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Hebrews xi. 13. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

The Patriarchs, of whom the Apostle speaks, were, many of them, for a considerable portion of their lives, literally wanderers on the face of the earth. Overwhelmed as the world had become with wickedness and unbelief, it was by such means that God weaned his chosen servants from the seductive influence of the vices which they saw around them; and, by forbidding them to fix any permanent resting-place amongst an ungodly people, secured them from the danger of a too continued contact and familiarity with



the gross idolatries which they practised. Thus the faith of Abraham was tried by the command of God, that he should get him away from his friends and relations, and depart into a land which he should shew him; and for a great part of his eventful life he was, in truth, a sojourner in a foreign country. Isaac also was frequently compelled to wander without a settled habitation. Jacob, in looking back on his own past history, was able feelingly to exclaim,“ how few and evil had been the days of the years of his pilgrimage. And his posterity, for many generations, experienced the lot of exiles in a land of strangers.

But accurate as was this description, in its literal sense, of the condition of the early Patriarchs, there was yet a deeper and more significant meaning in the spiritual application of the words. When that distant prospect, which is spoken of in the text, of an everlasting inheritance was opened to their view, typified as it was in the figure of the promised land, it was under an impulse of a very peculiar and powerful kind, that they borrowed from the unsettled life they led a beautiful emblem of the transience of all sublunary things, and learned from the contrast which they drew between the changefulness of this life,

* Gen. xlvii. 3.

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