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gave him, addressing him respectfully, “ Drink, my lord, and I will draw water for thy camels also.”
CHARLES. And did this servant allow a young woman to perform so menial an office for him ?
Mrs. M. This servant, you must recollect, was an officer of dignity; he was the steward of all Abraham's possessions, and very probably was “ that Eliezer of Damascus,” who before the birth of Isaac, had been selected for his master's heir. Nor was the watering of flocks considered in those days a menial employment. The customs of different ages and nations are so various, that we cannot estimate them by our own prejudices. But this practice was not confined to remote times ; Dr. Clarke, who very lately travelled through the Holy Land-the same of which we are now speaking, saw the women come out from the town of Nazareth, with pitchers on their heads, to carry - water, and numerous flocks of camels with their drivers reposing beside the well. In the neighbouring islands, too, he found that the porters and water-carriers were fenales. With us it would seem a violation of propriety for any man to look on inactively, while a young lady drew water for his beasts ; but this traveller seems to have accepted the offer of Rebekah as a common civility, whilst he stood musing, nnd wondering whether this meeting were an answer to his prayer. When the camels had finished drinking, he presented her with ear-rings and bracelets, inquiring whose daughter she was; and whether there was room in her father's house to lodge him and his attendants ? She replied, that she was the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor, and assured him that there was sufficient room for the whole of his company.
CATHERINE. The very house he was seeking ! how providential the seeming accident !
Mrs. M. Abraham's servant so understood it, and instantly acknowledged the goodness of God, in directing his steps to his master's brethren ; thus intimating to Rebekah whence he came.
The name of Abraham, her relation, was familiar to Rebekah. Delighted to see one of his household, she ran to tell her family all that had occurred at the well; de scribing particularly the grateful piety of the servant. Her brother, whose name was Lahan, hastened out to conduct him to the house, accosting him by the high appellation of “ Blessed of the Lord,” and kindly reproved him for standing without, while all things within were ready for his accommodation. But when he had entered, and refreshments were placed before him, more careful of his master's interest than his own convenience, he declared, he would not eat until he had communicated his business. He then recited briefly the history of Abraham, his eminent condition, and great riches; the birth of Isaac, the commission with which he was honoured, to make a suitable alliance for the heir of so many endowments ; his journey into Syria; his providential meeting and conversation with Rebekah. “And now," said he, “ if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me; that I might turn to the right hand or to the left.” Perceiving plainly the hand of Providence, the relations of Rebekah acquiesced in the divine appointment.
Presents are universally the accompaniments of a visit in the East. They are the tributes of respect to a superior, and the expression of kindness to an equal. According to this custom, Abraham's servant was provided with sumptuous gifts, of jewels, of gold, and of silver, of wearing apparel for the bride, and for her family. These were brought forth and distributed, and he and his servants, in their turn, were hospitably entertained. The next day he requested, that they would permit im to depart. The mother of Rebekah very naturally desired, that their separation might be delayed for a few days, but the man entreated that he should not be detained ; and Rebekah consenting to go, they were affectionately dismissed, with the blessings and prayers of her family.
Fanny. Isaac, I remember, however, went out to meet his bride. MRS. M. You cannot say so much, my
dear. Isaac, it is said, “ went out to meditate in the field at eventide.'' Perhaps it was his daily custom, and on no occasion of bis life, was meditation and prayer more suitable than on the present, when he was about to receive as a companion, a stranger on whose character his future peace was to depend. It is not even said that he expected to meet her. But as he walked, he lifted up his eyes, and beheld the train. Rebekah discovering him at a distance, inquired who he was; and being told that he was Isaac, her destined husband, she alighted from her camel, put on her veil, and prepared to meet him with modesty and respect. The tent of Sarah was prepared for the nuptials ; thither Isaac conducted Rebekah, and she became his wife, and consoled him for the loss of his mother. (B. C. 1856),
The marriage of Isaac thus happily accomplished, Abraham took to himself another consort, and had other sons, besides Isaac and Ishmael. To those he gave portions and sent them away to the countries east of Canaan; whilst Isaac remained with his father, and became the chief heir of his temporal possessions ; and to him, as they had been to his father, these were abundantly multiplied. He was, too, the inheritor of his virtues, for in his long life, which is, however, related with brevity, we hear of but one deviation from rectitude. In several circumstances of their history there was a striking resemblance. Driven, like his father, by famine to Gerar, the same fear of losing his wife, induced Isaac to employ an artifice similar to that into which the pious Abraham had suffered himself to be betrayed.
By the general excellence of his character, the propriety of his intention was advocated with the king, when the imposture was discovered. Whilst he reproved the weakness of the husband, he commanded his people to pay the highest respect to the strangers, and permitted them to remain near the Court and cultivate the land ; until their possessions became immensely great. Their flocks were innumerable ; the produce of their fields exceeded that of the Philistines, beyond all calculation, and the servants of their household were like the retinue of a prince. Such splendour of prosperity at length awakened the jealousy of the people, although the conduct of Isaac afforded no cause of complaint. They were obliged, therefore, to tell him plainly, that they dreaded his increasing power, and desired his removal. Nor were they satisfied by his compliance in returning to Beer-sheba, until Abimelech and some of his principal officers, had paid him a visit and persuaded him to enter into a permanent treaty
of friendship, the “ Well of the Oath," bearing wittiess to their covenant, as it had done many years before, to that of their fathers.
CHARLES. - How many years did Abraham live }
Mrs. M. Many more than we do now; yet the life of man had been greatly. abridged after the flood, and was still gradually decreasing. Abraham died at the age of one hundred and seventy-five years, (B. C. 1810) and his father, Terah, had lived two hundred and five.
CATHERINE. Lives so very long, must have been chequered with a great variety of entertaining events.
Mrs. M. Certainly: yet it was not the design of the Holy Spirit in giving us a revelation, to detail all the events that might entertain us, in any of the lives which it records; but chiefly to show the universal depravity of man, and the mercy of God in providing a Saviour; and the bistorical narrative is pretty generally confined to such particulars as tend to elucidate this one grand design. Hence the annals of a thousand years, are contained in a very few pages.
If a Messiah was to come in due time, it was necessary previously, so to point him out, that he should be acknowledged when he should appear. Many of the prophecies, therefore, which predicted his advent, delineate such peculiarities of character, as apply to no other person that ever lived. He was to be of the stock of Abraham, and that this descent might admit of irrefragable proof, they were separated from all other people, and governed by a polity that was calculated to keep them pure. They were not allowed, for example, to intermarry with their idolatrous neighbours; and therefore the servant of Abraham was sent to bring a wife for Isaac, from the house of his brethren.