inquire who is worthy, and there abide. Those of the same country, when they are in a foreign country, love to be together.

II. Lot sufficiently distinguished himself from the rest of his neighbours, at this time, which plainly set a mark upon him. He that did not act like the rest, must not fare like the rest. 1. Lot sat in the gate of Sodom at even; when the rest, it is likely, were tippling and drinking, he sat alone, waiting for an opportunity to do good. 2. He was extremely respectful to men whose mien and aspect were sober and serious, though they did not come in state. He bowed himself to the ground, when he met them, as if, upon the first view, he discerned something divine in them. 3 He was hospitable, and very free and generous in his invitations and entertainments. He courted these strangers to his house, and to the best accommodations he had, and gave them all the evidences that he could of his sincerity: for, (1.) When the angels, to try whether he were hearty in the invitation, declined the acceptance of it, at first, (which is the common usage of modesty, and no reproach at all to truth and honesty,) their refusal did but make him more importunate ; for he pressed upon them greatly, v. 3. Partly, because he would by no means have them to expose themselves to the inconveniences and perils of lodging in the street of Sodom; and partly, because he was desirous of their company and converse. He had not seen two such honest faces in Sodom this great while. Note, Those that live in bad places, should know how to value the society of those that are wise and good, and earnestly desire it. (2.) When the angels accepted his invitation, he treated them nobly; he made a feast for them, and thought it well-bestowed on such guests. Note, Good people should be (with prudence) generous people.

4. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: 5. And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 6. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him. 7. And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 8. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. 9. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. 10. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. 11. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

Now it appeared, beyond contradiction, that the cry of Sodom was no louder than there was cause for. This night's work was enough to fill the measure. For we find here,

I. That they were all wicked, v. 4. Wickedness was grown universal, and they were unanimous in any vile design. Here were old and young, and all from every quarter, engaged in this riot; the old were not past it, and the young were soon come up to it; either they had no magistrates to keep the peace, and protect the peaceable; or their magistrates were themselves aiding and abetting. Note, When the disease of sin is become epidemical, it is fatal to any place, Isa. 1. 5..7.

II. That they were arrived at the highest pitch of wickedness; they were sinners before the Lord exceedingly, ch. 13. 13, for,

1. It was the most unnatural and abominable wickedness that they were now set upon, a sin that still bears their name, and is called Sodomy. They were carried headlong by those vile affections, (Rom. 1. 26, 27.) which are worse than brutish, and the eternal reproach of the human nature, and which cannot be thought of without horror, by those that have the least spark of virtue, and any remains of natural light and conscience. Note, Those that allow themselves in unnatural uncleanness, are marked for the vengeance of eternal fire. See Jude 7.

2. They were not ashamed to own it, and to prosecute their design by force and arms. The practice had been bad enough, if it had been carried on by intrigue and wheedling; but they proclaim war with virtue, and bid open defiance to it. Hence daring sinners are said to declare their sin as Sodom, Isa. 3. 9. Note, Those that are become impudent in sin, generally prove impenitent in sin; and it will be their ruin. Those have hard hearts indeed, that sin with a high hand, Jer. 6. 15.

3. When Lot interposed, with all the mildness imaginable, to check the rage and fury of their lust, they were most insolently rude and abusive to him. He ventured himself among them, v. 6. He spoke civilly to them, called them brethren, v. 7, and begged of them not to do so wickedly; and, being greatly disturbed at their vile attempt, unadvisedly and unjustifiably offered to prostitute his two daughters to them, v. 8. It is true, of two evils we must choose the less; but of two sins we must choose neither, nor ever do evil, that good may come of it. He reasoned with them, pleaded the laws of hospitality, and the protection of his house which his guests were entitled to; but you had as good offer reason to a roaring lion and a raging bear, as to these headstrong sinners, who were governed only by lust and passion. Lot's arguing with them, does but exasperate them; and, to complete their wickedness, and fill up the measure of it, they fall foul upon him. (1.) They ridicule him, charge him with the absurdity of pretending to be a magistrate, when he was not so much as a free-man of their city, v. 9. Note, It is common for reprovers to be unjustly upbraided as usurpers; and while offering the kindness of a friend, to be charged with assuming the authority of a judge: as if a man might not speak reason, without taking too much upon him. (2.) They threaten him, and lay violent hands upon him; and the good man is in danger of being pulled in pieces by this outrageous rabble. Note, [1.] Those that hate to be reformed, hate those that reprove them, though with ever so much tenderness. Presumptuous sinners do by their consciences as the Sodomites did by Lot, baffle their checks, stifle their accusations, press hard upon them, till they have seared them and quite stopped their mouths, and so made themselves ripe for ruin. [2.] Abuses offered to God's messengers and to faithful reprovers, soon fill the measure of a people's wickedness, and bring destruction without remedy. See Prov. 29. 1. and 2. Chron. 36. 16. If reproofs remedy not, there is no remedy. See 2 Chron. 25. 16.

III. That nothing less than the power of an angel could save a good man out of their wicked hands. It was now past dispute what Sodom's character was, and what course must be taken with it; and therefore the angels immediately give a specimen of what they further intended.

1. They rescue Lot, v. 10. Note, (l.) He that watereth, shall be watered also himself. Lot was solicitous to protect them, and now they take effectual care for his safety, in return for his kindness. (2.) Angels are employed for the special preservation of those that expose themselves to danger by well-doing. The saints, at death, are pulled like Lot into a house of perfect safety, and the door shut for ever against those that pursue them.

2. They chastise the insolence of the Sodomites, v. 11, They smote them with blindness. This was designed, (1.) To put an end to their attempt, and disable them to pursue it. Justly were they struck blind, who had been deaf to reason. Violent persecutors are often infatuated, so that they cannot push on their malicious designs against God's messengers. Job. 5. 14, 15. Yet these Sodomites, after they were struck blind, continued seeking the door, to break it down, till they were tired. No judgments will, of themselves, change the corrupt natures and purposes of wicked men. If their minds had not been blinded as well as their bodies, they would have said, as the magicians, This is the finger of God, and would have submitted. (2.) It was to be an earnest of their utter ruin the next day. When God, in a way of righteous judgment, blinds men, their condition is already desperate, Rom. 11. 8, 9.

12. And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? Son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: 13. For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it. 14. And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city: but he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

We have here the preparation for Lot's deliverance.

I. Notice is given him of the approach of Sodom's ruin, v. 13, We will destroy this place. Note, The holy angels are ministers of God's wrath for the destruction of sinners, as well as of his mercy for the preservation and deliverance of his people. In this sense, the good angels become evil angels, Ps. 78. 49.

II. He is directed to give notice to his friends and relations, that they, if they would, might be saved with him, v. 12, "Hast thou here any besides, that thou art concerned for? If thou hast, go tell them what is coming." Now this implies, 1. The command of a great duty, which was, to do all he could for the salvation of those about him, to snatch them as brands out of the fire. Note, Those who through grace are themselves delivered out of a sinful state, should do what they can for the deliverance of others, especially their relations. 2. The offer of great favour. They do not ask whether he knew any righteous ones in the city fit to be spared; no, they knew there were none; but they ask what relations he had there; that, whether righteous or unrighteous, they might be saved with him. Note, Bad people often fare the better in this world for the sake of their good relations. It is good being akin to a godly man.

III. He applies himself accordingly to his sons in law, v. 14. Observe, 1. The fair warning that Lot gave them. Up, get you out of this place. The manner of expression is startling and quickening. It was no time to trifle, when the destruction was just at the door. They had not forty days to turn them in, as the Ninevites had. Now or never, they must make their escape. At midnight this cry was made. Such as this, is our call to the unconverted, to turn and live. 2. The slight they put upon this warning, He seemed to them as one that mocked. They thought, perhaps, that the assault which the Sodomites had just now made upon his house, had disturbed his head, and put him into such a fright, that he knew not what he said; or they thought that he was not in earnest with them. They who lived a merry life, and made a jest of every thing, made a jest of that, and so they perished in the overthrow. Thus many who are warned of the misery and danger they are in by sin, make a light matter of it, and think their ministers do but jest with them; such will perish with their blood upon their own heads.

15. And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. 16. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. 17. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. 18. And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord. 19. Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die. 20. Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. 21. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee, concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. 22. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. 23. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

Here is,

I. The rescue of Lot out of Sodom. Though there were not ten righteous men in Sodom, for whose sakes it might be spared, yet that one righteous man that was among them, delivered his own soul, Ezek. 14. 14. Early in the morning, his own guests, in kindness to him, turned him out of doors, and his family with him, v. 15. His daughters that were married, perished with their unbelieving husbands; but those that continued with him, were preserved with him. Observe,

1. With what a gracious violence Lot was brought out of Sodom, v. 16. It seems, though he did not make a jest of the warning given, as his sons-in-law did, yet he lingered, he trifled, he did not make so much haste as the case required. Thus many that are under some convictions about the misery of their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, yet defer that needful work, and foolishly linger. Lot did so, and it might have been fatal to him, if the angels had not laid hold on his hand and brought him forth, and saved him with fear, Jude 23. Here in it is said, The Lord was merciful to him; other wise he might have justly left him to perish, since he was so loth to depart. Note, (1.) The salvation of the most righteous men must be attributed to God's mercy, not to their own merit. We are saved by grace. (2.) God's power also must be acknowledged in the bringing of souls out of a sinful state. If God had not brought us forth, we had never come forth. (3.) If God had not been merciful to us, our lingering had been our ruin.

2. With what a gracious vehemence he was urged to make the best of his way, when he was brought forth, v. 17. (1.) He must still apprehend himself in danger of being consumed, and be quickened by the law of self-preservation to flee for his life. Note, A holy fear and trembling are found necessary to the working out of our salvation. (2.) He must therefore mind his business with the utmost care and diligence. He must not hanker after Sodom, Look not behind thee; he must not loiter by the way, Stay not in all the plain, for it would all be made one dead sea; he must not take up short of the place of refuge appointed him, Escape to the mountain. Such as these, are the commands given to those who through grace are delivered out of a sinful state and condition. [1.] Return not to sin and Satan, for that is looking back to Sodom. [2.] Rest not in self and the world, for that is staying in the plain. And, [3.] Reach toward Christ and Heaven, for that is escaping to the mountain, short of which we must not take up.

II. The fixing of a place of refuge for him. The mountain was first appointed for him to flee to, but,

1. He begged for a city of refuge, one of the five that lay together, called Bela, ch. 14. 2, 18..20. It was Lot's weakness to think a city of his own choosing safer than the mountain of God's appointing. And he argued against himself, when he pleaded, Thou hast magnified thy mercy in saving my life, and I cannot escape to the mountain; for could not he that had plucked him out of Sodom, when he lingered, carry him safe to the mountain, though he began to tire? Could not He that had saved him from greater evils, save him from the lesser? He insists much in his petition upon the smallness of the place. It is a little one, is it not? Therefore, it was to be hoped, not so bad as the rest. This gave a new name to the place; it was called Zoar, a little one. Intercessions for little ones are worthy to be remembered.

2. God granted him his request, though there was much infirmity in it, v. 21, 22. See what favour God showed a true saint, though weak. (1.) Zoar was spared, to gratify him. Though his intercession for it was not, as Abraham's for Sodom, from a principle of generous charity, but merely from self-interest, yet God granted him his request, to show how much the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails. (2.) Sodom's ruin was suspended, till he was safe. I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Note, The very presence of good men in a place helps to keep off judgments. See what care God takes for the preservation of his people. The winds are held, till God's servants are sealed. Rev. 7. 3. Ezek. 9. 4.

Lastly, It is taken notice of, that the sun was risen when Lot entered into Zoar. For when a good man comes into a place, he brings light along with him, or should do.

24. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25. And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

Then, when Lot was got safe into Zoar, then this ruin came; for good men are taken away from the evil to come. Then, when the sun was risen bright and clear, promising a fair day, then this storm arose, to show that it was not from natural causes. Concerning this destruction, observe,

1. That God was the immediate Author of it. It was destruction from the Almighty, The Lord rained,—from the Lord, v. 24, that is, God from himself, by his own immediate power, and not in the common course of nature. Or, God the Son from God the Father; for the Father has committed all judgment to the Son. Note, He that is the Saviour, will be the Destroyer of those that reject the salvation.

2. That it was a strange punishment. Job 31. 3. Never was the like before or since. Hell was rained from Heaven upon them. Fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest, this was the portion of their cup, Ps. 11. 6; not a flash of lightning, which is destructive enough, when God gives it commission, but a shower of lightning. Brimstone was scattered upon their habitation, Job. 18. 15, and then the fire soon fastened upon them. God could have drowned them, as he did the old world; but he would show that he has many arrows in his quiver, fire as well as water.

3. That it was a judgment that laid all waste; it overthrew the cities, and destroyed all the inhabitants of them, the plain, and all that grew upon the ground, v. 25. It was an utter ruin, and irreparable; that fruitful valley remains to this day a great lake, or dead sea; it is called the Salt Sea, Numb. 34. 12. Travellers say that it is about thirty miles long, and ten miles broad; it has no living creature in it; it is not moved by the wind; the smell of it is offensive; things do not easily sink in it. The Greeks call it Asphaltites, for a sort of pitch which it casts up. Jordan falls into it, and is lost there.

4. That it was a punishment that answered to their sin. Burning lusts against nature were justly punished with this preternatural burning. They that went after strange flesh, were destroyed by strange fire, Jude 7. They persecuted the angels with their rabble, and made Lot afraid; and now God persecuted them with his tempest, and made them afraid with his storm, Ps. 83. 15.

5. That it was designed for a standing revelation of the wrath of God against sin and sinners in all ages: it is, accordingly, often referred to in the scripture, and made a pattern of the ruin of Israel, Deut. 29. 23. of Babylon, Isa. 13. 19. of Edom, Jer. 49. 18. of Moab and Ammon, Zeph. 2. 9. Nay, it was typical of the vengeance of eternal fire, Jude 7, and the ruin of all that live ungodly, 2 Pet. 2. 6, especially, that despise the gospel. Matt. 10. 15. It is in allusion to this destruction, that the place of the damned is often represented by a lake that burns, as Sodom did, with fire and brimstone. Let us learn from it, (1.) The evil of sin, and the hurtful nature of it. Iniquity tends to ruin. (2.) The terrors of the Lord. See what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God!

26. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

This also is written for our admonition; our Saviour refers to it, Luke 17. 32, Remember Lot's wife. As by the example of Sodom, the wicked are warned to turn from their wickedness; so by the example of Lot's wife, the righteous are warned not to turn from their righteousness. See Ezek. 3. 18, 20. We have here,

1. The sin of Lot's wife: she looked back from behind him. This seemed a small thing, but we are sure, by the punishment of it, that it was a great sin, and exceeding sinful. (1.) She disobeyed an express command, and so sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression which ruined us all. (2.) Unbelief was at the bottom of it; she questioned whether Sodom would be destroyed, and thought she still might have been safe in it. (3.) She looked back upon her neighbours whom she had left behind, with more concern than was fit, now that their day of grace was over, and Divine Justice was glorifying itself in their ruin. See Isa. 66. 24. (4.) Probably, she hankered after her house and goods in Sodom, and was loath to leave them. Christ intimates this to be her sin, Luke 17. 31, 32. she too much regarded her stuff. (5.) Her looking back bespoke an inclination to go back; and therefore our Saviour uses it as a warning against apostasy from our christian profession. We have all renounced the world and the flesh, and have set our faces heavenward; we are in the plain, upon our probation; and it is at our peril, if we return into the interests we profess to have abandoned. Drawing back is to perdition, and looking back is towards it. Let us therefore fear, Heb. 4. 1.

2. The punishment of Lot's wife for this sin. She was struck dead in the place; yet her body did not fall down, but stood fixed and erect like a pillar or monument, not liable to waste or decay as human bodies exposed to the air are, but metamorphosed into a metallic substance which would last perpetually. Come, behold the goodness and severity of God, Rom. 11. 22; toward Lot that went forward, goodness; toward his wife that looked back, severity. Though she was nearly related to a righteous man, though better than her neighbours, and though a monument of distinguishing mercy in her deliverance out of Sodom, yet God did not connive at her disobedience; for great privileges will not secure us from the wrath of Goa, if we do not carefully and faithfully improve them. This pillar of salt should season us. Since it is such a dangerous thing to look back, let us always press forward, Phil. 3. 13, 14.

27. And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord: 28. And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. 29. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

Our communion with God consists in our gracious regard to him, and his gracious regard to us; we have here therefore the communion that was between God and Abraham, in the event concerning Sodom, as before, in the consultation concerning it; for communion with God is to be kept up in providences as well as in ordinances.

1. Here is Abraham's pious regard to God in this event, in two things; (1.) A careful expectation of the event, v. 27, He gat up early to look toward Sodom; and, to intimate that his design herein was to see what became of his prayers, he went to the very place where he had stood before the Lord, and set himself there, as upon his watch-tower, Hab. 2 1. Note, When we have prayed, we must look after our prayers, and observe the success of them; we must direct our prayer as a letter, and then look up for an answer; direct our prayer as an arrow, and then look up to see whether it reach the mark, Ps. 5. 3. Our inquiries after news must be in expectation of an answer to our prayers. (2.) An awful observation of it; he looked toward Sodom, (v. 28.) not as Lot's wife did, tacitly reflecting upon the divine severity: but humbly adoring it, and acquiescing in it. Thus the saints, when they see the smoke of Babylon's torment rising up for ever, (like Sodom's here,) will say again and again, Alleluia, Rev. 19. 3. Those that have, in the day of grace, most earnestly interceded for sinners, will, in the day of judgment, be content to see them perish, and will glorify God in it.

2. Here is God's favourable regard to Abraham, v. 29. As before, when Abraham prayed for Ishmael, God heard him for Isaac; so now, when he prayed for Sodom, he heard him for Lot. He remembered Abraham, and, for his sake, sent Lot out of the overthrow. Note, (1.) God will certainly give an answer of peace to the prayer of faith, in his own way and time; though, for a while, it seem to be forgotten, yet, sooner or later, it will appear to be remembered. (2.) The relations and friends of godly people fare the better for their interest in God, and intercessions with him; it was out of respect to Abraham that Lot was rescued: perhaps this word encouraged Moses long afterward to pray, Exod. 32. 13, Lord, remember Abraham; and see Isa. 33. 11.

30. And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. 31. And the first-born said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth. 32. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 33. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the first-born went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 34. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the first-born said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 33. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 36. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. 37. And the first-born bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. 38. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.

Here is,

I. The great trouble and distress that Lot was brought into, after his deliverance, v. 30.   1. He was frightened out of Zoar, durst not dwell there; either, because he was conscious to himself that it was a refuge of his own choosing, and that therein he had foolishly prescribed to God, and therefore he could not but distrust his safety in it; or, because he found it as wicked as Sodom, and therefore concluded it could not long survive it; or, perhaps, he observed the rise and increase of those waters, which, after the conflagration, perhaps from Jordan, began to overflow the plain, and which, mixing with the ruins, by degrees made the Dead Sea; in those waters he concluded Zoar must needs perish (though it had escaped the fire,) because it stood upon the same flat. Note, Settlements and shelters of our own choosing, and in which we do not follow God, commonly prove uneasy to us. 2. He was forced to betake himself to the mountain, and to take up with a cave for his habitation there. Methinks, it was strange that he did not return to Abraham, and put himself under his protection, to whom he had once and again owed his safety: but the truth is, there are some good men, that are not wise enough to know what is best for themselves. Observe, (1.) He was now glad to go to the mountain, the place which God had appointed for his shelter. Note, It is well, if disappointment in our way drive us at last to God's way. (2.) He that, a while ago, could not find room enough for himself and his stock in the whole land, but must justle with Abraham, and get as far from him as he could, is now confined to a hole in a hill, where he has scarcely room to turn him, and there he is solitary and trembling. Note, It is just with God to reduce those to poverty and restraint, who have abused their liberty and plenty. See also in Lot what those bring themselves to, at last, that forsake the communion of saints for secular advantages; they will be beaten with their own rod.

II. The great sin that Lot and his daughters were guilty of, when they were in this desolate place. It is a sad story:

1. His daughters laid a very wicked plot to bring him to sin; and their's was, doubtless the greater guilt. They contrived, under pretext of cheering up the spirits of their father in his present condition, to make him drunk, and then to lie with him, v. 31, 32.   (1.) Some think that their pretence was plausible; their father had no sons, they had no husbands, nor knew they where to have any of the holy seed; or, if they had children by others, their father's name would not be preserved in them; some think that they had the Messiah in their eye, who they hoped, might descend from their father; for he came from Terah's elder son, was separated from the rest of Shem's posterity, as well as Abraham, and was now signally delivered out of Sodom. Their mother, and the rest of the family were gone, they might not marry with the cursed Canaanites; and therefore they supposed that the end they aimed at, and the extremity they were brought to, would excuse the irregularity. Thus the learned Monsieur Allix. Note, Good intentions are often abused to patronise bad actions. But, (2.) Whatever their pretence was, it is certain that their project was very wicked and vile, and an impudent affront to the very light and law of nature. Note, [1.] The sight of God's most tremendous judgments upon sinners, will not, of itself, without the grace of God, restrain evil hearts from evil practices: one would wonder how the fire of lust could possibly kindle upon them, who had so lately been the eye-witnesses of Sodom's flames. [2.] Solitude has its temptations as well as company, and particularly to uncleanness. When Joseph was alone with his mistress, he was in danger, ch. 39. 11. Relations that dwell together, especially if solitary, have need carefully to watch against the least evil thought of this kind, lest Satan get an advantage.

2. Lot himself, by his own folly and unwariness, was wretchedly overcome, and suffered himself so far to be imposed upon by his own children, as, two nights together, to be drunk, and to commit incest, v. 33, &c. Lord, what is man! What are the best of men, when God leaves them to themselves! See here, (1.) The peril of security; Lot, who not only kept himself sober and chaste in Sodom, but was a constant mourner for the wickedness of the place, and a witness against it, is yet, in the mountain, where he was alone, and, as he thought, quite out of the way of temptation, thus shamefully overtaken: let him therefore that thinks he stands, stands high, and stands firm, take heed lest he fall. No mountain, on this side the holy hill above, can set us out of the reach of Satan's fiery darts. (2.) The peril of drunkenness; it is not only a great sin itself, but it is the inlet of many sins; it may prove the inlet of the worst and most unnatural sins, which may be a perpetual wound and dishonour. Excellently does Mr. Herbert describe it,
        "He that is drunken, may his Mother kill
        "Big with his Sister."—————————
A man may do that without reluctance, when he is drunken, which, when he is sober, he could not think of without horror. (3.) The peril of temptation from our dearest relations and friends, whom we love and esteem, and expect kindness from. Lot, whose temperance and chastity were impregnable against the batteries of foreign force, was surprised into sin and shame by the base treachery of his own daughters; we must dread a snare wherever we are, and be always upon our guard.

In the close, we have an account of the birth of the two sons, or grandsons, (call them which you will,) of Lot—Moab and Ammon, the fathers of two nations, neighbours to Israel, and which we often read of in the Old Testament; both together are called the children of Lot, Ps. 83. 8. Note, Though prosperous births may attend incestuous conceptions, yet they are so far from justifying them, that they rather perpetuate the reproach of them, and entail infamy upon posterity; yet the tribe of Judah, of which our Lord sprang, descended from such a birth, and Ruth, a Moabitess, has a name in his genealogy, Matth. 1. 3, 5.

Lastly, Observe that, after this, we never read any more of Lot, nor what became of him: no doubt he repented of his sin; and was pardoned; but from the silence of the scripture concerning him henceforward, we may learn that drunkenness, as it makes men forgetful, so it makes them forgotten; and many a name, which otherwise might have been remembered with respect, is buried by it in contempt and oblivion.


We are here returning to the story of Abraham; yet that part of it which is here recorded, is not to his honour. The fairest marbles have their flaws, and while there are spots in the sun, we must not expect any thing spotless under it. The scripture, it should be remarked, is impartial in relating the blemishes even of its most celebrated characters. We have here, I. Abraham's sin in denying his wife, and Abimelech's sin thereupon in taking her, v. 1, 2.   II. God's discourse with Abimelech in a dream, upon this occasion, wherein he shows him his error, v. 3, accepts his plea, v. 4..6, and directs him to make restitution, v. 7.   III. Abimelech's discourse with Abraham, wherein he chides him for the cheat he had put upon him, v. 8..10, and Abraham excuses it as well as he can, v. 11..13.   IV The good issue of the story, in which Abimelech restores Abraham his wife, v. 14..16, and Abraham, by prayer, prevails with God for he removal of the judgment Abimelech was under, v. 17, 18.

1.AND Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. 2. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

Here is,

1. Abraham's remove from Mamre, where he had lived near twenty years, into the country of the Philistines, v. 1, He sojourned in Gerar. "We are not told upon what occasion he removed, whethier terrified by the destruction of Sodom; or, because the country round was, for the present, prejudiced by it; or as some of the Jewish writers say, because he was grieved at Lot's incest with his daughters, and the reproach which the Canaanites cast upon him and his religion, for his kinsman's sake: doubtless, there was some good cause for his removal. Note, (1.) In a world where we are strangers and pilgrims, we cannot expect to be always in the same place. (2.) Wherever we are, we must look upon ourselves but as sojourners.

2. His sin in denying his wife; as before, ch. 12, 13, which was not only in itself such an equivocation as bordered upon a lie, and which, if admitted as lawful, would be the ruin of human converse, and an inlet to all falsehood; but was also an exposing of the chastity and honour of his wife, which he ought to have been the protector of. But beside this, it had here a two-fold aggravation, (1.) That he had been guilty of the same sin before, and had been reproved for it, and convinced of the folly of the suggestion which induced him to it; yet he returns to it. Note, It is possible that a good man may not only fall into sin, but relapse into the same sin, through the surprize and strength of temptation, and the infirmity of the flesh. Let backsliders repent then, but not despair, Jer. 3. 22. (2.) That Sarah, as it should seem, was now the child of the promised seed, or, at least, in expectation of being so quickly, according to the word of God; he ought therefore to have taken particular care of her now, as Judg. 13. 4.

3. The peril that Sarah was brought into by this means; The king of Gerar sent, and took her to his house, in order to take her to his bed. Note, The sin of one often occasions the sin of others; he that breaks the hedge of God's commandments, opens a gap to he knows not how many; the beginning of sin is as the letting forth of water.

3. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. 4. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 5. Said he not unto me, She is my sister? And she, even she herself, said, He is my brother: In the integrity of my heart, and innocency of my hands, have I done this. 6. And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. 7. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.

It appears by this, that God revealed himself by dreams, (which evidenced themselves to be divine and supernatural,) not only to his servants, the prophets, but even to those who were out of the pale of the church and covenant; but then, usually it was with some regard to God's own people, as in Pharaoh's dream, to Joseph, in Nebuchadnezzar's, to Daniel, and here in Abimelech's, to Abraham and Sarah, for he reproved this king for their sake, Ps. 105. 14, 15.

I. God gives him notice of his danger, (v. 3.) his danger of sin; telling him that the woman was a man's wife, so that if he take her, he wrongs her husband; his danger of death for this sin, Thou art a dead man; and God's saying so of a man, makes him so. Note, Every wilful sinner ought to be told that he is a dead man. As the condemned malefactor, and the patient whose disease is mortal, are said to be so: If thou art a bad man, certainly thou art a dead man.

II. He pleads ignorance, (v. 4, 5.) that Abraham and Sarah had agreed to impose upon him, and not to let him know that they were any more than brother and sister. See what confidence a man may have toward God, when his heart condemns him not, 1 John 3. 21. If our consciences witness to our integrity, and that, however we may have been cheated into a snare, we have not, knowingly and wittingly sinned against God, it will be our rejoicing in the day of evil. He pleads with God as Abraham had done, ch. 18. 23, Wilt thou slay a righteous nation? Not such a nation as Sodom, which was indeed justly destroyed, but a nation which, in this matter, was innocent.

III. God gives a very full answer to what he had said.

1. He allows his plea, and admits that what he did, he did in the integrity of his heart, v. 6, Yea, I know it. Note, It is matter of comfort to those that are honest, that God knows their honesty, and will acknowledge it, though perhaps men that are prejudiced against them, either cannot be convinced of it, or will not own that they are.

2. He lets him know that he was kept from proceeding in the sin, merely by the good hand of God upon him. I withheld thee from sinning against me. Abimelech was hereby kept from doing wrong, Abraham from suffering wrong, and Sarah from both. Note, (1.) There is a great deal of sin devised and designed, that is never executed. As bad as things are in the world, they are not so bad as the Devil and wicked men would have them. (2.) It is God that restrains men from doing the ill they would do; it is not from him that there is sin, but it is from him that there is not more sin, either by his influence upon men's minds, checking their inclination to sin, or by his providence, taking away the opportunity to sin. (3.) It is a great mercy to be hindered from committing sin; of this God must have the glory, whoever is the instrument, 1 Sam. 25. 32, 33.

3. He charges him to make restitution, v. 7, Now therefore, now that thou art better informed, restore the man his wife. Note, Ignorance will excuse no longer than it continues; if we ignorantly did wrong, that will not excuse us, if we knowingly persist in it. Lev. 5. 3..5. The reasons why he must be just and kind to Abraham, are, (1.) Because he is a prophet; near and dear to God, for whom God does in a particular manner concern himself. God highly resents the injuries done to his prophets, and takes them as done to himself. (2.) Being a prophet, he shall pray for thee; that is a prophet's reward, and a good reward it is. It is intimated that there was great efficacy in the prayers of a prophet, and that good men should be ready to help those with their prayers, that stand in need of them, and should make, at least, this return for the kindnesses that are done them. Abraham was accessary to Abimelech's trouble, and therefore was obliged in justice to pray for him. (3.) It is at thy peril, if thou do not restore her; know thou that thou shalt surely die. Note, He that does wrong, whoever he is, prince or peasant, shall certainly receive for the wrong which he has done, unless he repent and make restitution, Col. 3. 25. No injustice can be made passable with God, no not by Caesar's image stamped upon it.

8. Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. 9. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? And what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me, and on my kingdom, a great sin? Thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. 10. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? 11. And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake. 12. And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me: at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.

Abimelech, being thus warned of God in a dream, takes the warning, and, as one truly afraid of sin and its consequences, he rises early to pursue the directions given him.

I. He has a caution for his servants; (v. 8.) Abraham himself could not be more careful than he was, to command his household in this matter. Note, Those whom God has convinced of sin and danger, ought to tell others what God has done for their souls, that they also may be awakened, and brought to a like holy fear.

II. He has a chiding for Abraham. Observe,

1. The serious reproof which Abimelech gave to Abraham, v. 9, 10. His reasoning with Abraham upon this occasion was strong, and yet very mild. Nothing could be said better; he does not reproach him, nor insult over him; does net say, "Is this your profession? I see, though you will not swear, you will lie. If these be prophets, I will beg to be freed from the sight of them;" but he fairly represents the injury Abraham had done him, and calmly signifies his resentment of it. (1.) He calls that sin which he now found that he had been in danger of, a great sin. Note, Even the light of nature teaches men that the sin of adultery is a very great sin: be it observed, to the shame of many who call themselves Christians, and yet make a light matter of it. (2.) He looks upon it, that both himself and his kingdom would have been exposed to the wrath of God, if he had been guilty of that sin, though ignorantly. Note, The sins of kings often prove the plagues of kingdoms; rulers should therefore, for their people's sake, dread sin. (3.) He charges Abraham with doing that which was not justifiable, in disowning his marriage; this he speaks of justly, and yet tenderly; he does not call him a liar and cheat; but tells him he had done deeds that ought not to be done. Note, Equivocation and dissimulation, however they may be palliated, are very bad things, and by no means to be admitted in any case. (4.) He takes it as a very great injury to himself and his family, that Abraham had thus exposed them to sin; "What have I offended thee? If I had been thy worst enemy, thou couldest not have done me a worse turn, nor taken a more effectual course to be avenged on me." Note, We ought to reckon that those do us the greatest unkindness in the world, that any ways tempt or expose us to sin, though they may pretend friendship, and offer that which is grateful enough to the corrupt nature. (5.) He challenges him to assign a cause for his suspecting them as a dangerous people for an honest man to live among, v. 10, "What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? What reason hadst thou to think that if we had known her to be thy wife, thou wouldest have been exposed to any danger by it?" Note, A suspicion of our goodness is justly reckoned a greater affront than a slight upon our greatness.

2. The poor excuse that Abraham made for himself.

(1.) He pleaded the bad opinion he had of the place, v. 11. He thought within himself, (though he could not give any good reason for his thinking so,) "Surely the fear of God is not in this place, and then they will slay me." [1.] Little good is to be expected there, where no fear of God is: see Ps. 36. 1.   [2.] There are many places and persons, that have more of the fear of God in them, than we think they have: perhaps they are not called by our dividing name, they do not wear our badges, they do not tie themselves to that which we have an opinion of; and therefore we conclude they have not the fear of God in their hearts, which is very injurious both to Christ and christians, and makes us obnoxious to God's judgment, Matt. 7. 1.   [3.] Uncharitableness and censoriousness are sins that are the cause of many other sins. When men have once persuaded themselves concerning such and such, that they have not the fear of God, they think that will justify them in the most unjust and unchristian practices toward them. Men would not do ill, if they did not first think ill.

(2.) He excused it from the guilt of a downright lie, by making it out, that, in a sense, she was his sister, v. 12. Some think she was own sister to Lot, who is called his brother Lot, ch. 14. 16, though he was his nephew; so Sarah is called his sister. But they to whom he said, She is my sister, understood that she was so his sister, as not to be capable of being his wife; so that it was an equivocation, with an intent to deceive.

(3.) He clears himself from the imputation of an affront designed to Abimelech in it, by alleging that it had been his practice before, according to an agreement between him and his wife, when they first became sojourners, v. 13, "When God caused me to wander from my father's house, then we settled this matter." Note, [1.] God is to be acknowledged in all our wanderings. [2.] Those that travel abrond, and converse much with strangers, as they have need of the wisdom of the serpent, so it is requisite that that wisdom be ever tempered with the innocence of the dove. It may, for aught I know, be suggested, that God denied to Abraham and Sarah the blessing of children so long, to punish them for this sinful compact which they had made, to deny one another; if they will not own their marriage, why should God own it? But we may suppose that, after this reproof which Abimelech gave them, they agreed never to do so again, and then presently we read, ch. 21. 1, 2, that Sarah conceived.

14. And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and men servants, and women servants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. 15. And Abimelech said. Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. 16. And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved. 17. So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maid servants; and they bare children. 18. For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.

Here is,

1. The kindness of a prince, which Abimelech showed to Abraham. See how unjust Abraham's jealousies were; he fancied that if they knew that Sarah was his wife, they would kill him; but, instead of that, when they did know, they were kind to him, frightened at least to be so, by the divine rebukes they were under. (1.) He gives him his royal licence to dwell where he pleased in his country; courting his stay, because he saw that God was with him, v. 15. (2.) He gives him his royal gifts, v. 14, sheep and oxen, and v. 16, a thousand pieces of silver. This he gave when he restored Sarah, either, [1.] By way of satisfaction for the wrong he had offered to do, in taking her to his house; when the Philistines restored the Ark, being plagued for detaining it, they sent a present with it. The law appointed, that when restitution was made, something should be added to it, Lev. 6. 5. Or, [2.] To engage Abraham's prayers for him; not as if prayers should be bought and sold; but these, whose spiritual things we reap of, we should endeavour to be kind to, 1 Cor. 9. 11. Note, It is our wisdom to get and keep an interest with those that have an interest in heaven; and to make those our friends, who are the friends of God. (3.) He gives to Sarah good instruction, tells her that her husband (her brother, he calls him, to upbraid her with calling him so) must be to her for a covering of the eyes, that is, she must look at no other, nor desire to be looked at by any other. Note, Yokefellows must be to each other for a covering of the eyes. The marriage-covenant is a covenant with the eyes, like Job's, ch. 31. 1.

2. The kindness of a prophet, which Abraham showed to Abimelech; he prayed for him, v. 17, 18. This honour God would put upon Abraham, that though Abimelech had restored Sarah, yet the judgment he was under should be removed upon the prayer of Abraham, and not before. Thus God healed Miriam, when Moses, whom she had most affronted, prayed for her, Numb. 12. 13, and was reconciled to Job's friends, when Job, whom they had grieved, prayed for them, (Job 44. 8..10.) and so did, as it were, give it under his hand, that he was reconciled to them. Note, The prayers of good men may he a kindness to great men, and ought to be valued.


In this chapter, we have, I. Isaac, the child of promise, born into Abraham's family, v. 1..8.   II. Ishmael, the son of the bond-woman, cast out of it, v. 9.. 21.   III. Abraham's league with his neighbour Abimelech, v. 22...32.  IV. His devotion to his God, v. 33, 34.

1.AND the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. 4. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. 6. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. 7. And she said. Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck ? for I have born him a son in his old age. 8. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.

Long looked for comes at last. The vision concerning the promised seed is for an appointed time, and now at an end, it speaks, and does not lie; few under the Old Testament were brought into the world with such expectation as Isaac was; not for the sake of any great personal eminence at which he was to arrive, but because he was to be, in this very thing, a type of Christ, that Seed which the holy God so long promised, and holy men so long expected. In this account of the first days of Isaac, we may observe,

I. The fulfilling of God's promise in the conception and birth of Isaac, v. 1, 2. Note, God's providences look best and brightest, when they are compared with his word, and when we observe how God in them all, acts as he has said, as he has spoken. 1. Isaac was born according to the promise. The Lord visited Sarah in mercy, as he had said. Note, No word of God shall fall to the ground; for he is faithful that has promised, and God's faithfulness is the stay and support of his people's faith. He was born at the set time which God had spoken to him, v. 2. Note, God is always punctual to his time; though his promised mercies come not at the time we set, they will certainly come at the time that He sets, and that is the best time. 2. He was born by virtue of the promise; Sarah by faith received strength to conceive, Heb. 11. 11. God therefore, by promise, gave that strength. It was not by the power of common providence, but by the power of a special promise, that Isaac was born. A sentence of death, as it were, passed upon the second causes; Abraham was old, and Sarah old, and both as good as dead; and then the word of God took place. Note, True believers, by virtue of God's promises, are enabled to do that which is above the power of human nature, for by them they partake of a divine nature, 2 Pet. 1. 4.

II. Abraham's obedience to God's precept concerning Isaac. 1. He named him, as God commanded him, v. 3. God directed him to name him for a memorial, Isaac, laughter; and Abraham, whose office it was, gave him that name, though he might have designed him some other name of a more pompous signification. Note, It is fit that the luxuriancy of human invention should always yield to the sovereignty and plainness of divine institution; yet there was good reason for the name. (1.) When Abraham received the promise of him, he laughed for joy, ch. 17, 17. Note, When the sun of comfort is risen upon the soul, it is good to remember how welcome the dawning of the day was, and with what exultation we embraced the promise. (2.) When Sarah received the promise, she laughed with distrust and diffidence. Note, When God gives us the mercies we began to despair of, we ought to remember with sorrow and shame our sinful distrusts of God's power and premise, when we were in pursuit of them. (3.) Isaac was himself, afterward, laughed at by Ishmael, v. 9, and perhaps his name bid him expect it. Note, God's favourites are of the world's laughing-stocks. (4.) The promise which he was, not only the son, but the heir of, was to be the joy of all the saints in all ages, and that which would fill their mouths with laughter. 2. He circumcised him, v. 4. The covenant being established with him, the seal of the covenant was administered to him: and though a bloody ordinance, and he a darling, yet it must not be omitted; no, nor deferred beyond the eighth day. God had kept time in performing the promise, and therefore Abraham must keep time in obeying the precept.

III. The impressions which this mercy made upon Sarah.

1. It filled her with joy, v. 6, "God has made me to laugh; he has given me both cause to rejoice, and a heart to rejoice." Thus the mother of our Lord, Luke 1. 46, 47. Note, (1.) God bestows mercies upon his people to encourage their joy in his work and service: and whatever is the matter of our joy, God must be acknowledged as the Author of it, unless it be the laughter of the fool. (2.) When mercies have been long deferred, they are the more welcome when they come. (3.) It adds to the comforts of any mercy, to have our friends rejoice with us in it. See Luke 1. 58. They that hear us, will laugh with me: for laughing is catching. Others would rejoice in this instance of God's power and goodness, and be encouraged to trust in him. See Ps. 119. 74.

2. It filled her with wonder, v. 7. Observe here, (1.) What it was she thought so wonderful, that Sarah should give children suck, that she should not only bear a child, but be so strong and hearty at that age, as to give it suck. Note, Mothers, if they be able, ought to be nurses to their own children. Sarah was a person of quality; was aged; nursing might be prejudicial either to herself, or to the child, or to both; she had choice of nurses, no doubt, in her own family; and yet she would do her duty in this matter; and her daughters the good wives are, while they thus do well, 1 Pet. 3. 5, 6. See Lam. 4. 3.   (2.) How she expressed her wonder, "Who would have said it? The thing was so highly improbable, so near to impossible, that if any one but God had said it, we could not have believed it." Note, God's favours to his covenant people are such as surpass both their own and other's thoughts and expectations; who could imagine that God should do so much for those that deserve so little, nay, for those that deserve so ill? See Eph. 3. 20.   2 Sam. 7. 18, 19. Who would have said that God should send his Son to die for us, his Spirit to sanctify us, his angels to attend us? Who would have said that such great sins should be pardoned, such mean services accepted, and such worthless worms taken into covenant and communion with the great and holy God?

IV. A short account of Isaac's infancy, v. 8, The child grew; special notice is taken of this, though a thing of course, to intimate that the children of the promise are growing children: See Luke 1. 80.   2. 40. They that are born of God, shall increase more and more with the increase of God, Col. 2. 19. He grew so as not always to need milk, but as able to bear strong meat, and then he was weaned: See Heb. 5. 13, 14. And then it was that Abraham made a great feast for his friends and neighbours, in thankfulness to God for his mercy to him. He made this feast, not on the day that Isaac was born, that would have been too great a disturbance to Sarah; nor on the day that he was circumcised, that would have been too great a diversion from the ordinance; but on the day that he was weaned, because God's blessing upon the nursing of children, and the preservation of them through the perils of the infant-age, are signal instances of the care and tenderness of the Divine Providence, which ought to be acknowledged, to its praise: see Ps. 22. 9, 10. Hos. 11. 1, 2.

9. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bond-woman, and her son: for the son of this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. 11. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. 12. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bond-woman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 13. And also of the son of the bond-woman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

The casting out of Ishmael is here considered of, and resolved on.

I. Ishmael himself gave the occasion, by some affronts he gave to Isaac his little brother; some think, on the day that Abraham made the feast, for joy that Isaac was safely weaned, which, the Jews say, was not till he was three years old; others say, five. Sarah herself was an eye-witness of the abuse; she saw the son of the Egyptian, mocking, v. 9, mocking Isaac, no doubt, for it is said, with reference to this, Gal. 4. 29, that he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit. Ishmael is here called the son of the Egyptian, because, as some think, the 400 years' affliction of the seed of Abraham by the Egyptians began now, and was to be dated from hence, ch. 15. 13. She saw him playing with Isaac, so the LXX. and, in play, mocking him. Ishmael was fourteen years older than Isaac; and when children are together, the elder should be careful and tender of the younger; but it argued a very base and sordid disposition in Ishmael, to be abusive to a child that was no way a match for him. Note, 1. God takes notice of what children say and do in their play: and will reckon with them, if they say or do amiss, though their parents do not. 2. Mocking is a great sin, and very provoking to God. 3. There is a rooted remaining enmity in the seed of the serpent against the Seed of the woman. The children of promise must expect to be mocked. This is persecution which they that live godly, must count upon. 4. None are rejected and cast out from God, but those who have first deserved it; Ishmael is continued in Abraham's family, till he becomes a disturbance, grief, and scandal to it.

II. Sarah made the motion, v. 10, Cast out this bond-woman.This seems to be spoken in some heat, yet it is quoted, Gal. 4. 30, as if it had been spoken by a spirit of prophesy; and it is the sentence passed on all hypocrites and carnal people, though they have a place and name in the visible church; all that are born after the flesh and not born again, that rest in the law and reject the gospel-promise, shall certainly be cast out. It is made to point particularly at the rejection of the unbelieving Jews, who, though they were the seed of Abraham, yet because they submitted not to the gospel-covenant, were unchurched and disfranchised; and that which, above any thing, provoked God to cast them off, was, their mocking and persecuting of the gospel-church, God's Isaac, in its infancy, 1 Thess. 2. 16. Note, There are many who are familiarly conversant with the children of God in this world, and yet shall not partake with them in the inheritance of sons. Ishmael might be Isaac's play-fellow and school-fellow, yet not his fellow-heir.

III. Abraham was averse to it, v. 11, The thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight. 1. It grieved him that Ishmael had given such a provocation. Note, Children ought to consider that the more their parents love them, the more they are grieved at their misconduct, and particularly their quarrels among themselves. 2. It grieved him that Sarah insisted upon such a punishment. "Might it not suffice to correct him; would nothing less serve than to expel him?" Note, Even the needful extremities which must be used with wicked and incorrigible children, are very grievous to tender parents, who cannot thus afflict willingly.

IV. God determined it, v. 12, 13. We may well suppose Abraham to be greatly agitated about this matter; loath to displease Sarah, and yet loath to expel Ishmael; in this difficulty, God tells him what his will was, and then he is satisfied. Note, A good man desires no more in doubtful cases than to know his duty, and what God would have him do; and when he is clear in that, he is, or should be, easy. To make Abraham so, God sets this matter before him in a true light, and shows him, 1. That the casting out of Ishmael was necessary to the establishment of Isaac in the rights and privileges of the covenant. In Isaac shall thy seed be called: both Christ and the church must descend from Abraham through the loins of Isaac; this is the entail of the promise upon Isaac, and is quoted by the apostle, (Rom. 9. 7.) to show that not all who came from Abraham's loins, were the heirs of Abraham's covenant. Isaac, the promised son, must be the father of the promised seed; therefore, "Away with Ishmael, send him far enough, lest he corrupt the manners, or attempt to invade the rights of Isaac." It will be his security to have his rival banished. The covenant-seed of Abraham must be a peculiar people, a people by themselves, from the very first distinguished, not mingled with those that were out of covenant, for this reason, Ishmael must be separated. Abraham was called alone, and so must Isaac be. See Isa. 51. 2. It is probable that Sarah little thought of this, (John 11. 51.) but God took what she said, and turned it into an oracle, as afterward, ch. 27. 10.   2. That the casting out of Ishmael should not be his ruin, v. 13, He shall be a nation, because he is thy seed. We are not sure that it was his eternal ruin; it is presumption to say that all those who are left out of the eternal dispensation of God's covenant, are therefore excluded from all his mercies: those may be saved, who are not thus honoured. However, we are sure it was not his temporal ruin. Though he was chased out of the church, he was not chased out of the world. I will make him a nation. Note, (1.) Nations are of God's making; he founds them, he forms them, he fixes them. (2.) Many are full of the blessings of God's providence, that are strangers to the blessings of his covenant. (3.) The children of this world often fare the better, as to outward things, for their relation to the children of God.

14. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. 15. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. 16. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow-shot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. 17. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. 19. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. 20. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. 21. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

Here is,

1. The casting out of the bond-woman and her son from the family of Abraham, v. 14. Abraham's obedience to the divine command in this matter was speedy; early in the morning, we may suppose immediately after he had, in the night's visions, received orders to do this. It was also submissive; it was contrary to his judgment, at least, to his own inclination, to do it; yet as soon as he perceives that it is the mind of God, he makes no objections, but silently does as he is bidden, as one trained up to an implicit obedience. In sending them away without any attendants, on foot, and slenderly provided for, it is probable that he observed the directions given him. If Hagar and Ishmael had conducted themselves well in Abraham's family, they might have continued there; but they threw themselves out by their own pride and insolence, which were thus justly chastised. Note, By abusing our privileges, we forfeit them. Those that know not when they are well off in such a desirable place as Abraham's family, deserve to be cashiered, and to be made to know the worth of mercies by the want of them.

II. Their wandering in the wilderness, missing their way to the place Abraham designed them for a settlement.

1. They were reduced to great distress there; their provisions were spent, and Ishmael was sick; he that used to be full fed in Abraham's house, where he waxed fat and kicked, now fainted and sunk, when he was brought to short allowance. Hagar is in tears, and sufficiently mortified; now she wishes for the crumbs she had wasted, and made light of, at her master's table; like one under the power of the spirit of bondage, she despairs of relief, counts upon nothing but the death of the child, (v. 15, 16.) though God had told her, before he was born, that he should live to be a man, a great man. We are apt to forget former promises, when present providences seem to contradict them; for we live by sense.

2. In this distress, God graciously appeared for their relief; he heard the voice of the lad, v. 17. We read not of a word he said; but his sighs, and groans, and calamitous state, cried loud in the ears of mercy. An angel was sent to comfort Hagar, and it was not the first time that she had met with God's comforts in a wilderness; she had thankfully acknowledged the former kind visit which God made her in such a case, ch. 16. 13, and therefore God now visited her again with seasonable succours. (1.) The angel assures her of the cognizance God took of her distress; God has heard the voice of the lad where he is, though he is in a wilderness: for wherever we are, there is a way open heavenward; therefore lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand, v. 18. Note, God's readiness to help us when we are in trouble, must not slacken, but quicken, our endeavours to help ourselves. (2.) He repeats the promise concerning her son, that he should be a great nation, as a reason why she should bestir herself to help him. Note, It should engage our care and pains about children and young people, to consider that we know not what God has designed them for, nor what great use Providence may make of them. (3.) He directs her to a present supply, v. 19, he opened her eyes, which were swollen, and almost blinded, with weeping; and then she saw a well of water. Note, Many that have reason enough to be comforted, go mourning from day to day, because they do not see the reason they have for comfort. There is a well of water by them in the covenant of grace, but they are not aware of it; they have not the benefit of it, till the same God that opened their eyes to see their wound, opens them to see their remedy, John 16. 6, 7. Now the apostle tells us, that those things concerning Hagar and Ishmael are αλληγορουμενα, Gal. 4. 24, they are to be allegorized; this then will serve to illustrate the folly of those, [1.] Who like the unbelieving Jews, seek for righteousness by the law and the carnal ordinances of it, and not by the promise made in Christ, thereby running themselves into a wilderness of want and despair. Their comforts are soon exhausted, and if God save them not by his special prerogative; and by a miracle of mercy open their eyes, and undeceive them, they are undone. [2.] Their folly also, who seek for satisfaction and happiness in the world and the things of it. Those that forsake the comforts of the covenant and communion with God, and choose their portion in this earth, take up with a bottle of water, poor and slender provision, and that, soon spent; they wander endlessly in pursuit of satisfaction, and, at length, sit down short of it.

III. The settlement of Ishmael, at last, in the wilderness of Paran, v. 20, 21, a wild place, fittest for a wild man; and such an one he was, ch. 16. 12. They that are born after the flesh, take up with the wilderness of this world, while the children of the promise aim at the heavenly Canaan, and cannot be at rest till they are there. Observe, 1. He had some tokens of God's presence, God was with the lad; his outward prosperity was owing to this. 2. By trade he was an archer, which intimates that craft was his excellency, and sport his business; rejected Esau was a cunning hunter. 3. He matched among his mother's relations; she took him a wife out of Egypt; as great an archer as he was, he did not think he took his aim well in the business of marriage, if he proceeded without his mother's advice and consent.

22. And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest. 23. Now therefore swear unto me here by God, that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. 24. And Abraham said, I will swear. 25. And Abraham reproved Abimelech, because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. 26. And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it but to-day. 27. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech: and both of them made a covenant. 28. And Abraham set seven ewe-lambs of the flock by themselves. 29. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe-lambs, which thou hast set by themselves? 30. And he said, For these seven ewe-lambs, shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. 31. Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba: because there they sware both of them. 32. Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

We have here an account of the treaty between Abimelech and Abraham, in which appears the accomplishment of that promise, ch. 12. 2, that God would make his name great. His friendship is valued, is courted, though a stranger, though a tenant at will to the Canaanites and Perizzites.

I. The league is proposed by Abimelech, and Phichol his prime-minister of state, and general of his army. 1. The inducement to it was God's favour to Abraham, v. 22, "God is with thee in all thou doest, and we cannot but take notice of it." Note, (1.) God in his providence sometimes shows his people such tokens for good, that their neighbours cannot but take notice of it, Ps. 86. 17. Their affairs do so visibly prosper, and they have such remarkable success in their undertakings, that a confession is extorted from all about them, of God's presence with them. (2.) It is good being in favour with those that are in favour with God, and having an interest in them that have an interest in heaven, Zech. 8. 25, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. We do well for ourselves, if we have fellowship with those that have fellowship with God, 1 John 1. 3. 2. The tenor of it was, in general, that there should be a firm and constant friendship between the two families, which should not upon any account be violated. This bond of friendship must be strengthened by the bond of an oath, in which the true God was appealed to, both as a Witness of their sincerity and an Avenger, in case either side were treacherous, v. 23. Observe, (1.) He desires the entail of this league upon his posterity, and the extent of it to his people. He would have his son, and his son's son, and his land likewise, to have the benefit of it. Good men should secure an alliance and communion with the favourites of heaven, not for themselves only, but for their's also. (2.) He reminds Abraham of the fair treatment he had found among them, according to the kindness I have done unto thee. As those that have received kindness, must return it, so those that have showed kindness, may expect it.

II. It is consented to by Abraham, with a particular clause inserted about a well. In Abraham's part of this transaction, 1. He was ready to enter into this league with Abimelech, finding him to be a man of honour and conscience, and that had the fear of God before his eyes, v. 24, I will swear. Note, (1.) Religion does not make men morose and unconversable; I am sure it ought not; we must not, under colour of shunning bad company, be sour to all company, and jealous of every body. (2.) An honest mind does not startle at giving assurances: if Abraham say that he will be true to Abimelech, he is not afraid to swear it: an oath is for confirmation. 2. He prudently settled the matter concerning a well, which Abimelech's servants had quarrelled with Abraham about. Wells of water, it seems, were choice goods in that country: thanks be to God, that they are not so scarce in our's. (1.) Abraham mildly told Abimelech of it, v. 25. Note, If our brother trespass against us, we must, with the meekness of wisdom, tell him his fault, that the matter may be fairly accommodated, and an end made of it, Matt. 18. 15.   (2.) He acquiesced in Abimelech's justification of himself in this matter, v. 26, I wot not who has done this thing. Many are suspected of injustice and unkindness, that are perfectly innocent, which we ought to be glad to be convinced of: the faults of servants must not be imputed to their masters, unless they know of them, and justify them; and no more can be expected from an honest man, than that he be ready to do right, as soon as he knows that he has done wrong. (3.) He took care to have his title to the well cleared and confirmed, to prevent any disputes or quarrels for the future, v. 30. It is justice, as well as wisdom, to do thus, in perpetuam rei memoriam—that the circumstance may be perpetually remembered. 3. He made a very handsome present to Abimelech, v. 27. It was not any thing curious or fine that he presented to him, but that which was valuable and useful, sheep and oxen, in gratitude for Abimelech's kindness to him, and in token of hearty friendship between them: the interchanging of kind offices is the improving of love; that which is mine, is my friend's. 4. He ratified the covenant by an oath, and registered it by giving a new name to the place, v. 31. Beer-sheba, the well of the oath, in remembrance of the covenant they sware to, that they might be ever mindful of it; or, the well of seven, in remembrance of the seven lambs given to Abimelech, as a consideration for his confirming Abraham' title to that well. Note, Bargains made, must be remembered, that we may make them good, and may not break our word through oversight.

33. And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. 34. And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.

Observe, 1. Abraham, being got into a good neighbourhood, knew when he was well off, and continued a great while there: there he planted a grove for a shade to his tent, or perhaps an orchard for fruit trees; and there, though we cannot say he settled, for God would have him, while he lived, to be a stranger and a pilgrim; yet he sojourned many days, as many as would consist with his character, as Abraham the Hebrew, or passenger. 2. There he made not only a constant practice, but an open profession of his religion. There he called on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God, probably, in the grove he planted, which was his oratory or house of prayer. Christ prayed in a garden, on a mountain. (1.) Abraham kept up public worship, to which, probably, his neighbours resorted, that they might join with him. Note, Good men should not only retain their goodness wherever they go, but do all they can to propagate it, and make others good. (2.) In calling on the Lord, we must eye him as the everlasting God, the God of the world; so some. Though God had made himself known to Abraham as his God in particular, and in covenant with him, yet he forgets not to give glory to him as the Lord of all: the everlasting God, who was before all worlds, and will be when time and days shall be no more. See Isa. 40. 28.


We have here that famous story of Abraham's offering up his son Isaac, that is, his offering to offer him, which is justly looked upon as one of the wonders of the church. Here is, I. The strange command which God gave to Abraham concerning it, v. 1, 2.   II. Abraham's strange obedience to this command, v 3..10.   III. The strange issue of this trial. 1. The sacrificing of Isaac was countermanded, v. 11, 12.   2. Another sacrifice was provided, v. 13, 14.   3. The covenant was renewed with Abraham, hereupon, v. 16..19.   Lastly, An account of some of Abraham's relations, v. 20..24.

1.AND it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham. And he said, Behold here I am. 2. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Here is the trial of Abraham's faith, whether it continued so strong, so vigorous, so victorious, after a long settlement in communion with God, as it was at first, when by it he left his country: then, it was made to appear that he loved God better than his father: now, that he loved him better than his son. Observe here,

I. The time when Abraham was thus tried; (v. 1.) after these things; after all the other exercises he had had, all the hardships and difficulties he had gone through: now, perhaps, he was beginning to think the storms were all blown over; but after all this encounter comes, which is sharper than any yet. Note, Many former trials will not supersede, or secure us from further trials; we have not yet put off the harness, 1 Kings 20. 11. See Ps. 30. 6, 7.

II. The Author of the trial; God tempted him, not to draw him to sin, so Satan tempts: if Abraham had sacrificed Isaac, he had not sinned; his orders would have justified him, and borne him out; God tempted him, to discover his graces, how strong they were, that they might be found to praise, and honour, and glory, 1 Pet. 1. 7. Thus God tempted Job, that lie might appear not only a good man, but a great man. God did tempt Abraham; he did lift up Abraham, so some read it; as a scholar that improves well, is lifted up when he is put into a higher form. Note, Strong faith is often exercised with strong trials, and put upon hard services.

III. The trial itself; God appeared to him as he had formerly done, called him by name, Abraham, that name which had been given him in ratification of the promise. Abraham, like a good servant, readily answered, "Here am I; what says my Lord unto his servant ?" Probably, he expected some renewed promise like those, ch. 15. 1, and 17. 1. But, to his great amazement, that which God has to say to him, is, in short, Abraham, go, kill thy son; and this command is given him in such aggravating language, as makes the temptation abundantly more grievous. When God speaks, Abraham, no doubt, takes notice of every word, and listens attentively to it; and every word here is a sword in his bones; the trial is steeled with trying phrases. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that he should afflict? No, it is not; yet when Abraham's faith is to be tried, God seems to take pleasure in the aggravation of the trial, v. 2. Observe,

1. The person to be offered; (1.) Take thy son, not thy bullocks and thy lambs; how willingly would Abraham have parted with them by thousands to redeem Isaac! No, I will take no bullock out of thy house, Ps. 50. 9. "I must have thy son: not thy servant, no, not the steward of thine house, that shall not serve the turn; I must have thy son." Jephthah, in pursuance of a vow, offered a daughter; but Abraham must offer his son, in whom the family was to be built up. "Lord let it be an adoptedson;" No, (2.) "Thine only son; thine only son by Sarah." Ishmael was lately cast out to the grief of Abraham; and now Isaac only was left, and must he go too? Yes, (3.) "Take Isaac, him, by name, thy laughter, that son indeed," ch. 17. 19, not "Send for Ishmael back, and offer him; no, it must be Isaac:" "But, Lord, I love Isaac, he is to me as my own soul; Ishmael is not, and wilt thou take Isaac also? All this is against me:" Yes, (4.) That son whom thou lovest. It was a trial of Abraham's love to God, and therefore it must be in a beloved son, and that string must be touched most upon: in the Hebrew it is expressed more emphatically, and, I think, might very well be read thus, Take now that son of thine, that only one of thine, whom thou lovest, that Isaac. God's command must over-rule all these considerations.

2. The place; in the land of Moriah, three days' journey off; so that he might have time to consider it, and, if he did it, might do it deliberately, that it might be a service the more reasonable, and the more honourable.

3. The manner; offer him for a burnt-offering; he must not only kill his son, but kill him as a sacrifice, kill him devoutly, kill him by rule, kill him with all that pomp and ceremony, with all that sedateness and composure of mind, with which he used to offer his burnt-offerings.

3. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4. Then on the third day Abraham lift up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold, the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering? 8. And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering: so they went both of them together. 9. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and he laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took a knife to slay his son.

We have here Abraham's obedience to this severe command: Being tried, he offered up Isaac, Heb. 11. 17. Observe,

I. The difficulties which he brake through in this act of obedience; much might have been objected against it. As,

1. It Seemed directly against an antecedent law of God, which forbids murder, under a severe penalty, ch. 9. 5, 6. Now can the unchangeable God contradict himself? He that hates robbery for burnt-offering, (Isa. 61. 8.) cannot delight in murder for it.

2. How would it consist with natural affection to his own son? It would be not only murder, but the worst of murders. Cannot Abraham be obedient, but he must be unnatural? If God insist upon a human sacrifice, is there none but Isaac to be the offering; and none but Abraham to be the offerer? Must the father of the faithful be the monster of all fathers?

3. God gave him no reason for it. When Ishmael was to be cast out, a just cause was assigned, which satisfied Abraham; but here Isaac must die, and Abraham must kill him, and neither the one nor the other must know on what account. If Isaac had been to die a martyr for the truth, or his life had been the ransom of some other life more precious, it had been another matter; or if he had died as a criminal, a rebel against God or his parents, as in the case of the idolater, (Deut. 13. 8, 9. ) or the stubborn son, (Deut. 21. 18, 19.) it might have passed as a sacrifice to justice; but the case is not so: he is a dutiful, obedient, hopeful, son; "Lord, what profit is there in his blood ?"

4. How would this consist with the promise? Was it not said that in Isaac shall thy seed be called? But what comes of that seed, if this pregnant bud be broken off so soon?

5. How should he ever look Sarah in the face again? With what face can he return to her and his family, with the blood of Isaac sprinkled on his garments, and staining all his raiment? Surely a bloody husband hast thou been unto me, would Sarah say, as Exod. 4. 25, 26, and it would be likely to alienate her affections for ever both from him and from his God.

6. What would the Egyptians say, and the Canaanites and Perizzites which dwelt then in the land? It would be an eternal reproach to Abraham, and to his altars. "Welcome nature, if this be grace." These, and many the like objections, might have been made; but he was infallibly assured that it was indeed a command of God, and not a delusion; and that was sufficient to answer them all. Note, God's commands must not be disputed, but obeyed: we must not consult with flesh and blood about them, (Gal. 1. 15. 16.) but with gracious obstinacy persist in our obedience to them.

II. The several steps of this obedience: all which help to magnify it, and to show that he was guided by prudence, and governed by faith, in the whole transaction.

1. He rises early, v. 3. Probably, the command was given in the visions of the night, and early the next morning, he set himself about the execution of it, did not delay, did not demur, did not take time to deliberate; for the command was peremptory, and would not admit a debate. Note, These that do the will of God heartily, will do it speedily: while we delay, time is lost, and the heart hardened.

2. He gets things ready for a sacrifice, and as if he himself had been a Gibeonite, it should seem, with his own hands he cleaves the wood for the burnt-offering, that that might not be to seek, when the sacrifice was to be offered; spiritual sacrifices must be thus prepared for.

3. It is very probable that he said nothing of it to Sarah; this is a journey which she must know nothing of, lest she prevent it. There is so much in our own hearts to hinder our progress in duty, that we have need, as much as may be, to keep out of the way of other hindrances.

4. He carefully looked about him, to discover the place appointed for the sacrifice, which God had promised by some sign to direct him to. Probably the direction was given by an appearance of the Divine Glory in the place, some pillar of fire reaching from heaven to earth, visible at a distance, and to which he pointed, when he said, (v. 5.) "We will go yonder, where you see the light, and worship."

5. He left his servants at some distance off, (v. 5.) lest they should have interposed, and created him some disturbance in his strange oblation; for Isaac was, no doubt, the darling of the whole family. Thus, when Christ was entering upon his agony in the garden, he took only three of his disciples with him, and left the rest at the garden door. Note, It is our wisdom and duty, when we are going to worship God, to lay aside all those thoughts and cares which may divert us from the service, leave them at the bottom of the hill, that we may attend on the Lord without distraction.

6. He obliged Isaac to carry the wood, (both to try his obedience in a lesser matter, first, and that he might typify Christ, who carried his own cross, John 19. 17.) while he himself, though he knew what he did, with a steady and undaunted resolution, carried the fatal knife and fire, v. 6. Note, Those that through grace are resolved upon the substance of any service or suffering for God, must overlook the little circumstances which make it doubly difficult to flesh and blood.

7. Without any ruffle or disorder, he talks it over with Isaac, as if it had been but a common sacrifice that he was going to offer, v. 7, 8.   (1.) It was a very affecting question that Isaac asked him, as they were going together: My father, said Isaac; it was a melting word, which, one would think, should strike deeper in the breast of Abraham, than his knife could in the breast of Isaac. He might have said, or thought at least, "Call me not thy father, who am now to be thy murderer; can a father be so barbarous, so perfectly lost to all the tenderness of a father?" Yet he keeps his temper, and keeps his countenance, to admiration ; he calmly waits for his son's question, and this is it. Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb? See how expert Isaac was in the law and custom of sacrifices: this it is to be well-catechised. This is, [1.] A trying question to Abraham. How could he endure to think that Isaac is himself the lamb? So it is, but Abraham, as yet, dares not tell him so; where God knows the faith to be armour of proof he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. Job. 9. 23.   [2.] It is a teaching question to us all; that when we are going to worship God, we should seriously consider whether we have every thing ready, especially the Lamb for a burnt-offering; behold, the fire is ready, that is, the Spirit's assistance, and God's acceptance; the wood is ready, the instituted ordinances designed to kindle our affections, (which indeed, without the Spirit, are but like wood without fire, but the Spirit works by them,) all things are now ready; but where is the lamb? Where is the heart? Is that ready to be offered up to God, to ascend to him as a burnt-offering? (2.) It was a very prudent answer which Abraham gave him, v. 8, My son, God will provide himself a lamb. This was the language, either [1.] Of his obedience; "We must offer the lamb which God has appointed now to be offered;" thus giving him this general rule of submission to the divine will, to prepare him for the application of it to himself very quickly. Or, [2.] Of his faith; whether he meant it so or not, this proved to be the meaning of it; a sacrifice was provided instead of Isaac. Thus, First, Christ, the great Sacrifice of atonement, was of God's providing; when none in heaven or earth could have found a lamb for that burnt-offering, God himself found the ransom, Ps. 89. 20. Secondly, All our sacrifices of acknowledgment are of God's providing too. It is he that prepares the heart, Ps. 10. 17. The broken and contrite spirit is a sacrifice of God, Ps. 51. 17, of his providing.

8. With the same resolution and composedness of mind, after many thoughts of heart, he applies himself to the completing of the sacrifice, v. 9, 10. He goes on with a holy wilfulness, after many a weary step, and with a heavy heart he arrives, at length, at the fatal place, builds the altar, an altar of earth, we may suppose, the saddest that ever he built, (and he had built many an one,) lays the wood in order for his Isaac's funeral pile, and now tells him the amazing news; "Isaac, thou art the lamb which God has provided." Isaac, for aught that appears, is as willing as Abraham; we do not find that he made any objection against it, any petition for his life, that he attempted to make his escape, much less that he struggled with his aged father, or made any resistance: Abraham does it, God will have it done, and Isaac has learned to submit to both; Abraham, no doubt, comforting him with the same hopes, with which he himself by faith was comforted. Yet it is necessary that a sacrifice be bound. The great Sacrifice, which, in the fulness of time, was to be offered up, must be bound, and therefore so must Isaac. But with what heart could tender Abraham tie those guiltless hands, that perhaps had often been lifted up to ask his blessing, and stretched out to embrace him, and were now the more straitly bound with the cords of love and duty! However, it must be done. Having bound him, he lays him upon the altar, and his hand upon the head of his sacrifice; and now, we may suppose, with floods of tears, he gives and takes, the final farewell of a parting kiss, perhaps he takes another for Sarah, from her dying son. This being done, he resolutely forgets the bowels of a father, and puts on the awful gravity of a sacrificer; with a fixed heart, and an eye lifted up to heaven, he takes the knife, and stretches out his hand to give the fatal cut to Isaac's throat. Be astonished, O heavens, at this; and wonder, O earth! Here is an act of faith and obedience, which deserves to be a spectacle to God, angels, and men. Abraham's darling, Sarah's laughter, the church's hope, the heir of promise, lies ready to bleed and die by his own father's hand, who never shrinks at the doing of it. Now this obedience of Abraham in offering up Isaac, is a lively representation, (1.) Of the love of God to us, in delivering up his only-begotten Son to suffer and die for us, as a sacrifice; it pleased the Lord himself to bruise him. See Isa. 53. 10. Zech. 13. 7. Abraham was obliged, both in duty and gratitude, to part with Isaac, and parted with him to a friend ; but God was under no obligations to us, for we were enemies. (2.) Of our duty to God, in return of that love; we must tread in the steps of this faith of Abraham. God, by his word, calls us to part with all for Christ; all our sins, though they have been as a right hand, or a right eye, or an Isaac; all those things that are competitors and rivals with Christ for the sovereignty of the heart; (Luke 14. 26.) and we must cheerfully let them all go. God, by his providence, which is truly the voice of God, calls us to part with an Isaac sometimes, and we must do it with a cheerful resignation and submission to his holy will, 1 Sam. 3. 18.

11. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said. Here am I. 12. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not with-held thy son, thine only son, from me. 13. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son. 14. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day. In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.

Hitherto this story has been very melancholy, and seems to hasten towards a most tragical period; but here the sky, of a sudden, clears up, the sun breaks out, a bright and pleasant scene opens; the same hand that had wounded and cast down, here heals and lifts up; for though he cause grief, he will have compassion. The angel of the Lord, that is, God himself, the eternal Word, the Angel of the covenant, who was to be the great Redeemer and Comforter, he interposed, and gave a happy issue to this trial.

I. Isaac is rescued, v. 11, 12. The command to offer him was intended only for trial, and it appearing, upon trial, that Abraham did indeed love God better than he loved Isaac, the end of the command was answered; and therefore the order is countermanded, without any reflection at all upon the unchangeableness of the divine councils; Lay not thine hand upon the lad. Note, 1. Our creature-comforts are then most likely to be continued to us, when we are most willing to resign them up to God's will. 2. God's time to help and relieve his people, is, when they are brought to the greatest extremity. The more imminent the danger is, and the nearer to be put into execution, the more wonderful, and the more welcome is the deliverance.

II. Abraham is not only approved, but applauded. He obtains an honourable testimony, that he is righteous. Now I know that thou fearest God: God knew it before, but now, Abraham had given a most memorable evidence of it. He needed do no more; what he had done, was sufficient to prove the religious regard he had to God and his authority. Note, 1. When God, by his providence, hinders the performance of our sincere intentions in his services, he graciously accepts the will for the deed, and the honest endeavour, though it come short of finishing. 2. The best evidence of our fearing God, is, our being willing to serve and honour him with that which is dearest to us, and to part with all to him, or for him.

III. Another sacrifice is provided instead of Isaac, v. 13. Now that the altar was built, and the wood laid in order, it was necessary that something should be offered. For, 1. God must be acknowledged with thankfulness for the deliverance of Isaac; and the sooner the better, when here is an altar ready. 2. Abraham's words must be made good, God will provide himself a lamb. God will not disappoint those expectations of his people, which are of his own raising; but, according to their faith, it is to them. Thou shall decree a thing, and it shall be established. 3. Reference must be had to the promised Messiah, the blessed Seed. (1.) Christ was sacrificed in our stead, as this ram instead of Isaac, and his death was our discharge; "Here am I, (said he) let these go their way." (2.) Though that blessed seed was lately promised, and now typified by Isaac, yet the offering of him up should be suspended till the latter end of the world: and, in the mean time, the sacrifice of beasts should be accepted, as this ram was, as a pledge of that expiation which should one day be made by that great Sacrifice. And it is observable, that the temple, the place of sacrifice, was afterward built upon this mount Moriah, (2 Chron. 3. 1.) and mount Calvary, where Christ was crucified, was not far off.

IV. A new name was given to that place, to the honour of God, and for the encouragement of all believers to the end of the world, cheerfully to trust in God in the way of obedience; Jehovah-jireh, The Lord will provide, v. 14. probably alluding to what he had said, v. 8, God will provide himself a lamb. It was not owing to any contrivance of Abraham, nor was it in answer to his prayer, though he was a distinguished intercessor; but it was purely the Lord's doing. Let it be recorded for generations to come, 1. That the Lord will see; he will always have his eye upon his people, in their straits and distresses, that he may come in with seasonable succour in the critical juncture. 2. That he will be seen, be seen in the mount, in the greatest perplexities of his people; he will not only manifest, but magnify, his wisdom, power, and goodness in their deliverance; where God sees and provides, he should be seen and praised: and, perhaps, it may refer to God manifest in the flesh.

15. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16. And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17. That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. 19. So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up, and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.

Abraham's obedience was graciously accepted, but that was not all; here we have it recompensed, abundantly recompensed, before he stirred from the place; probably, while the ram he had sacrificed, was yet burning, God sent him this gracious message, renewed and ratified his covenant with him. All covenants were made by sacrifice, so was this by the typical sacrifices of Isaac and the ram; very high expressions of God's favour to Abraham are employed in this confirmation of the covenant with him, expressions exceeding any he had yet been blessed with. Note, Extraordinary services shall be crowned with extraordinary honours and comforts; and favours in the promise, though not yet performed, ought to be accounted real and valuable recompenses.

I. God is pleased to make mention of Abraham's obedience as the consideration of the covenant; and he speaks of it with an encomium, v. 1, Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thy only son; he lays a strong emphasis upon that, and, v. 18, praises it as an act of obedience; in it thou hast obeyed my voice, and to obey is better than sacrifice. Not that this was a proportionable consideration; but God graciously put this honour upon that by which Abraham had honoured God.

II. God now confirmed the promise with an oath. It was said and sealed before; but now, it is sworn. By myself have I sworn; for he could swear by no greater, Heb. 6. 13. Thus he interposed himself by an oath, as the apostle expresses it there, v. 17; he did (to speak with reverence) even pawn his own life and being upon it, As I live: that by all those immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, he and his might have strong consolation. Note, If we exercise faith, God will encourage it. Improve the promises, and God will ratify them.

III. The particular promise here renewed, is that of a numerous offspring, v. 17, Multiplying, I will multiply thee. Note, Those that are willing to part with any thing for God, shall have it made up to them with unspeakable advantage. Abraham has but one son, and is willing to part with that one, in obedience to God; "Well," said God, "thou shalt be recompensed with thousands and millions." What a figure does the seed of Abraham make in history! How numerous, how illustrious were his known descendants, who, to this day, triumph in this, that they have Abraham to their father! Thus he receives a thousand-fold in this life, Matt. 19. 29.

IV. The promise, doubtless, points to the Messiah, and the grace of the gospel. This is the oath sworn to our father Abraham, which Zecharias refers to, Luke 1, 73, &c. And so here is a promise, 1. Of the great blessing of the Spirit; In blessing I will bless thee, namely, with that best of blessings, the gift of the holy Ghost; the promise of the Spirit was that blessing of Abraham, which was to come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, Gal. 3. 14.   2. Of the increase of the church; that believers, his spiritual seed, should be as many as the stars of heaven. 3. Of spiritual victories; Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. Believers, by their faith, overcome the world, and triumph over all the powers of darkness, and are more than conquerors. Probably, Zecharias refers to this part of the oath, Luke 1. 74, That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear. But the crown of all, is, the last promise, 4. Of the incarnation of Christ. In thy Seed, one particular person that shall descend from thee (for he speaks not of many, but of one, as the apostle observes, Gal. 3. 16.) shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, or shall bless themselves, as the phrase is, Isa. 65. 16. In him all may be happy if they will, and all that belong to him, shall be so, and shall think themselves so. Christ is the great Blessing of the world. Abraham was ready to give up his son for a sacrifice to the honour of God, and on that occasion God promised to give his son a sacrifice for the salvation of man.

20. And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, sayng, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor; 21. Huz his first-born, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, 22. And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23. And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor Abraham's brother. 24. And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.

This is recorded here, 1. To show that though Abraham saw his own family highly dignified with peculiar privileges, admitted into covenant, and blessed with the entail of the promise; yet he did not look with contempt and disdain upon his relations, but was glad to hear of the increase and prosperity of their families. 2. To make way for the following story of the marriage of Isaac to Rebekah, a daughter of this family.


Here is, I. Abraham a mourner for the death of Sarah, v. 1, 2.   II. Abraham a purchaser of a burying-place for Sarah. 1. The purchase humbly proposed by Abraham, v. 3, 4.   2. Fairly treated of, and agreed to, with a great deal of mutual civility and respect, v. 6..15. The purchase-money paid, v. 16.   3. The premises conveyed and secured to Abraham, v. 17, 18, 20.   5. Sarah's funeral, v. 19.

1.AND Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2. And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

We have here, 1. Sarah's age, v. 1. Almost 40 years before, she had called herself old, ch. 18. 12. Old people will die never the sooner, but may die the better, for reckoning themselves old. 2. Her death, v. 2. The longest liver must die at last. Abraham and Sarah had lived comfortably together many years; but death parts those whom nothing else could part. The special friends and favourites of heaven are not exempted from the stroke of death. She died in the land of Canaan, where she had been above 60 years a sojourner. 3. Abraham's mourning for her; and he was a true mourner. He did not only perform the ceremonies of mourning, according to the custom of those times, as the mourners that go about the streets; but he did sincerely lament the great loss he had of a good wife, and gave proof of the constancy of his affection to her to the last. Two words are used; he came both to mourn and to weep. His sorrow was not counterfeit, but real. He came to her tent, and sat down by the corpse, there to pay the tribute of his tears, that his eye might affect his heart, and that he might pay the greater respect to the memory of her that was gone. Note, it is not only lawful, but it is a duty, to lament the death of our near relations, both in compliance with the providence of God who thus calls to weeping and mourning, and in honour of those to whom honour is due. Tears are a tribute due to our deceased friends; when the body is sown, it must be watered; but we must not sorrow as those that have no hope; for we have a good hope through grace both concerning them, and concerning ourselves.

3. And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, 4. I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. 5. And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, 6. Hear us, my lord; thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. 7. And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. 8. And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should buy my dead out of my sight; hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, 9. That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth, he shall give it me for a possession of a burying-place among you. 10. And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying, 11. Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee; and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee; bury thy dead. 12. And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. 13. And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there. 14. And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, 15. My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? Bury therefore thy dead.

Here is,

I. The humble request which Abraham made to his neighbours the Hittites, for a burying-place among them, v. 3, 4. It was strange he had this to do now; but we are to impute it rather to God's providence than to his improvidence, as appears Acts 7. 5, where it is said God gave him no inheritance in Canaan. It were well, if all those who take care to provide burying-places for their bodies after death, were as careful to provide a resting-place for their souls. Observe here,

1. The convenient diversion which this affair gave, for the present, to Abraham's grief; he stood up from before his dead. Those that find themselves in danger of over-grieving for their dead relations, and are entering into that temptation, must take heed of poring upon their loss, and of sitting alone and melancholy. There must be a time of standing up from before their dead, and ceasing to mourn. For, thanks be to God, our happiness is not bound up in the life of any creature. Care of the funeral may be improved to divert grief for the death, as here, at first, when it is most in danger of tyrannising. Weeping must not hinder sowing.

2. The argument he used with the children of Heth; which was this, "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you, therefore I am unprovided, and must become a humble suitor to you for a burying-place." This was one occasion which Abraham took to confess that he was a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth; he was not ashamed to own it thus publicly, Heb. 11. 13. Note, The death of our relations should effectually remind us that we are not at home in this world. When they are gone, say, "We are going."

3. His uneasiness, till this affair was settled, intimated in that word, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. Note, Death will make those unpleasant to our sight, who, while they lived, were the desire of our eyes. The countenance that was fresh and lively becomes pale and ghastly, and fit to be removed into the land of darkness. While she was in his sight, it renewed his grief, which he would prevent.

II. The generous offer which the children of Heth made to him, v. 5, 6. They compliment him, 1. With a title of respect; Thou art a prince of God among us. So the word is, not only great, but good. He called himself a stranger and a sojourner; they call him a great prince; for those that humble themselves, shall be exalted. God had promised to make Abraham's name great. 2. With a tender of the best of their burying-places. Note, Even the light of nature teaches us to be civil and respectful towards all, though they be strangers and sojourners. The noble generosity of these Canaanites shames and condemns the closeness, and selfishness, and ill-humour, of many that call themselves Israelites. Observe, These Canaanites would be glad to mingle their dust with Abraham's, and to have their last end like his.

III. The particular proposal which Abraham made to them, v. 7..9. He returns them his thanks for their kind offer, with all possible decency and respect; though a great man, an old man, and now a mourner, yet he stands up, and bows himself humbly before them, v. 7. Note, Religion teaches good manners; and those abuse it, that place it in rudeness and clownishness. He then pitches upon the place he thought most convenient, namely, the cave of Machpelah, which probably, lay near him, and had not yet been used for a burying-place. The present owner was Ephron; Abraham cannot pretend to any interest in him, but he desires that they would improve their's with him, to get the purchase of that cave, and the field in which it was. Note, A moderate desire to obtain that which is convenient for us, by fair and honest means, is not such a coveting of that which is our neighbour's, as is forbidden in the tenth commandment.

IV. The present which Ephron made to Abraham of his field, v. 10, 11, The field give I thee. Abrahim thought he must be entreated to sell it; but, upon the first mention of it, without entreaty, he freely gives it. Some men have more generosity than they are thought to have. Abraham, no doubt, had taken all occasions to oblige his neighbours, and do them any service that lay in his power; and now they return his kindness: for he that watereth, shall be watered also himself. Note, If those that profess religion, adorn their profession by eminent civility and serviceableness to all, they shall find it will redound to their own comfort and advantage, as well as to the glory of God.

V. Abraham's modest and sincere refusal to Ephron's kind offer, v. 12, 13. Abundance of thanks he returns him for it, v. 12; makes his obeisance to him before the people of the land, that they might respect Ephron the more, for the respect they saw Abraham give him, 1 Sam. 15. 30; but resolves to give him money for the field, even the full value of it. It was not in pride that Abraham refused the gift, because he scorned to be beholden to Ephron; but, 1. In justice. Abraham was rich in silver and gold, ch. 13. 2, and was able to pay for the field, and therefore would not take advantage of Ephron's generosity. Note, Honesty, as well as honour, forbids us to sponge upon our neighbours, and to impose upon those that are free. Job reflected upon it with comfort, when he was poor, that he had not eaten the fruits of his land without money, Job 31. 39.   2. In prudence, He would pay for it, lest Ephron, when this good humour was over, should upbraid him with it, and say, I have made Abraham rich, ch. 14. 23. Or, lest the next heir should question Abraham's title, (because that grant was made without any consideration,) and claim back the field. Thus David afterward refused Araunah's offer, 2 Sam. 24. 24. We know not what affronts we may hereafter receive from those that are now most kind and generous.

VI. The price of the land ascertained by Ephron, but not insisted on, v. 14, 15, The land is worth 400 shekels of silver, about 50 pounds of our money; but what is that between me and thee? He would rather oblige his friend than have so much money in his pocket. Herein Ephhron discovers, 1. A great contempt of worldly wealth. "What is that between me and thee? It is a small matter, not worth speaking of." Many a one would have said, "It is a deal of money, it will go far in a child's portion;" but Ephron says, "What is that?" Note, It is an excellent thing for people to have low and mean thoughts of this world and the wealth of it; it is that which is not, and in the abundance of which a man's life does not consist, Luke 12. 15.   2. Great courtesy and obligingness to his friend and neighbour. Ephron was not jealous of Abraham as a foreigner and an inmate, nor envious at him as a man likely to thrive and grow rich; he bore him no ill-will for his singularity in religion, but was much kinder to him than most people now-a-days are to their own brothers. What is that between me and thee? Note, No little thing should occasion demurs and differences between true friends. When we are tempted to be hot in resenting affronts, high in demanding our rights, or hard in denying a kindness, we should answer the temptation with this question, "What is that between me and my friend?"

16, And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. 17. And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure 18. Unto Abraham for a possession, in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. 19. And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. 20. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying place by the sons of Heth.

We have here the conclusion of the treaty between Abraham and Ephron about the burying-place. The bargain was publicly made before all the neighbours, in the presence and audience of the sons of Heth, v. 16, 17. Note, Prudence, as well as justice, directs us to be fair, and open, and above board, in our dealings; fraudulent contracts hate the light, and choose to be clandestine; but they that design honestly in their bargains, care not who are witnesses to them. Our law countenances sales made in market-overt, and by deed enrolled.

I. Abraham, without fraud, covin, or further delay, pays the money: v. 16. he pays it readily, without hesitation; pays it in full, without diminution; and pays it by weight, current money with the merchant, without deceit. See how anciently money was used for the help of commerce; and see how honestly money should be paid where it is due. Observe, Though all the land of Canaan was Abraham's by promise, yet the time of his possessing being not come, what he had now occasion for, he bought and paid for. Note, Dominion is not founded in grace. The saints' title to an eternal inheritance does not entitle them to the possessions of this world, nor justify them in doing wrong.

II. Ephron honestly and fairly makes him a good title to the land, v. 17, 18, 20. The field, with all its appurtenances, is conveyed to Abraham and his heirs for ever, in open court, (not by writing, it does not appear that writing was then used,) by such a public solemn declaration before witnesses as was sufficient to pass it. Note, As that which is bought must be honestly paid for; so that which is sold, must be honestly delivered and secured.

III. Abraham, thereupon, takes possession, and buries Sarah in the cave or vault, (whether framed by nature or art, is not certain,) which was in the purchased field. It is probable that Abraham had buried servants out of his family, since he came to Canaan, but the graves of the common people (2 Kings 23. 6.) might suffice for them; now that Sarah was dead, a peculiar place must be found for her remains. It is worth noting, 1. That a burying-place was the first spot of ground Abraham was possessed of in Canaan. Note, When we are entering into the world, it is good to think of our going out of it; for as soon as we are born, we begin to die. 2. That it was the only piece of land he was ever possessed of, though it was all his own in reversion. Those that have least of this earth find a grave in it. Abraham provided, not cities, as Cain and Nimrod, but a sepulchre, (1.) To be a constant memorandum of death to himself and his posterity, that he and they might learn to die daily. This sepulchre is said to be at the end of the field, v. 9, for, whatever our possessions are, there is a sepulchre at the end of them. (2.) To be a token of his belief and expectation of the resurrection; for why should such care be taken of the body, if it be thrown away for ever, and must not rise again? Abraham, in this, said plainly that he sought a better country, that is, a heavenly. Abraham is content to be still flitting, while he lives, but secures a place where, when he dies, his flesh may rest in hope.


Marriages and funerals are the changes of families, and the common news among the inhabitants of the villages. In the foregoing chapter, we had Abraham burying his wife, here, we have him marrying his son. These stories concerning his family, with their minute circumstances, are largely related, while the histories of the kingdoms of the world then in being, with their revolutions, are buried in silence; for the Lord knows them that are his. The subjoining of Isaac's marriage to Sarah's funeral (with a particular reference to it, v. 67.) shows us, that as one generation passes away, another generation comes; and thus the entail both of the human nature, and of the covenant, is preserved. Here is, I. Abraham's care about the marrying of his son, and the charge he gave to his servant about it, v. 1..9.   II. His servant's journey into Abraham's country, to seek a wife for his young master among his own relations, v. 10..14.   III. The kind providence which brought him acquainted with Rebekah, whose father was Isaac's cousin-german, v. 15..28.   IV. The treaty of marriage with her relations v. 29..49.   V. Their consent obtained, v. 50..60.   VI. The happy meeting and marriage between Isaac and Rebekah, v. 61..67.

1.AND Abraham was old, and well-stricken in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2. And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3. And I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4. But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. 5. And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? 6. And Abraham said unto him. Beware thou, that thou bring not my son thither again. 7. The Lord God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 8. And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9. And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.

Three things we may observe here concerning Abraham.

I. The care he took of a good son, to get him married, well-married. It was high time to think of it now, for Isaac was about 40 years old, and it had been customary with his ancestors to marry at 30, or sooner, ch. 11. 14, 18, 22, 24. Abraham believed the promise of the building up of his family, and therefore did not make haste; not more haste than good speed. Two considerations moved him to think of it now, (v. 1.)   1. That he himself was likely to leave the world quickly, for he was old, and well-stricken in age, and it would be a satisfaction to him to see his son settled, before he died: and, 2. That he had a good estate to leave behind him, for the Lord had blessed him in all things: and the blessing of the Lord, that makes rich. See how much religion and piety befriend outward prosperity. Now Abraham's pious care concerning his son, was, (1.) That he should not marry with a daughter of Canaan, but with one of his kindred; because he saw by observation that the Caananites were degenerating into great wickedness, and knew by revelation that they were designed for ruin; and therefore he would not marry his son among them, lest they should be either a snare to his soul, or, at least, a blot to his name. (2.) That yet he should not leave the land of Canaan, to go himself among his kindred, nor even for the purpose of choosing a wife, lest he should be tempted to settle there. This caution is given, v. 6, and repeated, v. 8, "Bring not my son thither again, whatever comes of it. Let him rather want a wife than expose himself to that temptation." Note, Parents, in disposing of their children, should carefully consult the welfare of their souls, and their furtherance in the way to heaven. Those who through grace have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, and have brought up their children accordingly, should take heed of doing any thing by which they may be again entangled therein, and overcome, 2 Pet. 2. 20. Beware that you bring them not thither again, Heb. 11. 15.

II. The charge he gave to a good servant; probably, Eliezer of Damascus, one whose conduct, fidelity, and affection to him and his family, he had long experience of. He trusted him with this great affair, and not Isaac himself; because he would not have Isaac go at all into that country, but marry there by proxy; and no proxy so fit as this steward of his house. The matter is settled between the master and the servant with a great deal of care and solemnity. 1. The servant must be bound by an oath to do his utmost to get a wife for Isaac, from among his relations, v. 2..4. Abraham swears him to it, both for his own satisfaction, and for the engagement of his servant to all possible care and diligence in this matter. Thus God swears his servants to their work, that, having sworn, they may perform it. Honour is here done to the eternal God; for he it is, that is sworn by, to whom alone those appeals ought to be made. And some think honour is done to the covenant of circumcision, by the ceremony here used of putting his hand under his thigh. Note, Swearing, being an ordinance, not peculiar to the church, but common to mankind, is to be performed by such signs as are the appointments and common usages of our country, for binding the person sworn. 2. He must be clear of his oath, if, when he had done his utmost, he could not prevail. This proviso the servant prudently inserted, v. 5, putting the case, that the woman would not follow him; and Abraham allowed the exception, v. 8. Note, Oaths are to be taken with great caution, and the matter sworn to should be rightly understood and limited, because it is a snare to devour that which is holy, and, after vows, to make the inquiry which should have been made before.

III. The confidence he put in a good God, who, he doubts not, will give his servant success in this undertaking, v. 7. He remembers that God had wonderfully brought him out of the land of his nativity, by the effectual call of his grace; and therefore doubts not but he will succeed him in his care not to bring his son thither again. He remembers also the promise God had made and confirmed to him, that he would give Canaan to his seed; and thence infers that God would own him in his endeavour to match his son, not among those devoted nations, but to one that was fit to be the mother of such a seed. "Fear not, therefore, he shall send his angel before thee to make thy way prosperous." Note, 1. Those that carefully keep in the way of duty, and govern themselves by the principles of their religion in their designs and undertakings, have good reason to expect prosperity and success in them. God will cause that to issue in our comfort, in which we sincerely aim at his glory. 2. God's promises, and our own experiences, are sufficient to encourage our dependence upon God, and our expectations from him, in all the affairs of this life. 3. God's angels are ministering spirits, sent forth, not only for the protection, but for the guidance, of the heirs of promise, Heb. 1. 14, "He shall send his angel before thee, and then thou wilt speed well."

10. And the servant took ten camels, of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. 11. And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water, at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. 12. And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham. 13. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 14. And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say. Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know thou hast showed kindness unto my master. 15. And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. 16. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. 17. And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. 18. And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 19. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 20. And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. 21. And the man, wondering at her, held his peace, to wit, whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous, or not. 22. And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; 23. And said, Whose daughter art thou? Tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in? 24. And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. 25. She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in. 26. And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. 27. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master's brethren. 28. And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things.

Abraham's servant now begins to make a figure in this story; and though he is not named, yet much is here recorded, to his honour, and for an example to all servants, who shall be honoured, if, by faithfully serving God and their masters, they adorn the doctrine of Christ. Compare Prov. 27. 18, with Titus 2. 10, for there is no respect of persons with God, Col. 3. 24, 25. A good servant that makes conscience of the duty of his place, and does it in the fear of God, though he make not a figure in the world, nor have praise of men, yet shall be owned and accepted of God, and have praise of him. Observe here,

I. How faithful Abraham's servant approved himself to his master. Having received his charge, with all expedition he took his journey, putting himself into an equipage fit for his negotiation, v. 10, and he had all the goods of his master, that is, a schedule or particular account of them, in his hand, to show to those with whom he was to treat; for, from first to last, he consulted his master's honour. Isaac being a type of Christ, some make this fetching of a wife for him to signify the espousing of the church, by the agency of his servants the ministers. The church is the bride, the Lamb's wife, Rev. 21. 9. Christ is the bridegroom, and ministers the friends of the Bridegroom, (John 3. 29.) whose work it is to persuade souls to consent to him, 2 Cor. 11. 2. The spouse of Christ must not be of the Canaanites, but of his own kindred, born again from above. Ministers, like Abraham's servant, must lay out themselves with the utmost wisdom and care to serve their master's interest herein.

II. How devoutly he acknowledged God in this affair, like one of that happy household which Abraham had commanded to keep the way of the Lord, &c. ch. 18. 19. He arrived early in the evening (after many days' journeying) at the place he designed for, and reposed himself by a well of water, to consider how he might manage his business for the best. And,

1. He acknowledged God by a particular prayer, v. 12..14, wherein, (1.) He petitions for prosperity and good success in this affair; Send me good speed, this day. Note, We have leave to be particular in recommending our affairs to the conduct and care of the Divine Providence. Those that would have good speed, must pray for it, this day, in this affair; thus we must in all our ways, acknowledge God, Prov. 3. 6. And if we thus look up to God in every undertaking which we are in care about, we shall have this comfort of having done our duty, whatever the issue be. (2.) He pleads God's covenant with his master Abraham; O God of my master Abraham, show kindness to him. Note, As the children of good parents, so the servants of good masters, have peculiar encouragement in the prayers they offer to God for prosperity and success. (3.) He proposes a sign, v. 14, not by it to limit God, or with a design to proceed no further, if he were not gratified in it; but it is a prayer, [1.] That God would provide a good wife for his young master; and that was a good prayer. He knew that a prudent wife is from the Lord, (Prov. 19. 14.) and therefore that for this he will be inquired of. He desires that his master's wife might be a humble and industrious woman, bred up to care and labour, and willing to put her hand to any work that was to be done; and that she might be of a courteous disposition, and charitable to strangers. When he came to seek a wife for his master, he did not go to the playhouse or the park, and pray that he might meet one there, but to the well of water, expecting to find one there well-employed. [2.] That he would please to make his way, in this matter, plain and clear before him, by the concurrence of minute circumstances in his favour. Note, First, It is the comfort, as well as the belief, of a good man, that God's providence extends itself to the smallest occurrences, and admirably serves its own purposes by them. Our times are in God's hand; not only events themselves, but the times of them. Secondly, It is our wisdom, in all our affairs, to follow Providence; and folly to force it. Thirdly, It is very desirable, and that which we may lawfully pray for, while in the general we set God's will before us as our rule, that he will, by hints of providence, direct us in the way of our duty, and give us indications what his mind is. Thus he guides his people with his eye, (Ps. 32. 8.) and leads them in a plain path, Ps. 27. 11.

2. God owned him by a particular providence. He decreed the thing, and it was established to him, Job 22. 28. According to his faith, so was it unto him. The answer to this prayer, was, (1.) Speedy, before he had made an end of speaking, v. 15, as it is written, (Isa. 65. 24.) While they are yet speaking, I will hear. Though we are backward to pray, God is forward to hear prayer. (2.) Satisfactory: the first that came to draw water, was, and did, in every thing, according to his own heart. [1.] She was so well qualified, that in all respects she answered the characters he wished for in the woman that was to be his master's wife, handsome and healthful, humble and industrious, very courteous and obliging to a stranger, and having all the marks of a good disposition: when she came to the well, (v. 16.) she went down, and filled her pitcher, and came up to go home with it; she did not stand to gaze upon the strange man and his camels, but minded her business, and would not have been diverted from it but by an opportunity of doing good; she did not curiously or confidently enter into discourse with him, but modestly answered him with all the decorum that became her sex. What a degenerate age do we live in, in which appear all the instances of pride, luxury, and laziness, the reverse of Rebekah's character, whose daughters few are. Those instances of goodness which were then in honour, are now in contempt. [2.] Providence so ordered it, that she did that which exactly answered to his sign, and was wonderfully the counterpart of his proposal; she not only gave him drink, but, which was more than could have been expected, she offered her service to give his camels drink, which was the very sign he proposed.

Note, First, God, in his providence, does sometimes wonderfully own the prayer of faith, and gratify the innocent desires of his praying people, even in little things; that he may show the extent of his care, and may encourage them at all times to seek to him, and trust in him; yet we must take heed of being over bold in prescribing to God, lest the event should weaken our faith rather than strengthen it. Secondly, It is good to take all opportunities of showing a humble, courteous, charitable disposition, because, some time or other, it may turn more to our honour and benefit than we think of; some hereby have entertained angels, and Rebekah hereby, quite beyond her expectation at this time, was brought into the line of Christ and the covenant. Thirdly, There may be a great deal of obliging kindness in that which costs but little: our Saviour has promised a reward for a cup of cold water, like this here. Matt. 10. 42. Fourthly, The concurrence of providences and their minute circumstances, for the furtherance of our success in any business, ought to be particularly observed, with wonder and thankfulness, to the glory of God; the man wondered, v. 21. We have been wanting to ourselves, both in duty and in comfort, by neglecting to observe Providence. [3.] Upon inquiry, he found, to his great satisfaction, that she was a near relation to his master, and that the family she was of, was considerable, and able to give him entertainment, v. 23..25. Note, Providence sometimes, wonderfully directs those that by faith and prayer seek direction from heaven in the choice of suitable yoke-fellows: happy marriages those are likely to be, that are made in the fear of God; and those, we are sure, are made in heaven.

3. Abraham's servant acknowledges God in a particular thanksgiving. He first paid his respects to Rebekah, in gratitude for her civility, (v. 22.) obliging her with such ornaments and attire as a maid, especially a bride, cannot forget, (Jer. 2. 32.) which yet, we should think, ill-suited the pitcher of water; but the ear-rings and bracelets she sometimes wore, did not make her think herself above the labours of a virtuous woman, (Prov. 31. 13.) who works willingly with her hands; nor the services of a child, who while under age, differs nothing from a servant, Gal. 4. 1. Having done this, he turns his wonder (v. 21.) into worshipping, v. 26, 27, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham. Observe here, (1.) He had prayed for good speed, (v. 12.) and now that he had sped well, he gives thanks. Note, What we win by prayer, we must wear with praise; for mercies, in answer to prayer, lay us under particular obligations. (2.) He had as yet but a comfortable prospect of mercy, and was not certain what the issue might prove; yet he gives thanks. Note, When God's favours are coming towards us, we must meet them with our praises. (3.) He blesses God for success, when he was negotiating for his master. Note, We should be thankful for our friends' mercies as for our own. (4.) He gives thanks that, being in the way, at a loss what course to steer, the Lord had led him. Note, In doubtful cases, it is very comfortable to see God leading us, as he led Israel in the wilderness by the pillar of cloud and fire. (5.) He thinks himself very happy, and owns God in it, that he was led to the house of his master's brethren, those of them that were come out of Ur of the Chaldees, though they were not come to Canaan, but remained in Haran. They were not idolaters, but worshippers of the true God, and inclinable to the religion of Abraham's family. Note, God is to be acknowledged in providing suitable yoke-fellows, especially such as are agreeable in religion. (6.) He acknowledges that God, herein, had not left his master destitute of his mercy and truth. God had promised to build up Abraham's family, yet it seemed destitute of the benefit of that promise; but now, Providence is working toward the accomplishment of it. Note, [1.] God's faithful ones, how destitute soever they may be of worldly comforts, shall never be left destitute of God's mercy and truth; for God's mercy is an inexhaustible fountain, and his truth an inviolable foundation. [2.] It adds much to the comfort of any blessing, to see in it the continuance of God's mercy and truth.

29. And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well. 30. And it came to pass, when he saw the ear-ring, and bracelets upon his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well. 31. And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, wherefore standest thou without? For I have prepared the house, and room for the camels. 32. And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's feet that were with him. 33. And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on. 34. And he said, I am Abraham's servant. 35. And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and camels, and asses, 36. And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath. 37. And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: 38. But thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son. 39. And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. 40. And he said unto me, The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house. 41. Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred, and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath. 42. And I came this day unto the well, and said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go: 43. Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink; 44. And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman, whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master's son. 45. And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water; and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee. 46. And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said. Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also. 47. And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the ear-ring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands, 48. And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughter unto his son. 49. And now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left. 50. Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. 51. Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the Lord hath spoken. 52. And it came to pass, that when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth. 53. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.

We have here the making up of the marriage between Isaac and Rebekah; it is related very largely and particularly, even to the minute circumstances, which, we should think, might have been spared, while other things of great moment and mystery (as the story of Melchizedeck) are related in few words. Thus God conceals that which is curious from the wise and prudent, reveals to babes that which is common, and level to their capacity, (Matt. 11. 25.) and rules and saves the world by the foolishness of preaching, 1 Cor. 1. 21. Thus also we are directed to take notice of God's providence in the little common occurrences of human life, and in them also to exercise our own prudence and other graces; for the scripture was not intended only for the use of philosophers and statesmen, but to make us all wise and virtuous in the conduct of ourselves and families.

Here is,

I. The very kind reception given to Abraham's servant by Rebekah's relations. Her brother Laban went to invite and conduct him in, but not till he saw the ear-ring, and bracelets upon his sister's hands, v. 30. "O," thinks Laban, "here is a man that there is something to he got by, a man that is rich and generous; we will be sure to give him welcome!" We know so much of Laban's character, by the following story, as to think that he would not have been so free of his entertainment, if he had not hoped to be well paid first, as he was, v. 53. Note, A man's gift maketh room for him; (Prov. 18. 16.) which way soever it turneth, it prospereth, Prov. 17. 8. 1. The invitation was kind; v. 31, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord. They saw he was rich, and therefore pronounces him blessed of the Lord; or, perhaps, becuase they heard from Rebekah, (v. 28.) of the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, they concluded him a good man, and therefore, blessed of the Lord. Note, Those that are blessed of God, should be welcome to us. It is good owning those whom God owns. 2. The entertainment was kind; v. 32, 33. Both the house and stable were well furnished, and Abraham's servant was invited to the free use of both. Particular care was taken of the camels; for a good man regardeth the life of his beast, Prov. 12. 10. If the ox knows his owner to serve him, the owner should know his ox to provide for him that which is fitting for him.

II. The full account which he give them of his errand, and the court he makes to them for their consent respecting Rebekah. Observe, 1. How intent he was upon his business; though he was come off a journey, and come to a good house, he would not eat till he had told his errand, v. 33. Note, The doing of our work, and the fulfilling of our trust, either for God or man, should be preferred by us before our necessary food: it was our Saviour's meat and drink, John 4. 34.   2. How ingenious he was in the management of it: he approved himself, in this matter, both a prudent man, and a man of integrity, faithful to his master by whom he was trusted, and just to those with whom he now treated.

(1.) He gives a short account of the state of his master's family, v. 34..36. He was welcome before, but we may suppose him doubly welcome, when he said, I am Abraham's servant; Abraham's name, no doubt, was well-known among them, and respected, and we may suppose them not altogether ignorant of his state, for Abraham knew their's, ch. 22. 20..24. Two things he suggests, to recommend his proposal. [1.] That his master Abraham, through the blessing of God, had a very good estate; and, [2.] That he had settled it all upon Isaac, for whom he was now a suitor.

(2.) He tells them the charge his master had given him, to fetch a wife for his son from among his kindred, with the reason of it, v. 37, 38. Thus he insinuates a pleasing hint, that though Abraham was removed to a country at so great a distance, yet he still retained the remembrance of, and a respect for his relations that he had left behind. The highest degrees of divine affection must not divest us of natural affection. He likewise obviates an objection. That if Isaac were deserving, he need not send so far off for a wife: why did he not marry nearer home? "For a good reason;" (says he;) "my master's son must not match with a Canaanite." He further recommends his proposal, [1.] From the faith his master had, that it would succeed, v. 40. Abraham took encouragement from the testimony of his conscience, that he walked before God in a regular course of holy living, and thence inferred that God would prosper him; probably, he refers to that covenant which God had made with him, ch. 17. 1. I am God all-sufficient, walk before me. Therefore, (says he,) the God before whom I walk, will send his angel. Note, While we make conscience of our part of the covenant, we may take the comfort of God's part of it; and we should learn to apply general promises to particular cases, as there is occasion. [2.] From the care he himself had taken to preserve their liberty of giving or refusing their consent, as they should see cause, without incurring the guilt of perjury, v. 39..41. which showed him, in general, to be a cautious man, and particularly careful that their consent might not be forced, but be either free, or not at all.

(3.) He relates to them the wonderful concurrence of providences, to countenance and further the proposal, plainly showing the finger of God in it. [1.] He tells them how he had prayed for direction by a sign, v. 42..44. Note, It is good dealing with those, who by prayer take God along with them in their dealings. [2.] How God had answered his prayer in the very letter of it. Though he did but speak in his heart, (v. 45. ) which perhaps he mentions, lest it should be suspected that Rebekah had overheard his prayer, and designedly humoured it; "No," says he, "I spake it in my heart, so that none heard it but God, to whom thoughts are words, and from him the answer came," v. 46, 47.   [3.] How he had immediately acknowledged God's goodness to him therein, leading him, as he expresses it here, in the right way. Note, God's way is always the right way, Ps. 107. 7, and those are well-led, whom he leads.

(4.) He fairly refers the matter to their consideration, and waits their resolution, v. 49, "If you will deal kindly and truly with my master, well and good; if you will be sincerely kind, you will accept the proposal, and I have what I come for; if not, do not hold me in suspense." Note, Those who deal fairly, have reason to expect fair dealing.

(5.) They freely and cheerfully close with the proposal, upon a very good principle, v. 50, "The thing proceedeth from the Lord. Providence smiles upon it, and we have nothing to say against it." They do not object distance of place; Abraham's forsaking them; his having no land in possession, but personal estate only: they do not question the truth of what this man said; but, [1.] They trust much to his integrity. It were well, if honesty did so universally prevail among men, that it might be as much an act of prudence, as it is of good nature, to take a man's word. [2.] They trust more to God's providence, and therefore by silence give consent, because it appears to be directed and disposed by infinite wisdom. Note, A marriage is likely then to be comfortable, when it appears to proceed from the Lord.

(6.) Abraham's servant makes a thankful acknowledgment of the good success he had met with, [1.] To God, v. 52, he worshipped the Lord. Observe, First, As his good success went on, he went on to bless God. Those that pray without ceasing, should in every thing give thanks, and own God in every step of mercy. Secondly, God sent his angel before him, and so gave him success, v. 7, 40. But when he has the desired success, he worships God, not the angel. Whatever benefit we have by the ministration of angels, all the glory must be given to the Lord of the angels, Rev. 22. 9.   [2.] He pays his respects to the family also, and particularly to the bride, v. 53. He presented her, and her mother, and brother, with many precious things: both to give a real proof of his master's riches and generosity, and in gratitude for their civility to him, and further to ingratiate himself with them.

51. And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master. 55. And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least, ten; after that she shall go. 56. And he said unto them. Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away, that I may go to my master. 57. And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. 58. And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. 59. And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men. 60. And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister; be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them. 61. And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

Rebekah is here taking leave of her father's house.

I. Abraham's servant presses for a dismission; though he and his company were very welcome, and very cheerful there, yet he said, send me away, v. 54, and again, v. 56. He knew his master would expect him home with some impatience; he had business to do at home, which wanted him, and therefore, as one that preferred his work before his pleasure, he was for hastening home. Note, Lingering and loitering no way become a wise and good man; when we have despatched our business abroad, we must not delay our return to our business at home, nor be longer from it than needs must: for as the bird that wanders from his nest, so is he that wonders from his place, Prov. 27. 8.

II. Rebekah's relations, from natural affection, and according to the usual expression of kindness in that case, solicit for her stay some time among them, v. 55. They could not think of parting with her, on a sudden, especially as she was about to remove so far off, and it was not likely that they would ever see one another again; Let her stay a few days, at least, ten, which makes it as reasonable a request, as the reading in the margin seems to make it unreasonable, a year, or, at least ten months. They had consented to the marriage, and yet were loath to part with her. Note, It is an instance of the vanity of this world, that there is nothing in it so agreeable, but it has its allay, Nulla est sincera voluptas — There is no unmingled pleasure. They here were pleased that they had matched a daughter of their family so well; and yet, when it came to the last, it was with great reluctance that they sent her away.

III. Rebekah herself determined the matter; to her they appealed, as it was fit they should, v. 57, Call the damsel, (who was retired to her apartment with a modest silence,) and inquire at her mouth. Note, As children ought not to marry without their parents' consent, so parents ought not to marry them without their own. Before the matter is resolved on, "Ask at the damsel's mouth;" she is a party principally concerned, and therefore ought to be principally consulted. Rebekah consented, not only to go, but to go immediately, v. 58, I will go. We may hope that the notice she had taken of the servants' piety and devotion, gave her such an idea of the prevalence of religion and godliness in the family she was to go to, as made her desirous to hasten thither, and willing to forget her own people and her father's house, where religion had not so much the ascendant.

IV. Hereupon, she is sent away with Abraham's servant; not, we may suppose, the very next day after, but very quickly: her friends see that she puts a good heart on it, and so they dismiss her, 1. With suitable attendants; her nurse, v. 59, her damsels, v. 61. It seems then, that when she went to the well for water, it was not because she had not servants at command, but because she took a pleasure in exemplifying humility and industry. Now that she was going among strangers, it was fit to take those with her whom she was acquainted with. Here is nothing said of her portion; her personal merits were a portion in her; she needed none with her, nor did that ever come into the treaty of marriage. 2. With hearty good wishes; (v. 60.) they blessed Rebekah. Note, When our relations are entering into a new condition, we ought by prayer to recommend them to the blessing and grace of God. Now that she was going to be a wife, they prayed that she might be a mother both of a numerous and of a victorious progeny. Perhaps Abraham's servant had told them of the promise God had lately made his master, which, it is likely, Abraham acquainted his household with, that God would multiply his seed as the stars of heaven, and that they should possess the gate of their enemies, ch. 22. 17, to which promise they had an eye in this blessing, Be thou the mother of that seed.

62. And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the south country. 63. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. 64. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. 65. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, it is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself. 66. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. 67. And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

Isaac and Rebekah are, at length, happily brought together.

I. Isaac was well employed, when he met Rebekah, v. 62, 63, He went out to meditate, or pray in the field at even-tide. Some think he expected the return of his servants about this time, and went out on purpose to meet them. But it should seem, he went out on another errand, to take the advantage of a silent evening, and a solitary field, for meditation and prayer, those divine exercises by which we converse with God and our own hearts. Note, 1. Holy souls love retirement; it will do us good to be often left alone, walking alone, and sitting alone; and if we have the art of improving solitude, we shall find we are never less alone than when alone. 2. Meditation and prayer ought to be both our business and our delight, when we are alone; while we have a God, a Christ, and a Heaven, to acquaint ourselves with, and to secure our interests in, we need not want matter either for meditation or prayer, which, if they go together, will mutually befriend each other. 3. Our walks in the field are then truly pleasant, when in them we apply ourselves to meditation and prayer; we there have a free and open prospect of the heavens above us, and the earth around us, and the hosts and riches of both, by the view of which we should be led to the contemplation of the Maker and Owner of all. 4. The exercises of devotion should be the refreshment and entertainment of the evening, after the care and business of the day, to relieve the fatigue of that, and before the repose and sleep of the night, to prepare us for that. Merciful providences are then doubly comfortable, when they find us well-employed, and in the way of our duty. Some think Isaac was now praying for good success in this affair that was depending, and meditating upon that which was proper to encourage his hope in God concerning it; and now, when he sets himself, as it were, upon his watch-tower, to see what God would answer him, as the prophet, Hab. 2. 1, he sees the camels coming; sometimes God sends in the mercy prayed for, immediately. Acts 12. 12.

II. Rebekah behaved herself very becomingly, when she met Isaac: understanding who he was, she lighted off her camel, v. 64, and took a veil, and covered herself, v. 65, in token of humility, modesty, and subjection; she did not reproach Isaac for not coming himself to fetch her, or at least to meet her a day's journey or two; did not complain of the tediousness of her journey, or the difficulty of leaving her relations, to come into a strange place; but having seen Providence going before her in the affair, she accommodates herself with cheerfulness to her new relation. Those that by faith are espoused to Christ, and would be presented as chaste virgins to him, must, in conformity to his example, humble themselves, as Rebekah, who lighted, when she saw Isaac on foot, and must put themselves into subjection to him who is their head, Eph. 5. 24, as Rebekah, signifying it by the veil she put on, 1 Cor. 11. 10.

III. They were brought together, (probably, after some further acquaintance,) to their mutual comfort, v. 67. Observe here, 1. What an affectionate son he was to his mother: it was about three years since she died, and yet he was not, till now, comforted concerning it; the wound which that affliction gave to his tender spirit, bled so long, it was never healed, till God brought him into this new relation: thus crosses and comforts are balances to each other, (Eccl. 7. 14.) and help to keep the scale even. 2. What an affectionate husband he was to his wife. Note, Those that have approved themselves well in one relation, it may be hoped, will do so in another. She became his wife, and he loved her; there was all the reason in the world why he should, for so ought men to love their wives even as themselves. The duty of the relation is then done, and the comfort of the relation is then enjoyed, when mutual love governs; for there the Lord commands the blessing.


The sacred historian, in this chapter, I. Takes his leave of Abraham, with an account, 1. Of his children by another wife, v. 1..4.   2. Of his last will and testament, v. 5, 6.   3. Of his age, death, and burial, v. 7..10.   II. He takes his leave of Ishmael, with a short account, 1. Of his children, v. 12..16.   2. Of his age and death, v. 17, 18.   III. He enters upon the history of Isaac. 1. His prosperity, v. 11.   2. The conception and birth of his two sons, with the oracle of God concerning them, v. 19..26.   3. Their different characters, v. 27, 28.   4. Esau's selling his birth-right to Jacob, v. 29..34.

1.THEN again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. 3. And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. 4. And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. 6. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east-country. 7. And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred three score and fifteen years. 8. Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. 9. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; 10. The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

Abraham lived, after the marriage of Isaac, 35 years, and all that is recorded concerning him during that time, lies here in a very few verses; we hear no more of God's extraordinary appearances to him, or trials of him; for all the days, even of the best and greatest saints, are not eminent days, some slide on silently, and neither come nor go with observation; such were these last days of Abraham. We have here,

I. An account of his children by Keturah, another wife, which he married after the death of Sarah. He had buried Sarah, and married Isaac, the two dear companions of his life, and was now solitary; he wanted a nurse, his family wanted a governess, and it was not good for him to be thus alone; he therefore marries Keturah, probably the chief of his maid-servants, born in his house, or bought with money. Marriage is not forbidden to old age. By her he had six sons, in whom the promise made to Abraham, concerning the great increase of his posterity, was in part fulfilled, which, it is likely, he had an eye to in this marriage. The strength he received by the promise, still remained in him, to show how much the virtue of the promise exceeds the power of nature.

II. The disposition which Abraham made of his estate, v. 5, 6. After the birth of these sons, he set his house in order, with prudence and justice. 1. He made Isaac his heir, as he was bound to do, in justice to Sarah his first and principal wife, and to Rebekah who married Isaac upon the assurance of it, ch. 24. 36. In this all which he settled upon Isaac, are included, perhaps the promise of the land of Canaan, and the entail of the covenant. Or, God having already made him the heir of the promise, Abraham therefore made him heir of his estate. Our affection and gifts should attend God's. 2. He gave portions to the rest of his children, both to Ishmael, though at first he was sent empty away, and to his sons by Keturah. It was justice to provide for them; parents that do not imitate him here are worse than infidels. It was prudence to settle them in places distant from Isaac, that they might not pretend to divide the inheritance with him, nor be any way a care or expense to him. Observe, He did this while he yet lived, lest it should not have been done, or not so well done, afterward. Note, In many cases, it is wisdom for men to make their own hands their executors, and what they find to do, to do it while they live, as far as they can. The sons of the concubines were sent into the country that lay east from Canaan, and their posterity were called the children of the east, famous for their numbers, Judg. 6. 5, 33. Their great increase was the fruit of the promise made to Abraham, that God would multiply his seed. God, in dispensing his blessings, does as Abraham did; common blessings he gives to the children of this world, as to the sons of the bondwoman; but, covenant blessings he reserves for the heirs of promise. All that he has, is their's, for they are his Isaac's, from whom the rest shall be for ever separated.

III. The age and death of Abraham, v. 7, 8. He lived 175 years; just 100 years after he came to Canaan; so long he was a sojourner in a strange country. Though he lived long, and lived well, though he did good, and could be ill-spared, yet he died at last. Observe how his death is here described. 1. He gave up the ghost. His life was not extorted from him, but he cheerfully resigned it; into the hands of the Father of spirits he committed his spirit. 2. He died in a good old age, an old man; so God had promised him. His death was his discharge from the burthens of his age; an old man would not so live, always: it was also the crown of the glory of his old age. 3. He was full of years; or full of life, (as it might be supplied,) including all the conveniences and comforts of life. He did not live till the world was weary of him, but till he was weary of the world; he had had enough of it, and desired no more, Vixi quantum satis est—I have lived long enough. Seneca. A good man, though he should not die old, dies full of days, satisfied with living here, and longing to live in a better place. 4. He was gathered to his people. His body was gathered to the congregation of the dead, and his soul to the congregation of the blessed. Note, Death gathers us to our people. Those that are our people while we live, whether the people of God, or the children of this world, are the people to whom death will gather us.

IV. His burial, v. 9, 10. Here is nothing recorded of the pomp or ceremony of his funeral; only we are told, 1. Who buried him; His sons Isaac and Ishmael. It was the last office of respect they had to pay to their good father. Some distance there had formerly been between Isaac and Ishmael; but it seems either that Abraham had himself brought them together while he lived, or, at least, that his death reconciled them. 2. Where they buried him; in his own burying-place, which he had purchased, and in which he had buried Sarah. Note, Those that in life have been very dear to each other, may not only innocently, but laudably desire to be buried together, that in their deaths they may not be divided, and in token of their hopes of rising together.

11. And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi. 12. Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's hand-maid, bare unto Abraham. 13. And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the first-born of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam. 14. And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15. Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: 16. These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. 17. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. 18. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.

Immediately after the account of Abraham's death, Moses begins the story of Isaac, (v. 11.) and tells us where he dwelt, and how remarkably God blessed him. Note, The blessing of Abrahaam did not die with him, but survived to all the children of the promise. But he presently digresses from the story of Isaac, to give a short account of Ishmael, forasmuch as he also was a son of Abraham, and God had made some promises concerning him, which it was requisite we should know the accomplishment of.

Observe here what is said,

1. Concerning his children; he had twelve sons, twelve princes they are called, (v. 16.) heads of families, which, in process of time, became nations, distinct tribes, numerous, and very considerable. They peopled a very large continent that lay between Egypt and Assyria, called Arabia. The names of his twelve sons are recorded. Midian and Kedar we often read of in scripture. And some very good expositors, have taken notice of the signification of those three names which are put together, (v. 14.) as containing good advice to us all, Mishma, Dumah, and Massa, that is, hear, keep silence, and bear; we have them together in the same order. Jam. 1. 19, Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. The posterity of Ishmael had not only tents in the fields, wherein they grew rich in times of peace; but they had towns and castles, (v. 16.) wherein they fortified themselves in time of war. Now the number and strength of this family were the fruit of the promise made to Hagar concerning Ishmael, ch. 16. 10. and to Abraham, ch. 17. 20. and 21. 13. Note, Many that are strangers to the covenants of promise, yet are blessed with outward prosperity for the sake of their godly ancestors. Wealth and riches shall be in their house.

2. Concerning himself; here is an account of his age; he lived 137 years, (v. 17.) which is recorded, to show the efficacy of Abraham's prayer for him, ch. 17. 18. O that Ishmael might live before thee! Here is an account too of his death; he also was gathered to his people; but it is not said that he was full of days, though he lived to so great an age: he was not so weary of the world, nor so willing to leave it, as his good father was. Those words, he fell in the presence of all his brethren, whether they mean, as we take them, he died, or as others, his lot fell, are designed to show the fulfilling of that word to Hagar, ch. 16. 12, He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren, that is, he shall flourish and be eminent among them, and shall hold his own to the last. Or, he died with his friends about him, which is comfortable.

19. And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son : Abraham begat Isaac: 20. And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. 21. And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus ? And she went to inquire of the Lord. 23. And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. 24. And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. 27. And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

We have here an account of the birth of Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah: their entrance into the world was (which is not usual) one of the most considerable parts of their story; nor is much related concerning Isaac, but what had reference to his father while he lived, and to his sons afterward. For Isaac seems not to have been a man of action, nor much tried, but to have spent his days in quietness and silence.

Now concerning Jacob and Esau we are told,

I. That they were prayed for; their parents, after they had been long childless, obtained them by prayer, v. 20, 21, Isaac was 40 years old when he was married; though he was an only son, and the person from whom the promised seed was to come, yet he made no haste to marry. He was 60 years old when his sons were born, (v. 26.) so that, after he was married, he had no child for 20 years. Note, Though the accomplishment of God's promise is always sure, yet it is often slow, and seems to be crossed and contradicted by Providence; that the faith of believers may be tried, their patience exercised, and mercies long waited for may be the more welcome when they come. While this mercy was delayed, Isaac did not approach to a handmaid's bed, as Abraham had done, and Jacob afterward; for he loved Rebekah, ch. 24. 67. But, 1. He prayed: he entreated the Lord for his wife; though God had promised to multiply his family, he prayed for it. For God's promises must not supersede, but encourage our prayers, and be improved as the ground of our faith. Though he had prayed for this mercy very often, and had continued his supplication many years, and it was not granted, yet he did not leave off praying for it: for men ought always to pray, and not to faint, (Luke 18. 1.) to pray without ceasing, and knock till the door be opened. He prayed for his wife; some read it, with his wife. Note, Husbands and wives should pray together, which is intimated in the apostle's caution, that their prayers be not hindered, 1 Pet. 3. 7. The Jews have a tradition, that Isaac, at length, took his wife with him to Mount Moriah, where God had promised that he would multiply Abraham's seed, ch. 22. 17, and there in his prayer with her, and for her, pleaded the promise made in that very place. 2. God heard his prayer, and was entreated of him. Note, Children are the gift of God. Those that continue instant in prayer, as Isaac did, shall find at last that they did not seek in vain, Isa. 45. 19.

II. That they were prophesied of before they were born; and great mysteries were wrapt up in the prophecies which went before of them, v. 22, 23. Long had Isaac prayed for a son; and now his wife is with child of two, to recompense him for his long waiting. Thus God often outdoes our prayers, and gives more than we are able to ask or think. Now Rebekah being with child of these two sons, observe here,

1. How she was perplexed in her mind concerning her present case: the children struggled together within her. The commotion she felt, was altogether extraordinary, and made her very uneasy; whether she was apprehensive that the birth would be her death, or that she was weary of the intestine tumult, or that she suspected it to be an ill omen, it seems she was ready to wish that either she had not been with child, or that she might die immediately, and not bring forth such a struggling brood. If it be so, or, since it is so, Why am I thus? Before, the want of children was her trouble, now, the struggle of the children is no less so. Note, (1.) The comforts we are most desirous of, are sometimes found to bring along with them more occasion of trouble and uneasiness than we thought of; vanity being written upon all things under the sun, God thus teaches us to read it. (2.) We are too apt to be discontented with our comforts, because of the uneasiness that attends them. We know not when we are pleased; we know neither how to want, nor how to abound. This struggle between Jacob and Esau in the womb, represents the struggle that is between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, [1.] In the world; the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent, have been contending ever since the enmity was put between them, ch. 3. 15. and it has occasioned a constant uneasiness among men. Christ himself came to send fire on earth, and this division, Luke 12. 49, 51. But let not this be an offence to us. A holy war is better than the peace of the Devil's palace. [2.] In the hearts of believers; no sooner is Christ formed in the soul, than immediately there begins a conflict between the flesh and the spirit. Gal. 5. 17. The stream is not turned without a mighty struggle, which yet ought not to discourage us. It is better to have a conflict with sin, than tamely to submit to it.

2. What course she took for her relief. She went to inquire of the Lord. Some think Melchizedek was now consulted as an oracle, or, perhaps some Urim or Teraphim were now used to inquire of God by, as afterward in the breast-plate of judgment. Note, The word and prayer, by both which we now inquire of the Lord, give great relief to those that are, upon any account, perplexed. It is an ease to the mind to spread our case before the Lord, and ask counsel at his mouth, Go into the sanctuary, Ps. 73. 17.

3. The information given her upon her inquiry, which expounded the mystery. Two nations are in thy womb, v. 23. She was now big, not only with two children, but two nations, which should not only in their manners and dispositions greatly differ from each other, but in their interests, clash and contend with each other; and the issue of the contest should be, that the elder should serve the younger, which was fulfilled in the subjection of the Edomites for many ages, to the house of David, till they revolted, 2 Chron. 21. 8. Observe here, (1.) That God is a free Agent in dispensing his grace; it is his prerogative to make a difference between those who have not as yet themselves done either good or evil. This the Apostle infers from hence, Rom. 9. 12.   (2.) That in the struggle between grace and corruption in the soul, grace, the younger, shall certainly get the upper hand at last.

III. That when they were born, there was a great difference between them, which served to confirm what had been foretold, (v. 23.) was a presage of the accomplishment of it, and served greatly to illustrate the type.

1. There was a great difference in their bodies, v. 25. Esau, when he was born, was rough and hairy, as if he had been already a grown man; whence he had his name Esau, made, reared already. This was an indication of a very strong constitution, and gave cause to suspect that he would be a very robust, daring, active, man. But Jacob was 1smooth and tender, as other children. Note, (1.) The difference of men's capacities, and consequently of their condition in the world, arises very much from the difference of their natural constitution; some are plainly designed by nature for activity and honour, others as manifestly marked for obscurity. This instance of the divine sovereignty in the kingdom of providence, may perhaps help to reconcile us to the doctrine of the divine sovereignty in the kingdom of grace. (2.) It is God's usual way to choose the weak things of the world, and to pass by the mighty, 1. Cor. 1. 26, 27.

2. There was a manifest contest in their births; Esau, the stronger, came out first; but Jacob's hand took hold on his heel, v. 26. This signified, (1.) Jacob's pursuit of the birth-right and blessing; from the first, he reached forth to have catched hold of it, and if possible, to have prevented his brother, (2.) His prevailing for it at last; that, in process of time, he should undermine his brother, and gain his point. This passage is referred to, Hos. 12. 3, and from hence he had his name Jacob, a supplanter.

3. They were very unlike in the temper of their minds, and the way of living they chose, v. 27. They soon appeared to be of very different dispositions. (1.) Esau was a man for this world; a man addicted to his sports, for he was a hunter, and a man that knew how to live by his wits, for he was a cunning hunter; recreation was his business, he studied the art of it, and spent all his time in it. He never loved a book, nor cared for being within doors, but he was a man of the field; like Nimrod and Ishmael, all for the game, and never well but when he was upon the stretch in pursuit of it; in short, he set up for a gentleman, and a soldier. (2.) Jacob was a man for the other world; he was not cut out for a statesman, nor did he affect to look great, but he was a plain man, dwelling in tents; an honest man that always meant well, and dealt fairly, that preferred the true delights of solitude and retirement, to all the pretended pleasure of busy noisy sports: he dwelt in tents, [1.] As a shepherd. He was attached to that safe and silent employment of keeping sheep, to which also he bred up his children, ch. 46. 34. Or, [2.] as a student. He frequented the tents of Melchizedek, or Heber, as some understand it, to be taught by them divine things. And this was that son of Isaac, on whom the covenant was entailed.

4. Their interest in the affections of their parents was likewise different. They had but these two children, and it seems, one was the father's darling, and the other the mother's, v. 28. (1.) Isaac, though he was not a stirring man himself, (for when he went into the fields, he went to meditate and pray, not to hunt,) yet he loved to have his son active. Esau knew how to please him, and showed a great respect for him, by treating him often with venison, which gained him the affections of the good old man, and won upon him more than one would have thought. (2.) Rebekah was mindful of the oracle of God, which had given the preference to Jacob, and therefore she preferred him in her love. And if it be lawful for parents to make a difference between their children upon any account, doubtless Rebekah was in the right, that loved him whom God loved.

29. And Jacob sod pottage: And Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30. And Esau said to Jacob, feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birth-right. 32. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birth-right do to me? 33. And Jacob said, Swear to me this day, and he sware unto him: and he sold his birth-right unto Jacob. 34. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birth-right. We have here a bargain made between Jacob and Esau about the birth-right, which was Esau's by providence, but Jacob's by promise. It was a spiritual privilege, including the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power, as well as the double portion, ch. 49. 3. It seemed to be such a birth-right as had then the blessing annexed to it, and the entail of the promise. Now see,

I. Jacob's pious desire of the birth-right, which yet he sought to obtain by indirect courses, not agreeable to his character as a plain man. It was not out of pride or ambition that he coveted the birth-right, but with an eye to spiritual blessings, which he had got well-acquainted with in his tents, while Esau had lost the scent of them in the field. For this, he is to be commended, that he coveted earnestly the best gifts; yet in this he cannot be justified, that he took advantage of his brother's necessity, to make him a very hard bargain, v. 31, Sell me this day thy birth-right. Probably, there had formerly been some communication between them about this matter, and then it was not so great a surprise upon Esau as here it seems to be; and, it may be, Esau had sometimes spoken slightly of the birthright and its appurtenances, which encouraged Jacob to make this proposal to him. And if so, Jacob is in some measure, excusable in what he did to gain his point. Note, plain men, that have their conversation in simplicity and godly sincerity, and without worldly wisdom, are often found wisest of all for their souls and eternity. Those are wise indeed, that are wise for another world. Jacob's wisdom appeared in two things. 1. That he chose the exact time; took the opportunity when it offered itself, and did not let it slip. 2. That having made the bargain, he made it sure, and got it confirmed by Esau's oath, Swear to me this day, v. 33. He took Esau when he was in the mind, and would not leave him a power of revocation. In a case of this nature, it is good to be sure.

II. Esau's profane contempt of the birth-right, and the foolish sale he made of it. He is called profane Esau for it, Heb. 12. 16, because, for one morsel of meat, he sold his birth-right; as dear a morsel as ever was eaten since the forbidden fruit; and he lived to regret it, when it was too late. Never was there such a foolish bargain as that which Esau now made; and yet he valued himself upon his policy, and had the reputation of a cunning-man; and perhaps had often bantered his brother Jacob as a weak and simple man. Note. 1. There are those that are penny-wise and pound-foolish, cunning hunters that can out-wit others and draw them into their snares, and yet are themselves imposed upon by Satan's wiles, and led captive by him at his will. 2. God often chooses the foolish things of the world, by them to confound the wise. Plain Jacob makes a fool of cunning Esau. Observe the instances of Esau's folly.

(1.) His appetite was very strong, v. 29, 30. Poor Jacob had got some bread and pottage (v. 34,) for his dinner, and was sitting down to it contentedly enough, without venison; when Esau came from hunting, hungry and weary, and perhaps had caught nothing. And now Jacob's pottage pleased his eye better than ever his game had done. Give me (says he) some of that red, that red, as it is in the original; it suited his own colour, v. 25, and, in reproach to him, for this he was ever afterward called Edom, Red. Nay, it should seem, he was so faint, that he could not feed himself, nor had he a servant at hand to help him, but entreats his brother to feed him. Note, [1.] Those that addict themselves to sport, weary themselves for very vanity, Hab. 2. 13. They might do the most needful business, and gain the greatest advantages, with half the pains they take, and half the perils they run, in pursuit of their foolish pleasures. [2.] Those that work with quietness, are more constantly and comfortably provided for, than those that hunt with noise: bread is not always to the wise, but they that trust in the Lord and do good, verily they shall be fed, fed with daily bread; not as Esau, sometimes feasting, and sometimes fainting. [3.] The gratifying of the sensual appetite, is that which ruins thousands of precious souls: surely if Esau was hungry and faint, he might have got a meal's meat cheaper than at the expense of his birth-right; but he was unaccountably fond of the colour of this pottage, and could not deny himself the satisfaction of a mess of it, whatever it cost him. Never better can come of it, when men's hearts walk after their eyes, Job 31. 7, and when they serve their own bellies: therefore, Look not thou upon the wine, or, as Esau, upon the pottage, when it is red, when it gives that colour in the cup, in the dish, which is most inviting, Prov. 23. 31. If we use ourselves to deny ourselves, we break the force of most temptations.

(2.) His reasoning was very weak, v. 32, Behold I am at the point to die; and if he were, would nothing serve to keep him alive but this pottage? If the famine were now in the land, (ch. 26. 1.) as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, we cannot suppose Isaac so poor, or Rebekah so bad a house-keeper, but that he might have been supplied with food convenient, other ways, and might have saved his birth-right; but his appetite has the mastery of him, he is in a longing condition, nothing will please him but this red, this red pottage, and to palliate his desire, he pretends he is at the point to die; if it had been so, was it not better for him to die in honour than to live in disgrace; to die under a blessing than to live under a curse? The birth-right was typical of spiritual privileges, those of the church of the first-born. Esau was now tried how he would value them, and he shows himself sensible only of present grievances; may he but get relief against them, he cares not for his birth-right. Naboth was better principled, who would lose his life rather than sell his vineyard, because his part in the earthly Canaan signified his part in the heavenly, 1 Kings 21. 3.   [1.] If we look on Esau's birth-right as only a temporal advantage, what he said, had something of truth in it, namely, that our worldly enjoyments, even those that we are most fond of, will stand us in no stead in a dying hour, Ps. 49. 6..8. They will not put by the stroke of death, nor ease the pangs, nor remove the sting; yet Esau, who set up for a gentleman, should have had a greater and more noble spirit, than to sell even such an honour a cheap bargain. [2.] But being of a spiritual nature, his undervaluing of it was the greatest profaneness imaginable. Note, It is egregious folly to part with our interest in God, and Christ, and Heaven, for the riches, honours and pleasures of this world; as bad a bargain as he that sold a birth-right for a dish of broth.

(3.) Repentance was hid from his eyes, v. 34, He did eat and drink, pleased his palate, satisfied his cravings, blessed himself when he thought what a good meal's meat he had had, and then carelessly rose up and went his way, without any serious reflections upon the bad bargain he had made, or any show of regret: thus Esau despised his birth-right; he used no means at all to get the bargain revoked; made no appeal to his father about it, nor proposed to his brother to compound the matter; but the bargain which his necessity had made, (supposing it were so,) his profaneness confirmed ex post facto — after the deed; and by his subsequent neglect and contempt, he did, as it were, acknowledge a fine, and by justifying himself in what he had done, he put the bargain past recall. Note, People are ruined, not so much by doing what is amiss, as by doing it and not repenting of it, doing it and standing to it.


In this chapter, we have, I. Isaac in adversity, by reason of a famine in the land, which 1. Obliges him to change his quarters, v. 1. But, 2. God visits him with direction and comfort, v. 2..5.   3. He foolishly denies his wife, being in distress, and is reproved for it by Abimelech, v. 6..11.   II. Isaac in prosperity, by the blessing of God upon him, v. 12..14. And 1. The Philistines were envious at him, v. 14..17.   2. He continued industrious in his business, v. 18..23.   3. God appeared to him, and encouraged him, and he devoutly acknowledged God, v. 24, 25.   4. The Philistines, at length, made court to him, and made a covenant with him, v. 26..33.   5. The disagreeable marriage of his son Esau was an allay to the comfort of his prosperity, v. 34, 35.

1.AND there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2. And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: 3. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4. And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5. Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.


I. God tried Isaac by provdence; Isaac had been trained up in a believing dependence upon the divine grant of the land of Canaan to him and his heirs; yet now that there is a famine in the land, v. 1, what shall he think of the promise, when the promised land will not find him bread? Is such a grant worth accepting, upon such terms, and after so long a time? Yes, Isaac will still cleave to the covenant; and the less valuable Canaan in itself seems to be, the better he is taught to value it, 1. As a token of God's everlasting kindness to him; and 2. As a type of heaven's everlasting blessedness. Note, The intrinsic worth of God's promises cannot be lessened in a believer's eye by any cross providences.

II. He directed him under this trial by his word. Isaac finds himself straitened by the scarcity of provisions; somewhither he must go for supply; it should seem, he intends for Egypt, whither his father went in the like strait, but he takes Gerar in his way, full of thoughts, no doubt, which way he had best steer his course, till God graciously appeared to him, and determined him, abundantly to his satisfaction.

1. God bid him stay where he was, and not go down into Egypt, v. 2, 3. Sojourn in this land: there was a famine in Jacob's days, and God bid him go down into Egypt, ch. 46. 3, 4; a famine in Isaac's days, and God bid him not to go down; a famine in Abraham's days, and God left him to his liberty, directing him neither way; this variety in the divine procedure (considering that Egypt was always a place of trial and exercise to God's people) some ground upon the different characters of these three patriarchs. Abraham was a man of very high attainments, and intimate communion with God; and to him all places and conditions were alike. Isaac was a very good man, but not cut out for hardship; therefore he is forbidden to go to Egypt. Jacob was inured to difficulties, strong, and patient; and therefore he must go down into Egypt, that the trial of his faith might be to praise, and honour, and glory. Thus God proportions his people's trials to their strength.

2. He promised to be with him, and bless him, v. 3. As we may go any-whither with comfort, when God's blessing goes with us; so we may stay any where contentedly, if that blessing rest upon us.

3. He renewed the covenant with him, which had so often been made with Abraham, repeating and ratifying the promises of the land of Canaan, a numerous issue, and the Messiah, v. 3, 4. Note, Those that must live by faith, have need often to review, and repeat to themselves, the promises they are to lie upon, especially when they are called to any instance of suffering or self-denial.

4. He recommended to him the good example of his father's obedience, as that which had preserved the entail of the covenant in his family, v. 5, Abraham obeyed my voice, "Do thou do so too, and the promise shall be sure to thee." Abraham's obedience is here celebrated, to his honour; for by it he obtained a good report both with God and men. A great variety of words is here used to express the divine will, to which Abraham was obedient, my voice, my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws, which may intimate that Abraham's obedience was universal; he obeyed the original laws of nature, the revealed laws of divine worship, particularly that of circumcision, and all the extraordinary precepts God gave him, as that of quitting his country, and that (which some think is more especially referred to) of the offering up of his son, which Isaac himself had reason enough to remember. Note, Those only shall have the benefit and comfort of God's covenant with their godly parents, that tread in the steps of their obedience.

6. And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7. And the men of the place asked him of his wife: and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah, because she was fair to look upon. 8. And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines, looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. 9. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife : and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, lest I die for her. 10. And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11. And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife, shall surely be put to death.

Isaac had now laid aside all thoughts of going into Egypt, and in obedience to the heavenly vision, sets up his staff in Gerar, the country in which he was born, v. 6. yet there he enters into temptation, the same temptation that his good father had been once and again surprised and overcome by, namely, to deny his wife, and to give out that she was his sister. Observe,

1. How he sinned, v. 7. Because his wife was handsome, he fancied the Philistines would find some way or other to take him off, that some of them might marry her; and therefore she must pass for his sister. It is an unaccountable thing, that both these great and good men should be guilty of so strange a piece of dissimulation, by which they so much exposed both their own and their wives' reputation. But we see, (1.) That very good men have sometimes been guilty of very great faults and follies. Let those therefore that stand, take heed lest they fall, and those that are fallen, not despair of being helped up again. We see, (2.) That there is an aptness in us to imitate even the weaknesses and infirmities of those we have a value for; we have need therefore to keep our foot, lest, while we aim to tread in the steps of good men, we sometimes tread in their by-steps.

2. How he was detected, and the cheat discovered by the king himself. Abimelech (not the same that was in Abraham's days, ch. 20, for this was near 100 years after that) was the common name of the Philistine kings, as Caesar of the Roman emperors: he saw Isaac more familiar and pleasant with Rebekah than he knew he would be with his sister; (v. 8.) he saw him sporting with her, or laughing; it is the same word with that from which Isaac had his name; he was rejoicing with the wife of his youth, Prov. 5. 18. It becomes those in that relation to be pleasant with one another, as those that are pleased with one another. No where, may a man more allow himself to be innocently merry, than with his own wife and children. Abimelech charged him with the fraud, (v. 9.) showed him how frivolous his excuse was, and what might have been the bad consequences of it; (v. 10.) and then, to convince him how groundless and unjust his jealousy of them was, took him and his family under his particular protection, forbidding any injury to be done to him or his wife, upon pain of death, v. 11. Note, (1.) A lying tongue is but for a moment. Truth is the daughter of time; and in time, it will out. (2.) One sin is often the inlet to many, and therefore the beginnings of sin ought to be avoided. (3.) The sins of professors shame them before those that are without. (4.) God can make those that are incensed against his people, though there may be some colour of cause for it, to know that it is at their peril, if they do them any hurt. See Ps. 105. 14, 15.

12. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundred fold: and the Lord blessed him: 13. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he becamee very great. 14. For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. 15. For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. 16. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us ; for thou art much mightier than we. 17. And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19. And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20. And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saving, The water is our's: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. 21. And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. 22. And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. 23. And he went up from thence to Beer-sheba. 24. And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. 25. And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.

Here we have,

I. The tokens of God's good will to Isaac; he blessed him, and prospered him, and made all that he had, to thrive under his hands. 1. His corn multiplied strangely, v. 12. He had no land of his own, but took land of the Philistines, and sowed it; and (be it observed for the encouragement of poor tenants, that occupy other people's lands, and are honest and industrious) God blessed him with a great increase. He reaped an hundred fold; and there seems to be an emphasis laid upon the time; it was that same year, when there was a famine in the land; while others scarcely reaped at all, he reaped thus plentifully. See Isa. 65. 13, My servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry, Ps. 37. 19, In the days of famine, they shall be satisfied. 2. His cattle also increased, v. 14. And then, 3. He had great store of servants, whom he employed and maintained. Note, As goods are increased, they are increased that eat them, Eccl. 5. 11.

II. The tokens of the Philistines' ill-will to him: they envied him, v. 14. It is an instance, 1. Of the vanity of the world, that the more men have of it, the more they are envied, and exposed to censure and injury. Who can stand before envy? Prov. 27. 4. See Eccl. 4. 4.   2. Of the corruption of nature; for that is a bad principle indeed, which makes men grieve at the good of others; as if it must needs be ill with me, because it is well with my neighbour. (1.) They had already showed their ill-will to his family, by stopping up the wells which his father had digged, v. 15. This was spitefully done; because they had not flocks of their own to water at these wells, they would not leave them for the use of others; so absurd a thing is malice. And it was perfidiously done; contrary to the covenant of friendship they had made with Abraham, ch. 21. 31, 32. No bonds will hold ill-nature. (2.) They expelled him out of their country, v. 16, 17. The king of Gerar began to look upon him with a jealous eye. Isaac's house was like a court, and his riches and retinue eclipsed Abimelech's; and therefore he must go further off: they were weary of his neighbourhood, because they saw that the Lord blessed him; whereas, for that reason, they should the rather have courted his stay, that they also might be blessed for his sake. Isaac does not insist upon the bargain he had made with them for the lands he held, nor upon his occupying and improving of them, nor does he offer to contest with them by force, though he was become very great; but very peaceably departs thence further from the royal city, and perhaps to a part of the country less fruitful. Note, We should deny ourselves both in our rights and in our conveniences, rather than quarrel: a wise and a good man will rather retire into obscurity, like Isaac here into a valley, than sit high, to be the butt of envy and ill-will.

III. His constancy and continuance in his business still.

1. He kept up his husbandry, and continued industrious to find wells of water, and to fit them for his use, v. 18, &c. Though he was grown very rich, yet he was as solicitous as ever about the state of his flocks, and still looked well to his herds; when men grow great, they must take heed of thinking themselves too big and too high for their business. Though he was driven from the conveniences he had had, and could not follow his husbandry with the same ease and advantage as before, yet he set himself to make the best of the country he was come into, which it is every man's prudence to do. Observe, (1.) He opened the wells that his father had digged, (v. 18.) and, out of respect to his father, called them by the same names that he had given them. Note, In our searches after truth, that fountain of living water, it is good to make use of the discoveries of former ages, which have been clouded by the corruptions of later times. Inquire for the old way, the wells which our fathers digged, which the adversaries of truth have stopped up; Ask thine elders, and they shall teach thee. (2.) His servants digged new wells, v. 19. Note, Though we must use the light of former ages, it does not therefore follow that we must rest in it, and make no advances; we must still be building upon their foundation, running to and fro, that knowledge may be increased, Dan. 12. 4.

In digging his wells, [1.] He met with much opposition, v. 20, 21. Those that open the fountains of truth, must expect contradiction. The two first wells they digged, were called Esek and Sitnah, Contention and Hatred. See here, First, What is the nature of worldly things; they are make-bates, and occasions of strife. Secondly, What is often the lot even of the most quiet and peaceable men in this world; those that avoid striving, yet cannot avoid being striven with, Ps. 120.7. In this sense, Jeremiah was a man of contention, (Jer. 15. 10.) and Christ himself, though he is the Prince of peace. Thirdly, What a mercy it is to have plenty of water, to have it without striving for it! The more common this mercy is, the more reason we have to be thankful for it. [2.] At length he removed to a quiet settlement, cleaving to his peaceable principle, rather to fly than fight, and unwilling to dwell with them that hated peace, Ps. 120. 6. He preferred quietness to victory. He digged a well, and for that they strove not, v. 22. Note, Those that follow peace, sooner or later, shall find peace; those that study to be quiet, seldom fail of being so. How unlike was Isaac to his brother Ishmael, who, right or wrong, would hold what he had, against all the world! ch. 16. 12. And which of these would we be found the followers of? This well they called Rehoboth, Enlargements, room enough: in the two former wells we may see what the earth is, straitness and strife men cannot thrive, for the throng of their neighbours; this well shows us what heaven is; it is enlargement and peace, room enough there, for there are many mansions.

2. He continued firm to his religion, and kept up his communion with God. (1.) God graciously appeared to him, v. 24. When the Philistines expelled him, forced him to remove from place to place, and gave him continual molestation, then God visited him, and gave him fresh assurances of his favour. Note, When men are found false and unkind, we may comfort ourselves that God is faithful and gracious; and his time to show himself so, is when we are most disappointed in our expectations from men. When Isaac was come to Beer-sheba, (v. 23.) it is probable that it troubled him to think of his unsettled condition, and that he could not be suffered to stay long in a place; and, in the multitude of these thoughts within him, that same night that he came weary and uneasy to Beer-sheba, God brought him his comforts to delight his soul. Probably, he was apprehensive that the Philistines would net let him rest there? Fear not, says God to him, I am with thee, and will bless thee. Those may remove with comfort, that are sure of God's presence with them whithersoever they go. (2.) He was not wanting in his returns of duty to God; for there he built an altar, and called upon the name of the Lord, v. 25. Note, [1.] Whithersoever we go, we must take our religion along with us. Probably, Isaac's altars and his religious worship gave offence to the Philistines, and provoked them to be the more troublesome to him: yet he kept up his duty, whatever ill-will he might be exposed to by it. [2.] The comforts and encouragements God gives us by his word, should excite and quicken us to all instances of devotion, by which God may be honoured, and our intercourse with heaven maintained.

26. Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. 27. And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? 28. And they said, We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; 29. That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the Lord. 30. And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. 31. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. 32. And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water. 33. And he called it Sheba: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day.

We have here the contests that had been between Isaac and the Philistines issuing in a happy peace and reconciliation.

1. Abimelech makes a friendly visit to Isaac, in token of the respect he had for him, v. 26. Note, When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him, Prov. 16. 7. King's hearts are in his hands, and when he pleases, he can turn them to favour his people.

2. Isaac prudently and cautiously questions his sincerity in this visit, v. 27. Note, In settling friendships and correspondences, there is need of the wisdom of the serpent, as well as the innocency of the dove. Nor is it any transgression of the law of meekness and love, fairly to signify our strong perception of injuries received, and to stand upon our guard in dealing with those that have acted unfairly.

3. Abimelech professes his sincerity, in this address to Isaac, and earnestly courts his friendship, v. 28, 29. Some suggest that Abimelech pressed for this league with him, because he feared lest Isaac growing rich, should some time or other, avenge himself upon them for the injuries he had received. However, he professes to do it from a principle of love rather. (1.) He makes the best of their behaviour toward him. Isaac complained that they had hated him and sent him away; No, said Abimelech, we sent thee away in peace. They turned him off from the land he held of them; but they suffered him to take away his stock, and all his effects with him. Note, The lessening of injuries is necessary to the preserving of friendship; for the aggravating of them exasperates and widens breaches. The unkindness done to us might have been worse. (2.) He acknowledges the tokens of God's favour to him, and makes that the ground of their desire to be in league with him. The Lord is with thee, and thou art the blessed of the Lord, as if he had said, "Be pursuaded to overlook and pass by the injuries offered thee; for God has abundantly made up to thee the damage thou receivedst." Note, Those whom God blesses and favours, have reason enough to forgive those who hate them, since the worst enemy they have, cannot do them any real hurt. Or, "For this reason, we desire thy friendship, because God is with thee." Note, It is good to be in covenant and communion with those who are in covenant and communion with God, 1 John 1. 3. Zech 8. 23. (3.) He assures him that their present address to him was the result of mature deliberation. We said, let there be an oath betwixt us; whatever some of his peevish envious subjects might mean otherwise, he, and his prime-ministers of state whom he had now brought with him, designed no other than a cordial friendship. Perhaps Abimelech had received by tradition, the warning God gave to his predecessor not to hurt Abraham, (ch. 20. 7.) and that made him stand in such awe of Isaac, who appeared to be as much the favourite of Heaven as Abraham was.

4. Isaac entertains him and his company, and enters into a league of friendship with him, v. 30, 31. Here see how generous the good man was, (1.) In giving; he made them a feast, and bid them welcome; (2.) In forgiving; he did not insist upon the unkindnesses they had done him, but freely entered into a covenant of friendship with them, and bound himself never to do them any injury. Note, Religion teaches us to be neighbourly, and as much as in us lies, to live peaceably with all men.

5. Providence smiled upon what Isaac did: for the same day that he made this covenant with Abimelech, his servants brought him the tidings of a well of water they had found, v. 32, 33. He had not insisted upon the restitution of the wells which the Philistines had unjustly taken from him, lest that should have broken off the treaty, but sat down silent under the injury; and, to recompense him for that, immediately he is enriched with a new well, which, because it suited so well to the occurrence of the day, he called by an old name, Beer-sheba, The well of the oath.

34. And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: 35. Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.

Here is, 1. Esau's foolish marriage; foolish, some think, in marrying two wives together, for which perhaps he is called a fornicator, Heb. 12. 16. or rather in marrying Canaanites, who were strangers to the blessing of Abraham, and subject to the curse of Noah, for which he is called profane; for hereby he intimated that he neither desired the blessing, nor dreaded the curse, of God. 2. The grief and trouble it created to his tender parents. (1.) It grieved them, that he married without asking, or at least, without taking, their advice and consent: see whose steps those children tread in, who either contemn or contradict their parents in disposing of themselves. (2.) It grieved them, that he married among those who had no religion among them; for Esau knew what were his father's care and mind concerning him, that he should by no means marry a Canaanite. (3.) It should seem, the wives he married, were provoking in their conduct towards Isaac and Rebekah: those children have little reason to expect the blessing of God, who do that which is a grief of mind to their good parents.


In this chapter, we return to the typical story of the struggle between Esau and Jacob. Esau had profanely sold the birth-right to Jacob; but Esau hopes he shall be never the poorer, nor Jacob the richer, for that bargain; while he preserves his interest in his father's affections, and so secures the blessing. Here therefore we find how he was justly punished for his contempt of the birth-right, (which he foolishly deprived himself of,) with the loss of the blessing which Jacob fraudulently deprives him of. Thus this story is explained Heb. 12. 16, 17, Because he sold the birth-right, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected. For they that make light of the name and profession of religion, and throw it away for a trifle, thereby forfeit the powers and privileges of it. We have here, I. Isaac's purpose to entail the blessing upon Esau, v. 1..4.   II. Rebekah's plot to procure it for Jacob, v. 6..17.   III. Jacob's successful management of the plot, and his obtaining of the blessing. v. 18..29.   IV. Esau's resentment of this: in which, 1. His great importunity with his father to obtain a blessing, v. 30..40.   2. His great enmity to his brother for defrauding him of the first blessing, v. 41..46.

1.AND it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: And he said unto him, Behold, here am I. 2. And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death: 3. Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; 4. And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die. 5. And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.

Here is,

1. Isaac's design to make his will, and to declare Esau his heir. The promise of the Messiah and the land of Canaan, was a great trust, first committed to Abraham, inclusive and typical of spiritual and eternal blessings; this, by divine direction, he transmitted to Isaac. Isaac, being now old, and either not knowing, or not understanding, or not duly considering, the divine oracle concerning his two sons, that the elder should serve the younger, resolves to entail all the honour and power that were wrapped up in the promise, upon Esau his eldest son. In this, he was governed more by natural affection, and the common method of settlements, than he ought to have been, if he knew (as it is probable he did) the intimations God had given of his mind in this matter. Note, We are very apt to take our measures rather from our own reason than from divine revelation, and thereby often miss our way; we think the wise and learned, the mighty and noble, should inherit the promise; but God sees not as man sees. See 1 Sam. 16. 6, 7.

2. The directions he gave to Esau, pursuant to this design: he calls him to him, v. 1. For Esau, though married, was not yet removed; and though he had greatly grieved his parents by his marriage, yet they had not expelled him, but, it seems, were pretty well reconciled to him, and made the best of it. Note, parents that are justly offended at their children, yet must not be implacable towards them. (1.) He tells him upon what considerations he resolved to do this now, v. 2, "I am old, and therefore must die shortly, yet I know not the day of my death, nor when I must die; I will therefore do that at this time, which must be done some time." Note, [1.] Old people should be reminded by the growing infirmities of age, to do quickly, and with all the little might they have, what their hand finds to do. See Josh. 13. 1.   [2.] The consideration of the uncertainty of the time of our departure out of the world, (which God has wisely kept us in the dark about,) should quicken us to do the work of the day in its day. The heart and the house should both be set, and kept, in order, because at such an hour as we think not, the Son of man comes; because we know not the day of our death, we are concerned to mind the business of life. (2.) He bids him to get the things ready for the solemnity of executing his last will and testament, by which he designed to make him his heir, v. 3, 4. Esau must go a hunting, and bring some venison, which his father will eat of, and then bless him. In this, he designed, not so much the refreshment of his own spirits, that he might give the blessing in a lively manner, as it is commonly taken, but rather the receiving of a fresh instance of his son's filial duty and affection to him, before he bestowed this favour upon him; Perhaps Esau, since he was married, had brought his venison to his wives, and seldom to his father, as formerly, (ch. 25. 28.) and therefore Isaac, before he would bless him, would have him show this piece of respect to him. Note, It is fit, if the less be blessed of the greater, that the greater should be served and honoured by the less. Observe, he says, That my soul may bless thee before I die. Note, [1.] Prayer is the work of the soul, and not of the lips only; as the soul must be employed in blessing God, (Ps. 103. 1.) so it must be in blessing ourselves and others: the blessing will not come to the heart, if it do not come from the heart. [2.] The work of life must be done before we die, for it cannot be done afterward; (Eccl. 9. 10.) and it is very desirable, when we come to die, to have nothing else to do but to die. Isaac lived about 40 years after this; let none therefore think that they shall die the sooner, for making their wills, and getting ready for death.

6. And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, 7. Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the Lord, before my death. 8. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee. 9. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats, and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: 10. And thou shall bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death. 11. And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is an hairy man, and I am a smooth man: 12. My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver: and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing. 13. And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them. 14. And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved. 15. And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her youngest son: 16. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck. 17. And she gave the savoury meat, and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

Rebekah is here contriving to procure for Jacob the blessing which was designed for Esau. And here,

I. The end was good, for she was directed in this intention by the oracle of God, by which she had been governed in dispensing her affections. God had said it should be so, that the elder shall serve the younger; and therefore Rebekah resolves it shall be so, and cannot bear to see her husband designing to thwart the oracle of God. But,

II. The means were bad, and no way justifiable. If it were not a wrong to Esau, to deprive him of the blessing, (he himself having forfeited it by selling the birth-right,) yet it was a wrong to Isaac, taking advantage of his infirmity, to impose upon him; it was a wrong to Jacob too, whom she taught to deceive, by putting a lie into his mouth, or, at least, by putting one into his right hand. It would likewise expose him to endless scruples about the blessing, if he should obtain it thus fraudulently, whether it would stand him or his in any stead, especially if his father should revoke it, upon the discovery of the cheat, and plead, as he might, that it was nulled by an Error Personae — A mistake of the Person. He himself also was aware of the danger, lest, (v. 12.) if he should miss of the blessing, as he might, probably, have done, he should bring upon himself his father's curse, which he dreaded above any thing; besides, he laid himself open to that divine curse which is pronounced upon him that causeth the blind to wander out of the way, Deut. 27. 18. If Rebekah, when she heard Isaac promise the blessing to Esau, had gone, at his return from hunting, to Isaac, and, with humility and seriousness, put him in remembrance of that which God had said concerning their sons; if she further had showed him how Esau had forfeited the blessing, by selling his birth-right, and by marrying strange wives; it is probable that Isaac would have been prevailed with knowingly and wittingly to have conferred the blessing upon Jacob, and needed not thus to have been cheated into it. This had been honourable and laudable, and would have looked well in the history: but God left her to herself, to take this indirect course, that he might have the glory of bringing good out of evil, and of serving his own purposes by the sins and follies of men, and that we might have the satisfaction of knowing that though there is so much wickedness and deceit in the world, God governs it according to his will, to his own praise. See Job 12. 16, With him are strength and wisdom, the deceived and the deceiver are his. Isaac had lost the sense of seeing, which, in this case, could not have been imposed upon, Providence having so admirably well ordered the difference of features, that no two faces are exactly alike: conversation and commerce could scarcely be maintained, if there were not such a variety. Therefore she endeavours to deceive.

1. His sense of tasting, by dressing some choice pieces of kid, seasoning it, serving it up, so as to make him believe it was venison; which was no hard matter to do. See the folly of those that are nice and curious in their appetite, and take a pride in humouring it. It is easy to impose upon them with that which they pretend to despise and dislike, so little perhaps does it differ from that to which they give a decided preference. Solomon tells us that dainties are deceitful meat; for it is possible for us to be deceived by them, more ways than one, Prov. 23. 3.

2. His sense of feeling and smelling: she put Esau's clothes upon Jacob, his best clothes, which it might be supposed, Esau would put on, in token of joy and respect to his father, when he was to receive the blessing. Isaac knew these, by the stuff, shape, and smell, to be Esau's. If we would obtain a blessing of our heavenly Father, we must come for it in the garments of our elder Brother, clothed with his righteousness, who is the First-born among many brethren. Lest the smoothness and softness of Jacob's hands and neck should betray him, she covered them, and, probably part of his face, with the skins of the kids that were newly killed, v. 16. Esau was rough indeed, when nothing less than these would serve to make Jacob like him. Those that affect to seem rough and rugged in their carnage, put the beast upon the man, and really shame themselves, by thus disguising themselves.

And lastly, it was a very rash word which Rebekah spake, when Jacob objected the danger of a curse, Upon me be thy curse, my son, v. 13. Christ indeed, who is mighty to save, because mighty to bear, has said, Upon me be the curse, only obey my voice; he has born the burthen of the curse, the curse of the law, for all those that will take upon them the yoke of the command, the command of the gospel. But it is too daring for any creature to say, Upon me be the curse, unless it be that curse causeless, which we are sure shall not come, Prov. 26. 2.

18. And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son? 19. And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy first-born; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. 20. And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me. 21. And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near me, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau, or not. 22. And Jacob went near unto Isaac, his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. 23. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him. 24. And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am. 25. And he said, Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26. And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near me now, and kiss me, my son. 27, And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field, which the Lord hath blessed. 28. Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine; 29. Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee; be lord over thy brethren; and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

Observe here,

I. The art and assurance with which Jacob managed this intrigue: who would have thought that this plain man could have played his part so well in a design of this nature? His mother having put him in the way of it, and encouraged him in it, he dexterously applies himself to these methods which he had never accustomed himself to, but had always conceived an abhorence of. Note, Lying is soon learned. The Psalmist speaks of those, who, as soon as they are born, speak lies, Ps. 58. 3. Jer. 9. 5. I wonder how honest Jacob could so readily turn his tongue to say, (v. 19.) I am Esau, thy first-born; nor do I see how the endeavour of some to bring him off, with that equivocation, I am made thy first-born, namely by purchase, does him any service; for when his father asked him, (v. 24.) Art thou my very son Esau? he said, I am. How could he say, I have done as thou badest me, when he had received no command from his father, but was doing as his mother bade him? How could he say, Eat of my venison, when he knew it came not from the field, but from the fold? But specially I wonder how he could have the assurance to father it upon God, and to use his name in the cheat, (v. 20.) The Lord thy God brought it to me. Is this Jacob? Is this Israel indeed without guile? It is certainly written, not for our imitation, but for our admonition. Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall. Good men have sometimes failed in the exercise of those graces for which they have been most eminent.

II. The success of this management: Jacob with some difficulty, gained his point, and got the blessing.

1. Isaac was, at first, dissatisfied, and would have discovered the fraud, if he could have trusted his own ears; for the voice was Jacob's voice, v. 22. Providence has ordered a strange variety of voices as well as faces, which is also of use to prevent our being imposed upon; and the voice is a thing not easily disguised or counterfeited. This may be alluded to, to illustrate the character of a hypocrite; his voice is Jacob's voice, but his hands are Esau's; he speaks the language of a saint, but does the works of a sinner; but the judgment will be (as here) by the hands.

2. At length he yielded to the power of the cheat, because the hands were hairy, (v. 23.) not considering how easy it was to counterfeit that circumstance; and now Jacob carries it on dexterously, sets his venison before his father, and waits at table very officiously, till dinner is done, and the blessing comes to be pronounced in the close of this solemn feast. That which in some small degree extenuates the crime of Rebekah and Jacob, is, that the fraud was intended, not so much to hasten the fulfilling, as to prevent the thwarting, of the oracle of God: the blessing was just going to be put upon the wrong head, and they thought it was time to bestir themselves.

Now let us see how Isaac gave Jacob his blessing.

(1.) He kissed him, (v. 26.) in token of a particular affection to him. Those that are blessed of God, are kissed with the kisses of his mouth, and they do, by love and loyalty, kiss the Son, Ps. 2. 12.

(2.) He praised him, v. 27. He smelled the smell of his raiment, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed, that is, like that of the most fragrant flowers and spices. It appeared that God had blessed him, and therefore Isaac will bless him; compare v. 28.

3. He prayed for him, and therein prophesied concerning him. It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, and to bless them in the name of the Lord. And thus, as well as by their baptism, to do what they can, to preserve and perpetuate the entail of the covenant in their families. But this was an extraordinary blessing; and Providence so ordered it, that Isaac should bestow it upon Jacob ignorantly and by mistake, that it might appear he was beholden to God for it, and not to Isaac. Three things Jacob is here blessed with, [1.] Plenty; (v. 28.) heaven and earth concurring to make him rich. [2.] Power; (v. 29.) particularly dominion over his brethren, namely Esau and his posterity. [3.] Prevalency with God, and a great interest in Heaven; "Cursed be every one that curseth thee. Let God be a friend to all thy friends, and an enemy to all thine enemies." More is certainly comprised in this blessing than appears, prima facie—at first sight; it must amount to an entail of the promise of the Messiah, and the church: that was, in the patriarchal dialect, the blessing; something spiritual, doubtless, is included in it. First, that from him should come the Messiah, who should have a sovereign dominion on earth. It was that top-branch of his family, which people should serve, and nations bow down to. See Numb. 24. 19, Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, the Star and Sceptre, v. 17. Jacob's dominion over Esau was to be only typical of this, ch. 49. 10. Secondly, That from him should come the church that should be particularly owned and favoured by Heaven. It was part of the blessing of Abraham, when he was first called to be the father of the faithful, ch. 12. 3, I will bless them that bless thee; therefore when Isaac afterward confirmed the blessing to Jacob, he called it the blessing of Abraham, ch. 28. 4. Balaam explains this too, Numb. 24. 9. Note, It is the best and most desirable blessing, to stand in relation to Christ and his church, and to be interested in Christ's power, and the church's favours.

30. And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31. And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me. 32. And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy first-born Esau. 33. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? Where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou earnest, and have blessed him? Yea and he shall be blessed. 34. And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. 35. And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing. 36. And he said, Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birth-right; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? 37. And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? 38. And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. 39. And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. 40. And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

Here is,

I. The covenant-blessing denied to Esau. He that made so light of the birth-right, would now have inherited the blessing, but he was rejected, and found no place for repentance in his father, though he sought it carefully with tears, Heb. 12. 17. Observe, 1. How carefully he sought it. He prepared the savoury meat, as his father had directed him, and then begged the blessing which his father had encouraged him to expect, v. 31. When he understood that Jacob had got it surreptitiously, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, v. 34. No man could have laid the disappointment more to heart than he did; he made his father's tent to ring with his grief, and again (v. 38.) lifted up his voice and wept. Note, The day is coming, when those that now make light of the blessings of the covenant, and sell their title to them for a thing of naught, will, in vain, be importunate for them. Those that will not so much as ask and seek now, will knock shortly, and cry, Lord, Lord, Slighters of Christ will then be humble suitors to him. 2. How he was rejected. Isaac, when first made sensible of the imposition that had been practised on him, trembled exceedingly, v. 33. Those that follow the choice of their own affections, rather than the dictates of the divine will, involve themselves in such perplexities as these. But he soon recovers himself, and ratifies the blessing he had given to Jacob. I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed; he might upon very plausible grounds, have recalled it, but now, at last, he is sensible that he was in an error, when he designed it for Esau. Either himself recollecting the divine oracle, or rather having found himself more than ordinarily filled with the Holy Ghost when he gave the blessing to Jacob, he perceived that God did, as it were, say Amen to it.

Now, (1.) Jacob was hereby confirmed in his possession of the blessing, and abundantly satisfied of the validity of it, though he obtained it fraudulently; hence too he had reason to hope that God graciously overlooked and pardoned his mismanagement.

(2.) Isaac hereby acquiesced in the will of God, though it contradicted his own expectation and affection. He had a mind to give Esau the blessing, but when he perceived the will of God was otherwise, he submitted; and this he did by faith, (Heb. 11. 20.) as Abraham before him, when he had solicited for Ishmael. May not God do what he will with his own?

(3.) Esau was hereby cut off from the expectation of that special blessing which he thought to have preserved to himself when he sold his birthright. We, by this instance, are taught, [1.] That it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of him that showeth mercy, Rom. 9. 16. The Apostle seems to allude to this story. Esau had a good will to the blessing, and ran for it; but God that showed mercy, designed it for Jacob that the purpose of God according to election might stand, v. 11. The Jews, like Esau, hunted after the law of righteousness, (v. 31.) yet missed of the blessing of righteousness, because they sought it by the works of the law; (v. 32.) while the Gentiles, who, like Jacob, sought it by faith in the oracle of God, obtained it by force, with that violence which the kingdom of heaven suffers. See Matt. 11. 12.   [2.] That those who undervalue their spiritual birthright, and can afford to sell it for a morsel of meat, forfeit spiritual blessings, and it is just with God to deny them those favours they were careless of. Those that will part with their wisdom and grace, with their faith and a good conscience, for the honours, wealth, or pleasures of this world, however they pretend a zeal for the blessing, have already judged themselves unworthy of it, and so shall their doom be. [3.] That those who lift up hands in wrath, lift them up in vain. Esau, instead of repenting of his own folly, reproached his brother, unjustly charged him with taking away the birth-right which he had fairly sold to him, (v. 36.) and conceived malice against him for what he had now done, v. 41. Those are not likely to speed in prayer, who turn those resentments upon their brethren, which they should turn upon themselves, and lay the blame of their miscarriages upon others, when they should take shame to themselves. [4.] That those who seek not till it is too late, will be rejected. This was the ruin of Esau, he did not come in time. As there is an accepted time, a time when God will be found, so there is a time when he will not answer those that call upon him, because they neglected the appointed season. See Prov. 1. 28. The time of God's patience and our probation will not last always; the day of grace will come to an end, and the door will be shut. Then many that now despise the blessing, will seek it carefully; for then they will know how to value it, and will see themselves undone, for ever undone, without it, but to no purpose, Luke 13. 25..27.   O that we would therefore, in this our day, know the things that belong to our peace!

II. Here is a common blessing bestowed upon Esau.

1. This he desired; Bless me also, v. 34. Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? v. 36. Note, (1.) The worst of men know how to wish well to themselves; and even those who profanely sell their birth-right, seem pious to desire the blessing; faint desires of happiness, without a right choice of the end, and a right use of the means, deceive many into their own ruin. Multitudes go to hell with their mouths full of good wishes. The desire of the slothful and unbelieving kills them. Many will seek to enter in, as Esau, who shall not be able, because they do not strive, Luke 13. 24.   (2.) It is the folly of most men, that they are willing to take up with any good, (Ps. 4. 6.) as Esau here, who desired but a second-rate blessing, a blessing separated from the birth-right. Profane hearts think any blessing as good as that from God's oracle: Hast thou but one? As if he had said, "I will take up with any: though I have not the blessing of the church, yet let me have some blessing."

2. This he had; and let him make his best of it, v. 39, 40.

(1.) It was a good thing, and better than he deserved. It was promised him, [1.] That he should have a competent livelihood; the fatness of the earth, and the dew of heaven. Note, Those that come short of the blessings of the covenant, may yet have a very good share of outward blessings. God gives good ground, and good weather, to many that reject his covenant, and have no part or lot in it. [2.] That by degrees he should recover his liberty: if Jacob must rule, (v. 29.) Esau must serve; but he has this to comfort him, he shall live by his sword; he shall serve, but he shall not starve; and, at length, after much skirmishing, he shall break the yoke of bondage, and wear the marks of freedom. This was fulfilled, (2 Kings 8. 20, 22.) when the Edomites revolted.

(2.) Yet it was far short of Jacob's blessing; for him God had reserved some better thing. [1.] In Jacob's blessing, the dew of heaven is put first, as that which he most valued and desired, and depended upon; in Esau's, the fatness of the earth is put first, for that was it, which he had the first and principal regard to. [2.] Esau has these, but Jacob has them from God's hand. God give thee the dew of heaven, v. 28. It was enough to Esau to have the possession; but Jacob desired it by promise, and to have it from covenant love. [3.] Jacob shall have dominion over his brethren; for the Israelites often ruled over the Edomites. Esau shall have dominion, that is, he shall gain some power and interest, but shall never have dominion over his brother; we never find that the Jews were sold into the hands of the Edomites, or that they oppressed them, but the great difference is, that there is nothing in Esau's blessing that points at Christ; nothing that brings him or his into the church and covenant of God; and without that, the fatness of the earth, and the plunder of the field, will stand him in little stead. Thus Isaac, by faith blessed them both according as their lot should be. Some observe that Jacob was blessed with a kiss, (v. 27.) so was not Esau.

41. And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, the days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob. 42. And these words of Esau her elder son, were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee. 43. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran; 44. And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away; 45. Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? 46. And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?

Here is,

I. The malice Esau bore to Jacob upon account of the blessing which he had obtained, v. 41. Thus he went in the way of Cain, who slew his brother, because he had gained that acceptance with God which he had rendered himself unworthy of. Esau's hatred of Jacob was, 1. A causeless hatred; he hated him for no other reason, but because his father blessed him, and God loved him.[2] Note, The happiness of saints is the envy of sinners. Whom Heaven blesses, Hell curses. 2. It was a cruel hatred; nothing less would satisfy him than to slay his brother. It is the blood of the saints that persecutors thirst after. I will slay my brother: how could he say that word, without horror? How could he call him brother, and yet vow his death? Note, The rage of persecutors will not be tied up by any bonds, no not the strongest and most sacred. 3. It was a hatred that calculated on gratifying its rage; he expected his father would soon die, and then titles must be tried, and interests contested, between the brothers, which would give him a fair opportunity of revenge. He thinks it not enough to live by his sword himself, (v. 40.) unless his brother die by it. He is loath to grieve his father while he lives, and therefore puts off the intended murder till his death, not caring how much he then grieved his surviving mother. Note, (1.) Those are bad children to whom their good parents are a burthen, and who, upon any account, long for the days of mourning for them. (2.) Bad men are long held in by external restraints from doing the mischief they would do, and so their wicked purposes come to naught. (3.) Those who think to defeat God's purposes, will undoubtedly be disappointed themselves. Esau aimed to prevent Jacob, or his seed from having the dominion, by taking away his life before he was married: but who can disannul what God has spoken. Men may fret at God's counsels, but cannot change them.

II. The method Rebekah took to prevent the mischief.

1. She gave Jacob warning of his danger, and advised him to withdraw for a while, and shift for his own safety. She tells him what she heard of Esau's design, that he comforted himself with the hope of an opportunity to kill his brother, v. 42. Would one think that such a bloody barbarous thought as this could be a comfort to a man? If Esau could have kept his design to himself, his mother had not suspected it; but men's impudence in sin is often their infatuation; and they cannot accomplish their wickedness, because their rage is too violent to be concealed, and a bird of the air carries the voice. Observe here, (1.) What Rebekah feared; lest she should be deprived of them both in one day; (v. 45.) deprived not only of the murdered, but of the murderer, who either by the magistrate, or by the immediate hand of God, would be sacrificed to justice; which she herself must acquiesce in, and not obstruct; or, if not so, yet thenceforward she would be deprived of all joy and comfort in him. Those that are lost to virtue, are in a manner lost to all their friends. With what pleasure can a child be looked upon, that can be looked upon as no other than a child of the Devil? (2.) What Rebekah hoped. That if Jacob for a while kept out of sight, the affront which his brother resented so fiercely, would by degrees go out of mind. The strength of passions is weakened and taken off by the distances both of time and place. She promised herself, that his brother's anger would turn away. Note, Yielding pacifies great offences; and even those that have a good cause and God on their side, must yet use that with other prudent expedients for their own preservation.

2. She possessed Isaac with an apprehension of the necessity of Jacob's going among her relations, upon another account, which was to get him a wife, v. 46. She would not tell him of Esau's wicked design against the life of Jacob, lest it should trouble him; but prudently took another way to gain her point. Isaac was as uneasy as she was, at Esau's being unequally yoked with Hittites; and therefore with a very good colour of reason, she moves to have Jacob married to one that was better principled. Note, One miscarriage should serve as a warning to prevent another; those are careless indeed, that stumble twice at the same stone. Yet Rebekah seems to have expressed herself somewhat too warmly in the matter, when she said, What good will my life do me, if Jacob marry a Canaanite? For thanks be to God, all our comfort is not lodged in one hand; we may do the work of life, and enjoy the comforts of life, though every thing do not fall out to our mind, and though our relations be not in all respects agreeable to us. Perhaps Rebekah spoke with this concern, because she saw it necessary, for the quickening of Isaac, to give speedy orders in this matter. Observe, though Jacob was himself very towardly and well-fixed in his religion, yet he has need to be put out of the way of temptation. Even he was in danger, both of following the bad example of his brother, and of being drawn into a snare by it. We must not presume too far upon the wisdom and resolution, no not of those children that are most hopeful and promising; but care must be taken to keep them out of harm's way.


We have here, I. Jacob parting with his parents, to go to Padan-aram; the charge his father gave him, v. 1, 2. the blessing he sent him away with, v. 3, 4. his obedience to the orders given him, v. 5..7. and the influence this had upon Esau, v. 6..9.   II. Jacob meeting with God, and his communion with him by the way. And there, 1. His vision of the ladder, v. 11, 12.   2. The gracious promises God made him, v. 13..15.   3. The impression this made upon him, v. 16..19.   4. The vow he made to God, upon this occasion, v. 20..22.

1.AND Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. 2. Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban, thy mother's brother. 3. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; 4. And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham. 5. And Isaac sent away Jacob; and he went to Padan-aram, unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.

Jacob had no sooner obtained the blessing, than immediately he was forced to run his country; and as if it were not enough that he was a stranger and sojourner there, he must go, to be more so, and no better than an exile in another country. Now Jacob fled into Syria, Hos. 12. 12. He was blessed with plenty of corn and wine, and yet he goes away poor; was blessed with government, and yet goes out to service, a hard service. This was, 1. Perhaps to correct him for his dealing fraudulently with his father. The blessing shall be confirmed to him, and yet he shall smart for the indirect course he takes to obtain it. While there is such an allay as there is, of sin in our duties, we must expect an allay of trouble in our comforts. However, 2. It was to teach us, that they who inherit the blessing, must expect persecution; and that they who have peace in Christ, in the world shall have tribulation, John 16. 33. We must neither think it strange, being told of it before, nor think it hard, being assured of a recompense for it hereafter. We may observe, likewise, that God's providences often seem to contradict his promises, and to go cross to them; and yet when the mystery of God shall be finished, we shall see that all was for the best; and that cross providences did but render the promises and the accomplishment of them the more illustrious.

Now Jacob is here dismissed by his father.

I. With a solemn charge, v. 1, 2, He blessed him, and charged him. Note, those that have the blessing, must keep the charge annexed to it, and not think, to separate what God has joined. The charge is like that, (2 Cor. 6. 14.) Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers; and all that inherit the promises of the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, must keep this charge, which follows those promises, Save yourselves from this untoward generation, Acts 2. 38..40. Those that are entitled to peculiar favours, must be a peculiar people. If Jacob be an heir of promise, he must not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; those that profess religion, should not marry with those that are irreligious.

II. With a solemn blessing, v. 3, 4. He had before blessed him unwittingly; now he does it designedly, for the greater encouragement of Jacob in that melancholy condition to which he was now removing. This blessing is more express and full than the former; it is an entail of the blessing of Abraham, that blessing which was poured on the head of Abraham like the anointing oil, thence to run down to his chosen seed, as the skirts of his garments. It is a gospel-blessing, the blessing of church privileges; that is the blessing of Abraham which comes upon the Gentiles through faith, Gal. 3. 14. It is a blessing from God Almighty, by which name God appeared to the patriarchs, Exod. 6. 3. Those are blessed indeed, whom God Almighty blesses; for he commands, and effects the blessing. Two great promises Abraham was blessed with, and Isaac here entails them both upon Jacob.

1. The promise of heirs; (v. 3.) God make thee fruitful and multiply thee. (1.) Through his loins should descend from Abraham, that people, which should be numerous as the stars of heaven, and the sand of the sea, and which should increase more than the rest of the nations, so as to be an assembly of people, as the margin reads it. And never was such a multitude of people so often gathered into one assembly, as the tribes of Israel were in the wilderness, and afterward. (2.) Through his loins should descend from Abraham, that Person, in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed, and to whom the gathering of the people should be. Jacob had in him a multitude of people indeed, for all things in heaven and earth are united in Christ; (Eph. 1. 10.) all centre in him, that corn of wheat, which falling to the ground, produced much fruit, John 12. 24.

2. The promise of an inheritance for those heirs; (v. 4.) that thou mayest inherit the land of thy sojournings. Canaan was hereby entailed upon the seed of Jacob, exclusive of the seed of Esau. Isaac was now sending Jacob away into a distant country, to settle there for some time; and lest this should look like disinheriting him, he here confirms the settlement of it upon him, that he might be assured that the discontinuance of his possession should be no defeasance of his right. Observe, he is here told that he should inherit the land wherein he sojourned. Those that are sojourners now, shall be heirs for ever: and even now, those do most inherit the earth, (though they do not inherit most of it,) that are most like strangers in it. Those have the best enjoyment of present things, that sit most loose to them. This promise looks as high as heaven, of which Canaan was a type. This was the better country, which Jacob with the other patriarchs, had in his eye, when he confessed himself a stranger and pilgrim on the earth, Heb. 11. 13.

Jacob having taken leave of his father, was hastened away with all speed, lest his brother should find an opportunity to do him a mischief, and away he went to Padan-aram, v. 5. How unlike was his taking a wife from thence, to his father's? Isaac had servants and camels sent to fetch his; Jacob must go himself, go alone, and go afoot, to fetch his; he must go too in a fright from his father's house, not knowing when he might return. Note, If God, in his providence, disable us, we must be content, though we cannot keep up the state and grandeur