« AnteriorContinuar »
presence of Christ our Saviour, we too may enjoy and admire and use. Power, and learning, and civilization, and art may all minister now, as they did then, to the advancement of the welfare of man, and the glory of God.
2. But, secondly, the meeting of Abraham and Pharaoh—the contact of Egypt with the Bible — remind us forcibly that there is something better and higher even than the most glorious, or the most luxurious, or the most powerful, or the most interesting sights and scenes of the world, even at its highest pitch, here or elsewhere.
Whose name or history is now best remembered ? Is it that of Pharaoh, or of the old Egyptian nation ? No. It is the name of the Shepherd, as he must have seemed, who came to seek his fortunes here, as a stranger and sojourner. Much or little as we, or our friends at home, rich or poor, may know or care about Egypt, we all know and care about Abraham. It is his visit, and the visit of his descendants, that gives to Egypt its most universal interest. So it is with the world at large, of which, as I have said, in those old days Egypt was the likeness. Who is it that, when years are gone by, we remember with the purest gratitude and pleasure? Not the learned, or the clever, or the rich, or the powerful, that we may have known in our passage through life; but those who, like Abraham, have had the force of character to prefer the future to the present - the good of others to their own pleasure. These it is who leave a mark in the world, more really lasting than pyramid or temple, because it is a mark that outlasts this life, and will be found in the life to come. He comes into contact with Egypt, with the world; he uses it; he enjoys it. It is but one of the halting-places in his life. He falls for a moment under its darker influences; for a moment he yields to the fear of man, and to the temptation of unworthy deceit. But in the next moment he is himself again. He is what we see him in the chapter which has just been read, describing the offering of Isaac; willing to sacrifice whatever is nearest and dearest to the call of God and of duty. Heathen traditions represent him as teaching the Egyptians the astronomy that he brought with him from Chaldea ; or as reconciling their theological and political disputes. But this is not that for which he is remembered in the Bible and by mankind at large. It is as the Friend of God, and as the Father of the Faithful. It is not for those points which distinguish him from the rest of mankind, but for those points which we may all have in common with him.
His character and his name, as compared with that of the mighty country and the mighty people, in the midst of which we thus for an instant find him, exemplify, in the simplest yet strongest colours, the grand truth that 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' To be in the world, but not of it; to use it without abusing it—this is the duty which we find it so hard to follow; but it is the very duty which Abraham first, and our blessed Lord afterwards, have set before us. It is what the hermits and monks, who buried theniselves in the caves and tombs of this country, failed
to see on the one side; it is what mere men of the world fail to see on the other side. But it is what we may and ought to follow, if, with God's blessing, we strive to walk in the steps of our first father Abraham, of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.