« ZurückWeiter »
bill of fare for the day. It was princely fare; for Abraham was a great Prince, rich in gold and silver, in flocks and herds, in men-servants and maid-servants.
Reuben. We should not call it princely fare in America. It would not be more than good common farmer fare-cakes baked on the hearth, roasted veal, butter and milk. It was very good common fare.
Olympas. True indeed, Reuben, Abraham called it only a “morsel of bread” a mere hasty repast, got up at the moment.
What could a King eat better than bread, and butter, and milk, and veal ! Earth has not more luxurious fare. It is good, palatable, and healthy, and only needs to be a little more difficult to obtain, to make it quite luxurious living. If God had made these aliments scarce and costly, the products of some far distant land, kings would have preferred them to every thing else, and left our modern luxuries to their vassals.
Diseases are always in the ratios and qualities of food. If our food be various, complicated, and over plentiful, diseases are complex, numerous, and difficult of cure. If the fare be simple and moderate, diseases are so too.
Hence, in part, the healthfulness and longevity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the more illustrious patriarchs of those times. And hence the dyspepsies, nervous and biliary diseases, fevers, consumptions, and nameless new and outlandish maladies which follow in the trail of our expensive and too rich and luxurious modes of living.
I doubt not it would be a mercy to the age that now is, and to that which is to come, were we compelled to live as Abraham feasted these most
illustrious guests: for if he was mistaken, and by not being forgetful to entertain strangers, he happened on this occasion to entertain angels unawares, he covered their board, and waited upon them in the best style that east or west could afford.
Touching the quantity, it has been supposed that Abraham on this occasion was somewhat extravagant. Three measures of flour were baked, (about seven and a half gallons, more than fifty pounds weight,) and a whole fatted calf served up for three guests! The ancients were a working people, and therefore were larger eaters than some of the moderns. And as Abraham's family and his heart were large, he was accustomed to have abundant fare. It was, however, usual among the ancients to be very abundant in the quantity of their provisions. Thus Homer represents the hospitality of the ancient Greeks. Eumeus, when he invited Ulysses to eat with him, dressed two pigs for himself and his guest. “Su saying, he girded quick his tunio close; And, issuing, sought the sties. "Thence bringing two Of the imprisoned herd, he slaughtered both, Singed them, and slashed, and spitted them, and placed Tbe whole well roasted, banquets, spits, and all, Reeking before Ulysses."- -Cowper's Homer.
William. Sarah, it seems, was not present. Abraham alone stood by them under the tree.
Olympas. I presume the customs of the country forbade a lady from being present when the guests were exclusively gentlemen. It seems she was in a tent behind that in which the guests sat; or rather, in the tent behind them as they sat under the oak; for it is said, one of these three sat immediately before the door. This most dignified of the three intimated a strange event—that the aged Sarah should have a son within a year of that day. How, James, did Sarah receive this intelligence ?
James. She laughed at the novel idea!
Hence the Lord said, Why did Sarah laugh?
Reuben. How could a woman so exalted as Sarah, be thrown off her guard so much as to deny this little affair?
Olympas. What think you, Thomas ?
Thomas. The person that promised this extraordinary event suddenly seemed to assume a superhuman dignity; and, with a voice filled with majesty and authority, asked, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord ?" She was panic-stricken, overcome with terror, and lost in amazement, and in the confusion of the moment denied the fact.
Olympas. A good apology, Thomas, for mother Sarah. But the Lord said, “Nay, bus thou didst laugh.” And there is no other extenuation of it other than Sarah was a woman—a good woman; but she was but a woman—and the best of women are but women at bést. Abraham, indeed, once displayed a similar weakness; and therefore there is no just reason to impute to Sarah either less faith or less courage than to her husband Abraham, in this, as in all other cases, his own not excepted. Still it was a sin of which she did repent; and Moses faithfully records, with like impartiality, the virtues and the vices of those he admired and valued most.
Thomas. Are not these three men, now beginning to appear to be unearthly men, natives of the skies?
Olympas. The sequel will make it plain that they were two angels and the Lord himself-not merely the Adonai, but the Yehovah of Abraham. They only assumed the human form, speech, and manners, and appeared to eat, and to be in all respects of the human race. The transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and the appearance of two men from heaven that were then present with the Lord, were not greatly unlike to the transfiguration of the Lord here and that of his attending spirits, who, with him, assumed the human form and tried Abraham's hospitality and Sarah's faith in the most discriminating style. But as we have not time to amplify on every incident here, I especially request your profound attention to the reason why the Lord divulged the secrets of his providence to Abraham at this crisis; for “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him," as said king David of old.
Abraham, in true eastern politeness, accompanied his guests from his tent into the path that led them towards Sodom, wbither, at that time, they were intent on going. Meanwhile, as the Lord conversed very intimately with Abraham while the two angels seemed to walk on before, he said to himself, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in bim : for I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
Here is a volume in one sentence. Abraham is
a model of faith, of obedience, and is destined to be a model in family training and government; and because of these attributes he is to be, as in many other points, a great benefactor of nations. I know Abraham that he will “command his children.” What, Thomas, think you, means the commanding of children and households?
Thomas. It would indicate the exercise of authority, tempered with wisdom and benevolence -attributes of which both God and man speak with approbation.
Olympas. To command a family is only another way of saying that it is subordinate to the parental government; and this, indeed, is a rarity in our land. Democracy is breathed into the infant's nostrils with the breath of life in the American atmosphere; and children soon learn to know that they, too, as well as their parents, have certain natural and inalienable rights and privileges from which they ought not to be debarred; amongst which are self-will, liberty to dissent from the commands of their parents, and the pursuit of pleasure any way and every they judge most fitting. Under this system there can be little or no moral culture. Abraham was to be monarch of his house: “I know Abraham that he will command his family and his household.” He was to act the patriarch-the monarch father—and the result would be—“They shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment." This is the native consequence of such a system. I hope, therefore, we shall all do our duty, and that you, my dear children, will early learn to do justice and judgment; for these imply every relative duty. We must leave the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham's intercession, till our next lesson.