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rest themselves under the tree. But according to this interpretation these holy celestial beings are transformed into hypocrites, as they did not, according to this view of the subject, have their feet washed with water, nor did they eat in reality, but only feigned all this. To such reproaches must the angels of heaven submit to help out a difficulty in sacred interpretation-a difficulty created only by taking for granted as true, what the text itself never authorized.
Now these visitors either did eat and drink, or they did not. If they did eat and drink, as the text asserts, and had their feet washed in reality, then they were men in the flesh. If they did not eat, &c, then the text itself asserts a falsehood, and these messengers imposed upon Abraham by pretending to do what they did not. And surely we should be glad of almost any interpretation which would go to acquit these inspired messengers of such a deceitful practice.
5. The same things are related in the nineteenth chapter respecting the angels which came to Lot in Sodom, namely, that they had their feet washed, did eat and drink, and lay down in his house by night. These men, however, are called angels in the first verse of this chapter, both in the Hebrew and Greek text, as well as in the English translation ; but as they are afterward called men no less than five times, it is highly probable that these were two of the same messengers
which had been with Abraham ; and hence we may suppose that the word 7890, ayyɛhos, is to be understood in the same sense as explained above-as messengers of God sent on an errand of love to Lot and his family; for the same reasons exist for supposing these persons to have been men in the flesh, as there do for supposing those were who came to Abraham. Let any man consult the 19th chapter, particularly from the 4th to the 11th verse inclusive, and then let him ask himself whether he can reconcile what is there said of these visitors with the supposition of their having been pure spiritual intelligences. The conclusion to which we arrive is this :--That these guests were extraordinary messengers, sent by God to comfort Abraham concerning his future heir, to predict the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, and to hasten the deliverance of just Lot, whose • righteous soul had been vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.'
An objection to this interpretation is taken from the declaration that the LORD appeared to Abraham'—that the LORD said unto Abraham, • wherefore did Sarah laugh! And the Lord said, shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? But this fact, so far from militating against the conclusion to which we have arrived, makes strongly in its favor. The word here rendered Lord is, in the original, nn, Jehovah, which is never in any place rendered angels, much less men, but is applied exclusively to the only true and supreme Being. But to which words are sometimes-ארני or אלהים connection been either
allow that these visitors were called indifferently Jehovah and angels, and even men, would be to destroy all that distinction between these latter and the supreme God, which is indicated and manifestly pointed out by the use of this most expressive word. Had the word in this
: rendered angels, rulers, &c,—there might have been some reason for applying these terms to those messengers; but that they are ever in any place in the holy Scriptures, designated by the term Jehovah, is a great mistake ; and hence the very fact that it is here said that Jehovah appeared to Abraham is a most manifest proof that these visitors, whatever they were, could not have been included under that term.
The true state of the case appears to be this :-While Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent, the LORD appeared to him again, as He had done several times before, by some token by which Abraham recognized the Divine presence; and then lifting up his eyes he saw three men standing by him; these men, being special messengers from Jehovah, after acceding to the hospitable request of Abraham to partake of his refreshments, proceeded to unfold to him the benevolent purposes of God toward himself and family, and the just vengeance He was about to inflict upon the devoted cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. After they had thus delivered their message to Abraham, it is said, verse 16, the men rose up from thence and looked toward Sodom ; and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.' When they had departed, the LORD is again introduced as saying, shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?'. verse 17; and at verse 22 it is stated, that after the men had • turned their faces from thence and went toward Sodom, Abraham stood yet before the LORD.' The LORD, therefore, and the men were not the same; for when the latter had departed on their way toward Sodom, leaving Abraham where he was, he stood still before the LORD, to whom he now began to make intercession in behalf of these wicked Sodomites. Now, if the person here called Jehovah had been the same as those called men, how could it be said that these men had departed thence toward Sodom, while Abraham remained before the Lord in the plains of Mamre? This, therefore, goes to strengthen the argument in favor of the main position, namely, That these messengers were, in reality, human beings.
All this is natural and easy. These divinely inspired messengers were sent unto Abraham, the friend of God, to forewarn him of the approaching danger to which his wicked neighbors, the Sodomites, were exposed. He hears the solemn tidings with that awe and reverence which became the servant of the most high God; but instead of looking on this awful catastrophe with stoical indifference, he tenderly sympathizes with them, deprecates their fate, and after the messengers
had taken their departure, he stands before the LORD and commences his intercessory prayer in behalf of those devoted cities—a prayer which at once evinces the piety of his heart toward God, and the tenderness of his feelings toward his fellow men.
all this is natural. When the messengers of God have delivered their message, and a conviction of its truth is felt, it is then that prayer follows for ourselves, and intercession in behalf of others.
Another objection to this interpretation-arises from the certainty of the language used by these men respecting the birth of Isaac, and the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. How, it is asked, could mere human beings have so positively predicted these events? The answer is, that though men, they were, doubtless, like other prophets of God, endowed with the spirit of prophecy, and were sent by Him on the present occasion to denounce the doom of the one, and to hasten the escape, and to comfort the hearts of the others. There is, certainly, nothing extraordinary in all this. We say it was no extraordinary event for human beings to have the gift of prophecy imparted to them, and to be sent on special occasions to predict future events, as well as to disclose the purposes of the Almighty respecting devoted nations. And when these were sent with such a commission, they frequently personified Him in whose name they came. This will account for the solemn and authoritative language used by these divinely commissioned messengers in verse 13 of chap. xix, •For we will destroy this place;' for in the language of the Hebrews, the agent is frequently said to do what he is only sent to declare shall be done. For an illustration and proof of this remark, consult Isa. vi, 9, 10; Jer. i, 10.
We more frequently err in the interpretation of Scripture, by overlooking the plain; literal, and obvious meaning of a text, and seeking for one that is far-fetched, marvellous, and unnatural, than we do from any real ambiguity in the text itself. This, we doubt not, has been the case in the present instance. And the forced construction which has been put upon this text, not difficult in itself, has led to the ab, surd and impious notion that the LORD of heaven and earth, or at least His angels, that is, celestial spirits, appeared to do what they did not, and thereby practised deceit; or otherwise, that these pure spirits eat of corporeal food, and had their feet washed with material water; and moreover, that Abraham himself was guilty of an act of idolatry in paying Divine honors to an angelic being! All these absurdities are avoided by adhering to the literal meaning of this plain narration of facts, which never need to have been so wrapped up in obscurity, had mankind been content with what is plain and obvious, instead of imagining mysteries where none exist.
But still another objection against the view we have taken of this subject is derived from Heb. xiii, 2: •Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained ANGELS unawares' -taking it for granted that the apostle here alludes to the circumstance of Abraham's entertaining those heavenly visitors. But though it be allowed that the apostle does allude to that transaction, it by no means follows that he believed those guests were celestial angels. He was exhorting his Hebrew brethren to acts of hospitality toward strangers, and to give force to his exhortation, adduces the example of Abraham in his entertaining those angels, or messengers, unawares, that is, not knowing at first the high character they sustained as extraordinary messengers of God, whom He had sent to bear good tidings to him and his family, and then to foretell the awful doom of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah ; so the Hebrew Christians were to evince the like hospitality toward strange travellers, for thereby they also might unawares receive and entertain those divinely commissioned messengers, who were travelling through the country, like ministering angels, in search of the • lost sheep of the house of Israel.'
To conclude, we remark, in the language of Dr. A. Clarke, that in the conduct of Abraham toward those guests, we find a delightful picture of genuine and primitive hospitality' - Abraham, who had many servants, and was nearly a hundred years old, brought the water himself to wash the feet of his guests, ordered his wife to make the bread quickly, went himself to choose the calf from the herd, and came again to serve them standing.' Here is an exemplification of the sweet harmony subsisting between heart-felt piety to God, and that gentleness of deportment and courteousness of behavior which so beautifully illustrates the Christian character.
The Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rev. Benjamin Abbott: to
which is annered a Narrative of his Life and Death. By John F. FFIRTH. Published by B. Waugh and T. Mason. 18mo.
How different are the intellectual tastes of mankind! What will greatly please and delight one, will equally tire and disgust another. And yet there must be some standard of excellence by which the merits of all literary performances may be tested. This standard, whatever it may be, is of such a character, that whoever arrives at it in his performances, will be sure to both please and instruct, and the productions of his pen will be handed down to posterity with honor to himself and benefit to his readers. We are interested with some authors on account of the elegance of their style; with another on account of the depth and profoundness of his matter; while history becomes chiefly interesting by the variety of the incidents which are interwoven into the narrative. But when all these excellences are united in any literary production, all people of correct taste cannot be otherwise than entertained and instructed.
There are some works, however, such as those of Bunyan, particularly his Pilgrim's Progress, with which we are delighted and edified, though written in the most humble style; while others, though the matter is important and the thoughts profound, are studied, if studied at all, with great reluctance and fatigue.
Among the multitude of biographies with which the world abounds, many of which are graced with all the elegancies of the most finished style, and interspersed with historical details of the most instructive and entertaining character, perhaps there are few of a religious character which more interests a particular class of readers than the one whose title stands at the head of this article. And what is there in it which interests? It is not the style. This will not bear criticism. This, in the main, is of the humblest character. Is it the eminence of the man? In one sense he stood pre-eminent. Not, however, on account of his literary attainments. He was very illiterate. He did not understand even his mother tongue. His eminence arose purely from the depth of his piety, and the ardor of his zeal in the cause of God. Were Benjamin Abbott to appear now in the humble garb in which he exhibited himself while he lived, and attempt to instruct the people in the uncouth manner in which he evidently did, many who now read his biography with delight would treat his performances with contempt. Their sense of propriety would be offended. Their taste would be insulted. And yet there is a secret charm in the narrative of his experience and labors which chains the attention of the reader, and makes him continually wish that it had been clothed in a more fashionable dress, not perceiving that the want of this is one of the very things which makes it so deeply interesting that it is the internal evidences of honesty, simplicity, and religious integrity, which impart to it a value it otherwise would not possess.
There is, moreover, that variety of incident, that vividness of de. scription, which could be given only by an eye witness of the scenes through which the author passed, and those affecting details which could not be so related only by the pen of him whose heart was deeply and permanently experienced in the truths which produced such powerful effects ;-these things give a character to the work before us of the most entertaining and useful kind. Benjamin Abbott speaks of the things which he had seen and felt. There is no effort to dazzle you with high sounding words of vanity'-no artificial coloring merely to please the fancy, or to adorn a tale no effort for the mere purpose