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THE

CHRISTIAN PARLOR MAGAZINE.

JUNE, 1844.

HAGAR IN THE WILDERNESS.

(SEE PLATE.)

DEEP is the desolation in the heart of Hagar. Sent away by the father of her child, she is an outcast, without home, or shelter, or friend. In her wanderings she has carried with her a crushed spirit-a heart heavier in its sadness than the burden on her shoulder. Can we tell how high had been her hopes, or how fondly she had anticipated for her son the inheritance of Abraham's wealth, and what was more, that all the promises, not unknown to her, would center in him? But a child of Sarah's had come between her and her hopes.

If it was wrong, it was yet but too natural when Hagar found herself a mother, and her mistress in the wane of life, and yet childless, that her heart should be elated, and that pride should usurp the place of humility. And with envyings on one side and consciousness of advantage on the other, it is not strange that between the childless mistress and the motherservant there should be jarring discord. That child was not to Sarah what she thought it might be when she voluntarily gave her maid as a wife to her husband. She now felt that her own importance was lessened and that of her servant increased, and she murmured at a result from which she had looked for satisfaction. And now when Isaac is born and Sarah is herself the mother of the promised seed, a rivalry springs up with its bitter fruits, and the father finds himself compelled to banish his elder son with his mother from his dwelling. But God, in counselling the father of the faithful

VOL. I. NO. II.

to submit to this necessity with cheerfulness, is kinder than the now elated wife.

We cannot follow Hagar in her wanderings Her tears-her wearisome steps-her communings with her own spirit and with her son, as they trod alone the desert, have found no place on record; yet fancy may well paint them to the mind. The mother-her own famishing state forgotten -thinks only of her son. She has no hopeprobably no wish to live, but she cannot endure to see that son die-to die of want which she has no power to relieve. Perhaps she heard him murmur, in his feverish dreams-"water -mother, give me drink." She has retired from a scene which her nature cannot endure. Mark her! her desolate, broken heart speaks in that countenance. The sorrows of a mother are painted there. The deep anguish of soul is written in that face.

But Hagar, thou art not forsaken-there is an eye resting on thee before which all the future lies open. A well of water in this desert close at hand, invites thee to slake thy thirst -go dip from it and cool the lips of the boy.

In looking on Hagar here, to human view just ready to perish, it is interesting to compare the promises and prophecies with what is now the history of the past, or present reality. Before the birth of this child the angel of the Lord had said to her, "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude, * thou shalt bear a son, and shalt call

his name Ishmael, because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his "hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him." And when Abraham prayed with a father's heart, "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" the gracious answer was: "And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee; behold I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation." In her despondency these promises had failed to assure her of needed help. She had "cast the child under one of the shrubs, and sat her down over against him, a good way off, as it were a bow shot; for she said, let me not see the death of the child.' And she sat over against him and lifted up her voice and wept." But again a kind voice comes to her from Heaven in words of encouragement and assurance, “what aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand; for I will make him a great nation."

These promises are sure. In this day we read their fulfilment on the page of history. For nearly four thousand years the descendants of this elder son of Abraham have been wild men, "their hands against every man, and every man's hand against them." In that wilderness where the mother and son wandered and were just ready to perish, yet dwell the untamed, unsubdued children of Ishmael. Mahomet claimed his descent from this wild man. A large part of Arabia, more especially Arabia Petrea, has been their home. On these barren sands they have multiplied into millions, and from these, some twelve hundred years since, they issued forth in hordes fierce and terrible, sweeping with their armies half the then known world. The hosts of Asia and Africa, and of Europe, have quailed before them. The twelve tribes of Jacob have been scattered among the nations of the earth, and no narrow spot of the globe now owns their rule. But the twelve tribes of Ishmael, unchanged in character or habits, are still in the land of their progenitor. The attempts of the most powerful monarchs, and the efforts of generals accustomed elsewhere only to victory, to bring them into subjection, have been abortive. The Bedouins, descendants of Ishmael, still roam in all their wildness.

The greater portion of the world has been the scene of changes so entire as to blot out nations with their characteristics, kingdoms with their dynasties, and to introduce new inhabitants, new

governments, and new laws and customs in place of what had been. The descendants of Ishmael, with some other Arabian tribes, can alone trace back their origin through nearly forty centuries to progenitors who dwelt where they now dwell, and with no breach in the continuance of their possession. No other people can so fully establish a prescriptive right to their country, or claim for their customs the stamp of so remote an antiquity. In the days of Jacob the Ishmaelites traversed the desert on camels, bearing the rich merchandize of "spicery, balm and myrrh." After more than thirty-five hundred years they are still found in the same pursuits, even the bearers of their merchandize, the patient camel, descended perhaps from the same beasts which Joseph in his unnatural bondage was forced to accompany into Egypt.

What intercourse may have been between Ishmael and his brother Isaac, after this separation, we are not informed. When their father died they united in burying him. Their pursuits were probably so different as not to bring them into collision, and Ishmael, in love of that wild life to which his descendants still cling, may have cheerfully yielded up to his younger brother the wealth of their common father.

Probably the best-indeed the only specimen of life and manners as they existed in ne early ages of the post-diluvian world, are now found among the descendants of Ishmael. Time has only swept away one generation, to place in its stead another, identical in everything, except personal being.

ears.

Now Hagar, as described in holy writ-thy despairing sorrow told in the unadorned language of nature-thou art as palpable to our imagination as thy image in the picture to the eye. Thou didst live in a time when God held intercourse with his creatures, and when angels were sent to speak in audible voice to human Thou thinkest thyself and son ready to perish, notwithstanding the promises of Him who cannot lie. We see thee, desolate as thou lookest, the fountain head of a mighty stream flowing on in unbroken current for thousands of years. But a day shall come when the fierceness of thy children shall cease-when the delusions of Mahomet shall be broken in their charm-when the sheick with his clan shall gather around the simple minister of Jesus, and the Bedouin shall cease from his plunderings to listen to the words of gospel truth, and instead of the war shout, shall be sung the joyful song of the world's redemption.

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