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Cottager's Monthly Visitor.
On the 230 Chapter of Genesis. V. 2.–6 And Sarah died,” &c. Sarah died at a place which at the time of her death was called Kirjath-Arba; but Hebron, when Moses wrote the history.
V. 4.-" I am a stranger and a sojourner with you." Stranger and sojourner. Have you ever considered the meaning of the words ? A sojourner is one that is to continue but a little while in a place, and a stranger does not belong to the country in which he is, but to another. It was with reference to the present, and the eternal, world, that the saints of old used the expressions ; for" they that say such things (says the Apostle) declare plainly that they desire a better country; that is, an heavenly." (Hebrews xi. 13-16.) But the feeling conveyed in them is common to the servants of God in all generations. It is this feeling which prevents them from giving their hearts to the world, when things go well, and keeps them contented, in circumstances in which others would be miserable. They bear in mind, habitually, that "the things which are seen, are but temporal”--that.“ here they have no continuing city'—that they are but pilgrims here, travelling through the world to their heavenly home; and thus they are enabled to be sober, and to “ let their moderation be known unto all men,” in prosNO. 52. VOL. V.
perity; and not to mourn and lament in adversity, as if their all were at stake, or lost. If we know that we are to.continue but a little while in any situation, it helps us wonderfully to bear up under its difficulties, even though they may be very great. We put up with many inconveniences on a journey which we should not like to bear, if we were always to be exposed to them. If the country is pleasant, and the accommodations good, the weather fine, and our companions kind and agreeable, so much the better ; but if not, it is but a journey ; it does not much signify. Again, what is it that sustains the spirits of the fainting traveller, and enables him to hold on his way? It is the thoughts of home, and his glad welcome there. The inhabitants of the country, through which he is passing, may not speak his language, or enter into his feelings ; they may scoff and jeer at him as a foreigner, and perhaps be unwilling to relieve his wants; but it does not much signify, it is but a journey. If he but get to his home at last, the roughness and tediousness of the way, will not much disturb him ; he will be comforted at home for all the difficulties of the way; and all tears will be wiped from his eyes, and he will go no more out into the desert.
Again, before we can feel any great interest or delight in any thing, we must have some property in it. Another person's children may be ever so good or beautiful, but they are not like your own—a stranger does not take the same interest in a place, that an inhabitant does; and it is this very feeling, that we are but strangers in the world, that we have no real or lasting property in it, which prevents Cbristians from greatly attaching themselves to it. 6 The time is short, it remaineth that they that weep, be as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world passeth
Remarks on the 23d Chapter of Genesis. 147 away.” We might have the greatest cause for mourning and lamentation, but if we knew that we were not to live a week, we should scarcely shed a tear. That might be brought to pass, which, in other circumstances, would give us the highest satisfaction; but, if we were to enjoy it but a week, it would not elate us so much. And this is the frame of mind which we should endeavour to maintain--a conviction that nothing is of such real importance as that which concerns the salvation of our souls, and the glory of God : that if we are but safe for eternity, we are safe wholly.
Abraham's faith in the promise, that his seed should inherit the land wherein he himself had not so much as to set his foot on, made him desirous, upon the occurrence of this first death in his family, to purchase a possession of a burying place in it, instead of carrying Sarah to the sepulchre of his fathers.
V. 16._" Current money with the merchant." Such as was in use among those, who travelled about with merchandize of any sort.
V. 18.–6. Before all that went in at the gate of his city.” In those days, before the art of writing was invented, contracts were confirmed by being concluded in public at the gate of the city, the place where the elders sat for counsel, and for the admi. nistration of justice. (Amos v. 15. Lam, i. 4. Prov. xxxi. 23.)
V. 3–20. There is no part of Scripture from which useful instruction may not be derived. It is all “ profitable either for doctrine, or reproof, or correction, or instruction in righteousness,” What a beautiful illustration of the Apostle's exhortation, " Likewise ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder ; yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility,” is given in the behaviour of Abraham and his friends on this occasion. What deference to him as an elder, and what courtesy and
condescension, (" in honour preferring,'') in his manner to them! What “ rendering to all their dues ; fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.” And what care appears to "avoid all appearance of evil,” to “provide for things honest, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also before men." All is open. Every thing is clearly settled, so that no question as to the correctness of any part of the transaction could possibly arise.
There is no point about which Christians should be more careful, than that of openness and integrity in their dealings. " Whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely and of good report," applies much to the common business of life. Strict honesty embraces a far wider compass, than many are at all aware of; and, under particular circumstances, and with some dispositions, is a difficult duty. In the slightest degree to take advantage of the ignorance or mistakes of others, in buying or selling for instance, is clearly breaking the rule of strict honesty.
To borrow, when you have no probable means of repayment, is dishonest, for it is obtaining money on a false pretence, they who lend it, doing so on the expectation of receiving it again at the promised time. It is not perhaps always possible with the poor to avoid being in debt; but they will consult their own good, by trying all they can to keep free; and if they have a due sense of justice and honesty, they will not remain in debt, when by any exertion or self-denial, they can get above it, otherwise they are using another person's money without his permission, and perhaps to his very great loss or ruin. A person, who has a proper feeling of the Apostle's exhortation, “ Owe no man any thing,” will allow himselfno indulgences, but confine himself to absolute necessaries, tiil he has paid his debt.
There are many other practices so common, that their propriety or impropriety is scarcely thought
Remarks on the 23d Chapter of Genesis. 149 about, which yet, in the spirit of them, are not ho. nest. If those who work by the day, and not by the job, are slothful over their work, it is dishonest; they are paid for a day's work, and if they do less, they receive for what they do not perform. So, if servants, and those entrusted with the property of others, apply it to purposes for which it was not de. signed, or if they give it to the poor, in return for services, this is dishonest, and to bestow it as a gift, is not right. It is not yours. If you wish to do right by helping the poor, you must give them something of your own. To give your master's property, is no charity of yours, and if the poor know that you do it, without your master's knowledge or orders, it is dishonest in them to receive it. To keep those children at home for jobs and errands, whose schooling is paid for by others; or when clothes are given for a particular purpose, to allow them to be worn at other times, is not conscientious; as it is receiving help upon the supposition of the performance of certain conditions, which are not performed by you. Children often think there is no great harm in taking that from their parents, which fear would prevent their taking from another ; but “ He that robbeth father and mother, and saith it is no transgression, the same is the companion of the destroyer.” These are principally breaches of honesty to which the poor are tempted. The keeping back wages, or delaying the payment of bills, either from necessity brought on by extravagance, or from negligence ; and the taking advantage of ignorance or extreme poverty, to procure labour, or any article below its value, are among those departures from strict integrity, to which those raised, in a greater or less degree, above them, are exposed.
T. B. P.