Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
I. THAT IN VIEW OF THE AWFUL FACT OF DEATH THE LITTLENESS OF HUMAN LIFE IS SEEN.
II. TO REALIZE THE FACT OF HIS OWN MORTALITY. "I may be the next to go."
III. TO FEEL THAT THERE IS A LIFE BEYOND.
IV. THE SACREDNESS OF SORROW FOR THE DEAD.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. A fellow-feeling of death with the dead.
2. An anticipation of death or a living preparation for one's own death.
3. A believing sense of the end or destination of death to be made useful to the life.
(J. P. Lange, D. D.)
1. On Mount Moriah we find Abraham doing God's will; here we find him suffering it.
2. Look at Abraham buying a grave; the best man of his age here bargains for burial ground. Ponder well this transaction, and consider that in return for four hundred pieces of silver Abraham gets a burying-place.
3. The behaviour of the children of Heth calls for appreciative notice. They treated Abraham with generous pity and helpfulness.
4. Man's final requirement of man is a grave. In the grave there is no repentance; the dead man cannot obliterate the past.
5. Abraham mourned for Sarah. Consecration to God's purpose does not eradicate our deep human love; say, rather, that it heightens, refines, sanctifies it.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
I. THE DEATH.
1. Of Sarah, princess. Kings and great men die. "Wealth cannot deliver in the day of his power."
2. The wife of a great man. Derives her chief dignity from this connection. Little expected the honour that would befall her from this marriage. The source of Abraham's joy, as well as the occasion of some of his sins.
3. The mother of the free. The ancestress of Jesus, and those who believe in Him.
4. Died at Hebron = alliance. The alliance with Abraham dissolved, and her eternal alliance with Abraham's God, and one who was before Abraham (John 8:58), now inaugurated. Happy are those who compose the bride — the Lamb's wife; the day of death is with them the day of their espousals. The alliances of earth, abandoned for a better and more lasting one.
II. THE GRAVE.
1. A cave. We are of the earth, earthy. Dust, and must return to dust.
2. Purchased. Abraham selected one that would receive his own remains. ("The family meeting-place" is an epitaph at Pere la Chaise.) Men sometimes think more of their sepulchres than of death; and make greater preparation for the temporary repose of the body than the eternal rest of the soul. It was all that Abraham purchased of the promised land. The country was given to the living. The promised land of heaven for the living is a free gift, and there will be no bargaining for graves there. Man sells a place for the dead, God gives a home for the living.
III. THE BURIAL. "That I may bury my dead out of my sight." The object that once most pleased the eye must be put " out of sight," as a loathsome thing. Life, a fountain of beauty and attractiveness. How glorious that world must be where they die no more, and are never put out of sight. Those who die in the Lord, and are put out of sight, will presently be in sight for ever. The aged man before the grave of his wife. The parting is not for long. A few more steps, and he will be at home with his princess for ever. But with all this Christian hope, the loss of dear friends and the sunderings of long companionships is painful. At such times may we be able to say, "Thy will be done." Learn:
1. The great and good and best loved must die.
2. The earthly dissolution may be the beginning of our eternal union.
3. It is little the world can furnish us besides a place to lie down in at the end of the journey.
4. Happy are those who, being saved themselves, have a good hope of meeting those who are "not lost, but gone before."
(J. C. Gray.)
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Abraham buried Sarah his wife.I. CONSIDER HIM AS A MAN.
II. CONSIDER HIM AS A MAN OF BUSINESS.
1. His independence (vers. 4, 6).
2. His exactness (vers. 17, 18).
3. His courtesy.
III. CONSIDER HIM AS A GODLY MAN.
1. He believed in immortality.
2. He believed that God would grant his posterity to inherit the land.
3. He believed in a future state of blessedness for the righteous.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. Observe the honour which the ancients paid to the dead. This proves that they had a secret glimmer of immortality.
2. Observe the transaction with the children of Heth. A scriptural precedent for exactitude in business.
3. Observe also how courteous phrases contain a higher excellence than they mean. "What is that betwixt me and thee?" The children of Heth had no intention whatever of being taken at their word any more than a man has now when he calls himself your humble servant or bids you command him. We must go back to an earlier age when phrases were coined and meant something, when gifts were gifts and nothing was hoped for in return, in order to catch the life that was once in our conventional phraseology. So now language preserves, as marble preserves shells of hoar antiquity, the petrified phrases of a charity and humbleness which once were living. They are dead, but they do at least this, they keep up memorials of what should be. So that the world, in its daily language of politeness, has a record of its duty. Take those phrases, redeem them from death, live the life that was once in them. Let every man be as humble, as faithful, as obedient as his language professes, and the kingdom of God has come!
4. Lastly, we find in connection with Sarah's burial a Divine provision for the healing of Abraham's sorrow. He was compelled to exert himself to obtain a place to " bury his dead out of his sight." Had he not had to arouse himself and procure a grave for Sarah, he would have brooded over his grief. This is the merciful plan of compensation which God has provided for us; the necessities of life call us from our sorrow. All these merciful provisions plainly show us that we are in a Father's world.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
I. WE ARE FIRST ARRESTED BY ABRAHAM'S TEARS.
II. NOTICE ABRAHAM'S CONFESSION.
III. NOTICE ABRAHAM'S FAITH.
(F. B. Meyer, B.A.)
Homilist.I. IN ITS CONNECTION WITH SARAH IT IS A TOKEN OF RESPECT TO THE DEAD. The body deserves this.
1. Because it has been the man's dwelling-place.
2. Because it has assisted the soul to express itself.
3. Because it is destined for a higher and nobler service.
II. IN ITS CONNECTION WITH ABRAHAM HIMSELF IT SHOWS THAT HE PREPARED FOR DEATH.
1. It taught him that the highest earthly possessions terminate in a grave.
2. It implies that he waited for death.
I. IN ITS CONNECTION WITH THE JEWISH NATION IT SERVES AS A MONUMENT FOR THEIR INSTRUCTION.
1. Its purchase taught them that it would soon be theirs.
2. Its stillness taught them to be active.
3. Its solemnity taught them to seek that country where there is no grave.
I. ABRAHAM'S SORROW.
II. ABRAHAM'S PURCHASE. Strange possession to be the first portion in the land which was promised! A place to bury the dead in — yet observe how this very purchase is an act of faith and a pledge for the future fulfilment of God's promises.
III. ABRAHAM'S HOPE (Hebrews 11:13-16). We Christians to whom more light has been granted concerning the hopes of "the heavenly city" beyond this earthly life can see how, in Jesus Christ and His gospel, the sorrow for the dead and the fear of death are changed into thankfulness and hope. In Christ's death, burial, resurrection we trace an upward course to life eternal. Death is conquered. "Paradise" is the peaceful resting-place of those who "sleep in Jesus." Heaven is the final fulness of joy.
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
(C. Geikie, D. D.)
pecunia, from which our expression pecuniary transactions is derived, comes from pecus, which means cattle. And it is very singular that in the Greek language every word that is used for purchase or property is a derivation from some other word denoting an animal. Thus the Greek word αρνυσθαι, which means, "to bargain," is derived from a Greek word that means a lamb. Again, πωλεω, to sell, is derived from the word used for a colt. Again, the Greek word ωνεομαι, to profit, comes from a word signifying an ass. Again, the Greek word προβιας, revenue, is derived from the Greek word προβατον, sheep or cattle. In short, all the words in Greek and Latin that mean property transactions, buying and selling, are derived from cattle, and the earliest figures that were struck upon ancient coins were figures of cattle. A man was said to be possessed of so many thousand oxen or sheep, and when they entered into a bargain, they gave so many sheep or so many oxen to the person from whom they were purchasing. Here, for the first time, we have silver introduced as currency — that which, in fact, is still the currency of the greatest portion of the nations of the earth — gold being restricted to very few countries, as the representative of property — mainly, I believe, in this country; whereas on the continent it is, I believe, chiefly silver.
(J. Cumming, D. D.)
Caveat emptor" — "let the buyer look out for himself." And the buyer, on his side, is too frequently just as eagerly anxious to over-reach the seller. It is far too often "diamond cut diamond" between them. But that both are bad does not excuse either, and God is listening to both. Ah! if we all remembered that, our stores would be different places from what they often are, and business would rise to its ancient and irreproachable renown. Faith in God — such faith as Abraham had-that is still the great necessity of life. For pureness, for integrity, for liberality, for courage, for courtesy, this is what we mainly need. It is as true to-day as when John wrote the words, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Moral and Religious Anecdotes.When old Zachariah Fox, the great merchant of Liverpool, was asked by what means he contrived to realize so large a fortune as he possessed, his reply was, "Friend, by one article alone, in which thou may'st deal too if thou pleasest — civility."
(Moral and Religious Anecdotes.)
(Little's Historical Lights.)
I am a stranger and a sojourner among you.
The Preacher's Monthly.I. THE EXHORTATION. A true Christian's life should be that of a stranger and a sojourner.
1. Such persons are at once recognized. Marks of nationality may be more or less prominent. Sometimes the foreigner wears a strange costume, and speaks a strange language; and sometimes these things are studiously avoided; he assumes our dress, converses in our dialect; nevertheless, there is always something about him which bespeaks "the sojourner." And so should it be with the Christian.
2. These peculiarities will be observable in all the common business of life. Not, indeed, in any disregard of useful industries and occupations. A wise foreigner, passing through a strange country, will make the best use of his time, mingling with its inhabitants, studying its institutions, observing its manners and customs, examining minutely its improvements in science and art, perhaps investing largely in its agricultural implements, and mechanical machinery, and scientific apparatus, and many of its products and fabrics, ornamental and useful. He may for the time appear, more even than native citizens, attentive to and engrossed by such matters; nevertheless, every man who deals with him perceives that his interest in them is that of a sojourner, who examines and purchases with a view to some use or enjoyment in his own distant land. Just so should it be with the Christian.
3. These marks of a foreigner will be manifest in all the pleasures of life.
4. A foreigner may be known by the opinions he forms and expresses of all things that surround him. Many such things, which to us, through custom and familiarity, seem proper and consistent and natural, will often strike him strangely. This point is finely illustrated in Oliver Goldsmith's " Citizen of the World."
II. As A CONSOLATION. If we are "strangers and sojourners on earth," then —
1. Our better portion and grander heritage and home are in heaven. Like the patriarchs, we should "look for a city whose maker is God!" and, like the apostles, should rejoice to think that presently we shall be "absent from the body and present with the Lord."
2. Strangers and foreigners think ever and most tenderly of their distant native lands. Of the dear doors that will open, and the loved voices that will welcome them, when, having accomplished the ends of their brief sojourn in those stranger-scenes, they cross the ocean, and cast anchor in distant harbours, and go ashore to their own cities. And herein they should be our models. Good as Christian life may be on the earth, yet there are better things in heaven.
(The Preacher's Monthly.)
I. HIS FRIENDLINESS. Mark you, not his " friendship." Let it not be implied that there was any agreement of his principles with theirs, any community of interests between them, or any sympathy in character. He was indeed their friend, but he was not their fellow, and in his friendship there was no fellowship whatsoever. Their life was abhorrent to him. Their practices were such as gave him the greatest pain. The neighbours of Abraham were cruel, covetous, and licentious beyond the very conception of the vast majority who live in Christian lands to-day. But Abraham never ceased to be on friendly terms with them. He never manifested towards them an amicable disposition, treated them with noticeable courtesy and did them signal favours. But Abraham always kept the peace, and never made an enemy among them all. Some of the stories are exceedingly beautiful, as illustrating the existing friendliness. Look, for example, at that of the covenant between Abimelech and Abraham. The feelings which neighbouring chiefs entertained toward Abraham is nowhere better shown than at the time of the sack of Sodom and the capture of Lot and his family. But this was not all. His magnanimity took a higher form and his friendliness was of nobler nature than could possibly have been displayed in any affair of temporal character. Those heathen lay upon his heart. No one ever pleaded for guilty men as Abraham did — save only their Divine Saviour. A praying friend is the best friend, and such was Abraham!
II. Is it possible, then, for one who shows such friendliness to the ungodly, to be also ABSOLUTELY SEPARATE, from them? Yes, Abraham made it plain: so plain that it was clear, not only in his own secret soul — as is so often the case; but clear also to all among whom he sojourned. They would have been glad to have had him identify himself with them. But he would not do so. Nearly seventy years he lived among them; but he was not of them. He was a "confederate" only, never a "compatriot"; a sojourner, never a citizen. As his separation from these sinners is the important thing for us to study, note the following particulars wherein it was manifested. Beginning with the simpler, observe that it appeared —
1. In the food which he ate. A trifling thing, you say, but nothing is trifling whereby the holy is set apart from the unholy. Leaven is produced by fermentation, and fermentation is a species of corruption. Therefore Abraham would have none of it. So, when the three angels appeared to him as he sat in his tent door (Genesis 18:1-5)he was ready to entertain them, and offered at once to "fetch them a morsel of bread" for their "comfort." Ah! it is worth our while to remember that in just such trifles there is a vast difference between the clean and the unclean. As some one has so wisely said, it is by trifles that we reach perfection, and perfection is no trifle.
2. In his dwelling. It was a tent, which could be easily moved from place to place. Had Abraham ever built a house, the whole meaning of his outward life would have been destroyed. It would have indicated that he had come to stay, and have rendered ridiculous his declaration, "I am a sojourner with you."
3. In his private business. His avocation was in keeping with his mission, and his covenant relations to his God. He did not mingle with the ungodly multitudes. The cities, with the glare and glitter of their iniquitous life, had no attraction for him. Lot became covetous of their wealth, ambitious for their preferment, and settled in Sodom; but Lot was not a party to the everlasting covenant — not a "church-member."
4. In his business transactions. He must needs have dealings with men of the world; but he so dealt with them as to emphasize his separateness. He became rich, but he never manifested any undue haste to be rich, nor took any " short cut" to fortune. Observe several illustrations. What a noble spirit he manifested in the dissolution of the partnership existing between himself and Lot. But his principles are more plain, if possible, in his transaction with Ephron, the Hittite (Genesis 23.). The custom of the country was not the law of his life. He was the only man in all the land who conducted his business in this way.
5. Once more: his separation from the world appears in his conquest of the world. Though Abraham was a man of peace, as we have seen, yet it seems most appropriate that once, at least, in his long life, he should have exhibited his peculiar power over the men and agencies of this world. It was spiritual power for physical ends — something of which the world as yet knows little. Chedorlaomer and his allies had sacked Sodom, and were hastening away with the spoils and captives.
(D. R. Breed, D. D.).