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the next year." And when Abraham, foon after the birth of Ifaac, was hefitating whether he should comply with the request of Sarah, to fend Ishmael away," the Lord faid unto Abraham-hearken unto her voice, for in Ifaac fhall thy feed be called;" accompanying this command with an affurance of protection and bleffing to his fon Ishmael. When it had pleased God to afford Abraham an opportunity of exhibiting the most eminent example of faith and obedience we can imagine in the power of man, these promises were renewed with yet greater folemnity, and more ftriking marks of approbation and favour. By myself have I fworn, faith the Lord; for because thou hast done this thing, and haft not withheld thy fon, thine only fon; that in bleffing I will blefs thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy feed as the ftars of the heaven, and as the fand which is upon the fea-shore, and thy feed fhall poffefs the gate of his enemies. And in thy feed fhall all

↑ Genesis xvii. 1—21.

Abraham's trial may be fuppofed to be prophetic, even in the words, "God will provide for himself a victim." Our Lord declares, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he faw it, and was glad." John viii, 56.

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the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou haft obeyed my voiceh.

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Little need be faid in explanation of this prophecy.- A numerous pofterity to Abraham-a feparation of the defcendants of Ifaac from the rest of the world a preservation of the worship of the true God among this felected people- peculiar protection, direction, and bleffing to be vouchsafed to them from "their God" for ever, and the glorious privilege of giving birth to the Saviour of the world, are clearly predicted.. These promifes were renewed to Ifaac after the death of Abraham, and to Jacob after he had obtained the bleffing from his father Ifaac, to which his brother Efau's unworthy refignation of his birthright had given him a claim; and they were certainly understood by these Patriarchs, as confirming the tradition they had received from their fathers, of the restoration of univerfal happiness, at some future period.

We are now to look for the fulfilment of this comprehenfive Prophecy. And here we

Genefis xxii. 16-18.

may

may venture to appeal to every one at all acquainted with the fubfequent hiftory of the children of Abraham, whether his mind has not already recognized that history in these predictions? The value of fuch involuntary teftimony to the truth and exactness of Prophecy is obvious; and if it be farther obferved, that every fucceeding prediction has its place in filling up this wonderful sketch of the Divine defign, the ftrength, the harmony, and beauty of the whole, must irrefiftibly convince us, that it is the work of God.

In the hiftories of the Arabs, and of the Jews, we find ample proof in every age, that the promise of a numerous pofterity to Abraham has been moft wonderfully fulfilled.

As most fatisfactory evidence concerning the Ishmaelitish race of his defcendants, I shall cite a very extraordinary paffage from an his torian, whofe enmity to the cause of religion has led him to affert in one fentence, what the power of truth obliged him to abfolutely deny in the next. His conceffions as to facts, anxiously as he endeavours to ward off their effect upon every candid mind, by the fuppofition of caufes wholly inadequate to account

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for them, fufficiently establish the multitude, the antiquity, and the character of this literally fingular people—their uninterrupted independence, and their unchanging manners. And thus the truth and accuracy of this defcriptive' Prophecy is confirmed by the involuntary teftimony of one of the most artful opponents to the truth of Revelation.

The doubt he has expreffed relative to their origin is undeferving notice, as it is unfupported by argument or authority; but the reader who is inclined to examine this point, and to enter more fully into the subject of this Prophecy, will find it clearly and concisely stated by many writers, and particularly by Bishop Newton.

k" The perpetual independence of the Arabs has been the theme of praise among strangers and natives; and the arts of controverly transform this fingular event into a prophecy and a miracle, in favour of the pofterity of Ifmael. Some exceptions, that can neither be diffembled nor eluded, render this mode of reasoning as indifcreet as it is fuperfluous:

1 Genefis xii. 16.

* Gibbon's Roman Hiftory, vol. v. chap. 50. p. 178 ·194.

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the kingdom of Yemen has been fucceffively fubdued by the Abyffinians, the Perfians, the Sultans of Egypt', and the Turks": the holy cities of Mecca and Medina have repeatedly bowed under a Scythian tyrant; and the Roman province of Arabia" embraced the pe

"It was fubdued A. D. 1173, by a brother of the great Saladin, who founded a dynafty of Curds or Ayoubites. See Guigne's Hiftoire des Huns, Tom. 1. p. 425. D' Herbelot, p. 477."

By the lieutenant of Solyman I. A. D. 1538. and Selim II. 1568. See Cantemir's Hift. of the Othman Empire, p. 201 - 221. The Pasha who refided at Saana commanded twenty-one beys, but no revenue was ever remitted to the Porte, and the Turks were expelled about the year 1630. Niebuhr, p. 167, 168."

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Of the Roman province under the name of Arabia, and the third Palestine, the principal cities were Boftra and Petra, which dated their era from the year 105, when they were fubdued by Palma, a lieutenant of Trajan. Dion Caffius, 1. 68. Petra was the capital of the Nabathæans; whofe name is derived from the eldest of the fons of Ifmael. (Genef. xxv. 12, &c. with the Commentaries of Jerom, Le Clerc, and Calmet.) Juftinian relinquished a palm country of ten days journey to the south of Ælah (Procop, de Bell. Perfic. l. i. c. 19.) and the Romans maintained a centurion and a cuftom-house (Arian in Periplo Maris Erythræi, p. 11. in Hudfon tom. i.) at a place (Xɛvun nwun, pagus albus Hawara) in the territory of Medina. (D'Anville Memoire fur l'Egypte, p. 243.) Thefe real poffeffions and fame naval inroads of Trajan. (Peripl. p. 14, 15.) are magnified by history and medals into the Roman conquest of Arabia." Gibbon's Notes to the Decline and Fall, &c.vol. v. p. 179.

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