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I pray thee, O Almighty God, to be unto me a shield and my exceeding great reward. Defend me from all evils which may hurt my soul. Satisfy me with the enjoyment of thyself. Show me some token for good. Let the light of thy countenance cheer me in this my dark and dreary pilgrimage. Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
Lord God, give me increasing faith in the merits and work of thy dear Son. I plead no merits of my own. My best deeds are defiled with sin. Even my faith is mixed with unbelief. Lord justify me in thy sight for thy Son's sake. Impute righteousness to me. Make me strong in faith giving glory to thee. And let the love of Him who has done so much for me beget love in my soul to Him. Lord I love, but yet how feebly. Oh! help thou my want of love. Cause me from this time to live less unto myself, and more devotedly unto thee, through him who died and rose again for my justification, to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit I ascribe all glory and honour. Amen.
THE COVENANT OF
“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. “And I will make my covenant between me and
thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
“And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep
my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed
after thee in their generations. “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.” GENESIS XVII. 1, 2, & 9, 10.
This is the fifth time that God repeats His promise to Abraham. Between this and the former time of God's appearance, circumstances had happened which made this fifth assurance very seasonable. Abraham had shown some slight degree of weakness of faith, and had been tempted to turn aside from the upright path in which he generally walked.
Scripture history is too faithful to pass over men's faults, or to give a one-sided view of any person's character. The failings of the best of God's children are recorded for the double purpose, that we may learn not to think of them above what they were, or feel they are beyond our imitation ; and also that we may remember that their righteousness and their strength were of the Lord. They were not justified by their good lives, for these were imperfect. They were not holy by any strength that they had of themselves, but were holy or unholy in word, thought, and deed, just as they abided in the Lord, or stood alone. So true is it, from the beginning to the end“ without me, ye can do nothing.
When Abraham was called to the greatest acts of faith, he looked beyond himself for strength, and stood the test. But in lesser trials he failed, doubtless, because he thought such efforts were not too much for his own strength. He who had not shrunk from leaying his father's house and land, his kindred and his property, to go to an invisible inheritance, because commanded by the Lord, yet, when driven into Egypt by famine, would not trust God to save his life and keep his wife from heathen hands, but sought to avoid thedanger, by departure from the truth. (Gen. xii. 10.) Another error, perhaps also the result of weak faith, is related of the patriarch, in the 16th chapter.
He hearkened to the voice of Sarah, who suggested that as he had had no children by her, he should take Hagar also to wife, who was his handmaid. She conceived, and brought forth a son, whom she named Ishmael. And it seems, that both Abraham and Sarah supposed that it might be by him, that God would fulfil His promise of a future inheritance and great blessings.
Sarah said, “ It may be that I shall obtain children by her,” or be builded, established by her. Abraham in an interview with God, exclaims, • Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old, and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? o that Ishmael might live before thee!”
Such conduct, however, was certainly blameable. It was wrong in Sarah to suggest it, in Abraham and Hagar to consent to it. And we may observe, that where such breaches of the sacred bond of wedlock were made, family discord and trials were sure to be among the consequences. So you read of discord and persecution in the family of Elkanah, because he had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. (1 Sam. 1, 6.) And now also in Abraham's family, no sooner had he listened to Sarah's
advice, than each one in the family, had cause to regret their conduct. Abraham's household was disturbed, Sarah was despised by her maid, Hagar was dealt hardly with, until she fled from her mistress's face.
It had been better, then, if they had waited patiently for the accomplishment of God's word, in His own way.
We must never think God needs our help to bring to pass His own promises. He does not promise what He cannot, or will not perform. There may be no way visible to us for the fulfilment of His word, there may be a mighty mountain of difficulty in the way of it, and the time of fulfilment may seem to have almost passed away, without one particle of that mountain being removed, still it is for us to wait and believe.
“Commit thy way unto the Lord ; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him : fret not thyself in anywise to do evil.” (Psalm xxxvii. 5-8.)
At the age of ninety-nine Abraham receives this fifth assurance from the Most High, “I am the Almighty God, walk before me, and be thou perfect, and I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly."
He much needed it. For about twenty