Notable women of olden time


Material Information

Notable women of olden time
Physical Description:
301 p., 8 leaves of plates : ill. ; 17 cm.
American Sunday-School Union ( Publisher )
American Sunday-School Union
Place of Publication:
Philadelphia ( 1122 Chestnut Street )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Women in the Bible   ( lcsh )
Biographies -- 1852   ( rbgenr )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1875   ( rbbin )
Bible O.T -- Biography
Biographies   ( rbgenr )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
collective biography   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia


Scope and Content:
Sarah -- Hagar -- Rebekah -- Leah and Rachel -- Miriam -- Deborah -- Jezebel -- Athaliah -- Esther.
Statement of Responsibility:
Written for the American Sunday-School Union.
General Note:
Publisher's embossed cloth binding and paper type, indicate Baldwin Library copy was printed later (ca. 1875) than copyright date of 1852.
General Note:
"Grand choice library"-spine.
Brittle Books Program

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 002235032
oclc - 45587891
notis - ALH5473
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Ta WIFE-(SARA"H)....................................... 7

THE WIFE UNLOVED-(HAGAR)........................... 35



THE AFFECTIONATE SISTER-(MIRIAM) ................. 119

THE PROPHETESS-(DEBORAH) ............................ 171

THE ARTFUL WOMAN-(JEZEBEL)....................... 187

THE AMBITIOUS WOMAN-(ATHALIAH)................... 205

TIE ORPHAN QUEEN-(ESTHER) ........................ 231

1* 5


SS ITHIN a few centu-
ries after the flood,
while some who had
0 A witnessed the sin and
__-: "_- -the destruction of the
antediluvian world
were still living, Je-
hovah saw fit, in accordance with his de-
signs of eternal wisdom, to separate Abra-
nam from his brethren, calling upon him to
leave the land of his birth and go out into a


strange land, to dwell in a far country. He
was to pass the rest of his days as a sojourner
in a land which should be thereafter given to a
people yet unborn,-to a nation which was to
descend from him.
Abraham was a lineal descendant of Shem,
who was doubtless still living while the father
of Abraham yet abode with his kindred in
the land of the Chaldees;" and from the lips
of his venerable progenitor, Abraham himself
may have first received the knowledge of the
true God, and. have learned lessons of wisdom
and obedience, as he sat at his feet. Shem
may have conversed with Methuselah; and
Methuselah must have known Adam; and
from Adam, Methuselah may have heard that
history of the creation and fall, which he nar-
rated to Shem, and which Shem may have trans-
mitted to Abraham; and the history of the world
would be thus remembered as the traditional


recollections of a family, and repeated as the
familiar remembrances of a single household.
Tales of the loveliness of Eden,-of the glo-
ries of the creation,-of the blessedness of the
primeval state,-of the days before the fall; re-
membrances of the "mother of all living" in
the days of her holiness, when she was as beauti-
ful as the world created for her home, in all the
dewy sweetness of the morning of its existence,
-of the wisdom of man before he yielded to the
voice of temptation, when authority was en-
throned upon his brow, and all the tribes of
the lower creation did him homage;-of the
good spirits who watched over to minister unto
and bless them;-of those dark, unholy and ac-
cursed ones, who came to tempt, betray and de-
stroy them,-were recounted as events of which
those who described them had been the wit-
nesses. And from the remembrances thus
preserved and transmitted by tradition, each


generation obscuring or exaggerating them,
have descended what we call fables of antiquity,
-great facts, now dimly remembered and darkly
presented, as shadowed over by the mists of
long ages.
How must the hearts of the descendants
of Shem have thrilled as they heard from him
the history of by-gone times-of a world which
had passed away! How much had the great
patriarch of his race, himself, beheld? He
had seen the glory and the beauty of the world
before the flood. It was cursed for the sin
of man, in the day of his fall-but slowly, as
we measure time, do the woes denounced by
God often take effect, and, though excluded from
Eden, the first pair may have seen little change
pass over the face of the earth. The consum-
mation of this curse may have been the deluge;
and those who dwelt on the earth, before this
calamity swept it with its destroying wing, may


have seen it in much of its original beauty;
while those who outlived that event witnessed
a wonderful change.
From that frail fabric, the ark, which proved
the second cradle of the race, Shem had be-
held a world submerged,-a race swept off by
the floods of Almighty wrath. He had heard
the shrieks of the drowning, the vain prayer
of those who had scoffed the threatened ven-
geance, the fruitless appeal of those who had
long rejected mercy. As the waves bore up
his frail vessel, he had seen the black and
sullen waters settle over temples, cities and
palaces; and he had gazed until he could behold
but one dark expanse of water, in whose turbid
depths were buried all the families of the
earth-save one.
Those he had loved and honoured, and much
which, perhaps, he had envied and coveted-
the pride, the glory, the beauty of earth-all


had passoi away. And after the waters sub
sided, and the ark had found a resting-place,
what a deep and sad solemnity must have
mingled with the joy for their preservation.
How strange the aspect the world present-
ed! How must the survivors have recalled
past scenes and faces, to be seen no more!
How much they must have longed to recog-
nise old familiar places,-the Eden of Adam
and Eve,-the graves in which they had been"
laid! For doubtless Seth and his descendants
still remained with their first parents, while Cain
went out from their presence and built a city
in some place remote. The earth which Noah
and his descendants repeopled was one vast
grave; and what wonder that those who built
above a race entombed, should mingle fancy
with tradition, and imagine tbat the buried
cities and habitations were yet inhabited by the
accursed and unholy. Such have been the


fancies of those who darkly remembered the
flood; and as the wind swept through the ca-
verns of the earth, the superstitious might still
imagine that they heard the voices or the
shrieks of the spirits imprisoned within.
Shem seems to have far exceeded his bro-
thers in true piety, and the knowledge of Jeho-
vah was for many generations preserved among
his descendants, while few or none of them ever
sank into those deep superstitions which de-
based the children of Ham. And it is beautiful
to remark, that the filial piety which so pre-
eminently marked him has ever been a promi-
nent trait among all nations descended from
him. Thus receiving his impressions of the
power, the truth, the awful justice of Jehovah,
from one well fitted to convey them,-and taught
the certain fulfilment of promises and of threats,
-Abraham was early inspired with that deep
reverential and yet filial love, that entire con-


fidence, which led to the trusting obedience
which distinguished his character.
Yet, from his very piety, sad must it have
been when the command came to leave the plains
of Mesopotamia, and go out a stranger and a
pilgrim into distant lands, to become a dweller
among those who were fast apostatizing from
the true faith. "But by faith he obeyed," and
by his obedience he has given us an example and
illustration of faith, which has been held forth
through all succeeding ages. To be the child
of Abraham, to walk as he walked, is, after
the lapse of thousands of years, the character-
istic of the true worshipper of God.
Guided by an Omniscient hand, trusting in
an Almighty power, cheered by that mysterious
promise, which, as a star of hope shining in the
hour of deepest darkness, still rose to higher
brightness as it guided the long line of pa-
triarchs, kings, and prophets, until it settled


over the manger of Bethlehem, and was lost
in the full glory of the Sun of righteousness,
-Abraham girded his loins and prepared for a
departure to far distant lands.
At first, attended by his father and brother,
he sojourned with them in Haran; and the fa-
mily pitched their tents in that spot which was
to become in future ages the battle-ground
of nations, when the proud eagle of imperial
Rome was trailed in the dust, and her warriors
and her nobles fell before their fiercer foes.
Long ages have intervened since the tents of
this Syrian family were pitched by the side of
the waters of Charan; and midway between
their days and ours, were these waters disco-
loured with the blood of those who fell in the
battle of Charae, so disastrous to Rome, ever
haughty, and then exulting in the height of her
prosperity. A few wandering shepherds now
lead their flocks in the plain in which Sarah


and Abraham dwelt, and where Cassius and his
legions fell. But a short sojourn was per-
mitted Abraham here. "Arise and depart, for
this is not your rest"-and again he listened to
the command from above, and gathered his
flocks and servants, and girded his loins, and
set his face towards the land promised to him,
and to his seed after him. And now he left
his father and his brethren, and went with his
own family, the head of his house, the future
patriarch of his race.
Yet he was not alone. The wife of his
youth was by his side. In all his wanderings,
in all his cares, there was one with him to
participate ?n his joys and to alleviate his
sorrows'. With him and for him, his wife
forsook home, kindred and country. We doubt
not that she too shared the faith of Abra-
ham; that she too trusted and loved and wor-
shipped the God of Abraham, and of Shem,


and of Noah. Like Abraham, a descendant of
Shem,-like him too, she had been trained in
the worship of Jehovah. Yet to the faith of
the true believer, there was added the strong
affection of the wife; and while Abraham went
out obeying God, Sarah followed, trusting God
indeed, but leaning still upon her husband. In
all her future life, she is presented to us the
wife; devoted, affectionate, submissive; loving
her husband with a true affection, and honour-
ing him by a due deference.
With a beauty that fascinated kings, preserv-
ing the charms of youth to the advanced period
of her life, she still lived but for her husband;
and when even the faith of Abraham failed, and
he withdrew from the wife the protection of the
husband, and said, She is my sister," Sarah ap-
pears to have acquiesced in a deceit so unworthy
of her husband and of herself, merely to insure
his safety among the lawless tribes around them


As we read the story of Abraham's wife, we
catch glimpses of ages and nations that were
hoar with antiquity, and had passed away when
our ancient historians began the record of the
past. Nation after nation had perished and
been forgotten before the profane historian be-
gan his annals. Yet childless, still trusting
in the promise of Jehovah, Abraham wandered
for many years through the land which was to
be given to him, and his seed after him. Now
pitching his tent in Moreh; then building his
altar at Bethel; then driven by famine into
Egypt; then returning to his altar at Bethel,-
and there separating from his nephew Lot, be-
cause the land could not bear" both, he fives his
abode in Hebron.
No pictures of pastoral life are more beau-
tiful than those presented in Genesis; and while
we contemplate the character of Abraham, we
catch occasional glimpses of his household,


and of the manners of his age. We see him
exercising forbearance and relinquishing the
rights of a superior, that there might be no
strife between him and his too worldly rela-
tive. We see him leading out his own band
as a prince, to rescue that same relative,--
who, tempted by the promise of large wealth,
had chosen a location full of dangers,-and, in
the hour of victory, refusing all spoil and showing
all honour to the priest of the most high God.
Again he is before us, sitting in his tent
in the heat of the day, and hastening to receive
strangers,-" thus entertaining angels una-
wares,"-and then interceding for that city
doomed to destruction for the wickedness of the
dwellers therein.
And again he appears as the prince, the
patriarch, the head of his own family, and
high in honour with those around him, ever
observing all the decorum and proprieties of


oriental life. We see him, too, as cae who
walked with God; as the priest of his house-
hold, presenting the morning and the evening
sacrifice; as holding high communion with God
in the hours of darkness; entering into that
covenant which is still pleaded by those who
claim the promise, I will be a God to thee,
and to thy seed after thee."
This promise of a seed, from which was to
spring a great nation, "like to the stars of
heaven in number," was frequently repeated,
yet still deferred. Youth, manhood, middle
age, all had passed, and still no child blest the
tents of Sarah; and while Abraham still be-
lieved, and it "was accounted to him for right-
eousness," Sarah seems to have felt that not
upon her was to be conferred the distinction of
becoming the mother of the promised seed.
With the warm impulse of the woman, she sa-
crificed the feelings of the wife and the instincts


of the heart, to promote what she doubtless
believed to be the plan of God and the happi-
ness of Abraham. There is a deficiency of
faith as much to be manifested in the forestall-
ing the plans of Providence as in the denial
of the promises of God: and while Abraham
still trusted and waited the fulfilment of the
promise, Sarah sought, by her own device, to
accomplish prophecy and insure the blessing.
In accordance with the usages of those around
her, she gave her handmaid to her husband to
be his wife, that their children might bless
her age." She doubtless felt herself strong
enough in love to Abraham and to Hagar to
believe that her affection would embrace their
children. But when the trial came, and all
the instincts of the heart, all the feelings of
the wife revolted, she proved that this violation
of a heaven-appointed institution brings only
sorrow and strife. Yet there was no alien-


nation between Sarah and Abraham. The wife
of his youth was ever dearer to him than the
mother of his child.
At length, however, the promise was fulfilled.
Sarah became a mother. Many years had
passed since she had left the home of her
fathers. The days of man were now much
abridged, and she was fast approaching the
ordinary limit of human life; but we may sup-
pose her cheek was still fair and her brow
smooth, and that she still retained much of the
beauty of youth.
With a wondering joy, Sarah gazed upon
the child so long desired-the child in whose
seed "all the nations of the earth" were to
be blessed." And she said, "God hath made
me to laugh, so that all who hear shall laugh;"
and while those that heard that Sarah had
borne Abraham a son in his old- age," won-
dered at an event so strange, Abraham must


have pondered the prophecy which had revealed
to him the destiny of his race,-perhaps fore
seeing that Star which was to rise in a still
distant age, and apprehending, however dimly
and faintly, something of the mysterious con-
nection between the birth of the child and the
promise given in the hour of the curse-the
blending of the fate of his race with the eter-
nal plan of mercy and redemption.
There is an instinct in our natures which
leads us to rejoice at a birth; but, could Sarah
have foreseen the destiny of her race, tears
would have mingled with her smiles. Won-
derful has been the past history of that people,
strange their present condition, while the fu-
ture may develop mysteries still more incom-
In the hour of rejoicing over the new-born
babe, past transgression brought forth its legiti-
mate fruits. Sullenness and strife were brood-


ing in the bosoms of the Egyptian bond-woman
and her son; and the quiet eye of the mother
saw all the danger arising from the jealous
hate and rivalry of the first-born of Abraham.
If the decision was stern, it was needful.
"Cast out the bond-woman and her child, for
her son shall not be heir with my son, even with
Isaac." Harsh words,-but it is better to dwell
peacefully asunder, than together in strife and
bitterness. The malignant passions which led
Ishmael to mock, might soon be stimulated by
the mother to murder,-chafed and irritated as
she was by the constant presence of the child
who had supplanted her own. From the time
of the departure of Hagar from the household
of Abraham, peace seems to have rested upon
it. Prosperity attended him. Hie no longer
wandered from place to place. He remained in
Hcbron, sojourning with Sarah and her child.
Many years passed,-years of peaceful quiet


and happiness seldom allotted to such an age,-
while they trained their child in the nurture
of the true God, and were honoured by the
princes around him, who sought to enter into
league with him, for they saw that "God
blessed him in all that he did."
Once again God saw fit to test the faith of
Abraham by calling upon him to offer his son
-his only son Isaac, whom he loved-as a
sacrifice; and Abraham obeyed the divine
command, and thus doing, uttered that pro-
phecy which has thrilled so many souls, God
will himself provide a sacrifice." In this trial,
Sarah seems not to have been called to parti-
cipate. The mother was spared the agony of
feeling that her only child was to be offered as
a sacrifice-that the hope of her life was to
Sarah was an hundred and twenty years
old, and she died." The dark shadow of death


is, sooner or later, to fall upon each household.
Abraham seems to have been at a distance-per-
haps in the charge of some of his numerous
flocks-when he was recalled to Hebron by news
of Sarah's death. And he came to mourn over
her. The remembrance of her maiden beauty
and modesty, the grateful recollection of all her
conjugal devotedness, filled his soul. If light
and immortality were brought to light in the
gospel, still the divine rays were faintly reflected
in the former dispensation, and the eye of. faith
even then penetrated the thick darkness of the
And now, after these long years. of pro-
mise and waiting, Abraham takes possession
of the land which God had given to him and
to his seed. He asks, however, but a small
portion,-a tomb, a place for his dead,-and a
more beautiful description of a scene of mutual
deference, of regard for rights and respect for


character and position, was never penned than
that which records the negotiation between the
bereaved patriarch and the children of Heth.
With the touch of magic, the whole scene is
before us. The bereaved patriarch, courteous
in grief, bowing in the presence of the sons of
Heth,-the deep respect, the kindly sympathy,
manifested by those who, strangers to his reli-
gion, felt the claims of his character,-mingled
-with that deep awe which the visitation of
death ever inspires.
The last scene was now over, and Sarah has
first taken possession of that home to which she
was to be followed by her husband and their
descendants. One by one they take their places
by her side,-unwelcomed, unquestioned,-

"Where none have saluted and none have replied," -

and yet where all are gathered at last. We see
her not as a sister or a daughter. She is not


known to us in the house of her father. Sara4
is only presented to us as the wife of Abraham.
And as a wife the apostle has held her up to her
own sex as a model and example. Even as
Sarah obeyed her husband, calling him lord,"
-exclaims the apostle, exhorting the wife to due
deference. The deep, fervent affection of the
heart led to that outward manifestation of
honour so beautiful and becoming; and as the
only love which can be enduring is that which
is founded on respect, so it is the highest hap-
piness of the wife to be able truly to honour
him whom she is bound to love and obey.
When the heads of a household are thus
united in warm affection and mutual respect,
the influence will pervade the whole circle, and
the family of Abraham presented a beautiful
picture of such a household. The numerous
members composing a large family were go-
verned by one who provided for their suste.


nance, led them forth for the defence of rights,
or the redress of injuries, or the rescue of the
captive; and who officiated as the priest as
well as ruler of his household. In such a com-
munity, the character of the head would be
impressed upon the whole people; and it was
with obvious meaning that Jehovah exclaimed,
" I know him that he will command his house-
hold after him." It was by example that ad-
monition was made availing. And the wife
was ever ready, with her ardent and trusting
love, to aid and co-operate. Hastening, when
he welcomed the stranger, to prepare the feast,
she was ever ready to receive his guests and
add her efforts to his hospitality.
Hatred, strife, and mutual alienation so often
cloud over the unison of wedded life, and cause
its sun to set in darkness, that few spectacles
can be presented more beautiful or more de-
lightful than the old age of wedded life, soothed


by true affection and mutual kindness. It is
more touching than the glow of youthful passion.
It proclaims the presence of high moral worth.
It is never found in the habitations of the un-
holy. The love which thus survives the glow
of youth, which bears the storms and the trials
of life, must be founded on truth, on unimpas-
sioned esteem, on approved integrity; and
those alone who love God supremely, love each
other unselfishly.
While Sarah honoured her husband, she too
was treated with proper deference. Her coun-
sels were ever heeded, her voice had its due
influence, and he still deferred to her wishes.
It is beautiful to note the increasing esti-
mation in which she is held. Sarai, "thel
mistress," betokened her station as the head
of a household; and as years brought honours,
and an enlarged sphere of duty, and a more
elevated position among the people around


them, Sarai was changed into Sarah-my lady.
Her husband, in addressing the former Sarai
as Sarah, my lady," gracefully returned the
honour she bestowed when she called him "lord."
By such manifestation of mutual respect and
love, the chain of family affection is kept bright.
As the household of Abraham was the house-
hold of faith, ordained as the model for all ages,
it is well to analyze. the elements which com-
posed it, and to trace their combined influence.
There was the conjugal union of the true wor-
shippers of Jehovah, animated by the same hopes,
governed by the same principles, whose hearts
were united in the strong bonds of natural
affection. There was the confiding, unfailing
affection, the deep, reverential respect, and due
obedience of the wife. There was the tender
love, protecting care, the unwavering faith, the
honourable deference of the husband. The reli-
gion of this household was the religion of faith


and of obedience,-a religion which led them
to forsake all at the command of God, which
taught them to rely upon his promises, to fear
his threatening, to plead his grace, to trust his
mercy, while it was a religion which led to a
due observance of all the relative duties of life,
which taught the exercise of that impartial jus-
tice, careful benevolence, disinterested kindness,
and ready hospitality to those without the
family; and of steady love, of affectionate
kindness, of sympathetic forbearance to the
members of the household within. The family
of faith, where faith is pure, will ever be a
family of love; and as true piety is the best
security for family happiness, so family love is
the best nurse for family piety.
There are many families among us who aim
at being families of faith, who profess to walk
in the steps of Abraham, to imitate his exam-
ple. Let such not confine themselves to the


manifestation of his peculiar faith, to his trust
and dependence alone. Let them walk as he
walked before his household, in the fear of God
and the love of man, in the careful fulfilment
of every relative and social duty, in the daily
exemplification of a tender and loving spirit,
carefully avoiding or removing all sources of
division. Let that piety which unites them to
God, be a bond, encircling all and drawing
them near to each other.
By the cultivation of the simple domestic
virtues, by the daily, quiet, self-denying trials,
by the observance of the thousand decencies,
the unaffected proprieties, the unostentatious
efforts to bless and comfort,-by the elevating
influence of personal example,-by the breath-
ing atmosphere of a holy spirit,-the family is
to be made the household of faith, the nursery
of the church.
Direct instruction and formal efforts and


stated observances are neither to be forgotten
nor to be remitted; but these can only be made
effectual by the living exemplification of a
spirit of love, a life of holiness. It will ever
be found true that he who prays most loves


THE Hebrew patriarch led his flocks and
herds, surrounded by his large household, from
Haran to the land of the Canaanites; from
thence to that of the Philistines, down into
Egypt; wherever so numerous a family and
such large flocks could find sustenance-water
and herbage. And as he thus sojourned, many
of the poor of these lands flocked to him for
employment and support; and while he bought
the services of the parents, the children born
in his house became members of his family,
were trained as his servants, and were subject to
his authority as the master of the household,
the prince among his people, the patriarch of
his tribe.


And among these was Hagar, the Egyptian.
We are not told whether she was born in the
house of Abraham, or rescued from those who
may have stolen her from her home, or given
by her parents to the wealthy and childless
Sarai. She was Sarah's handmaid-a relation,
according to the customs of the East (almost
immutable) nearly as dear as that of a child.
She was the personal attendant, the constant
companion of her mistress; and by her was"
doubtless instructed in the principles of the true
religion, while she was thus accustomed to the
accomplishments and occupations of the age.
The tasks of the favourite handmaids of East-
ern families are still light. To sit at the feet
of her mistress with her embroidery; to cheer
her with the simple music of the shepherd's
tent; to aid her in those domestic duties to
which Sarah gave her own superintendence;
to assist in preparing the wool of the flocks


for the garments of the family; to watch her
tent as she reposed by day, and keep by her
side as the camels slowly wandered through
the valleys in search of pure streams or more
abundant herbage, were probably the occupa-
tions and duties of Hagar.
Years thus passed on-and the dark-browed
and dark-eyed Egyptian maiden had grown into
womanhood, and the freshness of youth, the
joyousness of health and early life were her's,
while her mistress was passing into age. Sarah
no longer hoped to become a mother, and, be-
lieving that the promise was not intended for
her, she urged Abraham to take another wife,
offering for his acceptance her own handmaid,
the Egyptian Hagar.
The authority of the mistress of the East
over her own establishment is so absolute, the
husband so interdicted from all interference,
that, although Hagar had passed h-r youth


with Sarah, she may have been hardly :oticed
by Abraham until Sarah proffered her. Ac-
cording to the usage of the east, Sarah had
a right (the right then claimed by the parent)
thus to dispose of her handmaid; and a mar.
riage with her master was the highest honour
which could be bestowed on Hagar. She
was given to Abraham to be his wife, and, the
relation was-according to the usage then pre-
vailing-as legal as that sustained by Sarah,
although the station was inferior. No injury
was intended to Hagar. No higher distinction
could have been conferred upon her, and, strong
in love to both Hagar and Abraham, Sarah
doubtless supposed she might be able to wel-
come and love their children, though denied
offspring of her own.
But such departure from the law, precept, or
institution of God, involves a long train of
ein and sorrow, no matter what the intention--


and the union of Abraham with Hagar was a
direct violation of the institution of marriage
in all its principles and intentions, and it could
not but bring confusion and strife to the tent
of the patriarch.
It was merely a marriage of interest and
convenience, unhallowed by love. The heart
of Abraham never departed from the wife of
his youth, nor could Sarah ever have intended
to relinquish her hold upon his affection. It is
the last claim a woman foregoes. And on the
other hand, Hagar could have felt no love for
her master, so much her superior in age and
station. Unholy pride and rank ambition were
all the feelings which such an alliance could
awaken in the heart of Hagar. Yet Hagar was
the least blameworthy, and, perhaps, not even-
tually the greatest sufferer. By the customs of
society, she had no voice in the disposal of her-
self. Her heart was never consulted. She


was only allowed to receive the husband allotted
to her-to acquiesce in the decision of others.
The natural results of such a union fol-
lowed. The exaltation of Hagar excited her
pride and led to arrogance; and when she
knew that she should become a mother, her
childless mistress was despised.
It is hard to bear contempt from those upon
whom we have lavished kindness; to feel that
we have exalted those who despise us: and all
the indignation of Sarah was roused by the
assumption and ingratitude of Hagar; and, with
the quick instinct of the woman, she retorted
upon her husband, My wrong be upon thee."
A stranger indifference could not have been
manifested than that showed by Abraham to-
wards the youthful wife who should have now
received his protection and kindness. Behold
thy handmaid is in thy hands." He recognized
no tie-he felt no obligation. What was Hagar,


that she should occasion strife between him and
the wife of his youth, the partner of his life,
ihe daughter of his own people!
Hagar was from this hour abandoned by
Abraham to her mistress. When Sarah re-
sumed the authority belonging to her station,
she assumed with it a power never before ex-
ercised. Forgetting all the love of past years,
all the claims of the present hour upon her
kindness and forbearance, she treated the un-
happy IIagar with such intolerable harshness,
that the wretched woman fled from the face
of her mistress and from the tents of her
master, and sought refuge in the wilderness.
We can conceive what bitter, despairing
thoughts, what a keen sense of injustice and
injury may have pressed upon her, as she sat
alone by the fountain in the desert. Proba-
bly a little spot of green herbage denoted the
presence of water, while, all around, lay the


sandy, rocky desert. The stars, in the bright.
ness of an oriental night, were looking down on
her as she sat alone, her face buried in her
hands, unheeded, there to die. Then came the
visions of her youth, the remembrances of her
childhood, the sound of her mother's voice, the
dream of her smile-then the tent of Sarah-
then the alliance with her master, the ex-
citement of her pride, the flush of hope, the
exultation of a fancied triumph over the child-
less, but still honoured wife; succeeded by the
cold withdrawal of all the kindness of the patri-
arch, and the entire abandonment of her whom
he had taken to his bosom, to the implacable
resentment of her former mistress!
The temper of Hagar, the feelings thus
excited-dark, sullen, bitter, revengeful-when
she fled from all, may have been impressed
upon her offspring, and thus marked the future
character of her race.


Still, Hagar was not alcne. The wanderer
was not forgotten. In the hour of darkness
and of desolation, there is One nigh even to
those who forget him. "And the angel of the
Lord found her by the fountain in the wilder-
ness, and he said: Hagar, Sarah's maid,
whence camest thou? And whither wouldst
thou go?"
She was not addressed as the wife of Abra-
ham. The conventional usage, so opposed
to the positive institution, was not recognized
and thus hallowed by Him who had established
marriage; and while Hagar was pitied, she
was reminded of her real condition. "And
she said, I flee from the face of my mistress,
Sarah. And the angel of the Lord said unto
her, Return unto thy mistress and submit thy-
self under her hands. And the angel of the
Lord said, Thou shalt have a son, and shalt
call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has


heard thy affliction. He shall 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. 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 ?" im-
plying a recognition of the unexpected interfer-
ence, protection and blessing of God.
The promises of God are always preceded
by his commands, and the faith which clings
to the promises is to be tested by the obedi-
ence which alone can make them availing
And when the words of the angel came to
the desolate soul of the woman in the desert,
there were admonition, reproof, and command
mingled with promise and blessing. "Returr
to thy mistress." Return to thy duty, is the
first requirement made of those God seeks out
And Hagar humbled herself and obeyed the


voice of the Lord. She returned to her mis-
tress. Trying as it must have been to one so
aggrieved, she submitted to her authority, and
again became a member of the household of
Abraham. Had she disobeyed the angel, she
and her child had doubtless perished in the
wilderness; but in yielding her proud and
arrogant temper, she secured the future bless-
ing to her race, and insured the safety of her
child, while her submission and gentleness
must have won back Sarah to a kinder temper,
to a more forbearing treatment.
After the birth of Ishmael, there intervened
years-long years-in which Hagar tasted the
bitterest cup ever presented to the lips of wo-
man. A wife unloved, neglected-a mother dis-
regarded-a woman held in bondage by one
who had made her a rival-dwelling in the
presence of him who had put her from him!
Her very presence brought reproach and


sorrow to Sarah and Abraham--the viola-
tion of the divine institution ever entailing its
The wife deserted, neglected, whose hopes
have been crushed, ever turns to her offspring
for comfort and sympathy; and ardent was the
love, strong were the ties, which bound the
Egyptian mother to the son of the patriarch;
and in Ishmael must all the hopes and affec-
tions of Hagar have centred. Could she,
indeed, have penetrated the future, could she
have seen her race, the seed of her son,
filling the desert and dwelling as princes;
while the seed of Sarah and of Abraham were
held, as if in retribution of her own sufferings,
in bondage in her own native land,-could she
have passed through the intervening ages and
seen the children of Ishmael issuing from their
desert and setting their feet upon the necks of
the proudest and mightiest, imposing their


faith upon a world, while they marched forth
conquering and to conquer-could she have
contrasted the triumphant warriors of Arabia,
the caliphs of the east and the west, with
the wandering, desolate, persecuted, trodden-
down tribes of Israel-the proudest expecta-
tions of the woman and the mother would have
been all answered. Could she have penetrated
the meaning of the words she must have so
often pondered, she would have found that
the loftiest dreams of the rankest ambition
were to be more than realized.
But dimly and faintly must she have appre-
hended the meaning of the mysterious pro-
phecy, even while she trusted the accompany-
ing promise. As she saw Ishmael, the only
child in the tent of the patriarch, and loved
by the father, she perhaps allowed herself to
hope that he was yet to be the heir, and
that in his future honours she was tW find


a full recompense for all the trials of her
blighted youth.
After long years of waiting, Sarah embraced
a son, and the event, so joyous to the parents,
awoke afresh the bitter remembrances of
Hagar, while it roused her to the conscious-
ness of her present lot and of all the injuries
inflicted upon her.
In all the trials and sorrows through which
she had passed, she had had none to sustain
or sympathize with her. Her child remained
her only earthly hope; and now she felt that
another was to supplant him, and thus disap-
point all her expectations.
Her spirit rose in pride and wrath, and she
infused her own bitter feelings into the heart
of her child. When Isaac was hailed as the
heir, while all rejoiced, Hagar and Ishmael
mocked both the infant and the aged parents.
Forbearance was no longer safe, and the


decision of Sarah was wise, though harsh-yet
it was sad to Abraham. Ishmael was still his
son-his first-born. He had been ever dear to
him; and when the angel of the Lord had
again confirmed the promise of a seed in
whom all the nations of the earth were to be
blessed, he had almost seemed to overlook it
as he pleaded for the son of the bond-woman,
"Oh that Ishmael might live before thee!"
while to Abraham was then confirmed the
promise given before the birth of her child
to Hagar. There was sorrow and perplexity
in the heart of Abraham, but a message from
heaven confirmed the decree of Sarah.
The patriarch arose, after a night of conflict
and prayer, while the stars were still shining
in the heavens, while the flocks lay in stillness
around the tents, and before those who had
revelled and rejoiced were awake, and called
Hagar and her child. Can we not see them


in the gray of the morning? The father, the
mother, the child,-the patriarch, aged, but not
bowed by age, still retaining the vigour of man-
hood-the boy shy, yet half-defying-the mo-
ther! In such an hour, all distinctions of rank
and station would be forgotten, and all the feel-
ings of the woman be roused. Then and
there Hagar might well forget that she was
Sarah's bondmaid, and only remember that
she had been Abraham's wife-that she was
still Ishmael's mother.
In that hour must have risen the memory
of her wrongs, of her saddened youth, her
darkened womanhood-of the selfishness with
which he had wedded her; of the heartlessness
with which he had deserted her; of her long years
of trial and contempt. And her eye might
speak reproach, although the lips were closed
and there was no voice. Should we not re-
joice to believe that the patriarch whispered


some regret for the past, and spoke of sorrow
and repentance to her whose happiness he had
so selfishly sacrificed, even as he consummated
his work by casting her out, a homeless exile.
Such is the enslaving power of custom, so
easily do we blind ourselves to our own delin-
quencies, that Abraham probably aggravated
Hagar's faults while he overlooked her injuries.
He saw in her but the despiteful, revengeful
handmaid; he forgot that she was an injured
wife-a neglected mother.
Yet no words of reproach, of entreaty, or
explanation of the past, or promise for the
future, are recorded as having passed between
them. He pronounced the decree, and laid
upon the bond-maid, and not upon his noble
boy, the provision for the journey. She turned
from the tents, and thus they parted!
But the connection of Abraham and Ha-
gar had woven a thread into the destiny of


nations, still to be traced. She left the pa-
triarch in sorrow, in bitterness of soul; but
she went out to found nations, to punish rulers,
to establish a long line who should transmit
the name of her son and the influence of her
character to remotest ages-even to the end
of time.
Accustomed to the wandering life of the
desert, and provided for the journey, Abraham
probably deemed IIagar competent to guide
her steps to a place of safety. But sorrow
may have blinded her eyes, or despair made
her reckless, and she was lost in the desert.
The water was spent in the bottle-tons of
gold could not open a fountain in the desert-
and she saw her child parched with thirst,
" faint and ready to die; and she cast him
under one of the shrubs, and went and sat a
good way off, as it were a bow-shot, for she
said, Let me not see the death of the child;


and as she sat over against him, she lifted up
her voice and wept. And God heard the
voice of the lad, and the angel of God called
to her out of heaven, and said unto her, What
aileth thee Hagar? Fear not! For God hath
heard the voice of the child where he is. Arise,
lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand, for
I will make of him a great nation. 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 to drink." What an inimitable
description of a mother's love! What a display
of the watchful benevolence of Jehovah!
In this hour of desolation, when no human
aid was near, there was again the Divine inter-
position, while there was no reproach, no
allusion even to that sinful temper which had
led to the banishment of both mother and
child, and caused them to come here to
perish in the wilderness. Blessed be God


that he does not suffer the unworthiness of
his children to separate them from his love;
that in the hour of extremity he is still nigh;
that his ear is ever open to hear and his arm
ready to save.
"And God was with the lad: and he grew
and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an
archer; and he dwelt in the wilderness of
Paran." And his mother still dwelt with
him; and in all his wanderings, wherever his
footsteps were turned, there was her home.
There is a touching remembrance of her early
life, in the fact that Hagar chose a wife for
her son from among the daughters of her own
people: She took him a wife out of the land
of Egypt." And from this union have sprung
the tribes who still fill the deserts where Hagar
sought a refuge. A wild race, dwelling in
the presence of all their brethren, whose hand


is against every man, while every man's hand
is against them.
Ishmael rose rapidly to rank, and Hagar
lived to rejoice in his prosperity. The life
which commenced in want, privation and
wandering in the wilderness, conducted her to
wealth and honour. So dark and inscrutable
are the ways of Providence, that at each step
we are taught but to seek the path of duty
and obey the direction of Heaven.
The children of Ishmael seem to have long
preserved the knowledge of Jehovah. Hagar,
who had received so many proofs of the being,
power, and providence of the God of Abraham,
might well instruct her descendants in the prin-
ciples of the true faith. The race of Ishmael
have still preserved the rite which Abraham
received as the seal of faith. Often may
Hagar have recounted the providence of
God-the account she had heard, in the tent


of Abraham, of the creation, the fall, the deluge,
the re-peopling of the world; and often, in the
course of their wandering lives, she may have
led her descendants to those deep waters which
covered the guilty cities of the plain, and then
described them as she knew them before the
wrath of God fell upon them.
The tribes of Ishmael have ever recognized
their descent from Abraham; and the instruc-
tions of Hagar are preserved as national tradi-
tions to this very day, though exaggerated by
Eastern fancy, and mingled with wilder ro-
mance, as they have been transmitted from one
generation to another by the children of Ish-
mael, who still lead their flocks in the same
valleys, and pitch their tents by the same foun-
tains to which Hagar resorted with Ishmael.
Hagar and Ishmael were no more members
of Abraham's household, yet the relationship
of father and son was ever recognized. Doubt-


less Abraham imparted of his wealth to his first-
born; and as Abraham often sojourned after-
wards in Beer-sheba, probably not far from
the spot where Hagar and Ishmael so nearly
perished, the father and son may have often met;
and Isaac and Ishmael may have held kindly
intercourse, when the bitter feelings of rivalry
and of conscious wrong had subsided. The tics
of kindred were still allowed, and Esau sought
a wife from the family of his own kindred, as a
means of conciliating his father and mother;
thus showing that a purer morality and a
higher religious feeling were cherished than
those among surrounding tribes. And when
Abraham died, having attained a full age, his
sons, Isaac and Ishmael, both far advanced in
years, buried him. The strifes, the bitterness,
the hate of early life seem to have been for-
gotten, and they united in the last offices of
filial love and duty.


The son of the bondmaid had attained,
during the life of Abraham, a distinction beyond
that of the son of the wife; and his immedi-
ate descendant rose to wealth and honour,
while, if one branch of Isaac's family tasted
prosperity, those recognized as the- heirs of
that mysterious blessing were long known
as wanderers, and then despised as slaves.
Their long line of descent has run parallel,
side by side, distinct, unmingled; recognizing
a common origin, but never acknowledging a
common brotherhood. The oldest nations
of the earth,-the one exiled from the land given
them, dwelling as outcasts and strangers among
all the nations of the earth, yet still separate,
apart, a peculiar people; the other living at
this day in the deserts where Hagar wandered,
and where she fainted-a never-conquered
people. And while Assyrian, Greek, and
Roman have swept the world and exacted


tribute of the nations around them, and other
tribes have been swept with the besom of de-
struction, the sons of Ishmael have still dwelt
in the presence of their brethren, ever en-
forcing, but still refusing to pay tribute-free
and wild as the lad who first became an archer in
the wilderness. Unconsciously confirming pro-
phecy, and still attesting the truth of a revela-
tion which they contemn and deny,-thus
strangely dwelling so different from all other
nations,-preserving the initiatory rites and
the mystic symbols of the faith of Abraham,
the customs and traditions of the age of the
patriarch,-these nations dwell distinct, sepa-
rate from each other and from all other nations,
awaiting the day when blindness shall be re-
moved from the eyes of the children of promise,
and the descendants of Sarah and of Hagar
shall be both gathered with the fold of Christ.
There are Hagars of modern, as well as of


ancient days,-of western as of eastern lands.
She who is wedded from interest and conveni-
ence; she who forms a heartless union from
pride and ambition; she who awakes from her
dreams of bliss to find herself an unloved, and
perhaps to become a deserted wife-all these
prove the bitterness of the lot of the Egyptian
Hagar. He who has ordained marriage has
graciously implanted the affections which are to
make it a source of happiness; and those who
form this union under other motives and in-
fluences run fearful risks. There are many
Hagars in the highest ranks of life, and even
where the artificial distinctions of society are
most highly regarded and carefully recognized.
When youth is wedded to age or sacrificed
to decrepitude to promote some State policy,
though the victims are not clothed in the garb
of the Egyptian slave, but arrayed in the
pomp of regal vestments, yet the diamond


often rests upon an aching brow, and the
pearls press a saddened bosom; and when the
holiest of earthly institutions is thus violated,
each relation of life is profaned; and polluted
streams descend from the highest sources and
diffuse their poison through all the ranks of
life-through all the gradations of society.
There will still be Hagars-women who
marry for a home, or a support; and especially
while woman is educated to be helpless-unable
to provide for her own wants; or while that pre-
judice is cherished which leads her to deem
useful employment a degradation.

SHE fled, with one reproachful look
On him who bade her go,
And scarcely could the patriarch brook
That glance of voiceless wo:
In vain her quivering lips essay'd
Iis mercy to implore;
Silent the mandate she obey'd,
And then was seen no more.


The burning waste and lonely wild
Received her as she went;
Hopeless, she clasp'd her fainting child,
With thirst and sorrow spent.
And in the wilderness so drear,
She raised her voice on high,
And sent forth that heart-stricken prayer
Let me not see him die!"
Her beautiful, her only boy,
Her all of hope below;
So long his father's pride and joy,
And yet-from him the blow!
Alone she must his head sustain,
And watch his sinking breath,
And on his bright brow mark the stain
Of the destroyer, Death.
SLet me not see him die," and lo!
The messenger of peace !
Once more her tears forget to flow,
Once more her sorrows cease.
Life, strength, and freedom now are given
With mighty power to one
Who from his father's roof was driven,
And he-the outcast's son.
How often we, like Ilagar, mourn,
When some unlook'd for blight
Drives us away, no more to turn
To joys we fancied bright!
Forced from our idols to retreat,
And seek the Almighty's care,
Perchance we are sent forth to meet
A desert-angel there.



r_ FTER the departure of
LOP (, :,Q Hagar and her son
from the tents of Abra-
ham, peace seems to
have returned, and it
Became the abode of
filial and parental as
well as of conjugal affection. Sarah's days
were still prolonged, that she might exercise
the duties and enjoy the pleasures of a mother.
The heir of wealth, and the child of love and
indulgence, the character of Isaac seems to have


been the reverse of his brother, the restless,
wandering Ishmael. The one, cast off from the
care of the father and taught to rely upon his
own energies, early distinguished himself, and
became the leader of a band, and a prince among
the nations around; while the other, cherished
and cared for, was content to dwell in the peace-
fil enjoyment of wealth and prosperity. Thus
do we find that trials are necessary to develop
the higher qualities and to call them into ac-
tion. The truly great and noble, the eminent
in talent or usefulness, are never nursed in the
bosom of case.
Sarah died; and while the bereaved husband
felt his loss, the son could not have been insen-
sible. There was a dreary void in the home of
the patriarch when the wife and the mother
had been laid in the sepulchre. There was no
one to fill the place of Sarah-no one to bless
their simple meals. She no longer appears to


welcome them as they returned from the field
or the flock. The tribe is without a mother,
the household without a mistress. Many con-
siderations led Abraham to desire the marriage
of his son, and he cast around his thoughts
for a wife worthy of being the mother of the
promised seed, and one who could well fulfil
the duties which must devolve upon her as the
head of his large household. The people
around him would have courted his alliance,
and as yet no command from God forbade his
forming family ties with the inhabitants of the
land. But Abraham too well knew the influ-
ence of the wife and the mother, to choose a
wife for the child of promise from a race apos-
tate from the religion of Jehovah. He knew
the ensnaring influence which would there be
brought to bear upon his family, and he resolved
to seek a wife for Isaac among his far-distant
kindred-those who yet retained the knowledge


and clung to the worship of the God of Shem,
of Noah, and of Adam. Though far separated
from his brethren, yet communications seem to
have passed, and Abraham had been told of the
enlargment of the family of his brother; and
he resolved, not only to seek a wife for his son
from among his own kindred, but, while making
arrangements for such a marriage, he solemnly
guarded against the return of his descendants
to the land from whence he had been called.
Trying as might be the long journey, and
uncertain as seemed the issue, no inferior mo-
tives were allowed to be put in competition with
the perpetuity of the worship and knowledge
of God. A connection with any of the families
of the Canaanites would have been at once en-
snaring to the household of Abraham and inju-
rious in its influence upon the heart of Isaac.
Had Isaac married the daughter of an idolater,
irreligion and immorality would soon have per-


vaded the family of the patriarch, and the
knowledge of the true God have departed from
the earth. Thus the beacon light of nations had
been extinguished, and the last altar erected to
Jehovah had been broken down: for the other
descendants of Shem were fast departing from
the God of their fathers,-and if the children
of Keturah and Ishmael for a period retained
the faith of Abraham, the torch which kindled
the fire on their altars was lighted at that which
was kept burning on those of Isaac and Jacob,
and the example of their families preserved
alive the remembrance and the acts of the liv-
ing God in the nations around them.
With a train which became the suitor of a
prince, with costly presents of gold and orna-
ments according to the custom of both ancient
and modern days, but more particularly con-
forming to Eastern usage, the confidential ser-
vant of Abraham was sent on his embassy to


the kindred of his master, there to receive a
bride for the son of the patriarch. We gain a
delightful impression both of the piety and in-
telligence of the household of Abraham from
the account of the messenger to whom this im-
portant transaction was intrusted. The faith
of the patriarch animated the other members
of his household, and a strong chain of love
encircled all. After a long journey, the train
reached the plains of Mesopotamia, and then
the tents of Nahor appeared in view; and then,
in the prospect of the immediate discharge of
his commission, the messenger of the patriarch
sought explicit direction from the God of Abra-
While the description of the interview at the
fountain, "without the gate of the city," gives
a most beautiful view of the manners of the
age and the people, and an unsurpassed picture
of the freshness and simplicity of pastoral life,


it proves at once the piety and the clear dis-
crimination of the agent employed. The beau-
ty of the youthful Rebekah caught his eye,
while the test he devised afforded a safe crite-
rion of the character of the woman. Weary
with the labours of the sultry day, after tend-
ing her own flocks, had she been indolent or
inactive, selfish or sullen, she had turned from
his request, and suffered his attendants to ad-
minister to his wants. But as she looked upon
them-dusty, weary, parched by thirst, worn
down by long travel-the sympathies of a kind
nature were awakened, as the servant ran to
meet her, saying, "Let me, I pray thee, drink
a little water from thy pitcher." She said,
" Drink, my lord," and she let down the pitcher
upon her hand and gave him to drink; and when
he had done drinking, she said, I will draw
water for thy camels also, until they have done
drinking." Thus did the maiden clearly prove


that she possessed some of the qualities most
necessary for a wife-that ready self-forget-
fulness, that kindness, cheerfulness, and desire
to promote the happiness of others, that sun-
shine of the heart which sheds its brightening
beams over all the clouds that darken domestic
life. Through all the ages of the world, in all
the circumstances in which mankind are placed,
the wife has ever need of them, and wisely may
the suitor look for them. But the servant of the
patriarch, "still wondering, held his peace."
Not until assured that she was of the race of
the true worshippers of the God of Abraham,
that she had been trained in the fear of the
Lord, did he feel assured that the fair and kind
Syrian damsel was to be chosen for the wife of
his master's son. He had felt that the prayer
was answered. He had taken out the rich
gifts intended for her, but he seems to hesitate
as he says, Whose daughter art thou! Tell


me, I pray thee, is there room in thy father's
house for us to lodge in?" And she answered,
"I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of
Milcah, whom she bore unto Nahor."
"And the man bowed down and worshipped
the Lord, 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 hath led me to
the house of my master's brethren."
The negotiation between the servant of
Abraham and the father and brothers of Re-
bekah was soon concluded. They deferred not
the answer to be given, when the messenger
had laid before them his errand, and told them
of the wealth and honour of his master; and
the whole transaction impresses us with an
idea of the piety .and kindness of the family
of Bethuel.
The thing is from the Lord-while the rich


gifts, made to all the members of the family,
proved the truth of the statements of the mes-
senger, and perhaps enforced his plea. Yet,
when he urged the immediate departure of the
bride for the tent of her husband, the hearts of
the mother and of the brothers yet clung to the
youthful maiden. They shrank from a separa-
tion so sudden, so complete-and they said,
Let the damsel stay with us a few days-at
least ten. Oh, do not snatch her away from
us so suddenly. But after that, she shall go.
And he said, Hinder me not. Seeing that
the Lord hath prospered me, send me away
that I may go to my master." And they said,
"We will call the maiden, and inquire at her
mouth." And they called Rebekah, and said
unto her, "Wilt thou go with this man ?" And
she said, "I will go."
Are we not, even at this period, taught lessons
of parental wisdom, in the care displayed by the


ancient patriarch respecting the choice of a wife
for his son ? In the care taken to secure an un-
stained parentage in one who had been early
trained in the habits of piety and godly princi-
ples of action ? The character of the family is
is often stamped upon each member, and the
marked features are transmitted from generation
to generation, even where the character of the
woman may be modified by her new relations.
As she advances in years she often returns to
the habits of her youth, while she almost inva-
riably adopts the practice of her own mother in
the early nurture and training of her children.
He who would have reformed France was
taught that he must begin his work by training
mothers. And thus the ancient patriarch fore-
saw that the great nation that was to descend
from him, like to the stars of heaven for multi-
tude, would long bear the impress of the cha-
racter of the mother who rocked it in the first


cradle of its existence, and his wisdom was
manifested in the pains which he took to secure
a good lineage and right habits and principles.
The foresight of the father could go no farther.
Time must test the individual character.
After they left the tents of Bethuel, the
train, now augmented by the presence of the
bride and her immediate attendants, her nurse
and handmaids, slowly wended its way back
to the tents of the patriarch, pursuing the na-
tural highways of the country,-now by the
stream, then across the plain, then through the
desert, sandy, barren, trackless; then winding
through the mountain pass, encamping during
the heat of the day by the fountain and under
the shade, and pursuing their journey in the
cool of the evening and of the morning.
Love or devotion, or the mingling of both,
led Isaac out into the fields at eventide to medi-
ti te, and his feet turned towards the route by


which his messengers might be expected, and
the eye of his servant described him afar off, and
he pointed him out to the stranger. And while
the messenger seems to have hasted to meet his
master and give an account of his mission, Re-
bekah descended from her lofty seat and covered
herself with a veil.
Henry the Fourth, of France, met his bride
soon after she entered his kingdom, and mingled
with her attendants, that he might watch her
unobserved; and when his presence was an-
nounced she kneeled, and he gracefully raised
her up. Napoleon entered the carriage of his
Austrian bride, and announced himself, while
she gazed with wondering eyes upon one, long
only known as the enemy of her father's house
and the terror of his kingdom. The meeting
of the heir of the patriarch and his youthful
bride is quite as interesting a scene as any of
those recorded of more modern days.


And Isaac went out to meditate in the fields
at eventide, and he lifted up his eyes, and, be-
nold the camels were coming. And Rebekah
lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she
lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the
servant, What man is this that walketh in the
field to meet us ?" And the servant said, "It
is my master;" therefore she took a veil and
covered herself. And the servant told Isaac
all things that he had done. And Isaac brought
her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Re-
bekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her.
Rebekah seems to have made an affectionate,
happy wife. Many years passed before children
were born to Isaac; and when the twin boys,
Esau and Jacob, were in childhood, there was
evidently a marked difference in their charac-
ters. Esau was active, restless, and enterpris-
ing. He grew up a hunter,-daring and bold,
-loving t life of change and adventure; while


Jacob was a "plain man, dwelling in tents "
Blindness was stealing over Isaac and unfitting
him for the cares which rested upon him, for
the supervision of his numerous servants and
his many flocks and herds. During the fre-
quent absences of Esau upon his hunting ex-
peditions, these cares must have devolved upon
Rebekah and Jacob. Her heart clung to the
child who was ever with her in sympathy;
while the tales of peril and adventure with
which Esau enlivened the wearisome days of
his father, were as acceptable to blindness and
loneliness, as were the presents of the game
he so frequently brought. "And Isaac loved
Esau." Thus the injudicious fondness of the
parents sowed the seeds of bitterness and alien-
ation between the two brothers, and led to their
mutual estrangement. The birthright, which
implied the inheriting of the blessing promised
to the seed of Abraham, was despised by Esau,


who, doubtless, in his prolonged wanderings
from home, and his frequent associations with
the inhabitants of the land, had been led tt
feel contempt for the worship and the promised
of God, and in his reckless levity he transferred
it to Jacob for a mess of pottage," while he
further alienated himself from his parents and
brother by marrying the daughter of a Hittite.
"This was a grief and sorrow of mind to Isaac
and Rebekah." Forgetting the respect due to
them as his parents; forgetting his own position
as the eldest son of the heir of the promise;
heedless of the example of filial deference
shown by Isaac, and of all the care that pre-
served the family free from the corruption
around them, he formed an union with those
who were strangers to the faith of Abraham
and of a race apostate from the worship of Jeho-
vah. Yet, while mourning the perverseness of
his favourite ch:ld, the father, aged and blind,


did not propose to withdraw his favour from
him; and, feeling that his infirmities increased,
Isaac bade Esau with his own hands prepare
him a favourite dish, that he might eat and
bless him before his death. Did we better un-
derstand the customs of that age, we might find
that Isaac was not merely influenced by bodily
appetite, but that there might be a peculiar
significance in the act.
We do not love to dwell upon Rebekah's de-
ceit and the lessons of falsehood she taught her
son-and the prophecy uttered before the birth
of the children, neither justifies nor extenuates
her guilt; for God has never taught his people,
that to promote his plans they are to violate
his laws.
Alienated from her elder son, we see Re-
bekah, ly intrigue and treachery, seeking to
advance the interests of the younger at the


expense of the rights of his brother. As we
read the sacred narrative, every sympathy is
awakened in favour of the injured Esau, and
we hear, with burning indignation against the
author of his wrong, his pathetic cry, Hast
thou no blessing for me! Bless me, even me,
my father!" But the artifice of the mother
and wife was successful. She secured all she
sought-and her success brought its own punish-
ment. Dark clouds of hate settled over the
household, and Esau waited only for the death
of his father that he might destroy the life of
his brother; and to save the life of her son, the
mother was forced to send him into banish-
ment. Again the intriguing, managing cha-
racter of the mother appears. She assigned
what might be a reason, but not the true reason,
to Isaac. "I am weary of my life, because of
the daughters of Heth. If Jacob takes 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 ?" The plea of the mother
prevailed, and Isaac blessed Jacob, and he left
the land of his father, ostensibly to seek a wife,
but in truth to flee from the vengeance of his
The son of the wealthy patriarch went not
out like an Eastern suitor-not with a train
such as Abraham sent when he wooed Rebekah
for his son. To avoid the hate of Esau, he
stole like a fugitive from the tents of Isaac;
and, a foot-worn pilgrim, unattended, he sought
the kindred of his mother. And here the
mother and her favourite child parted. She
had alienated his brother to promote his in-
terests. She had sacrificed her integrity to
secure his fortune, and her plan had succeeded.
She had secured the object at which she had
aimed, and yet in the result she had been forced


to send forth her darling child-a homeless
There is no reason to believe that the mother
and the son ever met again. From this time
she disappears. Surrounded by the alienated
Esau's hated wives and ill-loved children,
separated from the child of her affection, she
may have sunk into a premature grave, or she
may have lived many sorrowful years to feel
the miseries she had drawn upon herself by her
violations of the rules of rectitude, and an
eager desire to promote the happiness of one
child at the sacrifice of that of another.
There are still too many families involved in
all the bitterness of domestic strife from the
unjust partiality of one or both of the parents
for favoured children. If, as children advance
in life and their characters are formed, a
calmer feeling succeeds the trembling tender-
ness which guarded their infant days, and our


love to them (as to all other mortal beings) re-
sults from an appreciation of their characters,
so that one may awaken a purer regard than
another, this feeling is very different from that
partial fondness which adopts one and gives
him a place in our affection to the exclusion of
another. That instinctive justice which com-
pels a higher regard for the purer moral worth,
will, of itself, prevent that parental partiality
which leads to injustice or to an infringement
of established rights and recognized principles.
An unjust parent presents one of the most
revolting pictures of human nature. The
character involves a disregard of the most
sacred ties and the tenderest relations. And
whoever exhibits parental injustice, or that
partial fondness which leads to injustice, at
once destroys the affections and violates the
moral sense. Families trained under such
influences, still exhibit revolting scenes of


human depravity-of bitterness, strife, aliena-
tion and revenge. Who can tell how much of
the estrangement of Esau, and this early intro-
duction of the worship of strange gods among
his descendants, may have been induced by the
conscious alienation of his mother, and the un-
just preference of the interests of his brother ?
Had Rebckah, with a mother's love, striven to
win her eldest son back to his father's tent and
the altar of his God-had she still respected
his rights and preserved his regard by unde-
viating truth and faithfulness, she would have
retained a strong hold upon him, and her influ-
ence might have been long felt by her descend-
ants, in restraining them from the sins of those
around them.
We cannot yet part with the two principal
actors in these sad scenes of treachery and de-
ceit. We think of Rebekah, the companion of
her blind husband-deprived of the son who had


shared and alleviated her cares, and conscious
of having awakened that bitter hate which
would seek the blood of a brother-still follow-
ing in her thoughts the footsteps of the wan-
dering Jacob, feeling that by her own intrigues
she had banished him from his home and her
And we may follow Jacob, as he stole from
the tents of Isaac, a wanderer like the first
fugitive, with his brother's curse upon him.
Until this hour all Jacob's views and feelings
seem earthly and grovelling. Until now, there
has been no indication of that trust and piety
which afterwards marked his life. He had
seemed worldly, cunning, ready to snatch any
personal advantage. From this period he
seems to awaken to a higher-a spiritual life.
He seems to have comprehended the deeper
meaning of promise and prophecy. We cannot
tell what remorseful and despairing thoughts


filled his soul as he left his home-how strange
and inexplicable may have seemed all the ways
of God toward him. Yet he must have felt
that, in punishment of his deceit and falsehood,
he was thus sent forth with but his scrip and
staff, while he left Esau to inherit the posses-
sions of his father.
He had wandered until he was faint and
weary, and then he had lain himself down on
the earth, with stones for his pillow and the
heavens for the curtains of his tent. In
the silence of the night his soul was opened to
spiritual revealings-to those influences from
heaven which marked the change in his future
life. He saw the angels of God ascending and
descending upon him. Often before this may
they have visited him-constantly may they
have hovered over him-but now he was made
conscious of the presence, watch and interposi-
tion of the heavenly intelligence of the higher


presence of the God of Abraham. From this
hour we trace a different influence pervading
the heart and life of Jacob. He was awakened
to higher motives-and from this hour he en-
tered into covenant with God, and took Him to
be his God.
And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and
said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I
knew it not;" and he was afraid, and said,
How dreadful is this place! This is none other
than the house of God-and this is the gate of
heaven." And Jacob rose up early in the morn-
ing, and took the stone that he had put for his
pillow, and set it for a pillar, and poured oil upon
the top of it. "And he called the name of that
place Bethel." And Jacob vowed a vow, saying
"If God will be with me, and will keep me in the
way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and
raiment to put on, so that I come again to my
father's house in peace, then shall the Lord


be my God, and this stone, which I have set
for a pillar, shall be God's house, and of all
that thou shalt give me I will surely give the
tenth unto thee."
The future life of Jacob was not free from
the infirmity of human purpose-the imperfec-
tion of human nature. Yet from this time he
walked with God, and all his deportment was
marked by deep and humble piety. We doubt
not that at this period he passed through that
transforming change by which, in every age, and
under every dispensation, the human soul has
been enabled to enter into the mysteries of the
spiritual life and enjoy communion with the
Author of its existence, through that Spirit
which breathed the first breath of life by which
man became a living soul.


I, II E RE arc two cha-
"Qk+e ractcrs, which by some
S-~-i/ associations of me-
Smory, or caprice of
C fancy, are ever blend-
ed in our recollections
-the one of ancient, the other of modern days
-the one of sacred, the other of profane his-
tory. Catharine of Arragon, the unloved con-
sort of the King of England, and Leah, the
daughter of the Syrian shepherd, the hated
8* 89


wife of the Hebrew patriarch. There may
seem to be as little assimilation of character
and destiny, as there is of condition, between
the daughter and the wife of a Syrian shep-
herd, and the daughter of one of the proudest
monarchs of Spain and the wife of the haughti-
est king of England; but they were both
women, and both wives of those who loved
them not; and this fact, whatever the con-
dition of woman, stamps her lot as one of
wretchedness. The wife neglected and des-
pised is a woman sorrowful, whether she
be the inmate of a tent or the dweller in
a palace-whether she tend the flock or
grace the throne.
Catharine of Arragon, the daughter of
Isabella and Ferdinand, seems a truth-loving,
devout woman, well prepared to welcome the
great principles advanced by the Reformers,
had she not been placed in circumstances


most adverse to their influence. Had Henry
embraced the doctrines and the principles of
the Reformation from a conviction of their
truth and importance-had he sought to
regulate his own life by the pure precepts
of the Bible, and thus striven to disseminate
a pure faith among his people-had the con-
scientious Catharine been the patroness and
the friend of the Reformers, instead of the
trifling, if not guilty, Anne Boleyn-the En-
glish church and the state of religion in the
English nation would doubtless have presented
a different history for the past, and a different
aspect for the future.
But these are vain speculations. Catharine
lived and died in the Papal faith. From the
circumstances in which she was placed, she
clung to it as to her womanly honour, her
queenly dignity-as she would preserve her
name from blight, her child from shame. And


when she saw herself supplanted, when she
was disgraced, divorced, her child declared ille-
gitimate, and she knew her death was desired
by one to whom she had been a devoted,
faithful wife, what words could be more touch
ing than those the dramatist gives as her last
message to the king! "Tell him, his long
sorrow has passed away." Oh, none but a
wife dying thus, with the bitter consciousness
that her life was undesired and that her death
would be unregretted, can feel their full import.
The bells which had tolled for Catharine
of Arragon had hardly ceased to vibrate
when the roar of the cannon announced the
execution of Anne. The one died in January,
the other was beheaded in May; and she who,
by exciting and encouraging the unholy love of
the king, had unchained his fierce passions
and taught him to break through all restraints,
was herself, full early, their victim.


Shall we pass from the palaces of England
to the tents of Mesopotamia-from the last
days of chivalry to those of the ancient patri-
archs and shepherds of the earliest of recorded
ages ?
When the wandering Jacob reached the
abode of his mother's kindred, the land of
Haran, he met, at the same fountain at which
Rebekah had watered the flocks of the messen-
ger of Abraham, the daughter of her brother
Laban. He had seated himself by the well,
and when the maiden came, he aided her to
water her flocks; and he was thus introduced
to his kinsmen by Rachel; and he told them that
he was the son of Rebekah, of whom, perhaps,
they had long lost the recollection; and with
all the hospitality of the East-that hospitality
which ever prevails among a simple and pas-
toral people-he was welcomed by the kindred
of the mother.


The brother of Rebekah had two daughters.
Leah, the elder, was tender-eyed, but Rachel
was beautiful; and both sisters loved their
cousin, while the heart of Jacob clung to the
younger, the fair damsel who first welcomed
him; so that he overlooked the claims of the
elder,-the plain, if not disfigured, Leah. He
brought no offerings with him to conciliate the
favour of the father, and, according to the cus-
tom of the East, to facilitate his marriage. But
he offered his personal service as an equivalent.
And the son of Isaac served seven years for
the daughter of Laban. But this long period
was passed; and dwelling, as Jacob did, in the
presence of Rachel, a member of the household
of her father, they seemed but as a few days,
for the love he bore her.
But the time had now arrived when the mar-
riage should be celebrated, and Jacob claimed
his bride. But he who had wronged his bro-


other, who had by disguise deceived his father,
was now imposed upon by guile and treachery;
and all the hopes and expectations of these
long years were defeated. The customs of
Eastern marriages favoured the deceit, and
Jacob found that he was wedded to Leah, and
not to the object of his affection. The deceit
was most unjustifiable. The disappointment
and the resentment must have been propor-
tionably great; and miserable was the excuse
of Laban, and wretched the device which was
offered as an atonement. Yet Jacob must have
bowed before the retributions of an avenging
God, and the remembrance of his own treach-
ery may have stayed his anger.
Thus commenced the family of Jacob, with
all the elements of dissension, strife and bitter-
ness incorporated into its very earliest exist-
ence. The daughters of Laban both became
the wives of Jacob, and they were rivals as