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serves very well to uphold the opinion, that can ill stand without it. Let us therefore see whether we may give credit to the supposition itself.
Surely that Abraham first departed Charran, or Haran, after the death of Terah his father, the same is proved, without the admission of any distinction, by these words of St. Stephen; b And after his father was dead, God brought him into this land, where ye now dwell, that was, out of Haran into Canaan. Against which place, so direct and plain, what force hath any man's fancy or supposition, persuading that Abraham made two journeys into Canaan, one before Terah's death, and another after, no such thing being found in the scriptures, nor any circumstance, probability, or reason to induce it? For if any man out of this place before alleged can pick any argument, proving or affording any strong presumption, that Abraham passed into Canaan, and then returned unto Haran, from whence he departed a second time; then I think it reason that he be believed in the rest. But that he performed the commandment of God after his father's death, leaving Ur and Haran for Canaan, it is as true as the scriptures themselves are true. For after his father was dead, saith the martyr Stephen, God brought him into this land. And, as Beza noteth, if Abraham made a double journey into Canaan, then must it be inferred that Moses omitted the one, and Stephen afterwards remembered the other; and whence had Stephen, saith Beza, the knowledge of Abraham's coming into Canaan, but out of Moses? For if Stephen had spoken any thing of those times, differing from Moses, he had offered the Jews, his adversaries, too great an occasion both of scandalizing himself and the gospel of Christ. Indeed we shall find small reason to make us think that Abraham passed and repassed those ways, more often than he was enforced so to do, if we consider that he had no other guide or comforter in this long and wearisome journey, than the strength of his faith in God's promise; in which, if any thing would have brought him to despair, he had more
cause than ever man had to fall into it. For he came into a region of strong and stubborn nations; a nation of valiant and resolved idolaters. He was besieged with famine at his first arrival, and driven to fly into Egypt for relief. His wife was old, and he had no son to inherit the promise. And when God had given him Isaac, he commanded him to offer him up to himself for sacrifice; all which discomforts he patiently and constantly underwent.
Secondly, Let us consider the ways themselves which Abraham had to pass over, the length whereof was 300 English miles; and through countries of which he had no manner of experience. He was to transport himself over the great river of Euphrates, to travel through the dangerous and barren deserts of Palmyrena, and to climb over the great and high mountains of Libanus, Hermon, or Gilead; and whether these were easy walks for Abraham to march twice over, containing, as aforesaid, 300 miles in length, let every reasonable man judge. For if he travelled it twice, then was his journey in all 1800 miles from Ur to Haran; and from Haran twice into Canaan. But were there no other argument to disprove this fancy, the manner of Abraham's departing from Haran hath more proof, that he had not animum revertendi, not any thought looking backward, than any man's bare conjecture, be he of what antiquity or authority soever. For thus it is written of him; d Then Abraham took Sarah his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they possessed, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they departed to go to the land of Canaan; and to the land of Canaan they came. Now if Abraham brought all with him that was dear unto him, his wife and kinsmen, and his and their goods, it is not probable that he meant to walk it back again for his pleasure, in so warm, dangerous, and barren a country as that was; or if he could have been thereto moved, it is more likely that he would have then returned, when he was yet unsettled, and pressed with extreme famine at his first arrival. For had his father been then alive, he might have
d Gen. xii. 5.
hoped from him to receive more assured comfort and relief, than among the Egyptians, to whom he was a mere stranger both in religion and nation.
What the cause might be of Abraham's return to Haran, as I will not inquire of them, that without warrant from the scriptures have sent him back thither, about the time of his father's death; so they perhaps, if they were urged, could say little else, than that without such a second voyage their opinion were not maintainable. One thing in good reason they should do well to make plain, if it be not over troublesome. They say, that Abraham was in Haran at his father's death, or some time after, being then by their account 135 years old, or a little more. How then did it happen that he left quite undone the business, which, as we read, was within four or five years after that time his greatest, or, as may seem, his only care? Did not he ebind with a very solemn oath his principal servant, in whom he reposed most confidence, to travel into those parts, and seek out a wife for Isaac his son? and doth it not appear by all circumstances, that neither he nor his servant were so well acquainted in Mesopotamia, that they could particularly design any one woman as a fit match for Isaac? Surely if Abraham had been there in person so lately as within four or five years before, he would not have forgotten a matter of such importance; but would have trusted his own judgment, in choosing a woman, fit for her piety, virtue, and other desirable qualities, to be linked in marriage with his only son, who was then thirty-five years old, before which age most of the patriarchs after the flood had begotten children, rather than have left all at random to the consideration of a servant, that neither knew any, nor was known of any in that country. But let it be supposed (if it may be believed) that either Abraham forgot this business when he was there, or that somewhat happened which no man can devise. What might be the reason that fAbraham's man, in doing his master's errand, was fain to lay open the whole story of his master's prosperity, telling it as news, that Saf Gen. xxiv. 35, 36, &c.
• Gen. xxiv.
rah had borne to him a son in her old age? If Abraham himself, a more certain author, had so lately been among them, would not all this have been an idle tale? It were needless to stand long upon a thing so evident. Whether it were lawful for Abraham to have returned back to Haran, would perhaps be a question hardly answerable; considering how averse he was from permitting his son to be carried thither, even though a wife of his own kindred could not have been obtained without his personal presence. Jacob indeed was sent thither by his parents to take a wife of his own lineage, not without God's especial approbation, by whose blessing he prospered in that journey; yet he lived there as a servant, suffered many injuries, and finally was driven to convey himself away from thence by flight. For although it be not a sentence written, yet out of all written examples it may be observed, that God alloweth not in his servants any desire of returning to the place from whence he hath taken and transplanted them. That brief saying, Remember Lot's wife, contains much matter. Let us but consider Mesopotamia, from whence Abraham was taken, and Egypt, out of which the whole nation of the Israelites was delivered; we shall find, that no blessing issued from either of them to the posterity of the Hebrews. When Hezekiah was visited with an honourable embassy from Babel, it seems that he conceived great pleasure in his mind, and thought it a piece of his prosperity; but the prophecy which thereupon he heard by Isaiah, made him to know that the counsel of God was not agreeable to such thoughts; which more plainly appeared in a following generation, when by the waters of Babylon they sat down and wept. Concerning Egypt we read, that Sesac and Neco, kings of Egypt, brought calamity upon Israel; also that their confidence in the Egyptian succours was the cause of their destruction. Where they were forbidden to return into Egypt, I do not remember, nor can readily find; but
* Gen. xxiv. 6, 8.
h Gen. xxviii.
i 2 Kings xx.
k Psal. cxxxvii. 1 Kings xiv. 25. and 2 Kings xxiii. 29.
it is found in Deuteronomy xvii. 16. that God had said, They should no more return that way; which is given as the reason why their king might not cause the people to return to Egypt, for the multiplying of his horses. Whether the Lord had laid any such injunction upon Abraham of not returning to Mesopotamia, I cannot say; many things do argue it probably; that he never did return, all circumstances do (to my understanding) both strongly and necessarily conclude.
But because this double passage of Abraham is but an imagination; and that imaginations of men are rather valuable among children, than that they can persuade those of judgment or understanding; I take it sufficient, that St. Stephen hath directly taught us, that Abraham left Haran, his father being dead. And for the rest, when they shew any one scripture to prove it, I will believe as they do.' For all the travels of Abraham are precisely set down in the scriptures; as first from Ur, or Camerina in Chaldea, to Haran, or Charran; and then from Haran (after his father's death) to Sichem; from Sichem he removed to a mountain between Bethel and Hai; thence into Egypt; from Egypt he returned thither again, where Lot and he parted, because their flocks and herds of cattle were more than could be fed in that part; from thence, the second time, he removed to Mamre, near Hebron; and thence having pursued Amraphel, and rescued Lot, he after inhabited at Gerar, in the border of Idumæa, under Abimelech ; and after near unto it at Bersabe, at which time he was ready to offer up his son Isaac on the mountain Moriah. But this fiction of his retreat to Haran, or Charran, appeareth not in any one story, either divine or human. Now if it may be supposed that Abraham had made any former journey into Canaan, as Levita in his Cabala hath feigned, it should in reason be therewithal believed, that he would in those his first travels have provided himself of some certain seat or place of abiding; and not have come a second time, with his wife, kinsmen, family, goods, and cattle, not knowing whereon to rest himself. But Abraham, when he came