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Abraham in Egypt.

Abraham in Egypt.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Mar 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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PREACHED ON THE NILE, BETWEEN CAIRO AND THEBES, ON THEFIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, MARCH 9, 1862.Abraham went down into Egypt to sojourn there. ù Gen. xii. 10.IT may have struck some of us, as it struck me,when the Fn'st Lesson of last Smiday afternoon wasread at Cairo, containing these words, that it was afitting welcome to our arrival in this country. It isthe earliest mention of that connection of Egypt withthe Bible which was never afterwards lost. In those ^few verses, which describe the visit of Abraham, someof the main features of the country appear, as we seethem at this day. The great river was flowing then,as it had flowed for ages before, and has flowed forages since, scattering verdure and fertility along itsbanks, so that when Abraham found a famine else-where, he could still be sure of finding plenty inEgypt. There was already seated on the Egyptianthrone one of the ancient dynasty, called by the nameof the Sun, whose brightness and penetrating powerwe feel so powerfully at this moment, Pharaoh, " theChild or Servant of the Sun." And it is clear fi'omthe account that tliis Pharaoh was not the first of his22 SERMONS IN EGYPT. [Serm. I.race ; that he was one of a long succession that hadgone before. The monarchy had ah'eadj grown up ;Lis court and his prmces were round him, and hispower and his fame were so great as to inspire aweand terror into the heart of the simple Shepherd Chief,who came Avith his wife fi'om Palestine ; and when thatShepherd Chief goes away, the Eg}-|:)tian King lavishesupon him, with a profusion of liberahty, all the giftsof Egjq^t, such as Ave now see them, and such as wouldbe most acceptable to one who was still a traveller andwanderer in the desert : droves of " oxen and " herdsof " sheep, and he-asses and she-asses, and camels."This is our first introduction to Egj'pt in the Bible.Let us ask, on this day, what religious lessons it is in-tended to teach us : what was the relation of Eg}^tto the Chosen People and the rehgious history of man-kind?It is, in one word, the introduction of the ChosenPeople to the World ù to the world, not in the bad
sense in which we often use the word, but in its mostgeneral sense, both good and bad.1. Egypt Avas to Abraham ù to the JcAvish peopleù to the whole course of the Old Testament, whatthe Avorld, Avith all its interests and pursuits and en- joyments, is to us. It Avas the parent of civilization,of art, of learning, of royal poAver, of vast armies.The very names AAdiich Ave still use for the paper onwhich Ave Avrite, for the sciences of INIedicine andCliemisti'y, are derived from the natural products andfrom the old religion of Egypt. We might think, per-haps, tliat the Bible Avould take no account of such acountry ù that it Avould have seemed too much belong-ing to this earth, and the things of this earth. Not so ;Serm. I.] ABRAHAM IN EGYPT. 23from first to last, this marvellous country, with all itsmanifold interests, is regarded as the home and therefuge of the chosen race. Hither came Abraham, asthe extremest goal of his long travels, from Chaldeasouthwards ; here Joseph ruled, as viceroy ; here Jacoband his descendants settled as in their second home,for several generations ; here Moses became " learnedin all the wisdom of the Egyptians." From the cus-toms and laws and arts of the Egyptians, many of the customs, laws, and arts of the Israelites were bor-rowed. Here, in the last days of the Bible history,the Holy Family found a refuge. On these scenes, fora moment, even though in unconscious infancy, aloneof any Gentile country, the eyes of our Redeemerrested. From the philosophy which floui'ished atAlexandria came the first philosophy of the ChristianChurch. This, then, is one main lesson which theBible teaches us by the stress laid on Egypt. It tellsus that we may lawfully use the world and its enjoy-ments, ù that the world is acknowledged by true re-ligion, as well as by our own natural instincts, to be abeautiflil, a glorious, and, in this respect, a good anduseful world. In it our lot is cast. What was per-mitted as an innocent refreshment to Abraham ; whatwas enjoined as a sacred duty on Moses and Apollos ;what was consecrated by the presence of Christ ourSaviour, we too may enjoy and admire and use.Power and learning and civihzation and art may allminister 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 andPharaoh, ù the contact of Egypt with the Bible, ùremuid us forcibly that there is something better and24 SERMONS IN EGYPT. [Serm. I.
higher even than the most glorious, or the most luxuri-ous, or the most powerful, or the most interesting, sightsand scenes of the world, even at its highest pitch, hereor elsewhere.Whose name or history is now best remembered?Is it that of Pharaoh, or of the old Egj'ptian nation ?No. It is the name of the Shepherd, as he must haveseemed, who came to seek his fortunes here, as astranger and sojourner. Much or little as we, or ourfriends at home, rich or poor, may know or care aboutEgypt, we all know and care about Abraham. It ishis visit, and the visit of his descendants, that gives toEgypt its most universal mterest. So it is with theworld at large, of which, as I have said, in those olddays Egypt Avas the likeness. Who is it that, whenyears are gone by, we remember with the purest grati-tude and pleasure ? Not the learned, or the clever, orthe rich, or the powerftil, that we may have known inoiu' passage through life ; but those who, hke Abra-ham, have had the force of character to prefer theflitm'e to the present, ù the good of others to their ownpleasure. These it is who leave a mark in the world,more really lasting than Pyramid or Temple, becauseit is a mark that outlasts this life, and will be found inthe hfe to come. He comes into contact with Egypt,with the world ; he uses it ; he enjoys it. It is butone of the halting-places in his life. He falls for amoment under its darker influences ; for a moment heyields to the fear of man, and to the temptation of miworthy deceit. But in the next moment he is him-self again. He is what we see him in tlie chapterwhich has just been read, describing the offering of Isaac, ù willing to sacrifice whatever is nearest andSerm. I.] ABRAHAM IN EGYPT. 25dearest to the call of God and of duty. Heathen tra-ditions represent him as teaching the Egyptians theastronomy that he brought with him from Chaldea ; oras reconciling their theological and political disputes.But this is not that for which he is remembered in theBible and by mankind at large. It is as the Friend of God, and as the Father of the Faithful. It is not forthose points which distinguish him from the rest of mankind, but for those points which we may all havein common with him.His character and his name, as compared with thatof the mighty country and the mighty people, in themidst of which we thus for an instant find him, exem-plify, in the simplest yet strongest colors, the grandtruth that " man shall not live by bread alone, but byevery word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."To be in the world, but not of it ; to use it without

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