Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she said, "I cannot bear to watch the boy die!" And as she sat nearby, she lifted up her voice and wept.
1. Entire obedience.
2. Kind and gentle consideration for Sarah and Hagar.
3. Strong faith; he committed her to God according to his word.
4. The master and the servant at the door of the house in the early morning; the master himself placing the bottle of water on the bondwoman's shoulder as a sign of continued affinity. God commands separations. In obedience to him they may involve severe struggle with self. Should still be carried out with as little wounding of human affections as possible. - R.
I. WHAT ARE THE PROPER OBJECTS OF PARENTAL SOLICITUDE?
Let me not see the death of the child.
Homilist.I. THE CIRCUMSTANCE OF CHILDREN DYING BEFORE THEIR PARENTS. A common event. This fact shows —
1. That the Ruler of the world does not treat man here according to his character.
2. That the youngest, as well as the oldest, should live in constant preparation for the change.
3. That parents should not centre their affection upon their children.
II. THE PARENTAL DISTRESS WHICH SUCH AN EVENT PRODUCES. Like the tearing of a branch from a plant quivering all over with sensibility. Spiritual discipline.
III. THE ATTENTIVENESS OF GOD TO DISTRESSED PARENTS (ver. 17). God is at all times present with us. This should —
1. Comfort us in our sorrows.
2. Restrain us from all sin.
3. Stimulate us to a true life.
IV. THE APPLICABILITY OF THIS PARENTAL DEPRECATION TO THE SPIRITUAL DEATH OF CHILDREN.
1. Salvation is supreme. It is not the only object of a parent's anxiety, but the chief. The favour of God is above all favour. A holy heart is the greatest wealth your child can ever possess.
2. Many other objects harmonize by being made subordinate to that. Hagar wanted water for her child; an object, the value of which in this cooler climate we may seldom have had occasion rightly to prize. It was entirely proper for this mother, at that time, earnestly to long for a spring of water. So there are a thousand wants pertaining to man's complex being which it is legitimate to indulge. Concerning them all, it is only important now to notice that two rules pertain to them.(1) The first is, that what is legitimate, proper, useful, and healthful, should be distinguished from all that is the opposite. Neither fashion, vanity, pride, nor any evil inclination in the parent should be allowed to select the objects which are to be sought for the child.(2) The other rule I alluded to is, make all other legitimate objects subordinate to salvation.
II. GOD HAS MANIFESTED A SUPREME REGARD FOR THAT FORM OF PARENTAL SOLICITUDE.
1. The history of children as presented by the Scriptures.
2. God has arranged His covenant of grace with reference to the salvation of children. It appears under the Old Testament in two distinct forms. The one was the application of the seal of the covenant to children. The other was a specific requirement that they should be thoroughly brought under the influence of God's law and government. Then, in the New Testament, it is to us perfectly clear that the same great principle is continued, because our Lord treated children as if they had the same relation to His kingdom under the New Testament as under the Old.Conclusion:
1. This subject possesses a great and manifold interest for the Church of God.
2. Parents, this subject is emphatically yours.
3. And what an interest have the young in this subject.
(E. N. Rich, D. D.)
1. The infinite superiority of the soul to the body, and of eternity to time, being acknowledged, I proceed to remark, that one way in which parents, who cry out in view of physical dissolution, "Let me not see the death of the child," are yet accomplishing their child's spiritual death, is, by showing the child, that they regard the body more than the soul.
2. I proceed to remark, secondly, that we are procuring the spiritual death of our child by showing that child that we regard the things of time more than the things of eternity. This superior regard for temporal over eternal things is evidenced by the fact that we lay our plans so much for time, and few or none, perhaps, for eternity.
3. A third way in which parents accomplish the spiritual death of their children is by showing them that they regard the favour and opinions of men more than the favour and law of God. What a Moloch is human opinion! How many thousands of children are cast into its burning arms, and sacrificed to the favour or frowns of a deceitful world, while the deafening din of fashion's giddy throng drowns the shrieks of agony which burst from their spirits as they die without hope, without pardon, without Christ!
4. Lastly, we aid and abet the spiritual death of the child by our irreligious example, both in doing that which is positively wrong, and in neglecting to do what is as positively required.
1. For first, observe, the dreadful nature of the calamity which will overwhelm them. Calamities occurring to our fellow men naturally awaken in us a feeling of commiseration; but what calamity under heaven can be equal to the ruin of a soul? Brethren, if our bowels do not yearn for men who are daily hastening towards destruction, are we men at all?
2. I could abundantly justify compassion for perishing men, even on the ground of natural feelings. A mother who did not, like Hagar, weep for her dying child — call her not "mother," call her " monster." A man who passes through the scenes of misery which even this city presents in its more squalid quarters, and yet is never disturbed by them, I venture to say he is unworthy of the name of man.
3. In this instance what nature suggests grace enforces. The more we become what we shall be, the more will compassion rule our hearts. If you would be like Jesus, you must be tender and very pitiful. Ye would be as unlike Him as possible if ye could sit down in grim content, and, with a Stoic's philosophy, turn all the flesh within you into stone.
4. Brethren, the whole run and current, and tenour and spirit of the gospel influences us to compassion. Ye are debtors, for what were ye if compassion had not come to your rescue? Divine compassion, all undeserved and free, has redeemed you from your vain conversation. Surely those who receive mercy should show mercy; those who owe all they have to the pity of God, should not be pitiless to their brethren.
5. Let me beseech you to believe that it is needful as well as justifiable that you should feel compassion for the sons of men. You all desire to glorify Christ by becoming soul-winners — I hope you do — and be it remembered that, other things being equal, he is the fittest in God's hand to win souls who pities souls most.
6. But I stand not here any longer to justify what I would far rather commend and personally feel.
II. We shall pass on to notice THE SIGHT WHICH TRUE COMPASSION DREADS. Like Hagar, the compassionate spirit says, "Let me not see the death of the child," or as some have read it, "How can I see the death of the child? " To contemplate a soul passing away without hope is too terrible a task I It will greatly add to your feeling of sorrow if you are forced to feel that the ruin of your child or of any other person may have been partly caused by your example. Is it not an awful thing that a soul should perish with the gospel so near? If Ishmael had died, and the water had been within bow-shot, and yet unseen till too late, it had been a dreadful reflection for the mother.
III. In the third place, I would speak upon COMPASSION FOR THE SOULS OF MEN — THE TEMPTATION IT MUST RESIST. We must not fall into the temptation to imitate the example of Hagar too closely. She put the child under the shrubs and turned away her gaze from the all too mournful spectacle. She could not endure to look, but she sat where she could watch in despair. There is a temptation with each one of us to try to forget that souls are being lost.
IV. I will now speak upon THE PATH WHICH TRUE PASSION WILL BE SURE TO FOLLOW; and what is that?
1. First of all, true pity does all it can. Before Hagar sat down and wept, she had done her utmost for her boy.
2. But what next does compassion do? Having done all it can, it sits down and weeps over its own feebleness. If you know how to weep before the Lord, He will yield to tears what He will not yield to anything besides. Oh, ye saints, compassionate sinners; sigh and cry for them; be able to say, as Whitfield could to his congregation, "Sirs, if ye are lost, it is not for want of my weeping for you, for I pour out my soul day and night in petitions unto God that ye may live."
3. And then what else doth Hagar teach us? She stood there ready to do anything that was needful after the Lord had interposed. The angel opened her eyes; until then she was powerless, and sat and wept, and prayed, but when he pointed to the well, did she linger for a minute? Did she delay to put it to her child's lips? Was she slack in the blessed task? Oh, no! with what alacrity did she spring to the well; with what speed did she fill the bottle; with what motherly joy did she hasten to her child, and give him the saving draught! And so I want every member here to stand ready to mark the faintest indication of grace in any soul.
V. But I must close, and the last point shall be THE ENCOURAGEMENT WHICH TRUE COMPASSION FOR SOULS WILL ALWAYS RECEIVE. First take the case in hand. The mother compassionated, God compassionated too. You pity, God pities. The motions of God's Spirit in the souls of His people are the footfalls of God's eternal purposes about to be fulfilled.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1.First observe, how affliction followeth affliction, and one grief in the neck of another, when once God beginneth to exercise us. She lost her place, she wandereth in the wilderness with her child, comfortless and desolate; the water of the bottle is spent, and no more to be had when the child crieth for drink, and is ready to die for it; and, lastly, she giveth her child up to death as she thought, getting her far off as unable to hear the cry of it. Let it school us, if the Lord so deal with us; we are not privileged, we have no immunity. If the Cross come to us as a thing judged fit for us of our God, we may not set Him a stint, and say thus much will I bear, and no more; but leave Him to His own good pleasure, expecting and enduring even one upon another, as thick as ever it shall please Him to send them. Taking hold of this promise by a lively faith, that He will never lay more upon us, than He will make us able to bear, but will give the issue with the temptation, that we may endure it. And praying to His Majesty upon that promise, that for His mercy sake He would so do. Oh, pitiful parting betwixt a mother and her child! Oh, sorrow upon sorrow, and the last the greatest by a thousand degrees! Whose stony heart bewaileth not, as we hear it, this truthful case, of a poor mother and her child?
2. Secondly, observe we again the divers passions of love herein, either of parents to children or friend to friend; some cannot be drawn from them either day or night when they are like to die, and it is a great love and a good. But here it is otherwise, for the mother's heart cannot abide to see the child die, and this also because she loved it; so are many where they love entirely. Thus differ our divers natures even in one thing, and we have our divers reasons upon divers circumstances. Blessed is the party whose affections draweth nearest the Lord's allowance and an holy patience.
3. Lastly, consider how in this bitter agony and most heavy plight, yet she neither openeth her mouth against the Lord, nor against the means of her woe, Abraham and Sarah — no, not against Sarah — that was the first and chief cause indeed to stir up Abraham to put her away. No cursing, no banning, no raving nor railing is heard out of her; a very great commendation of her, and a very great want in our days in some that think themselves no common Christians, for that thing almost happeneth not to cross their minds, but the very air almost is infected with their bannings, be it never so small and of no account. Their soul is acquainted with bitterness altogether, and their tongues cannot but take like course. Surely, surely, neither Abraham nor Sarah, nor God, I fear me, should have escaped curses ninny and great; but for Sarah, she should have been cursed to the deep pit of hell ten thousand times, and further, if further were any further torment to be had for her. But learn, Oh, fiery and furious spirits l even by Hagar here, no other lesson, follow it, and use it with careful hearts if you mean not to brew for yourselves in hell what you wish to others.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Moral and Religious Anecdotes.In the early part of the career of the Rev. John Wesley, influenced by a desire to do good, he undertook a voyage to Georgia. During a storm on the voyage he was very much alarmed by the fear of death, and being a severe judge of himself, he concluded that he was unfit to die. He observed the lively faith of the Germans, who, in the midst of danger, kept their minds in a, state of tranquility and ease, to which he and the English on board were strangers. While they were singing at the commencement of their service, the sea broke over them, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks as if the great deep had swallowed them up. The English screamed terribly: the Germans calmly sung on. Mr. Wesley asked one of them afterwards if he were not afraid. He answered: "I thank God, no." "But were not your women and children afraid?" He replied, mildly, "No; our women and children are not afraid to die."
(Moral and Religious Anecdotes.)
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